Humanities Summit, Vanderbilt University, May 1-3
Michael Holquist, Yale emeritus, Columbia Society of Senior Scholars
Peter Hitchcock, CUNY, Graduate Center
Will Straw, Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
Paul Yachnin, Chair, Department of English
Leigh Yetter, Associate Director, Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI)
Julie Cumming, Julie E. Cumming, Associate Dean, Research and Administration, Schulich School of Music
Michael Jemtrud, Associate Professor, School of Architecture
Robert Barsky, French and English Departments, Director of Quebec and Canadian Studies
Bill Ivey, Director, Curb Center
Mark Schoenfield, Chair, English Department
Cecilia Ticchi, English Department
Martin Rapisarda, Associate Dean
Ed Friedman, Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Faculty Director of the Robert Penn Warren Center
Government of Quebec
Joane Boyer, Consular General
Andrée Tremblay, Governmental and Public Affairs Officer/ Attachée aux affaires institutionnelles et publiques, Délégation du Québec, Atlanta
Monday, May 1st
1-3PM Robert Penn Warren Center
Peter Hitchcock (CUNY) will give a talk on “Humanities and the State: A Critique of Crisis”, followed by responses from Michael Holquist and Robert Barsky, at the Robert Penn Warren Center
4:00PM-6:00PM, catered meeting at the Curb Center
coffee and breakfast, 8:30-9:00
1. Introduction to the Curb Center (Bill Ivey), Quebec/Canadian Studies (Robert Barsky), the Robert Penn Warren Center (Ed Friedman) and the Quebec Government Delegation (M. Boyer and Andrée Tremblay)
2. Discussion amongst all participants of possible points of interaction between IPLAI and Vanderbilt’s Curb Center and Robert Penn Warren Center.
3. Roundtable discussion on “Towards a definition of the humanities”, circulated by Paul Yachnin, McGill.
4. Discussions of Quebec’s approach to arts funding and the role that arts play in policy, featuring talks from Ms. Boyer and Andrée Tremblay, Délégation du Québec, Atlanta
noon-1:30 LUNCH at the Curb Center
1. Each participant will give a prepared 8-10 minute or so talk on the current crisis in the Humanities, and/or arts policy and funding from their specific perspective (discipline, province, research). This will be filmed, and put up as a special issue of AmeriQuests (http://www.ameriquests.org/) devoted to these questions. Readers will be able to watch the video of each speaker, as well as reactions from the group. I envision 3-4 of these presentations, followed by comments from the group, several times in the afternoon.
2. Carla Beal, Jody Combs and I will outline our plans to use AmeriQuests to advance the discussion through a “portal” we are building, in collaboration with Duke UP, and we will solicit input about how to advance our respective goals with the aid of a tool for diffusion like this portal.
Company Rose Rehearsal, and outing to the Station Inn
May 3rd, departure
Vanderbilt-McGill Initiative: Recent Funded Projects (fall 2010)
Michel Pierssens teaches modern French literature at Université de Montréal. He has taught extensively in French (Aix, Paris 3, Paris 8) and U.S. universities (U. of Wisconsin-Madison, U. of Michigan-Ann Arbor, UC San Diego, Harvard). A proponent of «épistémocritique» (the study of literary consequences of the development of scientific culture from the 19th c.), he founded and edited SubStance (UW Press), co-founded and co-edits Histoires Littéraires (Paris) and the e-journal Épistémocritique (www.epistemocritique.org <http://www.epistemocritique.org> ). The author of numerous articles and several essays (La Tour de Babil, Savoirs à l’Oeuvre, Lautréamont. Éthique à Maldoror, Ducasse et Lautréamont) he also co-edited the 14 volumes of Colloques des Invalides. The proceedings of a recent international colloquium on Scientific Poetry are soon to be published.
Vanderbilt-McGill Initiative: Recent Funded Projects (spring 2010)
Vanderbilt-McGill Initiative: Recent Funded Projects (fall 2009)
Recent Quebec and Canadian Studies Projects:
Tobias Hertel, Department of Astronomy, “The fabrication of thin transparent films made of semiconducting or metallic single-wall carbon nanotubes”
The collaborative effort of the Hertel group at Vanderbilt with the Martel group at the University of Montreal aims at the fabrication of thin transparent films made of semiconducting or metallic single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) with enhanced optical and electronic properties. The electronic behavior of SWNTs has captured the imagination of researchers over the last 15 years owing to their potential for a variety of technologies, from the fabrication of molecular field effect transistors and light emitting devices over composite materials with unique mechanical and electrical properties, to host materials for a number of applications such as Li-ion batteries or supercapacitors and fuel cell membranes. Some of the most promising envisioned applications of carbon nanotubes draw on their unique electronic properties inherited from their parent material graphene, making SWNTs either semiconducting or metallic depending on tube chirality and diameter. However, currently available synthesis schemes produce a more or less polydisperse mixture of metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes. The separation of such samples into purely semiconducting and purely metallic fractions is thus been one of the grand unresolved challenges in the field of carbon nanotube research. Success in this direction has only been made recently using electrophoresis or ion exchange chromatography. Unfortunately these techniques are either prohibitively expensive or don’t lend themselves to larger scale purification. However, we have recently implemented a new technique for isolation of specific types of semiconducting tubes as well as for the isolation of semiconducting tubes from polydisperse samples in cooperation with collaborators from northwestern University. This technique employs protocols normally used for separation of proteins. More specifically, we use preparative ultra-centrifugation of surfactant stabilized SWNT suspensions in density gradients for the separation of SWNTs by buoyancy. Co-surfactant competition for adsorption sites can also be used to separate highly polarizable metallic tubes from semiconducting ones. Within the planned collaboration we intend to combine our expertise with the fabrication of structurally and metallicity sorted SWNT suspensions with the expertise of the Montreal group in making transparent thin films from such suspensions. The combination of the two is expected to facilitate the fabrication of SWNT based thin film transistors as well as the fabrication of films for transparent conducting substrates with equivalent electro-optical but superior mechanical properties if compared with today’s most frequently used commercial ITO substrates. The proposed collaboration will be carried out in three stages: a) a 2 month visit of a Vanderbilt graduate student with the Martel group in Montreal during which he will transfer know-how on the fabrication of metallic and chirality enriched nanotube suspensions. At the same time he will learn from the Montreal group how to make transparent thin films from these suspensions. b) in the second stage of this collaboration both groups will be in close contact regarding the experimental characterization of the films fabricated during the two month graduate student visit. The optical characterization will be done mostly at Vanderbilt University using CW and time-resolved optical spectroscopy from the UV to NIR range of the spectrum. The electrical properties of these films will be characterized by the Montreal group. The films will also be used for the fabrication of light emitting devices. c) the third stage is dedicated to dissemination of the results. To this end Prof. Hertel will use some of his sabbatical in the spring of 2008 for two or more one week visits to Montreal for final discussions and the writing of joint publication(s).
This project focuses on black-Canadian heritage and heroes and feeds from my ongoing research of comparative U.S.-Canadian representations of national identity. I began this work in spring of 2006 during an independent study under Paul Young (English and Film Studies) and continued it from 2006-2007 with the assistance of an Arts and Sciences Summer Research Grant that funded my research at National Library and Archives Canada. During my stay in Ottawa, I found, through the archive and quotidian encounters, that Canadian representations of black history essentially reinforce Clarke and Winks’s assessment. Black-Canadian history remains poorly documented and disseminated and, thus, encourages looking “elsewhere— to African-American historical events and figures that hold only a vague significance for black Canadians. This branch of my project will help me develop two papers I wrote on U.S.-Canada relations (both have been accepted to the International American Studies Association’s upcoming conference), one of which explores resistive appropriation of U.S. model blackness in black-Canadian memoirs. I found that black-Canadian authors over-identify with U.S. historical figures because they feel that African-Canadian “struggles” with blackness are not “difficult” enough to constitute “authentic” blackness. In each memoir, the author “finds” his or her black-Canadian self after delving deeper into black-Canadian history and thereby recognizing at-home struggles with racism and oppression. In many cases, the authors do not even seem to know Canada’s history of black chattel slavery and segregation, so they focus on Canada’s “better,” “liberal” race relations and the “multicultural mosaic” that allows minorities to avoid assimilation. Canada becomes the mythical North Star, the locus of “at least it’s better than over there [the U.S.]” sentiments, while the United States becomes the site for authenticity, “real” struggles to overcome. My current research investigates this problem from a media and cultural studies perspective. I would like to study archived televisual and filmic representations of black-Canadian history—through the holdings at the University of Toronto, the Royal Canadian Museum, and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia—to analyze whether visual representations reproduce the problems of written histories. The project will also explore several Canadian sites—such as the Norval Johnson Heritage Library and Centre—that detail black-Canadian history through oral and literary traditions. The Norval Johnson Centre, located in Niagara (the heart of the Underground Railroad), offers a full-day tour and historical assessment of the Underground Railroad, its various stops, and Little Africa, the location where early black-Canadian emigrants settled. Through the archival and cultural research, I want to determine whether black-Canadian history qua Canadians centers on U.S. figures (reinforcing the problem of model blackness), or if it focuses on homegrown black-Canadian figures.
“Constructions of Risk: Strategic Framing in Breastfeeding Discourses”
Which frames (and actors) are most influential in shaping women’s understandings of and behaviors toward infant feeding? Research establishes breastfeeding as the medical gold standard for infant feeding (Knaak 2005). Yet, even though medical arguments favor breastfeeding for children, its use and duration among U.S. and Canadian mothers is significantly lower than the governments’ goal rates. To increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, medical, state, and other organizational actors have attempted to frame the alternative—formula feeding—as a risky behavior. Nonetheless, we do not know the impact of this strategic framing on women’s understandings of breastfeeding. Examining patterns in the use of particular persuasive strategies and the impact they have on women’s understandings and behaviors will illuminate the effectiveness of particular framing characteristics as well as which strategy for framing breastfeeding arguments is most effective on mothers’ understandings of infant feeding. For this dissertation, I am using an exploration of the ways that organizations frame formula feeding as a risky behavior and how individual women interpret these arguments to better understand the relationship between structural arguments and individual agency. To do this I use a cross-cultural analysis of infant feeding discourses to explore how scientists, government agencies and social activist organizations construct formula feeding as a public health risk. Secondly, through interviews with mothers in Nashville and Toronto, I examine how mothers challenge or reaffirm these arguments about infant feeding. Finally, I will interview medical professionals (i.e., doctors, nurses and midwives) in Nashville and Toronto to better understand their roles as mediators, gatekeepers, and shapers of information about infant feeding practices. Specific research questions address the relationship between the structural-level risk framing and individual responses to these messages, informing debates on the relationship between macro-level discourses and individual agency (e.g., Grant, Hardy, Oswick, and Putnam 2004) as well as which frames (and actors) are most influential in shaping women’s knowledge of breastfeeding and whether the understandings women hold about breastfeeding align with their infant feeding behaviors. Not only will understanding this relationship between framing and women’s reactions illuminate power dynamics among institutions, discourses, and people’s health beliefs and behaviors, but also it will further our understanding of persuasive framing. This project advances our sociological knowledge in multiple ways. An examination of the impact of strategic framing on a target audience’s conceptualization of a given phenomenon will advance our knowledge of framing theory in several ways. First, we will have a better understanding of how risk, authority, and a construction of victimhood affect the relationship between macro-level discourses and the micro-experiences of these arguments. Secondly, we will have a better understanding of how morality, as a particular type of strategic framing, affects the relationship between discourses and a target population’s reaction. Furthermore, by examining the ways in which these discourses construct a particular type of femininity and enforce that ideal through moral constructions of risk, this project will advance the sociological understanding of gender in U.S. and Canadian societies. However, the impact of these findings extends beyond sociology to multiple disciplines including cultural studies, political science, and public health. From a cultural standpoint, this project will provide insight into contemporary conceptualizations of gender. Through a cross-cultural analysis of breastfeeding and formula feeding arguments, I will uncover what kinds of femininity national organizations are constructing. I will address questions regarding whether patterns exist in the constructions of femininity and the strategies used to enforce these femininities. Secondly, this project will speak to the ongoing debate regarding interactions of discourse, power, structure and agency. By exploring how mothers’ conceptions of infant feeding intersect with, challenge or reaffirm these structural-level discourses, we will better understand the contentious relationship between individual agency and structural-level power. Furthermore, since the sample in this study includes women from multiple races and socioeconomic statuses, we will have insight into how these reactions may differ based on the race and/or class of the consumer. Finally, in a very practical sense these findings will advance what public health experts know about the effectiveness and impact of arguments used to convince a population to change its behavior. These findings can inform the tactics of multiple public health movements. In relation to breastfeeding specifically, by knowing which arguments have the biggest impact on mothers’ understandings of breastfeeding it is possible public health organizations may use these strategies to raise the breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in the US and Canada.
In 1754, in the contested territory of America’s Ohio Country, British soldiers ambushed Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville and his military escort. They easily defeated the French and Canadian force. Jumonville survived the initial skirmish, but then Tanaghrisson, an Indian ally of the British, murdered him with a tomahawk. The government of New France immediately responded to the assassination of Jumonville, whom they claimed had been a peace envoy. The Canadian commander at Fort Duquesne, Claude Pécaudy de Contrecoeur, sent Jumonville’s brother, Louis Coulon de Villiers, to avenge the injustice. Villiers trapped and conquered the British, led by George Washington, at Fort Necessity. The French and Indian War had begun. The murder of Jumonville infuriated the residents of New France. Jumonville, after all, came from a distinctive lineage. The Coulon de Villiers and Pécaudy de Contrecoeur families belonged to the elite class. They both possessed La Croix de Saint-Louis, an honor reserved for the oldest and most distinguished military families. Contrecoeur’s decisive response to Jumonville’s death reflected his commitment to military duty as well as his class loyalty. Surprisingly, the Jumonville Affair had an impact on the French public. Generally, the French remained unconcerned with the lives and deaths of Canadian colonials. Jumonville’s death, however, stirred a nationalist fervor that lasted for years. During the war, the French invoked the name of Jumonville to promote public animosity towards the British. The French writer Antoine Leonard Thomas, for example, published the Jumonville Poeme in 1759. In this four-part epic, Thomas portrayed Jumonville as a martyr and the British as villains. That same year the poem won the prize of the Discourses at the Academie Francaise. After the British defeated them in the war, the French clung to the belief that they were at least culturally superior to their vanquishers. They spoke the name Jumonville to remind themselves that they were like the murdered Canadian, virtuous victims of British barbarity. Through his death, Jumonville helped to consolidate French identity. He transcended his colonial status to become a nationalist symbol. My dissertation will address the following questions relating to the Jumonville Affair: How did Canadians identify with Jumonville? How was the military elite formed and how did it function in New France? What led the French to identify with a colonial like Jumonville when they generally excluded Canada from their national consciousness?
Laura Carpenter, “News Media and the Making of Health-Related Public Problems: The Politics of Male Circumcision and Female Genital Cutting in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.” This project compares the controversies over male circumcision (MC) and female genital cutting (FGC) in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain, from 1985-2007, in order to explicate the means by which grassroots activists, medical professionals, state actors, and especially journalists contribute to the construction of health-related public problems. Canadian funds will be used to hire a French-speaking graduate student assist in the collection, translation, and coding of news coverage of MC and FGC in Quebec.
“Traveling Discourses of Nation: Production of Cultural Identity Amongst the Indian Diasporas in Dubai and Canada”, research funds provided to offset costs of travel to Toronto, Canada, for archival research.