Letter from the Director, Unit for Criticism Spring 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

posted under , , by Unit for Criticism

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this email finds you warm and dry on a snowy January day in Champaign-Urbana (or wherever you are as you read these words). With furloughs recently announced for a wide swath of Illinois employees, and budgetary crises continuing at local, national, and global levels, I write in the hopes that the Unit for Criticism’s programs for Spring 2010 will help keep alive the intellectual vitality we value while providing productive venues for discussing the challenges of the present moment.

This spring’s colloquium series begins with an important follow-up to last semester’s roundtable discussion on the crisis in higher education. We are delighted to feature a January 25 lecture from Cary Nelson, professor of English and president of the American Association of University Professors who will use the occasion of his new book, No University is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom (NYU, 2010), to speak on the budget situation here at Illinois. Respondents will be Harriet Murav, professor and former Head of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Douglas H. Beck, professor of Physics and last year’s Vice-Chair of the College of Engineering Executive Committee. We are now in the process of updating our website for spring, and will soon be emailing with further details about background readings.

On Friday, February 19 the Unit will host its second annual February symposium on the topic of MAD WORLD: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960s including keynote lectures from Lynne Joyrich (Modern Culture & Media, Brown University) and Michael Szalay (English, UC Irvine) plus papers and presentations by Alexander Doty (Indiana), Caroline Levine (Wisconsin), and Illinois faculty including Nancy Abelmann, Dianne Harris, Jim Hansen, Lilya Kaganovksy, Diane Koenker, Clarence Lang, Kent Ono, Leslie Reagan, Rob Rushing, and Irene Small. I hope that many of you will join us for this one-of-a-kind event which includes an evening Dance Party reception at V. Picasso in Urbana. Although the Unit’s website is not yet updated, posters and programs will soon be in campus mail and you can preview the program (and, if you like, “friend” the event) on its Facebook page.

Sixties-inspired cultural work notwithstanding, the theme for this spring’s grad student/faculty seminar and the topic of our April 30-May 1 conference, is Bios: Life, Death, Politics. The keynotes for this most timely event are Paul Kahn (Yale Law), Paul Rabinow (UC Berkeley), and Priscilla Wald (Duke) and panelists include Timothy Campbell (Italian, Cornell), Cesare Casarino (Cultural Studies/Comp Lit, Minnesota), Sharad Chari (Geography, London School of Economics), Elizabeth Dauphinee (Political Science, York, Canada), Susan Greenhalgh (Anthropology, UC Irvine), and Neni Panourgia (Anthropology, Columbia). Bios is the joint effort of the Unit and the university’s new Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies initiative and Rob and I are delighted to be working closely with Michael Rothberg, director, along with Ellen Moodie (Anthropology), Feisal Mohamed (English), and Emanuel Rota (Italian), in organizing the seminar and conference. We look forward to contacting you soon with a full schedule of readings and dates.

In conjunction with the Bios topic we are pleased to feature two additional colloquia: a March 15 graduate student panel, “Climate Change Across the Disciplines” (organized by Carl Lehnen, Kathy Skwarczek, and Michael Verderame), and an April 19 lecture from Martin Manalansan (Anthropology/Asian American Studies), “The Travels of Disaffection: Labor, Affect and Migration,” with a response from Siobhan Somerville (English, Gender and Women’s Studies).

Let me add that Kritik, the Unit’s blog, will soon be firing up after an exciting fall. This spring, in addition to guest blogging about campus events, Kritik will also feature a number of posts from the awardees of the Unit’s grad student travel grants. I will be writing soon about a series of posts we are soliciting to provide information and commentary about the condition of higher education. Please note that if you are not already on the Unit’s listserv, please considering adding yourself: simply email me at lgoodlad@illinois.edu

With every best wish for a healthy and happy 2010.

Lauren Goodlad


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