Sewanee Seminar Talks

The Talks | The Faculty

Professor Daniel Carter, Environmental Studies

 Thinking Like a Region in Rural Appalachia

Daniel has served in numerous civic and non-profit leadership roles in the region and is currently a founding board member of the Thrive Partnership, a regional planning initiative with the mission of “Educated People with Good Jobs Living in a Great Place.” Daniel will talk about this 3–year, 16-county regional planning effort involving citizens of Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama surrounding Chattanooga. The initiative was a unique consortium of volunteers from the public, private, educational, and non-profit sectors working to establish a vision for the region. 

 

Professor Maha Jafri, English

Victorian Violence

Victorian culture is famous for its obsession with social propriety. Yet despite their reputation for prudishness and repression, Victorian readers reveled in shocking depictions of physical, social, and psychological violence. To understand the central role that hostile actions and feelings played in Victorian literature and culture, we will examine a diverse set of texts, ranging from novels to newspapers, from etiquette manuals to evolutionary science. We will discover that Victorian literature developed compelling, surprising, and often disturbing ideas about violence—many of which remain with us today.

Reading Assignment: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

 

 Professor Stephanie McCarter, Classical Languages

 Cleopatra’s Nose and the Face of the World

Cleopatra is one of the most famous yet elusive women in history. A byword for beauty, we have no idea what she looked like. Legendary for her charm, none of her words have been recorded. In this lecture we will consider the connections between past and present iterations of the Cleopatra legend. We will look first at how contemporary popular images of Cleopatra derive largely from the hostile writings and propaganda of the men who defeated her. The portrait of Cleopatra as a dangerously alluring femme fatale diverges sharply from key ancient works of art, which gives us clues as to how Cleopatra herself was consciously shaping her self-image. Finally, we will examine some of the ways modern women are reshaping her legacy as a means of articulating their own agency and power. 

 

Professor Bethel Seballos, Chemistry

Forensics Under Fire

The challenge of using scientific analysis of physical evidence to aid in identifying and convicting criminals is a fascinating form of problem-solving. The first requirement for a career as a criminalist is a degree in a physical or biological science. Unfortunately, crime labs are notoriously underfunded and their work is often scrutinized. In addition, recent reports suggest an end to a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards. We will look at the history of crime-solving through the years and explore how technological advances have made the role of science in criminal investigation crucial, yet for too long, decisions regarding forensic investigation techniques have been made without the input of the science community. 

 

Professor Geoffrey Ward, Organist and Choirmaster

Jehan Alain (1911-1940) The Greatest French Composer who wasn’t…

We will explore the life, career and compositions of Jehan Alain. He wrote a great deal of music is a very short period of time. Alain’s influence over the past 77 years since his death has been tremendous. As part of this lecture I will include clips from an interview that I had with his sister Marie-Claire, who is considered to be the leading organist and pedagogue from the past century. Alain’s three mass settings and some of his organ music will be integrated into the lecture.