Spring 2021

This conversation brings together two novelists who thread the needle between fiction and biography. Nuala O’Connor’s Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce (HarperCollins) and Eibhear Walshe’s The Last Day at Bowen’s Court (Somerville Press) are told from the point of view of two very different Irishwomen—Nora Barnacle and Elizabeth Bowen—and draw from biographical material but are not beholden to it. In this discussion moderated by Heather Bryant Jordan, the authors will consider the relationship between history and fiction, writing writer’s lives, and writing women’s lives.

In 1973, Michel Foucault delivered a series of lectures at the Collège de France on The Punitive Society that tied together the exploitation of the working class to the invention of the prison. Foucault brought together the different strands of oppression—economic, social, carceral—under the larger rubric of a “punitive society.” “The punitive society”: the central idea at the core of the critique of our contemporary society as being a “punitive society” is perhaps the thread that unites all of the sessions this year in Abolition Democracy 13/13. Not surprisingly, it is woven into the fabric of W.E.B. Du Bois’s magisterial book, Black Reconstruction in America: the central problem of racial injustice, for Du Bois, is not limited to any one particular institution—whether it is slavery, convict leasing, plantation prisons, or Jim Crow—but attaches more broadly to the society that makes possible those specific institutions of injustice. It is precisely for this reason that Du Bois militated not just for the negative abolition of unjust practices and institutions, but for the radical transformation of society and political economy.

In this seminar, we will explore the hidden damage that death sentences and executions wreak on family members of the condemned, wardens and prison guards, attorneys, chaplains, and others. The hidden traumas have, so far, received too little attention in the long struggle to abolish the death penalty. And we turn to the abolition of the federal death penalty under the presidency of Joseph Biden.

Do you listen to podcasts? Have you ever thought about making your own? What about a podcast that connects to your research, studies or academic interests in some way? If so, these workshops are for you! While making a podcast has never been simpler on a technological level, the intellectual skills needed to make a scholarly podcast are less obvious but all the more important for success. These workshops will guide you through the intellectual skills needed at each stage of the podcast production process.

A panel discussion with Manan Ahmed (History) on his new book The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India.  

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Jack Halberstam

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Dustin Stewart

13/13 Seminar Series

Thursday, February 4, 2021

This session will discuss the decades-long effort to abolish prisons spearheaded by Angela Davis and Critical Resistance. It will also broach the topic of the deinstitutionalization of asylums and mental hospitals in the 1960s, which prefigured the abolition of total institutions, but also points to certain risks and pitfalls of abolitionism.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Khatchig Mouradian

Dramatists, scholars, and disability activists have started taking an interest in a deaf Irishwoman who was once considered the premiere national playwright of her day: Teresa Deevy. Interest in her life and works has taken different shapes, from those drawn to her representations of women living circumscribed lives in 1930s Ireland to those who want to recover a neglected history of deaf artistry. In a series of panels, we ask what it means to look in the archives for a writer as elusive as Deevy. Where do we find information about Deevy and her work, and how is this quest inflected by the needs of the present moment? This symposium will include discussions between archivists, scholars, theatre historians, disability activists, performance artists, and directors to examine the various ways of finding Deevy in a historical record that has too often blotted her out. 

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Clémence Boulouque

Based on interviews with parents of children with Down syndrome, as well as women who terminated their pregnancies because their fetus was identified as having the condition, Unexpected paints an intimate, nuanced picture of reproductive choice in today’s world. Piepmeier takes us inside her own daughter’s life, showing how Down syndrome is misunderstood, stigmatized, and condemned, particularly in the context of prenatal testing.

This seminar will explore the campaign to end and the abolition of coverture and other forms of men’s domination over women in the marriage context. Under the law of coverture, a married woman essentially became the property of her husband and lost her civil rights to contract or own property, as she was effectively merged into her husband. These de jure relations were ultimately displaced, but had long-lasting shadows over marital relations including, for instance, the exception to rape laws for marital rape. This seminar will explore the long legacy of coverture.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Kaiama L. Glover

The coronavirus pandemic inaugurated a global shift to online learning, working, and socializing. This event considers the immediate and longterm effects such a move has on parents and on forms of mothering in particular. Our panelists will discuss the history, theory, and data of mother's health decision making and pandemic-related disruptions to the family, as well as of familial navigation of disability, education, and adaptive digital devices.

13/13 Seminar Series

Thursday, March 11, 2021

“Oil abolition implies social transformation—a systemic change toward collective freedom,” Reinhold Martin writes. In this seminar, we will explore the relation between fossil fuels and social inequality, and focus on efforts, like the Green New Deal, to abolish oil dependency.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Reinhold Martin

“The feudal system was once deeply entrenched. So was the institution of slavery. For a long time, there was no real hope of changing those social systems. Yet criticism was still appropriate,” Joseph Carens argues. It is time, now, to ask fundamental questions about the justice of borders. This seminar will explore those questions in all their complexity, including the fraught relation between borders and colonialism. We will also discuss the movement to Abolish I.C.E.

New Books in the Arts & Sciences: Celebrating Recent Work by Hamid Dabashi

We end our Abolition 13/13 series looking forward to the possibility of an abolitionist future with special consideration of reparations. What will it take to get there? What will it look like? How soon will we be there?


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