Posts by hceditor

On Being Vulnerable, as Experience and Symposium

Posted by on May 12, 2018 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 2 comments

On Being Vulnerable, as Experience and Symposium

When I was eighteen and a freshman at UC Irvine, I was deeply unsure of what I wanted for my short- and long-term future. Of one thing I was certain: I did not wish to be a college student. Symptomatic of that wish to be elsewhere and otherwise, I made a weekly trip up to Burbank, where I enrolled in a class for aspiring actors. (Feel free to insert joke here. Sometimes, when I think I’m doing poorly at being an academic, I think of how bad I might have been in my job had I actually tried to become a professional actor. That thought gives me a strange, self-flagellating form of comfort.) One day, the instructor had us discuss qualities we appreciated about successful Hollywood actors. The observations were fairly typical. Meryl Streep? Chameleon-like ability to get into character. Robert DeNiro? Riveting intensity. Robert Redford? Here I offered my two cents: “He always appears to be in control.” The instructor turned toward me – and, it seemed, turned on me. “Control is a dangerous word for an actor!” As he explained it – and he was right – the desire for control prevents an actor from channeling certain emotions and from opening herself or himself to fellow actors onstage or in front of the camera. Control destroys scenes, productions, and eventually careers. If you wish to nail a scene or a part, you have to be willing to open yourself, render yourself vulnerable; to find your life as an actor, you must be willing to lose it, to lose control. Right, so I never became an actor, though I did, for a few short breaths, get an agent. But then, instead of taking parts in industrial films and reading for roles in soap operas, I decided to pursue a drama of a different order by serving an LDS mission. That experience changed me. Among other things, it awakened a fascination in humanity, an appreciation of its inscrutable depths (of culture, of history, of sublime goodness and/or depravity, and of its capacity for transformation) that I had never previously imagined. It planted the seed that would eventually compel me to pursue higher education and a life in the humanities. And it made me acutely aware of my vulnerability – as a “dumb American” in a foreign country and as an inept kid tasked with divine things. When I wasn’t overwhelmed I was simply unconscious; the experience was equivalent to a low-grade trauma born in small doses, bit by bit, day by day. As I say, it changed me. And while it didn’t make me less instinctively desirous of control, it’s made me less satisfied when I realize I’ve obtained some measure of it, for that’s always a sign that something is missing, that the world has grown too insular. Those conflicting impulses to achieve and risk losing control are pervasive in my life, including my professional life: they help explain the trajectory of my scholarly work and my evolution as a teacher. Doubtlessly, they also inform the symposium our BYU Humanities Center is organizing this coming September. Not that they are that symposium’s impetus; not at all, in fact. I attended a conference last summer and found myself in conversation with people who in varying ways expressed dissatisfaction with the tenor of academic culture and discourse. One grad student in particular spoke of feeling so much more alive to ideas before she entered her PhD program. She missed feeling vulnerable and open to life, she said, amid the endless posturing and striving for the appearance of indomitability. This sat...

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Spring 2018

Posted by on Feb 24, 2018 in Colloquiua | 0 comments

​All Colloquia will take place in JFSB 4010 at 3:00pm unless otherwise specified. May 17 Roger Macfarlane (Comparative Arts & Letters) “Eurydices Deserve Better: Another Look at Adaptations of a Classical Myth” May 31 Sara Phenix (French & Italian) “Bodice Politic: Fashion, Fiction, and Physiology in Nineteenth-Century...

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Winter 2018

Posted by on Feb 14, 2018 in Faith and Imagination | 0 comments

Winter 2018

Andrew Prevot, Boston College Title: “The Grace of Divine Union” April 13, 2018 In this lecture, Andrew Prevot shares some new research about the reception of Christian mysticism in contemporary theology and philosophy. He argues that certain postmodern ethical discourses about the self’s experience of being flesh and the self’s porosity to the other can be traced back to mystical sources in the Christian tradition. Yet what is sometimes lost in these postmodern transpositions of the mystical is a clear sense of the Christian doctrine of grace, which teaches that the mystical is not merely a characteristic of human subjectivity and relationality but an all-absorbing gift of union with God. Prevot reflects on why the memory of this gift is important for Christian life today. Dr. Andrew Prevot is an associate professor of theology at Boston College. He recently published his first book, Thinking Prayer (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015), which won the College Theology Society’s Best Book in Theology Award for 2015....

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One-Year Humanities Center Fellowship

Posted by on Feb 13, 2018 in Deadlines | 0 comments

One-Year Humanities Center Fellowship 2018 – 2019 In addition to multi-year fellowships, BYU’s Humanities Center also sponsors two one-year fellowships. Unlike the multi-year fellowships, these one-year fellowships will be awarded by application rather than appointment. The fellowship period will begin in the fall semester of 2018. Fellowships will come with a salary supplement of $2,500, a research stipend of an additional $2,500, and release from two courses (pending approval by the Fellow’s department chair. Applicants should secure that approval before submitting an application). Additional money may also be available for wages and supplies. Eligibility: These fellowships are available to all full-time, post-CFS faculty in BYU’s College of Humanities. Priority will be granted to faculty who plan to use the fellowship to aid the completion of a substantive research project (for example, a book, an article, or a series of articles). These fellowships are non-renewable and will not be awarded to college faculty who have held a center fellowship in the previous three years. Application: One-year fellowships are competitive. Interested faculty will be asked to complete an application consisting of a current vita and a prospectus of no more than seven double-spaced pages. This prospectus should outline the project, make a case for its significance, explain how the fellowship will be used, and give a time frame for the project’s completion. Deadline: Applications must be received in the College office by 5:00 on March 30th. A committee comprised of Humanities Center fellows from different disciplines will review and rank the applications.For specific questions regarding the application process or for advise on your specific proposal contact Matt Wickman. *Note that the dean must approve all committee decisions. Applicants will be informed of these decisions within a few weeks of the...

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NEH Summer Institute in 2018 Applications

Posted by on Jan 20, 2018 in Deadlines | 0 comments

The Book: Material Histories and Digital Futures NEH Summer Institute in 2018 for College and University Faculty   The four-week Institute will take place June 18 to July 13, 2018 at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). Applications for the Institute are NEH Summer Institute accepted from now until March 1. Successful applicants receive a stipend of $3300, which are intended to defray travel and living costs. For more information about the Institute, housing, logistics, and instructions for application, see our website: slcc.edu/neh.  Applicants will be notified of acceptance on March 28. The Institute will consider the history of the book from material and embodied perspectives, studying how new and old forms of book technology and circulation impact the creation of and access to humanities scholarship and knowledge. In addition to looking at the history of the book, we will also consider the present moment of the book’s evolution as a prologue to humanist innovation, as developing technologies, digital and multimodal, offer a host of new forms and distribution channels. We will explore how transformations in the book can change interactions between bodies of knowledge and individual human...

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2018 Book Manuscript Workshop Application

Posted by on Nov 12, 2017 in Deadlines | 0 comments

Book Manuscript Workshop 2018 Application The Humanities Center provides a faculty member (or a team of faculty members) the opportunity to  choose one person internal to the college and one person from another institution to read the book manuscript on which the faculty member (or team) is working. The hope is that this individual mentoring will result in a better manuscript; the external reviewer may have additional ideas about prospective presses and readers. The workshop details are included in the link below. Please note two important items: first, only faculty who have already received CFS are eligible for this award (and preference will be given to associate professors); and second, the deadline to apply for this award is December 1st, 2017. As with the one-year fellowships offered by the Humanities Center, the center fellows will rank the applications and make a recommendation to the dean. Book Manuscript Workshop Application...

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Fall 2017

Posted by on Oct 14, 2017 in Faith and Imagination | 0 comments

Fall 2017

Romana Huk, Notre Dame University Title: “Sacrament as ars: Down-to-earth devotion in the poetry of David Jones (pursued through a reading of ‘ A, a, a Domine Deus’)” November 10, 2017 In this excerpt from a lengthy chapter on David Jones in her current book project, Romana Huk re-reads the implications of this major modernist’s “theopoetics” and raises questions about how scholars in the rapidly developing field of “religion and literature” have been approaching his work. A survivor of the Battle of the Somme and, like many after the Great War, a Catholic convert, Jones has been read as an apologist for his new faith and as the most radically-experimental of the WWI poets, though few have linked these potentially divisive aspects of the writer’s work. Professor Huk, who has written about avant-garde British poetry for more than a quarter of a century, and who now also edits the journal Religion & Literature, attempts to draw this complex poet’s innovative religious thinking out through his art, as well as through his surprising argument about what happened in “the Cenacle” in his longest and most challenging essay, “Art and Sacrament.” The poem named in her title can easily be found on the internet, but she recommends the following site because Colin Wilcockson, an old friend of Jones’, reproduces it properly there near the start of his brief essay (which also offers helpful insights for those who desire them, though they are not necessarily Prof....

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Winter 2018

Posted by on Oct 14, 2017 in Colloquiua | 0 comments

All Colloquia will take place in JFSB 4010 at 3:00pm unless otherwise specified. ​ January 18 Brian Croxall (Digital Humanities)  “Test Tubes, Book Spines, and Broken Contracts” January 25 Julia Lupton (UC Irvine) “Trust in Theater: An Entry into Shakespeare’s Virtues” February 15 Janis Nuckolls (Linguistics) “The Role of Onomatopoeia in Renaissance English, Radical Protestantism, and Ideas about Language and Nature“ February 22 Milette Shamir (Tel Aviv University) “Henry James and the Aesthetics of Dignity” March 1 Daryl Hague (Spanish & Portuguese) “The Roles of Imagination and Empathy in Translation” March 8 Heather Belnap (Comparative Arts & Letters) “Representations of Violence Against Women in Restoration France” March 16 John Durham Peters (Harvard University) Weather Media March 29 Mark Sandberg (UC Berkeley) & Steven Sondrup (Comparative Literature, BYU) “The Spatial Turn in Literary Historiography: A Celebration of the Publication of Nordic Literature: A Comparative History, vol. 1” April 5 Roundtable Discussion with Jennifer Haraguchi (French & Italian), Van Gessel (ANEL), & Michael Kelly (German & Russian) “Faith & Scholarship in the...

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Aren’t We All Bleak Liberals?

Posted by on Sep 11, 2017 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

Aren’t We All Bleak Liberals?

This post was written by Matthew Wickman, Founding Director of the Humanities Center If one reads academic news media like The Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed—or, for that matter, The New York Times—one quickly ascertains that these aren’t the best of times for the humanities. Lending voice to that sentiment a few years ago, in 2014, the Modern Language Association made “Vulnerable Times” its theme for its large annual conference. In her presidential address at the convention, Marianne Hirsch of Columbia University acknowledged these sources of uncomfortable vulnerability in the humanities: reduced funding and the alarming cost of a college degree to students; the drastic cutbacks in jobs, especially tenure- track jobs, and the exploitation of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty members; the growing disparity between public and private institutions; fundamental changes in scholarly publishing and communications; the ways in which the humanities are instrumentalized for their utility and monetary value in the public sphere at every turn; the precarious situation of language departments, of languages, and of language itself in the era of globalization and “security”; the challenges to faculty governance at many institutions and the increasing threats from outside the academy to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. BYU is an antidote to some of these concerns and fully symptomatic of others. The Church’s extraordinary financial support of BYU protects its students from many of the spiraling (and crushing) costs of higher education, and the university’s continuing commitments to the teaching of language exempt it from the threatened closure of language departments. However, and on the flip side, BYU stands at least partly guilty as charged for instrumentalizing the humanities for their monetary value, as our (very successful) Humanities Plus program attests. And faculty governance at BYU leaves something to be desired, as the “Faculty Advisory Committee,” or FAC, is far less powerful than the “faculty senate” model that prevails at most universities. BYU has its reasons, to be sure, for “selling” the humanities and for limiting the legislative power of its faculty. Those reasons would be the subjects of another essay, and to anticipate the line of argument I would take there, let’s just say that I support Humanities Plus and that I hardly feel exploited as a member of BYU’s faculty. (Perhaps this only underscores another of Hirsch’s points, namely that there is a “growing disparity between public and private institutions.”) But for now, and just as a thought experiment, let’s take Hirsch’s observations at face value. Times are bleak in higher education. And BYU reflects that bleakness. For Amanda Anderson, however, bleakness is a term that holds real promise. Anderson is presently Director of the Cogut Institute for the Humanities and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities and English at Brown University. She is also the author of Bleak Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2016), a book with a big argument to make about the legacy of an important strand of modern thought. These days, liberalism is a word that inspires almost instant cringe, derided as it is by people on the political Left as well as the Right. That said, liberalism is, broadly speaking, a progressive philosophy to which virtually all modern people subscribe, irrespective of political affiliation. If you’re a conservative and you watch Fox News, for example, you clearly embrace the technological progress that has brought us television; likewise if you take prescription medication, have electricity in your home, etc. Or, if you contribute to a 401K, you clearly believe at least partly in the progress of markets. In our modern world, we’re all—necessarily—open to progress. The only questions, really, are how much and whose...

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2017

Posted by on Aug 5, 2017 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments

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