Humanities Forum: Microscopic War: Fragmenting Vision in Contemporary American Militarism (4/9)

Rebecca AdelmanHumanities Forum
Thursday, April 9 | 4:00 p.m.
Rebecca Adelman, Assistant Professor, Media and Communication Studies, UMBC 
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery 

Editors manipulate the tiniest elements of digital images to obscure combat atrocities. The U.S. Army invests deeply in a pixelated camouflage pattern that it expects will keep soldiers safely invisible. The NSA disaggregates human targets into miniscule bits of information. These seemingly disparate phenomena comprise a microscopic visual approach to militarization. It is here that Adelman considers the links between pixelized photos of violence committed by American military personnel, the Army’s failed multi-year, multi-billion dollar experiment with ‘digital’ camouflage, and the NSA’s approach to “identity intelligence,” built on the smallest pieces of data. All of these efforts at fragmentation promised to solve problems unique to contemporary war: soldiers’ unregulated use of digital cameras in the field, battles fought on multiplying fronts, and unconventional, undetectable threats. And in every instance, fragmentation failed: uncensored pictures are readily available, digital camouflage rendered soldiers more visible, and Edward Snowden leaked the documents detailing the NSA’s plans. These failures expose the limits of state power over the visual, dependent as it is on the smallest of things, while this new visual culture of fragmentation raises urgent questions about what it means to be a citizen, a spectator, and a subject.

For more information on the event and Adelman’s work, click here.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and the Media and Communication Studies Department.

Social Sciences Forum: Ecological Encounters on the Upper Missouri: The Making of Mandan Indian History (4/8)

Elizabeth FennSocial Sciences Forum
Wednesday, April 8 | 4:00 p.m.
Elizabeth Fenn, Professor of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery 

Elizabeth Fenn’s lecture tells the story of North Dakota’s Mandan Indians, widely known for hosting Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804-1805. The challenges the Mandans faced included epidemics of smallpox and whooping cough and invasions of Norway rats, which diminished Mandan numbers from more than 12,000 in 1500 to fewer than 300 in 1838.

In this talk, Fenn will be speaking about her recent book, Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People. Her previous book, Pox Americana, has had an enormous influence. Fenn is among a handful of historians who have put continental history on the map. For more information, click here. Fenn also has had an interesting work history, as she dropped out of graduate school at Yale to become a car mechanic. To read more about her story, click here.

Low Lecture, sponsored by the Department of History

Marion Elizabeth Rodgers (3/31)

For more than a quarter of a century, Marion Elizabeth Rodgers has been considered the foremost authority on the American critic and journalist H.L. Mencken as well as the editor of his works.

Marion Elizabeth RodgersMencken was born and lived his entire life in Baltimore where he was long associated with the Baltimore Sun papers along with editing two of the nation’s most distinguished literary magazines – The American Mercury and The Smart Set.  He was also the author of The American Language.

Ms. Rodgers is the author of a critically acclaimed biography – “Mencken: The American Iconoclast” – published by Oxford University Press in 2007. She also edited “Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters: The Private Correspondence of H.L. Mencken and Sara Haardt.” In addition, she edited Mencken’s six-part “Prejudices” series in their most recent and definitive edition (Library of America). She is also the editor of “The Impossible H.L. Mencken: A Selection of His Best Newspaper Stories” published in 1991.

Most recently, Ms. Rodgers edited the definitive “H. L. Mencken: The Days Trilogy, Expanded Edition: (Library of America)” published last year. Mencken’s memoirs, which began in the 1940s as installments in The New Yorker, included more than 200 never-before-published pages of his notes.  There is no single American writer and critic more knowledgeable about “the sage of Baltimore.”

Marion Elizabeth Rodgers will speak on March 31 at 8:30 a.m. in PAHB 428 (Advanced Journalism Seminar).  Visitors are welcome.

Choice Program Assistant Director Honored by Baltimore Mayor’s Office

PrintZeevelle Nottingham-Lemon, an assistant director for the Choice Program at UMBC, has been selected by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Baltimorphosis Committee as a Baltimorphosis Changemaker. Changemakers are selected because of their impact on violence prevention in their communities.

Zeevelle was selected for the work she has been doing spearheading the Choice Program’s Youth in Action project. Four adults and eight youth living in Baltimore City were chosen as Baltimorphosis Changemakers. They were honored on Wednesday, March 25 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Baltimore City Hall Rotunda. The ceremony took place during Youth Violence Prevention Week.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, Named Contributing Opinion Writer for the New York Times

Mathematics professor Manil Suri has been named a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. In this role, Suri will publish columns around once a month. To read an announcement published in Capital New York, click here.

Manil Suri 2In light of Pi Day celebrated on March 14 and this year celebrated as a once-in-a-century event with the full date in line with the first five digits of pi’s decimal expansion, Suri published his first column about understanding what pi truly is, the history behind it, and why it remains so significant.

At the beginning of his column, Suri explained how pi’s importance can be found in many places: “And yet pi, being the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is manifested all around us. For instance, the meandering length of a gently sloping river between source and mouth approaches, on average, pi times its straight-line distance. Pi reminds us that the universe is what it is, that it doesn’t subscribe to our ideas of mathematical convenience.”

Suri also discussed what pi can tell us about computers as they’ve developed over the last several decades: “With the advent of computers, pi offered a proving ground for successively faster models. But eventually, breathless headlines about newly cracked digits became less compelling, and the big players moved on. Recent records (currently in the trillions of digits) have mostly been set on custom-built personal computers. The history of pi illustrates how far computing has progressed, and how much we now take it for granted.”

To read the full column published in the New York Times, click here.

Amy Bhatt, Gender and Women’s Studies, in The Wall Street Journal

An article published March 20 in the Wall Street Journal’s “Expat” blog looked at the recent growth in numbers of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards, which grant people of Indian origin who have passports in another country lifetime entry into India with several economic benefits.

Amy BhattAmy Bhatt, an assistant professor of gender and women’s studies, was quoted in the article and provided historical perspective on OCI cards.

“The economic benefits of the OCI scheme, introduced in 2005, made it easier for citizens to keep their economic ties with India while changing to another passport for convenience,” said Bhatt. “Ms. Bhatt’s research found that more Indian nationals were applying for American Permanent Residency status with an ultimate aim to gain a U.S. passport,” the article stated.

Bhatt also discussed the Indian government’s decision this year to phase out a similar system to the OCI cards called Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards, which gave non-resident Indians a 15-year entry into the country.

The Indian government likely did this to “reduce confusion between the two programs,” said Bhatt, “but also to make it easier for Diaspora Indians to have a lifetime connection with India.”

To read the full article in the Wall Street Journal titled “When Indians Renounce Their Citizenship: An Expat Explains,” click here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, in the Globe and Mail and New York Magazine

Robert ProvinePsychology Research Professor and Professor Emeritus Robert Provine has been in the news recently for his research on crying. In an article published in Canada’s Globe and Mail, Provine shared insight about his work.

He discussed how someone else’s crying “is appealing to you to provide caregiving, and at least sympathy,” which can be emotionally tiring, if not exhausting. “Dealing with crying people can be ‘expensive’ in the sense that they have needs that you’ll be expected to meet,” said Provine. He also discussed how the idea of crying making someone feel better is “complicated”: “Some people may report it feeling good, but the evidence about that is unclear,” he said.

In an article in New York Magazine‘s “Science of Us” section, Provine discussed how crying isn’t easy to do on command and is hard to stop, once started. “Emotional tearing is under very weak conscious control — most people can’t do it voluntarily,” Provine said.

To read both articles, click below:
Crying daily isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s an all-human super-power (Globe and Mail)
How to stop yourself from crying (New York Magazine)