Program Archive

Interventions and Resistance: Raced/ Gendered/ Classed Violence in the USA (2016 Spring)

In fall 2015, The Humanities Institute sought to address and confront some of the devastating effects of intersecting forms of violence committed against people of marginalized identities in contemporary United States. In spite of these crises, there are people doing tremendous work of interventions, agitation and resistance; work that is constant, multifaceted, simultaneous and that perseveres.

In spring 2016, The Humanities Institute will welcome scholars-artists-activists, poets, writers, and musicians — all visionaries who use their brilliant skills, intellect and talents to further the discussions of systemic and overt oppressive violence. As agents of greater change, they further the urgent and necessary work of dismantling systems of inequality and social injustice and provide us with pathways to how activism and social justice can better shape our world.

Dangerous Conversations: Raced/Gendered/Classed Violence in the USA (2015 Fall)

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)

How shall we live in a Post-Charleston America? This is obviously not the post-racial America many envisioned with the election and re-election of Barack Obama. An apt observation has been made that Post-Charleston USA doesn’t look much different from a Pre-Charleston USA, so the difference must be found in us, in how we respond. More and more people have come out against racial profiling, systems of injustice, implicit bias, and the indiscriminate use of deadly force, which can no longer be characterized as "Black issues," but as real world practices that affect friends, family, classmates, and co-workers. The legally condoned killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Rumain Bribon, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice have raised concerns to a new level of awareness — outrage that moves us to identify the connections between racial, class, and gendered violence. How and why does America the nation-state promote systems of violence against its own people?

We will begin by recognizing how difference really works within the dominant logics of white privilege. That intersectional forms of difference are embedded within such dominant structures is a “given,” but they remain very difficult to excavate — but if we are to have meaningful discussions about social change, then these excavations must happen before we can celebrate “diversity.” As some people have observed, benefiting from white (or male or hetero or class) privilege is axiomatic; defending such privileges is a choice. So in addition to focusing on the innumerable acts of violence (micro- and macro-aggressions) that people of color face in their daily lives (i.e., Black male teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white teens), let’s talk about why our nation-state tolerates the results of gun violence in our streets, in our public spaces, in our homes, and in our schools; why the USA has 5 percent of the world population and 25 percent of world prisoners (and also how African Americans and Latinos comprise 58 percent of the prison population but only 25 percent of  the U.S. total population); why rape culture is promoted in popular media and youth culture, in video games and movies, and practiced in our prisons and even on our campuses; why 67 percent of transgender prisoners in California have been assaulted by fellow inmates as well as prison officials; why extra-legal violence against “illegal” immigrants has been consistently ignored or even tolerated by various federal and state officials; how women in the USA ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence, how more than 4 million women experience assault by partners each year, and  how 1 in 4 women reports experiencing domestic violence.

These statistics are not well-known, but even mainstream media cannot hide the devastating effects of these intersecting forms of violence in people’s lives in the contemporary United States. But as is the case in all conditions of crises, there are people who are doing tremendous work of excavation — and rebuilding; a work that is constant and simultaneous. The Humanities Institute will welcome scholars-artists-activists, writers, and musicians — all visionaries who use their brilliant skills and talents to further the discussions around difference by yoking them to the urgent and necessary work of dismantling inequality and social injustice.

Concepts of Self (2015 Spring)

Who do you think you are? In spring 2015, the Humanities Institute presents a series of events, lectures, and workshops examining one of the most important and interesting topics: me. Or, rather: the concept of self.

We will peer through a multidisciplinary, multimedia, multicultural kaleidoscope in order to observe this concept in theory, fiction, religion, politics, film, other media, and in its “natural habitat” within. We can think of the self as an animal, an immaterial spirit, a neural system, a center of an internal narrative, and an autonomous moral agent. Selves have also been conceived in terms of cognitive functions, something ultimately gendered, a unit or determinant of economic value, and a construction out of socio-political relations, power struggles, and culture. Or is the self just a stream of consciousness, something mediated and even created by technology, or a vehicle for reincarnation? Is it some sort of fiction or illusion, a sick delusion whose ultimate function is to facilitate suffering?

Join us as we examine concepts of self and ask where they come from, how they relate or fit together, what purpose they serve (and for whom), and what broader implications they might have.

Silence (2014 Fall)

Is silence the absence of sound? Is it the space between words, a pause between heart­beats? Is silence a refusal to speak — or to respond? Is silence collaborative, complicit? Is it pleasant, peaceful? Contemplative? Is meditation a form of silence? Does silence signify absence? Does it entail presence? Does silence make you nervous? Is silence menacing? In fall 2014, the Humanities Institute explores the theory and practice of silence: voluntary and coerced, solitary and communal, literal and metaphoric. What are the politics of silence? How has silence been mandated and inflicted across historical periods and in a range of cultures and geographic locations? How are silence and gender related? Can silence be palpable, visual, deafening, architectural, dynamic? Hush. Let’s think about it.

Feminisms and the Radical Imagination (2014 Spring)

In spring 2014 the Humanities Institute explores multiple feminist narratives and trajectories, addressing the intersections of gender, ethnicity, race, power, and social justice within and beyond the academy.

We live in a society where challenges to affirmative action continue 90 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced, where contentious legislation about reproductive rights dominates headlines, where, as Ruth Wilson Gilmore expressed, "fatal couplings of power and difference" translate into economic and social disparities experienced by women across the globe. In a political and intellectual climate infused with debates about race, class, and power, the need for critical conversations about feminist scholarship is clear and urgent.

What individual and collective strategies shape the political imagination and practical work of women mobilizing for social justice? How do the underlying dynamics of capitalism, settler colonialism, decolonization, and empire building converge to inform and constrain gender politics? How do feminisms translate or not translate across borders of North and South? How are synergistic interactions among inequities and marginalizations grounded in the lived experience of contemporary women? And how does a lack of academic diversity re-inscribe existing power structures? These questions (among others) invite opportunities to discuss, challenge, upend, and re-envision scholarship about feminisms, and gender and sexuality rights in relation to social justice.

Re-visioning Food Sovereignty: U.S. Supply and Consumption (2013 Fall)

Food production, distribution, and consumption in contemporary U.S. society remain problematic. The logic of capitalism and modernity has institutionalized factory farming; the legacy of colonialism and the more recent phenomenon of globalization have cast a long shadow on the production, consumption, and diverse meanings of food. Food production and consumption are presented as seemingly "timeless" or impermeable in their opaque structures, but community organizations have challenged such views. From this perspective, scholars, critics, and community activists have mounted successful fronts to reconfigure and reimagine these processes through alternative strategies and discursive practices to produce new centers of knowledge in contemporary debates. For example, scholar Julie Guthman, in the field of community studies and geography, has offered ideas concerning the emergent field of environmental epigenetics, questioning how toxins influence bodily function and phenotype. Indian philosopher and eco feminist Vandana Shiva in her seminal work, Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, focuses on case studies of the global South that highlight ethical and moral issues among biotechnology, corporate agricultural policy, and the global food supply. These challenges and debates open a critical space for discussion over a number of specific intellectual currents in defining food sovereignty. This semester's program will pursue a line of critical inquiry across a range of disciplines and debates.

Music, Dance, Ritual, and Belief: Transforming Societies (2013 Spring)

Music and dance are basic elements of ritual and belief across the globe, valued for their capacity to communicate through both physical and spiritual realms; they fuse action and thought in unique ways, enhancing our senses, transforming our emotional and physical states, our relationships with one another, and our understanding of how we create the world around us. According to Ojibwe teachings, music and motion brought the cosmos into being; the Earth's response was her heartbeat, represented by the sound of drum. For the Mevlavi, chants and whirling dances become ceremonies of union with the Divine.Â

The interdisciplinary study of (artistic) meaning includes works by scholars such as philosopher Peter Kivy in his studies of musical emotion through cognitivist theories of expression and aesthetics; by ethnomusicologist Philip Bohlman in the cultural representation and an ontology of world music; by Drid William in his anthropological treatise on why people dance; by Cynthia J. Novack's and Jane Desmond's research about human movement as a means of cultural production; and by musicologist Lawrence Kramer in New Musicology's humanistic meaning as the key to how, where, and when music is heard. The connection between music, dance, and belief has also been the subject of scientific inquiry, for example in Nicholas Wades' recent work on the evolution of religious belief.

Combining these streams of scholarship allows us to consider the interplay of tradition and self-expression in ritual and belief. Although ritualized music and dance can be used strategically to create a tradition (to paraphrase Catherine Bell), they can also help challenge, negotiate and disrupt the very basis of those traditions and beliefs. How do music, dance and spirituality combine to influence societal norms and expectations about beliefs and religion? How can music and dance critically and uniquely impact the ways in which we understand overarching power relations? What deeper meanings and affect can be found in popular, world, and Western musical concerts, productions, or venues? How and why do we interpret musical and kinesthetic practices through concepts of meditation, transcendentalism, and traditionalism?

Social Media/Social Change: Negotiating Access, Control, and Unrest in the Information Age (2012 Fall)

Digital media have saturated and accelerated society, compressing our sense of time and geography in ways that are both radical and unexpected. As computing technologies become smaller, cheaper and mobile, people from across the globe are interacting at unprecedented speeds with unprecedented results. Our expectations of a wireless environment, layered with digital information ensuring immediate response, have increased exponentially. We are plugged in, online, and potentially connected 24/7, part of a "new knowledge society" with tangible personal, economic and political implications.

This semester we will explore, both at a local and global level, the big-picture implications and the practical realities surrounding social networking and online collaboration. In what ways is "information" being redefined, repackaged or censored via participatory media? Has civic engagement been transformed by viral trends and citizen journalism? From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement, how have hashtags, status updates and geo-location apps coordinated or repressed activism — or are they getting too much credit? Are new technologies disrupting or entrenching the 'digital divide'? Faced with this convergence of political upheaval, academic research and technology, what new models are we developing for scholarship, community, and cultural production?

The Scripps College Humanities Institute invites you to consider the impact of social media within and beyond the academy. Contributors will include digital developers, sociologists, writers, artists, programmers, economists, legal and policy experts, and others working at the intersections of digital culture and public life.

Continuing Invasion: Resistance, Resilience, and Re-invention among North American Indigenous Peoples (2012 Spring)

Continuing invasion is the process many Native people use to characterize their historic and present realities. Since the first wave of Europeans landed on American shores, indigenous peoples have endured all manner of physical, material, and psychological brutalities. Yet some of the most successful and courageous examples of resistance to systematic decimation are embodied in indigenous peoples' unwavering determination to protect their lives, lands, and ways of life. This semester, the Scripps Humanities Institute brings to campus a diverse group of indigenous speakers whose work constitutes its own form of resistance, challenging and contesting the omissions, distortions, and fetishized constructions that abound in mainstream and scholarly representations of Native peoples.

Performing the Body Politic: Transgressions, Interventions, and Expressive Culture (2011 Fall)

Performance and creation of the body within socio-cultural power relations invite a critical gaze at how cultural narratives and categories enliven debates concerning purpose, meaning and intention. Public spectacle and the visual and performing arts can be powerful elements in the creative processes and conditions that synthesize these ideas into coherent (re)presentations. What does it mean for cultural critics, artists, community members, audiences, and performers to intervene and change the course or outcome of these processes or conditions? How does the exuberance and efficacy of performance invite new ideas about the body in its deconstructions and reconstructions? What do critical spaces in performance reflect of embodied historical and contemporary knowledges through a myriad of forms and venues?

As global perspectives and technology become increasingly salient in these discussions, issues such as patrimony, intellectual property rights, cultural representation, and authenticity challenge us to rethink conceptions of human expression and capacity for growth. How do we reconsider cultural values and social issues that both inspire and impinge upon expressive culture? What does the body show us about how we theorize potential transgressions and agents of social change in academic and broader community intellectual processes?

The Future of Higher Education: Gender, Geography, and the Humanities (2011 Spring)

Critical views of higher education seem to agree on the need to, at the very least, enable people, especially the young, to use their minds to capacity, and at best, prepare citizens to participate in a democracy. It is also generally agreed that education, and to some the education of women, is needed to end cycles of poverty while spurring economic growth. Some have argued beyond development and growth justifications for the universal right to an education for all.

As we assess current conditions and projected changes in higher education with educators, administrators, and activists, how can we address common goals of educating towards global competency, leadership abilities, and critical thinking? Will these goals be achieved through a "human development model" involving humanistic content and Socratic pedagogy as proposed by Martha C. Nussbaum? Will it involve service-learning, interactive rather than a broadcast teaching model, or developments of Centers and Institutes? And how will emerging technology and methods help maximize higher education's impact on the well-being of our world?

Engagement: Mind, Body, and Soul (2010 Fall)

What does it mean to be engaged mind, body and soul? Some call it being in the "flow," others describe it as living life to the fullest. But what is the process by which engagement occurs? Does it require the right interaction of emotions, skills, and faith? Among the topics to be examined are the management of emotions, political economies of attention, and systems of beliefs, to specifically address how they affect social actors and prompt social action. In contrast to states of activity, apathy, boredom and indifference will be explored in the context of mind, body, and soul engagement. Is it possible for these states to be productive? This seminar will explore these and other questions with scholars, performers and activists in diverse fields through our lecture, film, and performance series.

Recombinant Families: The Science and Culture of Contemporary Kinship (2010 Spring)

What signifies kinship, and what does kinship signify?

At one time, the prevailing view in American and European societies — and American and European social science — was that families were formed on the basis of "blood and marriage". In recent years, the limits of this view of kinship have been increasingly visible to social observers and increasingly contested by social actors. Today, the basis for kinship formation has expanded increasingly through choice — of affection and mutual interest, immigration and globalization, extended life spans, and technological advances.

To chart the terrain of what signifies kinship, some of the areas we'll examine are: adoption, transnational and interracial; same-sex marriage and parenting; and assisted reproductive technologies, including surrogacy. To explore what kinship signifies, we look to the virtual family and practices of remote intimacy; organ transplants from younger to older kin; social reproduction through family inheritance, birthright citizenship, and globalized networks of care labor.

Have extended kin and social networks contributed to what Matilda White Riley described as a "matrix of latent relationships" that can be activated by preference or in times of need? Are these "pure relationships", according to Antony Giddens, entered into in pursuit of happiness and sustained only as long as they are fulfilling? Scholars in Anthropology, Politics, the Natural Sciences, Legal Studies, and Women's Studies among others will address these and many more questions.

Secrets in a Democracy (2009 Fall)

Bound up in such concepts as sacredness, intimacy, danger and the forbidden, secrecy is something familiar to all of us. Commonly we perceive secrets as guilty, conspiratorial, or pathological, forgetting that secrets can also protect our identity, intentions, actions, and property. As individuals, to have no capacity for secrecy is to be out of control, leaving one vulnerable and open to coercion. To have no insight into what others conceal is to lack power as well.

At the collective level, many have argued that official secrecy is incompatible with democracy. While others allow that institutional secrecy is sometimes legitimate and necessary, they maintain that those who exercise power must justify their control over secrecy and openness. Even with persuasive reasons, they insist that accountability is indispensable in a democracy. Still others claim that confidentiality and national security are sufficient rationale for professional, corporate, administrative and military secrecy.

Through an art exhibition and a lecture and film series, the program on Secrets in a Democracy will examine: when secrecy is legitimate and when it is injurious; the ways in which we keep, reveal, and discover secrets and what they say about us; as well as what ought to happen when formal secrets are revealed.

Muslim Women: Contemporary Realities (2009 Spring)

The veil, honor killings, and female genital mutilations are now commonly seen, in the West, as signs of Muslim women's oppression. And Muslim women's liberation has served as a justification for interventions in the War on Terror. But this is not new. Since the days of British colonialism, the woman question has been used to justify rule. This is what Leila Ahmed termed colonial feminism — the selective concern for Muslim women's plight, focusing on the veil rather than education, while opposing women's suffrage back home in imperial England.

Why the veil and not education, or health, sexuality, economic and legal rights, religious and gender equality? These latter issues are admittedly messier than a cultural iconic one. They belong to a complex web of historical and political dynamics and interactions, which challenges us to, in the words of Lila Abu-Lughod, "consider our own larger responsibilities to address the forms of global injustice that are powerful shapers of the world in which [Muslim women] find themselves.... it is too late not to interfere." But we need to interfere on co-operative, collaborative terms with Muslim women rather than "saving" them, Abu-Lughod suggests.

As we turn our attention to these latter concerns and some cultural ones, diverse thinkers from various disciplines will join us to discuss contemporary issues regarding Muslim women such as: economics, feminism, religion, literature, media, health, sexuality, the law, and politics.

Global Media (2008 Fall)

To understand media today and in the future one must begin by looking at the global system, then take into account national and local differences. Theories of globalization are one way to understand this global media system where incessant pursuits for profit have pushed for deregulation and privatization of media and communication systems since the beginning of the 1980s. This borders-are-gone-expand-or-die drive has resulted in the rise of transnational media giants, with implications for competition in the marketplace, political democracy, imperialism, and the nature of resistance. Do global programs eliminate local production? What are the upsides and downsides of global media effects? How does the Internet impact the power of global media giants? Can global media conglomerates have a progressive impact on cultures? Has the globalization of the media brought about a Westernization of the world media system? What are the non-western alternatives and their prognoses? This Fall, the Humanities Institute will traverse the global mediascape through a series of lectures, events and film screenings seeking answers to these and other questions.

Human Evolution 2.0: Biotechnology and the Future of Human Nature (2008 Spring)

At the start of the 21st century, we find ourselves on the threshold of a new age in which rapidly converging biosciences and technologies (genomics, genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research, artificial reproduction, neurotechnologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, information technology, and nanotechnology) have the potential to not only dramatically increase our understanding of human life, but also radically transform human nature itself.

At stake in this biotech revolution is not simply the greater control we might gain over our biological limitations (by treating diseases, alleviating pain, slowing the aging process, etc.), but, beyond these therapeutic benefits, what is at stake is the power to determine the future of our species as humans. The potential development of "designer babies," synthetic genes, genetic interventions, augmented cognitive powers, cyborgs, and of all forms of human enhancement technologies raise both hopes and fears. Will these developments make us better humans? Will they inalterably change what it means to be human? Or will they make the very notion of human nature obsolete? To help us consider the promises and risks of emerging biotechnologies, we are inviting scientists, social scientists, legal scholars, bioethicists, and neuroethicists to discuss with us the moral, social, legal, economic and political implications of the new biosciences.

Unequal We Stand: What Future for the American Middle Class? (2007 Fall)

In the fall of 2007, the Humanities Institute will present a lecture series and a documentary film series to explore the causes and consequences of the rapid increase in income and wealth inequalities in the United States since 1980. This widening gap between the rich and the poor has made of the United States the most unequal among developed nations today. Are these growing inequalities an inevitable consequence of globalization and technological advances? Are they something we should worry about? If so, can they be reduced? If not, what are their economic, social, and political costs? How will our communities, our cities, and beyond that, our democracy, be transformed by this newly polarized social landscape? As the disparity between the poor and the rich widens, and economic insecurity threatens the middle-class, can we still think of ourselves as a middle-class nation? What is in the future for America's middle class?

L.A. Palimpsest: Recovering Los Angeles' Hidden Stories and Forgotten Communities (2007 Spring)

Los Angeles has always imagined itself as the city of the future. By embracing rapid economic development, relentless expansion and suburban sprawl, by relying completely on the automobile and mobility, and by choosing fantasy and myth over reality and history, L.A. has been a unique—and sometimes cruel-- experiment in urban amnesia. In order to fulfill the city's utopian destiny, entire neighborhoods were demolished, whole communities—very often working-class, ethnic, and racial communities—were displaced. As places and people were removed and dispersed, as their history and memories were buried in the rubbles of each destruction and reconstruction, L.A.—as historian William Deverell has shown—“whitewashed” its own past. The Humanities Institute's spring 2007 program aims to decipher L.A.'s PALIMPSEST and recover the past of L.A.'s 20th-century diverse urban communities, a past many times erased, yet still legible today in the city's cultural landscape.

The End of Oil (2006 Fall)

To help us understand what a post-oil age may look like, we are inviting energy analysts, economists, geologists, journalists, scientists and environmentalists, as well as political scientists to discuss with us the impact of the end of oil on the global economy, on the world's geopolitical balance of power, on our food supply and way of life, as well as on the environment and climate change.

Doing Good in the World: Post-9/11 Opportunities and Challenges (2006 Spring)

One of the most important lessons of 9/11 may well be that the problems of the world are ours too. Beyond terrorism, the world faces enormous challenges: global poverty; the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the spread of other infectious diseases; the proliferation of nuclear weapons; environment deterioration; climate change; civil wars, ethnic conflicts and genocide. It is clear today that these problems are all inextricably linked. Colin Powell recently said the war against terrorism is bound with the war against poverty. One could add that the war against poverty is bound with the war against AIDS and other diseases, and that the fight against AIDS needs to address the lack of basic health care, safe water and education in large parts of the world. All of these problems are, of course, sources of great political instability and have led to murderous struggles for control of available resources.

Over the last 20 years, humanitarian organizations have played a major role in addressing global crises. Yet today, the humanitarian landscape has changed and new questions are being asked: at what point do humanitarian aid organizations become a tool of social and political control? Are the values of impartiality and independence that made humanitarian aid agencies more efficient being eroded by the militarization of humanitarian interventions? Why are humanitarian field workers being targeted by belligerent factions with increased frequency? What are the misuses of humanitarian aid and humanitarian notions? For example, in what case can a war be called humanitarian? And more broadly, what qualifies as humanitarian?

The New Documentary Impulse (2005 Fall)

Once marginal, documentary cinema and documentary photography have joined documentary writing such as investigative journalism, as reality-driven modes of representation that bear witness to our times and help us understand and define our historical moment. Throughout the semester, we will try to explain today's resurgence of interest in documenting ourselves and our world; we will reflect on the ethical issues surrounding documentary work (for example, when does a report, a film or a photograph become exploitative of the suffering of others?); we will reflect on the claims to authenticity or testimonial truth ascribed to documentary work; we will look at the status of documentary evidence; we will address the complex issues of subjectivity and objectivity; we will ask what kind of audience documentary works both address and produce; we will re-evaluate the roles and the status of images and video footage in television news in an era of digital "retouching"; we will explore, finally, the new forms the documentary impulse is taking today (for example, blogs or amateur digital photos, such as those of Abu Ghraib or of the Tsunami, whose global circulation has had immediate effects).

Empathy (2005 Spring)

In the spring semester of 2005, the Scripps College Humanities Institute program will focus on Empathy. What does it mean to feel (or think) as another? When we consider the structure and obligations of social relationships, ourselves and others, justice and equality, reason, emotion, and values in politics and in social relationships, this is a topic of considerable interest. It is also, strikingly, a topic of various disciplines, sometimes, although not always, crossing the boundaries of those disciplines. Our work during the semester will be to pursue those intersections and blurring of disciplinary boundaries by bringing together scholars in such fields as neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, literary criticism, history, anthropology, art history, media studies, legal studies, and musicology. One of the challenges of the semester will be to explore how—and why—"empathy" is a shared focal point in these otherwise very different enterprises. Why is it of such interest? What does it tell us about our human selves and about our relationships to others?

The Politics of Knowledge Production (2004 Fall)

In the fall semester of 2004, the Scripps College Humanities Institute will be holding a semester-long program exploring the connections of knowledge, information, and politics. Our approach will be interdisciplinary and, we hope, wide-ranging, including such topics as the way information is created and used in policy making and the making of political culture; the role of think tanks; and the relationships between the academy and politics.

Life Stories (2004 Spring)

Why are memoirs and biographies so popular? Why do we want to read them? Why do people want to write them? What do these works tell us about individuals and about time and place, narrative and identity? Throughout the semester, we will examine different examples of life writing, including biographies and autobiographies, in written form and on film. These works address the construction of the self and the self in relation to family, culture and history. They also explore the relationship between memory and truth. Many of this semester's speakers have created both autobiographies and biographies and works of fiction and non-fiction; they also share an interest in the relationships of writing, reading, art, politics, literature, and life. In the tradition of the Humanities Institute, the program draws on a range of disciplinary and experiential perspectives-the expertise of historians and filmmakers, critics and activists, immigrants and exiles, anthropologists and artists.

Poverty (2003 Fall)

In the fall of 2003, the Scripps College Humanities Institute will be holding a semester-long program on "Poverty." Throughout the term, we hope to address a number of issues involving the history of poverty and poor relief, social policy and social activism, narratives of inequality and the documentary tradition, the gendering of poverty, health and inequality, food and hunger, inequality and development. The program includes a conference on Women and Poverty in U.S., co-sponsored and co-organized with Intercollegiate Women's Studies.

Biopowers: Disease, Ethics, Activism (2003 Spring)

In the spring semester of 2003, the Humanities Institute at Scripps College will sponsor three symposia on "Biopowers: Disease, Ethics, Activism." Throughout the semester, we hope to address a number of issues involving the intersection of science, medicine and the humanities. The themes that we hope to explore include how social and cultural forces influence science and medicine, the "social" and "medical" constructions of disease and disability, the body as a site of representation, power and resistance, the relationship of global inequalities, international intervention, human rights and health, biotechnologies, illness and identity, and the role of biomedical understandings of race and difference.

War and Peace (2002 Fall)

In the fall semester of 2002, the Humanities Institute at Scripps College will sponsor a series of symposia and a small conference on the general topic of "War and Peace." We hope to address a number of issues throughout the semester, including the problems of violence, conflict, revolution, reconciliation and peacemaking in different geographic, national, and international contexts. In particular, but still quite broadly, we are interested in the intersections of gender, ethnicity, political violence, colonialism and nationalism, the culture and politics of the nuclear age, the politics of pacifism and reconciliation, the comparison of state violence and movements for liberation. These are issues of obvious timeliness, and we hope to engage them with scholars from a range of disciplinary perspectives and expertise.

Modernity from Below (2002 Spring)

The conference, Modernity from Below, to be held in early April, 2002, will bring together historians and cultural critics from a variety of fields and historical periods, ranging from the eighteenth century Atlantic and Caribbean circuits of trade and colonizationÑthe crucible of modernity-to Ireland, the Philippines and India through the twentieth century. Scholars will engage in the comparative discussion of the effects of modernity and colonization and of the ways in which the subordinated peoples have forged cultural and political alternatives that constitute a variegated terrain of "counter-modernities". The conference will highlight the diversity of work being produced in the field and the range of approaches that are being explored in current scholarship.

New Social Geographies and the Politics of Space (2001 Fall)

The Scripps College Humanities Institute's fall 2001 program, New Social Geographies and the Politics of Space, will be devoted to the study of new social geographies, including the contemporary formation and uses of public space, the public sphere and new or alternative media, grassroots ecological movements and the politics of environmental degradation and conservation. Speakers and roundtables will focus on the impact of postmodern social geography on the theorization and study of culture; on the ways in which social movements organize and communicate in new urban spaces or through the virtual spaces provided by new and alternative media; on the contemporary rethinking of "nature" and the "environment" to take into account the differential impact of pollution and toxic waste on urban minority and third world communities. The program will consist of two roundtables and a conference.

Indigenous People (2001 Spring)

Indigenous Peoples. First Peoples. Native Americans. American Indians. Aboriginals. Under many imposed and mostly inappropriate names, the peoples who inhabited vast areas of the globe before European arrival and conquest have survived genocide, dispossession, dislocation, reservations and every imaginable form of colonization. Their histories rarely taught, their cultures subject to silencing or misrepresentation, their rights continually abrogated, their lands and means of life stolen and polluted, the indigenous peoples have been no less romanticized, fetished an appropriated to serve the purposes of settler societies' self-images and cultural constructions. This spring, the Humanities Institute will bring a number of Native American and indigenous scholars to discuss American Indian history, culture, and psychology, and the rights and resources of native peoples world-wide. The series will also feature Native American writers and performance artists, activists and spiritual leaders.

Ancient Worlds (2000 Fall)

In the fall of 2000 the Scripps College Humanities Institute will devote a semester to the study of Ancient Worlds. The series of events will take up a number of issues, including new approaches to the classics, questions of gender, sexuality and religion in the ancient world, and the relation of the ancient world to contemporary cultural and political work and institutions. In particular, we will work with a model of the ancient world, which situates the better known civilizations of Greece and Rome within a larger world system that would include not only North Africa but China and India as well. We will present discussion of the impact of both ancient and modern knowledge of "global" cultural, political, commercial, technological and military exchanges on our current understanding of the ancient world and explore cultural impacts and influences along the lesser and better known routes of trade and conquest. We hope thereby to bring together a range of approaches, topics and areas in order to demonstrate the range and interest of contemporary scholarship in the field. While we understand that this may not be a typical approach to the ancient world, we will bring together scholars from a range of geographical areas and stimulate discussion of possible new directions of inquiry.

In-Migration: Immigration, Racism and Policy in Europe and California (2000 Spring)

This conference will bring together scholars, activists and politicians from both Europe and the United States for a comparative examination of the effects of immigration policies in the United States and Europe. Migration issues will be addressed not only from the perspective of the industrialized nations of Europe and North America, but also from the point of view of "Third World" nations enmeshed in this global problematic. California is uniquely situated to address migration issues and could become a testing ground for designing and implementing innovative policy solutions.

Women in Cultural Production (1999 Fall)

Women in Cultural Production is a series of events designed both to present work by women in various fields of culture and to explore a number of questions about gender and culture. How does the increasing prominence of women as producers of culture affect our understanding of cultural media, of the languages and forms of culture, of the goals of public communication? How do questions of gender and the construction of social identities get rethought in work by women? What do we mean by the term women? Is there a common identity among women, or must we think in terms of variously constructed subjectivities and social positions, affected and enabled by categories like race, sexuality, class, etc. How are women artists and performers exploring these issues in their works? By means of performances, readings and panel discussions we will address these and other questions throughout the fall semester.

Twins, Doubles, Simulacra (1999 Spring)

"We are conceived as twins, and, most of us, born single... Acts and images of doubling start here, at the root of our lives: our flesh and blood, our coming to be. In an epoch proud of instant copiers but perturbed by errant copies, delighted with lightweight artificial limbs but disturbed by the likelihood of clones, biology itself is invested with the rich ambivalence of myth. The stories we tell about our bodies, under the sign of the double helix, are as generative as they are genetic; we are said to begin, literally and originally, by making copies of our cells. The stories we tell about fully twinned bodies, across a landscape of knockoffs and replicas, lead inevitably from science to social conscience, confronting us with uncomfortable parts of ourselves—emotional, cultural, historical."
Hillel Schwartz, The Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles

This semester we will examine various manifestations of our culture's preoccupation with copies, traveling all the way from the Holocaust, and the terrifying Mengele experiments on twins in the concentration camps, to the most up-to-date research and ethical speculations on human cloning. Along the way we will reflect upon the ways that science, art, film, literature, social science, history, and dance deal with doubling.

"Human Rights" and Wrongs: a Conversation Between Humanities and the Law (1998 Fall)

The challenge to think clearly, but humanely about justice in general and human rights issues in particular has never been greater. During this semester we will explore recent debates over critical race theory, economic justice, international rights issues, citizenship, the right to an education, and other areas in which concerns typically addressed in the "humanities disciplines"—ethics, language, values, gender, subjectivity—converge in the "real" world with legal precepts and case law. Is it best to address these issues through an appeal to human rights or a demand for social responsibility?

The centerpiece of this semester will be a two-day conference on prisons called "Education and/or Incarceration." California has seen major changes in these areas. Its school system has gone from one of the best in the country to one of the worst. At the same time its prison population has increased dramatically, becoming the third largest in the world (after China and the U.S. as a whole). It is vitally important that we look at these issues, asking what contribution the humanities might make to transforming both schooling and the penal system with a view to human rights and justice. How can we realize the ideals of liberal education, humanity, and justice in the present moment?

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Fin-de-Siecle Soul (1998 Spring)

What are scientists, mathematicians, political activists, literary theorists, philosophers, artists, musicians, and poets saying today about the validity of religion as a social and spiritual practice and a way of understanding the world? Too often it has been assumed that the university as an Enlightenment institution refuses to take spirituality seriously in its pursuit of knowledge. Nevertheless, in the world outside the academy, interest in some form of non-material being is definitely on the rise. In History and Spirit: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of Liberation (1991) the philosopher Joel Kovel has insisted recently that "spirituality is inherent in human beings, and arises whenever there is human existence." During this semester we will turn our attention to what is happening both inside and outside the ivory tower as spiritual winds of change blow through a world once seen as having moved beyond the enchantments of tradition and faith.

Reconstructing the City (1997 Fall)

"You try to feel the city's pulse in the neighborhoods, the energy clotted or flowing through arterials, often leading to extremities from no clear heart; city bureaus are organs; city history is tracked in old blood, new blood, spilled blood, blue blood, transfusions of capital in times of crisis; yes, I guess that's it, it's blood, you can think the city as blood." –Candace Vogler.

During the fall 1997 semester the Humanities Institute will explore contemporary urban issues, such as the social and political problems that emerge within cities, the notion of a (gendered?) urban consciousness, the construction of an urban self, and the city as a sign of both modernism and postmodernity.

Sciences in Mind (1997 Spring)

This spring the Scripps College Humanities Institute explores recent research concerning the relationship between mental phenomena and physical mechanisms and states. We have called this semester "Sciences in Mind" to draw attention to recent debates within the sciences about such matters as the nature of consciousness, intelligence, intentionality, "kinds of minds" to use Daniel Dennett's phrase, and "queer science" (or the theory that there is a physical basis for homosexuality). Studies of brain injuries and the increasing sophistication of neurophysiology have provided fascinating support for the idea that our most cherished sense of ourselves as thinking persons may need to be linked to an understanding of the ways our bodies are constructed and function.

Our Victorian Contemporaries (1996 Fall)

This fall the Scripps College Humanities Institute explores the legacy of Victorianism as it relates to our present-day concerns. The lectures, seminars, photography exhibition, symposium and theatrical performance will help us think about the various ways in which our contemporary world remains indebted to, or perhaps encumbered by, the legacy of this past. By looking at the Victorian arts, sciences, popular culture, politics and moral thinking, we aim to bring into clearer focus an intellectual and artistic moment in western culture with considerable relevance for our own.

Nations, Cultures, & Values (1996 Spring)

This spring the Scripps College Humanities Institute is sponsoring a series of lectures and seminars around the theme of Nations, Cultures, and Values. During the semester we will investigate the ways in which the central commitments of nations and cultures are represented in, as well as generated and called into question by, their political lives, arts, institutions, and moral thought. Recongnizing that cultural and national indentities reflect such commitments and that much current discord portrays itself as having a basis in conflicting values, we aim to consider with care both the varied sources of human division as well as the possibilities for dialogue in a world of plural cultures and values.

Music: Culture In Question (1995 Fall)

This fall the Scripps College Humanities Institute is sponsoring a symposium, and a series of lectures and performances on the role of contemporary music in American society.With the theme Music: Culture in Question/Cultures in Dialogue, we will examine the ways in which diverse contemporary music reflects, influences and challenges traditional societal values, and the degree to which music is integral to the understanding of American culture. Many of the lectures will address and many of the performances will express the creative interculturalism which will be a feature of the new core curriculum.

Scholarship and Activism (1995 Spring)

This spring a series of workshops, seminars, and lectures explore the connections between work in the humanities and political engagement. Our program aims to show students and teachers ways of connecting campus and community life. We will explore possibilities of making new connections and of exploiting old ones. We will re-think "political education" not as a form of indoctrination, but as a way of learning about where we are and where we might be heading.

Performance: Reconstructing Traditions (1994 Fall)

The Scripps College Humanities Institute is sponsoring a series of events around the theme of Performance: Reconstructing Traditions. The lectures, seminars, workshops, and performances will make connections between contemporary trends in the humanities and the theory and history of performance. The events of this semester will help us think about how performance is a part of our personal identities, our traditions and the possibilities we have for reshaping the worlds in which we live in.

Questioning Technology (1994 Spring)

Figuring Feminism (1993 Fall)

Figuring Feminism at the Fin de Siecle will examine the theoretical practical issues facing feminism in the 1990s. How are the recent understandings of feminist theory, identity and performance relevant to the economic, social and political challenges facing women at the end of the 20th century? The conference will focus on how specific forms of feminist work in particular cultural domains might influence the lives of men and women on a broad scale. Figuring Feminism at the Fin de Sieclerecalls the decisive effects that feminism has had in shaping our century, as we take stock of the problems and possibilities facing women in the 1990s and beyond.

Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Wake of Humanism (1993 Spring)

Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Wake of Humanism will examine how nationalism and ethnicity have affected the ways cultures develop and interact with one another. We shall discuss how humanism has provided ways of understanding nationalism and ethnicity, and how they in turn have changed our ideas about what counts as humanism. In a world of multiple identities, how do nationalism and ethnicity define the realms of power that shape political and cultural conflict? How can humanism continue to inform our understanding of these conflicts?

Writing the Post-Colonial (1992 Fall)

Writing the Post-Colonial will examine the way in which cultures live with, against and beyond the legacies of political, cultural and economic domination. Attentive to the diversities of post-colonial experience, the papers will critically examine theoretical concerns and offer interpretations of specific representations of post-colonial life. Considering multiculturalism in light of global and local considerations, the conference will consider the weight of history and the possibilities for change in various parts of the world.

The Use and Abuse of Freedom (1991 Fall)

The theme, The Use and Abuse of Freedom, allows for a range from anthropology to art, from philosophy to prisons, from law to transgression. Most of our speakers will give seminars for faculty and advanced students as well as public lectures, and we will often be hosting dinners.

Changing the Middle Ages (1991 Spring)

Changing the Middle Ages will bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines who are refashioning the ways we view the medieval period. How are marriage and sexuality related on the margins and in the center of society? How does poetry in the period represent men and women and their relations to one another? What are the connections between Christians, Jews and conversion? how are women adn economic transactions made relevant to one another in the medival imagination and in specific practices? How do our own approaches to history compare with ways in which medieval writers imagined the past and accounted for change? These are some of the questions that Changing the Middle Ageswill explore. The conference should alter the way we understand the culture and society of an epoch with whose legacies we continue to live.

The Example of the Arts (1990 Fall)

The Example of the Arts, sponsored by the Scripps College Humanities Institute, is a series of readings, screenings, and seminars which will explore ways in which artists take up in their work examples of their own and of other arts. The series will include discussions of a number of arts, from architecture to opera, but mostly, as represented in the readings and seminars on this poster, its concerns are with poetry. The participating poets are known for their practice and study of various modes of poetic appropriation: translation; the setting of poems to music; and poetic ekphrasis, that is, the writing of peotry about works of visual art. Their seminars will offer opportunities for informal discussion of specific examples of such poetic modes.

Thinking Women (1990 Spring)

The Humanities Institute is inviting six scholars to discuss the ways feminist scholarship has affected the disciplines of history, literary studies, and philosophy. Past or current work of each of the scholars either is exemplary of feminist scholarship in her discipline or is sympathetically critical of past feminist approaches. The questions we have asked each participant to address are the following: How have your intellectual interests and commitments given rise to, accommodated, or proven recalcitrant to your commitments to feminism? How is your professional life, as a teacher and scholar, affected by such commitments? What do you think feminist scholarship has accomplished in your discipline? What differences has it made in our understanding and study of history or literature or philosophy? Of course, these questions are general, and we have asked each participant to consider them as inflected by her own professional experience.

Our hope, in asking scholars in several disciplines to address like questions, is that the opportunity to compare the situation of feminist scholarship in these disciplines might further discussion of what it has meant or what it might mean in each to speak of a "feminist" scholarship.

Writing on the Border (1989 Fall)

The conference Writing on the Border is one of a series of events which the Scripps College Humanities Institute is sponsoring to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Chicano Studies Program at The Claremont Colleges.

Re-positioning the Self (1989 Spring)

A conference exploring conceptions of the self in modern and postmodern works of art and in contemporary political theory and science—from George Cukor's Gaslight to the photographs of Diane Arbus, from Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow to Paule Marshall's The Chosen Place, the Timeless People, from Nietzsche to Hannah Arendt, from immunology to primatology.

Marginality (1988 Fall)

The general topic of the lectures, conferences, and films sponsored by the Humanities Institute this term is "Marginality". Our speakers will address various aspects and consequences of the ways that societies—not just political societies, but societies like the academic community—in the process of defining themselves, relegate some of their members to a marginal status. The margins of a society may be defined politically or socially or economically or by race or creed or sexual orientation—or, as is often the case, in several of these ways together. Issues of marginality may also arise when one society dominates another. The notion of marginality may help us to understand, for example the relation of colonial societies to their colonies or the relation of the United States. In our events this fall our speakers will be concerned promarily with the ways in which marginality is evidenced in culture, particularly, in literature.

History And... (1988 Spring)

"History And..." will be a conference that illuminates the various ways in which history informs some of the crucial aspects of contemporary culture and our attempts to undrstand it. "History And..." takes place at a time of critical importance for our understanding of how consciousness of and rhetoric about the past contributes to our ablility to make sense of our cultures. The conference will address the status of historical knowing in the humanities today in order to promote a better understanding of not only how our disciplines are connected to professional historiography, but also how our attempts to understand cultures are connected to our pasts.

Justice and Its Limits (1987 Fall)

Justice and Its Limits will examine the various ways in which thinking about justice has affected and been affected by recent work in the humanities. The conference will focus on how an understanding of just judgement informs or is ignored in politics, cultural criticism and some crucial aspects of contemporary social life. We trust that by bringing together some of the most thoughtful scholars in the humanities today to concentrate on this theme, we will better understand not only how our various disciplines are connected to the law, but how our attempts to understand and participate in our societies are dependent on our comprehension of justice.