Resident Fellows Speaker Series

The Hall Center hosts several faculty and graduate student fellows in residence each semester. During their residencies or shortly after, our Fellows give talks about their works-in-progress. These events are public and open to all in the Hall Center's Conference Hall. Lunch is provided, and RSVP is required. Please see the Hall Center Calendar to register for these events.

Feelings of Memories: Vietnamese Refugee Melancholia and the Politics of Remembrance

Giang Nguyen-Dien (Sias Graduate Fellow, American Studies)

WED SEP 13, 12:00 PM

This project examines Vietnamese refugee melancholia, emerging from the grief of uprootedness and trauma of war, to uncover the conflicted positionality of Vietnamese refugees as subjects simultaneously wounded and rescued by U.S. empire. Shifting away from Freud’s construction of melancholia as a pathological deviation from mourning, the project employs melancholia to explore the “complex personhood” of the refugees, whose subjectivities and epistemologies harbor a contradiction within itself: both a critique of state/ imperial violence and a validation of U.S. ideals of liberty and equality. As racialized Asian subjects, whose refugee status is brought into existence by U.S. military violence in Vietnam, the refugees are wounded by U.S. empire and yet rendered indebted to the U.S. nation-state for its rescue in the aftermath of the war. Tracing the manifestation of refugee melancholia through the feelings evoked by memories of home, Nguyen-Dien highlights this contradiction, which both defines and confines refugee subjectivities, as well as constructs and deconstructs the way the Vietnam War is remembered.

Reclaiming Home: Remembering the Topeka

Maria Velasco (Professor, Visual Art)

TUE OCT 3, 12:00 PM

This collaborative multimedia project retrieves the stories of immigrant Mexican communities displaced through urban renewal of the 1950s, when more than 3,000 Topekans were forced to leave their homes and businesses in the Bottoms district to make way for new real estate development. This project addresses the sense of loss among residents by inviting the community to reconstruct their neighborhood through history, storytelling, community mapping and art. Artworks will also be created that honor their memories and bring the neighborhood back to life while addressing historic inequities. By inviting community members to share stories and create art that captures ideas of belonging, heritage and shared values, the hope is to promote social justice and equity in the local communities in Topeka, around Kansas, and in the United States as a whole.

When You’ve Read One, You’ve Read Them All; or the Rhetoric of Repetition in Medieval Saints’ Lives

Christine Bourgeois (Assistant Professor, French, Francophone, and Italian Studies)

MON OCT 23, 12:00 PM

If anything in the world of medieval hagiographical studies can be characterized as famous, James Earl’s 1972 assertion that “when you’ve read one saint’s life you’ve read them all” is surely a candidate. This observation sums up the difficulties that scholars continue to face. As anyone who has ever attempted to adapt saints’ lives to the undergraduate classroom can attest, Earl is not so far off in his surmise that saints’ lives are “so much alike that the student of literature finds, after three or four, that the genre begins to tax his tolerance”. While scholarly opinion now takes a more generous stance, treating the apparent intertextual monotony of medieval hagiography as a kind of ritual background noise, Bourgeois’ research proposes to treat it instead as a philosophically meaningful form through which readers from all walks of life were invited to engage with such complex questions as gender expression, sexual experience, and the metaphysical stakes of human craftsmanship.

Two Alien Forests: Translating Gender and SFF between Two Cold War Superpowers

R.B. Perelmutter (Professor, Jewish Studies; Slavic, German & Eurasian Studies)

WED NOV 8, 12:00 PM

At the height of the New Cold War in 1980, two important works of science fiction were translated, one from Russian to English, and the other from English to Russian: The Snail on the Slope by the Strugatsky brothers, and The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin. In both works, multiple models of gender are presented and both texts critique their respective countries’ policies. This talk will examine how gendered concepts informed Cold War-era speculative storytelling about colonization and hegemony, and how these themes were (mis)translated and reframed when they crossed the language barrier between the two superpowers. Perelmutter will discuss how the technical work of translators influenced the representation of gender in both novels – through inadvertent mistranslations and systemic altering of the texts – in order to appeal to the target audience and align with the market and censorship pressures. These issues highlight translation as an intensely political, complex, and fallible process.

The Romance of Diversity: Institutional Rhetoric, Racial Surveillance, and Student Protest in U.S. Universities

Pritha Prasad (Assistant Professor, English)

THU APR 20, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Against a historical backdrop of 1960s-1970s Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian- American student protests that seminally forced the formation of Ethnic Studies in U.S. universities, how do we reconcile the stark disconnect between universities’ abstract commitments to “diversity” and their discomfort with embodied resistance? This talk argues that the rapid proliferation of pro-institutional “antiracist” initiatives in universities after the Ferguson Uprising of 2014 might be best understood by tracking the rhetorical life of “diversity” as a post-World War II geopolitical project. Specifically, Prasad argues that “diversity,” in romanticizing and dehistoricizing race/racism, has served as a vehicle for not only policing Black, Indigenous, and peoples of color in the university, but also for rebranding the radical aesthetic and intellectual world-making of antiracist and decolonial movements as abstract fodder for white progressivism.