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Distinguished Visiting Scholars in the Humanities

2017-2018 6th Annual Distinguished Lecture Series

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

Dr. Laurent DuboisDr. Laurent Dubois
Professor of Romance Studies and History and Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics
Duke University

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Time: 4 p.m.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library
Title: "On the Trail of the Banjo: America’s African Instrument"

What is the banjo?  As an iconic American instrument, it has been part of a wide range of musical traditions.  In this lecture, renowned historian Laurent Dubois traces the instrument’s origins, focusing on the earliest known descriptions from the seventeenth and eighteenth century Caribbean and North America, and offers an explanation for the banjo’s adaptability and enduring power as a creator of both sound and symbolism.

Laurent Dubois is Professor of Romance Studies and History and the Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics at Duke University.  He is the author of six books, including A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (2004), winner of the Frederick Douglass Prize, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012), and most recently The Banjo: America’s African Instrument (2016).  His writings on music and culture have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, and Slate.

Dr. Dena GoodmanDr. Dena Goodman
Lila Miller Collegiate Professor of History and Women’s Studies
University of Michigan

Monday, October 2, 2017
Time:  3:30 p.m.
Lindsay Young Auditorium – UT Hodges Library
Title:  “Building a Successful Life and Career in the Wake of the French Revolution”

Professor Goodman will trace the life and scientific career of French mining engineer Augustin-Henry Bonnard (1781-1857) across the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, and the July Monarchy. Despite the radical changes of political regime, Bonnard drew upon both Enlightenment values and family ties to the French monarchy to build a career and secure a family legacy for the future. In the politically turbulent world of revolutionary and post-revolutionary France, Bonnard succeeded by holding to a steady course laid out for him by his uncle that reflected in equal measure deep family traditions of royal service and a commitment to Enlightenment.

Dena Goodman is the Lila Miller Collegiate Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research centers on the cultural history of early modern France, with particular interests in the Enlightenment, women and gender, material culture, writing, and sociability. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Camargo, Mellon, and Voltaire Foundations. Her publications include The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (Cornell UP, 1994) and Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters (Cornell UP, 2009).

Dr. Robert CampanyDr. Robert Campany
Professor of Asian Studies and Religious Studies
Vanderbilt University

Monday, October 16, 2017
Time: 3:30 P.M.
Venue: Lindsay Young Auditorium – Hodges Library

Title: “The Culture of the Night: Dreams and Meaning-Making in Late Classical and Early Medieval China”

Why do we dream? While today science understands dreams to be the product of random mental activity, historical and anthropological perspectives give dreams more social and personal significance.  This lecture examines how dreams were defined in China roughly between 300 BCE and 700 CE in a wide range of texts.  When Chinese people woke from their dreams, they told of them, and those social exchanges resulted in the extensive record preserved for us to study.  The narratives provoke two questions of importance to us today: What are dreams?  And how should their meaning be ascertained?  What dreams may reveal is that even while sleeping, we are cultural, story-making beings.

Robert Campany is Professor of Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University.  His interdisciplinary research focuses on late classical and early medieval Chinese religious history ca. 300 BCE to 600 CE, in which Buddhist texts and teachings were first introduced to China and new Daoist religions arose.  His comparative, cross-cultural study of religion juxtaposes textual materials relevant to the history of Chinese religions to questions, approaches, and problems stemming from the comparative study of religions.  His recent publications include Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China (2012), and A Garden of Marvels: Tales of Wonder from Early Medieval China (2015).  He is currently working on a book-length study about dreaming, dream-interpretation, and vision narratives across the various Chinese religious traditions.

Dr. Leslie Pickering FrancisDr. Leslie Pickering Francis
Alfred C. Emery Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy
University of Utah

Friday, October 27, 2017

Keynote speaker at the Tennessee Valley and Agency (TVA) Conference


Professor Robert Weems, JrProfessor Robert Weems, Jr.
Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History
Wichita State University

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

Title: “The Evolution of the TRILLION Dollar African American Consumer Market”

A century ago, African Americans were not a viable consumer market due to a variety of social, economic, political, and demographic circumstances. As the 20th century progressed, African Americans realized their growing power as consumers and attracted the attention of a variety of American corporations. Today, while annual African American consumer spending has passed the trillion dollar mark, Black consumption patterns represent spending weakness, rather than spending power.

Robert Weems, Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University. He received his PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his career, Professor Weems has published and spoken widely in the areas of African American business and economic history. His current research projects include the forthcoming co-edited book, Building The Black Metropolis: African American Entrepreneurship in Chicago, scheduled to be published in the fall of 2017.

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

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