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Kahn Institute Short-Term Projects Fall 2013

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Kahn Institute will support short-term projects exploring subjects including traditional non-Western medicine, the digital humanities, and historical and collective memory. Each project will bring together an interdisciplinary group of faculty for in-depth discussions of their core topic, and many will include public events open to the academic and local communities. Here is an overview of the short-term projects scheduled for this year.

From Big Data to Hypercities and #alt-ac: Debates in the Digital Humanities

Organized by Dana Leibsohn, Art, and Hélène Visentin, French Studies

Anne Knowles, Professor of Geography, Middlebury College

This fall From Hypercities to Big Data and #alt-ac: Debates in the Digital Humanities will hold the third and final colloquia in its series exploring the impact of the digital humanities in education. For the past two semesters, Fellows in the project have come together to discuss the intellectual questions and opportunities that stem from the increasing use of technology in fields such as language and literature, art, film studies, history, religion and philosophy. This fall, they will conclude their work with a colloquium on the applications of geographic information systems (GIS) in the humanities.

This fall's session will open with a public lecture titled Visualizing Public Space by Anne K. Knowles, professor of geography at Middlebury College on Friday, November 8, 2013 at 12:00 Noon in the Carroll Room of the Campus Center. The lecture is free and open to the public, and pizza will be provided for the first 50 attendees.



Excavating the Image: The Belchertown State School by Randall Deihl

Organized by Jessica Nicoll, Director and Chief Curator, Smith College Museum of Art, and Ann Musser, Associate Director of Academic Programs and Public Education, Smith College Museum of Art

The Belchertown State School by Randall Deihl

Excavating the Image is an annual collaboration between the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute and the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA). Each year, an artwork in the Smith collection is the centerpiece for a cross-disciplinary discussion involving faculty from a range of departments and experts across various fields. In January 2014, this two-day colloquium will focus on a recent acquisition by American artist Randall Deihl depicting the Belchertown State School, a local asylum "for the feeble-minded" that closed in 1992 after decades of notoriously inhumane conditions and treatment of its patients.  Diehl’s artistic depiction (created in 1976) of this still-contested local site will serve as a springboard for investigations of the visual, social, psychological, economic, and historic echoes that intersect in this painting.

The project will take place on Thursday, January 9 and Friday, January 10, 2014. The call for faculty fellowship applications will be sent out in early November and the list of Fellows for the project will be finalized in December.


Collective and Historical Memory

Organized by Martha Ackelsburg, Government, and Reyes Lázaro, Spanish & Portuguese

Luce Lopez-Baralt, Distinguished Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature, University of Puerto Rico

Collective memory (national, regional and otherwise) is extremely selective.  Different regions within the same country might memorialize—or  delete—the past in different ways and for different reasons. Sometimes the past is too painful to confront; sometimes it is too painful to forget. A sense of collective memory can be utilized as a form of self-definition and national pride or as a locus of national shame.  Memories can also become wholly fictional, created as a way to justify current geopolitical policies or economic circumstances.  Complexity increases when one part of a country commemorates a past that another region attempts to erase. This short-term Kahn project will use Spain's precarious relationship with its past as a point of departure for a broader investigation of historical and collective memory. Fellows will be joined by Professor Luce Lopez-Baralt of the University of Puerto Rico, an expert in the intercommunal relations of medieval Spain, whose interdisciplinary work will serve as a springboard for the projectís explorations. Professor Lopez-Baralt will open the colloquium with a public lecture on Thursday, February 6, 2014. This lecture is free and open to the public. She will then join Fellows for a combination of presentations, open-ended discussion and shared readings over the next two days as the group works to see this most complex topic in a new way. The colloqium meetings will take place on Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8, 2014.

The call for faculty fellowships in this project will be sent out in December, 2013.

Leslie Jaffe, M.D., College Physician & Director, Health Services

Dr. Barry Kerzin

For well over a century, Western allopathic medicine has prided itself on using state-of-the-art science to address the increasing complex health issues of developed countries. Yet, Western medicine is arguably less successful in addressing aliments resulting from the challenges of living in a modern society, including depression, anxiety, stress and sleep disturbances. Partly because of questions about the effectiveness of Western medical treatments in these areas, the last several decades have witnessed a dramatic rise in alternative medical approaches. Eastern medicine, with its emphasis on natural healing and the integration of mind and body, has had widespread and growing appeal in the West. In turn, as Western patients are turning to Eastern medical approaches, there is still skepticism and concern among the Western medical establishment about their efficacy. Their questions are both scientific and philosophical: What are the limitations of alternative approaches? How should insurance companies evaluate these claims? What is the line between the physiological and the psychological? Where does medicine end and religion begin? This short-term Kahn project will examine these questions, and consider the relevancy of traditional Eastern medicine from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Fellows will be joined in the project by Dr. Barry Kerzin. Dr. Kerzin, an American doctor who is a personal physcian to His Holiness The Dalai Lama. Dr. Kerzin makes use of both traditional Tibetan medicine (Sowa Rigpa) and Western allopathic medicine and is uniquely able to speak to the relevancy of Eastern medicine from a Western perspective. He will open the colloquium with a public lecture on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 7:00 pm in the Neilson Browsing Room, Neilson Library. The lecture is free and open to the public. The colloquium meetings will take place on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29, 2014.

The call for faculty fellowships in this project will be sent out in January, 2014.

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