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Oct
23
Wed
2019
Persian Movie Night @ McCune Conference room
Oct 23 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Persian Language and Literature in the Department of Religious Studies screens an Iranian movie “Offside” directed by Jafar Panahi.

Female fans are not allowed to enter football stadiums in Iran. The movies is about a few girls masqueraded as males so they can slip into Tehran’s stadium to see a World Cup qualifying match. The ones who are caught and arrested are taken to a holding area and guarded by soldiers. One sympathetic soldier agrees to watch the game through a peephole and recount the action to the impatient fans. The film was shot in Iran but its screening was banned there.

Oct
24
Thu
2019
Lecture by Prof. David Kittay, “Almost Dead, Almost Alive, Almost Buddha: Immanence in Tsong Khapa’s Interpretation of the Gujhyasamaja Tantra” @ HSSB 3041
Oct 24 @ 5:00 pm

In the system of the Guhyasamāja Tantra, known in the tradition as the “King of Tantras,” the last stage of the dissolution of the subtle body in the natural death process—also employed by the yogi seeking actual enlightenment—is called “imminence” or “near-attainment” (Skt. ālokopalabdha, Tib. nyer thob).  Relying on the “Explanatory Tantras” of the system and on Tsong Khapa’s commentaries on them, this talk explains the state of immanence.  It also touches upon the role of quantum physics, not as an explanation of imminence or tantra, but rather as a basis for faith for many modern Buddhist practitioners.

Oct
30
Wed
2019
Departmental Colloquium: The Corrupting Text: Object Theory and Manuscripts @ HSSB 3041
Oct 30 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Roberta Mazza, Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies, presenter

Will Ellison, respondent

“The Corrupting Text: Reading, Interpreting, and Exchanging Manuscripts”
engaging with object theory (Bennett’s Vibrant Matter; Hodder’s Entangled)
Followed by a reception/happy hour
In “Thick Description,” Geertz writes that “doing ethnography is like trying to read (in the sense of ‘constructing a reading of’) a manuscript – foreign, faded, full of ellipses, incoherencies, suspicious emendations, and tendentious commentaries, but written not in conventionalized graphs of sound but in transient examples of shaped behaviours” (1973: 10). The aim of this presentation is to apply ethnographic methodologies in order to read (in the sense of deconstructing “transient examples of shaped behaviours”) what I am doing when I decipher ancient manuscripts, and to study the nature of texts.
Through the description of my profession, papyrology, I will describe the relationship between academics (papyrologists), the objects they study (ancient manuscripts) and their owners (institutions or private collectors). As my description will show, ancient manuscripts’ reading generates complex entanglements that I propose to read as guided by the “corrupting” essence of manuscripts, shifting agency from humans to things (Bennett 2010; Hodder 2012). Manuscripts are constantly in the process of material corruption induced by aging and manipulation, and of textual, philological corruption generated by the scribes; finally, manuscripts have the power to corrupt those who want to possess them as interpreters or collectors. By revealing manuscripts’ corrupting power, my description questions current politics and ethics in cultural heritage preservation, and academic professional practices.

C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York 1973)
J. Bennett, Vibrant Matters: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham and
London 2010)
I. Hodder, Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between
Humans and Things
(Oxford 2012)

Roberta Mazza is an ancient historian and papyrologist working in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester. Her main interests are Graeco-Roman Egypt, with a focus on the rise and spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire. She is also a Research Fellow of the John Rylands Research Institute and Academic Honorary Curator of Graeco-Roman Egypt at the Manchester Museum.
She has an interest in cultural heritage issues related, in particular, with the circulation of papyri and other Egyptian objects on the antiquities market, and she writes about this topic on her blog, Faces & Voices, which has been very influential in the public discussion of ethical practices with artifacts.
Nov
17
Sun
2019
Taubman Program 1: Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
Nov 17 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Ayelet Gundar Goshen teaches clinical psychology at Tel Aviv Univerrsity and has written three well-received novels: One Night Markovitch (Hebrew 2012 and English Translation 2015), Waking Lions (Hebrew 2014 and English Translation 2016), and The Liar (Hebrew 2018 and English Translation 2019).

Nov
18
Mon
2019
Human Simulation: Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and the Future of the Humanities @ UCSB Library, Instruction and Training, 1312
Nov 18 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The capacities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are growing rapidly and new technologies are impacting society in a variety of ways, all of which raise significant ethical issues. LeRon Shults (University of Adger, Norway) argues that the Humanities are needed to help guide the ethical conversations around AI by becoming more engaged in “Human Simulation,” a new interdisciplinary approach to simulating human futures (as well as studying the past) that requires the expertise of historians, philosophers, ethicists, and other students of human nature.

F. LeRon Shults, Ph.D.. is a Professor at the Institute for Global Development and Social Planning at the University of Agder, Norway, and Scientific Director, Center for Modeling Social Systems. Shults, whose graduate training was in the  study of religion, has been collaborating with computer modelers to demonstrate the value of computer modeling and simulation for refining and testing theories and generating dynamic models of the processes studied by scholars in the humanities.  Shults has received numerous collaborative grants to advance this work and is one of four co-editors of a recently published volume, Human Simulation: Perspectives, Insights, and Applications (New Approaches to the Scientific Study of Religion).

Nov
19
Tue
2019
Departmental Colloquium – What do scholars of religion value? @ HSSB 3041
Nov 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Ann Taves and LeRon Shults, presenters

Jose Cabezon, respondent

LeRon Shults, Professor at the University of Adgar, Norway, and Ann Taves will present a preview of the results from the Values in the Study of Religion (VISOR) Project that will appear in a forthcoming article in JAAR.  Data from the VISOR Project allows us to map differences in scholarly values within AAR and between AAR and other related scholarly organizations.

Dec
5
Thu
2019
Taubman Program 2: Pamela Nadell
Dec 5 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Pamela Nadell is the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History and the Director of Jewish Studies at American University. Her most recent book is America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today (W.W. Norton, 2019). Among her earlier publications are Women in American Judaism: Historical Perspective, with Jonathan Sarna in the Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture and Life (2001), Women who would be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination 1889-1985 (1999), American Jewish Women’s History: A Reader (2003), and New Essays in American Jewish History, edited with Jonathan Sarna (2010).

Jan
12
Sun
2020
Taubman Program 3: Robert Alter
Jan 12 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Robert Alter is a Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley and is the author of more than 20 books on the Hebrew Bible and literature.  In 2018, he published The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary (W.W. Norton) and among his many other publications are The Art of Biblical Narrative (1981), The Art of Biblical Poetry (1985), Necessary Angels: Tradition and Modernity in Kafka, Benjamin, and Scholem (1991), Imagined Cities: Urban Experience and the Novel (2005), Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (2010),  Strong As Death Is Love: Song of Songs Ruth, Ester, Jonah and Daniel: A Translation with Commentary (2015), and The Art of Bible Translation (2019).

Jan
13
Mon
2020
Jewish Studies Public Lecture, Jon D. Levenson @ McCune room (6th floor HSSB)
Jan 13 @ 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Mar
5
Thu
2020
Taubman Program 4: Barry Wimpfheimer
Mar 5 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Barry Wimpfheimer is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Law at Northwestern University and his author of The Talmud: A Biography (2018) and Narrating the Law: A Poetics of Talmudic Legal Stories (2011)