Posts by hceditor

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)   February 22 Milette Shamir (Tel Aviv University)   March 1 Daryl Hague (Spanish & Portuguese)   March 8 Heather Belnap (Comparative Arts & Letters)   March 29 TBA   April 5 Roundtable Discussion “Faith & Imagination 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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Archipelagoes/Oceans/Americas: Some Interdisciplinary and Interinstitutional Collaborations

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

Archipelagoes/Oceans/Americas: Some Interdisciplinary and Interinstitutional Collaborations

This post was written by Brian Russell Roberts, Humanities Center Fellow. June 12, 2017 Since the BYU Humanities Center was founded in 2012, one of its greatest contributions to intellectual life in the Humanities College has been its support for several faculty research groups, ranging from Adaptation Studies to Jazz-Blues for the Humanities, from Derrida and the Question of Religion to Environmental Humanities, and from Translation Studies to Applied Humanities. According to its website, the Center is currently supporting eleven such groups, each independently run and organized by a core of faculty, usually with a time horizon of about three years. By design, groups form around urgent questions that are conceptually specific even as they cut across disciplinary lines, drawing interest and participants from multiple departments in the College. As a research group runs its course, the Center provides institutional structures and financial support for intense engagement with the group’s set of questions, with activities that might include research workshops, invited speakers, reading schedules, community engagement, graduate student involvement, faculty travel, and multi-institutional symposiums. By the end of the three years, ideally, group members will have undertaken or launched projects (a scholarly book, a series of articles, an edited collection) related to the group’s original set of questions. And from there, even in the absence of continued Humanities Center financial support after the third year, the collaborative cross-disciplinary conversations should have enough momentum to continue and shift—with former group members now going on to form new groups addressing related or altogether new questions.   The Archipelagoes/Oceans/Americas (AOA) research group has recently completed its second year of funding. As outlined in our group’s original funding proposal, we have been interested in pursuing “non-continental lines” of inquiry by turning “toward oceans and archipelagoes for the geographical structures of [our]…analyses.” Departing from the continental exceptionalism that undergirds most scholarly and popular accounts of the United States and the Americas more generally, we have “asked how the Americas have not only been affiliated with the islands and archipelagoes of the Caribbean and the Pacific, but how the Americas have been unexpectedly constituted by archipelagic space in these oceans.”   Here at the end of AOA’s second year, I’m less interested in giving an inventory of what we’ve done and more interested in tracing the spinoffs of a certain stream of collaboration we’ve undertaken between scholarship in the humanities and creative production in the fine arts.   In 2014 when I was organizing the AOA in preparation to apply for funding, I drew on faculty interest within the Humanities College (from the English Department, Asian & Near Eastern Languages, and Comparative Arts & Letters). But I also hoped we could reach outside the College and bring Fidalis Buehler, of BYU’s Art Department, into the AOA. Fidalis had joined the Art Department in 2008, the same year I joined the English Department, and I remembered that when we met at the New Faculty Seminar he had mentioned that his Kiribati and US-American heritage and Pacific/Western upbringing played a role in way he approached his work as a visual artist. Because at that point I was beginning to read around in oceanic and archipelagic thought, I made a note of this. Six years later, when I approached Fidalis about joining up with the AOA, we grappled with the question of what his role would be. Quite understandably, he was wary of becoming an “illustrator” for a bunch of humanities scholars’ theories about oceans and islands. But we agreed that this would never be the objective. Instead, we would approach his artwork not as illustrative of our...

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In Britain, Walking. And Thinking.

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

In Britain, Walking. And Thinking.

This post was written by Holly Boud, Humanities Center intern. I should preface this post by saying that I am spending two months touring the UK on a British literature and landscape tour. Everything that follows is reflective of this experience. This study abroad focuses on understanding the literature of Britain in different eras as well as creative writing. Creative writing is a new pursuit for me. These blog posts have been the most creative writing I have done outside of my personal journal, so I am a novice at best. I am a person that spends more time than is healthy worrying about my body. From poor body image in my adolescence (who didn’t/doesn’t struggle with that?) to embracing organic food and clean eating and being aware of food’s effects on me, I feel like I can say that I have a lot of experience thinking about my body. This experience hiking around the UK, however, has shifted my perspective in interesting ways. A few weeks ago I was agonizing trying to finish a paper. I spent upwards of forty hours probably reading, writing, thinking, outlining–sitting in front of my computer physically stationary but intellectually exhausting. I was utterly unaware or at least ambivalent towards my body as I privileged the intense focus on my mind. When I hit send finally, I waited for a sense of relief and freedom, but it was a little underwhelming. Mostly I felt exhausted and drained. Then a few days ago, after a grueling seven hour hike to the summit and in a moment of spontaneity, I jumped in Loch Lomond. I dunked my head and felt the water rush over me, erasing the physical pain of the former days. The cold water shocked my senses and clenched my muscles, but I felt so free. In the last 10 days, I have hiked over 100 miles. I have experienced a wide range of pain. My feet ache. I have had some pretty gnarly blisters, one of which got infected. The burning of my quads attends me as I climb up steep ascents. I have this wicked nerve in my big toe that flares up every now and then. I keep finding random bruises all over–on my legs and my arms. My sunburn on my face gently aches (yes, it has been sunny in the UK enough to burn the paler among us–I’ve never had that experience before!). I am aware of my body in different ways than I have ever been before. As an academic, my work and my life revolves in the sphere of ideas. I think and talk and read and write, all things that separate my mind from the physical world around me. When I interact with sensation/the world around me, it is often in ways to analyze and categorize and theorize. Having so much time exerting my physical body, however, has brought me out of the ethereal and into the visceral, temporal world. I feel connected not only to the nature around me but to my body. I appreciate what she can do this body of mine. I marvel at the ways she has been able to climb every summit and carries me safely back down. She recovers from injury. She fights off infection. She metabolizes food in ways that make me understand for the first time in my life what it must be like to be a twelve-year-old boy. It’s been amazing to think about. Of course I can’t totally sign up for a life only saturated in the physical world–here I am writing a blog post contemplating...

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Leadership Material

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 1 comment

Leadership Material

This post was written by Ed Cutler, HC Fellow, English Department An opinion piece in a recent New York Times carries a provocative title: “Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.” The author is Susan Cain, founder of Quiet Revolution, a for-profit company that aims to “unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of us all.” In her piece, Cain advises that university admissions committees lose their fixation on “leadership potential” when considering prospective students. “If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A” personalities. “It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.” The pressure to lead “defines and constricts our children’s adolescence,” Cain writes, and leads to the inevitable gaming of the competitive application system, forcing shy students into misguided attempts at overhauling their personalities to pursue leadership roles they may not be suited for, or even encouraging young people to read “leadership skills” as a code for authority and dominance. Assuming you survived high school, you’ll recall the loathsome self-confidence of the dominant personalities (unless perhaps you were one of them) and doomed attempts at self-transformation (cf Jan’s black wig on The Brady Bunch).  Such memories are probably better left repressed, wherever you fell on the personality spectrum. It’s an awkward enough time of life, irrespective of whether there is more pressure than ever to manufacture a convincing persona as a youthful leader. I’m not convinced Cain’s is a growing concern, as universities have long imagined themselves as incubating future leaders, and have always sought evidence of this potential. I want to believe a seasoned admissions committee can see through empty resume padding and discern the underlying preparation and potential of a college applicant. But Cain’s piece raises an interesting and timely set of questions all the same—does the world really need more followers? Is leadership potential—or our perception of it—reducible to a personality trait? Are introverts at a natural or social disadvantage as leaders? Is extroversion and social confidence a particular advantage for the leaders of tomorrow? Apropos of my own constricted adolescence, Cain’s sub-sub-title, “The World Needs Followers,” brought back a line from Caddyshack, which my high school friend Stu had so fully internalized he would involuntarily recite the film’s dialogue as if he were a damaged hard drive. One bit involves the movie’s hero, Danny, hoping to earn the college scholarship awarded by the country club where he caddies; he strategically tells a wealthy club member that he’d like to go to college but just can’t afford it. “Well,” Judge Smails consoles him, “the world needs ditch-diggers too Danny.” Perhaps the world needs followers, but the aspiration to become one, as Cain acknowledges, simply isn’t part of the American DNA. Standing above or apart from the crowd is American Individualism 101, and to the degree that the United States is a collective, it wants to be known as an exceptional one. Fate and circumstances may end up placing most of squarely within the crowd, but “followers wanted” is unlikely to ever gather much appeal. Does the type-A personality equate to leadership potential? Does introversion caution against it? If colleges or any organization are sending that message, they are certainly shortsighted. Moses required Aaron as his mouthpiece. When the priest of Bethel tells Amos to “flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there,” Amos is incredulous at the suggestion that he’d taken up prophesying as some kind of vocation: “I...

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Winter 2017

Posted by on Mar 17, 2017 in Faith and Imagination | 0 comments

Winter 2017

Jeffrey Kosky, Washington & Lee University Title: “Portraits of Enchanting Secularity: Notes on faces, prayers, and criticism for those disenchanted with disenchantment” May 12, 2017 Ever since Max Weber, in 1917, famously characterized “the fate of our times” with the memorable phrase “the disenchantment of the world,” it has been customary to equate modernity, secularity, and disenchantment. One form this disenchantment takes is a cold, critical spirit that pervades modern life in general and academic writing in particular. But a significant number of people, both inside and outside the university, have grown “disenchanted with disenchantment” and are seeking alternatives to it. This lecture takes portraits made by the contemporary painter Y.Z. Kami as an entry point for a set of considerations that aims to break the connection of disenchantment and modern secularity. Culminating in an exhibition provocatively entitled “Endless Prayers,” Kami’s painting of faces explores counter-moods such as serenity and peace, or counter-states-of-minds such as prayerfulness and contemplativeness, or counter-ways-to-be such as tenderness and vulnerability. These ways of being in the world are largely dismissed by our commonly disenchanted disposition; they are similarly absent from the professional critics’ consideration of modern art. The lecture concludes by identifying a need for another form of criticism and suggesting that religious texts and authors might provide a valuable resource from which those secular critics interested in learning how to cultivate a spirited response other than that of the disenchanted critic might...

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Fall 2017

Posted by on Mar 4, 2017 in Colloquiua | 0 comments

All Colloquia will take place in JFSB 4010 at 3:00pm unless otherwise specified. September 14 Roundtable Discussion “Is Linguistics Part of the Humanities?” September 21 Steve Riep (Asian & Near Eastern Languages) “Rethinking War: Unofficial History, Missing Veterans, and “Concrete” Images of (Dis)ability” September 28          **4101 JFSB** Hester Oberman (University of Arizona) “Religion and Medical & Health Humanities” October 12 Christian Ahihou (French & Italian)  “The Issue of African Emigration in Le ventre de l’Atlantique by Fatou Diome” October 26 Cecily Raynor (McGill University) “Using Digital Methods to Approach Contemporary Writing: Case Studies from Latin America” November 2 Dawan Coombs (English)  “Ideological Becoming: The Possibilities of Dialogical Pedagogy” November 16 Katya Jordan (German & Russian) “Turgenev’s Fatherless Children and the Rise of Populism” December 7 Philip Barlow (Utah State University) “Shards of Combat: the War in Heaven as an Idea”        ...

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Spring 2017

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Colloquiua | 0 comments

All Colloquia will take place in JFSB 4010 at 3:00pm unless otherwise specified. May 18 Marie Orton (French & Italian) “Migration Literature and the Politics of Changing National...

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