Fall 2015

Thursday Lecture Series are open to Columbia faculty, students, and guests. Special Events are open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: Lessons on the Will to Know (1970-1971)

  • James Faubion, Professor of Anthropology, Rice University
  • Nancy Luxon, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students. >>

Special Events

Should Humanists use Information Visualizations?

  • Johanna Drucker, Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Most of the forms and protocols of information visualization come from disciplines outside the humanities. The basic principles of empirical and quantitative methods on which visualizations and the construction of data depend are antithetical to the interpretative methods of the humanities. >>

Special Events

Keywords in Sound: A Roundtable Discussion

Editors and contributors will discuss Keywords in Sound, edited by David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny (Duke University Press, 2015), a collection of twenty entries by leading scholars in the field of sound studies. >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Jazz, Opera, and the Signifier, 1924-1986

  • David Gutkin, Lecturer in Music, Columbia University

Clause 12 of the production contract for Anthony Davis’s 1986 opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, reads: “The word ‘jazz’ should not be used in any connection with this piece, including Anthony Davis’s biography.” Although vehemently opposing the classification of his work as jazz, Davis simultaneously sought to position the “jazz tradition” as the central impetus for the creation of that perennially elusive form: “American opera.” To comprehend this apparent contradiction, this talk traces intersections between jazz and opera through three case studies. >>

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: Penal Theories and Institutions (1971–1972)

  • Etienne Balibar, Visiting Professor of French and Romance Philology, Columbia University
  • François Ewald, Professor Emeritus, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students.  >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Fetishizing Drugs: Feitiçaria and Poison in West Central Africa, 1640-1800

  • Benjamin Breen, Lecturer in History, Columbia University

Early modern European visitors tended to perceive equatorial Africa as a landscape haunted by the threat of poisoning, strange fevers, demonic possession, and madness. But the flip side to this conception of a poisoned landscape was that Europeans regarded African medical practitioners as both skilled and dangerous competitors to their own physicians. This was a dynamic that passed across the Atlantic largely intact, leading to several well-studied instances of enslaved healers accused of poisoning or, conversely, lauded for their skill in formulating novel antidotes. Yet the African context has received much less attention, potentially in the Portuguese sphere. In religiously and culturally hybrid zones like coastal West Central Africa, feiticeiros (as the Portuguese called them) or “fetisheers” (as the English did) bridged the gap between spiritual and medical practice – a gap that, at any rate, was quite ambiguous even in a domestic European setting, and doubly so in the supposedly preternatural environs of the tropics.   >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Quantifying Piety: Pilgrimage to Republican Rome

  • Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Assistant Professor of Classics, Princeton University

Religiously motivated travel is well documented for Christian Rome: late antiquity and the early middle Ages witnessed the institutionalization of a pilgrimage economy of which Rome—with its many churches—was a primary node. That Christian pilgrimage made use of (in some cases directly mapped upon) pre-Christian itineraries and networks of travel is no longer seriously disputed. What may come as more of a surprise is the claim that Rome was a hub for pilgrimage well before the advent of Christianity.  >>

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: The Punitive Society (1972–1973)

  • Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science, Princeton University
  • Axel Honneth, Jack C. Weinstein Professor of the Humanities , Columbia University
  • Nadia Urbinati, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory and Hellenic Studies, Columbia University

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students.  >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Hector Berlioz’s Neurophysiological Imagination

  • Carmel Raz, Lecturer in Music, Columbia University

In his famous essay De la musique en général (1837), Hector Berlioz asserts that certain kinds of music induce “a strange agitation in my blood circulation: my arteries beat violently… a trembling overtakes my limbs and a numbness my hands and feet, while the nerves of sight and hearing are partially paralyzed.” Examining the system of neurophysiological affect emerging from his critical writing, Raz will focus on the composer’s documented engagement with contemporaneous neurophysiology, and in particular the pioneering ideas of Marie-François-Xavier Bichat. >>

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: Psychiatric Power (1973–1974)

  • Bernard E.  Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, Columbia University
  • Linda Zerilli, Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Anna Lvovsky, Academic Fellow, Columbia Law School

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Making Sense of the Copy in Canton

  • Maggie Cao, Lecturer in Art History, Columbia University

This lecture offers a look at the early history of things “made in China.” In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, artisans in Canton (then China’s sole port of foreign trade) became specialists in producing Western artifacts for export. Their copies, of everything from silver spoons to oil paintings, ranged from legally troubling counterfeits to creative variations injected with the flair of exoticism. >>

Special Events

Undocumented: Conversation with Dan-el Padilla Peralta

  • Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Assistant Professor of Classics, Princeton University
  • Hidetaka Hirota, Lecturer in History and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University
  • Philip Kasinitz, Presidential Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center and Hunter College of the City University of New York
  • Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, Columbia University
  • Marta Tienda, Maurice P. During ’22 Professor of Demographic Studies and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University

In the summer of 2015, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a current postdoctoral fellow in the Columbia Society of Fellows in the Humanities, published his memoir, Undocumented: A  Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League. In this event, Dan-el Padilla Peralta discusses his memoir and experiences with three distinguished scholars of American immigration. General Q&A will follow a panel discussion by the four scholars. >>

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: Abnormal (1974–1975)

  • Bernard E.  Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, Columbia University

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students. >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Against the Importation of “Hordes of Coolies”

  • Hidetaka Hirota, Lecturer in History and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University

This presentation, Against the Importation of "Hordes of Coolies": Alien Contract Labor Law in American Immigration History​, explores the significance of contract labor in American immigration history.  >>

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: Society Must Be Defended (1975–1976)

  • Bernard E.  Harcourt, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, Columbia University
  • Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research
  • Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology and MESAAS, Columbia University
  • Robert Gooding-Williams, M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African-American Studies, Columbia University

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students.  >>

Thursday Lecture Series

Teaching Contemporary Civilization in Prison

  • Joshua Dubler (‘08-‘11), Assistant Professor of Religion, University of Rochester

Joshua Dubler is Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Rochester and served as a post-doctoral fellow with the Society of Fellows in the Humanities from 2008-2011. He will deliver a Society of Felows Alumni Thursday Lecture on the topic of prison reform and teaching in Grateford Prison in Pennsylvania. His experience in the prison served as the focus of his dissertation. >>

Special Events

Foucault 13/13: Security, Territory, Population (1977–1978)

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Columbia Society of Fellows, with the support of the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Hispanic Institute, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Maison Française, are delighted to host 13 seminars on the 13 courses extending over the full 2015-2016 academic year at Columbia University. The seminar series will be open to all Columbia faculty, fellows, and students.  >>