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Current Workshops

Arts and Justice

The Arts and Justice Workshop explores the relationship between the arts and justice using the arts to understand the symbiotic cultural life of law: culture shapes law and laws determine cultural practices. The arts are frequently celebrated for their capacity to evoke empathy and activate ethical responsibility. While artists have turned to forms of cultural expression to express a sense of voicelessness, this workshop cautions against romantic celebrations of arts as panacea for social suffering. Cultural productions function not only as an antidote to injustice but can also entrench dominant ideologies. Conversely, we are critical of an almost reflexive suspicion of law, which excoriates law as an a priori terrain of injustice, perpetuating existing discriminations. This workshop imagines the legal terrain as culturally constituted, suffused with its own practices, and as a powerful force shaping our subjectivity, social relations, and political institutions. Releasing law from text and realizing it in performance provides a kinetic, dynamic mode of thinking about legal scripts activated in embodied and aesthetic form. Arts and Justice expands the frame to include exciting new work in performance studies, art history, music and sound studies, affect theory, critical race theory, new materialism, environmental humanities and queer theory. 

Coodinators

Faculty:

Jisha Menon

Graduate Student:

Anna Kimmel
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Conceptualizing Justice Across Academic Disciplines - September 24, 2020 4:30 PM

    Slow Loss: Feminism & Endurance - October 8, 2020 4:30 PM

    Building Aesthetics of Protest - October 23, 2020 4:30 PM

    The Future of Law and Literature - November 5, 202 4:30 PM

    Law and Performance: A Dialogue between Playwrights and Scholars - January 21, 2021 4:30 PM

    March: Animating Visual Culture on the Page - February 4, 2021 4:30 PM

    The Limits of Documentary Activism - February 18, 2021 4:30 PM

    Destabilizing Legalese - March 4, 2021 4:30 PM

Cognition and Language Workshop

Researchers at the cutting edge of linguistics and cognitive science are increasingly studying linguistic communication from the perspective of language as a highly context-sensitive and dynamic system, shaped through the interaction of linguistic competence, social cognitive reasoning, and individualized mental representations of communicative interlocutors and the surrounding environment. This year’s Cognition and Language workshops will focus on experimental and computational approaches to grounded linguistic communication. Questions the workshop will explore include: How do interlocutors successfully ground their language in a discourse context? How does groundedness condition linguistic adaptation? How can we replicate groundedness in the communicative behavior of robots and interactive virtual agents, and what kinds of data are necessary to train these artificial agents?

Coodinators

Faculty:

Judith Degen, Dan Lassiter

Graduate Student:

Brandon Waldon
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Humanities Center Fellows Research Workshop

CORE: Critical Orientations to Race and Ethnicity

Across humanities and social sciences disciplines, “race” and “ethnicity” are perennial topics of interest, from subaltern literature and performances of identity to policy debates over socioeconomic inequality. Reconciling the paradoxes inherent in both historic and contemporary constructions of race and ethnicity presents a constant and continuing challenge. Racial and ethnic identities are simultaneously nationally and internationally constructed, personal and political, vehicles of oppression and resistance. The CORE workshop strives to create an intellectual community that interrogates and advances scholarship across multiple disciplines, using a diverse array of research agendas to theorize and discuss race and ethnicity. Questions central to the field of race and ethnic studies which the workshop has historically explored and which remain relevant and engaging include: How do individuals, organization, and movements among racial and ethnic minorities engage with and resist political and economic marginalization, social neglect, and other forms of oppression? How have cultural projects among racial and ethnic minority communities contributed to such communities’ perception and understanding of themselves through the lenses of race and ethnicity? How can and do racial and ethnic minority groups recognize and act upon shared social, political and economic interests?

Coodinators

Faculty:

Ana Raquel Minian

Graduate Student:

Vannessa Velez
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Topics in Central American Studies: Examining Salvadoran Identity Across the Diaspora - October 28, 2020 1:00 PM

Critical Data Practices in Humanities Research

Computational and Data Sciences approaches must balance urges to generalize data for purposes of standardization and prediction with the need to recognize individual and specific significance. Critical voices have revealed algorithmic biases and marginalization that have shaped and influenced new technology. Current works in law and policy studies ask whether fairness can be calculated and automated in civil society. Recently published work in art history looks to medieval Italy to reveal how measurement itself molds our understanding of truth and accuracy, while research on the extensive history of human communication demonstrates, from massive datasets, how particular events in society, and the effect of one group’s decision-making, can change the course of technological evolution. Against this backdrop, rapidly emerging techniques in Artificial and Augmented Intelligence--specifically, the advance of deep learning--is shifting focus from dataset size to data qualities and to the continuing significance of carefully and manually curated data. Designing effective models requires intimate engagement among data science experts and domain experts in the humanities and social sciences, the latter of whom understand the nuances and interpretative potential of underlying data and the kind of open questions that can be asked of it. The definition of data across disciplines remains arbitrary and ambiguous and assumptions about data are rooted in disciplinary and subjective practices. This working group will critically investigate data practices as a bridge to understanding data’s role in developing new insights and innovative solutions that encourage knowledge transfer not only among disciplines but between the academic and community engagement worlds. The group will investigate the ways data extracted from cultural artifacts, writings, and observations can be transformed into new knowledge that positively impacts scholarly understanding of the human in the machine.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Giovanna Ceserani, Elaine Treharne

Graduate Student:

Merve Tekgürler
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Workshop Planning Event - October 15, 2020 5:30 PM

Data Scarcity in the Ancient Mediterranean

The Data Scarcity workshop will explore the ways in which theoretical approaches, statistical tools and inferential models drawn from social and natural sciences can be combined with humanistic perspectives to overcome the challenges of data scarcity in ancient Mediterranean studies. While ancient historians and classical archaeologists have begun to systemize data, produce impressive datasets, and employ modeling techniques, these endeavors have met with a mixed reception from humanists and social scientists. Recent historicist and methodological criticisms call for a reconsideration of not only the methods employed in this emerging field, but also the objectives and research agendas to be realized through the collection and analysis of scarce historical data. Envisioning a close collaboration of archaeologists and historians with researchers from the fields of demography, economics, political science, sociology, statistics, biology and environmental sciences, the workshop will provide a formal venue for regular interdisciplinary conversations about best practices for dataset construction, historical perspectives on quantification, and theoretical contributions to managing issues of data scarcity.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Ian Morris, Walter Scheidel

Graduate Student:

James Macksoud, Ümit Öztürk
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Economic Performance and Well-being in the Roman Empire - October 16, 2020 12:00 PM

    Resettlement as Climate Change Adaptation? Water stress, conflict, and displacement in the later Roman Fayum/Egypt - November 20, 2020 10:00 AM

Linda Randall Meier Research Workshop

Digital Aesthetics: Critical Approaches to Computational Culture

From IBM punch cards to digital census forms, from ASCII art to Oculus Rift, how do we think and feel on screens and online, on disk or in the cloud, at the keyboard or off-the-grid? How do digital objects and code blur boundaries between text, image, and performative acts? How do they challenge our understanding of the distinctions between a medium and its content? This workshop hosts conversations about material culture studies, performance theory, technology history, and aesthetics to explore a partnership between engineering and the humanities by bringing technological objects into critical humanities research and introducing new vocabularies into discussions of the design and production of our digital future. The continuing and increasing reliance on digital interaction suggests an even greater need for critical approaches to digital technologies. We plan to provide a venue, whether technologically mediated or “IRL,” to build an interdisciplinary community around these crucial issues.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Shane Denson

Graduate Student:

Annika Butler-Wall
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Vivian Sobchack In Conversation with Scott Bukatman and Shane Denson - September 29, 2020 5:00 PM

    Rendered World: New Regimes of Imaging - October 23, 2020 10:00 AM

    Exploring the Media Archaeology Lab: A workshop with libi rose striegl - November 10, 2020 5:00 PM​ 

Marta Sutton Weeks Research Workshop

History of Political Thought

The History of Political Thought workshop takes an expansive and global view of political thought, including such common concepts as constitutions and political order, rights provisions, suffrage, theories of representation, legislation, legitimate resistance, the role of religion in politics, and the dissolution of government. The historical study of political thought considers ideas and beliefs that are typically no longer current, and sometimes brackets their normative value; an approach having more in common with intellectual history than with political philosophy. Historians and political theorists often differ in their approach to texts, stressing the importance of context in rival ways, and putting the texts in conversation in varying ways. The workshop provides a venue for constructive engagement across methodological differences, with a special emphasis on fusing new digital methods with humanistic insights.

Coodinators

Faculty:

David Como, Jonathan Gienapp, Alison McQueen

Graduate Student:

Avshalom Schwartz
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Philosophical Solitude: David Hume vs Jean Jacques Rousseau - October 1, 2020 10:00 AM

    Adam Smith's Alternative to the Social Contract - October 29, 2020 12:00 PM

    Paperwork and Political Thought: Notes Toward a Future History - November 12, 2020 12:00 PM

Marta Sutton Weeks Research Workshop

Matters of Voice

There is an inherent excess in voice— it resounds both within and outside meaningful speech. For Roland Barthes, what lies outside meaningful speech in a voice is “the cantor’s body, brought to your ears in one and the same movement from deep down cavities, muscles, cartilages and language.” For the philosopher Adriana Cavarero, voice does not simply resound within meaningful speech, it enables it. Speech is inherently relational and given voice “communicates one’s own uniqueness to another unique being,” it ensures speech is occurring between two different people. Departing from these two premises, the Matters of Voice workshop aims to support research agendas that engage with both the embodied nature of voice (drawing from the disciplines of music, film, sound studies, performance studies, and gender & sexuality) and its relational nature (drawing from the disciplines of literature, linguistics, anthropology and philosophy). Ultimately, we hope this workshop will enable these seemingly parallel running research tracks to frequently crisscross and benefit from one another.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Alexander Key, Jean Ma

Graduate Student:

María Gloria Robalino
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Rajiv Mohabir: I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara - October 14, 2020 5:00 PM

    Katherine Meizel on Multivocality - November 2, 2020 5:00 PM

    Adriana Cavarero on the Voice of Plurality - November 12, 2020 9:30 AM

Medical Humanities

The Medical Humanities workshop goals are to develop a shared sense of purpose among faculty stakeholders to create a useful institutional structure infused with good will and trust. This inaugural workshop intends to examine and hopefully to answer two questions: What is Stanford’s approach to Medical Humanities? What particular resources and opportunities might our local community offer to those interested in Medical Humanities? Within the Stanford community the Medical School has the “Medicine and the Muse” program that serves as its home for arts and humanities, supports medical student scholarly concentration in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities, and provides the base for current internal and external collaborative work in the health humanities. Within the Humanities and Sciences there is a strong Medical Anthropology program and considerable interest in the history and literature of medicine. We have a substantial group of novelists, poets and non-fiction writers concerned with medicine across campus. The Medical Humanities workshop intends to develop a rich network of scholars from diverse backgrounds and disciplines that will also enhance Stanford’s national and international presence in this emerging field.  The topics foremost in today’s conversations – including systemic racial bias and inequality – underscore the need to create space for scholarly conversations around medicine and health care that cross all parts of our campus and equip graduate students, faculty, undergraduates, fellows and trainees to do the best possible work in the world.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Tanya Marie Luhrmann, Daniel Mason, Audrey Shafer, Laura Wittman

Graduate Student:

Elix Colon
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • What Matters to Me? A conversation about career and carving a life path - Ocobter 21, 2020 5:30 PM

    In Conversation with Lawrence Cohen - November 11, 2020 5:30 PM

Producing Knowledge In and Of Africa

Knowledge Production in Africa is a highly contested topic. Recent calls have been made – both within the academy and outside it – to “decolonize” the production and circulation of knowledge about Africa. This controversy has involved new attention to institutional power dynamics in both Africa and the US academy, as well as efforts to reconceptualize key epistemological categories in Afrocentric terms. This workshop invites scholars within the humanities, social sciences and the sciences to investigate and discuss these pressing contemporary concerns. The workshop focuses on five key themes: 1) How does knowledge production about Africa manifest both in different and in convergent ways across disciplines? 2) What are the ethical implications and responsibilities of scholars researching Africa in the global North? 3) In what ways have scholarly infrastructure – including publishing platforms, institutions, conferences and research networks – emerged in both Africa and the US academy? 4) Given the racial injustices embedded in the US and around the world, how might the fields of Black Studies and African Studies collaborate to make sense of the historical and present conjuncture? 5) How have the racial and gendered politics surrounding the study of Africa and its diaspora shaped the institutional histories of African Studies and Black Studies at Stanford?

Coodinators

Faculty:

Joel Cabrita, Grant Parker

Graduate Student:

Elizabeth Jacob
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Black Studies and African Studies: Institutional Histories and Futures - September 23, 2020 12:00 PM

    African Literature and Cold War Afterlives: Reframing Decolonial Trajectories - October 21, 2020 12:00 PM

    Nature, Power and Race: Reflections on South Africa's Kruger National Park - November 11, 2020 12:00 PM

    Decolonizing Global Health and Discussion on a chapter of forthcoming book "Epidemic Illusions" - January 27, 2020 12:00 PM

    Consent on the Continent: Bio Banking and African Genomic Wealth - March 10, 2020 12:00 PM

Reframing Fashion Studies: Performance, Gender, and the Body

In the 1997 inaugural issue of the academic journal Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body, & Culture, Valerie Steele defined “fashion” as the “cultural construction of an embodied identity.” Two decades later, in their edited volume Thinking Through Fashion, Agnès Rocamora and Anneke Smelik only modestly expanded the definition to identify “fashion as referring to dress, appearance, and style” and “a material culture and symbolic system.” To trouble these constrictive interpretations, this workshop orients fashion within a broader study of the body itself, a discursive site upon which fashion studies and its attendant disciplines of visual culture, anthropology, sociology, and history overlap. Central to this inquiry are theoretical practices more traditionally situated within performance, gender, and critical race studies. The objective is to reconceptualize the field of fashion as something more than a cultural construction by unearthing the interwoven set of corporeal, social, and theoretical operations that structure fashion’s logic and foster its material manifestations.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Emanuele Lugli

Graduate Student:

Linden Hill
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

Claire and John Radway Research Workshop

Renaissance Worldmaking

What is a world? Even today, the question invites conflicting responses from scientific, political, literary, philosophical, and geographic perspectives. How we choose to answer it reveals much about our own self-understanding and sense of place in the world. This workshop situates the Renaissance as a transatlantic, transnational experiment in generating worldmaking concepts—the globe, the world, the human, empire—viewing it as an “early modernity” foundational for our present, yet more experimental, less systematic, than the Enlightenment legacy through which modernity is often understood. As such, the Renaissance is a crucial site both for understanding and critiquing modernity and for imagining alternative conceptions of the world. This workshop also explores new definitions of the spatial and temporal boundaries of early modernity, emphasizing the transatlantic and Mediterranean Renaissances alongside the more familiar Florentine and English accounts. By expanding our use of digital technology, we in turn look forward to broadening the reach of our audience and participation.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Patricia Parker

Graduate Student:

Nicholas Fenech
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Yasmin Haskell: Idols, Demons, or Passions? Old and New Gods in Jesuit Latin Epic - November 19, 2020 5:00 PM

Blokker Research Workshop

Standardization in Ancient Economies

Decades of research into industrializing and developing economies have focused on standardization as a system of thought and practice, providing critical insights into technological change, production systems, and labor relations. Concurrently, scholars studying ancient economies have adopted the New Institutional Economics (NIE) to frame our understanding of institutional roles in growth and development. This workshop draws together and organizes scholarship to examine how standardization—and by extension its opposite, diversity—functioned in ancient and historic economies. Standardization offers a lens to trace intersecting ideas and practices broadly across time, space, material, and context. Building on a foundation of NIE scholarship, this approach examines the social and political landscape of antiquity through case studies from classics, anthropology, history, and art history. These case studies provide insights into historical economic mentalities, the limits of rationality and efficiency, and the political, social and technological webs in which production and interaction were embedded.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Justin Leidwanger

Graduate Student:

Nicholas Bartos
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Did Pharaoh Control the Ancient Egyptian Economy? New Perspectives from Old & Ugly Pots - October 19, 2020 12:00 PM

    Ecology and Monetary Standards in Roman Egypt - October 30, 2020 12:00 PM

    Decentralized Ceramic Production and the Inka Imperial Economy - November 9, 2020 12:00 PM

Research Workshop in Honor of John Bender

Working Group in Literary & Visual Culture

How do ways of seeing and reading inform our sense of history or place? What is the relationship between close reading, an essential tool for literary critics, and close looking, central to art history? These are some of the animating questions for the Working Group in Literary & Visual Culture. We consider projects that transcend disciplinary boundaries in terms of both content and form, considering materials often overlooked in more conventional scholarship. We engage a wide range of urgent and emerging research agendas, such as the representation of gender and sexuality, race and class, colonial and postcolonial studies, the histories of science and technology, and environmental humanities. Essential and transformative interdisciplinary perspective introduces questions, secondary material, and objects a single researcher would not likely encounter alone or within the confines of their discipline. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration across fields and historical periods to ensure lively and challenging interchange and path-breaking interdisciplinary work.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Gavin Jones, Emanuele Lugli

Graduate Student:

Jennie Waldow
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • Doppleganger: John Singer Sargent, Across Time - November 17, 2020 12:00 PM

    Observing Francisco Oller's The Wake at the 1893 Exposicion de Puerto Rico - December 1, 2020 12:00 PM

    The Mask of Metamorphosis: Costumes and Ritualized Dress at the Crossroads of Rome and Africa - December 10, 2020 12:30 PM

Workshop in Poetics

The Workshop in Poetics is concerned with the theoretical and practical dimensions of the reading and criticism of poetry. Driven by the interests of its members, the workshop provides a space for the presentation of work in progress by faculty and Ph.D. students, talks by visiting speakers, and the discussion of both classic and neglected works in the field. Within the eclectic critical landscape called “poetics” in literary studies, the workshop offers a forum where scholars with distinctive methods and historical concerns can test their claims and assumptions about poetic objects against the broad linguistic and historical knowledge of the workshop’s members. Over its fourteen years, many of which under the aegis of the Stanford Humanities Center as a Geballe Research Workshop, the Workshop in Poetics has become a central venue in the Bay Area for sharing projects in a conversation outside of conventional disciplinary, departmental and national limits.

Coodinators

Faculty:

Marisa Galvez

Graduate Student:

Lorenzo Bartolucci
Meeting Schedule: (click to expand)

  • No-Man's Land: The Slovenian Poetry of Fabjan Hafner - October 16, 2020 1:00 PM

    Forms of Poetic Attention - November 20, 2020 2:00 PM

    Unthought Medievalism and the Pre-modern Global South - December 4, 2020 1:00 PM