Spring 2017

Thursday Lecture Series: Shock and Reverberation

RESCHEDULED: Shock of the Old/Reverberation of the New | Now 2/10/17 at 12:15pm

A number of scholars in the 1990s lamented that we can no longer truly hear the Ninth, and exhorted us to listen with fresh ears. A recent radical rendition of Beethoven’s Ninth should make them prick up their ears: Leif Inge’s 9 Beet Stretch (2002), a digital installation stretching the sounds of a CD recording of the Ninth to a length of 24 hours. At this glacial pace, the phrases, motives, and rhythms of Beethoven’s music are almost unrecognizable. Is it in fact still the Ninth? In this paper, Harvard Professor Alexander Rehding argues that this digital installation responds to a number of specific cultural and philosophical challenges of the turn of the millennium—temporality, monumentality, and selfhood. Not only is Leif Inge’s innovative 9 Beet Stretch an appropriate version of the Ninth for the digital age, for our time. What is more, its fundamental principle—which media theorists call “time axis manipulation”—can also be read as a parable of the pair shock/reverberation itself.  >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Shock and Reverberation

Tensions of Refuge: Revolt, Backlash and the Sanctuary Ideal in 19th Century America

This talk explores a crisis in the sanctuary ideal as a fundamental approach to US immigration policy and the United States’ role in the world.  Nineteenth-century Americans took very seriously the idea that the United States, as an emerging republic in a world of powerful monarchies, had a duty to offer safety to those escaping political repression elsewhere: if America wanted the distinction of being an exemplary and exceptional republic, Americans must hold open their doors for the persecuted.  According to this ideal, refugees fighting for their homelands’ freedom could keep their torches alight in America, mobilizing fellow exiles, financial resources, and public opinion to advance their causes worldwide; Americans would promote the global advance of liberty precisely by serving as a welcoming harbor for the persecuted.   >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Shock and Reverberation

The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Why it Matters Today

On September 9, 1971, almost 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions over four long days and nights. On Sept. 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed 39 men -- hostages as well as prisoners -- and severely wounded more than 100 others. In the ensuing months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners.Ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors or the families of the men who had been killed.This talk considers the 1971 Attica prison rebellion and why it matters today >>

Thursday Lecture Series: Shock and Reverberation

Fracking, Earthquakes, and Public Science in Rural America

The middle of the United States has shaken in recent years with unexpected earthquakes.  The most recent large midcontinent quake, an M5.8 tremor centered in eastern Oklahoma, was felt from the Dakotas through Texas. Scientists studying these earthquakes have implicated our recent shale energy revolution, particularly the pressure created by the massive volume of toxic wastewater produced when we use hydraulic fracturing to harvest oil and gas from shale formations.  In some states, regulators have restricted the underground injection of wastewater, but other states are taking only limited action or continue to deny the science linking fracking to earthquakes.  What can we make of such divergent responses to earthquakes that shake across state lines? >>