Grad Research: Graduate presentations abound this semester

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We recently highlighted some of the folks presenting at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting in Los Angeles November 6-9. But our students and faculty present all over the place. Here are just a few examples of the exciting new research UT AMS grad students are sharing around the country this semester:

Andrew Gansky

Graduate student Andrew Gansky recently attended the Society for the History of Technology Annual Conference in Dearborn, Michigan, and took part in the SIGCIS Workshop. His presentation was titled, “The Meaning of Life in the Automated Office.” Here’s what Andrew had to say about his paper:

Many previous studies have looked at computer automation, or the displacement of human workers with computerized processes, through the lenses of labor and economics. However, the effects of automation extend far beyond the workplace. I examine automation as a fundamentally social technology, which helps engineer human relationships as technological feedback loops. In this paper, I focus on Control Data Corporation’s proposals to computerize and automate the American Indian national education system during the 1970s, and critique the application of teaching machines as the displacement of human care and responsibility for maintaining a functioning educational system.

Josh Kopin

Graduate student Josh Kopin presented his paper, “A Cosmonaut in Palomar: Seeing, Showing, and Imagining In Gilbert Hernandez’s Heartbreak Soup” at the the International Comic Arts Forum. Josh sent us the following snapshot of his paper, and he has a longer description of the event here:

Although the Palomar of Gilbert Hernandez’s Heartbreak Soup comics is something of a backwater, a small town where news always seems to come late, Hernandez populates it with characters who have dreams that go beyond the town’s limitations, even as he centers their lives there. Although they could easily be trite or descend into kitsch, the stories set in Palomar are involved in defending the dignity of those characters and the legitimacy of what they want, both in the context of the small town and outside of it. Perhaps the most instructive of the many ways that Hernandez mounts this defense is the way he relates his characters’ imaginations to visual culture external to Palomar; this talk will discuss the ambivalent relationship that Palomar has with outside visual influence, beginning specifically with the moment in the 1985 story “Space Case” when Luba’s daughter Guadalupe, recently introduced to the mysteries of the cosmos, looks out her window and finds the churning sky of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. In order to illuminate the relationship between seeing and imagination, in order to figure out of if Guadalupe sees the same thing we see, I will approach questions of seeing, showing, and imagination in Hernandez’s work by further investigating the music teacher Heraclio’s relationship with and attempted dissemination of high art, and the presence, in “An American in Palomar,” of American photographer Howard Miller, who embodies Palomar’s conflicted relationship with seeing and showing as he looks at the town and the town looks book at him. These investigations will show both that, for Hernandez, ambivalence, perhaps even doubt, is the key to dignity and legitimacy, and that in his supposedly beleaguered backwater we can find a metaphor for comics’ relationship to other kinds of art.

Jeannette Vaught

PhD candidate Jeannette Vaught organized the panel “Beyond the Laboratory: Animals and the Culture of Scientific Knowledge” for the annual meeting of the History of Science Society in Chicago. The following description of the panel and her contribution to it comes to us from Jeannette:

This panel looks at places where animals and science intersect beyond a strict research setting. Investigating material from across the globe, spanning the sixteenth century to the present, the panelists show how the use of animals in the production of scientific knowledge gets at larger questions about how scientific knowledge is used, what cultural anxieties it informs, and how animals continually shape the definition of science. Jeannette will join the panel, made up of scholars from a range of institutions, home disciplines, and career stages, to present her talk “Envisioning Living Tissue: Race, Animality, and Conflicts Over Vivisection in 1920s America.” This paper considers the battle over vivisection in 1920s America, showing how arguments for and against the practice depended on problematic conceptions of race and animality.

 

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