Spring 2020

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said. 

Through a bracing look into undergraduate social life, sexual relationships, and campus power dynamics, the authors transform how we see and address the most misunderstood problem on college campuses: widespread sexual assault.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer

Daniel Weiss’s In That Time tells the story of the American experience in Vietnam through the life of Michael O’Donnell, a bright young musician and poet who served as a soldier and helicopter pilot. O’Donnell wrote with great sensitivity and poetic force, and his best-known poem is among the most beloved of the war. In 1970, during an attempt to rescue fellow soldiers stranded under heavy fire, O’Donnell’s helicopter was shot down in the jungles of Cambodia. He remained missing in action for almost three decades. Weiss will talk about O’Donnell life and legacy on the 50th anniversary of his death and the war in Vietnam more generally.

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Complex Issues: The Assistant

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Assistant follows one day in the life of Jane (Julia Garner), a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer, who has recently landed her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul. Her day is much like any other assistant's—making coffee, changing the paper in the copy machine, ordering lunch, arranging travel, taking phone messages, onboarding a new hire. But as Jane follows her daily routine, she, and we, grow increasingly aware of the abuse that insidiously colors every aspect of her work day, an accumulation of degradations against which Jane decides to take a stand, only to discover the true depth of the system into which she has entered.

Xiaolu Guo presents her work in words and film, and draws connections to her own life, in conversation with Carol Gluck. Xiaolu Guo is a British Chinese novelist, essayist and filmmaker. Her memoir, Nine Continents, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography in 2017.

Popular Kinematics: Book History Colloquium

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Media historian Lisa Gitelman considers the history and organization of knowledge through the biography of Henry T. Brown’s 1868 book 507 Mechanical Movements

Book launch and panel discussion for Martha Graham’s Cold War: The Dance of American Diplomacy by Victoria Phillips

Staceyann Chin and Alexis Pauline Gumbs will be joined in conversation with Kaiama L. Glover (Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French and Africana Studies, Barnard College). 

The Amônia River runs near the border of Brazil and Peru, where both indigenous Ashaninka people and white settlers live in the municipality of Marechal Thaumaturgo. Produced by the Vídeo nas Aldeias collective, Antonio and Piti explores the love between a Peruvian-born indigenous man and the daughter of Chico Coló, a white rubber tapper soldier. The film tells the story of their community-led reforestation project and the pressures of a predatory and extractive economy

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Mariusz Kozak

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Stephanie McCurry

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Wenzel

Extinction Thresholds Symposium

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

As both a conceptual category with purchase across academic discourses and a material reality at once hyperpresent and historically entrenched, “extinction” is a rich site for timely interdisciplinary interventions. This event brings together a group of writers and scholars whose work explores extinction—both human and nonhuman—at its critical intersections with gender, sexuality, and race. Our speakers will take up questions related to the literary, political, ethical and ontological dimensions of extinctions past, present and future. Among other topics, we will discuss the centrality of extinction to the making of colonial America; the entanglement of environmental imperialism and indigenous oppression; the representation of Black precarity in post-apocalyptic speculative fiction; and the prospect of mothering at the end of the world.

While the cultural, political, legal and social aspects of French colonialism have received much attention over the past 30 years, the political economy of the French colonial empire has been largely neglected. This conference will bring together a new generation of historians and economists whose work engages with the nature and workings of French colonial capitalism, the reorientation of capital and labor from Haitian independence to the colonization of Algeria, economic life in France’s informal empire, the circulation, production, and consumption of commodities, colonial public finance and inequality, the intersection of racial ideologies with the political economy of late colonialism, and the economic and financial dimensions of decolonization. The conference will delineate the contours of a new political economy of French colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Rashid Khalidi

Audibilities Series
Music and Migration Conference

Thursday, March 5, 2020 - Friday, March 6, 2020

Co-organized by Alessandra Ciucci (Department of Music) and Ana María Ochoa (Department of Music)

Please join Division of Humanities Dean Sarah Cole in welcoming our newest colleagues from across the division.  Hosted by the Division of Humanities in the Arts and Sciences and co-sponsored by the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, the New Humanities Faculty Salons are an opportunity to meet the six new faculty members joining Columbia during the 2019-20 school year.  They will share their new research over drinks and snacks, opening conversations across the wider Humanities community.  All interested faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend. 

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Book Launch for Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, by Rebecca M. Jordan-Young and Katrina Karkazis, with a response by Vanessa Agard-Jones

Bernardine Evaristo and Marlon James, two celebrated authors who have recently won the Man Booker Prize, join Kaiama Glover in conversation. 

Palestine Writes Literature Festival - CANCELLED

Friday, March 27, 2020 - Sunday, March 29, 2020

Palestine Writes will be the first major festival dedicated to the celebration of Palestinian literature in the United States. In New York City, from March 27-29th, 2020, Palestine Writes will bring together writers, artists, publishers, booksellers, and scholars to hold conversations about art, literature, and the intersections between culture, struggle, and politics.

Global Reparations Conference - CANCELLED

Friday, March 27, 2020 - Saturday, March 28, 2020

This symposium on “Global Reparations” seeks to connect conversations about reparation, repair and redress across discrete histories of enslavement, outcasting, apartheid, and intimate violence to ask how social suffering is shaped by imperial violence and extractive regimes.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Claudia Breger

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Justin Clarke-Doane

Marina Warner is a writer of fiction, cultural history, and criticism.  Her study of the Arabian Nights, Stranger Magic (2011) won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and a Sheikh Zayed Book Award. In 2015, she received the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, Professorial Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; Distinguished Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and  President of the Royal Society of Literature. Recent books include Once Upon a Time: A short history of fairy tale and Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists. She has just finished Inventory of a Life Mislaid: An Unreliable Memoir, about her childhood in Cairo, and is writing a study of the concept of Sanctuary.  She has been working, in Sicily and the UK, with the project www.storiesintransit.org, since 2016.

Award-winning director Kurt Orderson and co-producer Najma Nuriddin will participate in a panel discussion following a screening of “Not in Our Neighborhood” (2018), an award-winning documentary on the intergenerational stories of how ordinary citizens respond to the policies, process, and institutions driving contemporary forms of spatial violence and gentrification in São Paulo, Cape Town, and New York. In telling these contemporary urban stories through the activist voices that are emerging to reclaim the right to shelter, the film offers a global critique on the current politics of space and casts the so-called Global South as particularly radical in offering modes of resistance to the social injustices afforded by the built environment.

One hot afternoon, the life of a Chinese village woman abruptly changes when she believes that she has just witnessed a UFO flying through the sky. The village chief takes advantage of this unexpected event to boost the poverty-stricken local economy – to stimulate tourism, get government support, and even make contact with the USA. Under a scrutinizing police eye, a collective portrait unfolds ... Partly inspired by Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, and Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the film portrays the lives of ordinary individuals dealing with radical political changes in a chaotic contemporary Chinese society.

New Irish Fiction - CANCELLED

Friday, April 3, 2020

Irish writers have long been at the forefront of formal experimentation in English-language fiction. Now, almost a hundred years after James Joyce and Samuel Beckett shattered expectations of the conventional novel, Irish writers are asking new questions about what fiction is capable of doing. Their works represent remarkable innovations in the representation of subjectivity, identity, and time in fiction. They are also deeply attuned to politics, writing in the wake of the global economic downturn, the collapse of the moral authority of the Catholic church, the Good Friday Agreement, and the creation of new forms of identity in Ireland. This panel brings together some of the most widely acclaimed and adventurous Irish writers of the twenty-first century to discuss the way forward for Irish fiction in a time of migration, right-wing populism, and increasing demands for gender, racial, economic, and climate justice. 

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Kevin Fellezs

Louise Glück is the author of many books of poetry, including The Triumph of Achilles, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Wild Iris, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Her most recent collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night, received the National Book Award. She is also the author of two books of essays, American Originality and Proofs and Theories, winner of the 1993 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Non-Fiction. The recipient of many other awards and distinctions, including the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bollingen Prize, the National Humanities Medal, and the United States Poet Laureateship from 2003–2004, Glück currently teaches at Yale University, where she is the Rosencranz Writer in Residence. She lives in Cambridge. 

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Eliza Zingesser

This panel uses examples drawn from early modern and modern European history to explore new directions for using sexuality as an analytic category in intellectual history. Drawing on current research in the histories of the book, of scholarship, and of educational institutions, Paul Babinski, Benjamin Bernard, and Emily Rutherford—collaborators in the ongoing project Histories of Sexuality and Erudition—survey the roles of sexuality in the conditions of knowledge-making in three historical moments: among German Orientalists in early modern Istanbul; in the collèges of Enlightenment Paris, and in modern British universities. As an introduction, Alan Stewart will reflect on this field of inquiry since the publication of his Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England (Princeton UP, 1997). Camille Robcis will provide comment, placing these efforts in the context of the field of intellectual history today.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Jennifer Lena

Join us for an online conversation with Chris McGreal, author of "American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts"

This Public Humanities environmental walk will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by exploring the history of the Harlem River as it manifests itself on-site. The Harlem River has been shaped by tide patterns and climate change, and like the Hudson River, it contains a legacy of toxic pollution. Despite the fact that the Harlem River is a man-made river—New York City engineers rerouted its channel—most people who live along the river have no access to the waterfront. This walk, free and open to the public, will spatially explore the ways people have been disconnected from the river and the role river history, and a public humanities approach to the site, can play in rebuilding the connections between people and their river.  By engaging the river’s wide public and staging an interdisciplinary conversation about the river’s histories of disconnection—with walkers experienced in urban planning, climate change, photography, and community activism—we will come away with an inclusive and compelling history of the Harlem River that may begin to draw new connecting threads to its publics.

How did Beethoven influence the other arts? And how did literature shape the composer’s reputation? In an exploration of Beethoven’s literary afterlife through the lens of chamber performance, this event will examine the formation of a musical legacy. The event will feature faculty lectures by professors Nicholas Dames (Columbia), Arden Hegele (Columbia), and Nicholas Chong (Rutgers), as well as a performance of Beethoven’s violin sonata no. 7 (Op. 30, no. 2) by Chad Hoopes and Anne-Marie McDermott.

Written in the 1950s and discovered by family members years after her death, Margaret Brown Kilik’s shocking coming-of-age novel of the emotional and sexual brutality of young women’s lives in wartime San Antonio deserves a place on the shelf alongside classic novels like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding. The Duchess of Angus reworks Kilik’s unusual personal history (her mother spent the 1930s running flophouse hotels all over the United States, leaving Margaret to be brought up by a host of relatives) into a riveting portrait of a young woman navigating a conflicted and rapidly changing world, one in which sex promises both freedom from convention and violent subjection to men’s will. Strikingly modern in its depiction of protagonist Jane Davis and her gorgeous, unreadable friend Wade Howell, The Duchess of Angus covers some of the same emotional territory as novels like Emma Cline’s The Girls and Robyn Wasserman’s Girls on Fire.

Contextualizing Prokofiev: The Interwar Years and their Legacy - CANCELLED

Thursday, April 23, 2020 - Friday, April 24, 2020

"Contextualizing Prokofiev: The Interwar Years and their Legacy" investigates the cultural, historical, and political contexts that defined composer Serge Prokofiev’s years in emigration (1918-1936), and their impact on his subsequent career and legacy. On Thursday April 23, music historian Richard Taruskin (UC Berkeley) will present a keynote talk “Prokofiev’s Problems– and Ours” where he will discuss the musical and personal implications of Prokofiev’s return to the Soviet Union in 1936.  On Friday April 24 there will be a day-long scholarly symposium featuring international musicology experts.

A day of workshops with scholars, artists, students, curators, and educators who are working to bridge arts education and incarceration and, in the process, render visible the hidden histories of mass incarceration and radicalize arts pedagogies for a more just society. 

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Deborah Paredez

Widely recognized during his own lifetime as the pre-eminent Anglophone codicologist, M. R. James spent much of his life in libraries.  His scholarly output, over a period of some forty years, was prodigious, and at the heart of it is the series of descriptive catalogues he produced of the manuscript holdings of various libraries and collections.  He also wrote ghost stories, as a kind of imaginative surplus or byproduct of the formal scholarship, to which they are intimately connected.  This talk will discuss James’s many libraries, and the horrible things he found lurking in them.

In Critique 13/13, we turn to 13 critical texts—ranging from Althusser, Beauvoir, Foucault, and Freire to Adorno, Arendt, Sartre, Lorde, and Said.

Urban environments and infrastructures play crucial roles in defining and mediating health and care. From the effects of metropolitan experience on mental health to the medical apartheids construed through urban segregation, from the healing or toxic powers of high-rise building and high density living to the racialized and gendered networks of care, health is as much a problem of the polis as the city is a category of modern medical history. Meanwhile, urgencies and policies of contagion raise the stakes of contemporary conditions of city living at a global scale. The on-going crises of public health and urban inequality only put further pressure on the ways in which architectural and urban design inform the economics, sciences, politics, and public experiences of health. 

In recent years, demands for historical justice have intensified in several national contexts in the form of claims to right the historical wrongs of European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade by means of reparations. These demands have primarily been met with skepticism and distrust from national governments and a number of sections of civil society. In a context of growing grassroots activism primarily from black and indigenous communities around the world, an increasing number of political representatives are nevertheless starting to come out in support of material reparations. Reparations for the racialized descendants of European colonialism and transatlantic slavery is now a conversation in both  Global North and Global South in a potentially unprecedented manner.


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