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The Scholars@Hallwalls Lecture Series Features New Research from the 2018-19 Faculty Fellows

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, a space for experimental art, music, and film located in the heart of Buffalo at Delaware and Tupper, is the perfect setting for a eighth year of the Humanities Institute’s Scholars@Hallwalls lecture series. These monthly presentations feature one fellow’s research in an engaging lecture with lively follow-up conversation. This year’s lineup highlights the interdisciplinary range of humanities research at UB.

Talks are on Friday afternoons at 4 pm and are free and open to the public. Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres are served. Please join us for any or all of the Scholars@Hallwalls talks!

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
341 Delaware Avenue

“Cities and Schools in America, 1896-2015”

Faculty Fellow Erkin Ozay Department of ArchitectureSeptember 14
Erkin Özay, Architecture

Architect and urbanist Erkin Özay’s work explores the role of institutions in addressing the needs of disadvantaged urban communities. Bridging facets of urban development, education policy, and design, Özay’s talk will focus on the recent history of school-led redevelopment in East Baltimore, reflecting on it as an illustrative case to examine the persistent paradigms of community-building in American urbanism, as well as the spatial ideology of “saving cities.”

“The Politics of Value (and the Value of Politics)”

Faculty Fellow Chad Lavin Department of EnglishOctober 12
Chad Lavin, English

This paper uses Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital to index the declining authority of the humanities to the rise in economic logic of neoliberalism.  Looking at the institutions and practices that elevate the discourse of economics over alternative modes of assigning value (namely, ethics and politics), Lavin argues that the esteem of the social sciences—and of economic science in particular—derives primarily not from their methodological rigor or verifiable results, but rather from the persistent efforts of a cultural infrastructure that promotes a distinctive approach to value.

“Better Now? Recovery Anxiety in the Writing of Autism”

Faculty Fellow Joseph Valente Department of EnglishNovember 2
Joseph Valente, English

Autistic narratives unfold under the dueling pressures of diagnostic and literary expectation. The diagnostic expectation holds autism to be a life-long proposition: either a permanent disorder that may be ameliorated but never dissipated or a distinctive mode of being that should never be dissipated but must be accommodated. The literary expectation—set by the mass audience for auto-biographies and the hortatory tradition of disability writing—is that autistic protagonists will conquer the adversity of their the condition and achieve something like a “recovery.” This lecture explores how the tension between these disciplinary imperatives structures current autistic memoirs.

“Not a Place But an Irrevocable Condition: Emancipation and the Meaning of Home Among Formerly Enslaved Americans”

Faculty Fellow Carole Emberton Department of HistoryNovember 30
Carole Emberton, History

Carole Emberton’s talk explores freedpeople’s struggles to find, establish, and maintain a sense of home in the decades after emancipation in the nineteenth century. In particular, she will explore the ways that the sites of enslavement—the plantation—continued to shape their understanding of self and family and provide them with a sense of rootedness and belonging despite (or perhaps because of) the historical traumas experienced there.

“Use poison to attack poison: Medicine, illness, and society in early imperial China”

New Date! February 8 February 1Faculty Fellow Yan Liu Department of History
Yan Liu, History

How does medicine help us understand society? Using Chinese medicine as an example, my talk shows the conception of illness and the therapeutic rationale of deploying poisons in first-millennium China. Liu identifies a striking parallel: Just like doctors’ use of potent drugs to eliminate malign entities out of a physical body, the state established stringent policies to expel poisoners, especially women poisoners, to remedy a social body. The medical use of poisons in China, therefore, reveals the far-reaching repercussions of the ideas of illness and therapy in social imagination and political ruling.

“Partly Green: The Past and Future of Sustainable Business”

March 1Faculty Fellow Adam Rome Department of History
Adam Rome, History

Can capitalism become green without fundamental changes in the rules of the marketplace? The last 30 years has been a revealing test of the limits of corporate sustainability initiatives. In the United States, no major environmental legislation has passed since 1990, yet many businesses have worked hard to become greener. How successful have their efforts been? What has driven change, and what has stood in the way? The answers to those questions offer important insight into what we still need to do to build a sustainable economy.

“The Spatial Allegories of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style Architecture”

March 29Faculty Fellow Charles L. Davis, II Department of Architecture
Charles L. Davis, II, Architecture

This presentation examines the racial politics of space that were manifest by Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of a Prairie Style architecture. While the American prairie was spatially defined by the wide-open spaces that inspired the horizontal massing and flowing interior spaces of this style, it was also the site of a dramatic social struggle between white settlers and non-white natives competing for land. Davis argues that Wright’s separation of the symbolically ‘white’ served spaces and the ‘non-white’ servant spaces of the home constitutes a spatial allegory of the racial competitions that defined life in the Midwest. This reading invites a reassessment of the ways Wright’s style represents the central values of American democracy.

“Transforming Medical Problems into Legal Problems”

April 12Faculty Fellow Mary Nell Trautner Department of Sociology
Mary Nell Trautner, Sociology

Why do some medical problems become legal problems and others do not? This project is based on interviews with 100 parents of children who experienced the same kind of birth injury about their decisions whether or not to pursue legal action against their doctor. Trautner examinex three important influences on parents’ decision making: state-level political and media culture, online social networking sites, and intimate social support networks. Whether parents frame their child’s injury as a legal problem, medical problem, or personal failing can lead to drastically different actions and outcomes for families and children.

“Oia: Perils of American Tourist Children in Greece”

May 3Faculty Fellow Dimitri Anastasopoulos Department of English
Dimitri Anastasopoulos
, English

Oia: Perils of American Tourist Children in Greece (a docufiction) incorporates political analysis of the Greek economic and political crises (2008-2018) together with nonfiction travel writing, cultural critique, and a recasting of Plato’s Cave. Fictional narrative in Oia also sits in with a range of cultural narratives, political arguments, and social discourses, which have come to dominate the story of Greece in the last decade. While exploring the use of public and private rhetorical formulations on the crises, the novel recasts media and political narratives into the space of fiction in order to contextualize political responses to the crises essentially as dramatic performances cloaking political ends.