Engagements at a Glance

Engagements at a Glance

EGMT 1510: Engaging Aesthetics

Fall 2021

Fall Quarter One: August 24 – October 13

EGMT 1510: Brokenness, Malfunction, Maintenance, and Repair

EGMT 1510: Brokenness, Malfunction, Maintenance, and Repair

It’s hard sometimes to take notice when things just simply work right—the multitude of occasions when nothing weird happens, everything functions according to expectations, and plans are carried out without a hitch. Instead, our minds more often dwell on those times when things get fouled up and everything goes wrong. Why should this be, though? It is a fact of the physical universe that things tend to break down. Sooner or later, at whatever pace, everything that ever has been or ever will be will decay and disintegrate. And yet these processes hold some fascination, firing the imaginations of artists, philosophers, and cultural creators, at the same time as scientists, civil engineers, and many other dedicated professionals strive to forestall their effects on societal networks and infrastructures. In this Engagements class, we will consider the aesthetics of malfunction and repair from a variety of perspectives, mixing in-class discussion and workshops with excursions into the communities around us. Shannon Mattern’s groundbreaking essay “Maintenance and Care” will serve as a guide throughout, introducing us to the “rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code” that permeate our daily existence, as well as to those who combat them in one form or another. Along the way we will encounter and document our responses to examples from the fields of architecture, arts and crafts, llterature, music, and videogames that seek to resist prevailing cultural logics and fracture our habitual modes of thought. We’ll carry out hands-on exercises in deformation and destruction, think about how these processes might affect our cultural and social networks, and ultimately forge ideas about what “maintenance” and “care” might mean in our present and to our futures. Instructed by

Ferguson

Andrew
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.

My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.

 
TR 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

As we consume culture we internalize its priorities and values. One of these in the west is to become a connoisseur of originality. But what if this gives us a distorted view of culture? What if the key to understanding it is to focus not on the invention of the new, but on the reproduction of what already exists? This course takes this idea as its working hypothesis and tests it out in the realm of music. (Those who wish to take this course do not need to have any previous training in music.) By engaging its students in a variety of exercises—reading, writing, listening, viewing—it seeks to ask and answer the following questions: Which roles does imitation play in learning, teaching, creating, and performing music? How do we differentiate among the many terms we use to refer to cultural imitation: influence, derivation, appropriation, borrowing, theft, homage, parody, quotation, allusion, and so forth? How has musical imitation been shaped by sound and media technologies? How has music participated in imitative practices involving race and gender? And how has imitation in music been critiqued by philosophers and challenged in a court of law? By the end of this course, students will have: • learned to identify important roles that imitation has played in western music; • developed a more expert knowledge about genres, techniques, and processes involved in making music; • improved their ability to describe music and their experience of it; • explored the intersection between the performance of music and the performance of race and gender; • grappled with the ways that philosophy and cultural criticism have viewed imitation, especially as an aspect of artistic creation; • engaged with the legal debates surrounding issues of imitation in music and art. Instructed by

Puri

Michael
Associate Professor of Music
[email protected]

My life as a musician, educator, and researcher has been guided by the conviction that we can make sense of sound. I first explored this idea in the realm of performance. As a classical pianist, I not only learned and performed hundreds of hours of all different sorts of music, but I was also continually trying to figure out what a particular piece of music had to say, and how I might effectively communicate this message to an audience. At first, I felt that the college classes I was taking in music history and theory didn’t help me much in achieving these goals, but their possibilities gradually became clear me. The deeper I went into these fields, the better I became at making sense of sound—at understanding music as if I were reading literature. This knowledge improved my pianism, to be sure, but its greater importance lay in the way it enriched my relationship to music in general. Ultimately, I discovered that music enfolds a whole history of ideas within itself, and is a vital touchstone for the debates that rage within culture at large. Today when I speak and write about music, it is this insight that I seek to share. My goal as an educator is to guide my students so that they may learn, for themselves, how to make sense of sound.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1510: In Praise of Entropy

EGMT 1510: In Praise of Entropy

Why do some things happen spontaneously? Why does snow melt and coffee cool? Why do we die? And why do we live? Can order ever emerge from chaos? The answers to all these questions lie in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the empirical law that entropy in our universe is ever-increasing. Although the Second Law has only been articulated in scientifically rigorous terms for the last 200 years, its influence has been recognized and wrestled with in artistic endeavors throughout human history. Entropy’s increase has often been described in semi-tragic terms and even lamented as an evil blight on the face of the earth – but it has also been celebrated. In this course, we will introduce Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics in a rigorous, mathematical way while asking students to creatively document and respond to the influence of the Second Law in our physical world. Together, we will explore implications of the Second Law that both limit and enable life. After laying the scientific foundations, students will be asked to search out and discuss aesthetic responses to the Second Law in art, music, and literature, across various cultures, while working towards their own, personal aesthetic response to its influence on their lives. Entropy and the Second Law lend themselves particularly well to aesthetic engagement, as their implications immediately and personally influence our lives and ultimately determine our collective fate. Instructed by

DuBay

Kateri
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
[email protected]

 

The undergraduate and graduate courses I teach focus on one central question: Why do only certain things in our world happen spontaneously? Or, put differently, Why does time appear to have an arrow? Although the answer is easy to state – spontaneous processes that move forward in time increase the entropy of the universe (the Second Law of Thermodynamics) – the reasons behind and the implications of that answer take us back to the very foundation of our empirical understanding of the world and forward to the edges of our current scientific knowledge. In my courses, I work to equip students with tools to understand entropy, while enabling them to reason through spontaneous processes as simple as a cup of coffee cooling to those as complex as order emerging from chaos. Once the concept of entropy is understood, its clarity and beauty are arresting. I am tremendously excited to teach first year students in my Engagement course about the centrality, simplicity, power, beauty, and tragedy of entropy. In doing so, we will engage in deep, fundamental questions about life in this physical world of ours – perhaps most importantly: how do we respond creatively, both individually and collectively, to the empirical fact that all things decay?

In my research, I employ theoretical and computational tools to investigate how small things assemble into larger things – ranging from the organization of monomeric units into polymers to the organization of hierarchically-ordered nanoparticles and biomaterials. Specifically, I am interested in the interplay between self-organization and environmental complexities, such as spatial gradients, temporal oscillations, and ongoing chemical reactions.

I have been an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of Virginia since 2014. From 2017-2019, I served on the General Education Assessment Committee, which was tasked with evaluating UVA’s new College Curriculum. During my time at UVA, I have won both the Cory Family and Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Awards. In addition, I recently received a 2019 NSF CAREER Award and a 2020 Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

Plato’s Symposium asks us to imagine Hephaestus, god of metalwork, puzzled as he looks upon a pair of lovers locked in an embrace. “What is it you two really want from each other?” he asks, “To be two parts of the same whole and never separate?” He then generously offers to weld the lovers together, so that the two may be forever one. No one, the text argues, would say yes to Hephaestus’ proposal. The true aim of our desires, after all, isn’t necessarily to fulfill them. What are the stakes of love, particularly of a love that is never returned or fulfilled? Why is unrequited love so often described through contradiction: burning ice, blissful torture, sublime pain? What aesthetic forms, expressions, and techniques are used to convey this internal psychic state to an external audience? With reference to a global set of works-- including poetry, novels, drama, and cinema-- this Engaging Aesthetics course will explore the long purchase of romantic longing as an aesthetic subject, and an ethical, epistemological, and social discourse across varied cultural and historical contexts. Instructed by

Hu

Jasmine
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways. 

I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world. 

 
MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1510: Punching Up - American Satire

EGMT 1510: Punching Up - American Satire

Satire makes the powerful feel weak and the weak feel powerful. It points out what we dare not think or know. By showing how absurd power can be, satire suggests that our world can be otherwise. American satire skewers distinctions of race, gender, and class as self-contradictory, yet undeniably real. Satire can be poignant, too: As we all know, laughter sometimes ends in tears. In this course, we read major American satirists writing since the Civil War, including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Mark Twain, Anita Loos, George Schuyler, Dorothy Parker, Paul Beatty, and Ling Ma. Students will learn about these authors’ texts and their contexts, focusing on how form and content conspire to produce satirical effects. Satire exemplifies both literary writing and the pleasures of reading. It can persuade, provoke, and unsettle us. Víktor Shklovsky famously argues that literature “defamiliarizes” us with the world. Perhaps no genre is more committed to Shklovsky’s sense of defamiliarization than satire. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

This class explores the aesthetics of resistance in social and political life, emphasizing sound. We will rely on a broad understanding of “resistance,” from street protests to campaign theme songs to Super Bowl performances. Likewise, “sound” will refer primarily to music, but will also include other audible outputs of voices, bodies, and environments. Students will consider how sounds can straddle and influence the intimately connected domains of the aesthetic and the sociopolitical. We will ponder questions such as: how does sound mean? Is sound capable of provoking social change? How do people draw on their own experiences to interpret what they hear? How can the same song or sound inspire some to love and others to hate? Can sound be used as a weapon? How can sound foster inclusivity or exclusivity, or allow individuals to heal, motivate, resist, or change? We will attend public events in the area to enhance our studies. Importantly, students will examine their own engagements with sonic and musical resistance and will complete self-designed projects that allow them to experiment with sound’s capacities to engage in social action. Instructed by

Flood

Liza
Assistant Professor
[email protected]

I am an ethnomusicologist who studies American music and culture. My primary focus is country music in all its various forms: honky-tonk, bluegrass, pop country, and others. Studying a kind of music that was historically ignored by the academy, and yet enjoys broad popularity, prompts important questions such as: what cultural forms are worthy of study? What is good music? How can music represent groups of people or ideas? How can music be used as a form of self-expression, resistance, or political stance?    

These are the kinds of questions that motivate ethnomusicologists. We start with music or sound and then ask questions about its content and context. Music guides us through explorations of identity, taste, ethics, difference, social interaction, memory, and belonging. We examine music in everyday life, made by everyday people, not just the megastars whose music gets played on the radio. Through this lens, ethnomusicologists are deeply concerned with participation: music isn’t just an object, it’s very importantly an activity. It’s something we do. As I step outside of my field and join the Engagements program, I bring with me some of the same concerns. I hope to help students explore how big questions inflect everyday life and how we are all active participants in culture-making, capable of engaging, influencing, challenging, and celebrating the world around us.

My first experience teaching was with incarcerated teenagers in a wilderness setting. My students would write slam poetry about cloud types while sitting around a camp fire or study rock formations as we relied on collaboration and problem solving to navigate rugged terrain. This was a formative experience, one that motivated my excitement about the Engagements, a program that is also interested in crossing the boundaries of classroom environments, of academic discipline, and of creative methodology. I believe that this is when the greatest learning can occur: when we are active and collaborative participants in our learning, deeply engaged in the world immediately around us in order to think in limitless ways.

TBD
EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

This class explores the aesthetics of resistance in social and political life, emphasizing sound. We will rely on a broad understanding of “resistance,” from street protests to campaign theme songs to Super Bowl performances. Likewise, “sound” will refer primarily to music, but will also include other audible outputs of voices, bodies, and environments. Students will consider how sounds can straddle and influence the intimately connected domains of the aesthetic and the sociopolitical. We will ponder questions such as: how does sound mean? Is sound capable of provoking social change? How do people draw on their own experiences to interpret what they hear? How can the same song or sound inspire some to love and others to hate? Can sound be used as a weapon? How can sound foster inclusivity or exclusivity, or allow individuals to heal, motivate, resist, or change? We will attend public events in the area to enhance our studies. Importantly, students will examine their own engagements with sonic and musical resistance and will complete self-designed projects that allow them to experiment with sound’s capacities to engage in social action. Instructed by

Flood

Liza
Assistant Professor
[email protected]

I am an ethnomusicologist who studies American music and culture. My primary focus is country music in all its various forms: honky-tonk, bluegrass, pop country, and others. Studying a kind of music that was historically ignored by the academy, and yet enjoys broad popularity, prompts important questions such as: what cultural forms are worthy of study? What is good music? How can music represent groups of people or ideas? How can music be used as a form of self-expression, resistance, or political stance?    

These are the kinds of questions that motivate ethnomusicologists. We start with music or sound and then ask questions about its content and context. Music guides us through explorations of identity, taste, ethics, difference, social interaction, memory, and belonging. We examine music in everyday life, made by everyday people, not just the megastars whose music gets played on the radio. Through this lens, ethnomusicologists are deeply concerned with participation: music isn’t just an object, it’s very importantly an activity. It’s something we do. As I step outside of my field and join the Engagements program, I bring with me some of the same concerns. I hope to help students explore how big questions inflect everyday life and how we are all active participants in culture-making, capable of engaging, influencing, challenging, and celebrating the world around us.

My first experience teaching was with incarcerated teenagers in a wilderness setting. My students would write slam poetry about cloud types while sitting around a camp fire or study rock formations as we relied on collaboration and problem solving to navigate rugged terrain. This was a formative experience, one that motivated my excitement about the Engagements, a program that is also interested in crossing the boundaries of classroom environments, of academic discipline, and of creative methodology. I believe that this is when the greatest learning can occur: when we are active and collaborative participants in our learning, deeply engaged in the world immediately around us in order to think in limitless ways.

TBD
EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Infrastructure

EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Infrastructure

Infrastructure undergirds and organizes our world, from transportation networks and electrical grids to telecommunications and water supply systems. We are connected to one another around the globe through infrastructure, but it is something many people notice only when it stops functioning smoothly. While infrastructures are a vital and necessary public good that can be used to create justice, they are often built unevenly, in ways that materially produce or reaffirm racial, ethnic, and class inequities, as well as environmental harm. The proposition of this class is that aesthetic engagements with infrastructure lead us to ask questions about the role of infrastructure in society that we may not otherwise notice. How can we make and/or interact with art that allows us to see infrastructure differently, in ways that inform both our academic pursuits across disciplines and our everyday lives? We will therefore interact with a variety of aesthetic forms, from fiction and documentaries to performance art and visual and digital media. We will collectively formulate and ask questions such as these: How can narrative forms shed light on the spatial, temporal, racial, and class politics of infrastructure? How do performance artists and activists ask their audiences to interact with infrastructures that they ignore in their daily lives? How do infrastructures materialize and inform our relationships to nature and the environment? Ultimately, we will turn our focus to the infrastructures of Charlottesville itself, as we begin to explore the infrastructures around us through new ways of seeing. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Infrastructure

EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Infrastructure

Infrastructure undergirds and organizes our world, from transportation networks and electrical grids to telecommunications and water supply systems. We are connected to one another around the globe through infrastructure, but it is something many people notice only when it stops functioning smoothly. While infrastructures are a vital and necessary public good that can be used to create justice, they are often built unevenly, in ways that materially produce or reaffirm racial, ethnic, and class inequities, as well as environmental harm. The proposition of this class is that aesthetic engagements with infrastructure lead us to ask questions about the role of infrastructure in society that we may not otherwise notice. How can we make and/or interact with art that allows us to see infrastructure differently, in ways that inform both our academic pursuits across disciplines and our everyday lives? We will therefore interact with a variety of aesthetic forms, from fiction and documentaries to performance art and visual and digital media. We will collectively formulate and ask questions such as these: How can narrative forms shed light on the spatial, temporal, racial, and class politics of infrastructure? How do performance artists and activists ask their audiences to interact with infrastructures that they ignore in their daily lives? How do infrastructures materialize and inform our relationships to nature and the environment? Ultimately, we will turn our focus to the infrastructures of Charlottesville itself, as we begin to explore the infrastructures around us through new ways of seeing. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

We have all experienced a long-forgotten memory suddenly triggered by something seemingly ordinary: a taste, a smell, a song that brings the past rushing back. How do artists, composers, and filmmakers utilize this phenomenon of sudden, involuntary memory to create art? In this course we will ask: How do artworks manipulate the depiction of the passing of time? How reliable are our memories, and does implementing timelines in storytelling make our narratives more or less reliable? In what different ways do both personal and public spaces facilitate the process of remembering? How have artists sought to capture the fleeting nature of time through painting, and how have they sought to freeze time in photography? How does repetition in music incite memory to help structure a four-hour opera? How are words and names used strategically as an efficient way to conjure up memories? Is there such a thing as present time, or is there only past and future? Instructed by

Smith

Wendy
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm

Fall Quarter Two: October 18 – December 7

EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

As we consume culture we internalize its priorities and values. One of these in the west is to become a connoisseur of originality. But what if this gives us a distorted view of culture? What if the key to understanding it is to focus not on the invention of the new, but on the reproduction of what already exists? This course takes this idea as its working hypothesis and tests it out in the realm of music. (Those who wish to take this course do not need to have any previous training in music.) By engaging its students in a variety of exercises—reading, writing, listening, viewing—it seeks to ask and answer the following questions: Which roles does imitation play in learning, teaching, creating, and performing music? How do we differentiate among the many terms we use to refer to cultural imitation: influence, derivation, appropriation, borrowing, theft, homage, parody, quotation, allusion, and so forth? How has musical imitation been shaped by sound and media technologies? How has music participated in imitative practices involving race and gender? And how has imitation in music been critiqued by philosophers and challenged in a court of law? By the end of this course, students will have: • learned to identify important roles that imitation has played in western music; • developed a more expert knowledge about genres, techniques, and processes involved in making music; • improved their ability to describe music and their experience of it; • explored the intersection between the performance of music and the performance of race and gender; • grappled with the ways that philosophy and cultural criticism have viewed imitation, especially as an aspect of artistic creation; • engaged with the legal debates surrounding issues of imitation in music and art. Instructed by

Puri

Michael
Associate Professor of Music
[email protected]

My life as a musician, educator, and researcher has been guided by the conviction that we can make sense of sound. I first explored this idea in the realm of performance. As a classical pianist, I not only learned and performed hundreds of hours of all different sorts of music, but I was also continually trying to figure out what a particular piece of music had to say, and how I might effectively communicate this message to an audience. At first, I felt that the college classes I was taking in music history and theory didn’t help me much in achieving these goals, but their possibilities gradually became clear me. The deeper I went into these fields, the better I became at making sense of sound—at understanding music as if I were reading literature. This knowledge improved my pianism, to be sure, but its greater importance lay in the way it enriched my relationship to music in general. Ultimately, I discovered that music enfolds a whole history of ideas within itself, and is a vital touchstone for the debates that rage within culture at large. Today when I speak and write about music, it is this insight that I seek to share. My goal as an educator is to guide my students so that they may learn, for themselves, how to make sense of sound.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

Plato’s Symposium asks us to imagine Hephaestus, god of metalwork, puzzled as he looks upon a pair of lovers locked in an embrace. “What is it you two really want from each other?” he asks, “To be two parts of the same whole and never separate?” He then generously offers to weld the lovers together, so that the two may be forever one. No one, the text argues, would say yes to Hephaestus’ proposal. The true aim of our desires, after all, isn’t necessarily to fulfill them. What are the stakes of love, particularly of a love that is never returned or fulfilled? Why is unrequited love so often described through contradiction: burning ice, blissful torture, sublime pain? What aesthetic forms, expressions, and techniques are used to convey this internal psychic state to an external audience? With reference to a global set of works-- including poetry, novels, drama, and cinema-- this Engaging Aesthetics course will explore the long purchase of romantic longing as an aesthetic subject, and an ethical, epistemological, and social discourse across varied cultural and historical contexts. Instructed by

Hu

Jasmine
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways. 

I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world. 

 
MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

Plato’s Symposium asks us to imagine Hephaestus, god of metalwork, puzzled as he looks upon a pair of lovers locked in an embrace. “What is it you two really want from each other?” he asks, “To be two parts of the same whole and never separate?” He then generously offers to weld the lovers together, so that the two may be forever one. No one, the text argues, would say yes to Hephaestus’ proposal. The true aim of our desires, after all, isn’t necessarily to fulfill them. What are the stakes of love, particularly of a love that is never returned or fulfilled? Why is unrequited love so often described through contradiction: burning ice, blissful torture, sublime pain? What aesthetic forms, expressions, and techniques are used to convey this internal psychic state to an external audience? With reference to a global set of works-- including poetry, novels, drama, and cinema-- this Engaging Aesthetics course will explore the long purchase of romantic longing as an aesthetic subject, and an ethical, epistemological, and social discourse across varied cultural and historical contexts. Instructed by

Hu

Jasmine
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways. 

I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world. 

 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1510: Punching Up - American Satire

EGMT 1510: Punching Up - American Satire

Satire makes the powerful feel weak and the weak feel powerful. It points out what we dare not think or know. By showing how absurd power can be, satire suggests that our world can be otherwise. American satire skewers distinctions of race, gender, and class as self-contradictory, yet undeniably real. Satire can be poignant, too: As we all know, laughter sometimes ends in tears. In this course, we read major American satirists writing since the Civil War, including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Mark Twain, Anita Loos, George Schuyler, Dorothy Parker, Paul Beatty, and Ling Ma. Students will learn about these authors’ texts and their contexts, focusing on how form and content conspire to produce satirical effects. Satire exemplifies both literary writing and the pleasures of reading. It can persuade, provoke, and unsettle us. Víktor Shklovsky famously argues that literature “defamiliarizes” us with the world. Perhaps no genre is more committed to Shklovsky’s sense of defamiliarization than satire. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1510: Punching Up - American Satire

EGMT 1510: Punching Up - American Satire

Satire makes the powerful feel weak and the weak feel powerful. It points out what we dare not think or know. By showing how absurd power can be, satire suggests that our world can be otherwise. American satire skewers distinctions of race, gender, and class as self-contradictory, yet undeniably real. Satire can be poignant, too: As we all know, laughter sometimes ends in tears. In this course, we read major American satirists writing since the Civil War, including María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Mark Twain, Anita Loos, George Schuyler, Dorothy Parker, Paul Beatty, and Ling Ma. Students will learn about these authors’ texts and their contexts, focusing on how form and content conspire to produce satirical effects. Satire exemplifies both literary writing and the pleasures of reading. It can persuade, provoke, and unsettle us. Víktor Shklovsky famously argues that literature “defamiliarizes” us with the world. Perhaps no genre is more committed to Shklovsky’s sense of defamiliarization than satire. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1510: Sonic Intimacies - Listening to Queer Histories

EGMT 1510: Sonic Intimacies - Listening to Queer Histories

Can listening to the past intimately connect people across time and space? This course examines queer histories through sound and sonic performance the 20th and 21st century United States. During our time together, we will listen to a diverse range of queer artists and activists including stand-up comics, popular musicians, drag performers, and community organizers to address the following questions: How have sounds like protest chants, throwing shade, and laughter shaped queer life? How do these queer sounds intersect with race, class, health, age, gender, and citizenship? How do we listen with care? How can historical sounds linger into the present, and shape our individual and collective identities? Instructed by

Hale Wood

Katelyn
Assistant Professor of Theatre
[email protected]

I study theatre and performance history because I believe performance helps us tell complex and compelling truths about the past. I am interested in how particular kinds of performance can intervene in or re-tell histories we probably didn’t learn in grade school, especially around race, gender, and sexuality. As a former latchkey kid who spent way too many hours watching 1990s television, I developed a strong passion for performance and popular culture. My first book Cracking Up: Black Feminist Comedy in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century United States examines the important mark Black women have made in stand-up comedy in the U.S. and how certain artist have used joke-telling as a form of anti-racist protest and feminist community building. My latest research is about how we listen carefully to queer histories through a variety of sonic performances: laughter, protest, music, and more. I’ll be sharing some of this work in my Engaging Aesthetics course, “Sonic Intimacies: Listening to Queer Histories.” I see the classroom as a laboratory, where we can practice creative thinking, critical inquiry, compassion, and innovation. I especially look forward to teaching as a College Fellow because of this program’s unique focus on exploration and exchange across wide-ranging subjects.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Infrastructure

EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Infrastructure

Infrastructure undergirds and organizes our world, from transportation networks and electrical grids to telecommunications and water supply systems. We are connected to one another around the globe through infrastructure, but it is something many people notice only when it stops functioning smoothly. While infrastructures are a vital and necessary public good that can be used to create justice, they are often built unevenly, in ways that materially produce or reaffirm racial, ethnic, and class inequities, as well as environmental harm. The proposition of this class is that aesthetic engagements with infrastructure lead us to ask questions about the role of infrastructure in society that we may not otherwise notice. How can we make and/or interact with art that allows us to see infrastructure differently, in ways that inform both our academic pursuits across disciplines and our everyday lives? We will therefore interact with a variety of aesthetic forms, from fiction and documentaries to performance art and visual and digital media. We will collectively formulate and ask questions such as these: How can narrative forms shed light on the spatial, temporal, racial, and class politics of infrastructure? How do performance artists and activists ask their audiences to interact with infrastructures that they ignore in their daily lives? How do infrastructures materialize and inform our relationships to nature and the environment? Ultimately, we will turn our focus to the infrastructures of Charlottesville itself, as we begin to explore the infrastructures around us through new ways of seeing. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

We have all experienced a long-forgotten memory suddenly triggered by something seemingly ordinary: a taste, a smell, a song that brings the past rushing back. How do artists, composers, and filmmakers utilize this phenomenon of sudden, involuntary memory to create art? In this course we will ask: How do artworks manipulate the depiction of the passing of time? How reliable are our memories, and does implementing timelines in storytelling make our narratives more or less reliable? In what different ways do both personal and public spaces facilitate the process of remembering? How have artists sought to capture the fleeting nature of time through painting, and how have they sought to freeze time in photography? How does repetition in music incite memory to help structure a four-hour opera? How are words and names used strategically as an efficient way to conjure up memories? Is there such a thing as present time, or is there only past and future? Instructed by

Smith

Wendy
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

We have all experienced a long-forgotten memory suddenly triggered by something seemingly ordinary: a taste, a smell, a song that brings the past rushing back. How do artists, composers, and filmmakers utilize this phenomenon of sudden, involuntary memory to create art? In this course we will ask: How do artworks manipulate the depiction of the passing of time? How reliable are our memories, and does implementing timelines in storytelling make our narratives more or less reliable? In what different ways do both personal and public spaces facilitate the process of remembering? How have artists sought to capture the fleeting nature of time through painting, and how have they sought to freeze time in photography? How does repetition in music incite memory to help structure a four-hour opera? How are words and names used strategically as an efficient way to conjure up memories? Is there such a thing as present time, or is there only past and future? Instructed by

Smith

Wendy
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TR 9:30am-10:45am

Spring 2022

Spring Quarter Three: January 19 – March 15

EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

As we consume culture we internalize its priorities and values. One of these in the west is to become a connoisseur of originality. But what if this gives us a distorted view of culture? What if the key to understanding it is to focus not on the invention of the new, but on the reproduction of what already exists? This course takes this idea as its working hypothesis and tests it out in the realm of music. (Those who wish to take this course do not need to have any previous training in music.) By engaging its students in a variety of exercises—reading, writing, listening, viewing—it seeks to ask and answer the following questions: Which roles does imitation play in learning, teaching, creating, and performing music? How do we differentiate among the many terms we use to refer to cultural imitation: influence, derivation, appropriation, borrowing, theft, homage, parody, quotation, allusion, and so forth? How has musical imitation been shaped by sound and media technologies? How has music participated in imitative practices involving race and gender? And how has imitation in music been critiqued by philosophers and challenged in a court of law? By the end of this course, students will have: • learned to identify important roles that imitation has played in western music; • developed a more expert knowledge about genres, techniques, and processes involved in making music; • improved their ability to describe music and their experience of it; • explored the intersection between the performance of music and the performance of race and gender; • grappled with the ways that philosophy and cultural criticism have viewed imitation, especially as an aspect of artistic creation; • engaged with the legal debates surrounding issues of imitation in music and art. Instructed by

Puri

Michael
Associate Professor of Music
[email protected]

My life as a musician, educator, and researcher has been guided by the conviction that we can make sense of sound. I first explored this idea in the realm of performance. As a classical pianist, I not only learned and performed hundreds of hours of all different sorts of music, but I was also continually trying to figure out what a particular piece of music had to say, and how I might effectively communicate this message to an audience. At first, I felt that the college classes I was taking in music history and theory didn’t help me much in achieving these goals, but their possibilities gradually became clear me. The deeper I went into these fields, the better I became at making sense of sound—at understanding music as if I were reading literature. This knowledge improved my pianism, to be sure, but its greater importance lay in the way it enriched my relationship to music in general. Ultimately, I discovered that music enfolds a whole history of ideas within itself, and is a vital touchstone for the debates that rage within culture at large. Today when I speak and write about music, it is this insight that I seek to share. My goal as an educator is to guide my students so that they may learn, for themselves, how to make sense of sound.

TBD
EGMT 1510: Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments

EGMT 1510: Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments

Why do we do thought experiments? Philosophers, scientists, visionaries, artists, and creative writers across languages, religious traditions, and cultures have turned to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment, drawing upon its unique affordances of compressed imaginative thinking for a variety of reasons, and to many different ends. Questions that thought experiments address include: How do we know that we exist? How big is the universe? What is time, and can we actually experience the present moment of “now”? How do I know that everything around me is real? This course is intended as a guided tour of the thought experiment genre. We will consider various thought experiments proposed by ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary fiction writers from around the world. In this course, we ask: how do thought experiments harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, and what does this imply about the interrelation between thought, knowledge, language, and imagination? Instructed by

Mikkelson

Jane
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research and teaching focus on comparative literature, Islamic studies, classical Persian literature, South Asian studies, and connected early modernities – and I’m very exited to bring these interests together in the Engagements program. I am thrilled to be a Fellow in the New Curriculum, and wholeheartedly support UVA’s commitment to creating an innovative interdisciplinary first-year core. I believe that it’s possible – and urgently necessary! – to study big ideas by drawing on a diverse global archive. 

I teach two Engagements classes. In “Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments” (Engaging Aesthetics), we investigate how ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary authors turn to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment. As we consider how science and philosophy harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, we also ask: what do thought experiments reveal about the interrelations between knowledge, truth, imagination, and experience? The course “Lost and Found in Translation” (Engaging Differences) is grounded in the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences  (in the form of ideas, experiences, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc.), we come to understand these differences by making creative interpretive decisions as we restate and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. This class examines how translation has the power to create, complicate, and perpetuate stereotypes, bias, and injustice, and also how generous, open forms of translation are able to accommodate differences. By looking at case studies and theories from around the world, we see how acts of translation carry significant ethical implications and have lastingly transformative effects. 

I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, studies practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world and theories of literature and of the imagination that are intertwined with these practices. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments

EGMT 1510: Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments

Why do we do thought experiments? Philosophers, scientists, visionaries, artists, and creative writers across languages, religious traditions, and cultures have turned to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment, drawing upon its unique affordances of compressed imaginative thinking for a variety of reasons, and to many different ends. Questions that thought experiments address include: How do we know that we exist? How big is the universe? What is time, and can we actually experience the present moment of “now”? How do I know that everything around me is real? This course is intended as a guided tour of the thought experiment genre. We will consider various thought experiments proposed by ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary fiction writers from around the world. In this course, we ask: how do thought experiments harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, and what does this imply about the interrelation between thought, knowledge, language, and imagination? Instructed by

Mikkelson

Jane
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research and teaching focus on comparative literature, Islamic studies, classical Persian literature, South Asian studies, and connected early modernities – and I’m very exited to bring these interests together in the Engagements program. I am thrilled to be a Fellow in the New Curriculum, and wholeheartedly support UVA’s commitment to creating an innovative interdisciplinary first-year core. I believe that it’s possible – and urgently necessary! – to study big ideas by drawing on a diverse global archive. 

I teach two Engagements classes. In “Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments” (Engaging Aesthetics), we investigate how ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary authors turn to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment. As we consider how science and philosophy harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, we also ask: what do thought experiments reveal about the interrelations between knowledge, truth, imagination, and experience? The course “Lost and Found in Translation” (Engaging Differences) is grounded in the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences  (in the form of ideas, experiences, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc.), we come to understand these differences by making creative interpretive decisions as we restate and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. This class examines how translation has the power to create, complicate, and perpetuate stereotypes, bias, and injustice, and also how generous, open forms of translation are able to accommodate differences. By looking at case studies and theories from around the world, we see how acts of translation carry significant ethical implications and have lastingly transformative effects. 

I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, studies practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world and theories of literature and of the imagination that are intertwined with these practices. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments

EGMT 1510: Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments

Why do we do thought experiments? Philosophers, scientists, visionaries, artists, and creative writers across languages, religious traditions, and cultures have turned to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment, drawing upon its unique affordances of compressed imaginative thinking for a variety of reasons, and to many different ends. Questions that thought experiments address include: How do we know that we exist? How big is the universe? What is time, and can we actually experience the present moment of “now”? How do I know that everything around me is real? This course is intended as a guided tour of the thought experiment genre. We will consider various thought experiments proposed by ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary fiction writers from around the world. In this course, we ask: how do thought experiments harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, and what does this imply about the interrelation between thought, knowledge, language, and imagination? Instructed by

Mikkelson

Jane
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research and teaching focus on comparative literature, Islamic studies, classical Persian literature, South Asian studies, and connected early modernities – and I’m very exited to bring these interests together in the Engagements program. I am thrilled to be a Fellow in the New Curriculum, and wholeheartedly support UVA’s commitment to creating an innovative interdisciplinary first-year core. I believe that it’s possible – and urgently necessary! – to study big ideas by drawing on a diverse global archive. 

I teach two Engagements classes. In “Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments” (Engaging Aesthetics), we investigate how ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary authors turn to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment. As we consider how science and philosophy harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, we also ask: what do thought experiments reveal about the interrelations between knowledge, truth, imagination, and experience? The course “Lost and Found in Translation” (Engaging Differences) is grounded in the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences  (in the form of ideas, experiences, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc.), we come to understand these differences by making creative interpretive decisions as we restate and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. This class examines how translation has the power to create, complicate, and perpetuate stereotypes, bias, and injustice, and also how generous, open forms of translation are able to accommodate differences. By looking at case studies and theories from around the world, we see how acts of translation carry significant ethical implications and have lastingly transformative effects. 

I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, studies practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world and theories of literature and of the imagination that are intertwined with these practices. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: In Praise of Entropy

EGMT 1510: In Praise of Entropy

Why do some things happen spontaneously? Why does snow melt and coffee cool? Why do we die? And why do we live? Can order ever emerge from chaos? The answers to all these questions lie in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the empirical law that entropy in our universe is ever-increasing. Although the Second Law has only been articulated in scientifically rigorous terms for the last 200 years, its influence has been recognized and wrestled with in artistic endeavors throughout human history. Entropy’s increase has often been described in semi-tragic terms and even lamented as an evil blight on the face of the earth – but it has also been celebrated. In this course, we will introduce Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics in a rigorous, mathematical way while asking students to creatively document and respond to the influence of the Second Law in our physical world. Together, we will explore implications of the Second Law that both limit and enable life. After laying the scientific foundations, students will be asked to search out and discuss aesthetic responses to the Second Law in art, music, and literature, across various cultures, while working towards their own, personal aesthetic response to its influence on their lives. Entropy and the Second Law lend themselves particularly well to aesthetic engagement, as their implications immediately and personally influence our lives and ultimately determine our collective fate. Instructed by

DuBay

Kateri
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
[email protected]

 

The undergraduate and graduate courses I teach focus on one central question: Why do only certain things in our world happen spontaneously? Or, put differently, Why does time appear to have an arrow? Although the answer is easy to state – spontaneous processes that move forward in time increase the entropy of the universe (the Second Law of Thermodynamics) – the reasons behind and the implications of that answer take us back to the very foundation of our empirical understanding of the world and forward to the edges of our current scientific knowledge. In my courses, I work to equip students with tools to understand entropy, while enabling them to reason through spontaneous processes as simple as a cup of coffee cooling to those as complex as order emerging from chaos. Once the concept of entropy is understood, its clarity and beauty are arresting. I am tremendously excited to teach first year students in my Engagement course about the centrality, simplicity, power, beauty, and tragedy of entropy. In doing so, we will engage in deep, fundamental questions about life in this physical world of ours – perhaps most importantly: how do we respond creatively, both individually and collectively, to the empirical fact that all things decay?

In my research, I employ theoretical and computational tools to investigate how small things assemble into larger things – ranging from the organization of monomeric units into polymers to the organization of hierarchically-ordered nanoparticles and biomaterials. Specifically, I am interested in the interplay between self-organization and environmental complexities, such as spatial gradients, temporal oscillations, and ongoing chemical reactions.

I have been an Assistant Professor in the Chemistry Department at the University of Virginia since 2014. From 2017-2019, I served on the General Education Assessment Committee, which was tasked with evaluating UVA’s new College Curriculum. During my time at UVA, I have won both the Cory Family and Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Awards. In addition, I recently received a 2019 NSF CAREER Award and a 2020 Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

TBD
EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

Plato’s Symposium asks us to imagine Hephaestus, god of metalwork, puzzled as he looks upon a pair of lovers locked in an embrace. “What is it you two really want from each other?” he asks, “To be two parts of the same whole and never separate?” He then generously offers to weld the lovers together, so that the two may be forever one. No one, the text argues, would say yes to Hephaestus’ proposal. The true aim of our desires, after all, isn’t necessarily to fulfill them. What are the stakes of love, particularly of a love that is never returned or fulfilled? Why is unrequited love so often described through contradiction: burning ice, blissful torture, sublime pain? What aesthetic forms, expressions, and techniques are used to convey this internal psychic state to an external audience? With reference to a global set of works-- including poetry, novels, drama, and cinema-- this Engaging Aesthetics course will explore the long purchase of romantic longing as an aesthetic subject, and an ethical, epistemological, and social discourse across varied cultural and historical contexts. Instructed by

Hu

Jasmine
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways. 

I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world. 

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: Sonic Intimacies - Listening to Queer Histories

EGMT 1510: Sonic Intimacies - Listening to Queer Histories

Can listening to the past intimately connect people across time and space? This course examines queer histories through sound and sonic performance the 20th and 21st century United States. During our time together, we will listen to a diverse range of queer artists and activists including stand-up comics, popular musicians, drag performers, and community organizers to address the following questions: How have sounds like protest chants, throwing shade, and laughter shaped queer life? How do these queer sounds intersect with race, class, health, age, gender, and citizenship? How do we listen with care? How can historical sounds linger into the present, and shape our individual and collective identities? Instructed by

Hale Wood

Katelyn
Assistant Professor of Theatre
[email protected]

I study theatre and performance history because I believe performance helps us tell complex and compelling truths about the past. I am interested in how particular kinds of performance can intervene in or re-tell histories we probably didn’t learn in grade school, especially around race, gender, and sexuality. As a former latchkey kid who spent way too many hours watching 1990s television, I developed a strong passion for performance and popular culture. My first book Cracking Up: Black Feminist Comedy in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century United States examines the important mark Black women have made in stand-up comedy in the U.S. and how certain artist have used joke-telling as a form of anti-racist protest and feminist community building. My latest research is about how we listen carefully to queer histories through a variety of sonic performances: laughter, protest, music, and more. I’ll be sharing some of this work in my Engaging Aesthetics course, “Sonic Intimacies: Listening to Queer Histories.” I see the classroom as a laboratory, where we can practice creative thinking, critical inquiry, compassion, and innovation. I especially look forward to teaching as a College Fellow because of this program’s unique focus on exploration and exchange across wide-ranging subjects.

TBD
EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

This class explores the aesthetics of resistance in social and political life, emphasizing sound. We will rely on a broad understanding of “resistance,” from street protests to campaign theme songs to Super Bowl performances. Likewise, “sound” will refer primarily to music, but will also include other audible outputs of voices, bodies, and environments. Students will consider how sounds can straddle and influence the intimately connected domains of the aesthetic and the sociopolitical. We will ponder questions such as: how does sound mean? Is sound capable of provoking social change? How do people draw on their own experiences to interpret what they hear? How can the same song or sound inspire some to love and others to hate? Can sound be used as a weapon? How can sound foster inclusivity or exclusivity, or allow individuals to heal, motivate, resist, or change? We will attend public events in the area to enhance our studies. Importantly, students will examine their own engagements with sonic and musical resistance and will complete self-designed projects that allow them to experiment with sound’s capacities to engage in social action. Instructed by

Flood

Liza
Assistant Professor
[email protected]

I am an ethnomusicologist who studies American music and culture. My primary focus is country music in all its various forms: honky-tonk, bluegrass, pop country, and others. Studying a kind of music that was historically ignored by the academy, and yet enjoys broad popularity, prompts important questions such as: what cultural forms are worthy of study? What is good music? How can music represent groups of people or ideas? How can music be used as a form of self-expression, resistance, or political stance?    

These are the kinds of questions that motivate ethnomusicologists. We start with music or sound and then ask questions about its content and context. Music guides us through explorations of identity, taste, ethics, difference, social interaction, memory, and belonging. We examine music in everyday life, made by everyday people, not just the megastars whose music gets played on the radio. Through this lens, ethnomusicologists are deeply concerned with participation: music isn’t just an object, it’s very importantly an activity. It’s something we do. As I step outside of my field and join the Engagements program, I bring with me some of the same concerns. I hope to help students explore how big questions inflect everyday life and how we are all active participants in culture-making, capable of engaging, influencing, challenging, and celebrating the world around us.

My first experience teaching was with incarcerated teenagers in a wilderness setting. My students would write slam poetry about cloud types while sitting around a camp fire or study rock formations as we relied on collaboration and problem solving to navigate rugged terrain. This was a formative experience, one that motivated my excitement about the Engagements, a program that is also interested in crossing the boundaries of classroom environments, of academic discipline, and of creative methodology. I believe that this is when the greatest learning can occur: when we are active and collaborative participants in our learning, deeply engaged in the world immediately around us in order to think in limitless ways.

TBD

Spring Quarter Four: March 16 – May 3

EGMT 1510: Brokenness, Malfunction, Maintenance, and Repair

EGMT 1510: Brokenness, Malfunction, Maintenance, and Repair

It’s hard sometimes to take notice when things just simply work right—the multitude of occasions when nothing weird happens, everything functions according to expectations, and plans are carried out without a hitch. Instead, our minds more often dwell on those times when things get fouled up and everything goes wrong. Why should this be, though? It is a fact of the physical universe that things tend to break down. Sooner or later, at whatever pace, everything that ever has been or ever will be will decay and disintegrate. And yet these processes hold some fascination, firing the imaginations of artists, philosophers, and cultural creators, at the same time as scientists, civil engineers, and many other dedicated professionals strive to forestall their effects on societal networks and infrastructures. In this Engagements class, we will consider the aesthetics of malfunction and repair from a variety of perspectives, mixing in-class discussion and workshops with excursions into the communities around us. Shannon Mattern’s groundbreaking essay “Maintenance and Care” will serve as a guide throughout, introducing us to the “rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code” that permeate our daily existence, as well as to those who combat them in one form or another. Along the way we will encounter and document our responses to examples from the fields of architecture, arts and crafts, llterature, music, and videogames that seek to resist prevailing cultural logics and fracture our habitual modes of thought. We’ll carry out hands-on exercises in deformation and destruction, think about how these processes might affect our cultural and social networks, and ultimately forge ideas about what “maintenance” and “care” might mean in our present and to our futures. Instructed by

Ferguson

Andrew
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.

My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

EGMT 1510: Covers, Karaoke, and Memes: Imitation in Music

As we consume culture we internalize its priorities and values. One of these in the west is to become a connoisseur of originality. But what if this gives us a distorted view of culture? What if the key to understanding it is to focus not on the invention of the new, but on the reproduction of what already exists? This course takes this idea as its working hypothesis and tests it out in the realm of music. (Those who wish to take this course do not need to have any previous training in music.) By engaging its students in a variety of exercises—reading, writing, listening, viewing—it seeks to ask and answer the following questions: Which roles does imitation play in learning, teaching, creating, and performing music? How do we differentiate among the many terms we use to refer to cultural imitation: influence, derivation, appropriation, borrowing, theft, homage, parody, quotation, allusion, and so forth? How has musical imitation been shaped by sound and media technologies? How has music participated in imitative practices involving race and gender? And how has imitation in music been critiqued by philosophers and challenged in a court of law? By the end of this course, students will have: • learned to identify important roles that imitation has played in western music; • developed a more expert knowledge about genres, techniques, and processes involved in making music; • improved their ability to describe music and their experience of it; • explored the intersection between the performance of music and the performance of race and gender; • grappled with the ways that philosophy and cultural criticism have viewed imitation, especially as an aspect of artistic creation; • engaged with the legal debates surrounding issues of imitation in music and art. Instructed by

Puri

Michael
Associate Professor of Music
[email protected]

My life as a musician, educator, and researcher has been guided by the conviction that we can make sense of sound. I first explored this idea in the realm of performance. As a classical pianist, I not only learned and performed hundreds of hours of all different sorts of music, but I was also continually trying to figure out what a particular piece of music had to say, and how I might effectively communicate this message to an audience. At first, I felt that the college classes I was taking in music history and theory didn’t help me much in achieving these goals, but their possibilities gradually became clear me. The deeper I went into these fields, the better I became at making sense of sound—at understanding music as if I were reading literature. This knowledge improved my pianism, to be sure, but its greater importance lay in the way it enriched my relationship to music in general. Ultimately, I discovered that music enfolds a whole history of ideas within itself, and is a vital touchstone for the debates that rage within culture at large. Today when I speak and write about music, it is this insight that I seek to share. My goal as an educator is to guide my students so that they may learn, for themselves, how to make sense of sound.

TBD
EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

Plato’s Symposium asks us to imagine Hephaestus, god of metalwork, puzzled as he looks upon a pair of lovers locked in an embrace. “What is it you two really want from each other?” he asks, “To be two parts of the same whole and never separate?” He then generously offers to weld the lovers together, so that the two may be forever one. No one, the text argues, would say yes to Hephaestus’ proposal. The true aim of our desires, after all, isn’t necessarily to fulfill them. What are the stakes of love, particularly of a love that is never returned or fulfilled? Why is unrequited love so often described through contradiction: burning ice, blissful torture, sublime pain? What aesthetic forms, expressions, and techniques are used to convey this internal psychic state to an external audience? With reference to a global set of works-- including poetry, novels, drama, and cinema-- this Engaging Aesthetics course will explore the long purchase of romantic longing as an aesthetic subject, and an ethical, epistemological, and social discourse across varied cultural and historical contexts. Instructed by

Hu

Jasmine
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways. 

I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world. 

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

EGMT 1510: Love, Unrequited

Plato’s Symposium asks us to imagine Hephaestus, god of metalwork, puzzled as he looks upon a pair of lovers locked in an embrace. “What is it you two really want from each other?” he asks, “To be two parts of the same whole and never separate?” He then generously offers to weld the lovers together, so that the two may be forever one. No one, the text argues, would say yes to Hephaestus’ proposal. The true aim of our desires, after all, isn’t necessarily to fulfill them. What are the stakes of love, particularly of a love that is never returned or fulfilled? Why is unrequited love so often described through contradiction: burning ice, blissful torture, sublime pain? What aesthetic forms, expressions, and techniques are used to convey this internal psychic state to an external audience? With reference to a global set of works-- including poetry, novels, drama, and cinema-- this Engaging Aesthetics course will explore the long purchase of romantic longing as an aesthetic subject, and an ethical, epistemological, and social discourse across varied cultural and historical contexts. Instructed by

Hu

Jasmine
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

It was my own first-year liberal arts seminar that showed me what a revelatory act interpretation could be. As our class pored over a Sappho fragment and attempted to decode its ancient voice, single words—“lyre,” “flame,” “bittersweet”—stood in relief, revealing entire galaxies of meaning. Today, I study medieval literature across a range of cultures and languages. I’m currently investigating how the elite poetry of late medieval China assimilated the voices of non-elite subjects, like courtesans and servants, to portray reality in unprecedented ways. 

I’ve never considered teaching as a practice removed from research, but rather a parallel genre of knowledge production. This knowledge takes a less tangible form than the kind presented in articles and books, lodging itself instead in the lost hours of immersed reading, long conversations, and fleeting epiphanies of the classroom. Through the Engagements’ focus on broad fundamental questions, I hope to cultivate the same revelations I experienced as a freshman. My courses will consider a range of aesthetic experiences—sacred and profane, Western and non-Western, past and present. We will interrogate how works of art can open us to their emotional influence, provoke ethical possibilities, and present alternate visions of ourselves and our world. 

 
TBD
EGMT 1510: Sonic Intimacies - Listening to Queer Histories

EGMT 1510: Sonic Intimacies - Listening to Queer Histories

Can listening to the past intimately connect people across time and space? This course examines queer histories through sound and sonic performance the 20th and 21st century United States. During our time together, we will listen to a diverse range of queer artists and activists including stand-up comics, popular musicians, drag performers, and community organizers to address the following questions: How have sounds like protest chants, throwing shade, and laughter shaped queer life? How do these queer sounds intersect with race, class, health, age, gender, and citizenship? How do we listen with care? How can historical sounds linger into the present, and shape our individual and collective identities? Instructed by

Hale Wood

Katelyn
Assistant Professor of Theatre
[email protected]

I study theatre and performance history because I believe performance helps us tell complex and compelling truths about the past. I am interested in how particular kinds of performance can intervene in or re-tell histories we probably didn’t learn in grade school, especially around race, gender, and sexuality. As a former latchkey kid who spent way too many hours watching 1990s television, I developed a strong passion for performance and popular culture. My first book Cracking Up: Black Feminist Comedy in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century United States examines the important mark Black women have made in stand-up comedy in the U.S. and how certain artist have used joke-telling as a form of anti-racist protest and feminist community building. My latest research is about how we listen carefully to queer histories through a variety of sonic performances: laughter, protest, music, and more. I’ll be sharing some of this work in my Engaging Aesthetics course, “Sonic Intimacies: Listening to Queer Histories.” I see the classroom as a laboratory, where we can practice creative thinking, critical inquiry, compassion, and innovation. I especially look forward to teaching as a College Fellow because of this program’s unique focus on exploration and exchange across wide-ranging subjects.

TBD

EGMT 1520: Empirical & Scientific Engagement

Fall 2021

Fall Quarter One: August 24 – October 13

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

What is a genome? What can you do with your genome? How can others use your genome? In this course, you will learn about the human genome, from how it is measured to what information it contains. You will have the opportunity to take a glimpse at your own genetic information and we will discuss the implications of this knowledge. Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the profound role that the human genome plays in your life and your future. The Takeaway (what will you know 5 years from now… My hope for students upon completion of this course is the ability to discuss genetic concepts confidently with their colleagues, to know what can and can’t be done with their genetic information especially as reported by the popular press, and to use this information to guide them in making informed decisions in their own lives in years to come. And along the way, you will become empirically engaged. Our objectives this semester... By the end of this course, you will have glimpsed at the foundation of life and you will: Be able to describe and discuss the human genome and its utility in medicine and life Become curious about the ways in which you and others can use your genome Gain skills that will allow you to think about and interpret genetic data Help others better understand the use of genetic information in their future Instructed by

Connelly

Jessica
Associate Professor of Psychology
[email protected]

As a teacher, my general strategy is to provide an open and nurturing environment to learn in. I encourage the students to ask questions and have been lucky to be able to create a dynamic, interactive classroom in each course I have taught. My scientific passion lies in the understanding of genes and how the unique differences in our genomes make us tick. I am a classically trained epigeneticist with a background in the human genome, brain sciences, and health and human disease. I teach about topics that span the genome and epigenome of many organisms including humans. Epigenetics is a topic that many have read about in the popular press and I have found that students are very eager to understand it, which makes my job easy. I teach to a very diverse crowd of students, even some who have never learned about genes. I think my students leave my classroom with a greater appreciation of who they are and how they work and this helps them piece their future world together. I will continue this work through the College Fellows Program using genes to engage the mind.

MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

What is a genome? What can you do with your genome? How can others use your genome? In this course, you will learn about the human genome, from how it is measured to what information it contains. You will have the opportunity to take a glimpse at your own genetic information and we will discuss the implications of this knowledge. Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the profound role that the human genome plays in your life and your future. The Takeaway (what will you know 5 years from now… My hope for students upon completion of this course is the ability to discuss genetic concepts confidently with their colleagues, to know what can and can’t be done with their genetic information especially as reported by the popular press, and to use this information to guide them in making informed decisions in their own lives in years to come. And along the way, you will become empirically engaged. Our objectives this semester... By the end of this course, you will have glimpsed at the foundation of life and you will: Be able to describe and discuss the human genome and its utility in medicine and life Become curious about the ways in which you and others can use your genome Gain skills that will allow you to think about and interpret genetic data Help others better understand the use of genetic information in their future Instructed by

Connelly

Jessica
Associate Professor of Psychology
[email protected]

As a teacher, my general strategy is to provide an open and nurturing environment to learn in. I encourage the students to ask questions and have been lucky to be able to create a dynamic, interactive classroom in each course I have taught. My scientific passion lies in the understanding of genes and how the unique differences in our genomes make us tick. I am a classically trained epigeneticist with a background in the human genome, brain sciences, and health and human disease. I teach about topics that span the genome and epigenome of many organisms including humans. Epigenetics is a topic that many have read about in the popular press and I have found that students are very eager to understand it, which makes my job easy. I teach to a very diverse crowd of students, even some who have never learned about genes. I think my students leave my classroom with a greater appreciation of who they are and how they work and this helps them piece their future world together. I will continue this work through the College Fellows Program using genes to engage the mind.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

Will you eat a blue strawberry? Or a potato chip that does not crackle/crunch? Do you prefer your morning coffee in a flimsy Styrofoam cup or a ceramic cup? How about sniffing a piece of clothing from 10 different people to find your perfect date? These are examples of how our five senses collaborate in our brain to enable our minds to better understand and perceive the world around us and allows us to make choices. Very often, the modes of perception influence one another on the way to becoming conscious thought. We even sense human emotions by combining distinct sensory clues: facial expressions, hand gestures, body postures, tone of voice, and body odor. In this empirical course, we will try to make sense of our senses. We will unravel how each sense functions independently and then explore how the brain integrates the information into a coherent perception of the world. This includes a neurological overview of how we sense the world around us using receptors that specialize in detecting photons, odor, taste, sound, and touch. This external signal is then converted into an electrical input via the neurons and processed in the brain to produce the desired behavior. Here, the desired behavior is a very personal choice we make in response to our sensory perceptions. It could be as simple as whether to - eat or not eat a blue strawberry! These decisions are influenced by the biological, social, and cultural differences that shape our brains into who we are as individuals and our sensory insights. Join me to experience and explore the world of smell, touch, taste, sound, and vision. Instructed by

Date

Priya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research appetite has enabled me to explore numerous facets of biology, from evolution to developmental and cell biology. While doing so, I have enjoyed working with different animals like fruit flies, lizards, frogs, and mice. Being a scientist has taught me to approach any problem with an analytical mind, where I can ask questions and look for solutions by observing or experimenting. The empirical and scientific engagement courses in the New College Curriculum provide students with a similar experience but on a smaller scale. These courses will invite students to learn strategies to think like scientists. I firmly believe that seeing how the process of science works will enable students to deal with broader social issues and learn more about themselves.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1520: The Marketplace of Ideas? Following the Money at the University of Virginia

EGMT 1520: The Marketplace of Ideas? Following the Money at the University of Virginia

Why does student tuition for four-year, US colleges keep rising (at rates above inflation)? And where do all those tuition dollars go? Why do some students have to work and take out loans to attend the University of Virginia, when others don’t? What does “need-blind” admissions mean and does the University of Virginia meet full financial need for all students? How do they even calculate that? Does UVA really refer to students as “revenue generating units” (RGUs) in its bond prospectuses? Is it true that UVA’s endowment is largely invested in guns and fossil fuels? Is the university, often idiomatically referred to as the marketplace of ideas, a literal marketplace? In this 7-week empirical engagement, we will tackle the topic of higher education financing and its relationship to the mission of the university. We will draw connections and uncover relationships between the goods universities profess to convey (learning, credentials, social capital, cultural and moral development), their revenue sources (student loans, tuition dollars, state bonds, federal grants, and return on investments), and key costs drivers for higher education, including technology, debt service on construction, maintenance, infrastructure, salaries, lobbying, and (paradoxically) competition. By considering various case studies around the University—athletics, financial aid, construction, and federal grants—we will calculate, together, the dollars and cents that make the university make sense. Last, we’ll consider what it means to study at a public university largely financed by private dollars and how to follow the money to evaluate different narratives about higher education’s purpose, challenges, and burdens. Instructed by

Goldblatt

Laura
Assistant Professor
[email protected]

I worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before arriving at the University of Virginia. Nearly all of my high-school students were of color and qualified for free or reduced price lunch: I can count the exceptions to this rule on a single hand. More than half of the female students in my classes graduated from or left high school with at least one child, and my daily headcount too often depended upon sentences in juvenile detention, or worse.

Suffice it to say that the student body at the University of Virginia, an elite public institution that largely educates the children of professionals, has little in common with those who helped me craft my earliest and most abiding pedagogical principles. Despite these differences, both experiences have shown me that good teaching does not depend upon academic level and that the classroom can serve as a powerful laboratory for participatory democracy.

Due to these experiences, the hands-on, collaborative, and wildly ambitious pedagogical imagination at the core of the Engagements proposal drew me to the program. Two main goals guide my teaching. On the pedagogical side, using the tenets of cultural and literary study, I urge my students to view aesthetic objects as entangled in a complex web of meanings, historical contexts, and relationships that require consideration from multiple perspectives and methodologies. But for me, teaching also has material consequences on my students’ lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Beyond the content I convey, I aim to teach my students to think critically and creatively about the local and global systems in which they are imbedded while also urging them to consider possibilities to be realized outside these systems. I consider my courses a success when my students acquire the ability to consider the different viewpoints that can be brought to bear on cultural artifacts and to resist the urge to overlook the way something is said—its packaging—when considering its message. Most of all, I hope my classes will give them the courage to speak.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1520: The Marketplace of Ideas? Following the Money at the University of Virginia

EGMT 1520: The Marketplace of Ideas? Following the Money at the University of Virginia

Why does student tuition for four-year, US colleges keep rising (at rates above inflation)? And where do all those tuition dollars go? Why do some students have to work and take out loans to attend the University of Virginia, when others don’t? What does “need-blind” admissions mean and does the University of Virginia meet full financial need for all students? How do they even calculate that? Does UVA really refer to students as “revenue generating units” (RGUs) in its bond prospectuses? Is it true that UVA’s endowment is largely invested in guns and fossil fuels? Is the university, often idiomatically referred to as the marketplace of ideas, a literal marketplace? In this 7-week empirical engagement, we will tackle the topic of higher education financing and its relationship to the mission of the university. We will draw connections and uncover relationships between the goods universities profess to convey (learning, credentials, social capital, cultural and moral development), their revenue sources (student loans, tuition dollars, state bonds, federal grants, and return on investments), and key costs drivers for higher education, including technology, debt service on construction, maintenance, infrastructure, salaries, lobbying, and (paradoxically) competition. By considering various case studies around the University—athletics, financial aid, construction, and federal grants—we will calculate, together, the dollars and cents that make the university make sense. Last, we’ll consider what it means to study at a public university largely financed by private dollars and how to follow the money to evaluate different narratives about higher education’s purpose, challenges, and burdens. Instructed by

Goldblatt

Laura
Assistant Professor
[email protected]

I worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before arriving at the University of Virginia. Nearly all of my high-school students were of color and qualified for free or reduced price lunch: I can count the exceptions to this rule on a single hand. More than half of the female students in my classes graduated from or left high school with at least one child, and my daily headcount too often depended upon sentences in juvenile detention, or worse.

Suffice it to say that the student body at the University of Virginia, an elite public institution that largely educates the children of professionals, has little in common with those who helped me craft my earliest and most abiding pedagogical principles. Despite these differences, both experiences have shown me that good teaching does not depend upon academic level and that the classroom can serve as a powerful laboratory for participatory democracy.

Due to these experiences, the hands-on, collaborative, and wildly ambitious pedagogical imagination at the core of the Engagements proposal drew me to the program. Two main goals guide my teaching. On the pedagogical side, using the tenets of cultural and literary study, I urge my students to view aesthetic objects as entangled in a complex web of meanings, historical contexts, and relationships that require consideration from multiple perspectives and methodologies. But for me, teaching also has material consequences on my students’ lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Beyond the content I convey, I aim to teach my students to think critically and creatively about the local and global systems in which they are imbedded while also urging them to consider possibilities to be realized outside these systems. I consider my courses a success when my students acquire the ability to consider the different viewpoints that can be brought to bear on cultural artifacts and to resist the urge to overlook the way something is said—its packaging—when considering its message. Most of all, I hope my classes will give them the courage to speak.

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1520: You Were Born A Scientist

EGMT 1520: You Were Born A Scientist

Each of you did science experiments when you were a kid. You played with bugs and lizards, you stayed up late peering through telescopes, you asked questions about how the world worked, and you were good at it. You were a scientist and you conducted empirical studies. But somewhere along the way, many of you experienced events that lead you to believe you weren’t actually a scientist, or couldn’t be one, or that science could only be done by certain people who looked a certain way. This course calls BS on that brainwashing. You may view scientists as individuals who have a tackled a daunting discipline that requires specific content knowledge and extensive training. However, I encourage you to see science and scientists not as a class in school or mythical strangers who wear lab coats, but instead as a language, a rich culture, and a unique lens through which to see and experience the world. A way of placing yourself on our planet, as a user of ever-evolving technology, and as an empowered individual making informed decisions. I want you to view science as a way through which you can exert your individual autonomy and make informed decisions for yourself, your family, and your community. In this course, I will re-expose you to the process of science and empirical evidence, help you hone your critical thinking skills, share tips on how to discern between science and pseudoscience, teach you the fundamentals of speaking “science speak” (or at least how to understand it!), give pointers on how to critically evaluate scientific communication in the media, and hopefully empower you to be scientifically literate and help others in your community achieve the same. At the end of the day, I want you to find that scientist within you and begin to view and interact with the world like you did as child. Instructed by

Kucenas

Sarah
Professor of Biology
[email protected]

My aspiration to be a College Fellow is driven by my desire to have the opportunity to interact with undergraduates well before they declare their majors, and share my excitement and passion for science. By the time I step into a classroom for my usual classes here at UVa, I’m in a room of students who have 100% committed themselves to STEM and/or Biology, often with the goal of a career in a health care-related field. And while I still get the opportunity to challenge some of their beliefs about science, I’ve wanted for several years now to be able to interact with our students before they even have decided upon their futures. In my opinion, thinking like a scientist, or at least with the tools that scientists use, is quite literally a way in which to see and interpret the world. And regardless of the career or life choices our students make, science affects all of them. They will all go the doctor, they will all at some point be prescribed a drug, they will all have a friend or loved one affected by cancer, and they will all live on our suffering planet. Being scientifically illiterate isn’t an option in my mind. And by providing our incoming students with an opportunity to scientifically empower themselves, even if a STEM career is not their ultimate goal, we can change our society, and better our community, our country, and our world. This is why I’m incredibly excited about teaching an Engagements course. I can’t wait to use my excitement and passion for science to empower our students and give them the confidence to navigate the world with the tools used by scientists to make informed, evidence-based decisions for the rest of their lives.

TR 9:30am-10:45am

Fall Quarter Two: October 18 – December 7

EGMT 1520: How Do You Measure a Rainbow?

EGMT 1520: How Do You Measure a Rainbow?

How far is the moon? How fast is a runner? How big is the Earth? How many people have covid-19? How much did it cost to build a bridge? Our modern world is awash in measurements. Measurement is one of the pillars of science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences; without measurements, those fields would be theory and conjecture without supporting evidence. To understand the past and present meaningfully, and to predict rather than guess the future, we need to measure things. But what makes something measurable? How do you decide what is a meaningful and worthwhile measurement, how do you make that measurement, and what can you do with that measurement once you have it? What are the potential consequences of imperfect, inaccurate, or misunderstood measurements? What are the ethical limits to measurement? In this class, we will consider measurements that shaped our past, such as those of Copernicus, Franklin (Benjamin and Rosalind), Edwin Hubble, and the Wright brothers and measurements that affect our present and future, such as those by LIGO (gravity waves) and by the many organizations focused on the coronavirus. We will even plan, perform, and analyze our own measurements. Through this adventure, we will look at how measurements are made, how they are used, their implications and outcomes, and the social, ethical, financial, and political contexts in which they occur. Instructed by

Bloomfield

Lou
Professor of Physics
[email protected]

As a child, I loved taking things apart, putting them together, and finding interesting ways to test their limits. After survived any number of explosions. shocks, and poison gases, it was no surprised that I became a physicist. It's a career in which I can still take things apart, etc., but typically with fewer disasters.

After arriving at UVA in 1985, I spent several decades studying atoms, molecules, and nanoparticles, using lasers, vacuum chambers, and magnets and aided by a wonderful group of graduate students and postdocs. But my taste in science gradually shifted toward the practical and I set out to do something directly useful in the real world. I invented a class of viscoelastic materials and have been working to translate those initial laboratory discoveries into real world devices ever since. The first application is earplugs.

As much as I enjoy doing science, I enjoy teaching it even more. My particular passion is explaining the science of everyday life to ordinary people – people who have thought of science mostly as an intimidating academic exercise. Since creating How Things Work in 1991, I have taught twelve thousand UVA students, several hundred thousand online students, and millions of television viewers. My aim has been to show them that science is useful, valuable, and provides tools for living they can apply to everything from cooking to hockey to keeping safe during a pandemic. The College Fellows program is the perfect context in which to continue that effort. In the engagement courses, we can look not only at the science itself, but at the social, ethical, financial, and political contexts surrounding it. And we can even do some of that science ourselves.

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

Will you eat a blue strawberry? Or a potato chip that does not crackle/crunch? Do you prefer your morning coffee in a flimsy Styrofoam cup or a ceramic cup? How about sniffing a piece of clothing from 10 different people to find your perfect date? These are examples of how our five senses collaborate in our brain to enable our minds to better understand and perceive the world around us and allows us to make choices. Very often, the modes of perception influence one another on the way to becoming conscious thought. We even sense human emotions by combining distinct sensory clues: facial expressions, hand gestures, body postures, tone of voice, and body odor. In this empirical course, we will try to make sense of our senses. We will unravel how each sense functions independently and then explore how the brain integrates the information into a coherent perception of the world. This includes a neurological overview of how we sense the world around us using receptors that specialize in detecting photons, odor, taste, sound, and touch. This external signal is then converted into an electrical input via the neurons and processed in the brain to produce the desired behavior. Here, the desired behavior is a very personal choice we make in response to our sensory perceptions. It could be as simple as whether to - eat or not eat a blue strawberry! These decisions are influenced by the biological, social, and cultural differences that shape our brains into who we are as individuals and our sensory insights. Join me to experience and explore the world of smell, touch, taste, sound, and vision. Instructed by

Date

Priya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research appetite has enabled me to explore numerous facets of biology, from evolution to developmental and cell biology. While doing so, I have enjoyed working with different animals like fruit flies, lizards, frogs, and mice. Being a scientist has taught me to approach any problem with an analytical mind, where I can ask questions and look for solutions by observing or experimenting. The empirical and scientific engagement courses in the New College Curriculum provide students with a similar experience but on a smaller scale. These courses will invite students to learn strategies to think like scientists. I firmly believe that seeing how the process of science works will enable students to deal with broader social issues and learn more about themselves.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

Can things speak, and are we listening? If objects can be used as evidence, then how can we interpret them?  And why think about objects at all?  In this class, students will learn how to use material—from pot sherds to iPhones—to develop and test hypotheses about societies and individuals past and the present. Using things from our own daily lives (sweatshirts, toothbrushes, photos of grandma) as case studies, we’ll together investigate what things can tell us about the people who make and use them, and about ourselves and our own relationship with our possessions. Over the course of seven weeks, we’ll create portfolios based on our own objects, working toward a thick description of it and making a case for its worthiness as evidence.  Along the way, we’ll explore the potentials and pitfalls of different kinds of interpretation and reasoning, and also explore the biases and assumptions that impact on the very notion of empiricism itself. Instructed by

Phillips

Amanda
Assistant Professor of Art History
[email protected]

The Engagements offer instructor and students alike a unique opportunity to work through one of the most urgent issues of the twenty-first century: the nature of what we might think of as verifiable information, or even as truth. As a historian of art and material culture, I’m really interested in asking what truths objects, places, and spaces can tell us that writing or pictures cannot. More than anything, I want to give our first-year students the skills to understand their possessions in context of the web of global production and consumption in the twenty-first century. Beyond collecting data about our stuff, we all need to understand that interpreting and arguing based on this evidence is also part of larger social and historical contexts, and that the very nature of objectivity is also worth critical examination. My teaching in the Engagements helps me explore this facet in my own research, which considers how textiles and other types of objects contain information that is otherwise absent from the historical record.

I’ve lived Paris, Tunis, Berlin, Istanbul, Edinburgh, and several other places, and speak and read a few languages. I spend my time looking at the fragments, scraps, and low-quality objects of mass production that most art historians abominate. It is my firm belief that we have more to learn from the odd, purposefully mediocre, and downright ugly than we do from the beautiful and pleasing.

 
MW 6:30-7:45pm
EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

Can things speak, and are we listening? If objects can be used as evidence, then how can we interpret them?  And why think about objects at all?  In this class, students will learn how to use material—from pot sherds to iPhones—to develop and test hypotheses about societies and individuals past and the present. Using things from our own daily lives (sweatshirts, toothbrushes, photos of grandma) as case studies, we’ll together investigate what things can tell us about the people who make and use them, and about ourselves and our own relationship with our possessions. Over the course of seven weeks, we’ll create portfolios based on our own objects, working toward a thick description of it and making a case for its worthiness as evidence.  Along the way, we’ll explore the potentials and pitfalls of different kinds of interpretation and reasoning, and also explore the biases and assumptions that impact on the very notion of empiricism itself. Instructed by

Phillips

Amanda
Assistant Professor of Art History
[email protected]

The Engagements offer instructor and students alike a unique opportunity to work through one of the most urgent issues of the twenty-first century: the nature of what we might think of as verifiable information, or even as truth. As a historian of art and material culture, I’m really interested in asking what truths objects, places, and spaces can tell us that writing or pictures cannot. More than anything, I want to give our first-year students the skills to understand their possessions in context of the web of global production and consumption in the twenty-first century. Beyond collecting data about our stuff, we all need to understand that interpreting and arguing based on this evidence is also part of larger social and historical contexts, and that the very nature of objectivity is also worth critical examination. My teaching in the Engagements helps me explore this facet in my own research, which considers how textiles and other types of objects contain information that is otherwise absent from the historical record.

I’ve lived Paris, Tunis, Berlin, Istanbul, Edinburgh, and several other places, and speak and read a few languages. I spend my time looking at the fragments, scraps, and low-quality objects of mass production that most art historians abominate. It is my firm belief that we have more to learn from the odd, purposefully mediocre, and downright ugly than we do from the beautiful and pleasing.

 
MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

Scientists are wrong all the time, sometimes for many decades.  This is not surprising, as discovery in science is a process of change.  Do scientists change their minds when they get new data, or does the data need to be "special"?  In this course, we will trace the processes that caused scientists to change their minds about biological discoveries, beginning with the demonstration that genes are made of DNA, and ending with the controversial role of "junk" DNA in the human genome.  By investigating what scientists believed when they were wrong, and then following their arguments for and against the incorrect, and correct explanations, we will both understand better the roles of theory and evidence in scientific discovery, and also develop a process for making sense out of abstract models.  In addition to following the process of transition from "wrong" to "right" for settled biological science, we will also examine an unsettled question: "Is 90% of the human genome 'junk'?". Instructed by

Pearson

William
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
[email protected]

Some of my most interesting scientific projects began when I realized that something that most scientists in my field took for granted "didn't make sense".  Often, what didn't make sense seemed sensible on the surface, but below the surface there were contradictions. When my students and I explored those contradictions in more detail, we made discoveries.  Science is often presented as a series of logical steps, one discovery leading to the next.  But the logic of the presentation obscures the scientific intuition that is required to pick the direction for the next hypothesis or experiment.  For me, the engagements offer a chance to explore the "does it make sense" nature of the scientific process.  How can we understand what scientists were thinking when they were wrong, and their  "Aha!" moment when they realized that what seemed to make sense didn't, which prompted them to search for better explanations.  For example, it makes complete sense that heavy objects fall faster than light objects, because, after all, they are heavier.  But the obvious observation that heavier objects weigh more than light objects, and thus should fall faster, had some implications that did not make sense, which lead Galileo and Newton to a simpler, but more powerful, perspective.  My engagements course will explore scientific befores and afters with a focus on why the wrong explanation made sense (or didn't), and why the current explanation prevailed.

I was trained as a "wet-lab" molecular biologist, purifying molecules from tissues to learn why different cells in the body, all with essentially the same set of genes, behave differently.  But at the same time, I was writing computer programs to collect and analyze data.  I continued to write computer programs to analyze DNA and protein sequences, which lead to the development of the FASTP and FASTA programs for rapid sequence similarity searching.  While FASTA is no longer widely used for similarity searches, the FASTA format is ubiquitous in genome biology and bioinformatics. I have taught Computational Biology and Bioinformatics to undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors for more than 30 years.  I continue to explore aspects of protein sequences, and protein evolution, that seem to "not make sense".

 
TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

Scientists are wrong all the time, sometimes for many decades.  This is not surprising, as discovery in science is a process of change.  Do scientists change their minds when they get new data, or does the data need to be "special"?  In this course, we will trace the processes that caused scientists to change their minds about biological discoveries, beginning with the demonstration that genes are made of DNA, and ending with the controversial role of "junk" DNA in the human genome.  By investigating what scientists believed when they were wrong, and then following their arguments for and against the incorrect, and correct explanations, we will both understand better the roles of theory and evidence in scientific discovery, and also develop a process for making sense out of abstract models.  In addition to following the process of transition from "wrong" to "right" for settled biological science, we will also examine an unsettled question: "Is 90% of the human genome 'junk'?". Instructed by

Pearson

William
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
[email protected]

Some of my most interesting scientific projects began when I realized that something that most scientists in my field took for granted "didn't make sense".  Often, what didn't make sense seemed sensible on the surface, but below the surface there were contradictions. When my students and I explored those contradictions in more detail, we made discoveries.  Science is often presented as a series of logical steps, one discovery leading to the next.  But the logic of the presentation obscures the scientific intuition that is required to pick the direction for the next hypothesis or experiment.  For me, the engagements offer a chance to explore the "does it make sense" nature of the scientific process.  How can we understand what scientists were thinking when they were wrong, and their  "Aha!" moment when they realized that what seemed to make sense didn't, which prompted them to search for better explanations.  For example, it makes complete sense that heavy objects fall faster than light objects, because, after all, they are heavier.  But the obvious observation that heavier objects weigh more than light objects, and thus should fall faster, had some implications that did not make sense, which lead Galileo and Newton to a simpler, but more powerful, perspective.  My engagements course will explore scientific befores and afters with a focus on why the wrong explanation made sense (or didn't), and why the current explanation prevailed.

I was trained as a "wet-lab" molecular biologist, purifying molecules from tissues to learn why different cells in the body, all with essentially the same set of genes, behave differently.  But at the same time, I was writing computer programs to collect and analyze data.  I continued to write computer programs to analyze DNA and protein sequences, which lead to the development of the FASTP and FASTA programs for rapid sequence similarity searching.  While FASTA is no longer widely used for similarity searches, the FASTA format is ubiquitous in genome biology and bioinformatics. I have taught Computational Biology and Bioinformatics to undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors for more than 30 years.  I continue to explore aspects of protein sequences, and protein evolution, that seem to "not make sense".

 
TR 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleopatra

EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleopatra

Few historical figures from antiquity excite as much interest as Cleopatra VII, last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Despite her enduring popularity, most of what people believe they know about her owes more to Hollywood than to historical evidence. This course examines the nature of historical knowledge by exploring a series of questions about Cleopatra. We will consider such issues as what constitutes historical evidence (What is Cleopatra’s story?), how historians interpret historical evidence in light of its known context (Who were Cleopatra’s enemies?), and how the biases and contexts of modern historians impact historical knowledge (Was Cleopatra Black?). Along the way, we will also consider the difficulties inherent to premodern historical reconstruction caused by the relative paucity of evidence and accidents of survival, as well as the difficulties historians face in reaching the public because of Hollywood-imposed preconceptions about antiquity. Instructed by

Teets

Sarah
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I was drawn to Classics—the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—as an undergraduate in Long Beach, California because I found it profoundly meaningful to read a text that was written by someone who died thousands of years ago, and feel like I could relate to their experience. And yet, the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the peoples they conquered and colonized was unlike ours in ways as dramatic as the technological differences and subtle as the nuances of gender ideologies. In my research, I explore how ancient Greeks and Romans constructed and performed identities. I am especially interested in people who lived at the intersection of multiple identities, those on the fringes of mainstream Greek and Roman culture, and those who were subject to Roman imperial domination. We Classicists study and teach Greek and Roman antiquity not because we want to emulate it. Believe me, we don’t: this world was grounded in slavery, misogyny, and other forms of extreme violence. Nor do we study the past because history is some sort of impartial judge that can teach us the correct course of action in the present. Instead, we study ancient peoples and their literature both for the intrinsic good of knowledge, and because engaging closely with the questions they asked themselves can help us ask and answer our own questions more thoughtfully, with greater nuance, and with fuller perspective.

I am drawn to the Engagements curriculum because of its focus on the habits of mind that we use in the liberal arts. I ground my teaching practice in my belief that students aren’t here to learn content, but to learn how to think broadly and critically across the fulness of their lives. If we ask how ancient Greeks and Romans understood themselves, we must reflect on how we understand ourselves. Who are we, actually, and what does this mean? What responsibilities come with having access to a college education? With being humans on the edge of climate disaster?

As a native of California’s Central Valley, I have made my way east studying Classics. I live in rural Louisa County with my husband, daughter, and chickens on what is either a very small farm or a very large garden.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleopatra

EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleopatra

Few historical figures from antiquity excite as much interest as Cleopatra VII, last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Despite her enduring popularity, most of what people believe they know about her owes more to Hollywood than to historical evidence. This course examines the nature of historical knowledge by exploring a series of questions about Cleopatra. We will consider such issues as what constitutes historical evidence (What is Cleopatra’s story?), how historians interpret historical evidence in light of its known context (Who were Cleopatra’s enemies?), and how the biases and contexts of modern historians impact historical knowledge (Was Cleopatra Black?). Along the way, we will also consider the difficulties inherent to premodern historical reconstruction caused by the relative paucity of evidence and accidents of survival, as well as the difficulties historians face in reaching the public because of Hollywood-imposed preconceptions about antiquity. Instructed by

Teets

Sarah
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I was drawn to Classics—the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—as an undergraduate in Long Beach, California because I found it profoundly meaningful to read a text that was written by someone who died thousands of years ago, and feel like I could relate to their experience. And yet, the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the peoples they conquered and colonized was unlike ours in ways as dramatic as the technological differences and subtle as the nuances of gender ideologies. In my research, I explore how ancient Greeks and Romans constructed and performed identities. I am especially interested in people who lived at the intersection of multiple identities, those on the fringes of mainstream Greek and Roman culture, and those who were subject to Roman imperial domination. We Classicists study and teach Greek and Roman antiquity not because we want to emulate it. Believe me, we don’t: this world was grounded in slavery, misogyny, and other forms of extreme violence. Nor do we study the past because history is some sort of impartial judge that can teach us the correct course of action in the present. Instead, we study ancient peoples and their literature both for the intrinsic good of knowledge, and because engaging closely with the questions they asked themselves can help us ask and answer our own questions more thoughtfully, with greater nuance, and with fuller perspective.

I am drawn to the Engagements curriculum because of its focus on the habits of mind that we use in the liberal arts. I ground my teaching practice in my belief that students aren’t here to learn content, but to learn how to think broadly and critically across the fulness of their lives. If we ask how ancient Greeks and Romans understood themselves, we must reflect on how we understand ourselves. Who are we, actually, and what does this mean? What responsibilities come with having access to a college education? With being humans on the edge of climate disaster?

As a native of California’s Central Valley, I have made my way east studying Classics. I live in rural Louisa County with my husband, daughter, and chickens on what is either a very small farm or a very large garden.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

Why do we hold hands? If you think about it, it's a peculiar behavior. What is its function? What does it accomplish? Why do so many people all around the world do it? I hadn’t given it much thought until I embarked on the scientific study of how—at the level of brain function—people soothe each other’s fears and anxieties. In my early work, hand holding was little more to me than a convenient way to study social support in the restrictive environment of the brain scanner. But as the years, and studies, have gone by, a deeper understanding of simple hand holding has unlocked for me many of the secrets of our shared humanity—and helped me explain why, for humans, social isolation is the quickest route to misery, poor health, and even early death. We’ll use the mystery of hand holding as our point of departure on a scientific journey toward understanding the way social relationships affect our earliest sensory experiences, the length of our lives, and everything in between. We’ll also explore the likeliest theories about the evolution of Homo sapiens, and how that evolution is reflected in the structure and function of the human brain.  Instructed by

Coan

Jim
Professor of Psychology
[email protected]

For years I've been interested in pushing the boundaries of my teaching, in structure, content and engagement with students. When I learned of the New Curriculum, my first thought was "this is exactly what I've been hoping for." This is because I feel passionate about my work, my field, and the transformative power of scientific knowledge, and I want to explore new ways to share that passion with young people. Every day, by virtue of the work that I do at UVA, I get to experience real awe and wonder--the beauty of learning about how our social relationships shape and support our brains and bodies, and what that knowledge suggests about our origin and future as a species. The knowledge created in my lab and in labs throughout the world has also instilled in me a desire to engage with my broader community--which is part of why I've been involved in things like television programs, podcasting, and UVA's Center for Media and Citizenship. It is a privilege to add teaching for the New Curriculum to that list.

I am Professor of Psychology and Director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia. I consult for clinicians, businesses and researchers, working with groups as diverse as the Oregon Social Learning Center, the Anna Freud Center, the Kurt Lewin Institute, and the Community of Democracies. I am the co-editor of the Handbook of Emotion Elicitation and Assessment and have authored more than eighty peer-reviewed articles. My work has been covered in Science, Nature, and the New York Times, among other media outlets. I've also appeared as an expert for the National Geographic show Brain Games. In addition to being a professor at UVA, I'm a fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, produce the podcast Circle of Willis, and serve as Chief Scientific Advisor at Movius Consulting.

MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1520: You Were Born A Scientist

EGMT 1520: You Were Born A Scientist

Each of you did science experiments when you were a kid. You played with bugs and lizards, you stayed up late peering through telescopes, you asked questions about how the world worked, and you were good at it. You were a scientist and you conducted empirical studies. But somewhere along the way, many of you experienced events that lead you to believe you weren’t actually a scientist, or couldn’t be one, or that science could only be done by certain people who looked a certain way. This course calls BS on that brainwashing. You may view scientists as individuals who have a tackled a daunting discipline that requires specific content knowledge and extensive training. However, I encourage you to see science and scientists not as a class in school or mythical strangers who wear lab coats, but instead as a language, a rich culture, and a unique lens through which to see and experience the world. A way of placing yourself on our planet, as a user of ever-evolving technology, and as an empowered individual making informed decisions. I want you to view science as a way through which you can exert your individual autonomy and make informed decisions for yourself, your family, and your community. In this course, I will re-expose you to the process of science and empirical evidence, help you hone your critical thinking skills, share tips on how to discern between science and pseudoscience, teach you the fundamentals of speaking “science speak” (or at least how to understand it!), give pointers on how to critically evaluate scientific communication in the media, and hopefully empower you to be scientifically literate and help others in your community achieve the same. At the end of the day, I want you to find that scientist within you and begin to view and interact with the world like you did as child. Instructed by

Kucenas

Sarah
Professor of Biology
[email protected]

My aspiration to be a College Fellow is driven by my desire to have the opportunity to interact with undergraduates well before they declare their majors, and share my excitement and passion for science. By the time I step into a classroom for my usual classes here at UVa, I’m in a room of students who have 100% committed themselves to STEM and/or Biology, often with the goal of a career in a health care-related field. And while I still get the opportunity to challenge some of their beliefs about science, I’ve wanted for several years now to be able to interact with our students before they even have decided upon their futures. In my opinion, thinking like a scientist, or at least with the tools that scientists use, is quite literally a way in which to see and interpret the world. And regardless of the career or life choices our students make, science affects all of them. They will all go the doctor, they will all at some point be prescribed a drug, they will all have a friend or loved one affected by cancer, and they will all live on our suffering planet. Being scientifically illiterate isn’t an option in my mind. And by providing our incoming students with an opportunity to scientifically empower themselves, even if a STEM career is not their ultimate goal, we can change our society, and better our community, our country, and our world. This is why I’m incredibly excited about teaching an Engagements course. I can’t wait to use my excitement and passion for science to empower our students and give them the confidence to navigate the world with the tools used by scientists to make informed, evidence-based decisions for the rest of their lives.

TR 8:00am-9:15am

Spring 2022

Spring Quarter Three: January 19 – March 15

EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

Will you eat a blue strawberry? Or a potato chip that does not crackle/crunch? Do you prefer your morning coffee in a flimsy Styrofoam cup or a ceramic cup? How about sniffing a piece of clothing from 10 different people to find your perfect date? These are examples of how our five senses collaborate in our brain to enable our minds to better understand and perceive the world around us and allows us to make choices. Very often, the modes of perception influence one another on the way to becoming conscious thought. We even sense human emotions by combining distinct sensory clues: facial expressions, hand gestures, body postures, tone of voice, and body odor. In this empirical course, we will try to make sense of our senses. We will unravel how each sense functions independently and then explore how the brain integrates the information into a coherent perception of the world. This includes a neurological overview of how we sense the world around us using receptors that specialize in detecting photons, odor, taste, sound, and touch. This external signal is then converted into an electrical input via the neurons and processed in the brain to produce the desired behavior. Here, the desired behavior is a very personal choice we make in response to our sensory perceptions. It could be as simple as whether to - eat or not eat a blue strawberry! These decisions are influenced by the biological, social, and cultural differences that shape our brains into who we are as individuals and our sensory insights. Join me to experience and explore the world of smell, touch, taste, sound, and vision. Instructed by

Date

Priya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research appetite has enabled me to explore numerous facets of biology, from evolution to developmental and cell biology. While doing so, I have enjoyed working with different animals like fruit flies, lizards, frogs, and mice. Being a scientist has taught me to approach any problem with an analytical mind, where I can ask questions and look for solutions by observing or experimenting. The empirical and scientific engagement courses in the New College Curriculum provide students with a similar experience but on a smaller scale. These courses will invite students to learn strategies to think like scientists. I firmly believe that seeing how the process of science works will enable students to deal with broader social issues and learn more about themselves.

TBD
EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

EGMT 1520: Making Sense of the Senses

Will you eat a blue strawberry? Or a potato chip that does not crackle/crunch? Do you prefer your morning coffee in a flimsy Styrofoam cup or a ceramic cup? How about sniffing a piece of clothing from 10 different people to find your perfect date? These are examples of how our five senses collaborate in our brain to enable our minds to better understand and perceive the world around us and allows us to make choices. Very often, the modes of perception influence one another on the way to becoming conscious thought. We even sense human emotions by combining distinct sensory clues: facial expressions, hand gestures, body postures, tone of voice, and body odor. In this empirical course, we will try to make sense of our senses. We will unravel how each sense functions independently and then explore how the brain integrates the information into a coherent perception of the world. This includes a neurological overview of how we sense the world around us using receptors that specialize in detecting photons, odor, taste, sound, and touch. This external signal is then converted into an electrical input via the neurons and processed in the brain to produce the desired behavior. Here, the desired behavior is a very personal choice we make in response to our sensory perceptions. It could be as simple as whether to - eat or not eat a blue strawberry! These decisions are influenced by the biological, social, and cultural differences that shape our brains into who we are as individuals and our sensory insights. Join me to experience and explore the world of smell, touch, taste, sound, and vision. Instructed by

Date

Priya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research appetite has enabled me to explore numerous facets of biology, from evolution to developmental and cell biology. While doing so, I have enjoyed working with different animals like fruit flies, lizards, frogs, and mice. Being a scientist has taught me to approach any problem with an analytical mind, where I can ask questions and look for solutions by observing or experimenting. The empirical and scientific engagement courses in the New College Curriculum provide students with a similar experience but on a smaller scale. These courses will invite students to learn strategies to think like scientists. I firmly believe that seeing how the process of science works will enable students to deal with broader social issues and learn more about themselves.

TBD
EGMT 1520: School for Humans

EGMT 1520: School for Humans

Many of the ideas and structures that shape our schools, from kindergarten through college, can be traced back to the industrial economy of the late nineteenth century, when children were likened to “raw materials” and schools were compared to factories producing useful goods. Their practices are contrary to what much scientific study suggests makes sense for healthy human development, yet we persist in using this outdated model. So, then, what would school be like if it was designed for the human being? In the early 1900s, a physician named Maria Montessori came up with a very different model, a pedagogy based not on social engineering and social efficiency, but rather on true principles of human development. Interestingly, there are several important convergences between her ideas and the vision Thomas Jefferson had for learning here at UVA! In this course we will explore empirical literature on how people learn. We will peek at classrooms at UVA and other schools, and compare them with Montessori and Jefferson’s visions of education. In this way we will learn to gather empirical data from our naturalistic observations. We will also consider at least two principles of learning; the first, and you will experience participating in a study showing one, and experience designing and implementing a study showing the other. Like an M.C. Escher drawing, the course will serve as a mirror of its own content. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

Scientists are wrong all the time, sometimes for many decades.  This is not surprising, as discovery in science is a process of change.  Do scientists change their minds when they get new data, or does the data need to be "special"?  In this course, we will trace the processes that caused scientists to change their minds about biological discoveries, beginning with the demonstration that genes are made of DNA, and ending with the controversial role of "junk" DNA in the human genome.  By investigating what scientists believed when they were wrong, and then following their arguments for and against the incorrect, and correct explanations, we will both understand better the roles of theory and evidence in scientific discovery, and also develop a process for making sense out of abstract models.  In addition to following the process of transition from "wrong" to "right" for settled biological science, we will also examine an unsettled question: "Is 90% of the human genome 'junk'?". Instructed by

Pearson

William
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
[email protected]

Some of my most interesting scientific projects began when I realized that something that most scientists in my field took for granted "didn't make sense".  Often, what didn't make sense seemed sensible on the surface, but below the surface there were contradictions. When my students and I explored those contradictions in more detail, we made discoveries.  Science is often presented as a series of logical steps, one discovery leading to the next.  But the logic of the presentation obscures the scientific intuition that is required to pick the direction for the next hypothesis or experiment.  For me, the engagements offer a chance to explore the "does it make sense" nature of the scientific process.  How can we understand what scientists were thinking when they were wrong, and their  "Aha!" moment when they realized that what seemed to make sense didn't, which prompted them to search for better explanations.  For example, it makes complete sense that heavy objects fall faster than light objects, because, after all, they are heavier.  But the obvious observation that heavier objects weigh more than light objects, and thus should fall faster, had some implications that did not make sense, which lead Galileo and Newton to a simpler, but more powerful, perspective.  My engagements course will explore scientific befores and afters with a focus on why the wrong explanation made sense (or didn't), and why the current explanation prevailed.

I was trained as a "wet-lab" molecular biologist, purifying molecules from tissues to learn why different cells in the body, all with essentially the same set of genes, behave differently.  But at the same time, I was writing computer programs to collect and analyze data.  I continued to write computer programs to analyze DNA and protein sequences, which lead to the development of the FASTP and FASTA programs for rapid sequence similarity searching.  While FASTA is no longer widely used for similarity searches, the FASTA format is ubiquitous in genome biology and bioinformatics. I have taught Computational Biology and Bioinformatics to undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors for more than 30 years.  I continue to explore aspects of protein sequences, and protein evolution, that seem to "not make sense".

 
TBD
EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

EGMT 1520: When Do Scientists Change Their Mind?

Scientists are wrong all the time, sometimes for many decades.  This is not surprising, as discovery in science is a process of change.  Do scientists change their minds when they get new data, or does the data need to be "special"?  In this course, we will trace the processes that caused scientists to change their minds about biological discoveries, beginning with the demonstration that genes are made of DNA, and ending with the controversial role of "junk" DNA in the human genome.  By investigating what scientists believed when they were wrong, and then following their arguments for and against the incorrect, and correct explanations, we will both understand better the roles of theory and evidence in scientific discovery, and also develop a process for making sense out of abstract models.  In addition to following the process of transition from "wrong" to "right" for settled biological science, we will also examine an unsettled question: "Is 90% of the human genome 'junk'?". Instructed by

Pearson

William
Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
[email protected]

Some of my most interesting scientific projects began when I realized that something that most scientists in my field took for granted "didn't make sense".  Often, what didn't make sense seemed sensible on the surface, but below the surface there were contradictions. When my students and I explored those contradictions in more detail, we made discoveries.  Science is often presented as a series of logical steps, one discovery leading to the next.  But the logic of the presentation obscures the scientific intuition that is required to pick the direction for the next hypothesis or experiment.  For me, the engagements offer a chance to explore the "does it make sense" nature of the scientific process.  How can we understand what scientists were thinking when they were wrong, and their  "Aha!" moment when they realized that what seemed to make sense didn't, which prompted them to search for better explanations.  For example, it makes complete sense that heavy objects fall faster than light objects, because, after all, they are heavier.  But the obvious observation that heavier objects weigh more than light objects, and thus should fall faster, had some implications that did not make sense, which lead Galileo and Newton to a simpler, but more powerful, perspective.  My engagements course will explore scientific befores and afters with a focus on why the wrong explanation made sense (or didn't), and why the current explanation prevailed.

I was trained as a "wet-lab" molecular biologist, purifying molecules from tissues to learn why different cells in the body, all with essentially the same set of genes, behave differently.  But at the same time, I was writing computer programs to collect and analyze data.  I continued to write computer programs to analyze DNA and protein sequences, which lead to the development of the FASTP and FASTA programs for rapid sequence similarity searching.  While FASTA is no longer widely used for similarity searches, the FASTA format is ubiquitous in genome biology and bioinformatics. I have taught Computational Biology and Bioinformatics to undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors for more than 30 years.  I continue to explore aspects of protein sequences, and protein evolution, that seem to "not make sense".

 
TBD
EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleopatra

EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleopatra

Few historical figures from antiquity excite as much interest as Cleopatra VII, last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Despite her enduring popularity, most of what people believe they know about her owes more to Hollywood than to historical evidence. This course examines the nature of historical knowledge by exploring a series of questions about Cleopatra. We will consider such issues as what constitutes historical evidence (What is Cleopatra’s story?), how historians interpret historical evidence in light of its known context (Who were Cleopatra’s enemies?), and how the biases and contexts of modern historians impact historical knowledge (Was Cleopatra Black?). Along the way, we will also consider the difficulties inherent to premodern historical reconstruction caused by the relative paucity of evidence and accidents of survival, as well as the difficulties historians face in reaching the public because of Hollywood-imposed preconceptions about antiquity. Instructed by

Teets

Sarah
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I was drawn to Classics—the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—as an undergraduate in Long Beach, California because I found it profoundly meaningful to read a text that was written by someone who died thousands of years ago, and feel like I could relate to their experience. And yet, the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the peoples they conquered and colonized was unlike ours in ways as dramatic as the technological differences and subtle as the nuances of gender ideologies. In my research, I explore how ancient Greeks and Romans constructed and performed identities. I am especially interested in people who lived at the intersection of multiple identities, those on the fringes of mainstream Greek and Roman culture, and those who were subject to Roman imperial domination. We Classicists study and teach Greek and Roman antiquity not because we want to emulate it. Believe me, we don’t: this world was grounded in slavery, misogyny, and other forms of extreme violence. Nor do we study the past because history is some sort of impartial judge that can teach us the correct course of action in the present. Instead, we study ancient peoples and their literature both for the intrinsic good of knowledge, and because engaging closely with the questions they asked themselves can help us ask and answer our own questions more thoughtfully, with greater nuance, and with fuller perspective.

I am drawn to the Engagements curriculum because of its focus on the habits of mind that we use in the liberal arts. I ground my teaching practice in my belief that students aren’t here to learn content, but to learn how to think broadly and critically across the fulness of their lives. If we ask how ancient Greeks and Romans understood themselves, we must reflect on how we understand ourselves. Who are we, actually, and what does this mean? What responsibilities come with having access to a college education? With being humans on the edge of climate disaster?

As a native of California’s Central Valley, I have made my way east studying Classics. I live in rural Louisa County with my husband, daughter, and chickens on what is either a very small farm or a very large garden.

TBD

Spring Quarter Four: March 16 – May 3

EGMT 1520: How Do You Measure a Rainbow?

EGMT 1520: How Do You Measure a Rainbow?

How far is the moon? How fast is a runner? How big is the Earth? How many people have covid-19? How much did it cost to build a bridge? Our modern world is awash in measurements. Measurement is one of the pillars of science, engineering, medicine, and the social sciences; without measurements, those fields would be theory and conjecture without supporting evidence. To understand the past and present meaningfully, and to predict rather than guess the future, we need to measure things. But what makes something measurable? How do you decide what is a meaningful and worthwhile measurement, how do you make that measurement, and what can you do with that measurement once you have it? What are the potential consequences of imperfect, inaccurate, or misunderstood measurements? What are the ethical limits to measurement? In this class, we will consider measurements that shaped our past, such as those of Copernicus, Franklin (Benjamin and Rosalind), Edwin Hubble, and the Wright brothers and measurements that affect our present and future, such as those by LIGO (gravity waves) and by the many organizations focused on the coronavirus. We will even plan, perform, and analyze our own measurements. Through this adventure, we will look at how measurements are made, how they are used, their implications and outcomes, and the social, ethical, financial, and political contexts in which they occur. Instructed by

Bloomfield

Lou
Professor of Physics
[email protected]

As a child, I loved taking things apart, putting them together, and finding interesting ways to test their limits. After survived any number of explosions. shocks, and poison gases, it was no surprised that I became a physicist. It's a career in which I can still take things apart, etc., but typically with fewer disasters.

After arriving at UVA in 1985, I spent several decades studying atoms, molecules, and nanoparticles, using lasers, vacuum chambers, and magnets and aided by a wonderful group of graduate students and postdocs. But my taste in science gradually shifted toward the practical and I set out to do something directly useful in the real world. I invented a class of viscoelastic materials and have been working to translate those initial laboratory discoveries into real world devices ever since. The first application is earplugs.

As much as I enjoy doing science, I enjoy teaching it even more. My particular passion is explaining the science of everyday life to ordinary people – people who have thought of science mostly as an intimidating academic exercise. Since creating How Things Work in 1991, I have taught twelve thousand UVA students, several hundred thousand online students, and millions of television viewers. My aim has been to show them that science is useful, valuable, and provides tools for living they can apply to everything from cooking to hockey to keeping safe during a pandemic. The College Fellows program is the perfect context in which to continue that effort. In the engagement courses, we can look not only at the science itself, but at the social, ethical, financial, and political contexts surrounding it. And we can even do some of that science ourselves.

TBD
EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

EGMT 1520: Posessed - Objects & Empiricism

Can things speak, and are we listening? If objects can be used as evidence, then how can we interpret them?  And why think about objects at all?  In this class, students will learn how to use material—from pot sherds to iPhones—to develop and test hypotheses about societies and individuals past and the present. Using things from our own daily lives (sweatshirts, toothbrushes, photos of grandma) as case studies, we’ll together investigate what things can tell us about the people who make and use them, and about ourselves and our own relationship with our possessions. Over the course of seven weeks, we’ll create portfolios based on our own objects, working toward a thick description of it and making a case for its worthiness as evidence.  Along the way, we’ll explore the potentials and pitfalls of different kinds of interpretation and reasoning, and also explore the biases and assumptions that impact on the very notion of empiricism itself. Instructed by

Phillips

Amanda
Assistant Professor of Art History
[email protected]

The Engagements offer instructor and students alike a unique opportunity to work through one of the most urgent issues of the twenty-first century: the nature of what we might think of as verifiable information, or even as truth. As a historian of art and material culture, I’m really interested in asking what truths objects, places, and spaces can tell us that writing or pictures cannot. More than anything, I want to give our first-year students the skills to understand their possessions in context of the web of global production and consumption in the twenty-first century. Beyond collecting data about our stuff, we all need to understand that interpreting and arguing based on this evidence is also part of larger social and historical contexts, and that the very nature of objectivity is also worth critical examination. My teaching in the Engagements helps me explore this facet in my own research, which considers how textiles and other types of objects contain information that is otherwise absent from the historical record.

I’ve lived Paris, Tunis, Berlin, Istanbul, Edinburgh, and several other places, and speak and read a few languages. I spend my time looking at the fragments, scraps, and low-quality objects of mass production that most art historians abominate. It is my firm belief that we have more to learn from the odd, purposefully mediocre, and downright ugly than we do from the beautiful and pleasing.

 
TBD
EGMT 1520: School for Humans

EGMT 1520: School for Humans

Many of the ideas and structures that shape our schools, from kindergarten through college, can be traced back to the industrial economy of the late nineteenth century, when children were likened to “raw materials” and schools were compared to factories producing useful goods. Their practices are contrary to what much scientific study suggests makes sense for healthy human development, yet we persist in using this outdated model. So, then, what would school be like if it was designed for the human being? In the early 1900s, a physician named Maria Montessori came up with a very different model, a pedagogy based not on social engineering and social efficiency, but rather on true principles of human development. Interestingly, there are several important convergences between her ideas and the vision Thomas Jefferson had for learning here at UVA! In this course we will explore empirical literature on how people learn. We will peek at classrooms at UVA and other schools, and compare them with Montessori and Jefferson’s visions of education. In this way we will learn to gather empirical data from our naturalistic observations. We will also consider at least two principles of learning; the first, and you will experience participating in a study showing one, and experience designing and implementing a study showing the other. Like an M.C. Escher drawing, the course will serve as a mirror of its own content. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1520: What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

EGMT 1520: What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

Who are we? How do we develop from an egg into a walking, talking, thinking human? What happens when development goes wrong? Or why does it go wrong? These are some questions that have intrigued many of us. Studying Biology tells us that, Every animal form starts from a single egg and follows a developmental program coded by its DNA. Our DNA governs the similarities and differences we share with other living beings. It defines the way our cells divide and differentiate and transform into our beautiful, healthy bodies. And, if some part of this program fails, it may result in disease. To understand and study human health and disease, scientists use other organisms. We are connected to these other organisms as we share a common ancestor and, thus, some parts of our DNA. In this course, you will develop an understanding of how scientists have utilized model organisms to answer some of the questions listed above. We will use frogs as an example model organism, mainly for a few reasons. First, their body plan is very similar to ours; second, they are easy to work with, and third, they develop outside the mother's body, making it easy to watch development in action. We will, as a team, look at some case studies, evaluate experiments, and do some hands-on activities to learn how the use of empirical methods has transformed scientific inquiry. We will also discuss the human values involved in using animals in medical research and the ethical implications. You will also have the opportunity to connect to a scientist who uses frogs to study human health and visit their lab. My goal for you is to be able to evaluate and analyze a news piece about human health and judge for yourself the validity and implications of the data presented in the article. Instructed by

Date

Priya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research appetite has enabled me to explore numerous facets of biology, from evolution to developmental and cell biology. While doing so, I have enjoyed working with different animals like fruit flies, lizards, frogs, and mice. Being a scientist has taught me to approach any problem with an analytical mind, where I can ask questions and look for solutions by observing or experimenting. The empirical and scientific engagement courses in the New College Curriculum provide students with a similar experience but on a smaller scale. These courses will invite students to learn strategies to think like scientists. I firmly believe that seeing how the process of science works will enable students to deal with broader social issues and learn more about themselves.

TBD
EGMT 1520: What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

EGMT 1520: What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

Who are we? How do we develop from an egg into a walking, talking, thinking human? What happens when development goes wrong? Or why does it go wrong? These are some questions that have intrigued many of us. Studying Biology tells us that, Every animal form starts from a single egg and follows a developmental program coded by its DNA. Our DNA governs the similarities and differences we share with other living beings. It defines the way our cells divide and differentiate and transform into our beautiful, healthy bodies. And, if some part of this program fails, it may result in disease. To understand and study human health and disease, scientists use other organisms. We are connected to these other organisms as we share a common ancestor and, thus, some parts of our DNA. In this course, you will develop an understanding of how scientists have utilized model organisms to answer some of the questions listed above. We will use frogs as an example model organism, mainly for a few reasons. First, their body plan is very similar to ours; second, they are easy to work with, and third, they develop outside the mother's body, making it easy to watch development in action. We will, as a team, look at some case studies, evaluate experiments, and do some hands-on activities to learn how the use of empirical methods has transformed scientific inquiry. We will also discuss the human values involved in using animals in medical research and the ethical implications. You will also have the opportunity to connect to a scientist who uses frogs to study human health and visit their lab. My goal for you is to be able to evaluate and analyze a news piece about human health and judge for yourself the validity and implications of the data presented in the article. Instructed by

Date

Priya
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research appetite has enabled me to explore numerous facets of biology, from evolution to developmental and cell biology. While doing so, I have enjoyed working with different animals like fruit flies, lizards, frogs, and mice. Being a scientist has taught me to approach any problem with an analytical mind, where I can ask questions and look for solutions by observing or experimenting. The empirical and scientific engagement courses in the New College Curriculum provide students with a similar experience but on a smaller scale. These courses will invite students to learn strategies to think like scientists. I firmly believe that seeing how the process of science works will enable students to deal with broader social issues and learn more about themselves.

TBD

EGMT 1530: Engaging Differences

Fall 2021

Fall Quarter One: August 24 – October 13

EGMT 1530: America - A Mythological Take

EGMT 1530: America - A Mythological Take

Human beings seem to have a permanently paradoxical relationship to storytelling. We never know when are we the author of our own stories or merely an actor in a larger story that is unfolding through us. Nowhere is this duality more revealed than in that particular class of stories we call myths. A myth is never simply a story, it is a story that is supernumerary. Myths mark the silhouette of a broader schema of imagination and hold the key to our secret selves. A story of a juvenile boy working hard to escape poverty is just that, a story - repeating this form of narrative on enough occasions makes it into a genre, something that was mastered by the American short story writer Horatio Alger - realizing that this genre captures the collective desires of Americans makes it into a myth. Today, we know this myth as the archetypal case of a rags to riches scenario in which a person through sheer determination, grit, and a little luck, escapes poverty to go on to make immense wealth. We now consider this myth as the most condensed image of the exceptional promise of American freedom. Classicists, novelists, literary critics, anthropologists, politicians, advertisers, and even Instagram influencers, address and mobilize this self-abstracting and repetitious quality of myth in some way or the other, whether to identify the contours of a cultural space, a shared history, or collective desire. In this course, we will build on this understanding of myth to inquire into the nature of identity and difference in contemporary America. It is the premise of the course that something of the density and possessive hold of identities (of whatever form) can be understood by following the skein of myths that become dear to a collectivity. Practically, the course counterintuitively explores America, the land that birthed the freedom of pragmatism, as a place of such overlapping and clashing narrative universes. Our course will begin with addressing the relation between mythical time and historical time, following which, we will briefly explore three significant mythological clusters that have determined the dynamics of social life in America: the lure of the ‘American Dream’, the racial legacies of chattel slavery, and the sovereign claim to land by indigenous populations. The course will aim to hone in on the permissible mythological narratives that provide richness to these forms of collective experiences. Instructed by

Bagaria

Swayam
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: Financial Lives

EGMT 1530: Financial Lives

We live in a financialized world. Almost all of us have aspects of our lives that are deeply intertwined with, and shaped by, the financial sector. You have, most likely, taken out student loans to be in this classroom. You probably have a bank account too. You use your credit card or debit card, and increasingly less often cash, to pay for your everyday needs. You probably do not own any property yet, but your opportunity to do so in the future will be determined less by any individual action you take than by the lending policies of banks. You may not own any financial securities like stocks or bonds (yet), but these too shape your lives in often invisible ways: by putting economic pressure on cities, states, companies, and institutions to act in certain ways to satisfy the demands of their bondholders and investors. Finance has built itself into the everyday infrastructures of modern life. Despite finance’s ubiquity and seeming adherence to strictly economic principles, its effects in the world are starkly differentiated by race, class, and gender. The racial wealth gap in America is staggeringly large. The gender pay gap still exists. And the global poor are almost entirely shut out of access to basic financial services. But these phenomena did not come out of nowhere. They are the product of historical structures. This class is an attempt to think through the history of finance and difference, and to explore how notions of social and cultural difference have shaped the economic operations of finance and how, in turn, finance has shaped our notions of difference. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

What do global feminism and food have in common? Why are food and gender often interrelated? How does food contribute to politicized discourses on a wide range of bodies and bodily identities? What could eating disorders have in common with the patriarchy? Could food help with escaping social roles and constraints? In this course we will focus on close readings of the symbolic meaning of food across a variety of countries and cultures in in-translation narratives, films, TV series and advertisements – with an emphasis on materials created by women and minorities – addressing broader issues of gender, identity and politics of the body. Reflecting on a variety of cultural products from around the globe helps us to understand the complex role of food and food-related-activities in our life. An intersectional feminist approach will frame class discussions and several sessions on the current issues related to gender and food, such as eating disorders and orthorexia, will be included. Instructed by

Calamita

Francesca
Associate Professor of Italian & Director of UVA in Siena and Florence
[email protected]

I am a feminist scholar with a passion for travelling, tasting new cultures and learning different languages; I have been inspired by a variety of empowering women from several countries during my academic career and life to become the professor and person I am today. I work in the area of women, gender and sexuality in European and global contexts, and I am internationally recognised for my publications on the fictional depiction of eating disorders and other complex relationships with body and food in Italian literature and culture. Women’s voices and visibility are at the centre of my research and teaching and I am a strong advocate of for women’s rights in and outside the university context. I was born in Italy, where I continue to spend much time during breaks, and have lived in a number of countries, including New Zealand - where I earned my PhD -, a place which has become part of my identity and where I am proud to have part of my academic whānau [Māori for family]. My stays in the Middle East and my extensive travelling around Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands have taught me that seeing the world widens your horizons and transforms you into a better version of yourself; the best way you have to connect with another culture is to learn its language; words matter and the way they are used can tell you much about societies and their challenges. I became a university professor to empower students in their journey to knowledge and to attempt to create a fairer world with them. My teaching philosophy can be summarised in these words of this quote by Toni Morrison: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else”.  I look forward to teaching “Food for Global Feminist Thought” in the Engagements, sharing my knowledge and passions, and helping first-year students to critically reflects on feminist issues around the world and how we can free and empower others around us. Will you help me to break the glass ceiling?

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

What do global feminism and food have in common? Why are food and gender often interrelated? How does food contribute to politicized discourses on a wide range of bodies and bodily identities? What could eating disorders have in common with the patriarchy? Could food help with escaping social roles and constraints? In this course we will focus on close readings of the symbolic meaning of food across a variety of countries and cultures in in-translation narratives, films, TV series and advertisements – with an emphasis on materials created by women and minorities – addressing broader issues of gender, identity and politics of the body. Reflecting on a variety of cultural products from around the globe helps us to understand the complex role of food and food-related-activities in our life. An intersectional feminist approach will frame class discussions and several sessions on the current issues related to gender and food, such as eating disorders and orthorexia, will be included. Instructed by

Calamita

Francesca
Associate Professor of Italian & Director of UVA in Siena and Florence
[email protected]

I am a feminist scholar with a passion for travelling, tasting new cultures and learning different languages; I have been inspired by a variety of empowering women from several countries during my academic career and life to become the professor and person I am today. I work in the area of women, gender and sexuality in European and global contexts, and I am internationally recognised for my publications on the fictional depiction of eating disorders and other complex relationships with body and food in Italian literature and culture. Women’s voices and visibility are at the centre of my research and teaching and I am a strong advocate of for women’s rights in and outside the university context. I was born in Italy, where I continue to spend much time during breaks, and have lived in a number of countries, including New Zealand - where I earned my PhD -, a place which has become part of my identity and where I am proud to have part of my academic whānau [Māori for family]. My stays in the Middle East and my extensive travelling around Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands have taught me that seeing the world widens your horizons and transforms you into a better version of yourself; the best way you have to connect with another culture is to learn its language; words matter and the way they are used can tell you much about societies and their challenges. I became a university professor to empower students in their journey to knowledge and to attempt to create a fairer world with them. My teaching philosophy can be summarised in these words of this quote by Toni Morrison: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else”.  I look forward to teaching “Food for Global Feminist Thought” in the Engagements, sharing my knowledge and passions, and helping first-year students to critically reflects on feminist issues around the world and how we can free and empower others around us. Will you help me to break the glass ceiling?

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1530: How Cities Remember

EGMT 1530: How Cities Remember

How do cities remember? How do buildings, monuments and spaces become ways in which cities negotiate their past and position in history? Who makes decision about what should be remembered and forgotten? This course explores how memory shapes urban life. We explore how cities craft their self-image, express desires, attempt to heal and create cohesion, and explore their future through their biographies and commemoration of their past. We also investigate how and why cities choose to forget, erase aspects of their past or rewrite it. We seek to account for all the actors involved in these acts of remembrance from individuals to local communities, informal and formal organizations and the State. We are particularly interested in exploring different, overlapping or conflicting ways in which individuals and groups map their memories in the urban fabric. Examples will be drawn from ancient and modern sites across the globe with special attention to Charlottesville. Instructed by

Kondyli

Foteini
Assistant Professor of Byzantine Art & Archaeology
[email protected]

 

Studying the past is like trying to do a big puzzle with only a few pieces and without knowing what the final picture should look like. It involves bringing to light artifacts that remained hidden and forgotten for centuries and drawing connections with the people who made them and used them in the past. I study the social and material lives of the Byzantines, who were the heirs of the Roman Empire and lived in the eastern Mediterranean during the Middle Ages (4th-15th c. AD). In my research I strive to give a voice to ordinary people and seek to reintroduce them to the historical narrative as equally important in shaping the Medieval world as mighty kings and queens. For example, while Byzantine cities are considered the outcome of imperial will and patronage, I examine the inhabitants’ role in city making and search for evidence that points to their active participation in building, managing and defending their cities.  I am also interested in asking questions about the past that resonate with modern experiences. For example, I seek to understand how people in the Medieval period dealt with major political and economic crises and built resilient communities.  Such connections between past and present and between human behavior and agency drive the questions in my engagements course on how cities remember. We focus on people’s active participation in remembering, forgetting and rewriting the past and explore how their memories and life histories shape urban life.

As an active archaeologist, I have worked in field projects in numerous countries including Greece, Turkey, Albania, Germany and the UK and I routinely take select students with me in the field to conduct archaeological and archival research.  In the classroom, regardless of the course, I invite my students to think like archaeologists, discover clues and understand how they fit together, critically analyze data, build strong arguments based on evidence and imagine overlapping, even conflicting, interpretations of their data. As a Digital Humanist, I am also committed to enhancing student digital literacy by training students in digital tools such as digital mapping, video games, 3D modelling and Virtual Reality applications.  These tools afford opportunities to explore the past, understand human behavior and share our findings with a wider audience in new and engaging ways.

MW 6:30-7:45pm
EGMT 1530: How Cities Remember

EGMT 1530: How Cities Remember

How do cities remember? How do buildings, monuments and spaces become ways in which cities negotiate their past and position in history? Who makes decision about what should be remembered and forgotten? This course explores how memory shapes urban life. We explore how cities craft their self-image, express desires, attempt to heal and create cohesion, and explore their future through their biographies and commemoration of their past. We also investigate how and why cities choose to forget, erase aspects of their past or rewrite it. We seek to account for all the actors involved in these acts of remembrance from individuals to local communities, informal and formal organizations and the State. We are particularly interested in exploring different, overlapping or conflicting ways in which individuals and groups map their memories in the urban fabric. Examples will be drawn from ancient and modern sites across the globe with special attention to Charlottesville. Instructed by

Kondyli

Foteini
Assistant Professor of Byzantine Art & Archaeology
[email protected]

 

Studying the past is like trying to do a big puzzle with only a few pieces and without knowing what the final picture should look like. It involves bringing to light artifacts that remained hidden and forgotten for centuries and drawing connections with the people who made them and used them in the past. I study the social and material lives of the Byzantines, who were the heirs of the Roman Empire and lived in the eastern Mediterranean during the Middle Ages (4th-15th c. AD). In my research I strive to give a voice to ordinary people and seek to reintroduce them to the historical narrative as equally important in shaping the Medieval world as mighty kings and queens. For example, while Byzantine cities are considered the outcome of imperial will and patronage, I examine the inhabitants’ role in city making and search for evidence that points to their active participation in building, managing and defending their cities.  I am also interested in asking questions about the past that resonate with modern experiences. For example, I seek to understand how people in the Medieval period dealt with major political and economic crises and built resilient communities.  Such connections between past and present and between human behavior and agency drive the questions in my engagements course on how cities remember. We focus on people’s active participation in remembering, forgetting and rewriting the past and explore how their memories and life histories shape urban life.

As an active archaeologist, I have worked in field projects in numerous countries including Greece, Turkey, Albania, Germany and the UK and I routinely take select students with me in the field to conduct archaeological and archival research.  In the classroom, regardless of the course, I invite my students to think like archaeologists, discover clues and understand how they fit together, critically analyze data, build strong arguments based on evidence and imagine overlapping, even conflicting, interpretations of their data. As a Digital Humanist, I am also committed to enhancing student digital literacy by training students in digital tools such as digital mapping, video games, 3D modelling and Virtual Reality applications.  These tools afford opportunities to explore the past, understand human behavior and share our findings with a wider audience in new and engaging ways.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

This course explores the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences – in the form of experiences, ideas, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc. – we come to understand these differences through acts of translation: that is, we make creative interpretive decisions as we restate, rephrase, and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. In this course, we ask: how does translation in this extended sense participate in eliding, highlighting, obscuring, celebrating, distorting, and transforming difference? Instructed by

Mikkelson

Jane
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research and teaching focus on comparative literature, Islamic studies, classical Persian literature, South Asian studies, and connected early modernities – and I’m very exited to bring these interests together in the Engagements program. I am thrilled to be a Fellow in the New Curriculum, and wholeheartedly support UVA’s commitment to creating an innovative interdisciplinary first-year core. I believe that it’s possible – and urgently necessary! – to study big ideas by drawing on a diverse global archive. 

I teach two Engagements classes. In “Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments” (Engaging Aesthetics), we investigate how ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary authors turn to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment. As we consider how science and philosophy harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, we also ask: what do thought experiments reveal about the interrelations between knowledge, truth, imagination, and experience? The course “Lost and Found in Translation” (Engaging Differences) is grounded in the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences  (in the form of ideas, experiences, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc.), we come to understand these differences by making creative interpretive decisions as we restate and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. This class examines how translation has the power to create, complicate, and perpetuate stereotypes, bias, and injustice, and also how generous, open forms of translation are able to accommodate differences. By looking at case studies and theories from around the world, we see how acts of translation carry significant ethical implications and have lastingly transformative effects. 

I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, studies practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world and theories of literature and of the imagination that are intertwined with these practices. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here

 
TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

This course explores the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences – in the form of experiences, ideas, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc. – we come to understand these differences through acts of translation: that is, we make creative interpretive decisions as we restate, rephrase, and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. In this course, we ask: how does translation in this extended sense participate in eliding, highlighting, obscuring, celebrating, distorting, and transforming difference? Instructed by

Mikkelson

Jane
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

My research and teaching focus on comparative literature, Islamic studies, classical Persian literature, South Asian studies, and connected early modernities – and I’m very exited to bring these interests together in the Engagements program. I am thrilled to be a Fellow in the New Curriculum, and wholeheartedly support UVA’s commitment to creating an innovative interdisciplinary first-year core. I believe that it’s possible – and urgently necessary! – to study big ideas by drawing on a diverse global archive. 

I teach two Engagements classes. In “Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments” (Engaging Aesthetics), we investigate how ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary authors turn to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment. As we consider how science and philosophy harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, we also ask: what do thought experiments reveal about the interrelations between knowledge, truth, imagination, and experience? The course “Lost and Found in Translation” (Engaging Differences) is grounded in the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences  (in the form of ideas, experiences, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc.), we come to understand these differences by making creative interpretive decisions as we restate and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. This class examines how translation has the power to create, complicate, and perpetuate stereotypes, bias, and injustice, and also how generous, open forms of translation are able to accommodate differences. By looking at case studies and theories from around the world, we see how acts of translation carry significant ethical implications and have lastingly transformative effects. 

I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, studies practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world and theories of literature and of the imagination that are intertwined with these practices. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here

 
TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

This course explores the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences – in the form of experiences, ideas, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc. – we come to understand these differences through acts of translation: that is, we make creative interpretive decisions as we restate, rephrase, and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. In this course, we ask: how does translation in this extended sense participate in eliding, highlighting, obscuring, celebrating, distorting, and transforming difference? Instructed by

Mikkelson

Jane
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]virginia.edu

My research and teaching focus on comparative literature, Islamic studies, classical Persian literature, South Asian studies, and connected early modernities – and I’m very exited to bring these interests together in the Engagements program. I am thrilled to be a Fellow in the New Curriculum, and wholeheartedly support UVA’s commitment to creating an innovative interdisciplinary first-year core. I believe that it’s possible – and urgently necessary! – to study big ideas by drawing on a diverse global archive. 

I teach two Engagements classes. In “Imagine This: A Course on Thought Experiments” (Engaging Aesthetics), we investigate how ancient Greek and medieval Islamic philosophers, early modern poets, twentieth-century scientists, and contemporary authors turn to the fascinating genre of the thought experiment. As we consider how science and philosophy harness the work of metaphor, narrative, and fiction, we also ask: what do thought experiments reveal about the interrelations between knowledge, truth, imagination, and experience? The course “Lost and Found in Translation” (Engaging Differences) is grounded in the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences  (in the form of ideas, experiences, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc.), we come to understand these differences by making creative interpretive decisions as we restate and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. This class examines how translation has the power to create, complicate, and perpetuate stereotypes, bias, and injustice, and also how generous, open forms of translation are able to accommodate differences. By looking at case studies and theories from around the world, we see how acts of translation carry significant ethical implications and have lastingly transformative effects. 

I received a joint PhD in 2019 from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. My current book project, Steadfast Imagining, studies practices of lyric meditation in the early modern Islamic world and theories of literature and of the imagination that are intertwined with these practices. A second book project, The Experiment of Lyric, places early modern Islamic and European lyric thought in conversation, undertaking to show how poets in these traditions receive the ambitiously systematic philosophies, methods, and truths of their time in similarly experimental ways. My publications and CV can be viewed here

 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: Race, Racism, Colony, and Nation

EGMT 1530: Race, Racism, Colony, and Nation

What do the American Revolution and Black Lives Matter have in common? What happened between the 1776 declaration that “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” and the 1857 Supreme Court ruling that the black man had "no rights which the white man was bound to respect?” In what ways can the 1950s era civil rights slogan, “I Am A Man,” be considered a declaration? What’s required to connect Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson or Baltimore to colonial resistance to the king sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance?”[1] As a component of a series of scholarly engagements, this course is committed to cultivating an approach to human differences that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry and civic participation. This course is concerned with the ways in which racial differences shape American history, life, and culture.  In particular, we will frame our questions using the metaphor of the colony and the nation. The prevailing story of America is one of transformation from a colony into one nation, as its people transformed from subjects to citizens. Yet, the transformative properties of American democracy were racially precise: white freedom co-existing with/based upon black subjection. How does racial difference inform our view of America today? How might the American Revolution be considered incomplete? What aspects of our racial divide can be explained by the colony versus nation metaphor? How did/do ethics, science, media and creative expression reflect the idea that our nation is not so “indivisible” after all? These are the type of questions and conflicts that interest this course. Through close reading, shared experience, small group work, and other assignments, this course encourages you to craft, share, and discard your interpretations of the ever-growing collection of cultural narratives and social experiences marked by white supremacy, racial difference and/or bias. [1] The Declaration of Independence. Instructed by

Woolfork

Lisa
Associate Professor of English
[email protected]

The College Fellows program appealed to me because I am committed to pedagogical notions that fuel successful humanities courses: rigor, spirited inquiry, and techniques that open up spaces for collaborative learning. I believe that the best teaching combines the inspiration of art, sometimes painstaking craft, and a dash of magic – those indiscernible elements of classroom interaction that elevate what could have been flat dialogue into experiences that reside in memory long after the class ends. I like to think that students find my classes memorable because I challenge them to engage the subject material in a variety of forms, because I value them and respect their contributions, and because I prioritize the learning enterprise that we’ve committed to embark upon together.

The Engagements provide an opportunity to extend my teaching of African-American literature and culture beyond the scope of the specific field and into the general terrain of understanding difference. For my courses, this will involve a macroscopic view of how racial difference was (and is) constructed in American life. Students entering one of my classes quickly realize that they will be responsible for much of their own learning; as a result, they learn to expand their academic capacity, to take risks, and extend their intellectual reach. As an associate professor of English, I try to create a challenging, engaging and exciting environment that promotes rigor. I seek an atmosphere in which everyone feels free to speak, as well as a space in which students critically connect with the course materials rather than speak solely from personal experience or anecdotes.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

In this course we ask big questions, perhaps among the biggest.  Who am I?  How do I come to be who I am?  How do I know myself?  Can I know myself?  What makes me who I am?  Am I responsible for my own life?  What are my relationships to others?  What are my relationships to my society (societies)?  What are my rights?  What are my obligations?  Does who I am in private say more about me than what I do in public? Can I live a moral life surrounded by immorality?   Should there be a safety net in a society of individuals? If we are indeed individuals, or can be, how do we forge our lives, in our interests and in those of others, toward the public good? This course considers these big questions in order to help us better understand the richness and complexity of individuals and communities. We will reflect on the historical impacts of society on individuals and consider how individuals begin to form societies – or even more important, communities. In particular, we will consider how we as individuals encounter one another in our differences  and what it might mean to pursue a common good. Instructed by

Braun

Tico
Associate Professor of History
[email protected]

I came from Colombia and Mexico to teach the liberal arts in the United States, the nation that knows them best. I have been involved with the liberal arts in my specialized undergraduate courses on Latin American history for more three decades at the University of Virginia. How do hierarchical and deeply conservative societies, we ask, seek to build enduring order? 

The Engagements offer me the opportunity to teach the liberal arts more broadly as ways in which our American and international students can think about themselves and their places in this nation’s democracy and in their expanding globalized world. I view the Engagements as a once-in-a-lifetime classroom opportunity to bring together the often-conflicting views of liberals and conservatives about the central issues of our past, present and future.  A liberal arts education seeks discourse and debate across different ideologies, and it aims to help us understand better those who seem to have ideas that may be different from our own, and thereby to also know ourselves more deeply. 

To make this experience come alive in my first course on Engaging Difference, we will ask about the places of the individual in various societies, in the past and in our contemporary world. This is perhaps one of our richest and deepest concerns, as we create different and overlapping ideas about our individual obligations to others and to the making of a good society. 

 
TR 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

University towns are dynamic communities where the presence of an institution of higher education can bring benefits of innovation and economic growth. But university towns also have some of the highest rates of income inequality and educational disparity. This Difference Engagement Seminar will focus on instances of the latter and examine the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as a case study. The course will introduce students to their new home town, with particular attention to UVA’s historic role in defining, exacerbating, and trying to mend racial inequality. Instructed by

Schmidt

Jalane
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
[email protected]

My research and teaching is focused upon African diaspora religions of the Caribbean and Latin America, and particularly festivity and ritual. I teach courses which consider the effects of colonization and the slave trade upon religious practice in the Americas. In my book project on 20th c. Cubans’ devotion to their patron saint, I examine religious, racial, and cultural hybridity in the Americas by interpreting the national expansion of this popular cult. In my emerging research, I am investigating how the history of slavery is performed in spirit possession rituals and expressed in material culture. Particularly, I am concerned with how contemporary mediums describe heightened sensory perception as a means for navigating traumatic emotional terrain.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1530: You Are Here

EGMT 1530: You Are Here

Where am I? This is a question we often pose only when we’re lost or need directions. The answer we are looking for is usually quite straightforward, and thanks to our smartphones, easy to come by. Yet there are other ways to pose this question that lead to more complex answers, ones that hit much closer to home. How has this place – my home, my city, my country – shaped the person I have become, and how does it continue to define my possibilities? Where do the lives of others play out, and what does that mean for the way we treat each other? It turns out that life has an irreducibly spatial dimension and that dimension is deeply intertwined with our identities. Although we live on the same planet, we inhabit different worlds, and those worlds have a powerful influence on who we are and who we might be. In this course we will learn to think about the relationship between identity and place, paying special attention to gendered homes, racialized communities, and ethnic nation-states, paying special attention to the local context of U.Va. and Charlottesville. Instructed by

Padron

Ricardo
Associate Professor of Spanish
[email protected]

Some of my fondest memories from my time as an undergraduate at U.Va. involve conversations about big ideas, either in class or outside it, that forced me to really think about who I was, what I believed, and how I should live my life. When I decided to become a college professor, I knew I wanted to help students have similar experiences. For me, it was never about preparing students for post-graduate careers, but about helping them prepare for life as reflective and ethical human beings. This is why so much of my research has involved the Spanish encounter with the New World and Asia in during the century after Columbus’s voyages, when Spain was first building its empire. The topic inevitably brings up questions about the nature of historical truth and of cross-cultural encounter, not to mention the ethics and politics of colonialism.  I became interested in how these issues played out in what might seem like an esoteric context, the drawing of maps and the description of spaces in literature. This has introduced me to broader questions about how we build the spaces (domestic, civic, national, global) we inhabit, and how those spaces in turn shape who we are and how we interact.  I am looking forward to sharing these interests with first-year students in my Engagements course, and hopefully guiding them toward the sort of college experience that I am so grateful to have had. 

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm

Fall Quarter Two: October 18 – December 7

EGMT 1530: "Hateinnany": Fascism, Antifascism, and the Global Far Right

EGMT 1530: "Hateinnany": Fascism, Antifascism, and the Global Far Right

The 2010s saw an explosion of interest in the growth of the global far right. From the rise to power of right-wing populists like Narendra Modi in India, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Boris Johnson in Great Britain, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and of course Donald Trump in America, to a spate of anti-immigrant shootings across the developed world, to the deadly violence at the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, the power and influence of far-right politics has been one of the defining features of the past decade. But the far right did not just suddenly form ex nihilio in the 2010s. In this course we will explore the development and growth of the far right around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a particular emphasis on how dynamics of power shape differences in the world and how social inequities are produced and patterned along lines of difference. This is not a comprehensive class – it is not possible to exhaustively explore every dimension of the international far right in the course of a single semester – so we will be focusing primarily on Western Europe and North America, but paying close attention to the concept of “empire,” its importance in the right-wing imagination in imperial states, and the impact of decolonization on far-right politics and what develops into the self-described “white power” movement at the end of the century. Instructed by

Walsh

David
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I’m a historian who studies politics, culture, and political economy. I research and write about the far right and conservative politics in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and the relationship between those forms of politics in America with broader global movements. I’m currently working on turning my PhD dissertation into a book manuscript.

As a teacher, I am committed to providing my students with support and mentorship to help them succeed in my classroom. I encourage my students to ask questions and work collaboratively to create a welcoming and intellectually challenging classroom environment. I am trained as an historian, which means I’m interesting in unpacking assumptions about the past and its relationship to the present. The past, as someone once said, is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

I’m excited about the Engagements program because it’s a great opportunity for all of us—faculty and students alike—to learn together in the best tradition of the liberal arts curriculum. I am committed to providing my students an education grounded in both the ability to critically analyze evidence, because these skills are necessary for our society to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1530: Financial Lives

EGMT 1530: Financial Lives

We live in a financialized world. Almost all of us have aspects of our lives that are deeply intertwined with, and shaped by, the financial sector. You have, most likely, taken out student loans to be in this classroom. You probably have a bank account too. You use your credit card or debit card, and increasingly less often cash, to pay for your everyday needs. You probably do not own any property yet, but your opportunity to do so in the future will be determined less by any individual action you take than by the lending policies of banks. You may not own any financial securities like stocks or bonds (yet), but these too shape your lives in often invisible ways: by putting economic pressure on cities, states, companies, and institutions to act in certain ways to satisfy the demands of their bondholders and investors. Finance has built itself into the everyday infrastructures of modern life. Despite finance’s ubiquity and seeming adherence to strictly economic principles, its effects in the world are starkly differentiated by race, class, and gender. The racial wealth gap in America is staggeringly large. The gender pay gap still exists. And the global poor are almost entirely shut out of access to basic financial services. But these phenomena did not come out of nowhere. They are the product of historical structures. This class is an attempt to think through the history of finance and difference, and to explore how notions of social and cultural difference have shaped the economic operations of finance and how, in turn, finance has shaped our notions of difference. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1530: Financial Lives

EGMT 1530: Financial Lives

We live in a financialized world. Almost all of us have aspects of our lives that are deeply intertwined with, and shaped by, the financial sector. You have, most likely, taken out student loans to be in this classroom. You probably have a bank account too. You use your credit card or debit card, and increasingly less often cash, to pay for your everyday needs. You probably do not own any property yet, but your opportunity to do so in the future will be determined less by any individual action you take than by the lending policies of banks. You may not own any financial securities like stocks or bonds (yet), but these too shape your lives in often invisible ways: by putting economic pressure on cities, states, companies, and institutions to act in certain ways to satisfy the demands of their bondholders and investors. Finance has built itself into the everyday infrastructures of modern life. Despite finance’s ubiquity and seeming adherence to strictly economic principles, its effects in the world are starkly differentiated by race, class, and gender. The racial wealth gap in America is staggeringly large. The gender pay gap still exists. And the global poor are almost entirely shut out of access to basic financial services. But these phenomena did not come out of nowhere. They are the product of historical structures. This class is an attempt to think through the history of finance and difference, and to explore how notions of social and cultural difference have shaped the economic operations of finance and how, in turn, finance has shaped our notions of difference. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

What do global feminism and food have in common? Why are food and gender often interrelated? How does food contribute to politicized discourses on a wide range of bodies and bodily identities? What could eating disorders have in common with the patriarchy? Could food help with escaping social roles and constraints? In this course we will focus on close readings of the symbolic meaning of food across a variety of countries and cultures in in-translation narratives, films, TV series and advertisements – with an emphasis on materials created by women and minorities – addressing broader issues of gender, identity and politics of the body. Reflecting on a variety of cultural products from around the globe helps us to understand the complex role of food and food-related-activities in our life. An intersectional feminist approach will frame class discussions and several sessions on the current issues related to gender and food, such as eating disorders and orthorexia, will be included. Instructed by

Calamita

Francesca
Associate Professor of Italian & Director of UVA in Siena and Florence
[email protected]

I am a feminist scholar with a passion for travelling, tasting new cultures and learning different languages; I have been inspired by a variety of empowering women from several countries during my academic career and life to become the professor and person I am today. I work in the area of women, gender and sexuality in European and global contexts, and I am internationally recognised for my publications on the fictional depiction of eating disorders and other complex relationships with body and food in Italian literature and culture. Women’s voices and visibility are at the centre of my research and teaching and I am a strong advocate of for women’s rights in and outside the university context. I was born in Italy, where I continue to spend much time during breaks, and have lived in a number of countries, including New Zealand - where I earned my PhD -, a place which has become part of my identity and where I am proud to have part of my academic whānau [Māori for family]. My stays in the Middle East and my extensive travelling around Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands have taught me that seeing the world widens your horizons and transforms you into a better version of yourself; the best way you have to connect with another culture is to learn its language; words matter and the way they are used can tell you much about societies and their challenges. I became a university professor to empower students in their journey to knowledge and to attempt to create a fairer world with them. My teaching philosophy can be summarised in these words of this quote by Toni Morrison: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else”.  I look forward to teaching “Food for Global Feminist Thought” in the Engagements, sharing my knowledge and passions, and helping first-year students to critically reflects on feminist issues around the world and how we can free and empower others around us. Will you help me to break the glass ceiling?

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1530: Race, Racism, Colony, and Nation

EGMT 1530: Race, Racism, Colony, and Nation

What do the American Revolution and Black Lives Matter have in common? What happened between the 1776 declaration that “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” and the 1857 Supreme Court ruling that the black man had "no rights which the white man was bound to respect?” In what ways can the 1950s era civil rights slogan, “I Am A Man,” be considered a declaration? What’s required to connect Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson or Baltimore to colonial resistance to the king sending “swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance?”[1] As a component of a series of scholarly engagements, this course is committed to cultivating an approach to human differences that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry and civic participation. This course is concerned with the ways in which racial differences shape American history, life, and culture.  In particular, we will frame our questions using the metaphor of the colony and the nation. The prevailing story of America is one of transformation from a colony into one nation, as its people transformed from subjects to citizens. Yet, the transformative properties of American democracy were racially precise: white freedom co-existing with/based upon black subjection. How does racial difference inform our view of America today? How might the American Revolution be considered incomplete? What aspects of our racial divide can be explained by the colony versus nation metaphor? How did/do ethics, science, media and creative expression reflect the idea that our nation is not so “indivisible” after all? These are the type of questions and conflicts that interest this course. Through close reading, shared experience, small group work, and other assignments, this course encourages you to craft, share, and discard your interpretations of the ever-growing collection of cultural narratives and social experiences marked by white supremacy, racial difference and/or bias. [1] The Declaration of Independence. Instructed by

Woolfork

Lisa
Associate Professor of English
[email protected]

The College Fellows program appealed to me because I am committed to pedagogical notions that fuel successful humanities courses: rigor, spirited inquiry, and techniques that open up spaces for collaborative learning. I believe that the best teaching combines the inspiration of art, sometimes painstaking craft, and a dash of magic – those indiscernible elements of classroom interaction that elevate what could have been flat dialogue into experiences that reside in memory long after the class ends. I like to think that students find my classes memorable because I challenge them to engage the subject material in a variety of forms, because I value them and respect their contributions, and because I prioritize the learning enterprise that we’ve committed to embark upon together.

The Engagements provide an opportunity to extend my teaching of African-American literature and culture beyond the scope of the specific field and into the general terrain of understanding difference. For my courses, this will involve a macroscopic view of how racial difference was (and is) constructed in American life. Students entering one of my classes quickly realize that they will be responsible for much of their own learning; as a result, they learn to expand their academic capacity, to take risks, and extend their intellectual reach. As an associate professor of English, I try to create a challenging, engaging and exciting environment that promotes rigor. I seek an atmosphere in which everyone feels free to speak, as well as a space in which students critically connect with the course materials rather than speak solely from personal experience or anecdotes.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

In this course we ask big questions, perhaps among the biggest.  Who am I?  How do I come to be who I am?  How do I know myself?  Can I know myself?  What makes me who I am?  Am I responsible for my own life?  What are my relationships to others?  What are my relationships to my society (societies)?  What are my rights?  What are my obligations?  Does who I am in private say more about me than what I do in public? Can I live a moral life surrounded by immorality?   Should there be a safety net in a society of individuals? If we are indeed individuals, or can be, how do we forge our lives, in our interests and in those of others, toward the public good? This course considers these big questions in order to help us better understand the richness and complexity of individuals and communities. We will reflect on the historical impacts of society on individuals and consider how individuals begin to form societies – or even more important, communities. In particular, we will consider how we as individuals encounter one another in our differences  and what it might mean to pursue a common good. Instructed by

Braun

Tico
Associate Professor of History
[email protected]

I came from Colombia and Mexico to teach the liberal arts in the United States, the nation that knows them best. I have been involved with the liberal arts in my specialized undergraduate courses on Latin American history for more three decades at the University of Virginia. How do hierarchical and deeply conservative societies, we ask, seek to build enduring order? 

The Engagements offer me the opportunity to teach the liberal arts more broadly as ways in which our American and international students can think about themselves and their places in this nation’s democracy and in their expanding globalized world. I view the Engagements as a once-in-a-lifetime classroom opportunity to bring together the often-conflicting views of liberals and conservatives about the central issues of our past, present and future.  A liberal arts education seeks discourse and debate across different ideologies, and it aims to help us understand better those who seem to have ideas that may be different from our own, and thereby to also know ourselves more deeply. 

To make this experience come alive in my first course on Engaging Difference, we will ask about the places of the individual in various societies, in the past and in our contemporary world. This is perhaps one of our richest and deepest concerns, as we create different and overlapping ideas about our individual obligations to others and to the making of a good society. 

 
MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

University towns are dynamic communities where the presence of an institution of higher education can bring benefits of innovation and economic growth. But university towns also have some of the highest rates of income inequality and educational disparity. This Difference Engagement Seminar will focus on instances of the latter and examine the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as a case study. The course will introduce students to their new home town, with particular attention to UVA’s historic role in defining, exacerbating, and trying to mend racial inequality. Instructed by

Schmidt

Jalane
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
[email protected]

My research and teaching is focused upon African diaspora religions of the Caribbean and Latin America, and particularly festivity and ritual. I teach courses which consider the effects of colonization and the slave trade upon religious practice in the Americas. In my book project on 20th c. Cubans’ devotion to their patron saint, I examine religious, racial, and cultural hybridity in the Americas by interpreting the national expansion of this popular cult. In my emerging research, I am investigating how the history of slavery is performed in spirit possession rituals and expressed in material culture. Particularly, I am concerned with how contemporary mediums describe heightened sensory perception as a means for navigating traumatic emotional terrain.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm

Spring 2022

Spring Quarter Three: January 19 – March 15

EGMT 1530: America - A Mythological Take

EGMT 1530: America - A Mythological Take

Human beings seem to have a permanently paradoxical relationship to storytelling. We never know when are we the author of our own stories or merely an actor in a larger story that is unfolding through us. Nowhere is this duality more revealed than in that particular class of stories we call myths. A myth is never simply a story, it is a story that is supernumerary. Myths mark the silhouette of a broader schema of imagination and hold the key to our secret selves. A story of a juvenile boy working hard to escape poverty is just that, a story - repeating this form of narrative on enough occasions makes it into a genre, something that was mastered by the American short story writer Horatio Alger - realizing that this genre captures the collective desires of Americans makes it into a myth. Today, we know this myth as the archetypal case of a rags to riches scenario in which a person through sheer determination, grit, and a little luck, escapes poverty to go on to make immense wealth. We now consider this myth as the most condensed image of the exceptional promise of American freedom. Classicists, novelists, literary critics, anthropologists, politicians, advertisers, and even Instagram influencers, address and mobilize this self-abstracting and repetitious quality of myth in some way or the other, whether to identify the contours of a cultural space, a shared history, or collective desire. In this course, we will build on this understanding of myth to inquire into the nature of identity and difference in contemporary America. It is the premise of the course that something of the density and possessive hold of identities (of whatever form) can be understood by following the skein of myths that become dear to a collectivity. Practically, the course counterintuitively explores America, the land that birthed the freedom of pragmatism, as a place of such overlapping and clashing narrative universes. Our course will begin with addressing the relation between mythical time and historical time, following which, we will briefly explore three significant mythological clusters that have determined the dynamics of social life in America: the lure of the ‘American Dream’, the racial legacies of chattel slavery, and the sovereign claim to land by indigenous populations. The course will aim to hone in on the permissible mythological narratives that provide richness to these forms of collective experiences. Instructed by

Bagaria

Swayam
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.

TBD
EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

This course will examine how objects can be used to shape (or distort) our understanding of other cultures, and how stories about societies, nations, and ethnic groups are formed around collections of objects and artworks. This way of encountering others can illuminate the differences and similarities between cultures and result in a deeper, more tangible connection across humanity that yields greater appreciation and understanding. However, there are also several challenges in this process. Museums are generally how we access objects from cultures and civilizations from around the world. How do museums handle objects that were stolen or looted? How do displays confront or enforce racial stereotypes? What aspects of a society are being highlighted or hidden and how does this change the story being told about them and our engagement with them? How do those in power represent those without power? How do those without power represent themselves? In this course we will learn to distinguish how objects have been used in museum collections, exhibitions, and displays to tell stories about various groups of people. We will learn to detect gaps in what is presented. We will recognize bias in the presentation of objects from other cultures. We will engage with the questions museums are struggling with today: Can we display objects from other cultures without our own cultural bias? How can voices from other cultures be represented in the display of their art/artifacts? What does it mean for these objects to speak for themselves? From paintings, textiles, tribal masks, Chinese vases, and ancient sculptures and sarcophagi to looted menorahs and slave shackles, we will see how objects can tell us about their creators, users, and collectors. We will reflect on how some of our own possessions can reveal aspects of our identity, as well as doing hands-on work to examine how historical objects have been used to tell the story of UVA. Instructed by

Smith

Wendy
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TBD
EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

What do global feminism and food have in common? Why are food and gender often interrelated? How does food contribute to politicized discourses on a wide range of bodies and bodily identities? What could eating disorders have in common with the patriarchy? Could food help with escaping social roles and constraints? In this course we will focus on close readings of the symbolic meaning of food across a variety of countries and cultures in in-translation narratives, films, TV series and advertisements – with an emphasis on materials created by women and minorities – addressing broader issues of gender, identity and politics of the body. Reflecting on a variety of cultural products from around the globe helps us to understand the complex role of food and food-related-activities in our life. An intersectional feminist approach will frame class discussions and several sessions on the current issues related to gender and food, such as eating disorders and orthorexia, will be included. Instructed by

Calamita

Francesca
Associate Professor of Italian & Director of UVA in Siena and Florence
[email protected]

I am a feminist scholar with a passion for travelling, tasting new cultures and learning different languages; I have been inspired by a variety of empowering women from several countries during my academic career and life to become the professor and person I am today. I work in the area of women, gender and sexuality in European and global contexts, and I am internationally recognised for my publications on the fictional depiction of eating disorders and other complex relationships with body and food in Italian literature and culture. Women’s voices and visibility are at the centre of my research and teaching and I am a strong advocate of for women’s rights in and outside the university context. I was born in Italy, where I continue to spend much time during breaks, and have lived in a number of countries, including New Zealand - where I earned my PhD -, a place which has become part of my identity and where I am proud to have part of my academic whānau [Māori for family]. My stays in the Middle East and my extensive travelling around Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands have taught me that seeing the world widens your horizons and transforms you into a better version of yourself; the best way you have to connect with another culture is to learn its language; words matter and the way they are used can tell you much about societies and their challenges. I became a university professor to empower students in their journey to knowledge and to attempt to create a fairer world with them. My teaching philosophy can be summarised in these words of this quote by Toni Morrison: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else”.  I look forward to teaching “Food for Global Feminist Thought” in the Engagements, sharing my knowledge and passions, and helping first-year students to critically reflects on feminist issues around the world and how we can free and empower others around us. Will you help me to break the glass ceiling?

TBD
EGMT 1530: Taboo and Transgression

EGMT 1530: Taboo and Transgression

The idea of something that is too repulsive or too sacred for ordinary life to withstand is one of those slippery ideas that is both very common and yet hard to get a firm of grasp on. Starting in the late 19th-century, the word taboo was used to describe these prohibitions. This concept became a central one for theorists from a wide range of academic disciplines. All kinds of thinkers, from psychoanalysts and anthropologists to philosophers and poets, began to study these prohibitions as a means to formulate their ideas of what separated human civilization from the natural world. This course uses the concept of taboo, and the transgression of these taboos, as a way to pose a series of questions: 1) what kinds of rules and regulations shape the world we live in, 2) how do these prohibitions produce and negotiate human difference, 3) how and why is there inequality in the enforcement of these rules, 4) why are taboos so often attached to sexuality and sexual difference, 5) what dangers, and what possibilities, are inherent within the concept of transgression? We will navigate a wide historical and cultural field to examine how these concepts produce challenges in our communication across cultural boundaries but can also be instrumental in the formation of communities and offer the possibility of new, and perhaps more egalitarian, social arrangements. The course is divided into four sections. Each section is themed, with the intent of building up a shared set of terms and ideas. Our work will be interdisciplinary in nature, both in terms of the academic disciplines of our readings (from psychoanalysis, philosophy, critical race theory, queer theory, anthropology, trans studies, etc.) but also through our engagements with various genres, using fiction, film and the visual arts. Instructed by

Wolfson

Alex
[email protected]

I am a scholar of modern and contemporary philosophy, with specialization in gender, sexuality, and trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the study of science and technology. My writing and teaching range across areas of focus, with topics such as the examination of sexuality in the modern philosophy of religion, to the relationship between cybernetics and transgender identity. What binds the various aspects of my work is an overarching concern in the theoretical and political implications of how sexual identity forms and challenges not only our assumptions concerning gender and sexuality but also our more widespread assumptions concerning subjectivity and embodiment.

As a College Fellow I am eager to use my interdisciplinary training to offer Engagement courses that lie at the intersections between philosophical thought and urgent social and political questions and concerns. For me, the classroom should be a site to develop skills that allow us to interrogate our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and the world. It should be a site to learn skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, as well as a means to foster the imagination and develop one’s passions.

My doctoral work at the University of Chicago examined the role of transness within 19th-and-20th philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other medical-technological discourses. I have continued this work in articles and co-edited special issues in journals such as in Imago and Transgender Studies Quarterly. I have, as well, organized conferences on topics such as Freud and Archeology (Warburg Institute, 2019) and Foucault and Religion (University of Chicago, 2018). My current research continues my examination of transness within continental philosophy and critical theory, as well as new projects looking at the role of sexuality and gender in cybernetics, and an ongoing project examining dreams within the history of philosophy. My dedication to thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner has roots in my training and practice as an artist and a writer.

TBD
EGMT 1530: Taboo and Transgression

EGMT 1530: Taboo and Transgression

The idea of something that is too repulsive or too sacred for ordinary life to withstand is one of those slippery ideas that is both very common and yet hard to get a firm of grasp on. Starting in the late 19th-century, the word taboo was used to describe these prohibitions. This concept became a central one for theorists from a wide range of academic disciplines. All kinds of thinkers, from psychoanalysts and anthropologists to philosophers and poets, began to study these prohibitions as a means to formulate their ideas of what separated human civilization from the natural world. This course uses the concept of taboo, and the transgression of these taboos, as a way to pose a series of questions: 1) what kinds of rules and regulations shape the world we live in, 2) how do these prohibitions produce and negotiate human difference, 3) how and why is there inequality in the enforcement of these rules, 4) why are taboos so often attached to sexuality and sexual difference, 5) what dangers, and what possibilities, are inherent within the concept of transgression? We will navigate a wide historical and cultural field to examine how these concepts produce challenges in our communication across cultural boundaries but can also be instrumental in the formation of communities and offer the possibility of new, and perhaps more egalitarian, social arrangements. The course is divided into four sections. Each section is themed, with the intent of building up a shared set of terms and ideas. Our work will be interdisciplinary in nature, both in terms of the academic disciplines of our readings (from psychoanalysis, philosophy, critical race theory, queer theory, anthropology, trans studies, etc.) but also through our engagements with various genres, using fiction, film and the visual arts. Instructed by

Wolfson

Alex
[email protected]

I am a scholar of modern and contemporary philosophy, with specialization in gender, sexuality, and trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the study of science and technology. My writing and teaching range across areas of focus, with topics such as the examination of sexuality in the modern philosophy of religion, to the relationship between cybernetics and transgender identity. What binds the various aspects of my work is an overarching concern in the theoretical and political implications of how sexual identity forms and challenges not only our assumptions concerning gender and sexuality but also our more widespread assumptions concerning subjectivity and embodiment.

As a College Fellow I am eager to use my interdisciplinary training to offer Engagement courses that lie at the intersections between philosophical thought and urgent social and political questions and concerns. For me, the classroom should be a site to develop skills that allow us to interrogate our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and the world. It should be a site to learn skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, as well as a means to foster the imagination and develop one’s passions.

My doctoral work at the University of Chicago examined the role of transness within 19th-and-20th philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other medical-technological discourses. I have continued this work in articles and co-edited special issues in journals such as in Imago and Transgender Studies Quarterly. I have, as well, organized conferences on topics such as Freud and Archeology (Warburg Institute, 2019) and Foucault and Religion (University of Chicago, 2018). My current research continues my examination of transness within continental philosophy and critical theory, as well as new projects looking at the role of sexuality and gender in cybernetics, and an ongoing project examining dreams within the history of philosophy. My dedication to thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner has roots in my training and practice as an artist and a writer.

TBD
EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

In this course we ask big questions, perhaps among the biggest.  Who am I?  How do I come to be who I am?  How do I know myself?  Can I know myself?  What makes me who I am?  Am I responsible for my own life?  What are my relationships to others?  What are my relationships to my society (societies)?  What are my rights?  What are my obligations?  Does who I am in private say more about me than what I do in public? Can I live a moral life surrounded by immorality?   Should there be a safety net in a society of individuals? If we are indeed individuals, or can be, how do we forge our lives, in our interests and in those of others, toward the public good? This course considers these big questions in order to help us better understand the richness and complexity of individuals and communities. We will reflect on the historical impacts of society on individuals and consider how individuals begin to form societies – or even more important, communities. In particular, we will consider how we as individuals encounter one another in our differences  and what it might mean to pursue a common good. Instructed by

Braun

Tico
Associate Professor of History
[email protected]

I came from Colombia and Mexico to teach the liberal arts in the United States, the nation that knows them best. I have been involved with the liberal arts in my specialized undergraduate courses on Latin American history for more three decades at the University of Virginia. How do hierarchical and deeply conservative societies, we ask, seek to build enduring order? 

The Engagements offer me the opportunity to teach the liberal arts more broadly as ways in which our American and international students can think about themselves and their places in this nation’s democracy and in their expanding globalized world. I view the Engagements as a once-in-a-lifetime classroom opportunity to bring together the often-conflicting views of liberals and conservatives about the central issues of our past, present and future.  A liberal arts education seeks discourse and debate across different ideologies, and it aims to help us understand better those who seem to have ideas that may be different from our own, and thereby to also know ourselves more deeply. 

To make this experience come alive in my first course on Engaging Difference, we will ask about the places of the individual in various societies, in the past and in our contemporary world. This is perhaps one of our richest and deepest concerns, as we create different and overlapping ideas about our individual obligations to others and to the making of a good society. 

 
TBD
EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

University towns are dynamic communities where the presence of an institution of higher education can bring benefits of innovation and economic growth. But university towns also have some of the highest rates of income inequality and educational disparity. This Difference Engagement Seminar will focus on instances of the latter and examine the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as a case study. The course will introduce students to their new home town, with particular attention to UVA’s historic role in defining, exacerbating, and trying to mend racial inequality. Instructed by

Schmidt

Jalane
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
[email protected]

My research and teaching is focused upon African diaspora religions of the Caribbean and Latin America, and particularly festivity and ritual. I teach courses which consider the effects of colonization and the slave trade upon religious practice in the Americas. In my book project on 20th c. Cubans’ devotion to their patron saint, I examine religious, racial, and cultural hybridity in the Americas by interpreting the national expansion of this popular cult. In my emerging research, I am investigating how the history of slavery is performed in spirit possession rituals and expressed in material culture. Particularly, I am concerned with how contemporary mediums describe heightened sensory perception as a means for navigating traumatic emotional terrain.

TBD

Spring Quarter Four: March 16 – May 3

EGMT 1530: "Hateinnany": Fascism, Antifascism, and the Global Far Right

EGMT 1530: "Hateinnany": Fascism, Antifascism, and the Global Far Right

The 2010s saw an explosion of interest in the growth of the global far right. From the rise to power of right-wing populists like Narendra Modi in India, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Boris Johnson in Great Britain, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and of course Donald Trump in America, to a spate of anti-immigrant shootings across the developed world, to the deadly violence at the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, the power and influence of far-right politics has been one of the defining features of the past decade. But the far right did not just suddenly form ex nihilio in the 2010s. In this course we will explore the development and growth of the far right around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a particular emphasis on how dynamics of power shape differences in the world and how social inequities are produced and patterned along lines of difference. This is not a comprehensive class – it is not possible to exhaustively explore every dimension of the international far right in the course of a single semester – so we will be focusing primarily on Western Europe and North America, but paying close attention to the concept of “empire,” its importance in the right-wing imagination in imperial states, and the impact of decolonization on far-right politics and what develops into the self-described “white power” movement at the end of the century. Instructed by

Walsh

David
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I’m a historian who studies politics, culture, and political economy. I research and write about the far right and conservative politics in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and the relationship between those forms of politics in America with broader global movements. I’m currently working on turning my PhD dissertation into a book manuscript.

As a teacher, I am committed to providing my students with support and mentorship to help them succeed in my classroom. I encourage my students to ask questions and work collaboratively to create a welcoming and intellectually challenging classroom environment. I am trained as an historian, which means I’m interesting in unpacking assumptions about the past and its relationship to the present. The past, as someone once said, is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

I’m excited about the Engagements program because it’s a great opportunity for all of us—faculty and students alike—to learn together in the best tradition of the liberal arts curriculum. I am committed to providing my students an education grounded in both the ability to critically analyze evidence, because these skills are necessary for our society to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

TBD
EGMT 1530: America - A Mythological Take

EGMT 1530: America - A Mythological Take

Human beings seem to have a permanently paradoxical relationship to storytelling. We never know when are we the author of our own stories or merely an actor in a larger story that is unfolding through us. Nowhere is this duality more revealed than in that particular class of stories we call myths. A myth is never simply a story, it is a story that is supernumerary. Myths mark the silhouette of a broader schema of imagination and hold the key to our secret selves. A story of a juvenile boy working hard to escape poverty is just that, a story - repeating this form of narrative on enough occasions makes it into a genre, something that was mastered by the American short story writer Horatio Alger - realizing that this genre captures the collective desires of Americans makes it into a myth. Today, we know this myth as the archetypal case of a rags to riches scenario in which a person through sheer determination, grit, and a little luck, escapes poverty to go on to make immense wealth. We now consider this myth as the most condensed image of the exceptional promise of American freedom. Classicists, novelists, literary critics, anthropologists, politicians, advertisers, and even Instagram influencers, address and mobilize this self-abstracting and repetitious quality of myth in some way or the other, whether to identify the contours of a cultural space, a shared history, or collective desire. In this course, we will build on this understanding of myth to inquire into the nature of identity and difference in contemporary America. It is the premise of the course that something of the density and possessive hold of identities (of whatever form) can be understood by following the skein of myths that become dear to a collectivity. Practically, the course counterintuitively explores America, the land that birthed the freedom of pragmatism, as a place of such overlapping and clashing narrative universes. Our course will begin with addressing the relation between mythical time and historical time, following which, we will briefly explore three significant mythological clusters that have determined the dynamics of social life in America: the lure of the ‘American Dream’, the racial legacies of chattel slavery, and the sovereign claim to land by indigenous populations. The course will aim to hone in on the permissible mythological narratives that provide richness to these forms of collective experiences. Instructed by

Bagaria

Swayam
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.

TBD
EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

This course will examine how objects can be used to shape (or distort) our understanding of other cultures, and how stories about societies, nations, and ethnic groups are formed around collections of objects and artworks. This way of encountering others can illuminate the differences and similarities between cultures and result in a deeper, more tangible connection across humanity that yields greater appreciation and understanding. However, there are also several challenges in this process. Museums are generally how we access objects from cultures and civilizations from around the world. How do museums handle objects that were stolen or looted? How do displays confront or enforce racial stereotypes? What aspects of a society are being highlighted or hidden and how does this change the story being told about them and our engagement with them? How do those in power represent those without power? How do those without power represent themselves? In this course we will learn to distinguish how objects have been used in museum collections, exhibitions, and displays to tell stories about various groups of people. We will learn to detect gaps in what is presented. We will recognize bias in the presentation of objects from other cultures. We will engage with the questions museums are struggling with today: Can we display objects from other cultures without our own cultural bias? How can voices from other cultures be represented in the display of their art/artifacts? What does it mean for these objects to speak for themselves? From paintings, textiles, tribal masks, Chinese vases, and ancient sculptures and sarcophagi to looted menorahs and slave shackles, we will see how objects can tell us about their creators, users, and collectors. We will reflect on how some of our own possessions can reveal aspects of our identity, as well as doing hands-on work to examine how historical objects have been used to tell the story of UVA. Instructed by

Smith

Wendy
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TBD
EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

This course will examine how objects can be used to shape (or distort) our understanding of other cultures, and how stories about societies, nations, and ethnic groups are formed around collections of objects and artworks. This way of encountering others can illuminate the differences and similarities between cultures and result in a deeper, more tangible connection across humanity that yields greater appreciation and understanding. However, there are also several challenges in this process. Museums are generally how we access objects from cultures and civilizations from around the world. How do museums handle objects that were stolen or looted? How do displays confront or enforce racial stereotypes? What aspects of a society are being highlighted or hidden and how does this change the story being told about them and our engagement with them? How do those in power represent those without power? How do those without power represent themselves? In this course we will learn to distinguish how objects have been used in museum collections, exhibitions, and displays to tell stories about various groups of people. We will learn to detect gaps in what is presented. We will recognize bias in the presentation of objects from other cultures. We will engage with the questions museums are struggling with today: Can we display objects from other cultures without our own cultural bias? How can voices from other cultures be represented in the display of their art/artifacts? What does it mean for these objects to speak for themselves? From paintings, textiles, tribal masks, Chinese vases, and ancient sculptures and sarcophagi to looted menorahs and slave shackles, we will see how objects can tell us about their creators, users, and collectors. We will reflect on how some of our own possessions can reveal aspects of our identity, as well as doing hands-on work to examine how historical objects have been used to tell the story of UVA. Instructed by

Smith

Wendy
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TBD
EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

EGMT 1530: Food for Global Feminist Thought

What do global feminism and food have in common? Why are food and gender often interrelated? How does food contribute to politicized discourses on a wide range of bodies and bodily identities? What could eating disorders have in common with the patriarchy? Could food help with escaping social roles and constraints? In this course we will focus on close readings of the symbolic meaning of food across a variety of countries and cultures in in-translation narratives, films, TV series and advertisements – with an emphasis on materials created by women and minorities – addressing broader issues of gender, identity and politics of the body. Reflecting on a variety of cultural products from around the globe helps us to understand the complex role of food and food-related-activities in our life. An intersectional feminist approach will frame class discussions and several sessions on the current issues related to gender and food, such as eating disorders and orthorexia, will be included. Instructed by

Calamita

Francesca
Associate Professor of Italian & Director of UVA in Siena and Florence
[email protected]

I am a feminist scholar with a passion for travelling, tasting new cultures and learning different languages; I have been inspired by a variety of empowering women from several countries during my academic career and life to become the professor and person I am today. I work in the area of women, gender and sexuality in European and global contexts, and I am internationally recognised for my publications on the fictional depiction of eating disorders and other complex relationships with body and food in Italian literature and culture. Women’s voices and visibility are at the centre of my research and teaching and I am a strong advocate of for women’s rights in and outside the university context. I was born in Italy, where I continue to spend much time during breaks, and have lived in a number of countries, including New Zealand - where I earned my PhD -, a place which has become part of my identity and where I am proud to have part of my academic whānau [Māori for family]. My stays in the Middle East and my extensive travelling around Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands have taught me that seeing the world widens your horizons and transforms you into a better version of yourself; the best way you have to connect with another culture is to learn its language; words matter and the way they are used can tell you much about societies and their challenges. I became a university professor to empower students in their journey to knowledge and to attempt to create a fairer world with them. My teaching philosophy can be summarised in these words of this quote by Toni Morrison: “If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else”.  I look forward to teaching “Food for Global Feminist Thought” in the Engagements, sharing my knowledge and passions, and helping first-year students to critically reflects on feminist issues around the world and how we can free and empower others around us. Will you help me to break the glass ceiling?

TBD
EGMT 1530: How Cities Remember

EGMT 1530: How Cities Remember

How do cities remember? How do buildings, monuments and spaces become ways in which cities negotiate their past and position in history? Who makes decision about what should be remembered and forgotten? This course explores how memory shapes urban life. We explore how cities craft their self-image, express desires, attempt to heal and create cohesion, and explore their future through their biographies and commemoration of their past. We also investigate how and why cities choose to forget, erase aspects of their past or rewrite it. We seek to account for all the actors involved in these acts of remembrance from individuals to local communities, informal and formal organizations and the State. We are particularly interested in exploring different, overlapping or conflicting ways in which individuals and groups map their memories in the urban fabric. Examples will be drawn from ancient and modern sites across the globe with special attention to Charlottesville. Instructed by

Kondyli

Foteini
Assistant Professor of Byzantine Art & Archaeology
[email protected]

 

Studying the past is like trying to do a big puzzle with only a few pieces and without knowing what the final picture should look like. It involves bringing to light artifacts that remained hidden and forgotten for centuries and drawing connections with the people who made them and used them in the past. I study the social and material lives of the Byzantines, who were the heirs of the Roman Empire and lived in the eastern Mediterranean during the Middle Ages (4th-15th c. AD). In my research I strive to give a voice to ordinary people and seek to reintroduce them to the historical narrative as equally important in shaping the Medieval world as mighty kings and queens. For example, while Byzantine cities are considered the outcome of imperial will and patronage, I examine the inhabitants’ role in city making and search for evidence that points to their active participation in building, managing and defending their cities.  I am also interested in asking questions about the past that resonate with modern experiences. For example, I seek to understand how people in the Medieval period dealt with major political and economic crises and built resilient communities.  Such connections between past and present and between human behavior and agency drive the questions in my engagements course on how cities remember. We focus on people’s active participation in remembering, forgetting and rewriting the past and explore how their memories and life histories shape urban life.

As an active archaeologist, I have worked in field projects in numerous countries including Greece, Turkey, Albania, Germany and the UK and I routinely take select students with me in the field to conduct archaeological and archival research.  In the classroom, regardless of the course, I invite my students to think like archaeologists, discover clues and understand how they fit together, critically analyze data, build strong arguments based on evidence and imagine overlapping, even conflicting, interpretations of their data. As a Digital Humanist, I am also committed to enhancing student digital literacy by training students in digital tools such as digital mapping, video games, 3D modelling and Virtual Reality applications.  These tools afford opportunities to explore the past, understand human behavior and share our findings with a wider audience in new and engaging ways.

TBD
EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

In this course we ask big questions, perhaps among the biggest.  Who am I?  How do I come to be who I am?  How do I know myself?  Can I know myself?  What makes me who I am?  Am I responsible for my own life?  What are my relationships to others?  What are my relationships to my society (societies)?  What are my rights?  What are my obligations?  Does who I am in private say more about me than what I do in public? Can I live a moral life surrounded by immorality?   Should there be a safety net in a society of individuals? If we are indeed individuals, or can be, how do we forge our lives, in our interests and in those of others, toward the public good? This course considers these big questions in order to help us better understand the richness and complexity of individuals and communities. We will reflect on the historical impacts of society on individuals and consider how individuals begin to form societies – or even more important, communities. In particular, we will consider how we as individuals encounter one another in our differences  and what it might mean to pursue a common good. Instructed by

Braun

Tico
Associate Professor of History
[email protected]

I came from Colombia and Mexico to teach the liberal arts in the United States, the nation that knows them best. I have been involved with the liberal arts in my specialized undergraduate courses on Latin American history for more three decades at the University of Virginia. How do hierarchical and deeply conservative societies, we ask, seek to build enduring order? 

The Engagements offer me the opportunity to teach the liberal arts more broadly as ways in which our American and international students can think about themselves and their places in this nation’s democracy and in their expanding globalized world. I view the Engagements as a once-in-a-lifetime classroom opportunity to bring together the often-conflicting views of liberals and conservatives about the central issues of our past, present and future.  A liberal arts education seeks discourse and debate across different ideologies, and it aims to help us understand better those who seem to have ideas that may be different from our own, and thereby to also know ourselves more deeply. 

To make this experience come alive in my first course on Engaging Difference, we will ask about the places of the individual in various societies, in the past and in our contemporary world. This is perhaps one of our richest and deepest concerns, as we create different and overlapping ideas about our individual obligations to others and to the making of a good society. 

 
TBD
EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

EGMT 1530: Town & Gown

University towns are dynamic communities where the presence of an institution of higher education can bring benefits of innovation and economic growth. But university towns also have some of the highest rates of income inequality and educational disparity. This Difference Engagement Seminar will focus on instances of the latter and examine the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as a case study. The course will introduce students to their new home town, with particular attention to UVA’s historic role in defining, exacerbating, and trying to mend racial inequality. Instructed by

Schmidt

Jalane
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
[email protected]

My research and teaching is focused upon African diaspora religions of the Caribbean and Latin America, and particularly festivity and ritual. I teach courses which consider the effects of colonization and the slave trade upon religious practice in the Americas. In my book project on 20th c. Cubans’ devotion to their patron saint, I examine religious, racial, and cultural hybridity in the Americas by interpreting the national expansion of this popular cult. In my emerging research, I am investigating how the history of slavery is performed in spirit possession rituals and expressed in material culture. Particularly, I am concerned with how contemporary mediums describe heightened sensory perception as a means for navigating traumatic emotional terrain.

TBD

EGMT 1540: Ethical Engagement

Fall 2021

Fall Quarter One: August 24 – October 13

EGMT 1540: Climate Change and the History of the Future

EGMT 1540: Climate Change and the History of the Future

Climate change is here. We know beyond doubt that human systems are affecting planetary processes, with consequences spanning generations, centuries, and millennia. Our sense of time is jumbling. We must think about the effects of climate change on the great-great-great-great grandchildren of those alive today, and beyond them, and simultaneously about the immediate suffering hundreds of millions, even billions, as global climate transforms. “Progress” will not save us. And who is “us” anyway, given that present action or inaction will affect humans and nonhumans into the distant future, even as the immediate consequences will fall most heavily on those who have done little or nothing to bring this crisis on? While the risks are clear, we have more questions than answers about how to respond. How can we know that climate change is upon us and yet fail to act with the purpose and speed required to avoid worst effects? What do we make of persistent climate denial? Have we become collectively stupid? What does this say about “rationality?” Are we at a civilizational turning point? Such questions are the stuff of science, economics, and politics. They are also a matter of moral and ethical inquiry. Climatologists can tell us how planetary systems work. Policy makers can propose solutions, or at least approaches. But they do not speak to values, how we think about them and how we consider human and non-human others in the story we are just beginning to tell of climate disruption. This is history on the march. Yet we have no broad consensus on what must be done, by whom, or at what pace, even as every year of delay worsens long-term prospects. Are individual actions pointless? What is it that makes concerted action in the face of existential risk so difficult? While we can accept intellectually that change is upon is, what would it be to accept it emotionally? Is optimism necessary for action? Do we need to become very afraid? Part of the challenge is the scale of things. What do global capitalism, economic growth, the fossil fuel industry, and consumerism have to do with it all? Is “degrowth” or “steady-state economics” an answer? Or are we condemned to more of the same? Is it possible to lead a good life in the era of climate change amidst mass suffering? What would it be to respond compassionately to millions of climate refugees? What about the fact that we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction event? Perhaps we need a different sense of historical time. Do future lives (human and non-human) matter less than our immediate desires? Can we learn to be good ancestors? Does the Anthropocene (the term proposed for a new geological age in which humans shape Earth systems) affect how human societies think about time? Does it help to consider our moment and coming years as the history of the future? This course will ask such questions through the ideas and visions of scientists, historians, journalists, novelists, ethicists, activists, and filmmakers to suggest how important it is that as many of us as possible learn to talk knowledgeably and passionately about what scholars have called “the perfect moral storm.” During our 7 weeks, you will: • Become conversant with climate change as a broad, scientifically-established phenomenon. • Learn about the idea of the Anthropocene as a scientific term with moral, social, and political implications. • Learn the sources and reasons for climate change denial. • Learn to recognize, criticize, and make ethical and political arguments regarding climate change. • Seek points of historical comparison that might speak to the magnitude of the challenge humanity faces. • Consider how people across the planet may experience the reality and threat of climate change very differently, according to race, gender, class, and nationality. • Learn to talk about climate change as an existential challenge. This course will be driven by conversation and will emphasize oral presentation and argumentation. • Think about what “historical time” is in relation to climate change and consider whether “historical consciousness” might be reframed as a way of thinking about Earth-Human (Terran?) history. Instructed by

Owensby

Brian
Professor of History

Brian Owensby is professor of history in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.  His scholarly work has ranged from social and political history in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Brazil to legal and imperial history in seventeenth-century Mexico.  Current research includes historiography and historical theory from a Brazilian perspective and a book-length project on the Jesuit New World synthesis of the eighteenth century as a counterpoint to Eurocentric accounts of modernity.  He has taught a variety of courses large and small to undergraduates, including a Global History class, and is supervising several graduate students.  He served as chair of the Corcoran Department of History from 2009 to 2012.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1540: Enforcement

EGMT 1540: Enforcement

This class examines the concept of ‘enforcement’ from different perspectives and from various disciplines, genres, and media. From parents enforcing household rules, to the legitimacy of the police, we will ask how conflicting ideas of enforcement alter and determine the way we think about issues such as regulation, agency, and power. We will examine whether all possible social arrangements include an element of enforcement? If they do, what does that say about human social relations? If not, what would a society without enforcement look like? Is enforcement something to be overcome, or a necessary aspect of human social existence? The class will begin with an examination of various philosophical accounts of discipline and punishment, as well as historical analyses and cultural artifacts—from contemporary issues such as face-mask regulations to more long-standing issues such as the enforcement of norms through popular culture. Using this shared background, we will engage ethical questions that concern race, gender, and sexuality. We will be guided by questions concerning different theories of ‘enforcement’ as a concept, in order to examine, in a concrete way, the social and political experience of enforcement in the world today. We will, for example, use our theoretical readings to develop explorative projects concerning different elements of enforcement in the ever-changing political landscape of our contemporary era. Instructed by

Wolfson

Alex
[email protected]

I am a scholar of modern and contemporary philosophy, with specialization in gender, sexuality, and trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the study of science and technology. My writing and teaching range across areas of focus, with topics such as the examination of sexuality in the modern philosophy of religion, to the relationship between cybernetics and transgender identity. What binds the various aspects of my work is an overarching concern in the theoretical and political implications of how sexual identity forms and challenges not only our assumptions concerning gender and sexuality but also our more widespread assumptions concerning subjectivity and embodiment.

As a College Fellow I am eager to use my interdisciplinary training to offer Engagement courses that lie at the intersections between philosophical thought and urgent social and political questions and concerns. For me, the classroom should be a site to develop skills that allow us to interrogate our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and the world. It should be a site to learn skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, as well as a means to foster the imagination and develop one’s passions.

My doctoral work at the University of Chicago examined the role of transness within 19th-and-20th philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other medical-technological discourses. I have continued this work in articles and co-edited special issues in journals such as in Imago and Transgender Studies Quarterly. I have, as well, organized conferences on topics such as Freud and Archeology (Warburg Institute, 2019) and Foucault and Religion (University of Chicago, 2018). My current research continues my examination of transness within continental philosophy and critical theory, as well as new projects looking at the role of sexuality and gender in cybernetics, and an ongoing project examining dreams within the history of philosophy. My dedication to thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner has roots in my training and practice as an artist and a writer.

MW 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1540: Lying

EGMT 1540: Lying

This course will introduce the students to the idea of lying. Rather than approach lying as easily distinguishable from the idea of truth, the course will delve into a more murkier zone and ask how the idea of lying is related to other ideas in its neighborhood such as bad faith, misleading, trickery, counterfeit, fraud, ignorance, secrecy, or false implication. We will cover a representative of hypothetical and real-world scenarios that will enable the students to discern the nuances of speech and expression and better distinguish lies from contested ideas of truth as well as other forms of deception. Readings will comprise weekly case studies which will cover over a variety of examples ranging from simple thought experiments that philosophers mobilize to make their arguments to real world instances of politics and contemporary issues of media bias. Some questions that the class will consider include: What does it mean to be true to ourselves? What does it mean to gain public trust and how does it relate to personal measures of truth telling? Do politicians lie or do they deceive and how does this difference matter? Is one lying when one’s opinion is based on misinformation? Is lying always morally wrong? Short exercises in interpretation of stylized dilemmas, excerpts from literary works, philosophical passages and public speech will accompany the weekly case studies. Instructed by

Bagaria

Swayam
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.

MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

The world is flat. Vaccines cause autism. Climate change is a hoax. So is coronavirus. The deep state is conspiring against the president. The Mafia assassinated JFK. No, it was the CIA. Or LBJ. Or was it the Soviets and Fidel Castro? No matter what we think we know about politics, culture, or even the basics of science, there is a conspiracy theory to tell us that, actually, that’s all wrong and what “they” want you to think. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? What makes something a conspiracy theory? How do you recognize a conspiracy theory when you see one and how do you evaluate its claims? Contrary to popular belief, conspiracy theories are not simply the province of the naïve, foolish, or uneducated; we will look at how conspiracy theories serve as a way for people from all walks of life to make sense of a complicated and often baffling world. In this class, we will consider these questions while examining a number of different conspiracy theories in detail, ranging from old classics like the Knights Templar and alien autopsies to new favorites like Pizzagate, QAnon, and whatever 2021 sees fit to throw at us. We will also think about how conspiracy theories are created and disseminated, particularly in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where anyone who claims to know the truth about anything can find others to subscribe to their views. Given the importance and sheer proliferation of conspiracy theories in our world, how should we respond when we encounter them? And, in an age where we can watch new conspiracy theories form quite literally in real time online, what are our ethical obligations toward the conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking we see in our own social, political, and cultural lives? Instructed by

Ferguson

Andrew
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.

My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.

 
,

Walsh

David
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I’m a historian who studies politics, culture, and political economy. I research and write about the far right and conservative politics in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and the relationship between those forms of politics in America with broader global movements. I’m currently working on turning my PhD dissertation into a book manuscript.

As a teacher, I am committed to providing my students with support and mentorship to help them succeed in my classroom. I encourage my students to ask questions and work collaboratively to create a welcoming and intellectually challenging classroom environment. I am trained as an historian, which means I’m interesting in unpacking assumptions about the past and its relationship to the present. The past, as someone once said, is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

I’m excited about the Engagements program because it’s a great opportunity for all of us—faculty and students alike—to learn together in the best tradition of the liberal arts curriculum. I am committed to providing my students an education grounded in both the ability to critically analyze evidence, because these skills are necessary for our society to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1540: Plastic Everywhere

EGMT 1540: Plastic Everywhere

“There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.” This line from the 1967 film The Graduate captured 20th century promise surrounding this new class of flexible materials. Derived from the Greek plastikos, to mold or form, plastics freed design from the constraints of natural materials. First derived from and imitating biological materials, then later made from petrochemicals seemingly untethered from nature in manner and form, polymeric materials represented a new kind of freedom and flexibility. Over time, plastics became so prevalent in nearly every aspect of life—food, clothing, shelter, high performance materials, medicine, and devices—that we barely notice them. That is, until recently, when their burgeoning waste and ubiquity have become cause for growing alarm: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mae West the synched-waisted snapping turtle, dead fish and birds’ bellies swelled with plastic mistaken for food; microparticles in our waterways from personal care products and laundry microfibers, and in the Alps and Arctic snow by air; in our soil, food, bottled water, bodies and more. Additionally, plastic chemicals—certain monomers, additives and solvents—can be toxic, causing endocrine disruption impacting metabolism, brain function, sexual development and fertility, and other diseases. Some communities are impacted more than others, particularly industrial fence-line communities dubbed sacrifice zones or countries flooded with waste. But with plastics detected in remote locations and chemicals accumulating in our bodies, it seems that no one, nowhere is immune. How did this happen? What can we do about it? Is recycling the answer, bans on single use plastic, plastic bags and straws? Or degradable and renewable materials? These questions and more will be explored in Plastic Everywhere. Human intersections with plastic lifecycles will be investigated from individual, community, and global perspectives, across macro, micro and molecular scales. The ethics of extraction and disposability, environmental health and justice, and sustainability and stewardship will be considered. Instructed by
TR 2:00pm - 3:15pm
EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

“The revolution will not be televised . . .”—Gil Scott-Heron What do you mean when you speak of a “revolution”? Be careful how you answer. People tend to understand that notion very broadly, probably because it excites them to think that they themselves are living in revolutionary times. Today, for example, we speak commonly of an “internet revolution” or an “information revolution.” In this course, however, we will try to be uncompromisingly critical in our examination and in our application of the concept of revolution. The principal question to be asked is: Can I ever be “objective” about a true revolution? Is it really a revolution if I can form a comfortable idea of how it is shaped and where it is headed? Even in the case of instances from the past, must a true revolution not disorient me ethically here and now? Must revolution not open before me the abyss of the strictly Unknown? Using texts, images, film, TV footage, and music (including selections suggested by students), we will examine a wide variety of material: including scientific revolutions, the political revolutions in America, France, and Russia, and several instances of revolutionary ambition that strain the limits of the possible: the Black Panther Party, Nietzsche’s vision, and later Freud’s, of a new intellectual world, Monique Wittig’s idea of a Lesbian revolution. But throughout the session, a focus will be maintained on students’ individual ethical situations, and on their shared ethical situation, the problem of establishing and maintaining a reasonable ethical posture with respect to the American Revolution(s). Instructed by

Bennett

Benjamin
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature
[email protected]

“If you know more when you graduate from college than you did when you started, you have wasted your money.” When I tell this to first-years advisees, I sometimes catch them trying not to roll their eyes.  But roll your eyes all you want, I stand by what I have said, because I speak from experience:  not only my own undergraduate years, but my experience since then as well.  So far I have published twelve books, with two more in the works, on various subjects, including a couple of major German and Austrian writers, history and theory of European drama, history of poetry, highbrow literacy and aesthetics in their relation to totalitarian politics, ethics as a problem, feminism.  And whenever I finish a book—in the moment when I think, “It’s done, anything more will just be tidying up,” in the moment when by rights I should be savoring my achievement—I invariably find that I have only succeeded in bringing more clearly into focus the same basic ignorance that had driven me to write in the first place.

Knowing is fun.  There is no denying the pleasure that comes from knowing—or thinking you know.  But it is probably more important, for life, to get practice in dealing with the condition of not knowing, the condition of uncertainty, of being at sea, and to learn, if possible, to make something of that condition.  I have always thought that such practice or learning is at least a major part of the business of university education, and I have experimented with a number of different ways of incorporating this idea in my teaching.  I look forward to the experiment of Engagement teaching in this spirit.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: Slaves, Strangers, Citizens

EGMT 1540: Slaves, Strangers, Citizens

What does it mean to be a citizen, not in the abstract, but within the world as we have it? And when we invoke ‘we’—as in ‘We the People’—what lies hidden behind that we? Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, echoing definitions from antiquity, defined “citizen” as “a freeman of a city; not a foreigner, not a slave.” This course rethinks the possibilities and dangers of ‘we’ by examining this triad in our lexicon of political life: the citizen, the stranger, and the slave. Influential accounts of liberal arts education continue to insist that the value of such an education lies in its capacity to form citizens. Yet such accounts have often had too little to say about the close links between citizenship, education, and the production of the citizen’s others: the enslaved (who is unfit for such formation) and the alien or migrant (who has been formed or malformed elsewhere). And so we’ll ask: What are the relations among citizenship, slavery, and strangeness? What is citizenship, such that it seems always to bear the traces of these shadow figures, the one who is beyond the community (the stranger) and the one who is bound to the will of another (the slave)? How do the afterlives of modern slavery and settler colonialism shape present day political debates concerning immigration, race, democracy, and justice? And how might attending to the underside of modern citizenship, that is, to the agency and the vantage of those historically excluded from citizenship—especially diasporic Black, Native, and Latinx traditions of thought—enrich our understanding of and participation in democratic life? Bringing together multiple disciplinary fields—including political philosophy, history, literature, religion, and more—our posing of these questions will be inescapably descriptive and constructive, involving questions both of ‘is’ and ‘ought’: in other words, the stakes involved press upon us a risk—the risk of examining how such questions have been posed in the past and exploring how they ought to be taken up in the present. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

There are many things in life we value, and which it seems unproblematic to buy or sell: houses, sweaters, and ice cream, for example.  But there are other things we value, which it seems impossible to buy or sell: love, moral goodness, or happiness, for example.  And there are still others which we can buy or sell, but might think we should not: kidneys, sexual or reproductive labor, ideas, or spiritual goods, for example. Students in this engagement will consider whether there is anything that it is either impossible or wrong to sell.  We will focus on examples from a wide variety of domains and draw on readings from philosophy, religious studies, and fiction.  Our aim throughout will be to understand more clearly the value of the particular goods in question and the role such goods might play in making our own lives good and meaningful. Instructed by

Stangl

Rebecca
Associate Professor of Philosophy
[email protected]

Moral philosophy is my passion, but I strongly believe that ethics is not the sole province of professional philosophers. It is not the sole province of professionals insofar as every reflective human being faces the central ethical question of how best to live, and it is not the sole province of philosophers insofar as we have much to learn from other disciplines about the nature and possibility of value.  My work is therefore situated squarely within the discipline of moral philosophy while at the same time reaching beyond it. 

My particular academic focus is on virtue ethics and bioethics, and my recent articles have appeared in such journals as EthicsPhilosophical Quarterly, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and The Hastings Center Report, as well as edited volumes from Oxford. My current book project – a Neo-Aristotelian account of heroic virtue, ordinary virtue, and the relation between them – is a work of analytic philosophy that also draws on insights from biography, literature, and social psychology.  

What excites me about teaching is drawing from this general approach to ethics to encourage a robust ethical discussion among students. In 2012, I was a recipient of UVA’s All-University Teaching Award.  I welcome the opportunity to reach an even wider audience of students within the intellectual environment that the College Fellows program seeks to cultivate.

MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1540: Who Owns the Earth? Ancient and Modern Perspectives

EGMT 1540: Who Owns the Earth? Ancient and Modern Perspectives

Why do people own land? What exactly do you own when you own land? What are the ethical implications of land ownership? Are there lands that should be owned collectively, or not at all? What is justice for people who have been dispossessed of their land? Can there be justice for the land itself? This course examines these questions and more through ancient and modern case studies of land reform movements. We will examine royal decrees from ancient Mesopotamia, the reforms of the ancient Greek lawmaker Solon, the Biblical tradition of the Jubilee year, and the reforms of Gracchi during the Roman Republic. We will explore how the ethical questions raised in antiquity resonate with modern movements for land justice, such as the Justice for Black Farmers Act and the Indigenous-led #LandBack movement. Alongside these case studies, we will furthermore consider the implications of our own habitation, as individuals with and without rights, as members of communities, and as participants in ecologies. Instructed by

Teets

Sarah
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I was drawn to Classics—the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—as an undergraduate in Long Beach, California because I found it profoundly meaningful to read a text that was written by someone who died thousands of years ago, and feel like I could relate to their experience. And yet, the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the peoples they conquered and colonized was unlike ours in ways as dramatic as the technological differences and subtle as the nuances of gender ideologies. In my research, I explore how ancient Greeks and Romans constructed and performed identities. I am especially interested in people who lived at the intersection of multiple identities, those on the fringes of mainstream Greek and Roman culture, and those who were subject to Roman imperial domination. We Classicists study and teach Greek and Roman antiquity not because we want to emulate it. Believe me, we don’t: this world was grounded in slavery, misogyny, and other forms of extreme violence. Nor do we study the past because history is some sort of impartial judge that can teach us the correct course of action in the present. Instead, we study ancient peoples and their literature both for the intrinsic good of knowledge, and because engaging closely with the questions they asked themselves can help us ask and answer our own questions more thoughtfully, with greater nuance, and with fuller perspective.

I am drawn to the Engagements curriculum because of its focus on the habits of mind that we use in the liberal arts. I ground my teaching practice in my belief that students aren’t here to learn content, but to learn how to think broadly and critically across the fulness of their lives. If we ask how ancient Greeks and Romans understood themselves, we must reflect on how we understand ourselves. Who are we, actually, and what does this mean? What responsibilities come with having access to a college education? With being humans on the edge of climate disaster?

As a native of California’s Central Valley, I have made my way east studying Classics. I live in rural Louisa County with my husband, daughter, and chickens on what is either a very small farm or a very large garden.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm

Fall Quarter Two: October 18 – December 7

EGMT 1540: Enforcement

EGMT 1540: Enforcement

This class examines the concept of ‘enforcement’ from different perspectives and from various disciplines, genres, and media. From parents enforcing household rules, to the legitimacy of the police, we will ask how conflicting ideas of enforcement alter and determine the way we think about issues such as regulation, agency, and power. We will examine whether all possible social arrangements include an element of enforcement? If they do, what does that say about human social relations? If not, what would a society without enforcement look like? Is enforcement something to be overcome, or a necessary aspect of human social existence? The class will begin with an examination of various philosophical accounts of discipline and punishment, as well as historical analyses and cultural artifacts—from contemporary issues such as face-mask regulations to more long-standing issues such as the enforcement of norms through popular culture. Using this shared background, we will engage ethical questions that concern race, gender, and sexuality. We will be guided by questions concerning different theories of ‘enforcement’ as a concept, in order to examine, in a concrete way, the social and political experience of enforcement in the world today. We will, for example, use our theoretical readings to develop explorative projects concerning different elements of enforcement in the ever-changing political landscape of our contemporary era. Instructed by

Wolfson

Alex
[email protected]

I am a scholar of modern and contemporary philosophy, with specialization in gender, sexuality, and trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the study of science and technology. My writing and teaching range across areas of focus, with topics such as the examination of sexuality in the modern philosophy of religion, to the relationship between cybernetics and transgender identity. What binds the various aspects of my work is an overarching concern in the theoretical and political implications of how sexual identity forms and challenges not only our assumptions concerning gender and sexuality but also our more widespread assumptions concerning subjectivity and embodiment.

As a College Fellow I am eager to use my interdisciplinary training to offer Engagement courses that lie at the intersections between philosophical thought and urgent social and political questions and concerns. For me, the classroom should be a site to develop skills that allow us to interrogate our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and the world. It should be a site to learn skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, as well as a means to foster the imagination and develop one’s passions.

My doctoral work at the University of Chicago examined the role of transness within 19th-and-20th philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other medical-technological discourses. I have continued this work in articles and co-edited special issues in journals such as in Imago and Transgender Studies Quarterly. I have, as well, organized conferences on topics such as Freud and Archeology (Warburg Institute, 2019) and Foucault and Religion (University of Chicago, 2018). My current research continues my examination of transness within continental philosophy and critical theory, as well as new projects looking at the role of sexuality and gender in cybernetics, and an ongoing project examining dreams within the history of philosophy. My dedication to thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner has roots in my training and practice as an artist and a writer.

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: Lying

EGMT 1540: Lying

This course will introduce the students to the idea of lying. Rather than approach lying as easily distinguishable from the idea of truth, the course will delve into a more murkier zone and ask how the idea of lying is related to other ideas in its neighborhood such as bad faith, misleading, trickery, counterfeit, fraud, ignorance, secrecy, or false implication. We will cover a representative of hypothetical and real-world scenarios that will enable the students to discern the nuances of speech and expression and better distinguish lies from contested ideas of truth as well as other forms of deception. Readings will comprise weekly case studies which will cover over a variety of examples ranging from simple thought experiments that philosophers mobilize to make their arguments to real world instances of politics and contemporary issues of media bias. Some questions that the class will consider include: What does it mean to be true to ourselves? What does it mean to gain public trust and how does it relate to personal measures of truth telling? Do politicians lie or do they deceive and how does this difference matter? Is one lying when one’s opinion is based on misinformation? Is lying always morally wrong? Short exercises in interpretation of stylized dilemmas, excerpts from literary works, philosophical passages and public speech will accompany the weekly case studies. Instructed by

Bagaria

Swayam
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.

MW 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1540: Mindful Decision-Making: Integrating Body, Mind, and Heart

EGMT 1540: Mindful Decision-Making: Integrating Body, Mind, and Heart

Are you interested in increasing your kindness, generosity, and resilience? Living an ethical life of service to others? Building your capacity for attention and focus? Drawing on contemporary mindfulness practices, this engagements class will ask you to think, carefully and mindfully, about how automatic reactions, specific situational circumstances, and bodily states affect your behavior in ways that are consistent or inconsistent with your personal values. Human beings live in relation to one another. Our human interconnectedness suggests that ethical engagement is inevitable and that ignoring conflict and controversy is itself an ethical decision. This course will teach you observe not only the world around you but also yourself in relation to it. And it will challenge you to leverage these new skills to make ethical decisions deliberately and thoughtfully instead of automatically and thoughtlessly. Ultimately, we'll reflect on the meaning of a "good life" informed by a desire to serve others. Instructed by

Seidel

Sandra
Assistant Dean and Professor of Biology

I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve first year students and teach an Engagement as a College Fellow. My interests and experiences at the intersection of human biology and contemplative practices will combine in an offering of an ethical Engagement class. Students who seek to be embodied, present, and grow in conscious living are invited to bring their curiosity to an inquiry of bodily awareness and mindfulness. An understanding of fundamental human physiology and contemplative practices of attention, concentration, kindness, and compassion will provide a basis for discussions of living a good life based in interconnectedness, generosity and wisdom. I look forward to learning with students who have an open mind and a willingness to grow as we seek to release some of our conditioned worries in an exploration of how to cultivate ethical conscious lives.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

The world is flat. Vaccines cause autism. Climate change is a hoax. So is coronavirus. The deep state is conspiring against the president. The Mafia assassinated JFK. No, it was the CIA. Or LBJ. Or was it the Soviets and Fidel Castro? No matter what we think we know about politics, culture, or even the basics of science, there is a conspiracy theory to tell us that, actually, that’s all wrong and what “they” want you to think. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? What makes something a conspiracy theory? How do you recognize a conspiracy theory when you see one and how do you evaluate its claims? Contrary to popular belief, conspiracy theories are not simply the province of the naïve, foolish, or uneducated; we will look at how conspiracy theories serve as a way for people from all walks of life to make sense of a complicated and often baffling world. In this class, we will consider these questions while examining a number of different conspiracy theories in detail, ranging from old classics like the Knights Templar and alien autopsies to new favorites like Pizzagate, QAnon, and whatever 2021 sees fit to throw at us. We will also think about how conspiracy theories are created and disseminated, particularly in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where anyone who claims to know the truth about anything can find others to subscribe to their views. Given the importance and sheer proliferation of conspiracy theories in our world, how should we respond when we encounter them? And, in an age where we can watch new conspiracy theories form quite literally in real time online, what are our ethical obligations toward the conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking we see in our own social, political, and cultural lives? Instructed by

Ferguson

Andrew
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.

My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.

 
,

Walsh

David
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I’m a historian who studies politics, culture, and political economy. I research and write about the far right and conservative politics in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and the relationship between those forms of politics in America with broader global movements. I’m currently working on turning my PhD dissertation into a book manuscript.

As a teacher, I am committed to providing my students with support and mentorship to help them succeed in my classroom. I encourage my students to ask questions and work collaboratively to create a welcoming and intellectually challenging classroom environment. I am trained as an historian, which means I’m interesting in unpacking assumptions about the past and its relationship to the present. The past, as someone once said, is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

I’m excited about the Engagements program because it’s a great opportunity for all of us—faculty and students alike—to learn together in the best tradition of the liberal arts curriculum. I am committed to providing my students an education grounded in both the ability to critically analyze evidence, because these skills are necessary for our society to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

“The revolution will not be televised . . .”—Gil Scott-Heron What do you mean when you speak of a “revolution”? Be careful how you answer. People tend to understand that notion very broadly, probably because it excites them to think that they themselves are living in revolutionary times. Today, for example, we speak commonly of an “internet revolution” or an “information revolution.” In this course, however, we will try to be uncompromisingly critical in our examination and in our application of the concept of revolution. The principal question to be asked is: Can I ever be “objective” about a true revolution? Is it really a revolution if I can form a comfortable idea of how it is shaped and where it is headed? Even in the case of instances from the past, must a true revolution not disorient me ethically here and now? Must revolution not open before me the abyss of the strictly Unknown? Using texts, images, film, TV footage, and music (including selections suggested by students), we will examine a wide variety of material: including scientific revolutions, the political revolutions in America, France, and Russia, and several instances of revolutionary ambition that strain the limits of the possible: the Black Panther Party, Nietzsche’s vision, and later Freud’s, of a new intellectual world, Monique Wittig’s idea of a Lesbian revolution. But throughout the session, a focus will be maintained on students’ individual ethical situations, and on their shared ethical situation, the problem of establishing and maintaining a reasonable ethical posture with respect to the American Revolution(s). Instructed by

Bennett

Benjamin
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature
[email protected]

“If you know more when you graduate from college than you did when you started, you have wasted your money.” When I tell this to first-years advisees, I sometimes catch them trying not to roll their eyes.  But roll your eyes all you want, I stand by what I have said, because I speak from experience:  not only my own undergraduate years, but my experience since then as well.  So far I have published twelve books, with two more in the works, on various subjects, including a couple of major German and Austrian writers, history and theory of European drama, history of poetry, highbrow literacy and aesthetics in their relation to totalitarian politics, ethics as a problem, feminism.  And whenever I finish a book—in the moment when I think, “It’s done, anything more will just be tidying up,” in the moment when by rights I should be savoring my achievement—I invariably find that I have only succeeded in bringing more clearly into focus the same basic ignorance that had driven me to write in the first place.

Knowing is fun.  There is no denying the pleasure that comes from knowing—or thinking you know.  But it is probably more important, for life, to get practice in dealing with the condition of not knowing, the condition of uncertainty, of being at sea, and to learn, if possible, to make something of that condition.  I have always thought that such practice or learning is at least a major part of the business of university education, and I have experimented with a number of different ways of incorporating this idea in my teaching.  I look forward to the experiment of Engagement teaching in this spirit.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: Slaves, Strangers, Citizens

EGMT 1540: Slaves, Strangers, Citizens

What does it mean to be a citizen, not in the abstract, but within the world as we have it? And when we invoke ‘we’—as in ‘We the People’—what lies hidden behind that we? Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, echoing definitions from antiquity, defined “citizen” as “a freeman of a city; not a foreigner, not a slave.” This course rethinks the possibilities and dangers of ‘we’ by examining this triad in our lexicon of political life: the citizen, the stranger, and the slave. Influential accounts of liberal arts education continue to insist that the value of such an education lies in its capacity to form citizens. Yet such accounts have often had too little to say about the close links between citizenship, education, and the production of the citizen’s others: the enslaved (who is unfit for such formation) and the alien or migrant (who has been formed or malformed elsewhere). And so we’ll ask: What are the relations among citizenship, slavery, and strangeness? What is citizenship, such that it seems always to bear the traces of these shadow figures, the one who is beyond the community (the stranger) and the one who is bound to the will of another (the slave)? How do the afterlives of modern slavery and settler colonialism shape present day political debates concerning immigration, race, democracy, and justice? And how might attending to the underside of modern citizenship, that is, to the agency and the vantage of those historically excluded from citizenship—especially diasporic Black, Native, and Latinx traditions of thought—enrich our understanding of and participation in democratic life? Bringing together multiple disciplinary fields—including political philosophy, history, literature, religion, and more—our posing of these questions will be inescapably descriptive and constructive, involving questions both of ‘is’ and ‘ought’: in other words, the stakes involved press upon us a risk—the risk of examining how such questions have been posed in the past and exploring how they ought to be taken up in the present. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1540: Slaves, Strangers, Citizens

EGMT 1540: Slaves, Strangers, Citizens

What does it mean to be a citizen, not in the abstract, but within the world as we have it? And when we invoke ‘we’—as in ‘We the People’—what lies hidden behind that we? Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, echoing definitions from antiquity, defined “citizen” as “a freeman of a city; not a foreigner, not a slave.” This course rethinks the possibilities and dangers of ‘we’ by examining this triad in our lexicon of political life: the citizen, the stranger, and the slave. Influential accounts of liberal arts education continue to insist that the value of such an education lies in its capacity to form citizens. Yet such accounts have often had too little to say about the close links between citizenship, education, and the production of the citizen’s others: the enslaved (who is unfit for such formation) and the alien or migrant (who has been formed or malformed elsewhere). And so we’ll ask: What are the relations among citizenship, slavery, and strangeness? What is citizenship, such that it seems always to bear the traces of these shadow figures, the one who is beyond the community (the stranger) and the one who is bound to the will of another (the slave)? How do the afterlives of modern slavery and settler colonialism shape present day political debates concerning immigration, race, democracy, and justice? And how might attending to the underside of modern citizenship, that is, to the agency and the vantage of those historically excluded from citizenship—especially diasporic Black, Native, and Latinx traditions of thought—enrich our understanding of and participation in democratic life? Bringing together multiple disciplinary fields—including political philosophy, history, literature, religion, and more—our posing of these questions will be inescapably descriptive and constructive, involving questions both of ‘is’ and ‘ought’: in other words, the stakes involved press upon us a risk—the risk of examining how such questions have been posed in the past and exploring how they ought to be taken up in the present. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

There are many things in life we value, and which it seems unproblematic to buy or sell: houses, sweaters, and ice cream, for example.  But there are other things we value, which it seems impossible to buy or sell: love, moral goodness, or happiness, for example.  And there are still others which we can buy or sell, but might think we should not: kidneys, sexual or reproductive labor, ideas, or spiritual goods, for example. Students in this engagement will consider whether there is anything that it is either impossible or wrong to sell.  We will focus on examples from a wide variety of domains and draw on readings from philosophy, religious studies, and fiction.  Our aim throughout will be to understand more clearly the value of the particular goods in question and the role such goods might play in making our own lives good and meaningful. Instructed by

Stangl

Rebecca
Associate Professor of Philosophy
[email protected]

Moral philosophy is my passion, but I strongly believe that ethics is not the sole province of professional philosophers. It is not the sole province of professionals insofar as every reflective human being faces the central ethical question of how best to live, and it is not the sole province of philosophers insofar as we have much to learn from other disciplines about the nature and possibility of value.  My work is therefore situated squarely within the discipline of moral philosophy while at the same time reaching beyond it. 

My particular academic focus is on virtue ethics and bioethics, and my recent articles have appeared in such journals as EthicsPhilosophical Quarterly, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and The Hastings Center Report, as well as edited volumes from Oxford. My current book project – a Neo-Aristotelian account of heroic virtue, ordinary virtue, and the relation between them – is a work of analytic philosophy that also draws on insights from biography, literature, and social psychology.  

What excites me about teaching is drawing from this general approach to ethics to encourage a robust ethical discussion among students. In 2012, I was a recipient of UVA’s All-University Teaching Award.  I welcome the opportunity to reach an even wider audience of students within the intellectual environment that the College Fellows program seeks to cultivate.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm

Spring 2022

Spring Quarter Three: January 19 – March 15

EGMT 1540: Can a Text Be Ethical?

EGMT 1540: Can a Text Be Ethical?

The reliance on texts for ethical guidance is a widespread human phenomenon.  From the Code of Hammurabi to UVa’s Honor Code, texts have been used both to dictate what is right and wrong and to inspire individuals to seek out and enact the good. In this course, we will examine the use of written documents in determining what is ethical through case studies involving just one example: the New Testament.  We will examine four specific moments in history in which the New Testament played a primary role in ethical decision-making, asking in each instance the following questions: Did the multiple individuals involved agree about the text’s interpretation? If not, how did the disagreement play out? Did a particular interpretation “win”? Was that, in your opinion, the “correct” interpretation? Why did the text play a role? Did the text have the same authoritative and/or ethical status to everyone involved? Was the outcome actually ethical?  Did the text lead, in your opinion, to ethical actions? Our investigations of these historical moments will inform reflection on ourselves as ethical agents. To what extent have texts guided our actions in the past? Are there texts that we find ethically authoritative and/or helpful? As we inevitably face moments where we must make ethical decisions, what role, if any, will such texts play? What lessons can we learn from the roles texts have played in the past? Instructed by

Spittler

Janet
Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Engagements Co-Director
[email protected]

I am fascinated by the diversity of early Christianity. My research focuses on Christian literature from the first-to-fourth centuries CE, both New Testament texts and “apocryphal” texts (that is, works not included in the Bible). Our earliest Christian literature shows Christians disagreeing with and debating each other, and these texts allow us to see the development of Christian thought. It was a process that unfolded slowly over centuries, and it cannot be fully understood outside of its historical and cultural context.

My interest in teaching one of the new Ethical Engagement courses is rooted in these interests and the challenge of ethical questions. They are never simple, and moreover, they are frequently rooted in and shaped by historical and cultural contexts that are very difficult to understand completely. My training as an historian of religions charts a good course for engaging ethical questions. How should we behave? How should we treat one another? What does it mean to live a “good life”? These are questions that many (though not all) religions have addressed directly throughout recorded history.

I hope to cultivate an atmosphere in which students can speak honestly and authentically about the questions and issues that matter most. I expect each class to be a diverse group, representing a wide range of religious and cultural perspectives. We will disagree with each other on issues big and small, but our goal is not agreement! Our goal is to grapple with ethical questions and to begin to think consciously of ourselves as ethical agents in our community and the world.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Climate Change and the History of the Future

EGMT 1540: Climate Change and the History of the Future

Climate change is here. We know beyond doubt that human systems are affecting planetary processes, with consequences spanning generations, centuries, and millennia. Our sense of time is jumbling. We must think about the effects of climate change on the great-great-great-great grandchildren of those alive today, and beyond them, and simultaneously about the immediate suffering hundreds of millions, even billions, as global climate transforms. “Progress” will not save us. And who is “us” anyway, given that present action or inaction will affect humans and nonhumans into the distant future, even as the immediate consequences will fall most heavily on those who have done little or nothing to bring this crisis on? While the risks are clear, we have more questions than answers about how to respond. How can we know that climate change is upon us and yet fail to act with the purpose and speed required to avoid worst effects? What do we make of persistent climate denial? Have we become collectively stupid? What does this say about “rationality?” Are we at a civilizational turning point? Such questions are the stuff of science, economics, and politics. They are also a matter of moral and ethical inquiry. Climatologists can tell us how planetary systems work. Policy makers can propose solutions, or at least approaches. But they do not speak to values, how we think about them and how we consider human and non-human others in the story we are just beginning to tell of climate disruption. This is history on the march. Yet we have no broad consensus on what must be done, by whom, or at what pace, even as every year of delay worsens long-term prospects. Are individual actions pointless? What is it that makes concerted action in the face of existential risk so difficult? While we can accept intellectually that change is upon is, what would it be to accept it emotionally? Is optimism necessary for action? Do we need to become very afraid? Part of the challenge is the scale of things. What do global capitalism, economic growth, the fossil fuel industry, and consumerism have to do with it all? Is “degrowth” or “steady-state economics” an answer? Or are we condemned to more of the same? Is it possible to lead a good life in the era of climate change amidst mass suffering? What would it be to respond compassionately to millions of climate refugees? What about the fact that we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction event? Perhaps we need a different sense of historical time. Do future lives (human and non-human) matter less than our immediate desires? Can we learn to be good ancestors? Does the Anthropocene (the term proposed for a new geological age in which humans shape Earth systems) affect how human societies think about time? Does it help to consider our moment and coming years as the history of the future? This course will ask such questions through the ideas and visions of scientists, historians, journalists, novelists, ethicists, activists, and filmmakers to suggest how important it is that as many of us as possible learn to talk knowledgeably and passionately about what scholars have called “the perfect moral storm.” During our 7 weeks, you will: • Become conversant with climate change as a broad, scientifically-established phenomenon. • Learn about the idea of the Anthropocene as a scientific term with moral, social, and political implications. • Learn the sources and reasons for climate change denial. • Learn to recognize, criticize, and make ethical and political arguments regarding climate change. • Seek points of historical comparison that might speak to the magnitude of the challenge humanity faces. • Consider how people across the planet may experience the reality and threat of climate change very differently, according to race, gender, class, and nationality. • Learn to talk about climate change as an existential challenge. This course will be driven by conversation and will emphasize oral presentation and argumentation. • Think about what “historical time” is in relation to climate change and consider whether “historical consciousness” might be reframed as a way of thinking about Earth-Human (Terran?) history. Instructed by

Owensby

Brian
Professor of History

Brian Owensby is professor of history in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia.  His scholarly work has ranged from social and political history in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Brazil to legal and imperial history in seventeenth-century Mexico.  Current research includes historiography and historical theory from a Brazilian perspective and a book-length project on the Jesuit New World synthesis of the eighteenth century as a counterpoint to Eurocentric accounts of modernity.  He has taught a variety of courses large and small to undergraduates, including a Global History class, and is supervising several graduate students.  He served as chair of the Corcoran Department of History from 2009 to 2012.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Lying

EGMT 1540: Lying

This course will introduce the students to the idea of lying. Rather than approach lying as easily distinguishable from the idea of truth, the course will delve into a more murkier zone and ask how the idea of lying is related to other ideas in its neighborhood such as bad faith, misleading, trickery, counterfeit, fraud, ignorance, secrecy, or false implication. We will cover a representative of hypothetical and real-world scenarios that will enable the students to discern the nuances of speech and expression and better distinguish lies from contested ideas of truth as well as other forms of deception. Readings will comprise weekly case studies which will cover over a variety of examples ranging from simple thought experiments that philosophers mobilize to make their arguments to real world instances of politics and contemporary issues of media bias. Some questions that the class will consider include: What does it mean to be true to ourselves? What does it mean to gain public trust and how does it relate to personal measures of truth telling? Do politicians lie or do they deceive and how does this difference matter? Is one lying when one’s opinion is based on misinformation? Is lying always morally wrong? Short exercises in interpretation of stylized dilemmas, excerpts from literary works, philosophical passages and public speech will accompany the weekly case studies. Instructed by

Bagaria

Swayam
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I received my PhD in 2020 from Johns Hopkins University in Anthropology. Although a cultural anthropologist by training, my work is more broadly located at the intersections of contemporary religion, new media affordances and political thought. Since 2014, I have worked on the changing relationship between popular Hinduism and political populism in India through an ethnographic and textual examination of the regnant deification of the past customary practice of widow burning.

My other interests include semiotic paradigms in Sanskrit aesthetics and ritual, philosophical anthropology, and disparate genealogies of social theory. Further afield, I am also at work in devising a quantitative and qualitatively inspired side project on the relation between cultural reflexes and the 'experience economy' in big data and machine language environments.

My training in anthropology has taught me that the best place to feel the force of ideas is in the rough ground of social life. My pedagogical inspiration arises from this nugget of conviction and I treat the classroom as a space in which it is possible to decelerate and reckon with the messy life of ideas with more patience and appreciation without settling into an easy explanation. I believe that the classroom is better thought of as a habitable environment for the growth of a question rather than a means to arrive at a cozy answer.

EGMT 1540: Mindful Decision-Making: Integrating Body, Mind, and Heart

EGMT 1540: Mindful Decision-Making: Integrating Body, Mind, and Heart

Are you interested in increasing your kindness, generosity, and resilience? Living an ethical life of service to others? Building your capacity for attention and focus? Drawing on contemporary mindfulness practices, this engagements class will ask you to think, carefully and mindfully, about how automatic reactions, specific situational circumstances, and bodily states affect your behavior in ways that are consistent or inconsistent with your personal values. Human beings live in relation to one another. Our human interconnectedness suggests that ethical engagement is inevitable and that ignoring conflict and controversy is itself an ethical decision. This course will teach you observe not only the world around you but also yourself in relation to it. And it will challenge you to leverage these new skills to make ethical decisions deliberately and thoughtfully instead of automatically and thoughtlessly. Ultimately, we'll reflect on the meaning of a "good life" informed by a desire to serve others. Instructed by

Seidel

Sandra
Assistant Dean and Professor of Biology

I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve first year students and teach an Engagement as a College Fellow. My interests and experiences at the intersection of human biology and contemplative practices will combine in an offering of an ethical Engagement class. Students who seek to be embodied, present, and grow in conscious living are invited to bring their curiosity to an inquiry of bodily awareness and mindfulness. An understanding of fundamental human physiology and contemplative practices of attention, concentration, kindness, and compassion will provide a basis for discussions of living a good life based in interconnectedness, generosity and wisdom. I look forward to learning with students who have an open mind and a willingness to grow as we seek to release some of our conditioned worries in an exploration of how to cultivate ethical conscious lives.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

The world is flat. Vaccines cause autism. Climate change is a hoax. So is coronavirus. The deep state is conspiring against the president. The Mafia assassinated JFK. No, it was the CIA. Or LBJ. Or was it the Soviets and Fidel Castro? No matter what we think we know about politics, culture, or even the basics of science, there is a conspiracy theory to tell us that, actually, that’s all wrong and what “they” want you to think. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? What makes something a conspiracy theory? How do you recognize a conspiracy theory when you see one and how do you evaluate its claims? Contrary to popular belief, conspiracy theories are not simply the province of the naïve, foolish, or uneducated; we will look at how conspiracy theories serve as a way for people from all walks of life to make sense of a complicated and often baffling world. In this class, we will consider these questions while examining a number of different conspiracy theories in detail, ranging from old classics like the Knights Templar and alien autopsies to new favorites like Pizzagate, QAnon, and whatever 2021 sees fit to throw at us. We will also think about how conspiracy theories are created and disseminated, particularly in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where anyone who claims to know the truth about anything can find others to subscribe to their views. Given the importance and sheer proliferation of conspiracy theories in our world, how should we respond when we encounter them? And, in an age where we can watch new conspiracy theories form quite literally in real time online, what are our ethical obligations toward the conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking we see in our own social, political, and cultural lives? Instructed by

Ferguson

Andrew
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.

My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.

 
,

Walsh

David
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I’m a historian who studies politics, culture, and political economy. I research and write about the far right and conservative politics in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and the relationship between those forms of politics in America with broader global movements. I’m currently working on turning my PhD dissertation into a book manuscript.

As a teacher, I am committed to providing my students with support and mentorship to help them succeed in my classroom. I encourage my students to ask questions and work collaboratively to create a welcoming and intellectually challenging classroom environment. I am trained as an historian, which means I’m interesting in unpacking assumptions about the past and its relationship to the present. The past, as someone once said, is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

I’m excited about the Engagements program because it’s a great opportunity for all of us—faculty and students alike—to learn together in the best tradition of the liberal arts curriculum. I am committed to providing my students an education grounded in both the ability to critically analyze evidence, because these skills are necessary for our society to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Plastic Everywhere

EGMT 1540: Plastic Everywhere

“There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it.” This line from the 1967 film The Graduate captured 20th century promise surrounding this new class of flexible materials. Derived from the Greek plastikos, to mold or form, plastics freed design from the constraints of natural materials. First derived from and imitating biological materials, then later made from petrochemicals seemingly untethered from nature in manner and form, polymeric materials represented a new kind of freedom and flexibility. Over time, plastics became so prevalent in nearly every aspect of life—food, clothing, shelter, high performance materials, medicine, and devices—that we barely notice them. That is, until recently, when their burgeoning waste and ubiquity have become cause for growing alarm: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mae West the synched-waisted snapping turtle, dead fish and birds’ bellies swelled with plastic mistaken for food; microparticles in our waterways from personal care products and laundry microfibers, and in the Alps and Arctic snow by air; in our soil, food, bottled water, bodies and more. Additionally, plastic chemicals—certain monomers, additives and solvents—can be toxic, causing endocrine disruption impacting metabolism, brain function, sexual development and fertility, and other diseases. Some communities are impacted more than others, particularly industrial fence-line communities dubbed sacrifice zones or countries flooded with waste. But with plastics detected in remote locations and chemicals accumulating in our bodies, it seems that no one, nowhere is immune. How did this happen? What can we do about it? Is recycling the answer, bans on single use plastic, plastic bags and straws? Or degradable and renewable materials? These questions and more will be explored in Plastic Everywhere. Human intersections with plastic lifecycles will be investigated from individual, community, and global perspectives, across macro, micro and molecular scales. The ethics of extraction and disposability, environmental health and justice, and sustainability and stewardship will be considered. Instructed by
TBD
EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

“The revolution will not be televised . . .”—Gil Scott-Heron What do you mean when you speak of a “revolution”? Be careful how you answer. People tend to understand that notion very broadly, probably because it excites them to think that they themselves are living in revolutionary times. Today, for example, we speak commonly of an “internet revolution” or an “information revolution.” In this course, however, we will try to be uncompromisingly critical in our examination and in our application of the concept of revolution. The principal question to be asked is: Can I ever be “objective” about a true revolution? Is it really a revolution if I can form a comfortable idea of how it is shaped and where it is headed? Even in the case of instances from the past, must a true revolution not disorient me ethically here and now? Must revolution not open before me the abyss of the strictly Unknown? Using texts, images, film, TV footage, and music (including selections suggested by students), we will examine a wide variety of material: including scientific revolutions, the political revolutions in America, France, and Russia, and several instances of revolutionary ambition that strain the limits of the possible: the Black Panther Party, Nietzsche’s vision, and later Freud’s, of a new intellectual world, Monique Wittig’s idea of a Lesbian revolution. But throughout the session, a focus will be maintained on students’ individual ethical situations, and on their shared ethical situation, the problem of establishing and maintaining a reasonable ethical posture with respect to the American Revolution(s). Instructed by

Bennett

Benjamin
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature
[email protected]

“If you know more when you graduate from college than you did when you started, you have wasted your money.” When I tell this to first-years advisees, I sometimes catch them trying not to roll their eyes.  But roll your eyes all you want, I stand by what I have said, because I speak from experience:  not only my own undergraduate years, but my experience since then as well.  So far I have published twelve books, with two more in the works, on various subjects, including a couple of major German and Austrian writers, history and theory of European drama, history of poetry, highbrow literacy and aesthetics in their relation to totalitarian politics, ethics as a problem, feminism.  And whenever I finish a book—in the moment when I think, “It’s done, anything more will just be tidying up,” in the moment when by rights I should be savoring my achievement—I invariably find that I have only succeeded in bringing more clearly into focus the same basic ignorance that had driven me to write in the first place.

Knowing is fun.  There is no denying the pleasure that comes from knowing—or thinking you know.  But it is probably more important, for life, to get practice in dealing with the condition of not knowing, the condition of uncertainty, of being at sea, and to learn, if possible, to make something of that condition.  I have always thought that such practice or learning is at least a major part of the business of university education, and I have experimented with a number of different ways of incorporating this idea in my teaching.  I look forward to the experiment of Engagement teaching in this spirit.

TBD

Spring Quarter Four: March 16 – May 3

EGMT 1540: Enforcement

EGMT 1540: Enforcement

This class examines the concept of ‘enforcement’ from different perspectives and from various disciplines, genres, and media. From parents enforcing household rules, to the legitimacy of the police, we will ask how conflicting ideas of enforcement alter and determine the way we think about issues such as regulation, agency, and power. We will examine whether all possible social arrangements include an element of enforcement? If they do, what does that say about human social relations? If not, what would a society without enforcement look like? Is enforcement something to be overcome, or a necessary aspect of human social existence? The class will begin with an examination of various philosophical accounts of discipline and punishment, as well as historical analyses and cultural artifacts—from contemporary issues such as face-mask regulations to more long-standing issues such as the enforcement of norms through popular culture. Using this shared background, we will engage ethical questions that concern race, gender, and sexuality. We will be guided by questions concerning different theories of ‘enforcement’ as a concept, in order to examine, in a concrete way, the social and political experience of enforcement in the world today. We will, for example, use our theoretical readings to develop explorative projects concerning different elements of enforcement in the ever-changing political landscape of our contemporary era. Instructed by

Wolfson

Alex
[email protected]

I am a scholar of modern and contemporary philosophy, with specialization in gender, sexuality, and trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the study of science and technology. My writing and teaching range across areas of focus, with topics such as the examination of sexuality in the modern philosophy of religion, to the relationship between cybernetics and transgender identity. What binds the various aspects of my work is an overarching concern in the theoretical and political implications of how sexual identity forms and challenges not only our assumptions concerning gender and sexuality but also our more widespread assumptions concerning subjectivity and embodiment.

As a College Fellow I am eager to use my interdisciplinary training to offer Engagement courses that lie at the intersections between philosophical thought and urgent social and political questions and concerns. For me, the classroom should be a site to develop skills that allow us to interrogate our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and the world. It should be a site to learn skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, as well as a means to foster the imagination and develop one’s passions.

My doctoral work at the University of Chicago examined the role of transness within 19th-and-20th philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other medical-technological discourses. I have continued this work in articles and co-edited special issues in journals such as in Imago and Transgender Studies Quarterly. I have, as well, organized conferences on topics such as Freud and Archeology (Warburg Institute, 2019) and Foucault and Religion (University of Chicago, 2018). My current research continues my examination of transness within continental philosophy and critical theory, as well as new projects looking at the role of sexuality and gender in cybernetics, and an ongoing project examining dreams within the history of philosophy. My dedication to thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner has roots in my training and practice as an artist and a writer.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Enforcement

EGMT 1540: Enforcement

This class examines the concept of ‘enforcement’ from different perspectives and from various disciplines, genres, and media. From parents enforcing household rules, to the legitimacy of the police, we will ask how conflicting ideas of enforcement alter and determine the way we think about issues such as regulation, agency, and power. We will examine whether all possible social arrangements include an element of enforcement? If they do, what does that say about human social relations? If not, what would a society without enforcement look like? Is enforcement something to be overcome, or a necessary aspect of human social existence? The class will begin with an examination of various philosophical accounts of discipline and punishment, as well as historical analyses and cultural artifacts—from contemporary issues such as face-mask regulations to more long-standing issues such as the enforcement of norms through popular culture. Using this shared background, we will engage ethical questions that concern race, gender, and sexuality. We will be guided by questions concerning different theories of ‘enforcement’ as a concept, in order to examine, in a concrete way, the social and political experience of enforcement in the world today. We will, for example, use our theoretical readings to develop explorative projects concerning different elements of enforcement in the ever-changing political landscape of our contemporary era. Instructed by

Wolfson

Alex
[email protected]

I am a scholar of modern and contemporary philosophy, with specialization in gender, sexuality, and trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the study of science and technology. My writing and teaching range across areas of focus, with topics such as the examination of sexuality in the modern philosophy of religion, to the relationship between cybernetics and transgender identity. What binds the various aspects of my work is an overarching concern in the theoretical and political implications of how sexual identity forms and challenges not only our assumptions concerning gender and sexuality but also our more widespread assumptions concerning subjectivity and embodiment.

As a College Fellow I am eager to use my interdisciplinary training to offer Engagement courses that lie at the intersections between philosophical thought and urgent social and political questions and concerns. For me, the classroom should be a site to develop skills that allow us to interrogate our most closely held assumptions about ourselves and the world. It should be a site to learn skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing, as well as a means to foster the imagination and develop one’s passions.

My doctoral work at the University of Chicago examined the role of transness within 19th-and-20th philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other medical-technological discourses. I have continued this work in articles and co-edited special issues in journals such as in Imago and Transgender Studies Quarterly. I have, as well, organized conferences on topics such as Freud and Archeology (Warburg Institute, 2019) and Foucault and Religion (University of Chicago, 2018). My current research continues my examination of transness within continental philosophy and critical theory, as well as new projects looking at the role of sexuality and gender in cybernetics, and an ongoing project examining dreams within the history of philosophy. My dedication to thinking and working in an interdisciplinary manner has roots in my training and practice as an artist and a writer.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

EGMT 1540: Paranoia, Conspiracies, and Fake News

The world is flat. Vaccines cause autism. Climate change is a hoax. So is coronavirus. The deep state is conspiring against the president. The Mafia assassinated JFK. No, it was the CIA. Or LBJ. Or was it the Soviets and Fidel Castro? No matter what we think we know about politics, culture, or even the basics of science, there is a conspiracy theory to tell us that, actually, that’s all wrong and what “they” want you to think. Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? What makes something a conspiracy theory? How do you recognize a conspiracy theory when you see one and how do you evaluate its claims? Contrary to popular belief, conspiracy theories are not simply the province of the naïve, foolish, or uneducated; we will look at how conspiracy theories serve as a way for people from all walks of life to make sense of a complicated and often baffling world. In this class, we will consider these questions while examining a number of different conspiracy theories in detail, ranging from old classics like the Knights Templar and alien autopsies to new favorites like Pizzagate, QAnon, and whatever 2021 sees fit to throw at us. We will also think about how conspiracy theories are created and disseminated, particularly in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where anyone who claims to know the truth about anything can find others to subscribe to their views. Given the importance and sheer proliferation of conspiracy theories in our world, how should we respond when we encounter them? And, in an age where we can watch new conspiracy theories form quite literally in real time online, what are our ethical obligations toward the conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking we see in our own social, political, and cultural lives? Instructed by

Ferguson

Andrew
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

If you had asked four-year-old me what my dream job would be, I'd probably have answered that I wanted to read books and talk to smart people about them. And, quite a few years and one UVA PhD later, that remains what I enjoy most about teaching: not just hearing what my invariably sharp and perceptive students think about the books (and films, and TV shows, and videogames, etc.) that we're experiencing together, but also helping them to better elaborate those thoughts and hook them into larger questions that will stick with them throughout their studies and long after. The Engagements curriculum allows me to build my classes around these moments of discovery, whether in conjunction with trips to the Scholars' Lab and Special Collections, or in walks around Grounds, or in projects combining personal hobbies and interests with academic rigor. I welcome everyone's odd obsessions; I am always available for geeking out.

My teaching in recent years reflects my own obsessive oddities, ranging from memes to media horror and conspiracy theories to videogames, with surveys of American, British, and international novels mixed in. I've also written on a wide variety of subjects, including creepypastas, zombies, Pokémon, and the Irish writer Flann O'Brien (in connection with Pac Man, naturally). I have a particular love for bad or broken art—whether in movies like The Room, TV shows like The Star Wars Holiday Special, or too many videogames to count—as well as all manner of glitches, errors, bugs, and malfunctions, all of which I eagerly encourage in classroom coursework and discussions. My aim in approaching various artworks or cultural issues is never to establish what the right or wrong answers are, or which are the "correct" questions to ask; instead, it's to figure out, together, which questions and answers are the most useful and productive in any given society at any given time—and to be aware that quite often it's not the ones you expect.

 
,

Walsh

David
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I’m a historian who studies politics, culture, and political economy. I research and write about the far right and conservative politics in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and the relationship between those forms of politics in America with broader global movements. I’m currently working on turning my PhD dissertation into a book manuscript.

As a teacher, I am committed to providing my students with support and mentorship to help them succeed in my classroom. I encourage my students to ask questions and work collaboratively to create a welcoming and intellectually challenging classroom environment. I am trained as an historian, which means I’m interesting in unpacking assumptions about the past and its relationship to the present. The past, as someone once said, is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

I’m excited about the Engagements program because it’s a great opportunity for all of us—faculty and students alike—to learn together in the best tradition of the liberal arts curriculum. I am committed to providing my students an education grounded in both the ability to critically analyze evidence, because these skills are necessary for our society to rise to the challenges of the 21st century.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

EGMT 1540: Revolution - Theory & Practice

“The revolution will not be televised . . .”—Gil Scott-Heron What do you mean when you speak of a “revolution”? Be careful how you answer. People tend to understand that notion very broadly, probably because it excites them to think that they themselves are living in revolutionary times. Today, for example, we speak commonly of an “internet revolution” or an “information revolution.” In this course, however, we will try to be uncompromisingly critical in our examination and in our application of the concept of revolution. The principal question to be asked is: Can I ever be “objective” about a true revolution? Is it really a revolution if I can form a comfortable idea of how it is shaped and where it is headed? Even in the case of instances from the past, must a true revolution not disorient me ethically here and now? Must revolution not open before me the abyss of the strictly Unknown? Using texts, images, film, TV footage, and music (including selections suggested by students), we will examine a wide variety of material: including scientific revolutions, the political revolutions in America, France, and Russia, and several instances of revolutionary ambition that strain the limits of the possible: the Black Panther Party, Nietzsche’s vision, and later Freud’s, of a new intellectual world, Monique Wittig’s idea of a Lesbian revolution. But throughout the session, a focus will be maintained on students’ individual ethical situations, and on their shared ethical situation, the problem of establishing and maintaining a reasonable ethical posture with respect to the American Revolution(s). Instructed by

Bennett

Benjamin
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature
[email protected]

“If you know more when you graduate from college than you did when you started, you have wasted your money.” When I tell this to first-years advisees, I sometimes catch them trying not to roll their eyes.  But roll your eyes all you want, I stand by what I have said, because I speak from experience:  not only my own undergraduate years, but my experience since then as well.  So far I have published twelve books, with two more in the works, on various subjects, including a couple of major German and Austrian writers, history and theory of European drama, history of poetry, highbrow literacy and aesthetics in their relation to totalitarian politics, ethics as a problem, feminism.  And whenever I finish a book—in the moment when I think, “It’s done, anything more will just be tidying up,” in the moment when by rights I should be savoring my achievement—I invariably find that I have only succeeded in bringing more clearly into focus the same basic ignorance that had driven me to write in the first place.

Knowing is fun.  There is no denying the pleasure that comes from knowing—or thinking you know.  But it is probably more important, for life, to get practice in dealing with the condition of not knowing, the condition of uncertainty, of being at sea, and to learn, if possible, to make something of that condition.  I have always thought that such practice or learning is at least a major part of the business of university education, and I have experimented with a number of different ways of incorporating this idea in my teaching.  I look forward to the experiment of Engagement teaching in this spirit.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Who Owns the Earth? Ancient and Modern Perspectives

EGMT 1540: Who Owns the Earth? Ancient and Modern Perspectives

Why do people own land? What exactly do you own when you own land? What are the ethical implications of land ownership? Are there lands that should be owned collectively, or not at all? What is justice for people who have been dispossessed of their land? Can there be justice for the land itself? This course examines these questions and more through ancient and modern case studies of land reform movements. We will examine royal decrees from ancient Mesopotamia, the reforms of the ancient Greek lawmaker Solon, the Biblical tradition of the Jubilee year, and the reforms of Gracchi during the Roman Republic. We will explore how the ethical questions raised in antiquity resonate with modern movements for land justice, such as the Justice for Black Farmers Act and the Indigenous-led #LandBack movement. Alongside these case studies, we will furthermore consider the implications of our own habitation, as individuals with and without rights, as members of communities, and as participants in ecologies. Instructed by

Teets

Sarah
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I was drawn to Classics—the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—as an undergraduate in Long Beach, California because I found it profoundly meaningful to read a text that was written by someone who died thousands of years ago, and feel like I could relate to their experience. And yet, the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the peoples they conquered and colonized was unlike ours in ways as dramatic as the technological differences and subtle as the nuances of gender ideologies. In my research, I explore how ancient Greeks and Romans constructed and performed identities. I am especially interested in people who lived at the intersection of multiple identities, those on the fringes of mainstream Greek and Roman culture, and those who were subject to Roman imperial domination. We Classicists study and teach Greek and Roman antiquity not because we want to emulate it. Believe me, we don’t: this world was grounded in slavery, misogyny, and other forms of extreme violence. Nor do we study the past because history is some sort of impartial judge that can teach us the correct course of action in the present. Instead, we study ancient peoples and their literature both for the intrinsic good of knowledge, and because engaging closely with the questions they asked themselves can help us ask and answer our own questions more thoughtfully, with greater nuance, and with fuller perspective.

I am drawn to the Engagements curriculum because of its focus on the habits of mind that we use in the liberal arts. I ground my teaching practice in my belief that students aren’t here to learn content, but to learn how to think broadly and critically across the fulness of their lives. If we ask how ancient Greeks and Romans understood themselves, we must reflect on how we understand ourselves. Who are we, actually, and what does this mean? What responsibilities come with having access to a college education? With being humans on the edge of climate disaster?

As a native of California’s Central Valley, I have made my way east studying Classics. I live in rural Louisa County with my husband, daughter, and chickens on what is either a very small farm or a very large garden.

TBD
EGMT 1540: Who Owns the Earth? Ancient and Modern Perspectives

EGMT 1540: Who Owns the Earth? Ancient and Modern Perspectives

Why do people own land? What exactly do you own when you own land? What are the ethical implications of land ownership? Are there lands that should be owned collectively, or not at all? What is justice for people who have been dispossessed of their land? Can there be justice for the land itself? This course examines these questions and more through ancient and modern case studies of land reform movements. We will examine royal decrees from ancient Mesopotamia, the reforms of the ancient Greek lawmaker Solon, the Biblical tradition of the Jubilee year, and the reforms of Gracchi during the Roman Republic. We will explore how the ethical questions raised in antiquity resonate with modern movements for land justice, such as the Justice for Black Farmers Act and the Indigenous-led #LandBack movement. Alongside these case studies, we will furthermore consider the implications of our own habitation, as individuals with and without rights, as members of communities, and as participants in ecologies. Instructed by

Teets

Sarah
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]

I was drawn to Classics—the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—as an undergraduate in Long Beach, California because I found it profoundly meaningful to read a text that was written by someone who died thousands of years ago, and feel like I could relate to their experience. And yet, the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans and the peoples they conquered and colonized was unlike ours in ways as dramatic as the technological differences and subtle as the nuances of gender ideologies. In my research, I explore how ancient Greeks and Romans constructed and performed identities. I am especially interested in people who lived at the intersection of multiple identities, those on the fringes of mainstream Greek and Roman culture, and those who were subject to Roman imperial domination. We Classicists study and teach Greek and Roman antiquity not because we want to emulate it. Believe me, we don’t: this world was grounded in slavery, misogyny, and other forms of extreme violence. Nor do we study the past because history is some sort of impartial judge that can teach us the correct course of action in the present. Instead, we study ancient peoples and their literature both for the intrinsic good of knowledge, and because engaging closely with the questions they asked themselves can help us ask and answer our own questions more thoughtfully, with greater nuance, and with fuller perspective.

I am drawn to the Engagements curriculum because of its focus on the habits of mind that we use in the liberal arts. I ground my teaching practice in my belief that students aren’t here to learn content, but to learn how to think broadly and critically across the fulness of their lives. If we ask how ancient Greeks and Romans understood themselves, we must reflect on how we understand ourselves. Who are we, actually, and what does this mean? What responsibilities come with having access to a college education? With being humans on the edge of climate disaster?

As a native of California’s Central Valley, I have made my way east studying Classics. I live in rural Louisa County with my husband, daughter, and chickens on what is either a very small farm or a very large garden.

TBD