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Smith students talk about their work to Smith faculty at 2017 Collaborations, Smith College

Each academic year the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty offers a variety of lectures, luncheons and faculty development workshops that feature Smith faculty and visiting professors.

Poster of civil war soldier at sunset under a tree next to a grave looking off into the distance
In 2018-19,  the 61st annual Engel lecture, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner and the Problem of Memory, will be presented by Michael Gorra, Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language & Literature, on Monday, February 25, at 4:30 pm in the Alumnae House Conference Hall, Smith College: What can the works of William Faulkner tell us about the Civil War — how can we use them to think about each other? The war is both everywhere and nowhere in Faulkner. He rarely writes about it explicitly and yet in its causes and consequences that conflict provides an explanation for everything in the Mississippi he describes. But more: it also shapes the deep structure of his imagination. This talk will focus on his 1929 novel, The Sound and the Fury, seeing its account of the way memory works in terms of Civil War memorials both North and South. 

The Katharine Asher Engel Lectureship at Smith College was established in 1958 by the National Council of Jewish Women to honor the memory of Mrs. Engel, its onetime president, a graduate of Smith College, 1920. Mrs. Engel's life was one of generous participation in educational, civic, religious and welfare activities. In endowing the lectureship, the council hoped to "create a bond between a remarkable woman, her college, and the organization to which she was devoted." Under the terms of the grant, the holder of the annual lectureship must be a member of the Smith College faculty who has made an outstanding contribution to knowledge in his or her field.

Photo of Michael Gorra
Michael Gorra came to Smith in 1985, and works primarily with 19th- and 20th-century fiction.

His most recent book, Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of An American Masterpiece (2012) was a finalist for several prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Earlier books include The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany (2004); After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie (1997); and The English Novel at Mid-Century (1990).

As editor Gorra has put together volumes of stories by Joseph Conrad and Henry James for Penguin, along with the Norton Critical Editions of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, including a Public Scholar Award, and a National Book Critics Circle award for his work as a reviewer. His essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the TLSThe Atlantic, and The New York Times Book Review, among others, and his travel essays have twice been included in the annual volumes of Best American Travel Writing. In 2014 he was a judge for the National Book Award in fiction.

Gorra's current book in progress is William Faulkner’s Civil War.

Photo of Professor Ogee
This spring, Frédéric Ogée joins the Smith College community as the 2018-19 William Allan Neilson Professor. Ogée will deliver a series of three public lectures. Videos of the lectures will be available on the Kahn Institute website following each lecture.

Frédéric Ogée is professor of English literature and art history at Université Paris Diderot. Ogée comes to Smith most recently from the Clark Art Institute, as the Kress Fellow in the Literature of Art before the Age of Art History. His main period of research is the long 18th century, and his publications include two collections of essays on William Hogarth, as well as “Better in France’? The Circulation of Ideas across the Channel in the 18th Century” (Lewisburg, 2005), Diderot and European Culture (Oxford, 2006), and J.M.W. Turner, Les Paysages absolus (Paris, 2010). In 2006–07, he co-curated the first ever exhibition on Hogarth for the Louvre. In 2014–17 he was a member of Tate Britain’s advisory council. He is currently preparing a monograph and exhibition on Thomas Lawrence for 2019.

Lecture Dates and Titles

March 4, 2019    “Truth, Nature, and Nation in British Art”
March 19, 2019   “Performing the Self in Enlightenment England: William Hogarth, Laurence Sterne and Modern Identity”
March 25, 2019    “J.M.W. Turner, Landscape, and History”

The Smith College Department of English is pleased to host Bruce Smith as the 2018-19 Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor in Renaissance Studies.

Bruce Smith is Dean’s Professor of English and Professor of English and Theatre at the University of Southern California. He studies the literature and culture of early modern England, including Shakespeare, gender, sexuality, acoustic ecology and historical phenomenology. Among his six published books, The Acoustic World of Early Modern England won the 2000 Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature, attracting the attention of theater professionals, communications specialists and musicologists. His current work explores what it was like to live in the kind of body imagined by early modern medicine and to perceive the world through that body. He is particularly interested in how important the senses and the passions were to perception before Descartes divorced the thinking mind from the sensing body in the middle of the 17th century.

Liberal Arts Luncheons

Liberal Arts Luncheons are sponsored by the Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP) and in Spring 2019 take place from noon–1 p.m. in the Alumnae House Conference Hall, unless otherwise noted.

Date Lecture Presenter(s)
February 28

Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism
Did you know that Smith is home to a leading women and gender studies journal published by Duke University Press? Founded in 2000, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism has spent nearly 20 years fostering scholarship by and about women of color feminisms and intersectionality. Come learn about Meridians and how you can be part of its pathbreaking mission.

Ginetta E.B. Candelario, Sociology & Latin American/Latin@ Studies
March 21

Why Do Bacteria Care about Nanotopography?
It is well documented that bacteria behave differently when they are attached to surfaces with nanoscale (<100 nm) topographical features than they do on flat surfaces or surfaces with more conventionally-scaled landscapes. What is not so clear is WHY this length scale--which is much smaller than the bacteria themselves--makes such a difference. A collaboration between the Queeney and Dorit Labs has produced the first model system used to systematically address this question, which has implications ranging from the prevention of biofilm-induced infections to the preferential culturing of cells for medical research.

Kate Queeney, Chemistry

March 28 What Do the Humanities Do? A Thought Experiment and a Conversation Rick Millington, English Language & Literature
April 4

Refugees, Renegades and Revolutionaries:  Interviews with Kurdish Women
Rojava, or Western Kurdistan, is a revolutionary political experiment in Northern Syria that attempts to create a radical democracy that is ethnically and religiously inclusive, self-governing, ecologically aware, and to fully empower women at all levels of society.  The Kurds are a stateless, marginalized, embattled people, subject to cultural genocide and disenfranchisement; the attempt to carve out a space that is safe from ISIS, Turkish incursion and the depredations of the Syrian civil war may be a noble experiment, or a boondoggle doomed to failure. Interviews with women, families, activists, artists, refugees and fighters tell a complicated story of partial success, multiple failures.

Ellen W. Kaplan, Theatre
April 18

Building a New World: Pioneering Female Architect Minerva Parker Nicholas, 1862-1948
Minerva Parker Nichols was the first independently practicing female architect in the United States. Over her career, Parker Nichols had over ninety commissions, including buildings for the Philadelphia and Wilmington New Century Clubs, and the home of Rachel Foster Avery, a gathering place for suffragists. Parker Nichols and many of her clients were part of the first generation of feminist, educated, independent career women who pushed the limits set by the male-dominated society of their day. This presentation is a preview of an exhibit on Parker Nichols’ life and work coming to Smith in spring of 2021.

Carrie Baker, Study of Women & Gender

Sigma Xi Luncheons

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, meets regularly for talks and a complimentary lunch throughout the year. Talks are open to all faculty, staff and students.

Talks begin at approximately 12:10 p.m. in McConnell Auditorium. A complimentary lunch is offered in McConnell Foyer. Please visit the Sigma Xi website for the schedule.