The CHI Salon series brings the Amherst community together around humanities scholarship. The Center for Humanistic Inquiry hosts CHI Salons Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. 

Wed, Feb 2, 2022

Musicians Eric Sawyer and James Demler performing

CHI Salon: "A Winter's Ramble: A New Song Cycle"

Bass-baritone James Demler and composer/pianist Eric Sawyer will introduce and perform a new 30-minute song cycle on original texts exploring disharmony among the individual, nature and technology. The point of departure is to imagine the speaker of Schubert's landmark cycle Winterreise in a 21st-century landscape.

Wed, Feb 9, 2022

Two glasses of red wine.

CHI Salon: Wine Sensorium

Please join us for our annual wine sensorium! Featuring a presentation by our resident wine experts, Professors Rick Lopez and Chris van den Berg, and an opportunity to taste a variety of new and old world wines. Open to all staff and faculty.

Wed, Feb 16, 2022

CHI Salon: Giving Voice to Social Settings: Information Ethics in Aural Heritage Research and Preservation

In the transdisciplinary NEH-supported project Digital Preservation and Access to Aural Heritage Via A Scalable, Extensible Method, we explore data collection and translation implications of our working definition for “aural heritage”: spatial acoustics as physically experienced by humans in cultural contexts, aligned with anthropological archaeology. Aural heritage encompasses a broad range of human auditory and sound-sensing perspectives on cultural heritage sites and materials, and can be considered intangible cultural heritage because spatial acoustics enable and influence diverse forms of human communication and expression. Acoustical and soundscape methodologies paired with digital audio technologies offer tantalizing realism in sonic experiential reconstructions, as demonstrated in this project's explorations of three case-study sites: the Columbia Studio A recording studio on Nashville's Historic Music Row; the Byzantine-revival interior of the 1927 Rochester Savings Bank, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP); and the labyrinthine stone-and-earthen interior of the 3,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Centre archaeological site at Chavín de Huántar, Perú. The aural heritage framework offers novel possibilities for humanistic social science investigations along with new challenges in information ethics.

In this CHI Salon, Visiting Scholar Miriam Kolar, formerly a Mellon Five College Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Amherst College, demonstrates key potentialities and problems raised by engaging with sensory modalities and media for historical/archaeological research and reconstruction. Reproducing built-environmental physics from aural heritage data conveys particular dynamics to inform contextual knowledge regarding the socio-cultural uses, events, and personal interactions that have occurred in these places.

Wed, Mar 30, 2022

Sheila Jaswal headshot

CHI Salon: Being Human at Amherst

4:30 pm Frost Library, 210 - CHI Think Tank

The Being Human at Amherst Summer Institute was a five-day pilot program in the summer of 2021 in which faculty/staff cohorts built on the successful "Being Human in STEM" model to develop initiatives for equity and inclusion across departments and ranks at the college. In this salon, colleagues who participated in the institute will present their work. The institute is led by Professor Sheila Jaswal (Chemistry) and is supported by the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the Provost's Office, and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

Wed, Apr 6, 2022

Jason Davis headshot

CHI Salon: Climate Stories Project

4:30 pm Frost Library, CHI Think Tank (210)

Amherst College music instructor Carl Clements and director of the Climate Stories Project Jason Davis connected with members of the Amherst College community to share personal stories about climate change, including observations of extreme weather, emotional responses, and convictions to forge a positive future. Clements and Davis then composed and recorded original music which integrates samples from these recorded "climate stories." This project is supported by the Amherst College Music Department and the Arts at Amherst Initiative.

Wed, Apr 13, 2022

Watufani Poe black and white headshot in bow tie and stingy brim

CHI Salon: CHI Fellow Watufani Poe

4:30 pm Frost Library, CHI Think Tank (210)

CHI Fellow Watufani Poe shares his recent work. He is a scholar of race, gender, and sexuality in Brazil and the United States. He earned his B.A. from Swarthmore College in Africana Studies, his Masters in History from Brown University, and his PhD in Africana Studies from Brown University. His manuscript project entitled "Resisting Fragmentation: The Radical Possibilities of Black LGBTQ+ Activism in Brazil and the United States" is an ethnohistoric analysis of Black LGBTQ+ social and political activism in both countries to outline the ways Black LGBTQ people push for freedom across various social and political movement spaces. His work lies at the intersection of Africana Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Anthropology, and History focusing intently on questions such as the connections of the Black diaspora, Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Social Justice Movements.

Wed, Apr 20, 2022

Trent Masiki headshot with books in background

CHI Salon: Post-Soul Latinidad - Black Nationalism in Mama’s Girl and Bird of Paradise

4:30 pm Frost Library, CHI Think Tank (210)

Afro-Latina coming of age memoirs written after the advent of Black Arts Movement often include a significant admixture of African American history, culture, and political ideology. This is true of the memoirs Mama’s Girl (1996) by Veronica Chambers and Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina (2013) by Raquel Cepeda. Chambers and Cepeda were raised in New York City in the wake of the Black Power movement. As they came of age, Chambers and Cepeada were attracted to the antipodes of Black nationalism. Chambers repeatedly invokes the civil rights movement’s integrationist agenda in Mama’s Girl, and she does so in a way that valorizes Talented Tenth elitism and neoliberal luck egalitarianism. In contrast, Cepeda was aligned in spirit, if not in practice, with the cultural separatist pole of Black nationalism. She was attracted to the hip-hop and theosophy of the Five Percent Nation, a splinter sect of the Nation of Islam. In a forthcoming article in the journal Latino Studies, CHI Fellow Trent Masiki argues that the ways in which the antipodes of Black nationalism mediate Latinidad in Mama’ Girl and Bird of Paradise reveal the significance of the African American presence in Latina autobiography and highlight the commensurability between Latino and African American studies. He presents his findings in this salon.

Wed, Apr 27, 2022

Headshots of authors Lise Sanders and Pamela Stone

CHI Salon: "Bodies and Lives in Victorian England"

Please join Visiting Professor of English Lise Sanders and Dr. Pamela K. Stone for a discussion on their new book, Bodies and Lives in Victorian England: Science, Sexuality, and the Affliction of Being Female (Routledge, 2020). This volume offers an overview of what it was like to be female and to live and die in Victorian England (c. 1837–1901), by situating this experience within the scientific and social contexts of the times.

With a temporal focus on women’s life experience, the book moves from childhood and youth; through puberty and adolescence; to pregnancy, birth and motherhood; into senescence. Drawing on osteological sources, medical discourses, and examples from the literature and cultural history of the period, alongside social and environmental data derived from ethnographic and archival investigations, the authors will explore the experience of being female in the Victorian era for women across classes.

In synthesizing current research on demographic statistics, maternal morbidity and mortality, and bioarchaeological evidence on patterns of aging and death, they will analyze how changing social ideals, cultural and environmental variability, shifting economies, and evolving medical and scientific understanding about the body combined to shape female health and identity in the 19th century. Victorian women faced a variety of challenges, including changing attitudes regarding appropriate behavior, social roles and beauty standards, while grappling with new understandings of the role played by gender and sexuality in shaping women’s lives from youth to old age.

The book concludes by considering the relevance of how Victorian narratives of womanhood and the experience of being female have influenced perceptions of female health and cultural constructions of identity today.