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Wolf Humanities Center 2020-2021

CHOICE


Welcome to a new academic year at the Wolf Humanities Center, an innovative research center charged with demonstrating how vital the humanities are to the life of the mind and the health of society, and how fundamentally connected they are with areas of inquiry in medicine, law, business, the arts, and the sciences. Our annual theme-based public events and fellowship programs, together with other efforts such as our Humanities at Large collaborations, invite people of all ages and places to join us in discovering our common stake in the “thinking arts.” This year, our theme is Choice, led by topic director Sophia Rosenfeld, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History. We hope our online intellectual community will enrich your days at this challenging time, and that you and your communities are coping. Details of the programs can be found here in our online-only brochure; please check this site regularly for updates and changes. Heartfelt thanks to our incredible staff members—Dru Baker, Sarah Milinski, Sara Varney, and Alexis Rider—for their hard work under difficult conditions this summer. Thanks also to Professor Ayako Kano, for her astonishing work since 2018 as Faculty Director of the Undergraduate Humanities Forum, and thanks and welcome to Associate Professor David Spafford as he takes over this role. The recent spectacles of police brutality against and murder of Black people in the US, as well as the worldwide protests that have risen up in response, have catalyzed an ongoing dialogue about how the Wolf Humanities Center can more actively participate in dismantling the structures of racism and other intersecting forms of violence and exclusion. For more details on our work-in-progress, please see wolfhumanities.upenn.edu/message-karen-redrobe. We welcome suggestions on this matter at wolfhumanities@upenn.edu. I will be stepping down at the end of June 2021 to make way for our new director, Jamal Elias, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies, who will be launching our Forum on Migration (2021-22), led by next year’s topic director Dagmawi Woubshet, Ahuja Family Presidential Associate Professor of English. We look forward to what lies ahead! In the meantime, we welcome our incoming fellows and speakers and look forward to learning with and from them—and you—this year. Best wishes and good health to you all, Karen Redrobe Director, Wolf Humanities Center


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Choice permeates human life— and never more so than today. It structures societies, cultures, and individual life stories, opening up possibilities for a multiplicity of actions, beliefs, identities, art forms, political stances, and more.   Yet neither the options available nor the opportunities to pick among them are ever evenly distributed. And both can foreclose other possibilities and limit the ways we live together. Who crafts the menu of options or invents the rules? Who gets to make the selections? Should everything be up for choosing? What are the alternatives? What can we ultimately learn about ourselves from looking at choice-making practices in different places, times, and communities? 

Decide with us in our 2020-2021 Forum on Choice. TOPIC DIRECTOR

SOPHIA ROSENFELD

Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History University of Pennsylvania


CALENDAR of EVENTS

FALL 2020 OCTOBER 14

The Art of Choosing SHEENA IYENGAR

Introduction and response by Allison K. Hoffman

OCTOBER 21

Parent Choices, Language Choice, and Deaf Flourishing

TERESA BLANKMEYER BURKE NOVEMBER 11

Lottocracy: A New Kind of Democracy ALEX GUERRERO NOVEMBER 18

Choice in the Time of a Pandemic RENATA SALECL

Response by David L. Eng

DECEMBER 9

The Pathos of Chosenness: Who are the Jews if not Exceptional TODD GITLIN OCTOBER – MARCH

Syncretism

PENN MUSEUM SECOND SUNDAY CULTURE FILMS All events will be presented online, and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. Registration is required for each event. An email confirmation with a link to the live webinar will be sent upon registration. ASL interpretation will be provided on request. Full event details and event registration: wolfhumanities.upenn.edu

Questions + comments : wolfhumanities@upenn.edu / 215.746.5940.


SPRING 2021 JANUARY 27

Freedom and Choice in Art and Literature

RISA PUNO and MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON Conversation with Sophia Rosenfeld FEBRUARY 10

The Ethical Algorithm and the Future of Choice MICHAEL KEARNS FEBRUARY 24

The Past and Future of Reproductive Choice LINDA GREENHOUSE and REVA SIEGEL Conversation with Serena Mayeri MARCH 3

Dancers' Choices, Choreographers' Choices PHILADANCO, DAWN MARIE BAZEMORE, JASMINE E. JOHNSON, and DEBORAH A. THOMAS

Philadanco performance followed by conversation with Dixon Li

MARCH 17

What Kids Can’t Do: Youth, Historical Agency, and Authority ABOSEDE GEORGE and SARAH MAZA Conversation with Mia Bay

MARCH 24 DR. S.T. LEE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE IN THE HUMANITIES

Improvisation

TYSHAWN SOREY and MARILYN CRISPELL

Performance followed by conversation with Guthrie Ramsey

MARCH 31

Multiple Choice ALEJANDRO ZAMBRA

Reading and conversation with Ericka Beckman


OCTOBER 14 4 5:00 – 6:00 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

The Art of Choosing SHEENA IYENGAR

S.T. Lee Professor of Business Columbia Business School Introduction and remarks by ALLISON K. HOFFMAN, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania One of the world's leading experts on the psychology of choice, Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Sheena Iyengar reveals answers that are surprising and profound. Cosponsored by the Marketing Department and the Operations, Information and Decisions Department at The Wharton School.

OCTOBER 21 4 5:00 – 6:00 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT THE WOLF HUMANITIES CENTER AND THE ASL PROGRAM IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LINGUISTICS present

Parent Choices, Language Choice, and Deaf Flourishing

TERESA BLANKMEYER BURKE Professor of Philosophy Gallaudet University

One of the oldest debates in deaf education revolves around the question of whether a deaf child should learn a signed language or not. Another is about nonsigning/hearing parents’ role in this decision. Teresa Blankmeyer Burke proposes that all deaf and hard of hearing people ought to be given the opportunity to learn a signed language. She argues that this experience is a necessary component of deaf flourishing, and, as such, parents have a moral obligation to provide this to their deaf children. Presented in ASL with voice interpretation.


PENN MUSEUM SECOND SUNDAY CULTURE FILMS

Syncretism

WOLF HUMANITIES CENTER CELEBRATES 10 YEARS OF COLLABORATION WITH PENN MUSEUM SECOND SUNDAY CULTURE FILMS!

Penn Museum's Culture Films in 2020-2021 explore cultural hybrids developed from deliberately chosen aspects of language, religion, art, and cuisine.

OCTOBER 11

NOVEMBER 8

DECEMBER 13

JANUARY 10

FEBRUARY 14

MARCH 14

Ishaare: Gestures and Signs in Mumbai

Dir. Annelies Kusters, 2016, 80 min. With filmmaker Annelies Kusters and Jami Fisher (ASL Program)

Her Words

Dir. Jing Liu, 2018, 30 min. With filmmaker Jing Liu

Vanishing Chinatown: The World of May's Photo Studio

Dir. Gayle Yamada, 2020, 30 min. With filmmaker Emiko Omori and the film's storyteller Corinne Chan Takayama

The Wandering Chef

Dir. Hye-Ryoung Park, 2019, 90 min. With Dahye Kim (James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies)

Welcome Valentine

Asho

Dir. Dhruv Satija, 2017, 16 min. Dir. Jafar Najafi, 2019, 30 min. With filmmaker Dhruv Satija With Beeta Baghoolizadeh (History, Bucknell)

For my Father's Kingdom

Dir. Vea Mafile'o and Jeremiah Tauamiti, 2019, 97 min. With Gwendolyn Gordon (Legal Studies & Business Ethics, Wharton)

All programs will be presented online at 2:00pm and followed by discussions with filmmakers and cultural experts. Pay what you wish when registering. For full event details and to register (required): penn.museum/culturefilms.


NOVEMBER 11 4 5:00 – 6:00 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

Lottocracy: A New Kind of Democracy ALEX GUERRERO

Henry Rutgers Term Chair and Associate Professor of Philosophy Rutgers University

Elections are the heart of almost every modern political system. Alex Guerrero presents a case against choosing political representatives via voting and defends a new kind of political system with a very different heart: one that uses random selection, rather than popular elections, to choose officials.       Cosponsored by the Department of Philosophy.


NOVEMBER 18 4 5:00 – 6:00 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

Choice in the Time of a Pandemic RENATA SALECL

Professor of Psychology and Psychoanalysis of Law University of London Response by DAVID L. ENG, Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania Should people be free to choose to wear masks? How are hospitals deciding whom to put on a ventilator and whom not? And why are some people choosing to get infected? Acclaimed philosopher and sociologist Renata Salecl examines freedom of choice in the current pandemic and asks why choice is so often anxiety-provoking, how it relates to jealousy and envy, and how it can lead to aggression in times of social crisis. Cosponsored by the Program in Comparative Literature, the Psychoanalytic Studies Minor, and the Collaboration Liaison Committee of the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia and Penn.

DECEMBER 9 4 5:00 – 6:00 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT THE WOLF HUMANITIES CENTER AND THE HERBERT D. KATZ CENTER FOR ADVANCED JUDAIC STUDIES present

The Pathos of Chosenness: Who are the Jews if not Exceptional TODD GITLIN

Professor of Journalism and Sociology Columbia University

In their 2013 book, The Chosen Peoples: America, Israel, and the Ordeals of Divine Election, Todd Gitlin and his co-author tried to redeem the claim of chosenness as a concept that might be parlayed into a humane and universalistic vision. In other words, they aimed to square the circle on behalf of an ideal quite different from both Netanyahu's and MAGA's. Gitlin discusses the failure of their ambition in recent years. Cosponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.


JANUARY 27 4 5:00 – 6:30 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

Freedom and Choice in Art and Literature RISA PUNO

Sculpture and installation artist

MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON Novelist

Moderated by SOPHIA ROSENFELD, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of the acclaimed novel A Kind of Freedom, and Risa Puno, the sculpture and installation artist responsible for, among other works, an interactive public art project called “The Privilege of Escape,” share an interest in how inequalities of different kinds shape and limit life choices. They also produce very different kinds of work. This conversation will explore how and why this topic is generative for them, as well as their own aesthetic choices in an era of renewed attention to various forms of inequality and privilege. Cosponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and the Program in Comparative Literature.


FEBRUARY 10 4 5:00 – 6:00 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

The Ethical Algorithm and the Future of Choice MICHAEL KEARNS

National Center Professor of Management & Technology, Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania

Concerns about machine learning and artificial intelligence include the potential for discrimination, leaks of personal data, and inscrutable decisions made by unintelligible models. Amidst recent calls for stricter regulation, there has been an explosion of research on how to forge better-behaved and more socially aware algorithm design. Michael Kearns, computer scientist and author, surveys these developments and attempts to place them in a broader societal context, exploring how we should and will make decisions in the future. Cosponsored by the Department of Computer and Information Science and the Cinema & Media Studies Program.

FEBRUARY 24 4 5:00 – 6:30 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

The Past and Future of Reproductive Choice LINDA GREENHOUSE

Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School

REVA SIEGEL

Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Moderated by SERENA MAYERI, Professor of Law and History, University of Pennsylvania As the future of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case legalizing women’s right to choose an abortion, hangs in the balance, legal scholars Reval Siegel and Linda Greenhouse talk with Serena Mayeri about the long history of the struggle for reproductive justice in the US. Among the topics they will consider are the past and present of what has been known since the 70s as the “pro-choice” position and how they see it faring in both in the courts and in public opinion going forward.  Cosponsored by the Department of History.


MARCH 3 4 5:00 – 6:30 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

Dancers' Choices, Choreographers' Choices PHILADANCO!

DAWN MARIE BAZEMORE

The Philadelphia Dance Company

Dance Artist; Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance, Rowan University

JASMINE E. JOHNSON

DEBORAH A. THOMAS

Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Penn

R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, Penn

Conversation moderated by DIXON LI, Doctoral Candidate, Penn English Lead dancers from Philadelphia’s premier modern dance company perform a piece that pays homage to the Yoruba deity Oshun, the protector, savior, and nurturer of humanity. Following this special performance, Dixon Li will moderate a conversation among the dancers and dance scholars Jasmine Johnson, Deborah Thomas and Dawn Marie Bazemore, that will touch upon the choice to dance, choreography and choice, and performance and choice. Support for Dancers' Choices, Choreographers' Choices provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation. Cosponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and the Center for Africana Studies. Special thanks to E. Gaynell Sherrod, Interim Executive Director of Philadanco, for making this collaboration possible.

DANCE + CHOREOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

Stay tuned for details on a free virtual workshop with choreographer Dawn Marie Bazemore and Philadanco lead dancers before the 5:00 program!

In the 50 years since its creation, PHILADANCO! has become one of the nation's most innovative and successful dance training programs, drawing students from the local region and across the country and around the world. At its home-base on Philadanco Way in West Philadelphia, PHILADANCO! is renowned for its community engagement programs and its professional company which tours extensively in the US and abroad. Learn more: philadanco.org


MARCH 17 4 5:00 – 6:30 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

What Kids Can't Do: Youth, Historical Agency, and Authority ABOSEDE GEORGE

Associate Professor of History, Barnard College and Columbia University

SARAH MAZA

Jane Long Professor in the Arts and Sciences and Professor of History, Northwestern University Moderated by MIA BAY, Roy F. and Jeanette P. Nichols Professor of American History, University of Pennsylvania Can children or adolescents make rational choices? To what extent do they have agency or the ability to shape their own circumstances or destinies? Join leading historians Abosede George and Sarah Maza, in conversation with Penn’s Mia Bay, for a discussion about childrens’ lives in different parts of the world and in different eras, as well as how to think about the role of children in history more generally. Cosponsored by the Departments of Africana Studies and History.


MARCH 24 4 5:00 – 6:30 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT DR. S.T. LEE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE IN THE HUMANITIES

Improvisation

TYSHAWN SOREY

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Presidential Assistant Professor of Music, University of Pennsylvania

MARILYN CRISPELL

Jazz pianist and composer Conversation moderated by GUTHRIE RAMSEY, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music, University of Pennsylvania Celebrate choice with an improvisational jazz performance by percussionist Tyshawn Sorey and pianist Marilyn Crispell in this year's esteemed Dr. S.T. Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities! After the performance, Penn Music's Guthrie Ramsey will join Sorey and Crispell for a wide-ranging discussion about the choices they make in improvisation and spontaneous composition, historical perspectives on improvisation, and their acclaimed 2019 release The Adornment of Time. Cosponsored by the Departments of Africana Studies and Music, and the Center for Africana Studies.

DR. S.T. LEE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE IN THE HUMANITIES Each year, the Dr. S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities brings to the Wolf Humanities Center scholars and artists whose work has advanced our understanding of issues central to the humanities. Previous speakers include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander, social theorist Immanuel Wallerstein, and conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. More: wolfhumanities.upenn.edu/st-lee-lectures


MARCH 31 4 5:00 – 6:30 PM 4 LIVE ONLINE EVENT

Multiple Choice ALEJANDRO ZAMBRA Novelist

In conversation with ERICKA BECKMAN, Associate Professor of Romance Languages, University of Pennsylvania Chilean novelist and poet Alejandro Zambra reads from Multiple Choice, his 2014 novel written in the form of a multiple choice aptitude test, and talks with Penn Hispanic and Portuguese Studies’ Ericka Beckman about his interest in the global format of the multiple choice exam, the experimental nature of his work, his local and global audience, and the question of languages, translation, and global literature in the Wolf Humanities Center’s 2020-2021 Forum on Choice closing program. Cosponsored by the Departments of Hispanic and Portuguese Studies, and Music, and the Program in Comparative Literature.

MAKE A GIFT Help us continue our common stake in the “thinking arts” with a tax-deductible gift to our annual fund. Special recognition will be given for these contributions: Director’s Circle ($5000+) Patron ($1000) Benefactor ($2000) Donor ($500) Make your gift online: www.sas.upenn.edu/gifts/wolf or call Sara Varney, Associate Director, 215.746.5940 for more information.


RESEARCH FELLOWS4FORUM ON CHOICE, 2020–2021 MELLON POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS IN THE HUMANITIES Keren He 4 Chinese Studies; Literary and Cultural Studies; Intellectual History Na Sil Heo 4 History Elyan Hill 4 Africana Studies; Women's Studies Shayan Rajani 4 History

PENN FACULTY FELLOWS Oscar Aguirre Mandujano 4 History Julia Alekseyeva 4 English; Cinema & Media Studies Shira Brisman 4 History of Art Ashley Brock 4 Romance Languages Ian Fleishman 4 Germanic Languages and Literatures; Cinema & Media Studies Glenda Goodman 4 Music Nancy Hirschmann 4 Political Science; Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Lisa Mitchell 4 South Asia Studies Melissa Teixeira 4 History Jolyon Thomas 4 Religious Studies

REGIONAL FACULTY FELLOWS Craig Agule 4 Philosophy; Religion; Rutgers University Camden Jaclyn Pryor 4 Integrative Arts; The Pennsylvania State University, Abington College Jennifer Riggan 4 International Studies; Arcadia University Jonathan Thakkar 4 Political Science; Swarthmore College


PENN GRADUATE FELLOWS Ian Peebles 4 Philosophy Tali Ziv 4 Anthropology

PENN UNDERGRADUATE FELLOWS Ivanna Berrios 4 Comparative Literature Tathagat Bhatia 4 Science, Technology & Society Sally Chen 4 Political Science Lucia Gonzalez 4 Political Science; Urban Studies Justin Greenman 4 History; Political Science Connor Hardy 4 Health & Societies; Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Henry Hung 4 Philosophy; Political Science Arnav Lal 4 Biophysics Pearl Liu 4 Science, Technology & Society Kristina Mullen 4 Economics; Health & Societies Erin O’Malley 4 Comparative Literature; Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Avneet Randhawa 4 Comparative Literature; Cinema & Media Studies

GRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANT Alexis Rider

4 History & Sociology of Science

For more information on the Wolf Humanities Center's 2020-2021 Research Fellows, including their project abstracts, visit wolfhumanities.upenn.edu/fellows/choice.


NEXT YEAR AT WOLF HUMANITIES CENTER

Migration

From the dispersal of early humans to the mass flows of people today, it defines the contours of human history and shades our sense of survival, longing, and belonging. Exceeding individual choice, migration is a consequence of larger forces—from slavery and war to persecution and violence, from environmental disaster and degradation to economic crisis and privation, driving people to brave often perilous journeys to ensure their survival and well-being. Migration is central to the human experience, to many other forms of sentient life, and to the ongoing challenge of storing big data. Join us in 2021–2022 as we grapple with one of the most urgent topics of our time.

TOPIC DIRECTOR

Dagmawi Woubshet Ahuja Family Presidential Associate Professor of English

2021—2022 FELLOWSHIPS ON MIGRATION The Wolf Humanities Center invites applications from postdoctoral scholars, standing faculty at Penn and regional universities, and Penn undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in conducting research related to the topic of Migration. Full fellowship details and application deadlines: wolfhumanities.upenn.edu/fellowships


School of Arts & Sciences • University of Pennsylvania 619 Williams Hall • 255 South 36th Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305 215.746.5940 • wolfhumanities@upenn.edu • wolfhumanities.upenn.edu Karen Redrobe Sophia Rosenfeld David Spafford Sara Varney Sarah Milinski Dru Baker Alexis Rider

Director Topic Director Undergraduate Humanities Forum Director Associate Director Program Manager Program Coordinator Graduate Research Assistant

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THE WOLF HUMANITIES CENTER GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGES the generous support of The Wolf Family Foundation, the Hershey Family Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Dr. S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities Fund, and the Office of the Dean, School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania. IMAGE CREDITS 4 Cover: "Choice" cut paper collage, Sara Varney, 2020. / Penn Museum Second Sunday

Culture Films on Syncretism: film detail from For My Father's Kingdom, dir. Vea Mafile'o, Jeremiah Tauamiti, 2019. / Lottocracy: A New Democracy: stock illustration. / Freedom and Choice in Art and Literature: The Privilege of Escape by Risa Puno was commissioned and produced by Creative Time. Photo by Talisman Brolin, courtesy of the artist. / Dancers' Choices, Choreographers' Choices: photo courtesy of Philadanco. / What Kids Can't Do: Youth, Historical Agency, and Authority: In September 2019, sixteen child petitioners–including Greta Thunberg and 12-year-old Deborah Morayo Adegbile from Lagos (left)–from 12 countries around the world presented a landmark official complaint at UNICEF Headquarters to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis. / Improvisation: Marilyn Crispell photo: Claire Stefani. Tyshawn Sorrey photo: John Rogers. / Migration: stock photography.


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Profile for Wolf Humanities Center

Wolf Humanities Center's 2020-2021 Forum on Choice • Public Events  

The Wolf Humanities Center is the University of Pennsylvania's hub for interdisciplinary humanities research. The Wolf Center's annual theme...

Wolf Humanities Center's 2020-2021 Forum on Choice • Public Events  

The Wolf Humanities Center is the University of Pennsylvania's hub for interdisciplinary humanities research. The Wolf Center's annual theme...