Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities

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In addition to organizing its own programming, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities supports and promotes humanities programming available throughout the Case Western Reserve University and Greater Cleveland community.  Below is the listing of upcoming humanities-related programming:


English ImageA Fiction Reading by Lucy Biederman (from The Walmart Book of the Dead)
October 20, 2017
3:15 pm
Guilford Parlor. 11112 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
Lucy Biederman is a Lecturer in English at Case Western Reserve University. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Her first book, The Walmart Book of the Dead, won the 2017 Vine Leaves Press Vignette Award. She has written four chapbooks of poetry, and her short stories, essays, and poems have appeared recently in The Collagist, AGNI, and Ploughshares. Her scholarship, which has been published in The Henry James Review, Women’s Studies, and Studies in the Literary Imagination, focuses on how contemporary American women writers interpret their literary forebears.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English and is free and open to the public.

Lu Image

Girih Tiles: Decagonal Geometry in Medieval Islamic Architectural Tilings and Beyond
October 25, 2017
5:00 pm
Cleveland Museum of Art, Recital Hall, 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44106
The conventional view holds that geometric star-and-polygon patterns in medieval Islamic architecture were designed using a straightedge and a compass. Peter Lu, a research associate at Harvard University, will present his findings that, instead, a wide variety of patterns with five- and ten-fold symmetry were conceived as tessellations of specific decorated puzzles pieces, called girih tiles, that appear in medieval Islamic architectural scrolls. Beginning in the 12th century, patterns designed with these girih tiles appeared throughout the Islamic world, from North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia, for more than half a millennium—and in some cases exhibit mathematical principles that we in the West did not understand until the past few decades. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the Department of Physics, and the Department of Art History and Art,
and is free and open to the public.

Book Talk: The Butchering Art
Lindsey Fitzharris
October 26, 2017
6:00 pm
Ford Auditorium/Allen Memorial Library, 11000 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44106
In The Butchering Art, Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of nineteenth-century surgery and how it was transformed by advances made in germ theory between 1860 and 1875. Join us for a book event and reading at the museum. 

This event is sponsored by the Dittrick Medical History Center and is free and open to the public.  Click HERE to register.

English ImageIndividuals with Autism and the Writing Process: Two Perspective
October 27, 2017
3:15 pm
Guilford Parlor. 11112 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
At present, many individuals who identify on the autism spectrum (ASD) are pursuing post-secondary education, this at a time when the very definition of ASD has changed in the medical literature. Accordingly, various studies are working to develop best teaching practices for this (and all) student populations. To improve composition pedagogy, this lecture discusses one such study which examines how college students who identify on the autism spectrum (ASD) conceptualize writing, audience specifically. Based on qualitative and in situ EEG scanning data, this study challenges the prevailing view that individuals with autism think visually and have no Theory of Mind (TOM); they cannot therefore conceptualize minds, and associated feelings, other than their own. Instead, this ongoing project suggests that ASD individuals may consider a variety of audiences and not exclusively in visual terms; such results call on composition theorists and practitioners to rethink how they teach and how they conceptualize their audience of students. Sara Newman’s research examines the relationship between language and cultural values, specifically as they reflect and influence our understanding of the human body. Using a variety of research methodologies including corpus linguistics, rhetorical analysis, visual rhetoric, stylistics, and qualitative grounded theory-style approaches, her publications address issues in writing, medicine, and disability including publications on autobiography and autism. Recently, she has focused on the mind/body relationship as represented in medical and disability language and, to pursue these efforts, sought interdisciplinary theories and practices involving neurohumanistic research.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English and is free and open to the public.

Visit by Period-Instrumentalist Malcolm Bilson
Professor Malcolm Bilson has been in the forefront of the period-instrument movement for over forty years. A member of the Cornell Music Department since 1968, he began his pioneering activity in the early 1970s as a performer of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert on late 18th- and early 19th-century pianos. Since then he has proven to be a key contributor to the restoration of the fortepiano to the concert stage and to fresh recordings of the “mainstream” repertory.

Schedule of Events:

Colloquium:  For He Has Taste and the Most Profound Knowledge of Composition
October 27, 2017
4:00 pm
Harkness Chapel, 11200 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
at 4pm (Harkness Chapel)

October 28, 2017
1:00 pm
Harkness Chapel, 11200 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106

October 28, 2017
8:00 pm
Harkness Chapel, 11200 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
Concert featuring Chopin, Schubert, and Beethoven, on CWRU’s fortepiano after Conrad Graf (circa 1830), by Rodney Regier

Events are sponsored by the Department of Music and are free and open to the public.


The Problem of Pain: from harm to pharm
November 1, 2017
6:00 pm
Lakewood City Hall Auditorium, 12650 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107
Part of our Conversations series, come hear about the past, present, and future of pain killers. Who discovered them? What risks of self-experimentation did they take? Advances in pharmaceuticals and opiates have offered both relief from pain and the harmful effects of over-prescription and abuse. The history talk will be followed by a panel discussion on the opiate crisis and a public round-table. 

This event is sponsored by the Dittrick Medical History Center and is free and open to the public.  Click HERE to register.

Popkin EventFaculty Work-in-Progress –
Object Memory: Souvenirs and Memorabilia in the Roman Empire
November 2, 2017
4:30 pm
Clark Hall Room 206, 11139 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106
The Roman Empire produced a rich range of souvenirs and memorabilia commemorating cities, monuments, sporting and theatrical events, and religious rituals. At a time when literacy was limited and visual communication was essential, these objects were a critical means for generating and mediating memory and knowledge of their represented subjects. This talk examines various examples of Roman souvenirs and memorabilia, including glass flasks engraved with scenes of tourist destinations, miniature replicas of famous cult statues, and drinking cups with pictures of famous gladiators and charioteers. Maggie Popkin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and Art, explores how these objects constructed knowledge in an era before mechanical and digital reproduction. Although often overlooked by historians of Roman art, souvenirs and memorabilia shed fascinating light on how objects and images helped ancient Romans conceptualize their world.

This event is sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.  Click HERE to register.

English ImageEmbodying Fiction and the Limits of Literary Theory, in the Middle Ages and Beyond
November 3, 2017
3:15 pm
Guilford Parlor. 11112 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106

What, exactly, is fiction? And does fiction have a history? Recent scholars have argued that fictionality only “arose” or “emerged” in the nineteenth century, with the rise of the realist novel. Against this claim, Professor Orlemanski argues for the importance, but also the difficulty, of investigating medieval fictionality. One way such an investigation might proceed is through medieval literary theory, or the corpus of commentaries, prologues, and treatises in which medieval thinkers described the nature of textuality. Though Orlemanski attends to this body of thought, she also points out its limits. The practice of fiction-writing in the Middle Ages, especially in the vernacular, often developed at a remove from such explicit theorization. Accordingly, Professor Orlemanski will explore how concepts of fiction are embodied, immanently, in medieval poetic writing. In particular, she will show how the fictional bodies of literary characters incarnate ideas about these characters’ ontology, or the nature of their being. Finally, she will turn back to the charge of anachronism that might be leveled at her approach, and she will seek to address the question of whether fiction can truly be said to have a history.

Julie Orlemanski is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where she specializes in late-medieval literature and literary theory. She has just completed a monograph entitled “Symptomatic Subjects: Bodies, Signs, and Narratives in Late Medieval England,” and her new book project is “Things without Faces: Prosopopoeia in Medieval Writing,” which addresses fictional bodies in the Middle Ages. Her work has appeared in Exemplaria, postmedieval, JMEMS, Textual Practice, JEGP, and numerous edited collections.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English and is free and open to the public.

Art History NovThe Julius Fund Lecture in Renaissance Art:
Leonardo’s Legacy: The Artist as Scientist in Seventeenth-Century Italy
November 8, 2017
Cleveland Museum of Art Recital Hall, 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH  44106

Presented by Paula Findlen, Ubaldo Pierotti Professor of Italian History and Director of the Science, Technology and Society Program at Stanford University. Reception to follow.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Art History and Art and is free and open to the public.

English ImageFriday, November 10th
How to Do Things with Dead People: Temporal Conjecture and the Shakespearean History Play
November 10, 2017
3:15 pm
Clark Hall Room 206, 11130 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
This talk describes the interests and methodology of Profesor Dailey’s current book project, which thinks about historical drama as a reproductive technology by which living replicas of dead historical figures are animated and re-killed on stage. Considering the plays in such terms exposes their affinity with a transhistorical array of technologies for producing, reproducing, and looking at dead things—technologies like literary doppelgängers, funeral effigies, photography, ventriloquist puppetry, x-ray imagery, capital punishment rituals, and cloning. In this talk, Dailey will focus on Richard II and Henry VI, introducing two photographs that frame her readings of the plays. She will suggest how the hermeneutic shift afforded by photographic technology helps us move beyond conventional assumptions about the nostalgia of historical representation to expose how dead characters function for living characters as sites of temporal conjecture, ventriloquism, and identity extension.

Alice Dailey is Associate Professor of English at Villanova University. Her principal areas of study include hagiography, martyrology, and dramatic literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially Shakespeare. She is author of The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolution (Notre Dame, 2012) and has published articles on a range of literary, dramatic, and material artifacts, including the skeleton of King Richard III, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s complete Histories cycle, Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, and the self-destroying martyr sculptures of Michael Landy. Her current project is a book on Shakespeare’s history plays titled How to Do Things with Dead People: Temporal Conjecture and the Shakespearean History Play.

This event is sponsored by the Department of English and is free and open to the public.

Arch of TitusJulius Lecture in Ancient Art:
The Arch of Titus: From Jerusalem to Rome and Back
November 14, 2017
6:00 pm
Maltz Performing Arts Center, 1855 Ansel Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
In conjunction with his new exhibition at Yeshiva University Museum, Dr. Fine will talk to us about the Arch of Titus and Jewish history in the Roman period.  “Stretching from the Roman era to the present, The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back explores the images and symbolism of the Arch from various vantage points – from emperors and popes to Jews and Christians, who re-interpreted the meaning of the Arch in modern times.  Dr. Fine will also show rare artifacts…to illuminate the monument’s vibrant history, as the Arch itself went from monumentalizing victory to falling into ruination and, eventually, to being restored in the modern era.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Art History and Art, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.  Click HERE to register.

Dylan Cover

Why Bob Dylan Matters
November 16, 2017
7:00 pm
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives, 2809 Woodland Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
Harvard Classics Professor, teacher since 2004 of the freshman seminar, “Bob Dylan”, and celebrated ‘Dylanologist’ Richard F. Thomas makes a compelling case for why the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan endure and inspire us. Thomas discusses his new book Why Bob Dylan Matters with MacArthur Fellow and fellow Dylanologist Thomas Palaima and Professor Daniel Goldmark, Director of CWRU’s Center for Popular Music Studies.

This event is sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.  Click HERE to register.

Kitcher2017 Walter A. Strauss Lecture Series
Celebrated philosopher Philip Kitcher of Columbia University is known for his studies of the role of scientific inquiry in democratic societies from the perspective the philosophy of pragmatism associated with William James and John Dewey. In a series of three lectures on “Education and Democracy,” Kitcher broadens this inquiry to investigate the aims of education with emphasis on the importance of the humanities and the arts. This lecture series, in memory of Walter A. Strauss (1923-2008), who was the Elizabeth and William T. Treuhaft Professor of Humanities, is generously supported by funds provided by the Paul Wurzburger Endowment.

This series is sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.


Too Many Aims?
November 27, 2017
5:00 pm
Wolstein Building Auditorium, 2103 Cornell Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
In this lecture, Kitcher suggests that a number of different approaches to the aims of education have considerable plausibility. When they are combined, as they sometimes are by writers such as Mill and Dewey, the task of providing an adequate education looks formidable. Kitcher argues for a way of taking on the challenge.  Click HERE to register.

Shaping the Citizen
November 29, 2017
5:00 pm
Wolstein Building Auditorium, 2103 Cornell Road, Cleveland, OH 44106
One major goal of education is to prepare young people for participation in democratic societies. Existing educational policies tend to offer a shallow view of what is required. In this lecture, Kitcher argues for a rich and demanding conception of democracy, and for a correspondingly rich educational preparation,  Click HERE to register.

The Importance of the Sciences – and the Arts
December 1, 2017
5:00 pm
Wolstein Building Auditorium, 2103 Cornell Road, Cleveland, OH  44106
Today in the USA there is much concern about education in the sciences. The reasons offered are typically incomplete. In this talk, Kitcher offers a more extensive account of why education in the sciences is important for everyone, and couples it with the thesis that a broad and deep education in the arts and humanities is equally necessary. Click HERE to register.

Page last modified: October 19, 2017