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Humanities Lab | Investigations: Geographies Spring 2015



228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall 

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CAS Dean's Office
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-8012

Geographies: Spring 2015  

Each semester the Humanities Lab undertakes an investigation of a specific question or topic. For spring 2015 we investigated media and cultural geographies: how do questions of space and location inform our understanding of social and political issues? This series considered landscape, motion, experience, and technology as interlocking layers, connected parts of a dense emotional and spatial geography.  


Where is the Internet?

featuring Laura DeNardis

How do technologies once imagined as disembodied or dispersed become local? Laura DeNardis is one of the world’s foremost Internet governance scholars and a professor in the School of Communication at American University. In this talk she discusses current debates about internet infrastructure and neutrality, and traces how the internet has evolved from a dispersed and ethereal technology to a global everyday utility and a local, and fiercely debated, political resource.


Geocaching: An Interdisciplinary Community Project

featuring David Pike

How do we transform the landscape around us through stories, images, memories, and experiences? David Pike is a professor of literature at American University, and the author of major books in urban studies, modernism, cinema, and comparative literature. For this project he is introducing the AU community to geocaching, a collaborative project that connects physical and virtual space. Using mobile apps and maps, students from participating classes will “seed” the American University campus and other locations in the DC area with geocaches, and invite the community to find and respond to these hidden treasure troves. In addition to physical artifacts, historical materials, and clues for more interaction, geocaches will include stories, poems, and artwork, and elements that are real, imaginary, past, or lost. After the introductory lecture and workshop, follow-up events will extend this project throughout the semester— with the participation of graduate and undergraduate students and faculty from multiple departments and programs including literature, public history, world languages and cultures, art history, creative writing, arts management, college writing, film and visual media, philosophy and religion, graphic design, and computer science. 


Fables of De-Patriation: Undocumented Others in Cary Fukunaga's Sin Nombre

featuring Ricardo Ortiz

How can we understand the experiences of people whose lives have become radically displaced or deterritorialized? Ricardo Ortiz is associate professor of US Latino Literature and Culture at Georgetown University. His work focuses on hemispheric, transnational "Américas" Studies, cultural studies, and race, gender and queer theory. For this talk, he discusses the representation of migration and violence in the film Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga, 2009), which follows illegal immigrants and escaping gang members on the dangerous train journey from Honduras, through Mexico, to the United States. Combining fictional and documentary elements, and filming in real locations with real people, the film becomes an emotional testament of migration and displacement. A film screening will be scheduled for early March.  


The Humanities Truck

featuring Dan Kerr, Nina Shapiro-Perl, Juliana Martinez
Wednesday April 8, 2015, 1 p.m.
Battelle-Tompkins 228

How do we mobilize the humanities, and connect with the community in ways that are innovative, uncharted, and truly on the move? Functioning as a mobile workshop, recording studio, and exhibit space, the Humanities Truck will document experiences, start conversations, and share the stories of diverse, underserved communities in the Washington, DC, region. For this lunchtime roundtable discussion, the interdisciplinary team of faculty behind this exciting project will present their first projects and aims. As an experimental mobile platform for collecting, preserving, and expanding dialogue around the humanities, the Humanities Truck will work with specific micro-communities throughout the region, in order to recognize and enhance the existing cultural creativity in communities that are typically devalued, and foster imaginative new ways of addressing community challenges in the midst of rapid urban change.

Humanities Lab Geographies Series