2016 Spring Event Schedule

Past Events | Past Conferences | Past Seminars | Monthly Calendar


Monday, February 22
Lincoln Hall 1090

The 2016 Unit for Criticism Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series presents a lecture by Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology) on "Politics and Materialiaty: European Capitalism with a Human Face."

Regulation and the proliferation of voluntary standards prescribing detailed physical attributes in fresh produce in Europe have long been ridiculed and pointed to as the symbol of everything that is wrong with the European Union. Former President of the European Commission Manuel Barroso, in his 2013 State of the Union address declared that the European Union “needs to be big on big things and smaller on small things” (Barroso 2013). Political pundits have also connected ‘sweating the small stuff’ to the EU’s failure to stop the rise of the extreme right wing all over the continent--which ironically was a key raison d’être for a unified Europe in the first place. In this paper I will show that the political relationship between ‘small’ and ‘big’ issues is much more structured, complex, and multi-dimensional than the above zero-sum assumption suggests.

To demonstrate this I will analyze three Hungarian case studies: The first is the 2004 ban on the sale and use of paprika due a contamination by a carcinogenic mycotoxin; the second is 2010 boycott of Hungarian foie gras by an Austrian animal rights organization, and the third is the 2014 red mud spill, Hungary’s worst industrial accident. These scandals, as Hungarians learned and talked about them revealed certain previously hidden aspects of the relationship of their country and the European Union. Following the tradition of global ethnography, I will use the cases to illustrate a new trend in the relationship between politics and materiality in the European Union, and thereby contribute to theories of new materialism and of globalization.

Introduction: Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (Sociology/History)

Respondent: Emanual Rota (French & Italian/History)

For more information, please email Susan KoshyTed Faust, or Roman Friedman.

Wednesday, March 9
Digital Computing Lab, Room 1320
6:00pm - 8:00pm

The Unit for Criticism in collaboration with the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies presents: 


"Dissent, Democracy, and the Crisis in the Indian University"

A discussion of the massive protests roiling Indian universities for the last few weeks. These are the largest student protests in India in over 25 years. The protests erupted over the suspension and subsequent suicide of Dalit student, Rohith Vemula, at Hyderabad Central University, and over the arrests of Kanhaiya Kumar and five other students at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on charges of sedition for raising "anti-national" slogans. The targeting of academics and students by the state and the struggles over academic freedom and free speech inside and outside universities in Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, Russia, and China raise important questions about dissent, nationalism, and education in a neoliberal moment.

In the days leading up to the teach-in, a group of UIUC graduate students will be organizing information sessions and setting up a dissent wall in the Main Quad (across from the Union).


From March 2-March 9 (weekdays only), 11-4 pm, UIUC graduate students will hold information sessions and set up a dissent wall in the Main Quad (across from the Union) for those who want to write messages of solidarity. Please stop by to learn about the events and show support.

Featured speakers include:

Arvind Rajagopal (NYU), Tyler Williams (U of Chicago), Rohit De via Skype (Yale U), Siddharth Narrain via Skype (Lawyer, Center for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi), and Tariq Ali (History).

UIUC Graduate students

Via Skype JNU students

For more information, please email Susan KoshyTed Faust, or Roman Friedman.

Thursday, March 10
Lincoln Hall 1002
6:00pm - 8:00pm

The Unit for Criticism presents a lecture by Arvind Rajagopal (NYU), 
"The Global Career of the 'Communication' Concept: A Cold War History from the U.S. to India and Back"

The study of communication rests on a paradox. The 20th century was the most intensely mediated period of history, with technologies of communication being used to influence events on an unprecedented scale. Yet we do not have a history of communication that clarifies the nature of that influence. The concept has in fact been treated as a philosophical idea rather than as an historical term subject to contextual analysis. Through a multi-sited exploration of scholarly debates, propaganda and developmental planning initiatives, infrastructure and institution-building efforts, and with India as case study, I seek to understand the shifting stakes over time in the global project of universalizing communication as a value. Tracing this development through the vicissitudes of a discipline, namely Communication, I seek to reveal the centrality of communication technology to the American century, and the forms of its technocratic globality.

Introduction: Anita Say Chan (ICR / MACS)

Monday, March 14
Illini Union 104
9:00am - 5:00pm

"The Unit for Criticism Faculty Fellows Symposium"


Panel 1: 9:00am - 10:20am
Chair: Susan Koshy (English|Asian American Studies)

Samantha Frost (Political Science|Gender and Women's Studies)
"Ten Theses on the Subject of Biology and Politics"

Hina Nazar (English)
"Locke, Education, and Disciplinary Liberalism"

Coffee (10:20am - 10:40am)

Panel 2: 10:40am - 12:00pm
Chair: Marc Hertzman (History)

Rini Bhattacharya Mehta (Comparative & World Literature)
"Embracing the Noise: Bollywood and Neoliberal India"

Michael Silvers (Musicology)
"A Naturally Immoral Voice: The Story of Castrato Paulo Abdel do Nascimento"

Break for Lunch (12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Panel 3: 1:00pm - 2:20pm
Chair: Isabel Molina (Latina/o Studies|MACS)

Derrick Spires (English)
"On Violence and Citizenship in Frances E. W. Harper's American, 1854-1861"

J. David Cisneros (Communication|Latina/o Studies)
"The Cruel Optimism of 'Coming out of the Shadows': Affect, Emotion, and Immigration Rhetoric"

Coffee (2:20pm - 2:40pm)

Panel 4: 2:40pm - 4:00pm
Chair: Renée Trilling (English|Medieval Studies)

Gilberto Rosas (Anthropology|Latina/o Studies)
"Grief and a Border Crosser's Suspicion"

Eleonora Stoppino (Medieval Studies|French/Italian)

For more information, please email Susan KoshyTed Faust, or Roman Friedman.

Thursday, March 17
Illini Union 104
4:00pm - 5:00pm
5:00pm - 6:00pm

The Unit for Criticism presents a lecture and workshop by Nick Sousanis (University of Calgary):

"Unflattening: Reimagining Scholarship through Comics" (4-5 pm)

Hands-On Workshop:
"Thinking in Comics"

Nick Sousanis received his doctorate at Columbia University, where he wrote and drew his dissertation entirely in comics form. Titled Unflattening, it is now a book from Harvard University Press. In addition to Unflattening, his comics have appeared in numerous scholarly publications, the Boston Globe, and most recently the journal Nature. He has spoken on his work and the importance of visual thinking in education in institutions including Stanford, Harvard, and Microsoft Research, and his comics art has been on exhibit in the Netherlands and Russia. Sousanis has taught courses on comics as powerful communication tools at Columbia, Parsons, and now at the University of Calgary, where he is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Comics Studies. www.spinweaveandcut.com

Introduction: Kevin Hamilton (Fine and Applied Arts)

Respondent: Carol L. Tilley (GSLIS)

For more information, please email Susan KoshyTed Faust, or Roman Friedman.

Thursday, March 31
English 160

The Unit for Criticism presents a lecture by Alejandro L. Madrid (Cornell University) on:

"Soundscapes, Sound Art, and the 'Sounded' City"

The production of soundscapes and the surge of sound art collectives and an awareness of sound and sound-related historical cultural practices —aspiring intellectuals and artists— shows a novel approach to sound as a source of knowledge and distinction among young educated middle classes in Mexico City. This trend may be a consequence of larger social and cultural processes in which technology revitalizes forms of knowledge production considered pre-modern, especially orality and attention to sound. This paper explores such connections and proposes the term "sounded" city as an alternative to Angel Rama's traditional characterization of the "lettered" city as a site of knowledge. This conceptualization may help us engage de-nationalized or post-national circulations of knowledge through sound that allow for the establishment of new networks of "cultured" belonging and distinction beyond national borders.

By focusing on a soundscapes project started by Mexico City's Radio Educación in 2006 and currently continued by the Fonoteca Nacional, this essay investigates the social organization of urban spaces through sound and the use of sound. The discussion focuses on soundscapes as both, descriptive as well as performative interventions that speak of socially informed models that organize urban space and our perception of it.

Introduction: Donna Buchanan (Musicology)

Respondent: Marc Hertzman (History)

For more information, please email Susan KoshyTed Faust, or Roman Friedman.