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Klopsteg Lectures

Lectures will be held virtually via Zoom on Mondays 4:30-6:00pm CST.

Program Director: Professor Ken Alder (History)


Schedule for 2020-21

Fall Quarter

October 26 - Etienne Benson - University of Pennsylvania, History and Sociology of Science

"Environments in the Plural: Reconstructing a Concept’s Multiple Pasts to Reimagine a Movement’s Future"

Historians of science have recently begun to show how the environmental movement that emerged in the 1960s depended on the articulation of a new object of research and concern: “the environment,” conceived as singular, global, threatened, and knowable only through certain highly specialized forms of expertise. This is not the only way that the concept of environment has been understood or mobilized for social ends, however. This talk describes some of the alternative environments and environmentalisms that preceded “the” environment and “the” environmentalism with which we are most familiar, and suggests that these past forms may point the way toward more just and effective environmentalisms for the present and future. 

November 2 - Sokhieng Au - Univeristy of Iowa, Global Health Studies

"An Academic Among the Aid Workers: Bridging Public Health Practice and Academic Expertise"

In my fifteen years of working professionally as both a humanistic scholar of medicine and a public health analyst, I have often confronted the challenge of how to do both tasks well—and simultaneously. In theory, the two approaches would seem to have much synergistic potential to improve the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable populations in this world, but in practice they remain largely irrelevant to each other. And yet, the grass always seems browner on the other side of that disciplinary divide. In our discussion/conversation, I will trace my unconventional career trajectory between the university and the humanitarian aid community in the U.S., Belgium, Guadeloupe, Cambodia, and now Iowa…, and offer some personal reflections on boundary work, bridge building, and the rather cumbersome idea of "operationalizing" academic theory. 

November 16 - Victoria Pitts-Taylor - Wesleyan University, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

"The Chronopolitics of a Gender Disorder"

Scientific, clinical and popular understandings of gender non-conforming bodies and subjects often make explicit and implicit temporal claims about their timeliness and untimeliness. In this talk, I address the temporal framing of gender dysphoria in a recent highly controversial study about transgender-identified youth.  I situate my discussion in trans, queer, and disability scholarship on temporality in order to show how this case resonates with broader efforts to manage and control gender variance and transition through normalizing constructions of time and timing. In a range of social and political contexts, the “when” of gender is invoked to pose the question of “if” identities and embodied experiences are true, authentic, and worthy of recognition and support.



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