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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.

Liberal Arts Luncheons

Liberal Arts Luncheons are sponsored by the Provost and Dean of the Faculty. LALs will be held on Thursdays in the Neilson Browsing Room, unless otherwise noted.  Talks begin at approximately 12:10 p.m.,  a complimentary lunch is offered for the first 40 attendees (first come, first served). 




September 21

Paradiplomacy in Hard Times: Cooperation and Confrontation in Subnational US-China Relations

Sara Newland, Assistant Professor of Government 

September 28

The Persistent Presence of Absence

Pamela Petro, Lecturer of English Language & Literature, Jacobson Center

October 5

Proust’s Madeleine: To Eat, or not to Eat–That is the Question

Martine Gantrel, Professor of French Studies

October 12

The Neurodevelopmental Mechanisms Linking Environmental Experience and Executive Function

Maya Rosen, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience


October 26

Adventures with Amoebae

Laura Katz, Elsie Damon Simonds Professor of Biological Sciences

November 9

The PLACE Lab: Centering Community-building, Art and Justice in the Field of Plant Physiology

Jess Gersony, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

November 16

21st Century Soothsayer: Modern Divination in an Uncertain World

T. Susan Chang, Lecturer of English Language & Literature, Jacobson Center

November 30 — CANCELED 

How to Swim Through Goo — CANCELED 

Becca Thomases, Professor of Mathematical Sciences

December 7

Accountable Datasets: Social Advocacy and the Shaping of Public Interest Knowledge

Lindsay Poirier, Mass Mutual Assistant Professor of Statistical and Data Sciences

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.

Faculty Development Events

The Office of the Provost offers a variety of faculty development workshops and events throughout the year. Please visit the office’s Faculty Development webpage for the schedule.


Eszter Hargittai

Eszter Hargittai ’96 is a Professor and holds the Chair in Internet Use & Society in the Department of Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich. She is Fellow of the International Communication Association and an External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She is past Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. Before moving to Zurich, she was the Delaney Family Professor at Northwestern University.

 Hargittai’s research focuses on the social and policy implications of digital media with a particular interest in how differences in people’s Internet skills influence what they do online, and how these may translate into changes in life chances. Hargittai is author of Connected in Isolation: Digital Privilege in Unsettled Times (The MIT Press, 2022), editor of the Handbook of Digital Inequality (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021), and three books on the behind-the-scenes realities of doing empirical social science research.

Her work has been featured in many popular media outlets in the United States and internationally. Her research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Microsoft Research, Nokia, Google, Facebook, and Merck, among others.

Lecture Dates and Titles

Lecture 1. The Black Box of Information Access in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Wednesday, September 27 at 5 p.m. in the Neilson Browsing Room 

While we know that artificial intelligence plays an increasingly important role in what information people encounter in everyday life, we know surprisingly little about people’s awareness and understanding of such technologies. Algorithm skills are an important new dimension of Internet skills, which refers to the efficient, effective, and informed use of digital technologies. This presentation will first review work on more general Internet skills to show how these vary by user background and are an important component of digital inequality. Then, the talk will shed light on people’s algorithm skills drawing on data collected through interviews in several countries and through national surveys of US adults.

Lecture 2. Digital Inequality During Pandemic Lockdowns
Thursday, October 26 at 5 p.m. in the Neilson Browsing Room

Reception Afterward Hosted by the Provost in the Skyline Reading Room

Rarely is access to information as important as during a global health crisis. During the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, at a time when information could mean the difference between life and death, information inequalities were of paramount significance. As people scrambled to shift ever more activities online, having robust home Internet access and the necessary skills to navigate digital technologies efficiently became increasingly important. Drawing on national survey data collected in the early days of the pandemic in three countries (US, Italy, Switzerland), this talk shares how people’s digital privilege related to their knowledge and misconceptions about the virus with consequences for whether they stayed safe during lockdowns.

Lecture 3. Older Adults and Social Media: Opportunities and Challenges
Tuesday, November 14 at 5 p.m. in the Neilson Browsing Room

Although often dismissed as out-of-touch with technology, the majority of older adults (60+) in the United States now use social media. What potential drawbacks and benefits might result from using such platforms? What encourages adoption of new services and what leads to their rejection? This talk shares insights from both interview- and survey-based research conducted in multiple countries about older adults’ experiences with a variety of social media. Contrary to popular belief, older adults represent significantly varied experiences with online technologies and treating them as one homogenous group of uninformed users misses opportunities for peer support and potential advantages for well-being.


Bruce R. Smith

Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Professor in Renaissance Studies

Fall 2022

Bruce R. Smith’s interests include Shakespeare, sound studies, Queer studies, and media studies, often in combination. His books include Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England (Chicago, 1991), The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor (Chicago, 1999), Shakespeare and Masculinity (Oxford, 2000), The Key of Green: Passion and Perception in Renaissance Culture (Chicago, 2009), Phenomenal Shakespeare (Wiley Blackwell, 2010), and Shakespeare | Cut: Rethinking Cutwork in an Age of Distraction (Oxford, 2016). Smith’s full CV is available.

Fall 2022 Lecture Dates and Information

Renaissance Poetry Across Media

In our own media-savvy time, we realize that what gets communicated is very much a function of how it gets communicated. These three lectures investigate manuscript, print, sculpture, architecture and music as media for communicating 16th and 17th century poems in Shakespeare's England.

All lectures will take place in the Neilson Browsing Room and begin at 5 p.m.

This series is hosted by the Department of English and made possible by the Ruth and Clarence Kennedy Endowment for Renaissance Studies.

Lecture Date

Lecture Title

Monday, September 26

Poetry, Media and Across

Monday, October 31

Poetry, Sculpture and Architecture

Tuesday, November 29

Poetry and Music

The Engel Lectureship is granted annually to a Smith faculty member who has made a significant contribution to his or her field. The lecture was established in 1958 by the National Council of Jewish women in honor of Engel, its onetime president and a 1920 Smith graduate. The 2024 Engel Lecturer will be Steve Waksman.


Spring 2024

The 65th Katharine Asher Engel Lecture 

The Politics of Scale: Live Music Crowds from Jenny Lind to Taylor Swift



Thursday, April 1, 2024 at 5 p.m. — Neilson Library, Klingenstein Browsing Room, Smith College

Steve Waksman

Live music is one of the most significant forms of public congregation that we have and the crowds that attend musical events have frequently been perceived to have a significance at least equal to, if not outweighing, the character of the musical artists themselves. A major impulse in the modern history of live music has been to gather the largest crowd possible, a tendency that has an important connection to the growth of the live music business, within which big crowds equal money and profit. Yet commercial motives alone do not explain the importance of live music crowds, which also serve as an index of the varied “imagined communities” to which music gives rise. In this presentation, I will survey four moments in live music history when the crowd has been invested with significance as an emblem of broader struggles over collective identity and musical value: Swedish concert singer Jenny Lind’s U.S. tour in the early 1850s; the Beatles’ 1965 performance at New York’s Shea Stadium; Beyoncé’s 2018 headline appearance at the Coachella festival; and Taylor Swift’s current Eras tour, which is on track to become the highest-grossing concert tour of all-time.

Steve Waksman is Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor of Music and Professor of American Studies at Smith College. His publications include the books Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience (Harvard University Press, 1999), and This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk (University of California Press, 2009), which was awarded the Woody Guthrie Prize by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, U.S. Chapter. With Reebee Garofalo, he is the co-author of the sixth edition of the rock history textbook, Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the U.S.A. (2014), and with Andy Bennett, he co-edited the SAGE Handbook of Popular Music (2015). His essays have appeared in such collections as the Cambridge Companion to the Guitar, Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop, Metal Rules the Globe, and The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre and Popular Music. On WRSI radio, The River in Western Massachusetts, he can be heard as the “Doctor of Rock,” offering bits of popular music history in support of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. His latest book is Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé (Oxford University Press, 2022), which received the Music in American Culture Award from the American Musicological Society and won 3 rd place honors for the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, given by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2008, Waksman was the keynote speaker at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters event honoring the legacy of musician and inventor Les Paul. His dissertation on the electric guitar won the 1998 Ralph Henry Gabriel prize awarded by the American Studies Association. Currently he is completing work on The Cambridge Companion the Electric Guitar, co-edited with Jan-Peter Herbst.

A lecture by Suleiman Mourad

November 30, 2023

Myra M. Sampson Professor of Religion
Defining Islam: An Impossible Possibilty (! ?)
Neilson Browsing 5 p.m.

Suleiman Mourad

A lecture by Erin Pineda

December 12, 2023

Phyllis Cohen Rappaport '68 New Century Term Professor
Displays of Force: Protest and the Spectacular Violence of Police
Neilson Browsing 5 p.m.

Erin Pineda

A lecture by Carrie Baker

April 11, 2024

Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Chair of American Studies
The History and Polictics of Abortion Pills
Neilson Browsing 5 p.m.

Carrie Baker
Celebrating Collaborations

Celebrating Collaborations

“Celebrating Collaborations: Students and Faculty Working Together” showcases and celebrates the scholarly work of Smith College students. Students present the results of their senior theses, independent study projects, research seminars and other creative work as part of oral sessions, panels, poster sessions, exhibits and performances.

Learn More About Collaborations