Posts by be29

Fall 2019

Posted by on Sep 12, 2019 in Colloquiua | 0 comments

All Colloquia will take place in JFSB 4010 at 3:00 PM unless otherwise specified. September 26 Greg Thompson (Spanish & Portuguese) How foreign are the Advanced Placement world language exams? The case of ethnicity, bilinguality, and heritage learner candidates October 3 Mary Eyring (English) On Fire: Colonial Ecology and Atlantic Sympathy October 10 Jesse Crisler (English), Cinzia Noble (French & Italian), & Fred Williams (Spanish & Portuguese) Retirement Roundtable Discussion   October 24 Don Chapman (Linguistics) Say X and not Y: Claims and Arguments in Prescriptivist Discourse November 15; 12pm  (4188 JFSB) Janet Ward (University of Oklahoma) “Mother of Exiles”: The Statue of Liberty and the Legacy of the Holocaust November 21 Katie Paxman (Philosophy) Religion Founded in Skepticism: Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion December 5 TBA...

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Faith after the Anthropocene: A Prehistory

Posted by on Aug 19, 2019 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

Faith after the Anthropocene: A Prehistory

The Editor’s Column of the current issue of PMLA (134.3) opens with Wai Chee Dimock sharing a little of her experience recuperating from a serious accident last fall. Many things came to me during my four weeks at Spaulding Rehab: consolatory e-mails, cards, some flowers, and a care package from PMLA that kept me going for the entirety of my stay. What I never expected was a translation of a story by the Japanese writer Shiga Naoya, sent by Scott Miller, dean of the College of Humanities at Brigham Young University (BYU) and the translator. Dimock goes on to describe the Shiga piece and what moved her about it, lighting on a phrase, “collateral resilience,” that describes her impressions of the story and of what BYU specifically enables in its educational mission. I quote here one of the article’s paragraphs: Collateral resilience has no better ground than this university. Faith-based education is central to the mission of BYU: languages, however honored and flourishing, serve an instrumental function. Still, what can be done on this footing is not trivial. For the field coverage here is impressive even as a side benefit, allowing most of the primary languages of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas to be taught: Akan, Aymara, Bengali, Bicolano, Burmese, Cakchiquel, Cambodian, Cantonese, Cebuano, Dari, Fijian, Guarani, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Hmong, Ilangot, Indonesian, Japanese, Javanese, K’iche’, Korean, Laotian, Malagasy, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Maori, Maya, Mongolian, Navajo, Pashto, Persian, Quechua, Samoan, Swahili, Tagalog, Tahitian, Tamil, Thai, Tongan, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Waray, and Xhosa. Given this critical mass of spoken tongues, a further side benefit is the emergence of indigenous languages as a galvanizing force at BYU: not a relic from the past but an innovator shaping the future of the university and affecting every aspect of its intellectual life, taking higher education into the twenty-first century and beyond. The column is about indigeneity and its resurgence. In addition to BYU, Dimock discusses the University of Washington and its Department of American Indian Studies and the presence of indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest. UW is noteworthy on several fronts, from its interdisciplinary approach to indigenous studies and the “rights-affirming, practice-rich ethos at the UW School of Law” to the catalyzing presence of indigeneity across the UW system. “Language revitalization is at once a collateral effect and a causal agent in this environment, making indigenous languages a generative force across the university.” But she closes, notably, by circling back to BYU, discussing its law school (“a pioneer in American Indian law”), innovative pedagogy in BYU’s McKay School of Education, BYU’s minor in Native American Studies, and recent exhibits in the Museum of Art. It’s an important article that ends on an elegant and optimistic note: “looking to a future that it can create only collaboratively, resilient indigeneity gives us a road map to the future of higher education itself.” In its way, BYU is emblematic of this future. Wai Chee, who teaches at Yale, is one of the nation’s most influential literary scholars. I consider her a friend, and she is a friend of our university and college. The inspiration for her column, as she mentions in the piece, was her presence at the symposium our Humanities Center sponsored last September. It was there that she got talking with our dean, who moved her, first, by being “in attendance almost the entire time,” and second, by telling her about his experience as a missionary in Japan and what it did to inspire him not only with an affection for the Japanese language, but “with an abiding love for Japanese cinema...

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One-Year Humanities Center Fellowship

Posted by on Jan 2, 2019 in Deadlines | 0 comments

One-Year Humanities Center Fellowship 2019 – 2020 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 14th. 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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2019 Upcoming Deadlines

Posted by on Jan 1, 2019 in Deadlines | 0 comments

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Winter 2019

Posted by on Nov 10, 2018 in Colloquiua, Humanities Center Events | 0 comments

All Colloquia will take place in JFSB 4010 at 3:00 PM unless otherwise specified. ​​ January 17 Marlene Esplin, Rex Nielsen, & Jamin Rowan Scholarship & Activism Roundtable January 24 Rico Vitz (Azusa Pacific University) Mencius, Hume, and the Virtue of Humanity: A Comparative Analysis of Benevolent Moral Development January 31 Kirk Belnap (Asian & Near Eastern Languages) Reflections on a 30-Year Experiment with Experiential Learning and Cognitive Dissonance February 7 Julie Allen (Comparative Arts & Letters) Mapping Cinema Ghosts: Film, Culture, and Settler Colonialism in Australasia February 21 Experiential Humanities Research Group Experiential Humanities February 28 Bill Eggington (Linguistics) Corpus Linguistic Applications to the Law: An Overview March 21 Ifeoma Nwankwo (Vanderbilt University) Blackness in Public: Reading and Righting Vulnerability across Generations, Geographies, and Genres March 28 Marc Olivier (French & Italian) Cinematic Fear and the Secret Life of Everyday Objects April 5 Mark McGurl (Stanford University) Wastelands *This event will be held at 11:00...

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Fall 2018

Posted by on Oct 28, 2018 in Faith and Imagination | 0 comments

Fall 2018

The big symposium our Humanities Center hosted in September introduced a range of perspectives pertaining to the theme of vulnerability.  This follow-up event will attend primarily to what vulnerability means relative to our teaching practices, especially regarding the interplay of faith and intellect. Our guest, Bo Karen Lee (of the Princeton Theological Seminary), will give a brief lecture titled “The Compassionate Christ in the Classroom,” followed by a roundtable discussion featuring Professor Lee, members of our own faculty, students, and anyone in the audience who wishes to join the discussion by asking a question or offering a perspective. The event will be held on Thursday, November 15th from 3:00-4:30 in JFSB B192 (the Education in Zion Theater), and a reception will follow across the hallway in the Foreign Language Activity Center (B003). The following day, Friday, November 16th, Professor Lee will give a follow-up lecture on the relationship between vulnerability and spirituality, centered on the German mystic Hildegard of Bingen. We will hold that lecture in JFSB 4010 (the dean’s conference room); lunch will follow shortly after noon. Title: “The Wisdom of Weakness in Hildegard of Bingen’s...

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2018

Posted by on Oct 20, 2018 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments

The Humanities Center in coordination with BYU’s Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) will hold its annual ORCA Symposium on Friday, October 26th at 3:00 PM in 4010 JFSB. Blake Perry Smith – Open Source Consistency Evaluation for Chinese Word Segmentation Chinese in its written form does not separate its characters by spaces. Imagine if this were the case with English and a sign at a job fair displayed “opportunityisnowhere.” Regardless of the intent being to announce that “opportunity is now here,” that can easily be read pessimistically without proper spacing. Computers must first be able to accurately and consistently identify word boundaries before any other language processing takes place. Tools called ‘segmenters’ do this essential work of parsing Chinese. State-of-the-art systems ‘learn’ how to accomplish this task from training data composed of human-segmented text. These sets of training data, or corpora, are widely distributed for use by researchers and practitioners in the development of segmenters. Importantly, these manual segmentations serve as a basis for computing probabilities for whether to segment a given sequence. However, the involvement of human judgement in developing these corpora results in inconsistencies that have proven to be detrimental to segmenter performance (Sun et al. 2003). Surprisingly, researchers have found that increased accuracy in segmentation does not lead to increased quality of machine translation output for Chinese (Chang et al. 2008). Rather, parser consistency was shown to produce better results in downstream machine translation. We believe that because of how segmenters learn to parse, consistent parses within training data strongly correlate to consistent parses by the segmenters themselves. Thus, ensuring consistency within corpora is a viable way to improve the quality of subsequent translations. We present a tool that detects and reports inconsistent segmentations either within a single corpus or between two corpora. By releasing our software under an open-source license, our work can have real implications for advancing computer effectiveness in Chinese word segmentation and consequently in advancing the state-of-the-art for machine translation. Kate Menlove – Das jüdische Weib: The Impact of Nahida Ruth Lazarus There is little material that is written by women about the lives and work of women in the early nineteenth century. There are almost no works focusing on the Jewish concept of women and family. One book, written in 1896 by a German convert to Judaism Nahida Ruth Lazarus, combines both women’s social experiences and the Jewish attitude towards women in a book titled, “The Jewish Woman”. While Lazarus’ book is unique in content, there are also very few copies in circulation, making it very rare. For my ORCA project with Dr. Michelle James, I am reading this document and creating annotations, as well as preparing an introduction. I have used library and internet resources, as well as speaking with a library director in Leipzig, Germany and interviewing a Lazarus scholar, Dr. Katharina Gerstenberger, about Lazarus and the time period. This project is to be posted on BYU’s Sophie Digital Library. The impact of this project will not affect the entire world, or even an entire University. However, it will be an invaluable resource to those interested in German History, Women’s Studies, or Jewish Studies. Lazarus doesn’t just write a historical account of women in Judaism; she celebrates the strength of women from several different generations. She highlights their sacrifices and how they have fought against societal norms on occasion. I truly believe that this book can empower women. Lazarus encourages us all to become who we want to be and not only settle for what life has allotted us. Isaac Robertson – The White Girl’s Burden: Feminized Colonial Ecology as...

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Literary Arboretum

Posted by on Oct 1, 2018 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

Literary Arboretum

While visiting my longtime friend and former roommate Ella1 at her home in Folsom, California this past summer, her family graciously took me along with them to visit the nearby Muir Woods National Monument. Ella and I were catching a redeye out of San Francisco that night, but had quite a bit of time to kill, so her mom made turkey sandwiches for everybody and we all packed into their minivan, prepared with freshly filled water bottles and small packages of trail mix for the ride before of us. I should make a disclaimer here: I had been anxiously waiting to see a redwood tree since I was a kid, when my mom would sing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” to me while strumming along the melody on her acoustic guitar. The “redwood forest” of the song always seemed mysterious and primordial, mystical and untouchable. Sure, I had seen trees and loved being around them while growing up in my home state of Georgia, but now I was going to see Trees. I was about to behold one of the most renowned and revered species, the Sequoia sempervirens. When you enter Muir Woods, all you can really do is tilt your head upwards, where you look into eternity; the massive trunk of the redwood splits infinitely into smaller and smaller branches, unfathomably. As you walk through the forest, you hardly dare to whisper. The trees in all their vivid viridity seem to gently demand your reverence as you observe their spiritual magnitude—so vast and superior to your own. While I observed this holiness, from the soft carpets of illuminated clover and sprouting fern fronds erupting from the ground like green fountains, two literary moments regarding trees revolved around my head. The first comes out of The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 3:9, which reads, “And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul.” 2 To speak of trees being anything but “living soul[s]” seems improper and disrespectful to those beings that have remained rooted in the earth long before and will continue to be long after the natural cycles of thousands and thousands of human bodies. Sometimes, when I approach my friends of fellow faith about considering trees as beings, the idea seems funky or strange. I imagine this could also be the case for many faiths. And yet it remains an inherent part of the restored gospel to believe in the ontological reality of seemingly unemotional, unthinking entities like trees and plants. The second literary thought wasn’t of scripture, but of Sylvia Plath—though some make no distinction between the two. That day, I had just finished reading The Bell Jar for the first time and was astonished at the amount of tree references that Plath makes over the course of the novel. The famous fig tree vision comes to mind (you can listen to Aziz Ansari read it), but Plath’s character Esther Greenwood is also found “in the shelter of an American elm,” and notices a cicada “in the heart of a copper beech tree,” among other instances with various angiosperms. This observation creates a sort of literary arboretum that exposes the reader to a system of tree species that each carries its own separate meaning and significance. 3 The way Plath approaches trees may reflect how she perceives herself, a notion eminent in her aptly titled poem, “Elm,” which reads, “I know the bottom, she says I know it with my great...

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When Linguistics Meets the Law: An Interdisciplinary Endeavor

Posted by on Sep 24, 2018 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

When Linguistics Meets the Law: An Interdisciplinary Endeavor

Earlier this week, on Constitution Day, BYU Law School issued a press release publicly launching the Law & Corpus Linguistics Technology Platform1. The site will house several large bodies of text compiled to cover the linguistic range of the constitutional record, and is open and available to any user, be it linguist, lawyer, or laymen. This initiative has come a long way since its early conception, and several factors ought to be credited for its progression. One of the Humanities Center’s former faculty fellows, Mark Davies, has certainly paved the way for corpus linguistics to be utilized in a much broader context, with his numerous corpora setting a landmark standard for representativeness, construction, and accessibility.2 I would also suggest the acceptance of evidential forensic linguistics in criminal cases as an important precedent for the use of linguistic analysis in the field of law. More direct, formative contributions have come through the work of individuals like Stephen Mouritsen, James Philips, and Justice Thomas Lee, who have all brought the concept into application through foundational law review articles and published court opinions. Now equipped with an additional set of corpora, including the Corpus of Founding Era American English (COFEA), we are seeing an expansion of law and corpus linguistics that is redefining conclusions about statutory and constitutional ambiguities; a recent footnote from Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court citing COFEA is an exciting step forward,3 and next year’s 4th annual Law & Corpus Linguistics Conference will bring an array of commentary and insight into the practice of this methodology.5 And as an undergraduate involved with the COFEA project and the development of a supplementary internship and curriculum, I know that in scope and impact, things are just starting to get interesting. If you would like a more concrete understanding of what law and corpus linguistics entails, or what it is aimed at accomplishing, you are much better off getting that from the team of lawyers, professors, and judges who have rallied around this growing subfield.4 For now, I simply want to point out what seems to be an important undertone in all of this. For me, the core idea being considered here is really just a supposition, one that provokes us to look beyond the current paradigm—what if a critical device external to the law, like a linguistic corpus, could be used as a means of addressing complex problems that the law, at times, is unprepared to solve on its own? This proposal to look beyond traditional methods is what most might term as innovation. But I think the more apt description would be interdisciplinarity. Indeed, the subfield of law and corpus linguistics is a demonstration of the fruits that come from laboring within and across boundaries of categorized disciplines. And I might argue further that some of the best of the humanities, be it linguistics, the arts, or letters, comes when they lend themselves to an interdisciplinary approach. But what is it really to be interdisciplinary? As a student majoring in interdisciplinary humanities, that is a question I’m faced with frequently (usually in the form of a friend asking me to ‘explain again’ what exactly it is that I’m studying at BYU). In my case, the impressive short answer could be ‘a study of the diversity of human expression.’ In terms of law and corpus linguistics, interdisciplinarity may be better described as “triangulation,” which Professor Lawrence Solum of Georgetown University writes about as a multidisciplinary collaboration to target meaning.6 In essence, interdisciplinary means holistic scholarship, an admission that one area of expertise may not hold all the answers,...

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Border Crossing

Posted by on Sep 17, 2018 in Homepage Features, Humanities Center Blog | 0 comments

Border Crossing

Last week, I was able to experience Rick Shaefer’s Refugee Trilogy, an exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art.1 Three immense triptychs formed the walls of the one-room exhibit, each symbolizing a different form of refugee travel: “Land Crossing,” “Sea Crossing,” and “Border Crossing.” Although all three pieces were moving (especially when considered and felt together), I found “Border Crossing” particularly striking. The large charcoal sketch is crowded with figures: feral lions, alligators, and hippopotamuses; armor-clad soldiers and bare men; angels and infants. All struggle with each other in a violent and haphazard display of what a border is and what it effects. It struck me that although “land” and “sea” both present difficulties for refugee and migrant travel, borders and border enforcement are unique in their particular social constructedness—even though natural and supernatural elements play a significant part in the piece, the border becomes the crux of these interests only after humans decide the place and function of the given border. Considering the arbitrary nature of borders and enforcement, then, it is no wonder that the sketch is composite black and white with an incredible amount of gray. In the midst of the commotion, though, the central figure to me is the lion. His anthropomorphic features, quite unique in context of the other animals portrayed in the exhibit, betray a morose countenance. Even he, one of the enforcers, is dejected—disappointed—demoralized by what he sees. He seems to ask, what is the cure for this suffering? Even considering the fact that immigration and border reform have long been topics of modern public discourse and artistic debate, the exhibit still seems particularly timely for the United States. Last year saw the first time that the U. S. resettled fewer refugees than the rest of the world, dropping from 97,000 in 2016 to just 33,000 in 2017.2 As for other migrants and asylum seekers, most readers will be familiar with one of this year’s biggest border crises, in which strict enforcement led to the incarceration and separation of thousands of children from their families. As of August 31st of this year—according to the Washington Post—nearly 500 of those children are still in U. S. custody.3 Considering how much horror can be experienced at borders, it is sometimes seems difficult to even fathom how they are created and why they exist. Robert Frost famously found similar perplexity. In “Mending Wall,” Frost presents a narrator at odds with his neighbor. As they come together to mend the fence between them (a wall that decays naturally as entropy takes its toll), he questions his neighbor as to why they need a wall in the first place; their trees are different enough that no man-made border would seem necessary to keep them from encroaching on one another’s property. His neighbor simply replies, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Frost’s narrator, though, isn’t having any of it: ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense.4 Frost seems to ask: when enforcement becomes only an end in itself, to what actual use is the border? On a broader plane, it recalls to me C. S. Lewis’s lecture, “The Inner Ring,” wherein he examines the human desire to exclude. As humans, he says, we tend to create “inner rings” of “deserving” individuals in order to puff ourselves up and look down on others. Now in some instances, exclusion is necessary to the activity...

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