Colloquia - Spring 2013
Colloquia are held from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Bundy Reading Room of Avery Hall, unless otherwise noted. Feel free to bring your lunch.
Friday, April 5
Presented by Trevor Bond
Head, Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Washington State University Libraries
"Hair in the Archives: Remembering Narcissa Whitman"
On November 29, 1847, a group of Cayuse Indians murdered Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and twelve others. The fate of the Whitmans quickly established itself as a key element in the narrative of Western history. Americans remembered the Whitmans in a variety of ways including the collecting of artifacts related to their missionary activities. In 1935, the historian Clifford M. Drury purchased a lock of Narcissa Whitman’s hair for the archives at the Washington State College (WSU). This is not the only surviving lock of Narcissa Whitman’s hair in the region: Whitman College, the Oregon Historical Society and Pacific University all hold collections of Narcissa’s hair. The survival and documentation of Narcissa Whitman’s hair in archives provides a fascinating case study of hair as a keepsake, relic, and war trophy.
Friday, March 29
Presented by Kirk McAuley
"Brandy & Iron: The Nature of Things in Mungo Park's Travels
in the Interior Districts of Africa"
J.M.W. Turner, The Slave Ship (1840)
This colloquium will focus on the nature of things and, in particular, the physics of least action in Mungo Park’s Travels (1799). Drawing upon his archival research at the National Library of Scotland, McAuley will interpret Park’s narrative not as an “early manifestation of the ‘imperial eye’ that would soon colonize and exploit all that it beheld” (Howe, 2001), but as one that indirectly treats the awful consequences of European commercial transactions in Africa. For example, rather than directly acknowledge the environmental costs of the transatlantic slave trade (an industry that both fed upon and fueled intercultural warfare in Africa) Park prefers to write about frogs, bees, and the locusts that “devour every vegetable that comes in their way.” McAuley suggests that Park was obliged to construct his narrative as a zigzagging path of least resistance because to address the subject of the slave trade, etc. otherwise would have meant biting the hand that was feeding him – or, rather, it would have meant questioning the long-term economic plans of the African Association, which sponsored Park’s efforts to find the Niger River in 1795 – 1797.
This presentation stems from McAuley’s latest book-length research project, Invasive Species, which aims to increase our understanding of what Lisabeth Paravisini-Gerbert describes as the “inseparability of current crises of ecological mismanagement from historical legacies of imperialist exploitation.”
Friday, March 1
Presented by Pavithra Narayanan
"Who is Ambedkar?: The Power/Politics of Liberation and Representation in India"
Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956) was the first highly educated, politically prominent member of the Hindu "Untouchable" castes. He wrote The Annihilation of Caste for the 1936 meeting of a group of liberal Hindu caste-reformers; after seeing a draft of the speech however, the group revoked their invitation. Dr. Ambedkar self-published the work, and it became an immediate classic.
Within India, B. R. Ambedkar is a relatively obscure figure; outside the nation, few recognize his name. Contextualizing the position that this intellectual, barrister, historian, author, and chief architect of India's Constitution occupies in discussions about India, Pavithra Narayanan will examine the relationship between the politics of liberation struggles and the politics of literary and political representation.
Friday, Jan. 18
Presented by Aaron Moe
Zoopoetics is the process of discovering innovative breakthroughs in form through an attentiveness to another species’ gestures/vocalizations (poiesis). The presentation demonstrates how zoopoetics is not a minor event in American poetry, nor is it limited to human spheres. Other species discover innovative forms of their bodily poiesis, through, at times, an attentiveness towards humans. Many disciplines have contributed to the radical revaluation of the animal in culture and society; zoopoetics further contributes through tracing the implications of Whitman’s insight, that animals, including humans, follow the "same old law” of a bodily poiesis.
Friday, February 1
Presented by Professor Debbie Lee and Professor Dennis Baird
How to Tell the Human History
of a Wild Place
In 2010, Debbie Lee and Dennis Baird were awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research Grant to create an archive of historical documents, photos, and oral histories chronicling the human history of one of the wildest places in the lower 48 states—the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of Idaho and Montana.
As their grant comes to an end, Lee and Baird reveal the history of this 1.3 million acre landscape that was among the first places granted wilderness designation with the Wilderness Act in 1964. Originally home to the Nimiipuu and Salish Indians, the Selway-Bitterroot has been fiercely protected by preservationists throughout the centuries. In the 1930's Bob Marshall, founder of the Wilderness Society, invested so much energy protecting the area that it was originally supposed to bear his name.
In addition to the archive and oral histories, Lee is writing a creative nonfiction book about the region, weaving her own travels through the larger history of the place. Baird will show treasures from the new archive (such as Gifford Pinchot's diary where he talks to his dead wife in the wilderness) and Lee will read a short excerpt from her book.
Friday, February 15
Beth Buyserie and Anna Plemons, "Listening to the Data: Composition, Retention, and Sustainability in the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program at WSU"
The Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program (CLASP) is in its second year of a three-year, grant-sponsored research project focused on supporting under-represented students in the English 101 classroom and providing relevant pedagogical training for the English 101 teachers.CLASP facilitates weekly student-faculty meetings, coupled with a six-part teacher training series. The data collected thus far point to a few important considerations for long-term sustainability planning, connecting the department to the University's broader academic and retention goals in significant ways. After providing a brief theoretical framework for the program, Beth Buyserie and Anna Plemons will present student and instructor data, CLASP’s sustainability plan, and future connections between CLASP and WSU.
Friday, April 12
Linda Kittell, Peter Chilson, Linda Russo:
book launch for Linda Kittell's new poetry collection