Skip to content

Distinguished Visiting Scholars in the Humanities

2016-2017 5th Annual Distinguished Lecture Series

Click on each of the names to find out more information about each scholar.

September 30, 2016 - Peter Railton

Dr. Peter Railton
Gregory S. Kavka Distinguished University Professor and John Stephenson Perrin Professor of Philosophy
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Friday, September 30, 2016
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library
Title: "Moral Learning"

The traditional understanding of how an individual acquires moral values is through development or maturation following life stages or as the internalization of the moral code of the family or society. Building on recent trends in learning theory and the neuroscience of learning and representation, Professor Railton argues that morality might be learned via those processes continuous with which we learn about relations in our environment. This account requires no innate moral faculty and can exhibit substantial autonomy with respect to community norms and values.  If morality is learned via such processes, this gives us a new way of understanding the nature and epistemic standing of “moral intuitions” and of explaining some of the seemingly puzzling patterns in common-sense moral judgment—including, for example, trolley problems.

Also Keynote speaker at the Tennessee Value and Agency (TVA) Conference September 30-October 2

Dr. Railton was invited to The University of Tennessee by Clerk Shaw (Philosophy)

November 7, 2016 - Jeffrey Pilcher

Dr. Jeffrey PilcherDr. Jeffrey Pilcher
Professor of History
University of Toronto

Monday, November 7, 2016
Time:  4:00 P.M.
McClung Museum Auditorium
Title:  “How Beer Traveled the World: A Global History”

Most every society has fermented alcoholic beverages—Mexican pulque, Peruvian chicha, Japanese sake, Chinese baijiu, Indian palm toddy, African sorghum beer—but a particular variety, German lager beer, has largely displaced these local brewing traditions to become a global consumer icon.  This talk examines how European beer traveled the world over the last two hundred years through networks of trade, migration, and colonialism.  It pays particular attention to the role of taste in the reception of beer and concludes by comparing the recent spread of craft brewing to earlier migrations of beer.

Jeffrey M. Pilcher is a professor of History and Food Studies at the University of Toronto.  His books include ¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (1998), Food in World History (2006), Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food (2012), and the Oxford Handbook of Food History (2012).  He is the articles editor for Global Food History, a peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge.

Dr. Pilcher was invited to The University of Tennessee by Tore Olsson (History)

January 26, 2017 - David Stone

Dr. David StoneDr. David Stone
Associate Research Scientist
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library

Title: “Archaeology and Inequality: Methods and Measures in Ancient North Africa”

Inequality has become a central concern of the modern world.  It does not figure prominently in research on the ancient world.  This lecture begins with a discussion of how archaeologists can examine inequality, then moves to a case study (North Africa under Roman rule).  North Africa is one of several provincial regions where economic and population growth have been documented during the Roman empire.  Drawing on modern development economics, some scholars have recently argued that this growth corresponded to increased standards of living.  This lecture suggests that alternative methods and measures to understand archaeological data contribute a less rosy picture of the quality of life in the past.

David L. Stone is Editor of Book Reviews for the American Journal of Archaeology.  He is the main author of Leptiminus (Lamta). Report no. 3, the Field Survey (2011) and Mortuary Landscapes of North Africa (2007), along with many articles on the economy and epigraphy of North Africa.  Since 2014 he has directed a field survey analyzing the city and countryside of Olynthos in northern Greece.

Dr. Stone was invited to The University of Tennessee by Stephen Collins-Elliott (Classics)

February 6, 2017 - Robin Yates

Dr. Robin Yates
James McGill Professor
History and Classical Studies
McGill University

Monday, February 6, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library

Title: “Terror or Pleasure? Living and Working under the First Emperor of China”

In 221 BC, King Zheng of the state of Qin defeated the last of his rivals and founded the Chinese imperial system which lasted more than 2000 years to 1912. Yet his own Qin Dynasty barely survived his own death in 210 BC: it was destroyed in a savage civil war and succeeded by the Han Dynasty (founded 206 BC). Ever since the Han, the rapid fall of the Qin and its failure to establish a lasting empire, was attributed to its application of a harsh legal system and to its social and economic policies that encouraged the development of slavery and other forms of oppression. But what was the reality? While the face of its military forces have been revealed by the amazing find of pottery warriors and horses, part of the enormous tomb complex of the First Emperor located outside modern Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, little was known about the details of Qin’s policies and their application until the discoveries in recent years by Chinese archaeologists of a series of important legal and administrative texts. This presentation will analyze these newly discovered texts and other visual materials to assess whether or not the Qin was the horrible oppressive totalitarian, “legalist” regime that it was claimed to be in later history, or whether living and working under the Qin had their advantages and pleasures.

Robin Yates was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada, Division of the Humanities of the Academy of the Arts and Humanities, in 2010.  His most recent publication, a collaboration with Anthony Barbieri-Low, Law, State, and Society in Early Imperial China: A Study with Critical Edition and Translation of the Legal Texts from Zhangjiashan Tomb no. 247, was published in 2015.

Dr. Yates was invited to The University of Tennessee by Charles Sanft (History)

Dr. Jeffrey CoxDr. Jeffrey Cox
Professor of English and Humanities
University of Colorado, Boulder

Monday, February 20, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library
Title: “Knowing Romanticism”

Our ability to know romanticism—or any other historical field of knowledge—is troubled by an excess of information which threatens our ability to claim to know.  This excess of data was long hidden by an avoidance of the mass of cultural information available to us made possible by a fixation on the individual text and author.  This talk will explore a potential solution to these threats to knowing that lies in changing the processes or procedures by which we as humanists come to knowledge.  Humanistic culture—and the knowledge, the beauty, and truth it contains—is created by specific, particularized communities.  Communities create culture, and we can know that culture only through the work of living scholarly communities.

Professor Cox is the author or editor of 10 books and more than 40 articles. His book, Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Shelley, Keats, Hunt, and their Circle won the 2000 South Central Modern Language Association Best Book Award. Cox received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Keats-Shelley Association of America in 2009.

Dr. Cox was invited to The University of Tennessee by Adrian Del Caro (Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures)

March 6, 2017 - Maria Loh

r. Maria LohDr. Maria Loh
Professor in Art History
CUNY Hunter College

Monday, March 6, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Young Auditorium – Hodges Library

Title: "Titian's Desperate Vitality"

Titian was equal parts philosopher and magician; his touch inspirited, enlivened, and transformed lifeless materials pigment, oil, and thread into carne viva or living flesh. Focusing on the artist’s depiction of flesh and fur, this talk looks at how Titian's exploration into the very nature of things was a form of visual philosophy that resonated with both the forward looking scientific investigations of his time and the profound contestation of the truths and convictions that had been inherited from ancient and medieval authorities. 

Maria Loh was a predoctoral fellow at the Getty Research Institute (2000-2002), the Joanna Randall-MacIver Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College Oxford (2003-2004), the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2007-2009), and the Willis F. Doney Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2012-2013). Until 2016, she taught in the Department of History of Art at University College London. Her publications include Titian Remade. Repetition and the Transformation of Early Modern Italian Art (Los Angeles, 2007) and Still Lives: Death, Desire, and the Portrait of the Old Master (Princeton, 2015). She is the editor of Early Modern Horror (Oxford, 2011) and the co-editor of Mal’occhio: Looking Awry at the Renaissance (Oxford, 2009) and has published on: early modern portraiture and loss; “special affect” in early modern painting and sculpture; remakes in Chinese cinema; and the work of Sherrie Levine. She is completing Titian’s Touch, a monograph for the Reaktion series Renaissance Lives. Her next project Liquid Sky will explore visual representations of the pre-gravitational sky.

Dr. Loh was invited to The University of Tennessee by Dorothy Habel (Art)

March 20, 2017 - Tiya Miles

Dr. Tiya MilesDr. Tiya Miles
Mary Henrietta Graham Distinguished University Professor
Department of American Culture, Department of Afro-American
and African Studies, Department of History, Native American
Studies Program, Department of Women’s Studies
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

March 20, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library

Title: “The Call of the Ancestors: Historical Imagination and the Black and Native American Past”

This presentation describes a series of intersections and relationships between African Americans and Native Americans over time. The talk delves into cultural as well as historical materials and asks what tools scholars, students, and community members can use to unearth and interpret these hidden aspects of the American past.

Tiya Miles is the author of two prize-winning works of history, Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (2005) and The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (2010).  She has published historical fiction, The Cherokee Rose (2015), a travel narrative about historic sites of slavery, Tales from the Haunted South (2015), and various articles on women’s history and black and indigenous interrelated experience.  She is co-editor, with Sharon P. Holland, of Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (2006). Her work has been supported in recent years by the Mellon Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.  Miles is currently writing a history of slavery in Detroit.

Dr. Miles was invited to The University of Tennessee by Julie Reed (History)

March 30, 2017 - Clifford Ando

Dr. Clifford Ando
David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor of Humanities and
Professor of Classics, History and in the College
University of Chicago

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library

Title: “Knowing the Roman State: The Epistemics of Sovereignty”

Was the Roman empire a territorial state?  More precisely, when did the Romans come to think of themselves as ruling over a contiguous territory and governing all its people?  These questions become more urgent as we reflect on the very real limitations on state power in premodern societies.  Recent scholarship has urged that Roman words for units of rule—including the ancestors of the words "empire" and "province"—only acquired a stable meaning pointing to a unit of territory around the turn of the millennium.  The lecture traces the history of Roman concepts and technologies for imagining sovereignty over territory.

Clifford Ando is David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor and Professor of Classics, History and Law and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Ancient Religions at the University of Chicago and Research Fellow in the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies at the University of South Africa.  His research focuses on the history of religion, law, and government in the Roman and post-Roman worlds.  His books include Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (2000), which won the Society for Classical Studies’ Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit; The Matter of the Gods (2008); Law, Language and Empire in the Roman Tradition (2011); and Roman Social Imaginaries (2015).

His work has been supported by the ACLS, Huntington Library, Mellon Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study as well as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Max Weber Kolleg at the University of Erfurt. He has held visiting positions at Oxford University; the Collège de France; the University of Canterbury; the École Pratique des Hautes Études; the Université Panthéon-Assas; the University of Münster; the American Academy in Rome; the University of Erfurt; and the University of British Columbia

Dr. Ando was invited to The University of Tennessee by Jacob Latham (History)

April 6, 2017 - Peter Sabor

Dr. Peter SaborDr. Peter Sabor
Professor of English
McGill University
Thursday, April 6, 2017

Time: 4:00 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library
Title: “Jane Austen and the Common Reader: Contemporary Responses to Emma

Emma attracted more contemporary reviews than any other of Jane Austen’s novels. One of these critiques, by Walter Scott, showed considerable insight into Austen’s art, and its merits were acknowledged by the author herself. While Scott’s and the other published reviews have often been discussed, much less attention has been paid to responses to Emma by private individuals: ‘the common reader’, in the lexicographer Samuel Johnson’s famous phrase. These responses include the forty-one that Austen herself recorded in her ‘Opinions of Emma’, as well as many others unknown to her. Johnson praised what he termed ‘the common sense of readers, uncorrupted by literary prejudices’. This talk will consider whether contemporary readers of Emma showed the kind of common sense that Johnson admired, or whether they were simply befuddled.

Peter Sabor, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, is Professor of English and Canada Research Chair at McGill University, Montreal, where he is also Director of the Burney Centre.  His publications on Jane Austen include an edition of her early writings, Juvenilia (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Manuscript Works, co-edited with Linda Bree and Janet Todd (Broadview, 2013), and The Cambridge Companion to Emma (Cambridge University Press, 2015).  During a sabbatical year, 2015-16, he held three visiting fellowships: at Chawton House Library; at the Houghton Library, Harvard, as the Donald and Mary Hyde Fellow; and at Magdalen College, Oxford. This year he is a Traveling Lecturer for the Jane Austen Society of North America and a keynote speaker at several Austen conferences marking the 200th anniversary of her death.

Also Keynote speaker at the Jane Austen Author Festival April 6-8

Dr. Sabor was invited to The University of Tennessee by Hilary Havens (English)

We would like to thank the Office of Research & Engagement for their generous support.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.