Spring Faculty Seminar

Each spring term, the week after commencement, we bring one scholar to campus to host our Faculty Seminar, a five-day intensive event featuring advanced readings or film screenings and revolving a particular topic of wide interest that cuts across departments and disciplines. As space permits, graduate students and faculty members from other local institutions may also participate. We advertise and provide information about participating in this seminar through our weekly e-newsletter, which you can subscribe to by providing your name and email address in the "Stay Up-to-Date" block on the right-hand side of our website pages.

Spring 2017 Faculty Seminar

"Atmospheres and Inscriptions"
John Durham Peters, Yale University
May 1-May 5, 11:00am-1:00pm, 602 CL

Our time is characterized by a double overload: of carbon and of information.  Climate change and big data, in other words, are two existential horizons of our moment.  Media studies has the challenge to consider these two things together. In this seminar, I propose to look at the ways that media monitor, capture, document, model—figuring out the right verbs is part of the problem—fluid, dynamic, and elusive entities such as weather, climate, opinion, votes, sounds and clouds.  Of equal interest is how media fail to model such processes.  The seminar will explore the tension between the nebulous and the recorded in a variety of domains such as clouds, religion, breathing, digital media, and sounds.  The question of time and its mediation will naturally recur throughout the discussion. 

John Durham Peters, Professor of English and Film and Media Studies at Yale University, was previously the A. Craig Baird Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa, where he taught for 30 years.  An intellectual historian and philosopher of media and communication, Professor Peters has published books and essays on such varied topics as the history of communication research, the philosophy of technology, pragmatism, the public sphere, and media and religion.  His first book, Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1999.  The winner of the James A. Winans-Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address from the National Communication Association, Speaking into the Air has been translated into eight different languages and earned Professor Peters wide recognition as an intellectual and cultural historian.  His second book, Courting the Abyss: Free Speech and the Liberal Tradition, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2005.  His most recent book, The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media, which explores a range of media infrastructures—from television transmitters to the sun—was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2015. 

If you are interested in participating in this seminar, please RSVP to the Humanities Center to confirm.  Although all are welcome, these seminars have filled in the past, so an early confirmation is recommended to help guarantee your space in the seminar. We will hold a series of preparatory discussions through the spring term to begin conversation on its topics.  Please address questions about the seminar to Brent Malin, the center’s Associate Director. 

Graduate students who wish to receive credit for participation may enroll in a 1-credit ENGLIT course, "Studies in the Humanities," ENGLIT 2001, which is cross-listed with Cultural Studies.  The organizational meeting will take place at noon, Friday, January, 13, in 602 CL. Please email Brent Malin or Jonathan Arac if you wish to join this course but cannot make this time.

Past Faculty Seminars

Spring 2016: Lydia Goehr, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, “Emancipation Narratives in the Arts”

Spring 2015: Michael Wood, Professor Emeritus of English at Princeton University, led the seminar "Crime and Crime Again"

Spring 2014: Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago, led the seminar "Affects of the Commons"

Spring 2013: Priscilla Wald, Professor of English and Women's Studies at Duke University, led the seminar "Science, Culture, and the Human After World War II"

Spring 2012: Wai Chee Dimock, William Lampson Professor of English and American Studies at Yale, led the seminar "American Literature in the World"

Spring 2011: George Lipsitz, Professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, led the seminar "Music, Race, and Place"

Spring 2010: Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, led the seminar "Rethinking Cosmopolitanism"