Spring 2015 Calendar of Events

Common Hour with Dallas Denery: "How We Learned to Live with Lies"

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January 30, 201512:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Is it ever acceptable to lie? This question plays a surprisingly important role in the story of Europe's transition from medieval to modern society. According to many historians, Europe became modern when Europeans began to lie, that is, when they began to argue that it is sometimes acceptable to lie. In this lecture, Dallas Denery examines the trajectory of historical progression from a medieval world of faith, in which every lie is sinful, to a more worldly early modern society in which lying becomes a permissible strategy for self-defense and self-advancement.

Denery uncovers the complicated history of lying from the early days of the Catholic Church to the Enlightenment, revealing the diversity of attitudes about lying by considering the question from the perspectives of five representative voices, the Devil, God, theologians, courtiers, and women. Examining works by Augustine, Bonaventure, Martin Luther, Madeleine de Scudry, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and a host of others, he shows how the lie, long thought to be the source of worldly corruption, eventually became the very basis of social cohesion and peace.

Dallas G. Denery II is an associate professor specializing in medieval and early modern European history. He is the author of Seeing and Being Seen in the Later Medieval World: Optics, Theology, and Religious Life and the coeditor of Uncertain Knowledge: Scepticism, Relativism, and Doubt in the Middle Ages. His most recent book, The Devil Wins: A History of Lying from the Garden of Eden to the Enlightenment, is now available from Princeton University Press.

Note: This talk will also be live streamed on Bowdoin's Live Webcasts page.






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Hester Blum: "Polar Imprints: The News from the Ends of the Earth"

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March 2, 20156:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Hubbard Hall, Room 208 Thomas F. Shannon Room

Narratives of polar voyages enjoyed wide circulation in Anglo-American cultural and political spheres during the long nineteenth century. Yet the familiar travel accounts of adventurous voyage and their fictional counterparts were not the only forms of literary production generated by Arctic and Antarctic exploration. Many expeditions brought a surprising piece of equipment aboard ship: a printing press. With such presses, polar-voyaging sailors wrote and printed newspapers, broadsides, plays, and other reading matter beyond the Arctic and Antarctic Circles; these publications were produced almost exclusively for a reading audience comprised of the expedition’s crew members. 

In this presentation, Hester Blum, associate professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, will examine the first printed polar newspapers. What does this drive toward what she calls “extreme printing” tell us about the state of print culture and coterie publication in the nineteenth century Anglo-American world? Her talk will be attentive to the rhetorical distance between mass-published voyage accounts, and the coterie publications produced and circulated aboard ship. 'Polar Imprints' is attuned to the tension between the global ambitions of polar voyages, and the remarkably circumscribed conditions of their practice.

Sponsored by Africana Studies, Arctic Studies, and the English Department.

Free and Open to the Public

Note: This talk will also be live streamed on Bowdoin’s Live Webcasts page.

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Andrew Robarts '90: "Merchants, Migrants and Microbes: Ottoman-Russian Relations in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries"

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March 3, 20154:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Hubbard Hall, Room 208 Thomas F. Shannon Room

While not discounting geo-strategic and ideological confrontation between the Ottoman and Russian Empires, Andrew Robarts "Merchants, Migrants and Microbes: Ottoman-Russian Relations in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries" will show that in response to outbreaks of epidemic diseases and corresponding spikes in population movements, Ottoman and Russian officials -- at the imperial, provincial, and local levels -- communicated about, cooperated on, and coordinated efforts to control migration and check the spread of epidemic diseases (plague and cholera) across their mutual Black Sea and Balkan borderland. 

In his presentation, Robarts will re-conceptualize the nature of Ottoman-Russian relations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by exploring the complexity and depth of trans-imperial engagement in the Black Sea region. As such, he provides the “backstory” for the re-emergence of a Russian-Turkish condominium over political and economic affairs in the Black Sea region in the post-Cold War period.

Andrew Robarts is visiting assistant professor in Middle Eastern history at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He has previously taught Middle Eastern and Ottoman history at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). His research specialization is the comparative history of the Ottoman and Russian Empires with a particular focus on disease, public health, quarantines, and anti-disease legislation. He is currently developing a project on environment, space, and human mobility in the early-modern Ottoman Empire.

This event is free and open to the public.

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Ido Misato: "Creating Gilded Spaces: Kaisho and the Gilded Folding Screens"

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March 3, 20157:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

In her presentation, Ido Misato explores the meaning of spaces defined by gilded folding screens.A gilded folding screen is a screen for which gold is used as the background, and on which in many cases flowers and/or birds with seasonal landscape are depicted. It was regarded as an important gift and export from Japan to China and Korea; although the form of the folding screen itself originated in China, the gold background was unique to Japan.

Unlike pictures on room partitions, which are architecturally fixed, folding screens are generally portable, which enabled them to create a temporary space as the occasion demanded. Folding screens functioned as borders between interior and exterior spaces and in ritual spaces. Above all, the glittering and gorgeous surface of the gilded screens was suitable for and, indeed, could create extraordinary spaces for religious rituals. The space enclosed by the gold screens could be transformed into an ideal space, if just for a passing moment.

Sponsored by: The Annie Talbot Cole Fund, the Asian Studies Program, and the Art History Department

Misato is the project assistant professor at the Institute of Advanced Study of Asia at the University of Tokyo. She is currently a visiting fellow in the department of East Asian studies at Princeton University.


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Film Screening: 'The Auschwitz Gateway Film' with Filmmaker David Conover

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March 25, 20157:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Filmmaker David Conover will screen his recently-produced eight-minute film created for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum in Oświęcim, Poland.

The Auschwitz Gateway Film is a compelling and heartbreaking introduction to the horrors of the Holocaust at the largest concentration camp of the Nazi era, and will be shown to museum visitors before they walk through the infamous Arbeit Macht Frie ("work makes you free") gateway to enter the camp.

The screening will be followed by a conversation with Conover and Professor of English and Cinema Studies, Aviva Briefel.

Free and open to the public. No tickets required.

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Craig Steven Wilder, Russwurm Lecture: 'Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities'

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March 31, 20156:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Moulton Union, Main Lounge

Craig Steven Wilder, professor of history at MIT and a leading historian of race in America, will deliver the annual John Brown Russwurm Lecture in the Main Lounge of Moulton Union. A reception in the Russwurm House Library will precede the lecture at 5:00pm. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Professor Wilder will examine the contrasting figures of "the matriculating Indian" and "the uneducable Negro" to explore the limits on access to higher education in the second half of the 18th century. Looking closely at the experiences of two friends, the Reverend Samson Occom - a member of the Mohegan nation who became a Presbyterian minister, and poet Phillis Wheatley - the first African-American woman to be published, Professor Wilder will demonstrate how illusory were even the modest hopes of education held by Native and enslaved Americans. Though hailed by well-wishers as possessors of exceptional talents, Occum and Wheatley could find no institutional structures that would support them in intellectual, literary, or religious pursuits. 

This lecture stems from Wilder's important and widely reviewed new study, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities, where he argues that many of America's revered colleges and universities were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color.

Professor Wilder is a senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative, where he has served as a guest lecturer, commencement speaker, academic advisor, and visiting professor. For more than a decade, this innovative program has given hundreds of men and women the opportunity to acquire a college education during their incarcerations in the New York State prison system. 

He has advised and appeared in numerous historical documentaries, including the celebrated Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon film, The Central Park Five; Kelly Anderson's highly praised exploration of gentrification, My Brooklyn; the History Channel's F.D.R.: A Presidency Revealed; and Ric Burn's award-winning PBS series, New York: A Documentary History

Named after the first African-American graduate of Bowdoin College (class of 1826), the John Brown Russwurm lecture series explores "the legacy and status of Black Americans". Notable speakers include Robert Levine, Lani Guinier, Carl Stokes, Vernon Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Hooks, and Julian Bond, among others.


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Zaheer Ali: "From Malcolm Little to El Hajj Malik Shabazz: A Journey of Faith"

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April 7, 20155:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

Most discussions of Malcolm X's life tend to emphasize his politics and downplay the role of religion in his life. Or, if they do address his religion, these examinations often see Islam as something that Malcolm truly embraces only after leaving the Nation of Islam and making his hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. This talk examines the ways that religion in general, and Islam in particular, figured very early in Malcolm's life, and provided a passport for his growing internationalist politics.

Zaheer Ali is a PhD candidate in history at Columbia University. Under the direction of the late Manning Marable, he served as one of the project managers and a senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project (MXP), a multi-year research initiative on the life and legacy of Malcolm X.

Free and open to the public.

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Brian Mello: "The End of the Liberalized Autocracy in the Middle East and North Africa"

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April 13, 20157:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Moulton Union, Main Lounge

Prior to the events of the Arab Spring, it was believed that controlled liberalization and the emergence of hybrid authoritarian regimes—what scholar Daniel Brumberg termed liberalized autocracies—contributed to authoritarian stability in the Middle East and North Africa.  

In this talk, Brian Mello challenges these assumptions by identifying a set of causal mechanisms that emerged within liberalized autocracies that help to explain why the wave of protest in the Arab Spring began in and contributed to regime change primarily in such hybrid regimes. He concludes by examining what this wave of contentious politics might mean for the future of liberalized autocracy and democracy in the region.

Brian Mello is Associate Professor of Political Science at Muhlenberg College. He is author of Evaluating Social Movement Impacts: Comparative Lessons from the Labor Movement in Turkey(2013, Bloomsbury Academic). 


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Anne Sarah Rubin: "Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory"

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April 16, 20154:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Hubbard Hall, Room 208 Thomas F. Shannon Room

Sherman's March, cutting a path through Georgia and the Carolinas, is among the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War. In this presentation, Anne Sarah Rubin uncovers and unpacks stories and myths about the March from a wide variety of sources, including African Americans, women, Union soldiers, Confederates, and even Sherman himself. Drawing her evidence from an array of media, including travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers, Rubin uses the competing and contradictory stories as a lens into the way that American thinking about the Civil War has changed over time.

Anne Sarah Rubin is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Part of the Enhancing the Humanities at Bowdoin Civil War Era Cluster.

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Russian Language Table

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April 16, 20155:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Thorne Hall, Mitchell South

Come enjoy a meal and conversation while strengthening your language skills.

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