Letter from the Director, Spring 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

posted under , , by Unit for Criticism
Dear Colleagues,

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Happy New Year! I hope you are keeping warm and snug, and I know you are keeping busy as we all rev up for another full-throttle semester in Champaign-Urbana. This spring the Unit for Criticism’s organizing theme is “Freedom and Its Discontents” including a faculty/grad seminar that begins on January 25 (a separate announcement will follow with complete details), and a 4/28-4/29 conference co-organized with the Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy initiative (SDEP) and the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security (ACDIS). Yet another highlight of the topic is a Nicholson Distinguished Visiting Scholar lecture and seminar with Nancy Fraser (New School) on 2/28-3/1 which SDEP is helping us to organize. As always at this time, we are updating our website with full details and background readings for these and other events and I will write again as we complete the process. But please read on for more detailed information about these and other events.

The Freedom and Its Discontents faculty/grad seminar—open to all interested Illinois scholars—begins on 1/24 at 8pm in the IPRH Seminar Room (lower-level) with classic readings by J. S. Mill, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. Four additional meetings are scheduled for 2/7, 3/7, 4/4, and 4/25 including readings by our keynote speakers: Svetlana Boym (Harvard), Audrey Kobayashi (Queen’s College), and Linda Zerilli (University of Chicago), as well as by five additional invited speakers (see below). Your hosts for the seminar—as well as the organizers of the Freedom and Its Discontents conference—are Colin Flint (Geography/ADIS), Elena Delgado (Spanish/GWS/Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies), Christopher Higgins (Educational Policy), Jesse Ribot (Geography, SDEP), the Unit’s Nicholson Fellow Associate Director, Robert A. Rushing, and me. I want to take this opportunity to thank this wonderful group for their hard work, expertise, and inspiration thus far, and urge you all to join us for what promises to be a most rewarding multi-disciplinary seminar.

In February, the Unit is pleased to join the Trowbridge Office in welcoming Donald E. Pease (Dartmouth) for a 2/14 lecture entitled, “Re-Mapping the Trans-National Turn in American Studies.” (Yes, we know it is Valentine’s Day, and we at the Unit are all for love: so we hope you’ll splurge on chocolates and champagne after the lecture, never stopping to regret what you did for American Studies.) Along with IRPH and the CFA, we are planning a roundtable conversation on Graduate Studies at the University of Illinois for which the tentative date is 2/16—details to come. On February 19, the Unit’s energetic Graduate Assistants, Mike Black and Katherine Skwarczek, will join the British Modernities Group in hosting New British Geographies, a multi-disciplinary one-day graduate student conference. The month will close with Nancy Fraser’s exciting Nicholson lecture, “Marketization, Social Protection, Emancipation: Re-Reading Karl Polanyi in the 21st Century,” beginning with an introduction by Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology/REEEC). On 3/1 Fraser will share her work in progress during a luncheon seminar, which IPRH and SDEP are helping us to organize (details about registration to come). Please write as soon as you wish if you would like the opportunity to spend time with Fraser while she is on campus.

Also in March we are pleased to be co-sponsors of a 3/9 CAS MillerComm visit by Andrew Flinn (University College London), as well the hosts of the Unit’s bi-yearly faculty lecture, by JB Capino (English/Asian American Studies/Media & Cinema Studies). The lecture, “My Brother is Not a Pig: Philippine Cinema against Empire” will include a response by Augusto Espiritu (Asian American Studies/History/Latin American & Caribbean Studies).

In addition to the keynotes by Boym, Kobayashi, and Zerilli, the 4/28-4/29 Freedom and Its Discontents conference includes papers by a number of leading interdisciplinary speakers: Jo-Marie Burt (George Mason), a specialist in state violence, human rights, and social movements in Latin America; David M. Hughes (Rutgers), an anthropologist and geographer of Southern Africa working on the relation of culture, politics, and political economy on environmental and physical landscapes; Elaine Hadley (Chicago), a literary scholar of nineteenth-century liberalism and war; Scott Kurashige (Michigan), a historian of Asian American and African American urban history and social movements; Abdi Samatar (Minnesota), a geographer working on democracy and development in East and South Africa; and our own Cris Mayo (Education Policy), whose multi-faceted research includes a nearly finished project on gay/straight alliances in public schools. I am also absolutely delighted to announce a musical performance which will be part of the Freedom conference by percussionist Jason Finkelman (Dance) and bassist Yosef Ben Israel.

Please feel free to write with any questions about these events, bearing in mind that I will write again with sign-up information and a complete syllabus for the seminar, with word of our updated website, as well as an invitation for guest bloggers on Kritik. If you have not already done so, please have your name added to the Unit’s email listserv and/or consider “friending” our Facebook page. Let me add that, for me, the very best part of all of these events is the chance it gives me to work with so many of you. If I have not yet met you—especially if you have ideas you’d like to propose for the Unit’s future programming—please write to me or introduce yourself at the first opportunity. I am always keen to schedule a coffee with anyone interested in the Unit and its affairs.

With very best wishes for a wonderful 2011.



Make A Comment