Event Calendar

Today - Tue, Oct 22, 2019

Brian Daly, Vassar: “Picosecond Laser Ultrasonics: A Sound Way to Study Nanostructures”

Ultrafast lasers produce pulses of light at extremely regular intervals (about 13 nanoseconds apart) that are less than a picosecond in duration. These lasers allow us to study very fast phenomena in crystals and solid nanostructures. The work that my group at Vassar does involves using these lasers to generate and detect ultrasound that is roughly 1,000 times higher in frequency than traditional medical or industrial ultrasound. Since ultrasound can serve as a nondestructive probe of the size or mechanical properties of buried structures, this so called “picosecond ultrasound” should be a great way to study and image the nanoscale structures that form the backbone of all of our modern electronic devices. In this talk, Professor Daly will describe a number of investigations (some very applied, some very fundamental) that we have pursued over the past decade with this optical experiment.

Book cover for "Wings of Desire" by Christian Rogowski

"Wings of Desire" Book Talk with Christian Rogowski

Filmed in 1986/87 in still-divided Berlin, Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire is both a utopian fairy tale and a fascinating time capsule of that late Cold War moment. Together with legendary French cinematographer Henri Alekan (who had worked on Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête of 1946, among many other films) and Austrian author Peter Handke (with whom he had collaborated before), Wenders created a multilayered filmic poem of dazzling complexity: the skies over Berlin are populated with angels bearing witness to its inhabitants' everyday concerns. One falls in love with a beautiful young woman, a trapeze artist in a traveling circus, and decides to forfeit his immortality. Wenders’ groundbreaking film has been hailed as a paean to love and a rumination on the continued presence in Berlin of a troubled German history, as well as an homage to the life-affirming power of the cinematic imagination.

Christian Rogowski guides the reader through the film's many aspects, using archival research to bring out new insights into its making and meanings. Rogowski is the G. Armour Craig Professor in Language and Literature in the Department of German at Amherst College.

This event is co-sponsored by the Film and Media Studies Program, the Department of German and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Amherst College.

Tomorrow - Wed, Oct 23, 2019

Event poster showing a photo of a violent conflict on a street and a headshot of Angana P. Chatterji

"Kashmir: Unrelenting States of Exception"

Professor Angana P. Chatterji is founding co-chair of the Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights Initiative, and research anthropologist at the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. Chatterji co-founded the People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir in 2008. Her collaborative work with Kashmiri civil society organizations uncovered the unknown and mass graves
there, calling attention to the need for accountability. Chatterji will speak about her research, undertaken in partnership with civil society organizations in Kashmir, and to the events following Aug. 5, 2019, that evidence the injurious consequences affected by the majoritarian state.

This event, sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the South Asian Student Association at Amherst College along with funding from the Lamont and Lurcy Funds, is free and open to the public.

Thu, Oct 24, 2019

Event poster showing a spiral pattern of various shades of blue

Math Colloquium by David Freund: “Knot for Everyday Purposes”

David Freund is a preceptor in the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University.

Abstract: Knots are a part of our everyday lives, from twisted strands of DNA, to shoelaces, braided hair and the inevitable tangle of headphones. Mathematics offers an insight into the structure and complexity of everyday knots and provides tools to tell them apart. Starting with pieces of string, we will explore the study of knots and how it ties together various fields of mathematics. No background knowledge is assumed.

There will be refreshments served at 4:15 p.m. in Seeley G. Mudd Building Room 208.

Dr. Nadia Biassou, Wade Fellow

Current Wade Fellow, Dr. Nadia Biassou ’88, to Give Talk

Current Wade Fellow, Dr. Nadia Biassou ’88, will be presenting a talk titled “Boiling Rocks: Origins of Excellence.” Biassou is a renowned diagnostic neuroradiologist and is currently a Senior Research Physician in the Radiology and Imaging Sciences Department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.
The goal of sharing her extensive experiences through her presentation is to help students learn how identity informs career exploration and to collaborate on programming that teaches them skills for navigating a complex professional world before and after graduation.

Fiction Reading: Nicholas Mancusi '10

Nicholas Mancusi '10 is the author of the new novel A Philosophy of Ruin, which the New York Times Book Review called “riveting fun to read,” and which Alexander Chee called “An unforgettable debut. Mancusi is a writer to watch.”

Mancusi has written about books and culture for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Miami Herald, The Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Newsday, Newsweek, NPR Books, American Arts Quarterly, BOMB magazine and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

The event will be followed by refreshments.

Tue, Oct 29, 2019

Myriam Sarachik, City College of New York: “SURPRISE: Just because you think you’re heading toward a quantum phase transition does not mean you will get there.”

Measurements of the Hall coefficient, resistivity, magnetoresistance, magnetic response, and thermopower in two-dimensional strongly interacting electron systems have established that, contrary to expectations, a metal-insulator transition occurs at a critical electron density nc and a metallic phase exists in 2D. One intriguing mystery has been that, by contrast with the dramatic divergences that have been observed for all other physical properties, the magnetoresistance has exhibited smooth and uneventful behavior approaching and crossing nc. In this talk I will present new data and a different new analysis of the magnetoresistance of the strongly interacting 2D electron system in a silicon MOSFET for a broad range of electron densities. Our surprising results should trigger a re-examination of past work.

Jennifer Levi

Queer Rights and the Courts

All welcome for a discussion about “Queer Rights and the Courts: The Meaning of Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Transgender Status,” with Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders and Professor of Law at Western New England University and Jen Manion, Associate Professor of History, Amherst College.

Fri, Nov 1, 2019

Vulnerabilities of Data Analysis: From Political Spin to Data Manipulation

"Vulnerabilities of Data Analysis: From Political Spin to Data Manipulation" presented by Scott Alfeld
The Faculty Colloquium Series for 2019-20 presents a lecture titled "Vulnerabilities of Data Analysis: From Political Spin to Data Manipulation" presented by Scott Alfeld, assistant professor of computer science.

https://www.amherst.edu/mm/33214

Learn how to bypass a state-of-the-art security system with sugar cubes and a slingshot. New security vulnerabilities have arisen with the growing use of machine learning in decision-making systems. In this talk I discuss the field of Adversarial Learning — the study of using machine learning techniques when the input data may be corrupted by an attacker. I’ll cover various techniques hackers employ and defenses again them. We'll then get our hands dirty attacking a learner at training time and see what finesse is needed when manipulating even the simplest of learners.

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.

Prof. Russell Williams to Speak at Annual Economics Presentation for Family Weekend

The Department of Economics welcomes Professor Russell Williams ’72 of Wheaton College to speak at our annual economics presentation for Family Weekend. He will speak on “Economics of Race and Racism: Reflections on the History and Future of Economic Thought.”
This event is open to everyone. A reception with light refreshments will follow in Converse lobby.

Tue, Nov 5, 2019

Ed Greenstein lecture

Edward Greenstein: Translating Job to Make a Difference

The Book of Job, regarded by some as the greatest poem ever written, has been misunderstood in many details and in some of its major themes and thrusts. E. L. Greenstein’s new translation of Job draws on decades of painstaking work on the language, argument, and poetics of the book. In this lecture, Greenstein will explain how he has sought to change our understanding of Job on both the micro and the macro levels. Edward L. Greenstein is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and a prolific world renowned scholar in many areas of Biblical and ancient Near Eastern Studies. This event is free and open to the public. Special thanks to the Smith College Religion Department, Amherst College Religion Department, and the Willis Wood Fund for sponsoring this event.

Thu, Nov 7, 2019

american radicals

American Radicals: How Nineteenth Century Protest Shaped the Nation with Holly Jackson

Holly Jackson, Associate Professor of English at University Massachusetts, Boston, will read from her new book, American Radicals: How Nineteenth Century Protest Shaped the Nation (Crown, 2019).
On July 4, 1826, as Americans lit firecrackers to celebrate the country’s fiftieth birthday, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were on their deathbeds. They would leave behind a groundbreaking political system and a growing economy—as well as the glaring inequalities that had undermined the American experiment from its beginning. The young nation had outlived the men who made it, but could it survive intensifying divisions over the very meaning of the land of the free?
“In the tradition of Howard Zinn’s people’s histories, American Radicals reveals a forgotten yet inspiring past.”—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast.

From Silencing to Survivance

“From Silencing to Survivance: LatxinxEducation in Shifting Cultural Contexts

Fueled significantly by a growing Latinx population, the racial/ethnic and linguistic texture of the United States continues to change. Despite their increased presence, Latinx students from K-12 through college continue to be underserved by schools. Foregrounding the oft-silenced perspectives of Latinx students, this presentation critically examines the challenges they face navigating educational institutions that rarely, if ever, affirm and more often ignore or malign their identities. It highlights students’ struggles for survivance— ways of recovering, bolstering, and sustaining their cultural identities— and pursuit of equitable educational opportunities, concluding with empirically-based strategies for improving the educational experiences and outcomes for Latinx students.

Mon, Nov 11, 2019

yMusic

M@A Parallels Masterclass: yMusic

yMusic’s performers work with Amherst College students on new compositions. The masterclass is free and open to the public.

Wed, Nov 13, 2019

Black-and-white headshot of Joseph O'Neill

CHI Salon: Joseph O'Neill Reading and Book Talk

4:30 am Frost Library, Center for Humanistic Inquiry

Ploughshares at Emerson College called Good Trouble, Joseph O’Neill’s new book of short stories, “[f]unny and fierce ... [a]n essential book, full of unexpected bursts of meaning and beauty.” O’Neill also wrote the novels The Breezes, This Is the Life and The Dog, Netherland, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. He has also written a family history, Blood-Dark Track. He lives in New York City and teaches at Bard College.

Childcare and refreshments will be provided at the reading.

Fri, Dec 6, 2019

Conservation Coalitions of the Future: From Landscape Approaches to a Pro-Indigenous Environmental State

"Conservation Coalitions of the Future: From Landscape Approaches to a Pro-Indigenous Environmental State" presented by Ashwin Ravikumar

The Faculty Colloquium Series for 2019-20 presents a lecture titled "Conservation Coalitions of the Future: From Landscape Approaches to a Pro-Indigenous Environmental State" presented by Ashwin Ravikumar, assistant professor of environmental science.
https://www.amherst.edu/mm/33214

"In this talk I will present new evidence concerning how ‘quality of life plans,’ tools designed to
improve indigenous people’s well-being while supporting conservation in and around
communities, have delivered on their promises in the Peruvian Amazon. In order to assess this,
I worked with a small team to carry out focus groups and semi-structured interviews with
community members, NGO professionals, and government actors working in the Ampiyacu Apayacu watershed and adjacent protected area in the Peruvian Amazon region of Loreto. Our
results show that while community members view quality-of-life plans in a largely positive light,
they do not generally use them to assert their priorities to outside actors, and see them as
conflated with other conservation and sustainable land use initiatives. I present three major
barriers for communities in using quality-of-life plans in the manner that they were intended.
Despite these issues, community members expressed that after going through the process of
creating quality-of-life plans and other activities related to managing their regional conservation
area, they no longer allow private loggers, miners, fishers, and hunters to enter their territory,
and no longer deal with them commercially. With the available evidence, though, we cannot
causally link quality-of-life plans to these changes.

Taking this analysis a step further, I ask whether quality-of-life plans can serve communities in
leveraging funds from large external conservation programs. Specifically, I examine how the
Peruvian National Forest Conservation Program’s conditional cash transfer initiative has worked
to improve people’s well-being as defined in their quality-of-life plans. I find that the Program
has not supported priorities that were found in quality-of-life plans, and has instead generated
concerning dynamics that may undermine the effectiveness of conservation. I argue that the
Program’s current approach is in fact disrupting the local subsistence economy that ultimately
favors conservation, compromising the long-standing culture of reciprocal labor and noncommodified production systems. It therefore risks undermining the existing tools of political
organizing including quality-of-life Plans. Despite these issues, I suggest some ways forward for
the Program, and argue that State initiatives may still be able to alleviate some of the barriers to
community empowerment through quality-of-life plans."

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.

Wed, Dec 11, 2019

Photograph of Emily Dickinson

CHI Salon: Emily Dickinson's Birthday Party

We are celebrating Emily Dickinson's 189th birthday! Please join us for poetry readings, period music, tapas, wine and birthday cake! Childcare is available.

Fri, Feb 14, 2020

Hyper Education: When Good Grades, Good Schools and Good Behavior are Not Enough

"Hyper Education: When Good Grades, Good Schools and Good Behavior are Not Enough" presented by Pawan Dhingra.

The Faculty Colloquium Series for 2019-20 presents a lecture titled "Hyper Education: When Good Grades, Good Schools, and Good Behavior are Not Enough" presented by Pawan Dhingra, professor of American studies.

https://www.amherst.edu/mm/33214

"A recent truth in middle-class parenting is the over-scheduling of young children in extracurricular activities. Hyper-education refers to a growing trend of young children already performing well in school and yet participating in privatized, extracurricular education. After-school math learning centers and academic competitions (e.g. spelling bees) are two main types. This trend is normally associated with Asian Americans (e.g. “Tiger moms”) but is growing among whites as well. Based on ethnographic research on Asian Americans and others, I explain the motivations of this seemingly foreign practice and demonstrate that it is in line with contemporary education reforms, and as such should be expected to grow. The rise of hyper education has implications for educational inequality."

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.

Fri, Mar 27, 2020

How Markets Made Gun Rights: Self-Defense, Property, and Firearms in the Nineteenth Century U.S.

"How Markets Made Gun Rights: Self-Defense, Property, and Firearms in the Nineteenth Century U.S." presented by Jonathan Obert

The Faculty Colloquium Series for 2019-20 presents a lecture titled "How Markets Made Gun Rights: Self-Defense, Property, and Firearms in the Nineteenth Century U.S." presented by Jonathan Obert, Assistant Professor of Political Science.
https://www.amherst.edu/mm/33214

"Scholarship on the origins of gun rights typically focuses on the Second Amendment, and the varied ways in which it has been interpreted by judges and the mass public. This project instead outlines a new approach to thinking about gun rights by focusing on the ways in which gun-makers articulated a vision of guns as meta-property - legally protected material objects used to protect property rights. Using a novel dataset of gun-making firms active in the U.S. from 1820 through the end of the century, as well as a content analysis of early American firearms advertisements, I trace the pre-history of gun rights discourse in the U.S. The symbolic construction of guns as commodities capable of protecting and providing in the late nineteenth century created the conceptual groundwork for their conversion into a rights discourse in the twentieth. Therefore, not only does "rights talk" concerning firearm ownership antedate much of the constitutional jurisprudence on the question, such talk was directly tied to the need for gun-makers to cultivate a domestic market for guns in highly competitive and uncertain economic conditions. "

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.