'Trespassing:' ISI Announces Call for 2016-2017 Fellows

 
Faculty Seminar 2016-17: Call for Applications

Trespassing

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.

A disciplinary example is the lengthy critique of the standard practice of historians in the second epilogue to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Was Tolstoy trespassing and thereby intruding on a domain that properly belonged only to historians? Did his historiography mar War and Peace as literature? Alternatively, isn’t War and Peace admired for so effectively combining literature and history, and inventing a new form of the novel in the process? War and Peace may be emblematic of the 19th century’s scientific, academic, and aesthetic trespassing of the boundaries between disciplines and modes of investigation, but the 21st century has notable equivalents. Philosophers study neuroscience and neuroscientists study philosophy, economists use psychology and psychologists use economics, biologists model language change and linguists model evolution, computer scientists produce works of art and artists write code. This is a handful of examples among many in today’s scientific, academic and aesthetic practices.

A more fraught case of apparent trespass concerns today’s massive movement of migrants and refugees. Stakes are high as activists, policy-makers, opponents, and migrants themselves ask by whom and how boundaries should be controlled or policed. What is involved in crossing boundaries, both for those who cross, and those in the host territory? What are the losses, what are the gains? Are host locales enriched by new energies and new compassions, developing new versions of identity and purpose? What are the ethics of hosting that might diminish or even negate the hierarchy of ‘host’ and ‘intruder’? Are nations and their citizens morally obligated to accept the influx of migrants and refugees, just as practitioners of particular disciplines may be obliged to accept the contributions of ‘outsiders’?

We invite colleagues to reflect on the act of trespassing and examine it as an intellectual, scientific, artistic, political, social, cultural or legal act. We also invite you to trespass in your questions and design. 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?

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute is a faculty forum for discussion and engagement across the disciplines. Each year the focal point of our activity is a seminar organized around a specific topic. No matter your field, period, cultural focus, discipline or perspective, we call on colleagues from the humanities and arts to the social sciences and sciences to bring your own inspiration to our theme and tell us how you would like to approach it. We invite you to submit a proposal setting out your particular interests. All fellows will receive a $1500 research allowance.

The proposal should describe in 1-2 pages the nature of your project and how you would present it to the seminar. The proposal should be accompanied by a copy of your c.v. The 8-10 fellows who are selected will meet at regular intervals during the academic year to discuss presentations from each seminar member in turn (each fellow presents once). Among the obligations of the group will be a capstone event at the end of the year. Meetings are on Fridays at lunch, so you must be free at that time. Proposals should be sent by email to isi@umass.edu by Monday, February 29th, 2016.

For more information on the seminar or ISI, please contact the Director, Stephen Clingman, at clingman@english.umass.edu or see our website at www.umass.edu/isi. Major funding for ISI comes from the Provost, and the Deans of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, with additional funding from the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

Interdisciplinary Studies Institute: Director and Board Members
 
Stephen Clingman, ISI Director, Department of English
Lee Badgett, Center for Public Policy and Administration
Janice Irvine, Department of Sociology
Lisa Henderson, Department of Communication
John Kingston, Department of Linguistics
Randall Knoper, Department of English
Kathleen Lugosch, Department of Architecture
Banu Subramaniam, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Achebe Symposium Videos Now Available

Video recordings of the panel discussions and presentations during the our 2015 symposium, 'Forty Years After: Chinua Achebe and Africa in the Global Imagination,' are now available on our website. You can follow this link, or select "Achebe Images" in the main menu above. Copies of the video recordings have also been shared with the W.E.B. Dubois Library and Special Collections, and will be available for use in Moodle and Blackboard courses for online streaming. For more information on how to embed the library's resources into your class's learning management system page, see IT's instructions here

For a copy of the program, please see the 'Achebe Symposium' link above for a detailed list of the panelists and their biographies.

Lee Badgett Discusses New Book, The Public Professor

Lee Badgett, ISI Board member and director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, will discuss her new book The Public Professor: How to Use Your Research to Change the World on Wednesday, January 27 at 4 p.m. in the Amherst Room of the Campus Center. Amy Shalet, from the department of sociology and director of the Public Engagement Project, will moderate the event. Elizabeth Chilton, former ISI Engagement fellow, will comment along with Sylvia Brand from the department of resource economics.

 The book was published this month from New York University Press. Among the book's many positive reviews, Urvashi Vaid, author of Irresistible Revolution praises, "From one of the foremost publicly engaged scholars in the country, this brilliant and groundbreaking primer for academics interested in applying their expertise in the policy realm is also a deeply useful manual for all policy advocates. Combing astute power analysis of how policy is made with strategic communications advice, stories of real-life experience with an accessible and clear style, Lee Badgett has created an essential training tool for every academic, graduate student, law student and advocate interested in informing public policy debates." 

ISI Cosponsors 'Methods' Symposium

ISI is proud to sponsor the upcoming 'Methods' symposium, an interdisciplinary one-day symposium devoted to the question of method hosted by graduate students from the English Department at UMass, Amherst. The symposium, held on March 11, will include three workshops designated as queer studies, postcolonial studies, or black studies, to which interested students can apply.  The symposium invites graduate students from across the humanities and social sciences whose work makes methodological interventions in queer, postcolonial, and/or black studies to participate in workshops and a panel discussion that ask the question, "What methods; why now?" The workshops will be facilitated by Heather Love (UPenn), Lisa Lowe (Tufts), and Christina Sharpe (Tufts), all of whom will also participate in a public roundtable. There is no cost to apply or participate in the workshops, and refreshments and a reception will be included. 

750-word proposals are due January 29, 2016 to methods@umass.edu. More information, including the full call for papers and description of the event, can be found on the Methods Symposium website

ISI Hosts "Forty Years After" Symposium to Commemorate Achebe's Lecture and Legacy

On October 14-15, the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute hosted the symposium, "Forty Years After: Chinua Achebe and Africa in the Global Imagination" to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Achebe's famous "Image of Africa" lecture. The lecture, which was originally presented as a Chancellor's Lecture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, was subsequently published in the Massachusetts Review and has since become celebrated and iconic: a remarkable moment both in literary criticism, and in a broader cultural assessment of how AFrican has been perceived and represented in the Western world. 

The symposium brought together speakers and panelists to discuss the impact of Achebe's lecture and its continuing legacy, commemorating the event and bringing the discussion into the present. Over the two days, approximately 500 people gathered in attendance to hear the speakers and panelists, which included Denja Abdullahi, Jules Chametzky, Johnnetta Cole, Achille Mbembe, Maaza Mengiste, Okey Ndibe, Chinelo Okparanta, Caryl Phillips, Esther Terry, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, and Chika Unigwe. Dr. Chidi Achebe, Chinua Achebe's son, spoke about his family's time in Amherst, and many others recalled Chinua's kindness, vision, and lasting influence. 

A short video, featuring interviews with some of the speakers, can be found here, courtesy of the Department of News and Media Relations at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.