Conversations with Williams Faculty about Writing and Publishing
Organized by the library and co-sponsored by the Dean of the Faculty's office, the Tuesday Teas series celebrates Williams authors and honors their writing and creative work. On four Tuesdays after spring break, we gather for tea and listen to faculty- authors talk about a recent publication/production and reflect on the joys and trepidations of the writing, creating and publishing process. Free and open to the public. 4:00 P.M. Sawyer Library
For questions or further information, contact Christine Ménard
APRIL 10, 2018
"The Tunnel at the End of the Light: Writing About Movies and Politics"
Jim Shepard, J. Leland Miller Professor of American History, Literature, and Eloquence
The Tunnel at the End of the Light
Publication Date: 2017
Given that most Americans proudly consider themselves non-political, where do our notions of collective responsibility come from? Which self-deceptions, when considering ourselves as actors on the world stage, do we cling to most tenaciously? Why do we so stubbornly believe, for example, that our country always means well when intervening abroad? The Tunnel at the End of the Light argues that some of our most persistent and destructive assumptions, in that regard, might come from the movies. In these ten essays Jim Shepard weaves close readings of film with cultural criticism to explore the ways in which movies work so ubiquitously to reflect how Americans think and act. Whether assessing the "high-spirited glee of American ruthlessness" captured in GoodFellas, or finding in Lawrence of Arabia a "portrait of the lunatic serenity of our leaders' conviction in the face of all evidence and their own lack of knowledge," he explores how we enter into conversations with specific genres and films--Chinatown, The Third Man, and Badlands among others--in order to construct and refine our most cherished illusions about ourselves. [Publisher's Review]
APRIL 17, 2018
"Giant Robots, Vampire Schoolgirls, and Other Serious Subjects: Writing About Japanese Animation"
Christopher Bolton, Professor of Comparative and Japanese Literature
Publication Date: 2018
For students, fans, and scholars alike, this wide-ranging primer on anime employs a panoply of critical approaches Well-known through hit movies like Spirited Away, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell, anime has a long history spanning a wide range of directors, genres, and styles. Christopher Bolton's Interpreting Anime is a thoughtful, carefully organized introduction to Japanese animation for anyone eager to see why this genre has remained a vital, adaptable art form for decades. Interpreting Anime is easily accessible and structured around individual films and a broad array of critical approaches. Each chapter centers on a different feature-length anime film, juxtaposing it with a particular medium--like literary fiction, classical Japanese theater, and contemporary stage drama--to reveal what is unique about anime's way of representing the world. This analysis is abetted by a suite of questions provoked by each film, along with Bolton's incisive responses. Throughout, Interpreting Anime applies multiple frames, such as queer theory, psychoanalysis, and theories of postmodernism, giving readers a thorough understanding of both the cultural underpinnings and critical significance of each film. What emerges from the sweep of Interpreting Anime is Bolton's original, articulate case for what makes anime unique as a medium: how it at once engages profound social and political realities while also drawing attention to the very challenges of representing reality in animation's imaginative and compelling visual forms. [Publisher's Review]
APRIL 24, 2018
"Periodical cicadas: stories about Santa Fe, synchrony, and an excellent protein source"
Julie Blackwood, Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Professor Blackwood research interests lie at the intersection of mathematics and ecology with a focus on developing and analyzing mathematical models that describe population-level ecological processes. Her research spans several topics in ecology including invasive insect management, disease ecology (both in humans and wildlife), and coral reef conservation. Recent publications included:
- "Modeling alternative stable states in Caribbean coral reefs", Natural Resource Modeling, 2017
- "Zika virus dynamics: When does sexual transmission matter? "Epidemics, 21:48-55, 2017
"Predicting bat colony survival under controls targeting multiple transmission routes of white-nose syndrome. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 409:60-69, 2016, discussed locally in an article in the Berkshire Eagle
In her talk "Periodical cicadas: stories about Santa Fe, synchrony, and an excellent protein source" professor Blackwood will discuss the research and writing of her next article on spatial synchrony of cicadas, forthcoming in 2018. See interview in the American Mathematical Society Blogs.
Who Speaks for Nature?
Publication Date: 2017
When natural scientists speak up in public about the material phenomena they have observed, measured, and analyzed in the lab or the field, they embody a distinctive version of political authority. Where does science derive its remarkably resilient, though often contested, capacity to give voice to nature? What efforts on the part of scientists and nonscientists alike determine who is regarded as a legitimate witness to material reality and whose speech is discounted as idle chatter, mere opinion, or noise? In Who Speaks for Nature?, Laura Ephraim reveals the roots of scientific authority in what she calls "world-building politics": the collection of practices through which scientists and citizens collaborate with and struggle against each other to engage natural things and events and to construct a shared yet heterogeneous world. Through innovative readings of some of the most important thinkers of science and politics of the near and distant past, including Rene; Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Giambattista Vico, and Hannah Arendt, Ephraim argues that the natural sciences are political because they are crucial sites in which the worldly relationships that bind together the human and nonhuman are inherited, augmented, and reconstructed. Who Speaks for Nature? opens a novel conversation between political theory, science, and technology studies and augments existing efforts by feminists, environmentalists, and democratic theorists to challenge the traditional binary separating nature and politics. In an age of climate change and climate-change denial, Ephraim brings theoretical understandings of politics to bear on real-world events and decisions and uncovers fresh insights into the place of scientists in public life. [Publisher's Review]