Spring 2024 Recorded Series

Recordings are available for the following Faculty at Home webinars that have already happened.  Recordings are usually available about two weeks after the webinar.

Michelle Leftheris - Nowspace: Visual Approaches to Place and the Present

Michelle Leftheris, assistant professor of studio art, will present her recent artwork, Nowspace, an online, livestreaming observatory that collects video from cameras pointed at the sky from around the world. Streams are collaged together to create a new, amalgamated view of the world’s skies together in a simultaneous moment. Acting as an open window, a portal to many places at once, Nowspace offers a previously impossible perspective. Using existing technology in a new way to augment our experience of the physical world, Nowspace connects viewers with the global environment, considering the Earth’s future through examination of the present.

Thor Sawin - Language Learning in an Age of Nationalism and Artificial Intelligence

As nationalism’s rise seemingly erodes globalized dreams of international cooperation, and as artificial intelligence rapidly creates new tools for intergroup communication, many are questioning the role of language learning in this current era, which is seeing deep cutbacks to language programs. In response, this talk presents examples of language learning projects focused on peacebuilding, from across the world and across Middlebury. This uncertain moment calls for shifting the focus of language learning away from tasks and transactions and toward peacebuilding practices that can help address today’s crises of mutual understanding.

Febe Armanios - Fasting and Feasting: Coptic Christian Food Traditions in Egypt

Food has been at the heart of Coptic identity and community for centuries. Through rituals of fasting and feasting, Copts have used food to preserve their ancient Egyptian Christian heritage. During Lent, Copts faithfully abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy, reflecting frugality and traditional monastic austerity. But when Easter comes, their tables abound with delectable meat dishes and buttery pastries. Today, for Egypt’s Copts, food rituals strengthen belief, rejuvenate tradition, and promote an enduring sense of togetherness. They offer a tangible window into the lived faith of the Middle East’s largest Christian group.

Sebnem Gumuscu - How Democracies Die: Lessons from Turkey and Beyond

Democracies around the world are under growing threat. In this recent wave of democratic decline, threats to democratic politics come from elected officials. How do presidents, prime ministers, people’s representatives subvert democracy? What tools do they use? Is there a way to stop them? This talk seeks answers to these questions by focusing on contemporary Turkey—a key country in the global wave of democratic decline—and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Jennifer Ortegren - Is Class Identity Religious? Notes from India and Hinduism

How do people change when they move up in class status? And what do those changes mean for who we are as individuals and communities? Drawing on her ethnographic research among upwardly mobile Hindu women in urban India, Jenn Ortegren argues for how Hinduism—and especially the Hindu concept of dharma—offers a framework to understand class identity as a form of religious identity. Doing so, she suggests, can help those of us who are not Indian or Hindu think critically about what constitutes class and what constitutes religion.

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