SPRING 2017 | COMING NEXT!
Are Living Things Beings, Changes, or Both?
Matter, Composition, and Biological Unity in Aristotle
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21 | NOON
ANNE PETERSON, Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow
Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Utah
“For living things, to be is to live”—so Aristotle insists in his writings on the cause of life. And to live, as Aristotle knows all too well from his own biological investigations, is to undergo a series of changes—the claim, then, is that for living things, to be is precisely to change in a certain way. Today, however, the pre-Aristotelian opposition between being and change is still at work. Individuals, groups, and even nations are often reluctant to change their ideas, principles, and policies for fear that so doing will undermine their identity. Metaphysicians are beset with puzzles about how things could come into or go out of being. And even within Aristotelian scholarship, a focus on being has obscured the foundational role that becoming has in Aristotle’s thought. I will argue that properly understanding Aristotle’s analysis of the being of living things requires properly understanding their becoming—both are activities. On Aristotle’s framework for understanding life, being becomes dynamic rather than static, and change is no longer tied to the interruption of identity. This framework, I will suggest, is one that we should return to today both in philosophy and in our broader ways of thinking.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 28 | NOON
MATT BASSO | Department of History
"Reworking Settler Societies: Labor and the Evolution of Settler Colonialism in New Zealand and the United States, 1890-1950" places industrial labor, laborers, and their organizations at the center of the history of the U.S. West and New Zealand. Basso’s project will explore what the grown of industrial economies, and the cultures they fostered, meant to the evolution of gender relations and politics in settler societies.
TUESDAY, MARCH 07 | NOON
COLLEEN O’NEILL | Department of History, Utah State University
"Labor and Sovereignty: The Transformation of Work in Indian Country, 1890 to the Present," offers a new synthesis that moves beyond the individual tribe narrative, to offer a broader interpretive framework for understanding Native Americans, colonialism, and the history of US capitalism in the twentieth century. O’Neill’s project will explore how American Indians transformed the meaning of wage work from an assimilationist tool to a sovereignty right.
TUESDAY, MARCH 21 | NOON
GAVIN FELLER | Department of Communication Studies, University of Iowa
"Enamored but Ambivalent: Mormonism and 20th Century New Media" is an interdisciplinary and interpretive analysis of Mormonism’s historical relationship with new media technology. Feller plans to explore the existing tensions by examining Mormonism’s approach to emerging radio, television, and Internet technologies across the 20th century.
TUESDAY, MARCH 28 | NOON
PIERRE-JULIEN HARTER | Department of Philosophy, Saint Xavier University
An expansion upon his dissertation, "Buddhas in the Making: Path, Perfectability, and Gnosis in the Abhisamayālaṃkāra Literature" focuses on the idea of self-transformation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist literature. Harter will investigate philosophically the concept of the process of betterment that leads an individual to a perfect or perfected state.
TUESDAY, APRIL 04 | NOON
JONAH KATZ | Asian Studies Major, Honors College
"Analysis of Dream of the Red Chamber"- Katz plans to use geospatial and character network analysis to study the interactions of social hierarchies and cliques within the 18th century Chinese classic, Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the most beloved books in Chinese literature. Katz will examine the relationship between gender and class by looking at patterns of character interactions and the spaces in which these characters socialize.
TUESDAY, APRIL 11 | NOON
ANNE ROYSTON | Department of English
"Reading Theory as Artist’s Book: Materiality, Writing, Technology" considers the intersection of philosophy and materiality in literary texts. Considering texts such as George Bataille’s Encyclopedia Da Costa, Mark C. Taylor’s Hiding, and Johanna Drucker’s theoretical artist’s book Stochastic Poetics, Royston will explore how these texts stage arguments through their material form.
Water in India’s Deccan: a hydrosocial perspective
BENJAMIN B. COHEN | Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow, Department of History, University of Utah
Water appears as liquid, ice, or steam, and can take shapes from raindrops to rivers, and from water bottles to reservoirs. In this work-in-progress presentation, I will speak from a current book project on water in India’s Deccan – a large region in south-central India. The presentation will focus on material drawn from two periods of Deccan history, the late medieval Kakatiya Empire, and the early modern Deccan Sultanates. I will explore Deccan history through a hydrosocial lens that sees the relationship between human and aquatic activity in the same analytic focus. This perspective, when deployed over a long-term view of India’s history, offers insights into the ways in which water and human activity have developed in the past, and continue to do so in the present.
Blender, Strainer, Enema, Conflict:
Differences in disgust among medical practitioners and patients over Fecal Microbiota Tranplants
JESSICA HOUF | Graduate Student Research Fellow, Department of Communication, University of Utah
Shit is nothing new. Humans-as-animals have produced a lot of shit, but how we react to this expelled mass is currently being revisited. Fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) have recently been approved for treatment of recurrent Clostridiumdifficile infections (RCDI). Despite being 90% effective, this treatment is prescribed by medical authorities only as a last resort for those experiencing the deteriorating effects of long-lasting diarrhea and colitis caused by RCDI. Due to this hesitation on the part of medical practitioners, many patients have taken shit into their own hands and created an alternative community engaged in home-based FMT.
This presentation explores patient narratives (from the website The Power of Poop) alongside medical literatures about FMT to understand differing feelings about “disgusting” feces. My key question is: why are fecal transplants felt to be too disgusting for people who are trained to deal with bodies, medical practitioners, while patients – who do not have such training – find them to be acceptable home remedies? Drawing on the work of Dominique Laporte, Sara Ahmed, Daniel Kelly, and other disgust scholars, I unpack conflicting understandings of the "nature" of disgust – as an embodied “truth” or as a socially constructed means of abjection. Ultimately, the conflict concerning the "nature" of disgust reveals a larger problem for the accepted “germ theory of disease”, which tends to argue that bacteria + filth = disease. Instead, we find (through a focus on RCDI) that Clostridiumdifficile changes the equation to bacteria + filth = cure. Shit becomes something new.