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

“Displacement and misplacement are this century’s commonplace,” wrote the Nobel Prize laureate and Soviet exile Joseph Brodsky in 1988. Thirty years later, human migration seems an even more visible sign of our times. The number of refugees and forcibly displaced persons worldwide, the United Nations reports, is now the highest on record since World War II. Yet migration is not always driven by crisis. It is an enduring feature of human history, cultural identity, and artistic expression from antiquity through the middle ages and into the present. Migration is a complex and politically challenging topic. People leave their homelands for many reasons—the desire for freedom or a better life, exile, removal, or a flight from war, ethnic or religious intolerance, environmental devastation, or poverty. The effects of migration are both immediate and lasting. It can be a source of both hope and agony, political strain and social strength. Over the centuries, human migration has inscribed the map of the world with rich diasporic traditions and cultural intermixtures. Understanding this phenomenon will require the expertise of scholars and artists from a wide array of fields.

The 2020-2021 Altman Program invites the Miami University community to explore the geographical, artistic, psychological, cultural, and linguistic aspects of human migration. What are the causes—economic, religious, ethnic, political, environmental—of exodus and resettlement? What can we learn from those who have left, or been driven from, their homelands? Whose stories of migration gain traction, and what are the politics of its representation? What new aesthetic formations result from migration? And how can modern societies use the history of global migrations to chart ethical solutions to the challenges of the present?  

Distinguished Lectures

woman in front of clocks
Jonathan Crary
Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Columbia University

Resetting the Clocks in a 24/7 World

September 12, 2019 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
coffee cup beside a book
Jack Halberstam
Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Columbia University

Coffee and Conversation, with Jack Halberstam

October 10, 2019 2:45 PM
Armstrong Student Center, Wiikiaamia Room 2042
side view of old white house
Jack Halberstam
Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

After All: On Dereliction and Destitution Copy

October 10, 2019 5:00 PM
Shriver Center, Heritage Room
Marcia Bjornerud
Professor of Environmental Studies and Geology, Lawrence University

Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

October 24, 2019 5:00 PM
Shriver Center, Heritage Room
Altman signature image
Matthew Burtner
Department of Music, University of Virginia

Auksalaq: A Climate Change Opera, with Composer’s Talk on 'Musical Temporalities of Climate Change'

November 4, 2019 7:30 PM
Hall Auditorium
signature altman image
Jenann Ismael
Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Time and the Visual Imagination: From Physics to Philosophy

November 21, 2019 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
multicolored oil paint mixed together
Pheng Cheah
Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Diasporic Worldliness in Postcolonial Globalization

February 27, 2020 5:00 PM
Donald W. Fritz Pavilion C, Armstrong Student Center
Altman signature image
Michelle M. Wright
Professor of English, Emory University

POSTPONED: Race and Temporality: From Newtonian Blackness to Quantum Diasporic Spacetimes

March 12, 2020 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Altman signature image
Lisa Baraitser
Professor of Psychosocial Theory, Birkbeck, University of London

POSTPONED: Enduring Time: On Waiting, Care, and Crisis

April 2, 2020 5:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
Altman signature image
Lauren Berlant
Professor of English, University of Chicago

CANCELLED: Stalking Time

April 16, 2020 5:00 PM
Shideler Hall 152
bullet going through an apple
Jay Lampert
Professor of Philosophy, Duquesne University


April 30, 2020 4:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center
altman image
2019-2020 Geoffrion Undergraduate Fellows

COVID Temporality: The 2019-2020 Geoffrion Family Fellows Symposium

May 1, 2020 10:00 AM
line drawing of a man looking at a globe
Vincent Bruyére
Associate Professor of French, Emory University

CANCELLED: Melting Time, Volatile Pasts, and Vaporous History

May 1, 2020 4:00 PM
Heritage Room, Shriver Center

2020-2021 Altman Fellows

Mila Ganeva

Mila Ganeva is Professor of German and faculty affiliate to Film Studies, Jewish Studies, and the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. She teaches a wide array of course in German language, literature, and film and is the author of Women in Weimar Fashion: Discourses and Displays in German Culture, 1918-1933 (Camden House, 2008), Film and Fashion Amidst the Ruins of Berlin: Between Nazism and Cold War, 1939-1953 (Camden House, 2018), and edited a volume of collected articles by Helen Hessel: Ich schreibe aus Paris. Über die Mode, das Leben und die Liebe (Nimbus, 2014). She has published numerous articles on fashion journalism, fashion photography, film history, early German film comedies, and Berlin in literature and film.

Zara M. Torlone

Zara M. Torlone is Professor of Classics and core faculty member of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. Her areas of specialization are Roman poetry and classical reception in Russia. Her publications include Russia and the Classics: Poetry’s Foreign Muse, (Bloomsbury, 2009); Roman Love Poetry (Oxford, 2013). Her latest book, Vergil in Russia: National Identity and Classical Reception, was published by the Oxford University Press in January of 2015. Her other recent publications include edited volumes Blackwell-Wiley Handbook on Classical Reception in Eastern and Central Europe (2017) and Virgil and his Translators (Oxford, 2018).

2019-20 Altman Graduate Fellows

Erica Bigelow

Erica Bigelow is a master’s student in philosophy. She received her B.A. in philosophy with minors in English and political science from Stonehill College. Her research interests include feminist and queer theory, contemporary political philosophy, social activism, and the philosophy of literature.

Pierre Borlée

Pierre Borlée, a master’s student in French. He also holds a master’s degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. His primary research interests are the cultural and political history of contemporary French society and its reflection in literature.

2019-20 Geoffrion Family Fellows

Emily Brady

Emily Brady is a senior honors student studying mathematics and statistics with minors in actuarial science and history. She has been President of Stage Left and Scholarship Chair for Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. Her research interests include history education and historical conceptions of time.

Sydney Chuen

Sydney Chuen is a senior honors student majoring in international studies, French, and global and intercultural studies, with minors in Arabic and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. She has conducted independent research in France and Morocco, participated in Miami’s Undergraduate Research Forum, and published a paper on human trafficking in Europe. Her research interests include migration and diaspora, conflict and terrorism, and language politics.

Avery Comar

Avery Comar is a senior majoring in history and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, with a minor in political science. As a Dean’s Scholar and a member of the history honors program, her research on the early Soviet Union explores the manipulation of time for political ends.

Tavis Enderle

Tavis Enderle is a senior philosophy major with a minor in German. His research interests include self-consciousness, German idealism, New Realism, and the speculative turn in continental philosophy. Before arriving at Miami University in 2017, he was an electrical designer in the mining industry.

Diana Kate Karsanow

Diana Kate Karsanow is a senior majoring in art and architecture history and arts management. A former Undergraduate Summer Scholar and Undergraduate Associate, her research interests include global architecture history, African art history, and early twentieth-century colonial photography. She has published research on the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Lomé, Togo.

Henry Roach

Henry Roach is a junior honors student with majors in philosophy and English literature and a minor in women's, gender, and sexuality studies. A former Undergraduate Summer Scholar, his research interests include historicism, feminist theory, the attribution of responsibility, and the philosophy of action.

2019-20 Altman Scholars

Madelyn Detloff

Madelyn Detloff is Professor and Chair of English and Professor of Global and Intercultural Studies. She is the author of The Value of Virginia Woolf (Cambridge, 2016) and The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, 2009) and co-editor (with Brenda Helt) of Queer Bloomsbury (Edinburgh, 2016) and (with Diana Royer) of Virginia Woolf: Art, Education, and Internationalism (Clemson, 2008). She has published essays in journals including Hypatia, Women’s Studies, ELN, Literature Compass, Feminist Modernist Studies, and Modernism/modernity. She is currently writing a book provisionally titled "Lessons from the Belly of the Beast: Negotiating Ambivalence in the Neoliberal Leviathan."

Erin E. Edwards

Erin E. Edwards is Associate Professor of English. Her work explores the intersections among modernism, posthumanism, death studies, ecocriticism, and technical media. She is the author of The Modernist Corpse: Posthumanism and the Posthumous (Minnesota 2018). She is currently working on a book on the possible futures of death in speculative fiction, visual art, digital culture, and contemporary alternative death movements.

Elisabeth Hodges

Elisabeth Hodges, Associate Professor of French, studies French literature and contemporary film with a focus on materiality and the senses in the digital world. She is the author of Urban Poetics in the French Renaissance (Ashgate, 2008) and numerous essays on space and subjectivity in Renaissance literature. Her recent publications include articles on retrospection in Godard’s JLG/JLG and memory in the television series The Wire. Her current book project examines the concept of drift as it relates to cinematic time in contemporary art film.

Mariana Ivanova

Mariana Ivanova, Assistant Professor of German, studies the connections between central and eastern European cinema, transnational theory, and ways of remembering the Holocaust. She is the author of Cinema of Collaboration: DEFA Co-Productions and International Exchange in Cold War Europe (Berghahn, 2019). Her published articles explore the 1920s “Film Europe” movement, German producers and cultural mediators of the 1950s, German-French film co-productions, and state socialism in contemporary cinema. Her current book project focuses on reclaiming the producer as a key figure in postwar European cinema. In addition to her scholarly publications, she is also the creator of several short documentaries about eastern European filmmakers.

Nicholas Money

Nicholas Money is Professor of Botany and Director of the Western Program for Individualized Studies. He specializes in the field of fungal biology and is the author of numerous scientific articles and ten popular science books that celebrate the microbial world. These include, Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard (Oxford, 2002), The Amoeba in the Room (Oxford, 2014), and The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization (Oxford, 2018). He is also the author of a historical novel, The Mycologist (Wooster, 2017). He is currently writing a pair of books on the nature of life and the coming collapse of the biosphere.

Ann Wainscott

Ann Wainscott, Associate Professor of Political Science, is the author of Bureaucratizing Islam: Morocco and the War on Terror (Cambridge, 2017) and essays in Politics and Religion and the Journal of North African Studies. She has served as Luce Fellow in Religion and International Affairs at the American Academy of Religion and as Smith Richardson Foundation Strategy and Policy Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. Her current work, supported by the Global Research on Religion Initiative, examines the influence of religion ministries on authoritarianism in Arab monarchies.