The Video Blog of the Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati

Academic Lectures & Creative Writing Readings

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taft Lecture, History: Dr William Chase: “Stalinism in a Spanish Key: Moscow, Madrid, Mexico City"

Invited by the department of History of the University of Cincinnati, Dr William Chase gives the talk: “Stalinism in a Spanish Key: Moscow, Madrid, Mexico City”.

Lecture Date: April 27, 2010

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The rest of the talk is available in our YouTube Channel at:

Taft Lecture, History: Dr Borac Ergene "Why did Ummu Gulsum go to court?

Invited by the department of history of the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Borgac Ergene (University of Vermont) gives the talk: "Why did Ummu Gulsum go to court? Ottoman Legal Practice between History and Anthropology"

We only have a 10 min sample of this lecture.

Lecture Date: April 26, 2010

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Guggenheim-winning Poet Li-Young Lee at Taft

4:00 pm, May 14, 2010
Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, University of Cincinnati

The Charles Phelps Taft Center at the University of Cincinnati is pleased to announce a reading and lecture by renowned poet Li-Young Lee. Lee is the keynote speaker of the Taft Center’s three-day Annual Symposium.

Li-Young Lee is the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry including his most recent, Behind My Eyes (Norton, 2008). Earlier volumes include Book of My Nights (BOA, 2001); Rose (BOA, 1986), winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award; The City in Which I Love You (BOA, 1991), the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and a memoir entitled The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (Simon and Schuster, 1995), which received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

Lee's honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

"What characterizes Lee's poetry is a certain humility…a willingness to let the sublime enter his field of concentration and take over, a devotion to language, a belief in its holiness."—Gerald Stern

This event is free and open to the public.

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Taft Co-Sponsors the Ohio Festival of the Short Story

Short story writers from Edgar Allan Poe to Jhumpa Lahiri are read and loved both inside and outside the classroom. Yet the short story is the stepchild of American publishing, passed over in favor of its more marketable sibling, the novel.

To redress this imbalance, The Cincinnati Review at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of Cincinnati, hosts The Ohio Festival of the Short Story on May 7-8, 2010.

The Festival brings together noted authors, editors, and scholars to celebrate and discuss the short story. It features public readings and a discussion with noted Ohio authors Donald Ray Pollock, Margaret Luongo, Nancy Zafris, and Lee K. Abbott (bios below).

Formal panels and casual breakout sessions will address various aspects of short story craft and scholarship. Festival participants can enjoy the singular pleasures of the short story while learning something new.

As Festival co-organizer Peter Grimes notes, "The Ohio Festival of the Short Story presents a unique opportunity for individuals of diverse groups—academics and the community at large, scholars and creative writers—to come together to discuss narrative's oldest form."

All events are free and open to the public. Click for more information and a schedule.

About the Authors

A native of Knockemstiff, Ohio, Donald Ray Pollock is author of Knockemstiff, which won the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Award and the 2009 Devil’s Kitchen Award for Fiction. Knockemstiff has been published in England, Italy, and France. Margaret Luongo is author of If the Heart Is Lean and a professor of creative writing at Miami University. Her stories have been published in Tin House, The Cincinnati Review, and Jane. Nancy Zafris is author of Flannery O’Connor Award-winner The People I Know as well as The Metal Shredder and Lucky Strike. She is the former fiction editor of the Kenyon Review. Lee K. Abbott is author of seven short story collections, including All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories. His stories and book reviews have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times Book Review.

-Suzanne Warren, University of Cincinnati


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Taft Fellow Arranges Important Library Acquisition

Fall 2009 Taft Visiting Fellow Enrique Jaramillo-Levi has organized a donation to the University of Cincinnati Libraries of 409 books by Panamanian authors. "Only a handful of libraries in the United States own any of these titles, making the Panama Collection an important addition" to UC libraries, notes Melissa Cox Norris, Director of Library Communications in an article about the new collection.

Nicasio Urbina, UC professor of Latin American Literature remarks, "I want to thank Professor Jaramillo-Levi for his generosity and energy in negotiating this donation, and to highlight the importance of the Taft Research Center and the Taft Research Seminars, which facilitate this kind of interaction."

Bravo, Professor Jaramillo-Levi!

Link to the full article by Melissa Cox Norris here.

- Suzanne Warren, University of Cincinnati


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Taft Lecture, Medical Humanities Series: Dr. Wendy Kline "Childbirth Made Difficult: Raising Consciousness on the Delivery Table"

Dr. Wendy Kline, Associate Professor of the Department of History of the University of Cincinnati gives the talk "Childbirth Made Difficult: Raising Consciousness on the Delivery Table"

Lecture date: April 23, 2010

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The rest of the talk is in our Youtube Channel at:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Taft Launches Medical Humanities Lecture Series

In 1998, Michael Schiavo petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida for permission to disconnect the feeding tube of his wife, Terri Schiavo, thus ending her five-year vegetative state. Over the next seven years, the Schiavo case attracted international attention, setting off fierce debates in the medical, legal, and religious communities.

"Because it brings the ethics of care to the forefront of cultural consciousness, Schiavo is one of a growing number of high-profile medical cases that might benefit from the wisdom of the medical humanities," notes Dean Valerie Hardcastle (Philosophy) of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"As medical treatments become more sophisticated, doctors and lawyers confront complex ethical questions. Scholars working in the medical humanities aim to weigh in on these crucial medical and scientific matters," she explains.

The Taft Research Center is proud to launch a new spring lecture series on the medical humanities devoted to these and other questions, including "the sociocultural aspects of health and disease and their meanings, as well as biological factors," remarks Professor Wendy Kline (History), who lectures on April 23.

The series begins Friday, April 16 at 2:00 pm with "A Critical Evaluation of Culture, Race, and Cultural Competence in Health Care" by Professor Jennifer Malat (Sociology) and features three subsequent Friday afternoon lectures (see schedule below).

The lecture series is sponsored by the Taft Center Medical Humanities Research Group, an affiliation of scholars of anthropology, English, history, philosophy, and sociology who wish to examine the import of the humanities disciplines for medical research and practice. Dean Hardcastle observes that the medical humanities are necessarily cross-disciplinary because "they grapple with real-world questions. If you isolate them, you don’t get a complete answer."

The Taft Center Medical Humanities Research Group invites lecturers, arranges colloquia, writes and submits grants to the NEH and NIH, and aims to design curricula for an interdisciplinary and cross-college program in medical humanities at the University of Cincinnati.

Dean Hardcastle is developing a certificate program for undergraduates interested in health professions that will provide tools to "help understand the complex intellectual issues associated with practicing medicine today."

The general public as well as humanities scholars and medical and scientific practitioners are encouraged to attend the lecture series. As Dean Hardcastle notes, "at some point any of us might need to consider a do-not-resuscitate form or discuss medical issues with a person of a religious or educational background different than his or her own."

Whether the issue is end-of-life care, culturally-specific meanings of health and disease, or gender bias in scientific protocols, "medical humanities touch everybody’s lives."

- Suzanne Warren, University of Cincinnati

Medical Humanities Lecture Series Schedule
Friday afternoons 2:00–3:00 pm

April 16, 2010
Jennifer Malat, Associate Professor, Sociology
A Critical Evaluation of Culture, Race, and Cultural Competence in Health Care

April 23, 2010
Wendy Kline, Associate Professor, History
Childbirth Made Difficult: Raising Consciousness on the Delivery Table

April 30, 2010
Jeff Jacobson, Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Family Medicine
Carried Away: Sociocultural Dimensions of Dissocia­tive Distress in Two Central American Communities

May 7, 2010
Lisa Meloncon, Assistant Professor, English and Comparative Literature
Articulating Episteme: Vernacular Medical Texts in Early Modern England


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taft Lecture, Spanish: Javier Blasco "Anonimia y creación literaria en los siglos de oro"

Invited by the Romance Languages Department of the University of Cincinnati, Professor Javier Blasco (University of Valladolid Spain) gives the talk "Anonimity and literary creation in the Spanish Golden Age"

Several major works of Spanish Early Modern literature were anonymous. The lecture explores the social and textual implications of anonymity and draws from several disciplines, including forensic linguistics.

Muchas piezas mayores de la temprana literatura moderna en lengua española son anónimas. Esta conferencia explora las implicaciones sociales y textuales de la anonimia, abrevando de distintas disciplinas, incluyendo la lingüística forense.

Lecture date: April 19, 2010

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The rest of the talk is available in our Youtube Channel at:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Taft Lecture: Medical Humanities Series Jennifer Malat: "A Critical Evaluation of Culture, Race, and Cultural Competence in Health Care"

Jennifer Malat, Associate Professor of the Department of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati: "A Critical Evaluation of Culture, Race, and Cultural Competence in Heath Care"

Lecture date: April 16, 2010

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The rest of the lectures is available in our YouTube Channel at

Taft Lecture. African Studes: Dr. Kwakiutl L. Dreher "Piercing the 4th Wall: Getting Close With My Celebrity Sistahs"

In this talk Professor Dreher (University of Nebraska – Lincoln) will speak on her personal and community responses to performances and autobiographical writings by Black women celebrities including Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, and others.

Lecture Date: April 7, 2010

Dr.Dreher highlights how the autobiographical "I" of the black woman celebrity connects with the collective black literary community by narrating her journey of harrowing familial persecution and communal expulsion, mean poverty, embarrassing insecurity, betrayal, and the threat of violence in conjunction with racism and sexism. Her work maintains that the black celebrity autobiographical narrative coexists on the continuum of black written expression as it has been practiced throughout history by black women. The discussion of Mary Wilson's autobiography Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme (Motown's stellar girl group The Supremes), for example, can stand with Toni Morrison'sSula, Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Gloria Naylor's Women of Brewster Place. Wilson examines the dynamics of friendship between young women in the entertainment industry, specifically Motown, just as Morrison and Walker do via their stories about Nel and Sula and Shug Avery, Celie, and Sophia respectively in their own communities. The late Eartha Kitt joins Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)as well in her critique of intra-racial dynamics in the black family and community. An examination of Kitt's autobiographies brings to relief the practice of verbal, sexual, and physical abuse within the black community, just as Morrison does in The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Paradise.

By talking about themselves in the literary realm, black female celebrities dance with other black women who, throughout history, have used literature, in particular the genre of autobiography, to choreograph themselves on the stage of U.S. history. Overall, these autobiographies joins the life-writing as expressed by black women such as Zora Neale Hurston,
Dust Tracks on a Road and Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

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The rest of the talk is available in our YouTube channel at

Taft Lecture, Philosophy: Dr William Bechtel. " Dynamic Mechanistic Explanations and Endogenously Active Brains"

Dr WIlliam Bechtel,
Department of Philosophy, Center for Chronobiology, Science Studies Program, and Interdisciplinary Program in Cognitive Science University of California, San Diego.

Only recently have philosophers of science caught up with biology and psychology in recognizing that explanation often involves specifying a mechanism responsible for a phenomenon rather than subsuming the phenomenon under a law. But the accounts of mechanistic explanation advanced often neglect the dynamics exhibited by complexly organized mechanisms. Dynamical systems theory offers tools for describing dynamical behavior but downplays the importance of identifying the parts and operations of the mechanism producing that behavior. I argue that there is an important class of explanations – dynamic mechanistic explanations – in which the tools of dynamical systems analysis and mechanistic science are coordinated. In this talk I show how this provides a framework for understanding endogenously active brains and their contribution to cognition. This contrasts with the reactive approach that has long been dominant in psychology and neuroscience, as reflected in mechanistic models that downplay dynamics and, specifically, neglect endogenously generated dynamics. I review some of the evidence for endogenous activity in brains and consider the implications not only for understanding cognition but also for accounts of explanation offered by philosophers of science.

Lectre date: Monday, March 15, 2010

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The rest of the talk is available in our YouTube channel at