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Distinguished Visiting Scholars Lecture Series

Michael Witmore and Vinton Cerf Celia Chazelle Zsuzsanna Gulacsi Jerry Gershenhorn Kate Elswit William Egginton Fred Moten

Funded through the UT Humanities Center for use by faculty in one of our nine affiliated arts and humanities departments, the Visiting Scholars project brings distinguished humanities scholars and renowned artists to the Knoxville campus and connects UT humanities faculty to the best researchers in their fields. Because only speakers with exception records of publication and research activity are eligible to receive a nomination as a visiting scholar, the program brings to campus some of the most cutting-edge and prolific intellectuals in the humanities today.

Lectures are free and open to the public and are held on the UT Knoxville campus. Public parking is available by the stadium for our off-campus visitors. Everyone is welcome!

 Check our Twitter and Facebook sites for updated information about our Visiting Scholars Series. If you want more information, feel free to call us anytime.

2018-2019 Visiting Distinguished Speakers

Click on each of the names to find out more information about each scholar.

Part of the "Dialogues: Region and Nation" Mini-Series

Elizabeth CatteElizabeth Catte
Historian and writer
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Time: 4:00 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  “What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia”

Elizabeth Catte, author of the book What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, takes a critical look at popular current portrayals of Appalachia, one of the country’s most controversial regions. Catte will discuss the genealogy of “Appalachian interpreters” and how region's realities complicate many of our most enduring stereotypes.

Elizabeth Catte is a historian and writer based in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. She has written for The Guardian, The Nation, Boston Review, Salon, LitHub, and is a regular contributor to Belt Magazine. Catte has a PhD in public history and is the co-director of Passel, an applied history consulting company, and an editor-at-large for West Virginia University Press.

There will be a book signing following the lecture.

Dr. Elizabeth Catte was invited to the University of Tennessee by Bob Hutton (History).

David M. LubinDr. David M. Lubin
Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art
Wake Forest University

Monday, October 1, 2018
Time:  3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  “Behind the Mask: WWI, Plastic Surgery, and the Modern Beauty Revolution”

During the Great War, trenches exposed combatants’ faces to sniper fire and flying shrapnel. In previous wars, such wounds would have proven fatal. Now, with improved medical and transport services, the wounded could be saved--but not always their faces as well. This lecture examines the humanitarian efforts of plastic surgeons to restore obliterated faces and sculptors to fashion prosthetic masks, while also considering postwar avant-garde modernism and the modern beauty culture, both of which evidence a visceral reaction to wartime unsightliness.

David Lubin has written extensively on American art and popular culture. His most recent book is Grand Illusions: American Art and the First World War (Oxford UP, 2016). Along with two co-curators, he organized the acclaimed art exhibition World War I and American Art. In 2016-17, Professor Lubin was the inaugural Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at Oxford University. 

There will be a book signing following the lecture.

Dr. David Lubin was invited to the University of Tennessee by Mary Campbell (Art).

Deborah WongDeborah Wong
Professor of Music
University of California, Riverside

Monday, October 15, 2018
Time:  3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  “Change is Coming: Asian American Arts Activism and Engaged Ethnomusicology”

Participatory democracy in the US is imperiled, but those with the most to lose – women, border dwellers, and people of color – offer compelling and intelligent models for inclusive praxis. Deborah Wong explores two case studies from her work in the Asian American public sphere: How do some Asian American women create social change through the arts? How do they work for, with, and beyond their own communities?  She explores how their models for interethnic collaboration are explicitly theorized and uses ideas from feminism, decolonial theory, and community organizing. Who is “at home” and who is a guest in the living room? What are the politics of aggrieved communities choosing to work together? How and why does music and dance create such powerful means for connection?

Deborah Wong is an ethnomusicologist and Professor of Music at the University of California, Riverside. She specializes in the musics of Asian America and Thailand and has written two books, Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music and Sounding the Center: History and Aesthetics in Thai Buddhist Ritual. Her book Faster and Louder: Pain, Joy, Taiko, and the Body Politic in Asian American California is under contract with the University of California Press.

Dr. Deborah Wong was invited to the University of Tennessee by Jacqueline Avila, Leslie Gay and Rachel Golden (Music).

Kimberly BowesKimberly Bowes
Professor of Classical Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Time:  3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  “The Roman 90%: The Rural Poor in the Roman World”

The Roman world is known from the monuments of the rich: buildings like temples and palaces, and also literature like Virgil and Livy. But what of the 90% - the poor, mostly rural farmers, who comprised the majority of the population and who have been largely left out of Roman histories? This talk considers what difference empire and global trade made to the lives of the poor majority. It discusses what they ate and how they lived, and argues that while the advent of Roman rule brought improvements in the material circumstances of the poor, it also brought more dramatic cycles of boom and bust, and with them the need for sophisticated systems of survival.

Kimberly Bowes is an associate professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an archaeologist, specializing in the archaeology of late antique religions, domestic architecture, and Roman economics. Author of four books and numerous articles, she has just completed a major field project on Roman poverty in Tuscany, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Kimberly Bowes was invited to the University of Tennessee by Jacob Latham (History).

Lothar von Falkenhausen Lothar von Falkenhausen
Professor of Chinese Archaeology and Art History
University of California, Los Angeles

Monday, November 5, 2018
Time:  4 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  “The First Emperor’s Terracotta Army”

When in 221 BC the First Emperor of China unified large parts of East Asia, he imposed a unified script, currency, weights-and-measurements system, and legal code. Archaeological discoveries have shown that these innovations were the outcome of a centuries-long process of development. Qin institutions shared a common source with neighboring states; the First Emperor’s mausoleum, with its famous terra-cotta figures, was a magnified example of a tomb type that had evolved over centuries. Professor Falkenhausen discusses how recent archaeological finds highlight the importance of Qin’s contacts to Inner Asia and asks us to consider how Imperial China was influenced by other cultures.

Lothar von Falkenhausen is professor of Chinese archaeology and art history and director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA. His research concerns the archaeology of the Chinese Bronze Age, and he has published on musical instruments; bronzes and their inscriptions; ritual; trans-Asiatic contacts; and method and theory in East Asian archaeology. President Barack Obama appointed him to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee in 2012. 

Dr. Lothar von Falkenhausen was invited to the University of Tennessee by Charles Sanft (History).

Montserrat CabréMontserrat Cabré
Professor of the History of Science
Universidad de Cantabria, Spain

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Location: Room 101 Strong Hall

Title:  “Dissection, Domestic Caring, and Women’s Religious Practice in 13th Century Iberia”

How do the history of caring and the history of dissection surprisingly overlap? A 13th-century song about the Cantigas de Santa María of Alfonso The Wise, king of Castile (1252-1284) may give us some clues. This talk will explore song number 188 as it is contained in the Códice rico, a manuscript copy composed of musical notation, lyrics, and a series of illuminations recounting each of the miracles in the Cantigas, a collection of 420 miracles written in Galaico-Portuguese at King Alfonso’s scriptorium. The talk will reference a modern performance of the song by the ensemble Música Antigua, directed by Eduardo Paniagua, which conveys how the story was transmitted through music and lyrics.

Montserrat Cabré is associate professor of the History of Science at the Universidad de Cantabria, Spain, and accredited full Professor by the National Office for the Evaluation of Academic Excellence (ANECA), and has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, MIT, and Harvard University. In addition to publishing extensively in the areas of medieval and early modern women’s health practices, the history of the body, and the history of women’s knowledges, she has been coeditor-in-chief of the open access journal Dynamis. At present, she is Academic Director of Gender Equality and Social Responsibility at the Universidad de Cantabria.

Dr. Montserrat Cabré was invited to the University of Tennessee by Sara Ritchey (History).

Christopher NewfieldChristopher Newfield
Professor of Literature and American Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Location: Room 101 Strong Hall

Title:  “What Do Universities Do? Bringing College and Society Back Together”

Why did the American university go from pillar of society to public menace? How do we get its relationship to states and communities back on track?  After criticizing key beliefs left, right, and center about the university, Professor Newfield proposes a new framework for understanding what universities do in society: rather than trying to fit in better with assumptions about them via conventional wisdom, universities should declare their independence and their public value in the clearest possible terms. 

Christopher Newfield is professor of literature and American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research concerns contemporary literature studies and Critical University studies, which links humanities teaching to the study of how higher education is re-shaped by industry and other economic forces. Professor Newfield's books include The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them (2016), Unmaking the Public University: The Forty Year Assault on the Middle Class  (2008), and Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980 (2003). He blogs on higher education policy and writes for the Huffington Post, Inside Higher Ed, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

There will be a book signing following the lecture.

Christopher Newfield was invited to the University of Tennessee by Amy Elias (Department of English/UTHC).

Anita AllenAnita Allen
Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy
University of Pennsylvania

Monday, March 11, 2019
Time:  3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  “Privacy and Ethics in the Digital Age”

Digital technology is redefining all aspects of society, including commerce, education, and public health. As a result, digital ethics is emerging as a field of applied philosophy, asking us how the interests and welfare of others make claims on us through digital technology. This lecture addresses how should we live our lives in a world shaped by social media and AI. While big data analytics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things produce ample benefits, they also raise threats of surveillance, discrimination and profiling. These forces potentially erode human dignity, autonomy, privacy, equality and freedom. Who is responsible for protecting these essential values?

Anita L. Allen is Vice Provost for Faculty and the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is an expert on privacy and data protection law and ethics. Allen served under President Obama as a member of his National Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, served on the IRB of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C. and appeared on numerous television and radio programs. Allen is co-author of Privacy Law and Society (2016) and author of Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (2011); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (2004), and Why Privacy Isn’t Everything (2003).

Dr. Anita Allen was invited to the University of Tennessee by Nora Berenstain (Philosophy).

Part of the "Dialogues: Region and Nation" Mini-Series

Steven StollSteven Stoll
Professor of History
Fordham University

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Time:  3:30 P.M.
Student Union Room 169

Title:  “The Ordeal of Appalachia”

The southern mountains are a geological province of eastern North America, but Appalachia is a cultural region, defined by its history. Where did it come from? In this lecture, Steven Stoll considers the first agrarians to colonize the mountains and the planters and investors who acquired land there at exactly the same time. The two entities coexisted uneasily until events overtook them both. The industrial “scramble” for the mountains took place during decades of transition, when the mountain folk lost their land. 

Steven Stoll is professor of history at Fordham University in New York City. He teaches environmental history and the history of capitalism.  His recent book is Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia (New York:FSG/Hill & Wang, 2017). 

There will be a book signing following the lecture.

Free and open to the public

Dr. Steven Stoll was invited to the University of Tennessee by Tore Olsson (History).

Jane ElliottJane Elliott
Reader in Contemporary Literature, Culture and Theory
Department of English
King's College London

Monday, April 8 2019
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  "The Horror of Choice” (audio only)

From Game of Thrones to The Revenant to Avengers Infinity War, recent American popular culture is brimming with visions of choice as a horror—a nightmarish negotiation of either/or options that characters are forced to endure in the name of survival. Across film, TV and literature, characters seem to have no choice but to choose who will survive, whose life they will trade for their own, or what they will lose to stay alive. In this talk, based on her recent academic monograph, Dr. Elliott offers an overview of and explanation for this fixation on the horror of choice and raises questions about the ways in which it is shaping American political discourse outside the realm of fiction and film.

Jane Elliott is Reader in Contemporary Literature, Culture and Theory at King’s College London. Her publications include The Microeconomic Mode: Political Subjectivity in Contemporary Popular Aesthetics (2018), the edited collection Theory after ‘Theory’ (2011) and Popular Feminist Fiction as American Allegory: Representing National Time (2008).

Jane Elliott was invited to the University of Tennessee by Amy Elias (Department of English/UTHC).

Amy GreenbergAmy Greenberg
Professor of History and Women’s Studies
Pennsylvania State University

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Time:  3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library

Title:  "War for Empire: The 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico”

When the United States invaded Mexico in 1846, enthusiastic volunteers on both sides of the border thought war would be a quick affair. They were wrong. The U.S.-Mexico War was a deadly, drawn-out conflict that, as this talk will reveal, set the United States on the road to both the Civil War and empire.

Amy S. Greenberg is George Winfree Professor of American History and Women's Studies at Penn State University. The recipient of fellowships from the NEH, Guggenheim Foundation, and American Philosophical Society, she is the author of five books about nineteenth-century America, including Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk (2019), the award-winning A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (2012), and Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire (2005).   

There will be a book signing following the lecture.

Free and open to the public

Dr. Amy Greenberg was invited to the University of Tennessee by Luke Harlow (History).

Part of the "Dialogues: Region and Nation" Mini-Series

Tracy K. SmithTracy K. Smith
Poet Laureate of the United States

Thursday, April 11, 2019
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Room 101 Strong Hall  

Title: “An Evening with Tracy K. Smith” 

In 2017, Tracy K. Smith was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and four books of poetry, including her most recent Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018). Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014 the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. She is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities, and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

There will be a book signing following the presentation.

Professor Tracy K. Smith was invited to the University of Tennessee by Margaret Dean (English).

We would like to thank the Office of Research & Engagement for their generous support.



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