Faculty Colloquium: An Interactive Introduction to Knot Theory

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this Friday, February 24th at 3 pm. in the EATON 425 for our fourth Faculty Colloquium of this semester. (Please note the change in location) Treats will be provided.

Inga Johnson, Professor of Mathematics

Title: An Interactive Introduction to Knot Theory

As part of my last sabbatical, my collaborator, Allison Henrich, and I completed our book An Interactive Introduction to Knot Theory (published by Dover, January 2017). Our text is unique not because of the mathematics that it contains, but rather due to the pedagogy it employs. We have designed the book to be used in an inquiry-based setting where students independently figure out, derive, and create many of the major results of knot theory while using our book as a guide. The book contains definitions, exercises, and statements of theorems, but the proofs and arguments that underlie the theory are left for readers to develop as they progress through the text. This active-learning pedagogy places the students ideas and arguments as the centerpiece of the course. As a result, class meetings include little to no lecture but are instead filled with student presentations followed by a process of questions and vetting by their peers.

In my talk I will discuss the following questions: what is the difference between math research and writing a mathematical book? How does an inquiry-based course compare to a “traditional” mathematics course? What goes into planning and managing an inquiry-based course, and how does one create inquiry-based activities? What is knot theory, and why is it a good topic for inquiry-based pedagogy? I will also discuss current research on student outcomes when inquiry-based methods are used and how those outcomes compare to non-inquiry-based courses.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: Prosody and Time in Musical Settings of Emily Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this Friday, February 10th at 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room for our third Faculty Colloquium of this semester. Treats will be provided.

Marva Duerksen, Associate Professor of Music, Women’s & Gender Studies

Title: Prosody and Time in Musical Settings of Emily Dickinson

Musical settings of Emily Dickinson’s poems—some 3,000 by one collector’s reckoning—comprise a core component of the American art-song repertory and a sustained and wide-ranging constituent of her reception. That said, a mutually insightful conversation between musical and literary scholarly communities lies largely untapped, most especially in that facet of Dickinson’s poems that she herself highlights conspicuously and that constitutes a shared concern in both poetry and music: prosody, and its companion, time.

Several questions arise: how can literary prosodic method inform analysis of musical settings of her works? And, what insights can composers offer the literary community as they interpret the poet’s rhythmic and metric designs? More specifically, how do composers execute in music signal elements of Dickinson’s prosody—the familiar “dash,” a startling approach to rhyme, disruptions of conventional grammar, and idiosyncratic lineation? Then, how do composers’ renderings of such features through specially tempered rhythmic pacing, multi-layered rhythmic designs, and heterogeneous musical vocabularies in turn impact our comprehension of the disruptions endemic to her work? Finally, how can these analyses inform the categories of time—diachronic and synchronic—vital to Dickinson’s poetic project? Exploring these questions through literary models and musical settings by composers Ernst Bacon, Vincent Persichetti, and Niccoló Castiglioni provides a starting point for the dialogue proposed here.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: Richard Francaviglia

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this week, Friday, February 3rd at 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room for our second Faculty Colloquium of this semester. Treats will be provided.

Richard Francaviglia
, Professor Emeritus
Title: Imagining the Atacama Desert 

Through the analysis of maps and written narratives I will demonstrate how the Atacama Desert of South America was discovered, and then re-discovered, over nearly five centuries in a series of sequential phases. From about 1530 to 1700, “Atacama” designated a remote but strategic political province whose lack of population rather than desert climate was emphasized. After about 1700, however, the Atacama began to be identified as an arid region as a result of increasingly scientific mapping and exploration. In this transitional phase, the Atacama was part of a broader pattern in which the political mapping of empires was gradually supplemented by thematic physical or scientific mapmaking. In the third stage, which began in the mid-1830s, the Atacama Desert became linked to increasingly strong nationalist impulses and the rapidly growing power of international corporate developments in transportation and mineral extraction. In the fourth and current stage, which began about 1945, the Atacama began to be promoted and marketed as the quintessential desert worth experiencing for its uniqueness — something early explorers would have found incomprehensible. Past, present, and future, the Atacama reveals much about how places are discovered, and then re-discovered, through time.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: Alexander Rocklin

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this week, Friday, December 9th at 3 pm. in the Library Instruction Room for final Faculty Colloquium of this semester. (Rescheduled from original date of November 11th.) Treats will be provided.

Alexander Rocklin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Title: Race, Religion, and the Magic of Secularism in Antebellum AmericaAlexander Rocklin

Come meet the Fakir of Ava, the unrivaled magician and necromancer who will perform scientific illustrations showing through practical experiments the impositions of the Pagan Priesthood ancient and modern! Taking as my example the magician the Fakir of Ava, this talk examines the mid-19th century spectacle of stage-magic performances as a mode of popular secularism in the United States. If we understand secularism not simply as an inevitable political project but what John Modern calls a “conceptual environment” that makes the category religion a self-evident way of dividing up the world, this paper examines one mode through which the religious and the not-religious were naturalized for Americans. Taking religion and race as defined together, I will also analyze the ways in which popular secularism created particular racial-religious hierarchies that drew on and connected Americas to broader trends in colonial knowledge production across the globe. Prepare to be Amazed (or at least educated)!

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: Sarah Bishop

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Sarah Clovis Bishop, Associate Professor of Russian, will talk at this Friday’s Faculty Colloquium on Performing the Poet: Elena Shvarts’s “The Visible Side of Life.” Dec. 2nd @ 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room. Treats will be provided.

In 2010, director Boris Pavlovich and actress Yana Savitskaya created and staged The Visible Side of Life, a one-woman show based on the prose and poetry of Elena Shvarts (1948-2010), a central figure in late Soviet and post-Soviet Russian literature. Then based in Kirov, Russia at the “Theater on Spasskaya,” Savitskaya and Pavlovich had been exploring Shvarts’s verse for over a year, delving into her autobiographical prose to understand it more fully. Just as they were ready to approach the poet about their work, they learned of her death. They abandoned their poetic etudes and turned instead to a dramatic work in which they imagined the last hours of the poet’s life. Pavlovich has described it as a “quasi-biography”; an image of “our Elena Shvarts whom we failed to meet.”

The performance has since traveled to St. Petersburg, Shvarts’s home, and is now part of the repertory at the Bolshoi Drama Theater (BDT). Most recently, the show received its American premiere at Princeton, Harvard, and right here at Willamette. I will discuss the performance in its various incarnations, highlighting the many boundaries that it tests–between reality and fantasy; the visible and invisible; prose and poetry; performer and audience.

All are invited to attend this talk. We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: Rethinking the Oregon Story

Please join us this week, Friday, November 18th at 3 pm. in the foss_smHatfield Room for our ninth Faculty Colloquium of this semester.  Treats will be provided.

Christopher Foss
, Adjunct Professor, Tokyo International University of America
 

Title:  Rethinking the Oregon Story: The Importance of International Affairs to Oregon’s Political History Since World War II

Oregon’s political history has traditionally been summed up by a self-confident, even triumphal, phrase: “The Oregon Story”.  In the narrative expounded by proponents of The Oregon Story, visionary political leaders—particularly Governors Tom McCall and Robert Straub—and a variety of like-minded grassroots politicians and activists saved post-World War II Oregon from the urban decay and environmental degradation that plagued many other states.  My work argues, by contrast, that the real Oregon story had less to do with innovations within the state, and more to do with the state’s relationship to the world.  By refocusing Oregon’s political history on elected officials who were active in international affairs, and by analyzing patterns of defense spending, trade, and immigration, this project encourages us to reconceive the Oregon story beyond state—and even national—boundaries.  I contend that after World War II, Oregon became not only a more livable state thanks to McCall and Straub, but, perhaps surprisingly, a more economically and culturally diverse place, thanks to a new focus by its civic, business, and community leaders on the ways it is interconnected with the globe.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: New Statistics

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this Friday, September 30th at 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room for our third Faculty Colloquium of this semester. Treats will be provided.friedrich_sm

James Friedrich, Professor of Psychology

Title: The “New Statistics”: Improving Statistical Practices to Benefit Science and the Public

Abstract: Have you ever wondered what it means to say something is “statistically significant”? Would it surprise you to know that many professionals are nearly as confused as the general public? Natural and behavioral scientists have long relied upon the questionable practice of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST), and its logic and language have come to permeate public (mis)understandings of statistical evidence. Newer data analytic approaches emphasizing margins of error, strength of relationship, and the synthesis of multiple studies through meta-analysis are moving from highly recommended to mandatory practices in scholarly outlets. This talk discusses some of the common abuses and misconceptions of the “old statistics” and highlights how the long-overdue transition to these “new statistics” will better serve science and the general public. Explanations will be more conceptual than mathematical, highlighting benefits both to data analysts and research consumers. The role of the QUAD center in supporting these best practice with students and faculty will also be discussed.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium, Ivan Welty

Please join us this Friday, September 16th at 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room for our second Faculty Colloquium of this semester. Treats will be provided.

Ivan Welty, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Title: My Semester in Hanoi

Abstract: Last year I spent 6 months in Hanoi as a Fulbright US Scholar. In this talk, I’ll describe the experience, concentrating on (1) the current scene in Vietnam as I came to understand it; (2) tips for colleagues weighing their own Fulbright applications, including practical matters like housing and children’s schooling; and (3) possibilities for future collaboration and exchange with partners in Vietnam. So my aim is both to report my experience and to arouse interest at Willamette in Fulbright and Vietnam.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.


Newly-Emerging Technologies and the Future of Humanity

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us tomorrow, Friday, September 9th at 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room for our first Faculty Colloquium of this semester. Treats will be provided.

Govindan Parayil, Mark and Melody Teppola Presidential Distinguished Visiting Professor

Title: Newly-Emerging Technologies and the Future of HumanityGovindan Parayil

Abstract: Recent advances in biological, computer and material sciences have made many thinkers to revisit the age-old warnings about the dangers of run-way technological change. This, in addition to the threat to all life on earth due to run away climate change, adds to the doomsday scenario. Computer pioneer Bill Joy’s famous article, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” in WIRED magazine is getting renewed attention with a slew of books and articles about the threat to humanity’ future (see for example books by Nick Bostrom, Yuval Harari and others) due to advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence. In this lecture I will go over these issues and see if humanity’s future is, indeed, doomed as claimed. I will argue that, yes, we must be concerned, but the “post-human” tomorrow waiting for us should be least of our worries when we should be worried about global poverty, increasing inequality, civil wars, and environmental problems.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators


Faculty Colloquium: What I Learned in Prison

Dear Colleagues, buissm
Please join us this Friday, April 29th at 3 pm. in the Hatfield Room for our eleventh and final Faculty Colloquium of this semester.  Treats will be provided.

Melissa Buis Michaux, Associate Professor of Politics

Title: What I Learned in Prison

Abstract:  The United States currently incarcerates about 2.4 million men, women and children.  The number of incarcerated does not take into account how many people’s lives are touched by our extensive system of punishment, including those on parole or probation; children of incarcerated parents; and communities that support prison systems.  Furthermore, racial disparities in arrests, sentencing, and prison time call into question our guarantees of equal justice and fundamental fairness.  Inside the prison walls, many prisoners are subject to a system of control that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation.  All of this I knew before I stepped inside a prison.  Come hear what I learned—about prison, the people behind the walls, and myself—once I went inside.  I will also be joined by some students from my “Reforming Criminal Justice” class that has been going inside the Oregon State Penitentiary this semester and working alongside prisoners.

Please feel free to invite students to attend this talk.

We look forward to seeing you there.
Doreen Simonsen and Bobby Brewer-Wallin
Faculty Colloquium Coordinators