College of Arts & Science

The 2019-2020 John W. Altman Program in the Humanities


Introducing the 2018-2019 John W. Altman Program in the Humanities

Human experience is fundamentally shaped by the relation to time. We constantly think in, and of, time.  We worry about it, negotiate it, and try to manipulate it.  Humans are embedded in many temporalities: the slowness of plants and seeds, the eons of nuclear waste, the urgency of climate change, the impatience of social injustice, and the slow-burning pain of hope. But what exactly is time?  We sometimes treat it as a commodity, something to trade, exploit, and accumulate.  We also tend to see it as the measure of change across a straight line. But this definition fails to capture the experience of time, the dynamics of natural cycles, and the ways in which human consciousness sweeps from past to future and back again.  To the extent that we construct our experience of time, it is malleable, aesthetic, and artistic. Yet it is also unequally distributed in life spans, prison sentences, and the availability of leisure.  

The 2019-20 Altman Program invites faculty, students, alumni, and the public to explore the multiplicity of time and our engagement, both active and passive, in it. How do clock and calendar time relate to natural cycles and lived experience? How has the human sense of temporality changed historically in response to social, economic, political, technical, and cultural forces?  How do the arts and literature express, modify, and conceptualize the complexity of time?  What are the pleasures and pains of time? To the extent that time is a human experience, how might the humanities be positioned to release or create its meanings?  In an era of emphasis on spatial representation and big data, can renewed attention to temporality help us reframe our experience, our world, and the challenges we face?

Call for Applications: 2019-2020 Altman Faculty Scholars

Distinguished Lectures

A blurry pink and blue disrupted by intermitten dark brown smudges
Leigh Gilmore
Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Wellesley College

Graphic Witness: Evidence and Testimony in the #MeToo Movement

August 30, 2018 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
endless stairs
Jason Stanley
Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy, Yale University

Propaganda and Anti-Intellectualism

September 27, 2018 5:00 PM
Benton Hall 102
Altman Truth & Lies Photo
Trevor Paglen

invisible images

October 23, 2018 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Altman Truth & Lies Photo
Masha Gessen

An Evening with Masha Gessen

November 6, 2018 5:00 PM
Shideler Hall 152
Blue green streaks over oil drops
Eula Biss

Truth, Lies, and True Lies

February 7, 2019 7:00 PM
Benton Hall 102
Altman Truth & Lies Photo
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California.

War, Fiction, and the Ethics of Memory

March 21, 2019 7:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
endless stairs
Sianne Ngai
Professor of English, University of Chicago

Transparency and Enigma in the Gimmick as Capitalist Form

April 18, 2019 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Lit tea candles
Lewis Gordon
Professor of Philosophy, University of Connecticut

Racism, Anti-Truth, and Other Forms of Bad Faith

May 2, 2019 4:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Endless Stairs
Hélène Landemore
Associate  Professor of Political Science, Yale University

Deliberative Democracy in the Age of Post-Truth Politics

May 3, 2019 4:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center

2019-2020 Altman Fellows

Jonathan Strauss

Jonathan Strauss specializes in French literature and culture from 1800 to the present, focusing on subjectivity, mortality, and life.  He is the author of Subjects of Terror: Nerval, Hegel, and the Modern Self (Stanford, 1998); Human Remains: Medicine, Death, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Paris (Fordham, 2012); and Private Lives, Public Deaths: Antigone and the Invention of Individuality (Fordham, 2013). 

Elaine Miller

Elaine Miller's research and teaching focus on nineteenth-century German philosophy and contemporary European feminist theory, particularly aesthetics and the philosophy of nature.  Her books include Head Cases: Julia Kristeva on Philosophy and Art in Depressed Times (Columbia University Press, 2014), The Vegetative Soul: From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine (SUNY Press, 2002), and an edited collection, Returning to Irigaray: Feminist Philosophy, Politics, and the Question of Unity (SUNY Press, 2006). She has also published numerous articles in journals, including Idealistic Studies, The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, and Oxford Literary Review.

2018-19 Altman Graduate Fellows

Casey Kuhajda

Casey Kuhajda is a doctoral student in English. His primary research interests lie in American studies and focus on intersections between ecocritical and transnational literary critiques and artifacts. His current work explores the importance of concepts of truth within the family space.

Ricky DeSantis

Ricky DeSantis is a master's student in the philosophy department. He received his BA in philosophy with a minor in psychology from San Diego State University. His primary interests are in existentialism and phenomenology, though his recent work has focused on political community in both the ancient and modern contexts.

2018-19 Geoffrion Family Fellows

Amanda Brennan

Amanda Brennan is a senior political science and philosophy double major with a minor in French. She has been a Humanities Research Fellow and participated in the Undergraduate Summer Scholars program. Her research interests include feminist theory, existentialism, and the Ohio opioid epidemic.

Megan Zahneis

Megan Zahneis is a senior journalism student with a co-major in interactive media studies and minor in disability studies. A University Academic Scholar in Writing for the Media, she is editor of The Miami Student Magazine and has authored chapters in two published books. In summer 2018, she was an intern at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Madeline Mitchell

Madeline Mitchell is a junior honors student with majors in theatre and journalism and a minor in history.  A former Undergraduate Summer Scholar, her research interests include social privilege, activism, and social media. A College of Creative Arts Academic Scholar, she is also interested in the portrayal of social issues in theatre and performance art.

Margaret Hamm

Margaret Hamm is a junior honors student with majors in Political Science and Comparative Religion and a minor in Classical Languages. Her research interests include constitutional law, with a focus on the First Amendment, and religious extremism. In the summer of 2017, she traveled to Topeka, Kansas to conduct research on the Westboro Baptist Church.

Caroline Godard

Caroline Godard is a senior honors student pursuing a BA/MA in French and a major in English literature. A former Undergraduate Summer Scholar and Undergraduate Associate, her research interests include memory, the autobiographical novel, and the relationship between literature and the visual arts. She studied in Paris last semester and has interned at two French châteaux.

Hannah Abigail Clarke

Hannah Abigail Clarke is a senior majoring in Classics, Creative Writing and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She has been a Humanities Research Fellow, Undergraduate Summer Scholar, President of Spectrum, and member of the College of Arts and Science Student Advisory Committee.  Her research interests include queer history, magical realism, and fiction as political resistance. 

2018-19 Altman Scholars

Andrea Righi

Andrea Righi works on cultural theory with a focus on continental philosophy, gender theory, digitality, and modern Italian literature. He is the author of Italian Reactionary Thought and Critical Theory: An Inquiry into Savage Modernities (Palgrave 2011) and Biopolitics and Social Change in Italy: From Gramsci to Pasolini to Negri (Palgrave 2015). He is co-editor with Cesare Casarino of Another Mother: Diotima and the Symbolic Order of Italian Feminism (forthcoming at U Minnesota Press).

Andrew Hebard

Andrew Hebard is an Associate Professor of English working in the field of late nineteenth century American literature. He has published articles in journals including American Quarterly; Law, Culture, and the HumanitiesAfrican American Review, and Arizona Quarterly, and has a forthcoming chapter on science and aesthetics in the Oxford Handbook of American Literary Realism.  His book, The Poetics of Sovereignty in American Literature, 1885-1910 (Cambridge, 2013) examines how American literature conventionalized legal forms of sovereignty and administration.  His current book project examines the relationship between literary aesthetics, scientific ecology, and the Progressive Era state.

Andy Rice

Andy Rice is a media theorist and nonfiction filmmaker who researches the impact of digital technologies on documentary discourses and aesthetics. His current book project, Moments of Truth: Documentary Camerawork and Reenactment in Digital Culture, analyzes reenactment performance in documentary film and US community settings as simulations of the real that anticipate the digital era.  He has published articles on military simulation training during the Iraq War, films about Vietnam War reenactments, and media pedagogy in the liberal arts.  He also co-produced Spirits of Rebellion: Black Independent Cinema from Los Angeles (2016) on the Rebellion film movement.

Anita Mannur

Anita Mannur is a literary and cultural critic who studies food, environmentalism and transnational Asian literatures. She is author of Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture (2010), co-editor of Eating Asian America (2014) and the former editor of The Journal of Asian American Studies. She is currently working on two book projects. The first is about radical intimacies and culinary publics; the second examines the imperative to uncover truths in fiction about industrial disasters and environmental damage.

Erik Jensen

Erik Jensen studies modern German and European history, with a particular focus on the society, culture, and politics of the interwar period. His first book, Body by Weimar: Gender, Athletes, and German Modernity, traced the emergence of a physical self that subjects came to feel should be constructed in a certain fashion. His current research project explores the complicated choices made by a half-Jewish German woman who survived the Nazi regime in part by participating in morale-building missions on the German frontlines, with the attendant concealment, subterfuge, and invented pasts that such a survival strategy necessitated.

Gaile Pohlhaus

Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. focuses on questions concerning knowledge in light of differences in social power among knowers.  She has published extensively on the ethics and politics of knowledge and her work has appeared in such journals as Theoria, Hypatia, and Social Epistemology. In addition she is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice.  Her current book project, Knowing (with) Others, examines the manner in which knowing the world depends on relations of interdependence and the implications (both ethical and political) of knowers’ need to rely upon one another.

Rosemary Pennington

Rosemary Pennington studies the ways that media represent minorities as well as how members of minority groups utilize media, particularly social media, to challenge stereotypes and prejudice. She’s a co-editor of the book On Islam: Muslims and the Media (2018) and has published research in New Media & Society, Journal of Communication Inquiry, and International Communication Gazette. Her current book project examines the representation of Muslims in American popular media.

TaraShea Nesbit

TaraShea Nesbit is a novelist and essayist whose research interests include American history, history of science, and creative nonfiction as a method for social critique. Her bestselling novel, The Wives of Los Alamos, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize. Her nonfiction has been featured in The Guardian, Salon, Fourth Genre, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. In 2018, she was awarded an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council for nonfiction and a Creative Writing Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society for her forthcoming second novel, Beheld, about the first murder trial in Plymouth colony.