Undead U. at Michigan Tech Thursday

image115351-horizDon’t be alarmed if you see zombies roaming the Michigan Technological University campus on Thursday night. They’re not looking for tricks or treats; they’re probably  attending Undead U: A Zombie Symposium.

Michigan Tech hosted the first Undead U symposium last year, and Undead U returns to campus on Thursday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Fisher Hall 139, featuring a lineup of actual zombie scholars from across the nation. Talks will touch on the history of zombie epidemics, why zombies in popular culture look the way they do and what it might be like to be a zombie.

The Meaning of Zombies

“We’re not just talking about pop-culture zombies,” says Syd Johnson, assistant professor of philosophy and bioethics and Undead U coordinator. “Zombies are everywhere these days for entertainment, but they’re also a really interesting way of contextualizing real-world concerns.”

Looking at zombies provides a new way to think about current events—like the recent Ebola outbreak, Johnson says.

“These things happen from time to time. Disease is frightening, but something people like, like zombies, makes for an interesting way to approach these topics. We’re bringing an infectious disease specialist as one of the guest speakers . . . a fascinating way to look at real-world issues.”

Each of the symposium’s four speakers will present for 20–30 minutes, with a question-and-answer session between each speaker.

“This event is really an informal, educational and fun way to learn more about ourselves,” says Johnson. “There are lots of important questions that come from thinking about the undead.”

Philosophical, ethical and scientific questions run amok when considering a world where the dead spring back to life.

Fear of the Undead

“Zombies are an example of a worst-case scenario,” says Johnson. “It taps into our fear of death, disease and contagion. Parts of it are make-believe, but other parts are very real.”
The lore and story of zombies make us think about our place in the world, our social connections, our own actions, she says.

“Confronting the undead reminds us that life is good. We’re okay because we’re not like that. Whatever else could happen to you in the course of your day, at least no one is trying to eat you.”

Undead U: A Zombie Symposium is free and open to the public. Participants are welcome to come in zombie garb; “just don’t bite anyone,” says Johnson.

Article by Danny Messinger first appeared in Michigan Tech News

Philosopher John Russon to Speak Here November 7

The Humanities Department’s Rhetoric, Theory and Culture 2014 Colloquium series is pleased to welcome John Russon, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph (Canada). Professor Russon’s talk is entitled “The Limits of Money: Phenomenological Reflections on Selfhood and Value.” It’s being held Friday, November 7, at 5 pm, in the Great Lakes Research Centre, Room 201 (refreshments will be available). All are welcome!

Professor Russon is the author of two books on Hegel: The Self and Its Body in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (University of Toronto Press, 1997) and Reading Hegel’s Phenomenology (Indiana University Press, 2004). He is also the author of Human Experience: Philosophy, Neurosis and the Elements of Everyday Life (State University of New York Press, 2003), which was awarded the 2005 Broadview Press/Canadian Philosophical Association Book Prize. His most recent work is entitled Bearing Witness to Epiphany: Persons, Things and the Nature of Erotic Life (State University of New York Press, 2009).

Below is is the abstract for Professor Russon’s talk.

The Limits of Money: Phenomenological Reflections on Selfhood and Value

We are constitutively split between two different experiences.  In the experience of “intimacy,” the differentiation that we typically presume of self from other and of fact from value is not operative; such intimacy is distinctive of the formative experience of children.  This formative experience, however, precisely gives rise to the experience of “economy,” the experience, that is, of discrete subjects who work upon an alien world.  Our challenge is to live in a way that acknowledges both forms of experience without resorting to the authoritative terms of either.  Overall, I will argue that money, which is roughly the collectively recognized medium for recognizing the universality of exchange value, in principle misrepresents the lived nature of value.  Hence, the more money defines our frame of reference (“economy”), the more the non-universalizable values that are essential to our existence (“intimacy”) are effaced.


Welcome to Our New Faculty, Fall 2014

Leyre Alegre-Figuero, Lecturer in Spanish Language and Culture

Leyre Alegre-Figuero
Leyre Alegre-Figuer

Leyre holds a Master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language from the Universidad Central de Barcelona.  She has worked as a translator in French, English, Catalan and Russian as well as Spanish.

Carlos Amador, Assistant Professor of Spanish Language and Culture

Carlos Amador
Carlos Amador

Carlos earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas.  His research focuses on Latin American literature, cultural theory and criticism.

Sara Amani, Lecturer in English as Second Language

Sara Amani

Sara earned her PhD from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.  Her research focuses on Metacognitive Strategy Instruction in Second Language Pedagogy.

Maria Bergstrom, Instructor of American Literature, Undergraduate Adviser

Maria Bergstrom
Maria Bergstrom

Maria earned her PhD in American Literature from the University of Michigan.

Andrew Fiss, Assistant Professor of Technical and Professional Communication

Andrew Fiss
Andrew Fiss

Andrew earned his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University. His research focuses on the history of Mathematics Education in nineteenth-century America.

Laura Kasson Fiss, Instructor of English

Laura Kasson-Fiss
Laura Kasson-Fiss

Laura earned her PhD in English Literature from Indiana University, where she wrote her dissertation on the topic of Victorian humor.

Anne Stander, Instructor of English as Second Language

Ann Stander
Anne Stander

Ann holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in ESL from Purdue University. She has experience teaching in the United Arab Emirates and in Moldova, as well as in the US.

Dana Van Kooy, Assistant Professor of British Literature

Dana VanKooy
Dana VanKooy

Dana earned her PhD from the University of Colorado.  Her research focuses on British and Global Romanticism.  She has also published on Black Atlantic, Trans-Atlantic and Circum-Atlantic Studies.

Marcelino Viera-Ramos, Assistant Professor of Spanish Language and Culture

Marcelino Viera-Ramos
Marcelino Viera-Ramos

Marcelino earned his PhD from the University of Michigan. He specializes in 19th and 20th Century Latin American Literature and Culture.

Audrey Viguier, Lecturer in French Language and Culture

Audrey Viguier
Audrey Viguier

Audrey earned her PhD in French Literature from the University of Florida. Her research focuses on radical writings of the French revolution.

This Weekend: 41 North Film Festival

Particle Fever
Particle Fever

The 41 North Film Festival (formerly Northern Lights Film Festival) celebrates its 10th anniversary with a name change and an outstanding slate of recent award-winning films and special guests. It will be held from October 23-26 in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts on the Michigan Tech campus.

Mark Levinson
Filmmaker Mark Levinson
10/23, 7:00 p.m.

Kicking off the festival this year will be director Mark Levinson and his documentary Particle Fever. Particle Fever follows six scientists involved in the launch of the Large Hadron Collider — the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet. The film provides an unprecedented window into this major scientific breakthrough as it happened. Edited by Academy-Award winner Walter Murch, the film celebrates human discovery and raises important questions about the limits of human knowledge.

Mark Levinson, has worked closely with directors such as Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and on films including Se7en, Cold Mountain, and The Pledge. He also has a PhD in Physics from UC-Berkeley. He will be on hand for a Q&A following the film. Thursday, 10/23, 7 p.m.

Meet the Patels
Meet the Patels

On Friday, 10/24, at 7:30 p.m., director/actor Ravi Patel and his father, Michigan Tech alum Vasant Patel (Mechanical Engineering, class of 70), will present the new documetary, Meet the Patels. When Ravi, the son of Indian immigrants, finds himself at a romantic crossroads in his late 20s, love becomes a family affair and an adventure in cross-cultural understanding. The film recently won the Founders Grand Prize for best film at the Traverse City Film Festival.

Geeta Patel
Filmmaker Geeta Patel
10/24, 7:30 p.m.

As an actor, Ravi is most recognized for his work on SCRUBS, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, TRANSFORMERS, POWDER BLUE, and THE NEW NORMAL. In 2013, he co-founded THIS BAR SAVES LIVES – with actors Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell, and Kristen Bell – which gives a meal to a starving child for every granola bar they sell. Ravi also co-manages an investment group which focuses primarily on health, wellness, and social enterprise startups. Prior to joining the entertainment industry, Ravi was an investment banker and later founded the popular poker magazine ALL IN. He graduated from The University of North Carolina with double majors in Economics and International Studies.

In addition to these featured events, the festival will offer a great selection of independent films including the critically acclaimed Boyhood (Linklater, 2014), The Overnighters (Moss, 2014), which won the 2014 Sundance Jury Prize for Intuitive Filmmaking, Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (Gund, 2014), Alive Inside (Michael Rossato-Bennett), and the indie sci-fi film, Coherence (2014). There will also be shorts programs and other great events for festival goers.

The event is sponsored by the Humanities Department, the Visual and Performing Arts Department, the Office of Institutional Equity, the College of Sciences and Arts, CinOptic Enterprise Team, and the Visiting Women & Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series (VWMLS) which is funded by a grant to the Office of Institutional Equity from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative. It is free and open to the community. For the full line-up, visit the festival website at http://41northfilmfest.org. Contact Erin Smith at 906-487-3263 or ersmith@mtu.edu for more information.

The Year of Roxane Gay

untamed-sized“Let this be the year of Roxane Gay,” wrote Time Magazine’s Nolan Feeny in a review last May.

Humanities alumna Roxane Gay (PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, 2010) is gaining international acclaim as a novelist and cultural critic. This summer her collection of essays entitled Bad Feminist, has been named one of the the 11 “Best New Books” of the year by People Magazine (August 24, 2014), She is also the author of a novel, An Untamed State, and a collection of poems, stories and essays, Ayiti. In addition to these books and many essays in print and on-line, Roxane Gay is a co-editor of the literary/cultural journal PANK, published from Michigan Tech’s Humanities Department. Roxane is an associate professor of English at Purdue University.

Our 100th PhD Graduate

Steve Markve
Steve Markve

Each year in the Department of Humanities we award PhD degrees to five or six graduates who go on to productive careers as scholars and teachers in universities in the United States and abroad. One typical case is that of Steve Markve (PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication, 2014), who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation this July and took a position as assistant professor at the University of Qatar. But there is one thing that sets Steve apart from the other graduating PhD students this summer—he happened to be the 100th PhD graduate since the program began in 1989. Congratulations to Steve, and to the RTC graduate program as well!

Creative Canvas Course Contest Winners Announced

Last spring, the Center for Teaching and Learning’s second annual Creative Canvas Course Contest (C-4) saw students nominate Canvas courses from almost every department that they felt were intuitive and easy to navigate, provided convenient access to course information and materials, and offered resources and activities that helped them succeed.

Nine courses were selected:

  • HU3151, Assistant Professor Lauren M. Bowen (HU)
  • CH1160, Associate Professor Paul Charlesworth (Chem)
  • FA3650, Assistant Professor Kalen Larson (VPA)
  • MEEM3502, Professor of Practice James DeClerck (ME-EM)
  • CS5821, Assistant Professor Timothy Havens (ECE)
  • BUS1100, Lecturer Michele Loughead (SBE)
  • MEEM4700, Professor Gordon Parker (ME-EM)
  • UN5100, Professor Judith Perlinger (CEE)
  • FW4370, Assistant Professor Joseph Wagenbrenner (SFRES)

After the results came in, some of the winners graciously provided short video course tours so that others can learn from the design features of their courses. The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). If you see anything in these course tours that you’d like to emulate, but don’t know how, eLearning walk-in hours are available at the center, and as always, for help with Canvas at Michigan Tech, visit Canvas One Stop.

Humanities in Michigan Tech News

Ten Times Over
May 7, 2014
Humanities Professor Explores the Assumptions, Usefulness of Pregnancy Manuals
April 4, 2014
What do We do Now? Family Members and the Brain Dead
February 25, 2014
Bob Johnson Garners NCTE National Book Award
February 13, 2014
Michigan Tech Helping People Cross the Digital Divide
January 17, 2014
Faculty Take Students Abroad
October 24, 2013
Women at Tech Have Things to Say
September 16, 2013
The Last Class: Beth Flynn, Humanities
April 30, 2013
High-Tech Classrooms Usher in a New Era of Teaching
February 22, 2013

Megan Walsh Named This Year’s Humanities Departmental Scholar

Megan Walsh

Each year, Michigan Tech honors an outstanding student from each academic department with the prestigious Departmental Scholar award. On April 18, 2014, at the 20th Annual Student Awards Ceremony, Megan Walsh, in recognition of her exceptional record of achievement in 2013, was named as this year’s Departmental Scholar for the Humanities Department.

In Spring 2013, Megan co-founded Beyond the Glass Ceiling, a student publication that addresses issues of interest to women, and which has received expressions of enthusiastic support from former students and faculty all over the country. The publication was recently renamed UNDER_WIRE, and Megan serves as its editor and president. This Fall, Megan presented her paper “Speak Up: Finding a Feminist Voice in a Field of Resistance,” at MTU’s academic OSCLG conference. This paper focused on challenges she’s faced in effecting productive social change with UNDER_WIRE.

Megan also served as the Opinion Editor of The Lode, where she collaborated with other editors to improve the quality of the paper and help increase its readership. Her Opinion section was singled out for praise at a national conference on student newspapers in Chicago.

Finally, as an intern at PANK Magazine since last June, Megan’s performed a range of tasks, from copy editing to design consultation to mailings.

Megan is looking forward to working with GLAAD in Los Angeles this summer as an Entertainment Media intern. She’ll be writing reports and blog posts on the representation of LGBT characters in the media. She’ll also contribute research to GLAAD’s “Network Responsibility Index” and their Where We Are on TV publication.

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco to Visit Michigan Tech

In Friday, April 4, Presidential inaugural poet and civil engineer Richard Blanco will visit Houghton for some special events on the Michigan Tech campus, including a reading and book signing.

From 1-3 pm in the Van Pelt & Opie Library’s East Reading Room, there will be a student forum and presentation. This is free, and open to the public. You can RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Blanco will be holding a reading and book signing from 7-9 pm in the Van Pelt & Opie Library’s East Reading Room. This is event is also free, and also open to the public. Please RSVP for the reading and book signing on our Facebook page.