• Citron Public Lecture 

ISI to Host Symposium in Honor of James W. Foley

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute will host a symposium titled “The Task of Witnessing: A Symposium in Honor of James W. Foley” in collaboration with the Journalism Department and the MFA Program for Poets and Writers, University of Massachusetts from September 19-20, 2016.

James W. Foley was a student at the University of Massachusetts from 1999 to 2003, in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers in the English Department. Both while he was on our campus, and afterwards when he worked for Teach for America in Arizona and Chicago, he was dedicated to working in and with marginalized communities, helping students to widen their educational range and find their own voices. At UMass he volunteered at a local care center for unwed mothers, helping them earn their GEDs; both as teacher and journalist he was active in mentoring others. He worked on development projects in Iraq, and became an embedded journalist with the Indiana National Guard, and then with the US Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, before becoming a freelance journalist working on the front lines in both Libya (where he was abducted and released) and in Syria. There he was kidnapped and ultimately executed in the most horrific and public way by the so-called Islamic State in August 2014. This campus, along with many others, mourned his loss deeply.

Our symposium is offered in memory of James Foley, to pay tribute to him by considering a range of issues that not only affected his life but have also impacted the lives of many around the world. Since 2001, if not before, we have been caught up in various forms of undeclared and undefined war. Both in the US and around the world we face a baffling array of developments which are hard to contain in any coherent form of understanding. We live in a context of shifting boundaries, large-scale movements of people, strange mixtures of enmity and belief, the unnerving event and its instant reproduction. What, in these circumstances, are the complex tasks of witnessing, of giving voice, of attempting to tell the truth? How do we see, how do we write, how do we report? How and where do we operate in the borderlands—both lived and conceptual—of encounter? What are the obligations of witnessing—and what are the dangers? How do we give voice to the otherwise unreported, to the unknown, to those whose voices would otherwise go unheard? How do we, as readers and viewers, witness atrocity? What, in short, are the tasks and perils of witnessing in our current world?

Funding for The Task of Witnessing comes from the Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; the Provost, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; College of Humanities and Fine Arts; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Interdisciplinary Studies Institute; Department of Journalism; Department of English; Department of History; Department of Communication; Commonwealth Honors College; Nexus, Mt Holyoke College; and the Creative Writing Center, Amherst College.

Please click "Read More" for a full schedule.

Russworm Edits Essay Volume: Theorizing Tyler Perry

TreaAndrea Russworm, former 'Secrecy, Publicity, Privacy, Security' fellow, is an editor of a collection of essays published by University of Mississippi press titled From  Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry. The collection contends that Perry and his work are "at the epicenter of a rich and needed interdisciplinary dialogue," and that Perry "must be understood as a figure at the nexus of converging factors, cultural events and historical traditions." Russworm's co-editors include Samantha N. Sheppard, assistant professor of cinema and media studies at Cornell, and Karen M. Bowdre, an independent scholar whose work has appeared in Black Camera; Cinema Journal; and Falling in Love Again: The Contemporary Romantic Comedy. NPR commentator Mia Mask of Vassar College commended the collection: ​“Russworm, Sheppard, and Bowdre offer a rigorous collection of well-timed essays on an underserved area of American cinema. [Their book] is an engaging anthology that places industrial practices into dialogue with auteurist sensibilities and theoretical models. It enables scholars, students, and spectators to consider the complexities and contradictions embedded in African American culture and filmmaking.”

More information can be found on the University of Mississippi Press's website

Lugosch Receives Distinguished Faculty Award

Kathleen Lugosch, ISI Board member, received the 2016 Distinguished Faculty Award from the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. Lugosch received the award on April 4 at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Lugosch's award recognizes her role as the founding director of the Master of Architecture program at UMass, the first accredited architecture degree at a public university in New England. The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize alumni, faculty, and friends of the University who have translated their UMass Amherst experience into distinguished achievement in the public, business, or professional realsm, and bring honor to UMass Amherst and their field of endeavor. Click here for a full list of current and past award recipients. 

Kawar's Book Receives Awards

This summer, current ISI fellow Leila Kawar received two awards for her book, Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France.  Kawar was awarded the Herbert Jacob Award for the best book in Law and Society. The Committee noted that Contesting Immigration "shifts our focus from conventional questions that ask how political struggles influence compliance with official legal decisions and instead asks how legal advocacy shapes wider political debates and policies surrounding immigration." The full list of Law and Society award winners can be found here

Kawar also received the best book award of the Migration and Citizenship Section of the American Political Science Association. 

Contesting Immigration was published in 2015 by Cambridge University Press. 

ISI 'Trespassing' Fellows 2016-17

In the call for the 2016-17 ISI seminar, 'Trespassing,' ISI fellows were asked to reflect on the act of trespassing and examine it as an intellectual, scientific, artistic, political, social, cultural or legal act. Trespassing is ordinarily thought of as a misdemeanor, if not a crime, and as a violation of a declared boundary. Moreover, changes to what the boundary protected are ordinarily treated as damage. Trespassing is never encouraged, generally prohibited, and often punished. It is a phenomenon that can take many forms, often no more than setting foot across a property line, but also migrating or fleeing across a territorial boundary, or working in a discipline other than one’s own.What obstructions do trespassers encounter, whether from colleagues, citizens or others who claim ownership? What does trespassing disrupt in one’s own well-honed practice or sense of the familiar? What is damaged and what is generated? And finally, how is trespassing transformed into collaboration and remapping, finding neighbors, colleagues and compatriots in new versions of home?

Citron Residency Public Events: Lecture and Panel Discussion

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) is delighted to welcome Professor Danielle Citron, Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, who will visit UMass from April 4-8 as part of the 2016 ISI Residency. Professor Citron will present a public lecture entitled “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” on Tuesday, April 5 at 4:30 pm in Room 904-908 of the UMass Campus Center. In addition, Professor Citron will join current ISI Fellows Jennifer Fronc (History), TreaAndrea Russworm (English), and Jenny Vogel (Art) for a panel discussion on Wednesday, April 6 at 12:30 pm in Room 174-176 of the UMass Campus Center. The panel is titled “Identity CTRL: Trolls, Bullies, and Power in the Digital Age.” Professor Citron will also interact with students and faculty across the disciplines during seminars, classroom visits, and a meeting with this year’s ISI Faculty Fellows, who have been considering the topic of “Secrecy, Publicity, Privacy, Security” from various perspectives throughout the year.

Higginson Leads Seminar on April 13

On Wednesday, April 13, former 'Emancipation' fellow John Higginson will lead a seminar on 'Work, Workers and Industrial Transformation in Southern Africa' in Thompson Hall 919 at 4:00 pm. The event is cosponsored by the Economics Department, the  PERI African Development Policy Speakers Series, and the UMass Economic Department's History and Development seminar. Prof. Higginson's paper will be pre-circulated - please contact Prof. Johan Mathew.

Henderson Publishes Lead Article, Visiting Scholar

Lisa Henderson, former ISHA fellow and current ISI Board member, is a visiting scholar at McGill’s Institute for Gender, Feminist, and Sexuality Studies this Spring (https://www.mcgill.ca/igsf/about/visiting).  Her essay “Queers and Class: Toward a Cultural Politics of Friendship” appeared in December as the lead article in a special issue of Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism, published by The Raymond Williams Society.

Danielle Citron Residency, "Hate Crimes in Cyberspace"

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute is delighted to welcome Professor Danielle Citron, Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law, who will visit UMass from April 4-7 as part of the 2015-2016 ISI Residency. Professor Citron will present a public lecture entitled "Hate Crimes in Cyberspace" on Tuesday, April 5 at 4:30 p.m. (location to be announced). During her residency, Professor Citron will interact with students and faculty across the disciplines in a range of events, including graduate seminars, classroom visits, and meetings with faculty from Computer Science as well as this year's ISI Faculty Fellows, who have been considering the topic "Secrecy, Publicity, Privacy, Security" from various perspectives throughout the year.