Event Calendar

Tomorrow - Mon, Oct 23, 2017

Open Access Logo

Open Access Week events at the Amherst College Library

Open Access Week (October 23 - 27) is an international initiative on the part of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to advocate for, and increase awareness of Open Access— the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole, and serves to help counter growing inequality in access to scholarly materials across institutions and nations.

This year, the eighth year for Open Access Week, will feature two events at the Amherst College Library:

— Monday, October 23, 4-5 p.m., Center for Humanistic Inquiry, 2d Floor, Frost Library: The Library will be a viewing site for participating in a webinar on Open Access Monograph Publishing, sponsored by Lever Press. Representatives of a number of scholarly publishers moving into, or fully committing to open access publishing models will speak about trends they see shaping the future of scholarly publishing and its advance toward sustainability. Participants include Erich Van Rijn, University of California Press (and director of UC’s Luminos open access imprint); Lara Manville, director of the University of Ottawa Press; Charles Watkinson, speaking for both Lever Press and Knowledge Unlatched; and Wendy Pratt Lougee, speaking on the AAU / ARL / AAUP Open Access Monograph Publishing Initiative. Participants at the viewing site will be able to pose questions to the moderator.

— Wednesday, October 25, 4:30-6 p.m.: Nick Lindsay, director of Open Access and director of Journals Publishing, MIT Press, will speak in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry’s Wednesday Salon Series on “Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Discourse.” Nick is the first appointee to this position in the MIT Press, one of the nation’s premier scholarly publishers. He’ll speak on MIT Press’s increasing investment in open access models for journal and monograph publishing, and look toward how scholarly communication will evolve in the coming years. A wine and cheese reception will follow.

The F Word: No Apologies with Professor Haile Eshe Cole

The WGC is proud to present Professor Haile Eshe Cole as the next speaker for "The F Word: No Apologies," a series in which notable feminists on campus share their stories of growth, success and their feminist journey unapologetically.

Haile Eshe Cole hails from the small town of Temple, Texas and has lived, worked, and played in Austin, Texas for 13 years. She is the proud mother of two beautiful children who are 8 and 2 and is currently a visiting assistant professor at Amherst College. She began her journey in reproductive justice work in 2009 as a collective member of a grassroots organization of mothers of color organizing around various issues pertaining to poor and working-class women. She has been trained as a birth educator and birth companion (doula) and received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and African diaspora studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Her current research focuses on the legacy of scrutiny and violence against black women’s bodies. It builds upon the birthing and reproductive justice framework to examine the current condition of health and reproduction among black women in Texas. Some of her insights relating to black women’s reproductive experiences and their interactions with medical and social institutions are chronicled in her recent publication entitled “A Love Letter for my Daughter: Love as a Political Act.” This article was published in Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth Anthology, edited by Julia Oparah and Alicia Bonaparte.

This program is a part of Reproductive Justice Week. For more information, please contact wgc@amherst.edu

Tue, Oct 24, 2017

Event flyer featuring a stylized drawing of a human figure standing behind a pink sow

Isabella Tardin-Cardoso, University of Campinas, Brazil: "The Saint and the Sow: Poetics of Illusion in a Brazilian Imitation on Plautus"

Tue, Oct 24, 2017
4:30 pm
Fayerweather Hall, Pruyne Lecture Hall (Room 115)

Written in 1957, the popular Brazilian comedy O Santo e a Porca (The Saint and the Sow) has its classical source of inspiration already stated in its subtitle: a Northeastern Imitation of Plautus. Its author, Ariano Suassuna (1927-2014), alludes in particular to the play Aulularia (The Pot of Gold), by Titus Maccius Plautus (3rd-2nd century BC). As we shall see, the allusiveness of the play goes beyond its subtitle: it is apparent in Suassuna’s plot, in his imitation of Plautine speaking names, word-games and other comic techniques. Professor Tardin-Cardoso will first illustrate the way the Brazilian play calls attention both to its proximity to and distance from its Roman model. By means of such a dialogue, Suassuna underlines (just as Plautus had) his inspirations in popular culture. She will also argue that in Suassuna’s reception of the way Plautus represents deception in his theater, the modern playwright provides a fresh kind of illusion that reflects the image of life and Brazilian culture represented in his drama.

Trump: Point/Counterpoint Series: "Immigration Under Trump: Personal Stories"

The Trump: Point/Counterpoint conversation series features Amherst College professor and host of NEPR's In Contrast Ilan Stavans and a guest engaging in thoughtful discussion and attempting to bridge the ideological divide growing in our nation.

Part four of the conversation series will feature a departure in format from the previous three sessions.

In a town hall format, students, alumni and the community are invited to share personal stories of immigration and its challenges in an age of intolerance. The conversation will be moderated by Stavans. All are welcome to attend and participate.

This event is free and open to the public.
It is presented by the Amherst College Class of 1970.

Series Information

Listen to part one, via Ilan Stavans' NEPR show In Contrast, episode #10: "Why 'Black Lives Matter' Matters"

Loretta Ross: "Reproductive Justice in the Age of Trump and White Supremacy"

Dismayed by the way in which certain legal victories, such as Roe v. Wade, served only to benefit to most privileged, white and middle-to-upper-class women, Loretta Ross sought a more comprehensive approach to activism. She coined the term "Reproductive Justice" in order to establish a human rights framework. Ross lectures on topics of Reproductive Justice, white supremacy and the "calling-out culture of college activists." She organized the 2004 March for Women's Lives, served as the director of the nation's first rape crisis center and has has been an activist for over 30 years. Currently, Ross is working as an assistant professor at Hampshire College. For more information, contact wgc@amherst.edu.

Wed, Oct 25, 2017

Mwangi Publicity

"How I Found My Voice" - A Talk by Boniface Mwangi

The Political Science Department of Amherst College welcomes Boniface Mwangi to discuss "How I Found My Voice."

Boniface Mwangi will speak about his experiences as a photojournalist during the Kenyan 2007 election, his activism work since and his decision to run for Member of Parliament in the most recent 2017 Kenyan election. In 2007, Mr. Mwangi gave voice and image to heartbreak of a nation with his photography.

Boniface Mwangi is one of the most vocal and courageous Kenyans of our generation. He came to the world’s attention for his vivid documentation of the 2007-08 post-election violence in Kenya. Subsequently he stood up alone in a packed stadium and heckled the then-president seeking justice. He was arrested and beaten. Since then he has spearheaded campaigns that speak to equality, corruption and the end of tribalism in Kenya. A decade later, he and other like-minded Kenyans founded a vibrant youthful party, the Ukweli Party, or truth party. Through a ground-breaking crowdsourcing campaign, they took part in the just concluded 2017 general election symbolizing transformative leadership in a country. Although at one point he stood alone, today his movement has gained traction with many – inspired by his vision and consistency – adding their voices to champion for a better Kenya.

Boniface Mwangi is an award-winning Kenyan photojournalist and human rights activist. His work has appeared in leading publications in the world — including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and The Boston Globe .

He studied human rights and documentary photography at New York University. He has twice won the CNN Multichoice Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award and is the youngest Prince Claus Laureate. New African Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2014 and he is also a senior TED Fellow. Time magazine recognized him as a Next Generation Leader in 2015.

This event is being sponsored by the Lamont Fund, The Dean of faculty and the Political Science Department of Amherst College. It is free and open to the public.

David Cox, "Tangents to Four Unit Spheres"

Abstract: How many lines can be tangent to four spheres of radius one sitting in three-dimensional space?  I will use this question to introduce enumerative algebraic geometry.  The lecture will include an introduction to projective space, Bezout's Theorem, and mirror symmetry from mathematical physics.  Parts of the lecture will use some ideas from multivariable calculus.


Presentation by Latvian Russophone poet Semyon Khanin

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Webster Hall, Center for Russian Culture

"Khanin brilliantly creates an impression of the fragility of ties between letters as well as people.”

On Wednesday, October 25 at 4:30 in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, Semyon Khanin will read from his poetry and speak about his conceptual art projects. Khanin, who visits us from Riga, Latvia, is a Russian poet with three books of poetry to his name, a translator of Latvian poetry into Russian, and the editor of numerous poetry collections of Russian and Latvian poets. He compiled the anthology Latvian/Russian poetry. Poems in Russian written by Latvian poets (2011), the first of its kind. Khanin's books have been translated into Latvian, Czech, Ukrainian, Serbian and Italian. He is one of the key members of the multimedia poetry project Orbita, which is a creative group of poets and artists whose works aim at creating a dialogue between various cultures and genres (which include literature, music, video, and photography, among others). His poems in English translation appeared in the anthology Hit parade. The Orbita group (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015).

This event is sponsored by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture. The Center is located on the second floor of Webster Hall on the Amherst College campus. Please contact Catherine Ciepiela for more information (caciepiela@amherst.edu).

Thu, Oct 26, 2017

Visualizing the Surveillance Archive: Critical Art and the Dangers of Transparency

On Thursday, October 26 at 4:30 p.m. in the Clark House at Amherst College, Torin Monahan, professor of communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present a paper titled “Visualizing the Surveillance Archive: Critical Art and the Dangers of Transparency.” This is the second presentation in a series of seminars that will take place this year on the theme “Law and the Visible.”

Professor Monahan’s research focuses on institutional transformations with new technologies, with a particular emphasis on surveillance and security programs. His many publications include the book, Surveillance in the Time of Insecurity.

To receive a copy of the paper which will investigate a number of critical art projects that construct counter-archives of visual material as a response to institutional surveillance programs, please email the LJST Dept. Coordinator at mlestes@amherst.edu.

Berislav Marusic to present

Berislav Marušić to present "How Can Beliefs Wrong?"

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm Fayerweather Hall, Pruyne Lecture Hall, room 115

Berislav Marušić (Brandeis University) will give a talk on Thursday, October 26, 2017. The title of his talk is "How Can Beliefs Wrong? -- A Strawsonian Epistemology" and will be presented in Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at 5 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. For further information, please contact the Philosophy Department at Amherst College 413-542-5805 or djbrace@amherst.edu.

Mary Jo Salter

Poetry Reading: Mary Jo Salter

Reviewing Mary Jo Salter’s "A Phone Call to the Future: New & Selected Poems" for The New York Times Book Review, James Longenbach wrote, “Only a few poets transcend the history of taste to participate in the history of art—and only in a handful of poems. Salter has been struck by lightning more than once.” Salter’s most recent collection, The Surveyors (2017), is her eighth. She is also the author of a children's book, The Moon Comes Home, a coeditor of The Norton Anthology of Poetry, and a lyricist whose song cycle “Rooms of Light” premiered at Lincoln Center in 2007. She teaches at Johns Hopkins University and lives in Baltimore. The event will be followed by refreshments.

Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Decolonization in Comparative Context

What is decolonization? What are its origins and its connection to the histories and memories of a given geographical space? What legacies does decolonial thinking pass on to contemporary thought? And what can we learn about decolonization from comparative contexts?
Friday, October 27 from 4-6 p.m. and Saturday, October 28 from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sat, Oct 28, 2017

Black-and-white image of Kennedy speaking at a raised podium on the Amherst College campus, surrounded by guards and spectators

"Poetry and Politics: A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of President John F. Kennedy"

1:00 pm Converse Hall, Cole Assembly Room

This year marks the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth. To celebrate that occasion and also President Kennedy’s Oct. 26, 1963, visit to, and speech at, Amherst College, the College will host a forum on “Poetry and Politics.” The forum will trace the thread connecting President Kennedy’s concerns with the College’s current interest in, to use President Martin’s words, setting “an example of community characterized by openness and respect, freedom with responsibility, and politics inflected by poetry.”

President Kennedy used his remarks at the College to honor Robert Frost and to extol the virtues of the poetic in political life. The President noted that Frost “saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself.” “When power,” President Kennedy continued, “leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.”

Recently, President Martin returned to this theme, saying that a politics inflected by poetry would nurture “a way of approaching things that lets them come in in their strangeness or their otherness and does not rush to grasp things in the terms we have adopted in advance. An approach that lets others live requires … the art of receiving and the lessons of slowness, which foster the ability to see before comprehension.”

Keynote address to be provided by Congressman Joseph Kennedy III on the steps of Frost Library. For a complete schedule of events, please visit the link below. All programs associated with this celebration are free and open to the public.

Thu, Nov 2, 2017

Appiah sitting at table with books

“How Not To Think About Race, Culture and Class” - A Talk by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Kwame Anthony Appiah is Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University and has written about a range of topics. He explored questions of African and African-American identity in In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, examined the cultural dimensions of global citizenship in Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers and investigated the social and individual importance of identity in The Ethics of Identity. Appiah's discussion of “How Not To Think About Race, Culture and Class” will be followed by a Q&A.

Appiah was born in London, where his Ghanaian father was a law student, but moved as an infant to Kumasi, Ghana, where he grew up. His father, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, a lawyer and politician, was also, at various times, a Member of Parliament, an ambassador and a President of the Ghana Bar Association. His English mother, the novelist and children’s writer, Peggy Appiah, was active in the social, philanthropic and cultural life of Kumasi. Appiah completed his Bachelor of Arts and Ph.D degrees in philosophy at Cambridge University and has taught philosophy in Ghana, France, Britain and the United States. In 2012 he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. His latest book, from Harvard University Press, is As If: Idealizations and Ideals.

The talk is free and open to the public. Appiah's books will be available for sale at the event.

Fri, Nov 3, 2017

Soldiers and Kings

“Soldiers and Kings: Photoethnographic Practice in the Context of Smuggling across Mexico”

Jason De León, 2017 recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award, is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and director of the Undocumented Migration Project. His book "The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail" (UC Press 2015) won the 2016 Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Mon, Nov 6, 2017

HOW DO INDIGENOUS PEOPLES VALUE NATURE: Experiences From Water Defenders Resisting Mining Projects in Ecuador.

How do Indigenous Peoples Value Nature: Experiences From Water Defenders Resisting Mining Projects in Ecuador.

Carlos Perez Guartambel

Interpreting by Antonia Carcelen-Estrada

During this event Yaku Perez Guartamble asks the question; Is gold more valuable than water? Ecuador’s paramos are fragile ecosystems rich in water. Yet these waters often run above mineral reserves rich in gold. The state pursues mineral extraction in the name of development. Indigenous peoples, in turn, claim rights to self-determination to protect their waters from extraction industries. This happened in Kimsacocha, where Ecuador’s government granted concessions to Canadian mining companies without consulting the local population. After many protests and failed attempts at having their voices heard, local communities took the matter of consultation in their own hands. On Sunday October 2, 2011, the peasant and indigenous communities of Victoria del Portete and Tarqui organized a prior consultation in their own terms. The “community consultation” involved over 1500 families voting on mining industries in water sources and counted with the presence of national and international observers. Over 90% of votes rejected the development of mega mining in that ecosystem, but the government does not recognize a consultation organized by non-state actors. The water defender and Kañari lawyer Yaku P. Guartambel, now president of the Confederation of Kichwa Peoples in Ecuador (Ecuarunari), tells the story.

As an Indigenous leader, lawyer and scholar, Yaku Perez Guartambel will contribute insights onto sustainable worldviews to face today’s climate crisis. Through his experiences and analysis, he explains the value of indigenous resistance through the notion of rights of nature, first established by the 2008 Constitution of Ecuador and now common across the world. Indigenous approaches to nature are vital in the era of climate change; their claims to self-determination are a valuable tool to promote world peace.

Yaku Perez Guartambel is the director of the Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations, an umbrella organization that articulates indigenous movements in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. He is also President of Ecuarunari, the Confederation of Kichwa Peoples in Ecuador, the country’s largest and oldest Indigenous organization. Perez is a lawyer and has taught at Universidad de Cuenca and Universidad Salesiana. He is the author of six books on issues including parliamentary law, water rights and indigenous justice, and of various articles. His activism focuses on the defense of nature and water, and in the process he has become a major voice opposing governmental policies (he has been repeatedly criminalized by Correa’s government).

This event is being sponsored by the Lurcy Fund, the Lamont Fund and the Political Science Department of Amherst College. The event is free and open to the public

Tue, Nov 7, 2017

Principal Research Scientist Herman Marshal, MIT Kavli Institute: "The Future of X-ray Polarimetry in Astronomy"

I will present several projects to measure the X-ray polarizations of astronomical sources over the next 5-10 years. Previous observations were obtained in the 1970s for bright Galactic sources such as X-ray binaries and the Crab Nebula using a Bragg reflection from graphite crystals, limiting the measurements to 2.6 and 5.2 keV. Recently, a few detections have been reported using Compton scattering at hard X-rays. A newly approved NASA mission is the Imaging X-ray Polarization Explorer (IXPE). It would operate in the 2-8 keV range and is expected to launch in late 2020. It has an imaging capability, with a resolution of about a half arc-minute, and should detect X-ray polarizations as low as 1-5 percent for a dozen or more active galaxies, supernova remnants, neutron stars, and X-ray binaries during a mission lifetime of a few years. I will describe the instrument and a few of the science goals. I will also describe a design for a sounding rocket based polarimeter to work in the 0.2-0.6 keV band. The method uses gratings developed at MIT and multilayer coated mirrors. Potential targets include active galaxies, isolated neutron stars, and nearby black hole binaries in outburst. The configuration is extensible to orbital use, possibly to be combined with other instruments to provide a bandpass from 0.2 to 50 keV.

Fri, Nov 10, 2017

Hawaiian Graffiti

Documentary Film Screening "Mele Murals"

Film Screening of the documentary "Mele Murals" with director Tadashi Nakamura on Friday, November 10 in Keefe Theater Room 008. Mele Murals is a documentary of the transformative power of modern graffiti art and ancient Hawaiian culture for a new generation of Native Hawaiians.

In Defense of Voting Rights - Colloquium on the Constitution and the Imagining of America

On Friday, November 10 in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at the Frost Library, the Colloquium on the Constitution and the Imagining of America will reconvene to discuss the topic of “In Defense of Voting Rights.” Guest speakers will be Catherine E. Lhamon '93, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Justin Levitt, professor at Loyola Law School and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This event is sponsored by the Colloquium on the Constitution & the Imagining of America & the Sperling Fund.

Connecticut Valley Mathematics Colloquium Dinner

This year's meeting of the Connecticut Valley Mathematics Colloquium is sponsored by the Mathematics and Statistics Department, and will take place on Friday, November 10. The speaker will be Rachel A. Ward of the University of Texas at Austin.

Amherst College Mathematics and Statistics Connecticut Valley Colloquium

Rachel Ward, University of Texas at Austin
Mathematics for k-means clustering and beyond

Abstract: Under the hood of any modern algorithm for "big data" analysis is a step where the data is clustered into a smaller number of groups. The most widely-used clustering objective is the k-means algorithm, which aims to partition a set of n points into k clusters in such a way that each observation belongs to the cluster with the nearest mean, and such that the sum of squared distances from each point to its nearest mean is minimal. In general, this is a hard optimization problem, requiring an exhaustive search over all possible partitions of the data into k clusters in order to find the optimal clustering. At the same time, fast heuristic algorithms are often applied in many data processing applications, despite having few guarantees on the clusters they produce. In this talk, we will introduce new algorithms and techniques for solving the k-means optimization problem, based on semidefinite relaxation, and present geometric conditions on a set of data such that the algorithm is guaranteed to find the optimal k-means clustering for the data. The new algorithm has surprising connections to matrix factorization and manifold learning, and we conclude by discussing several open problems.

The talk will be followed by a dinner at 30 Boltwood Restaurant. Reservations are required and cost $20 per person. Email awtorrey@amherst.edu for a reservation.

"The Urgency of Teacher Racial/Ethnic Diversity in an Increasingly Diverse Society" - Presented by Travis Bristol '03

8:00 pm - 9:00 pm Frost Library, Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI)

At the very moment policy-makers call for increasing the racial/ethnic diversity of the teaching force, teachers of color continue to leave the profession at higher rates than their white colleagues. This talk will highlight research that points to the "added-value" for students of color when taught by a teacher of color. Additionally, this talk will provide guidance for researchers, policy makers and practitioners looking to recruit, support and retain teachers of color.

Amherst College alumnus Travis J. Bristol '03, a former high school English teacher and World Bank consultant, is an assistant professor in English education at Boston University School of Education with an affiliation in educational leadership and policy studies.

Sat, Nov 11, 2017

Mon, Nov 13, 2017

Vievee Francis

Poetry Reading: Vievee Francis

As Sebastian Matthews writes of her third collection, “The poems in Vievee Francis’ Forest Primeval are fearless, full-throated, whip-smart and can come at you from just about any angle.” Francis is the author of two other books of poetry: Blue-Tail Fly and Horse in the Dark, which won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, textbooks and anthologies, including Poetry, Best American Poetry, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. She serves as an associate editor of Callaloo and an associate professor of English at Dartmouth College. The event will be followed by refreshments.

Thu, Nov 16, 2017

Trump: Point/Counterpoint series - After Trump

The "Trump: Point/Counterpoint" conversation series features Amherst College Professor, and host of NEPR's "In Contrast", Ilan Stavans and a guest engaging in thoughtful discussion and attempting to bridge the ideological divide growing in our nation.

For the final conversation, join Ilan and his guest, William Kristol, as they discuss "After Trump".

William Kristol is founder and editor at large of The Weekly Standard, he appears frequently on all the leading political commentary shows. Before starting the Weekly Standard in 1995, Mr. Kristol led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory. Before that, Mr. Kristol served in senior positions in the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.

This event is free and open to the public.
Presented by the Amherst College Class of 1970.

Series Information