Event Calendar

September 2019

Sun, Sep 1, 2019

Min Jin Lee

2019 DeMott Lecture by Min Jin Lee

The annual DeMott lecture, a welcome address for incoming students, will be given by Min Jin Lee. The DeMott lecture is open to first-year students.
Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships in fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation (2018), the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard (2018-2019) and the New York Foundation for the Arts (2000). Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. A New York Times Bestseller, Pachinko was also a Top 10 Books of the Year for BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the New York Public Library. Pachinko was a selection for “Now Read This,” the joint book club of PBS NewsHour and The New York Times. It was on over 75 best books of the year lists, including NPR, PBS and CNN. Pachinko will be translated into 29 languages. In 2019, Apple ordered to series a television adaptation of Pachinko, and President Barack Obama selected Pachinko for his recommended reading list, calling it, “a powerful story about resilience and compassion.” Lee’s debut novel Free Food for Millionaires (2007) was a Top 10 Books of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’s Fresh Air, USA Today and a national bestseller. In 2019, Free Food for Millionaires was a finalist for One Book, One New York, a city-wide reading program. Her writings have appeared in The New Yorker, NPR’s Selected Shorts, One Story, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Times Literary Supplement, TheGuardian, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times of London and Wall Street Journal. She served three consecutive seasons as a Morning Forum columnist of the Chosun Ilbo of South Korea. In 2018, Lee was named as an Adweek Creative 100 for being one of the “10 Writers and Editors Who are Changing the National Conversation” and a Frederick Douglass 200. In 2018, Lee was inducted in the Bronx High School of Science Hall of Fame, and in 2019, she was inducted in the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame. She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Monmouth College. She serves as a trustee of PEN America and as a director of the Authors Guild.

The DeMott Lecture was established in 2005 by Alan P. Levenstein ’56 in honor of Benjamin DeMott, a legendary and much-loved member of the Amherst English faculty from 1951 until his retirement in 1990. The DeMott Lecture seeks to expose incoming students to an engagement with the world marked by originality of thought coupled with direct social action, and to inspire intellectual participation in issues of social and economic inequality, racial and gender bias and political activism.

Additional information about Professor Benjamin DeMott and previous DeMott lectures, including last year’s talk by Danielle Allen, is available via the link below.

Fri, Sep 6, 2019

Cartoon illustration of five "Superheroes of Summer Research," with a purple Mammoth hot-air balloon in the sky above them

Annual Summer Research Poster Session

Join us for an opportunity to recognize student achievement and experience the state-of-the-art 250,000-square-foot Science Center, which is home to the Departments of Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy, Neuroscience and Psychology. All are welcomed and encouraged to attend.

We will also be hosting presentations from this summer’s Robotics Team and the Book & Plow Farm.

Appetizers and beverages will be available!

Every summer, dozens of Amherst College students engage in research in the physical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. From laboratories to archives to the field, students can spend six or more weeks extending their classroom research, working on their senior theses or assisting in faculty experiments. The Summer Research Poster Session is an opportunity for student researchers to share works in progress, summer research stories, thesis ideas and experimental results.

Sun, Sep 8, 2019

Secular Chapel

Secular Chapel: What Serena Williams Means to Me

Join us for "Secular Chapel" where we reflect on the human condition. This week we will talk about what Serena Williams means to us. Then we will invite you to reflect on what Serena Williams means to you. Join us for this open, casual, reflective gathering for Amherst College students, faculty and staff. Hosted by Jen Manion, associate professor of history, and Michael Kunichika, associate professor of Russian.

Some sources of information/inspiration for our conversation include the New York Times essay by Claudia Rankine from 2015, “The Meaning of Serena Williams,” and the HBO documentary series “Being Serena.” These are references for people who want to learn more; they are not required.

Tue, Sep 10, 2019

Grosvenor House with leaf border

SWAGS Fall Reception

Join the Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies (SWAGS) Department as we kick off an exciting new year.
Connect with colleagues, chat with students about sexuality and gender studies, participate in the student raffle and enjoy some delicious refreshments!

Wed, Sep 11, 2019

Fiction Reading: Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee is the author of Pachinko, a four-generation saga of a Korean family that the San Francisco Chronicle called “Beautiful ... an extraordinary epic,” and which President Barack Obama selected for his recommended reading list, calling it, “a powerful story about resilience and compassion.” She is also the author of the prize-winning novel Free Food for Millionaires, and the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships. She is a current writer-in-residence at Amherst College. The event will be followed by refreshments.

Thu, Sep 12, 2019

Event poster showing a stack of gray stones on the rocky shore of a body of water

“The New Mooreans: On Personal and Impersonal Good”

5:00 pm - 6:15 pm Fayerweather Hall, Pruyne Lecture Hall (Room 115)

Professor Nandi Theunissen of the philosophy department at the University of Pittsburgh will present this lecture, which is sponsored by the Philosophy Department and the Joseph Epstein Lecture Fund. For further information, contact the Department of Philosophy at (413) 542-5805.

Sat, Sep 14, 2019

Geckos

Biology Departmental Showcase

11:00 am Science Center, 2nd and 3rd floor lounge, B-wing

This Saturday, the biology department will host a Department Showcase. Come by to talk with students doing research in the department, meet faculty, eat some snacks, and learn about the fascinating research happening in the biology department! There will be two sessions, one from 11 a.m. to noon and the other from 3 to 4 p.m. You can find us by the spiral staircase on the 2nd and 3rd floor of B-wing in the Science Center.

Tue, Sep 17, 2019

Event banner with text on a background that looks like a Transgender Pride flag

Five College Queer/Trans/Sexuality Studies Reception

Join faculty, staff and students from Amherst, UMass, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Hampshire to kick off the school year and learn more about the Five College Queer/Trans/Sexuality Studies Certificate. An informal reception will be followed by a panel discussion on "Queer/Trans/Sexuality Studies Now!," featuring faculty from each college. All are welcome. The program is co-chaired by Ren-Yo Hwang, assistant professor of gender studies and critical social thought, Mount Holyoke College; Jina Kim, assistant professor of study of women and gender, Smith College; and Khary Polk, assistant professor of sexuality, women's and gender studies, Amherst College.

Headshot of Simone White

Poetry Reading: Simone White

Simone White is the author of the poetry collections Of Being Dispersed, Unrest and House Envy of All the World, as well as the collaborative poem/painting chapbook Dolly and, most recently, a book of criticism and poems, Dear Angel of Death. White is a Cave Canem Fellow and was selected as a New American Poet for the Poetry Society of America in 2013. Eileen Myles described her poetry as “an ur text of the fourth wave of feminism which we come to realize is ocean and women are now standing on it and amidst this clatter of voices Simone White walks." The event will be followed by refreshments.

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

Event flier with photo of Professor Grunow and a black-and-white photo of Meiji-era Japan

"Ginza Bricktown and the Politics of Urban Space in Early Meiji Tokyo"

4:30 pm Fayerweather Hall, Pruyne Lecture Hall

Guest lecturer Professor Tristan Grunow, visiting associate research scholar in East Asian Studies at Yale, will host a special talk on "Ginza Bricktown and the Politics of Urban Space in Early Meiji Tokyo."

Professor Grunow specializes in modern Japanese history; urban history; colonial urban planning and architecture; environmental and spatial history; imperialism, colonialism and postcolonialism.

All are welcome to attend.

Thu, Sep 19, 2019

APF logo showing green outlines of the Homestead and The Evergreens houses of the Emily Dickinson Museum

The Seventh Annual Amherst Poetry Festival

The Emily Dickinson Museum presents the seventh annual Amherst Poetry Festival from Sept. 19 to 22. Experience one-of-a-kind programs around downtown Amherst, including workshops, master classes, poetry discussions, and readings from headliners Adrian Matejka, Paige Lewis and Paisley Rekdal. And don’t miss the Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon, an epic one-day reading of all 1,789 of Dickinson’s poems! Visit https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/apf/ for our full schedule of events.

Untitled black-and-white photo from the series "Love Notes," showing shrubbery in a field by the side of a road, under a cloudy sky

Opening Lecture and Reception with Odette England

4:30 pm Fayerweather Hall, 115 - Pruyne Lecture Hall

Join Odette England for a lecture and the opening of her exhibition Do Things to Images, on view in the Eli Marsh Gallery Sept. 16–Oct. 11.

“Law, Infamy and the Time of Sovereignty”

Sherally Munshi, associate professor of law at Georgetown Law, will present a paper. This is the first presentation in a series of seminars that will take place this year on the theme “Law’s Infamy.”
Professor Munshi’s areas of scholarly interests include property law, immigration law, and critical legal theory. Her writings have been published in the Yale Journal of Law & Humanities, the American Journal of Comparative Law, and Harper’s. Forthcoming works by Munshi include: Immigration and the Imperial, in THE OXFORD HANDBOOK ON LAW AND THE HUMANITIES (Simon Stern, Bernadette Meyler & Maksymilian Del Mar eds., Oxford University Press) and Before the Muslim Ban, in DEEPENING DIVIDES: HOW BORDERS AND SOCIAL BOUNDARIES DELINEATE OUR WORLD (Didier Fassin ed.,).
To receive a copy of the paper being presented which will explore the ambivalent status of the 1823 property law case, Johnson v. M’Intosh, please email the LJST department assistant coordinator at mlestes@amherst.edu.

Fri, Sep 20, 2019

Publishing Masterclass with The Common and [PANK]

Hoping to get your creative writing published? Join editors from The Common and [PANK] for a masterclass on publishing. Learn how to find the right publications for your work and prepare a successful submission as part of the 2019 Amherst Poetry Festival. All are welcome!

Professor Maren Buck standing outdoors

Cheminar with Professor Maren Buck, Smith College Department of Chemistry

Professor Maren Buck will be visiting from the Smith College Department of Chemistry.

Seminar Title: "Poly(2-alkenyl azlactone)s: Versatile Polymers for the Synthesis of Multifunctional Gels and Drug Delivery Platforms"

"My research interests fall at the intersection of organic chemistry, polymer chemistry and materials science. We use a polymer bearing reactive, azlactone functional groups to assemble multifunctional hydrogels of interest in the contexts of drug delivery, in vitro cell culture, and tissue engineering and regeneration. We are currently developing both complex 2-D and 3-D hydrogel scaffolds functionalized with a broad range of chemical and biological motifs that can direct the behavior of mammalian cells cultured on these materials. A second major area of research focuses on the use of these azlactone-based polymers as macromolecular drug delivery vehicles. We are fabricating nanoscale polymeric micelles that can be used to deliver chemotherapeutics with control over where and when the drug is released. We are also working in collaboration with Sarah Moore’s lab in engineering to synthesize protein-polymer-drug conjugates that specifically target cancer cells as well as cells at the blood-brain barrier."

Mon, Sep 23, 2019

Headshot of Juan Castro

“Territory as Home: Maya Resistance Against Extractivism in Guatemala”

Lawyer and scholar Juan Castro will discuss Maya concepts of home, including the deep and complex roots of Mayan conceptualization of place. He will show how this concept of home arises from the longstanding historical and literary traditions of Mayan people and informs ongoing resistance to colonization and extraction. This talk is a vital aspect of the courses that we are teaching, which embed interaction with Indigenous scholars, knowledge keepers and activists. We are especially aware of the crucial relevance of this discussion in light of both global climate change and localized manifestations, including the burning of the forests in Brazil and the continuing dispossession of Mayan and other indigenous people.
Castro can speak directly to the criminalization of Maya authorities defending lands and rivers in Guatemala, including women. In doing so, he analyzes the legal mechanisms by which the state of Guatemala has historically appropriated Maya territories for the profit of extractive industries. He complements this historical approach with insights into the politics of state repression against Indigenous resistance today, which has resulted in the state-orchestrated assassination of leaders like Berta Caceres. Castro argues that “our Maya identity is a political one; we defend our territories, we speak Indigenous languages and understand Maya cosmovision.” A Maya lawyer is a political identity, one that challenges conventional legalities and quietly redefines state authority. His presentation offers a decolonial approach to litigation.
Juan Castro is an indigenous Maya lawyer and scholar in Guatemala. He is the founder and director of the Legal Center for Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala. He is a dynamic member of the Association of Maya Lawyers and Notaries of Guatemala and also teaches law at the Maya University of Guatemala. He has previously worked at the OHCHR in Guatemala. He specializes in Indigenous collective rights and is considered by Maya Indigenous authorities as their representative in state courts. He is currently one of Guatemala’s most prominent lawyers, working on 19 such cases, some very emblematic, like the defense of Maya authorities taken as political prisoners for contesting extractivism in their territories.

Tue, Sep 24, 2019

Thomas Langin, Yale: “Ultracold Molecules: A New Tool for Studying Strongly Interacting Quantum Systems”

Thomas Langin from Yale University will be speaking on Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs).

BECs, in which the material is cold and dense enough that the wavefunctions of the particles overlap (e.g., when the DeBroglie wavelength (λ∝1/√T) equals the interparticle spacing (a∝n^(- 1/3))), are typically created by cooling N≥1000 atoms to T≤100 nK. These systems have many interesting properties, such as superfluidity, easily tunable interactions and phase coherence. However, in most atoms, interactions are limited to short-range van der Waals interactions.

At Yale, we are attempting to create BECs of SrF, a polar molecule which has strong, tunable, long-range dipole-dipole interactions. Molecules also have many easily accessible long-lived rotational states, which make them attractive for quantum information studies. In this talk, I will discuss the techniques we have implemented thus far to cool thousands of SrF molecules to T∼10μK. I will conclude by discussing our progress toward reaching lower temperatures and achieving a BEC of SrF.

Wed, Sep 25, 2019

Illustration of a heavily tattooed man sitting next to a mirror in an ornately decorated room

"Culture, Race and Religion: On the Construction of the Logic of Mestizaje in Latin America"

The arrival of Europeans to the Americas brought about a complex process of ethnocultural and racialized intermixture, which has come to be known as mestizaje. This session explores the intersection of racial, cultural and religious markers as contributing factors to the formation of colonial societies. It explores how these three markers helped create and shape the racialized ideology and logic of mestizaje as a divinely inspired foundational mechanism for the whitening of the population of these societies.

Dr. Néstor Medina is a Guatemalan-Canadian Scholar and assistant professor of religious ethics and culture at Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from University of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto. He was the recipient of a First Book Grant for Minority Scholars (2014) and a Project Grant for Researchers (2018) from the Louisville Institute. He studies the intersection between people’s cultures, histories, ethnoracial relations and forms of knowledge. Among his numerous articles and publications, he is the author of Mestizaje: (Re)Mapping "Race," Culture, and Faith in Latina/o Catholicism (Orbis, 2009), a booklet On the Doctrine of Discovery (CCC, 2017) and his recent Christianity, Empire and the Spirit (Brill 2018).

The public is welcome!

Thu, Sep 26, 2019

"From Spoils to Saviors: Re-valuing the First Roman Wives as Civic Actors in Livy's 'From the Foundation of the City'"

This talk will focus on the episode traditionally known as “the rape of the Sabine women,” in which the first Romans staved off the extinction of their new community and established Rome’s version of marriage, but did so by obtaining their wives through a mass bride abduction. Unlike most of the women who fall victim to violence in Rome’s founding myths, the Sabine women not only survive their assault; by the end of their story, as told by the Roman historian Livy, they’ve won universal respect and recognition for saving both new and old communities, which they risk their own lives to defend.

Point/Counterpoint Banner Image

Point/Counterpoint: "The Arc of U.S. History," with Jill Lepore and Ross Douthat, moderated by President Biddy Martin

The Point/Counterpoint conversation series features an Amherst College professor and guests engaging in thoughtful discussion and attempting to bridge the growing ideological divide in our nation.

Join Amherst College President Biddy Martin for a discussion on "The Arc of U.S. History" with Harvard University professor Jill Lepore and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. A Q&A will follow, with books available for purchase through Amherst Books.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. A prize-winning professor, she teaches classes in evidence, historical methods, humanistic inquiry and American history. Much of her scholarship explores absences and asymmetries in the historical record, with a particular emphasis on the history and technology of evidence. As a wide-ranging and prolific essayist, Lepore writes about American history, law, literature and politics. She is the author of many award-winning books, including the bestselling These Truths: A History of the United States (2018). Her latest book is This America: The Case for the Nation (2019).

Ross Douthat joined The New York Times as an op-ed columnist in April 2009. His column appears every Wednesday and Sunday. Previously, he was a senior editor at The Atlantic and a blogger for theatlantic.com.

He is the author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, published in 2012, and Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (2005), and a co-author, with Reihan Salam, of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (2008). He is the film critic for National Review.

The Point/Counterpoint series is based on a course of the same name. The course and associated event series received special funding through a generous gift from 36 members of the 50th Reunion Class of 1970.

Fri, Sep 27, 2019

Not of Glass, But of Paper: When Texts Become Lenses (And Why This Matters)

"Not of Glass, But of Paper: When Texts Become Lenses (And Why This Matters)" presented by Sanam Nader-Esfahani.

The Faculty Colloquium Series for 2019-20 presents a lecture titled "Not of Glass, But of Paper: When Texts Become Lenses (And Why This Matters)" presented by Sanam Nader-Esfahani, assistant professor of French.
https://www.amherst.edu/mm/33214

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mark a pivotal moment in the history of visual theories and technologies. From enhancements in the understanding and craftsmanship of lenses to new conclusions about the location and form of the image inside the eye, from progress in ophthalmology to telescopic discoveries, these developments raised questions about the nature of vision, exposed the vulnerability and limitations of “the most noble sense”, and created a rivalry between the natural organ of sight and the artificial instrument.

This talk analyzes works from the French and Italian traditions in the early modern period in light of the conversations that animated their contemporary scientific debates. Why might an author privilege the lens as a means of representation, be it through an explicit use of the metaphor or more implicitly in the text’s formal components? What does it mean for a text to behave as a lens, and what are the implications of its lenticular nature for the dynamic between vision, knowledge and power?

Faculty Colloquium events are sponsored by a group of faculty colleagues who meet informally with the purpose of supporting and promoting the College’s commitment to faculty research. Colleagues interested in joining this endeavor are welcome and should contact us by email: adsarat@amherst.edu . Faculty, staff, and members of the administration are cordially invited to attend these presentations.

Dr. Jacob Olshansky

Chemistry Seminar with Professor Jacob Olshansky

His seminar is titled “Photogenerated Spin Qubits in DNA.”

Sun, Sep 29, 2019

Secular Chapel RBG

Secular Chapel: What RBG Means to Me

Join us for Secular Chapel, A Reflection on the Human Condition. For our second meeting, we will talk about what RBG means to us and invite you to reflect on what RBG means to you. This is an open, casual, reflective gathering for Amherst College students, faculty and staff hosted by Associate Professors Jen Manion and Michael Kunichika. There will be a light reception. See link below for suggested inspiration.