Workshops Funded for Spring 2011

Kurt Hoffman, Coordinator (Physics); Matthew Prull (Psychology); Walter Herbranson (Psychology); Keith Farrington (Sociology); and Peter Crawford (Music)     Report - Hoffman Workshop
Did you hear what I heard?: A multi-divisional conversation about the production and perception of sounds.
Description: The workshop will be an interdisciplinary discussion on the topic of sound with music being the unifying theme. We will explore disciplinary viewpoints of music: its perception, analysis, and production. Prof. Crawford will engage the subject from the point of view of creating music bottom up. As an instructor of music technology, he is well versed in combining simple sounds into complex musical compositions. Prof. Hoffman will highlight experimental techniques to break complex sounds into their simpler components. This analytic approach is often utilized in the general education course, “Sound and Music” as a way to understand the connection between the physical structure of a musical instrument and the unique sounds they produce. Professor Herbranson will focus on the neural basis of music perception and its evolutionary significance. Professor Prull will integrate cognitive perspectives to the perception of sound, speech, and music into the exchange of ideas. Finally, Prof. Farrington will introduce some sense of the cultural into this overall mosaic. For example, he will look at how exactly the cultural production of musical sound comes to take place within society, and with what gains and what losses. The multifaceted approach to the subject of music and sound represented by the participating individuals will force us to consider new ideas, new vocabulary, and new approaches. By including members of three different divisions and four traditional academic departments, we have ensured a wide open conversation that will certainly challenge our individual viewpoints.

Nadine Knight, Coordinator (English); Cynthia Croot (Theatre); Susanne Beechey (Politics); Jacqueline Woodfork (History); Brooke Vick (Psychology); and Kendra Golden (Biology)     Report - Knight Workshop
The Deviant Female Form
Description: In the "deviant" female body, we find an intersection for a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary inquiry. Including faculty and staff from all three divisions, we want to examine, within and across our disciplinary borders, the very way in which certain women's bodies have also transgressed borders, both literal and metaphorical. We shall begin with the history, science, politics and performance of Sara Baartman (the so-called Hottentot Venus), who herself crossed literal borders as she was removed from present-day South Africa and put on display as a "freak" in Europe, and whose body, decried, sensationalized, and sexualized, became itself a "border" for clashing views on race, physiognomy, nationhood, and individual sovereignty. Baartman's remains were put on display for nearly a century after her death, making Baartman an excellent case study for the increased disempowerment of female bodies in the name of science and the service of public display. Moreover, Baartman, who began as an anthropological curiosity and then a scientific display, lives on in aesthetic works by Joyce Carol Oates and Suzan-Lori Parks, and in a new film.

Encompassing the medicalization, politicization, and aestheticization of the female body, our seminar seeks to share our knowledge about how women who do not fulfill "normal" standards of beauty, health, nationality, and/or race, have been treated as "deviant" beings. They become mere bodies whose existence seems to invite or require examination, publicization, and, ultimately, external control. Our goals are a new understanding of how the woman's body has been defined across time, cultures, and disciplines. This will influence content in courses such as "Sex and Gender in Anthropological Perspectives," and work toward future interdisciplinary courses: a literature/history course on "Black beauties," for example, or a politics/drama course on drag.

Christopher Leise, Coordinator (English); Allison Calhoun (Chemistry); Kay Fenimore-Smith (Education); Nina Lerman (History); Kari Norgaard (Sociology/Environmental Studies); and Matt Reynolds (Art History)     Report - Leise Workshop
Plateau Indians Interdisciplinary Study Group  
Description: Under the auspices of the Cross-Disciplinary Teaching and Learning Initiative, we propose to undertake a course of study that will better familiarize us with the history and contemporary issues concerning the groups of indigenous Americans known as the “Plateau Indians.” We anticipate that much of our reading and discussion will focus on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation—namely, the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla—though we will at times expand our scope to include the eastern regions of Washington and Oregon.

Structurally, we anticipate meeting twice monthly during in the spring of 2011. While will take the lead in matters administrative, we hope to foster a sense of co-directorship across the workshop-group, with a different member choosing a text, and site-visit or activity in what will be thematically paired meetings. This will help us address not only how to approach a topic from a specific disciplinary perspective, but also give us the opportunity to observe and ask questions about how to teach such material from that perspective. We intend to speak with Native leaders directly on topics, either by leading the group to the speakers‟ locations or, when more suitable, arranging visits to campus.

Given the wide array of issues comprising Native American Studies, our conversations not only lend themselves to, but necessitate, an interdisciplinary approach.

Justin Lincoln, Co-coordinator (Art); Albert Schueller, Co-coordinator (Math); Bill Bogard (Sociology); Sharon Alker (English); and Sarah Hurlburt (FLL-French)     Report - Lincoln/Schueller Workshop
Computational Thinking across the Disciplines
Description: Marshall McLuhan suggested that as we shape our tools our tools shape us. In our networked world it is important to critically and creatively study this ongoing iterative process. How can we leverage the intimate relationship between our bodies, minds, and technological tools, for our selves and our students? All participants will provide insights on these relationships in their own research and teaching. 

Our suggested group reader will be The New Media Reader (MIT Press) edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. All participants in the group will at times supplement the reader by providing additional materials that provide a glimpse at how these relationships come to play (or don’t) in their own research and teaching. To facilitate this process, members will also take turns leading weekly discussions. 

Tim Parker, Coordinator (Biology/Environmental Studies); Jan Crouter (Economics) Frank Dunnivant (Chemistry); Bob Carson (Geology/Environmental Studies); and Nick Bader (Geology)     Report - Parker Workshop
Interdisciplinary teaching in Introduction to Environmental Studies
Description: Our proposed workshop will bring together faculty from the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences to identify and analyze important concepts at the foundation of Environmental Studies. Those of us who currently teach the class tend to organize it around environmental issues that we then explore from an interdisciplinary perspective. The workshop will be similarly arranged. We have identified a series of environmental topics. On each day that we meet we will focus on one of these topics. Prior to attending each workshop session, all participants will read a series of short pieces, suitable for ENVS-120 students, assigned by each participant. During the session we will discuss our individual disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives on the topic and work to identify concepts and information that should be part of the foundation that ENVS-120 provides for our students. At the end of the process, we should each have more sophisticated interdisciplinary perspectives on a range of environmental issues, along with improved ideas for exploring these topics with students through readings and classroom work. Although the workshop is designed around ENVS-120 (a course which between 50 and 100 Whitman students take each year), we expect the workshop to foster interdisciplinary perspectives in the teaching of any other classes (especially environmentally-oriented classes) taught by the participants.

Katrina Roberts, Coordinator (English); Michelle Acuff (Art); Don Snow (Environmental Studies); and Mare Blocker (Art)     Report - Roberts Workshop
WORD/IMAGE/OBJECT/SCAPE: World, Word, Work: Translating Experience into Art through Lyric, Image & Object, In the Studio, Lab, Atelier, Field & Gallery   
Description: If, as William Carlos Williams says, “Perception is the first act of the imagination,” then we should all pack up our journals, our paints and lab kits, and tromp out into the field together.What we (a group of colleagues from Studio Art, from Environmental Studies, from the Critical Art world, and from the Department of English) would like to do during the Spring term is to see with each other's eyes, to understand how inspiration happens, to translate this world and our experiences within it into new languages for ourselves and for others. We're interested inthe "made thing," and the "natural thing," and how they inform one another. And we're also drawn toward discovering and comparing languages necessary to invent, to transcribe, to remember, to invoke, to define, within our own genres and those of others. Following Englehard’s ecopoetic notion that poetry is connected to the world in a way that impliesresponsibility, we’re invested as poets, naturalists, and artists in becoming aware of ourconnectivity with and distances from others, and in devising ways to expand the scope of ourindividual visions, thereby strengthening our ability to be engaged members of a globalcommunity. As artists, editors, and poets at heart, we’re passionate about how the personal ispolitical, and the political personal. The creative process is by necessity cross-disciplinary, andwe are hoping to formalize this engagement. We relish the possibility of inspiring conversationsand sessions with colleagues similarly interested in challenging and enriching pedagogical andscholarly practices with the techniques, textures, and visions of experts and practitioners acrossour campus. 

Melissa Wilcox, Co-coordinator (Religion/Gender Studies); Zahi Zalloua, Co-coordinator (FLL-French); Nicole Simek (FLL-French); Nohemy Solorzano-Thompson (Spanish); and Suzanne Morrissey (Anthropology)     Report - Wilcox Workshop
Masculinity Studies 
Description: Feminist theory, and feminist studies more broadly, have developed a number of subfields over the years. One of these is masculinity studies, which critically examines the construction and representation of masculinities from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary viewpoints. Scholars approach the study of masculinities from fields as wide-ranging as psychoanalytic theory and history, as well as literary and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, religious studies, and political science. Furthermore, because of its location within gender studies and its heritage within feminist studies, the study of masculinities is intrinsically interdisciplinary, often drawing on the work of scholars who themselves are difficult to place within a particular disciplinary category. For these reasons, masculinity studies is especially well suited as a topic for the cross-disciplinary learning and teaching initiative. Furthermore, although there are a number of professors at Whitman who are interested in masculinities, there are few of us who teach on the topic, resulting in a lacuna in the curriculum that the Gender Studies program has itself remarked upon. We hope that this workshop will not only assist us in approaching masculinities within our research, but will also strengthen the teaching of masculinity studies at Whitman.

This workshop will focus on the multiple and contested meanings of masculinity. It asks: What are the origins of masculinity studies? What contexts does masculinity studies emerge from and respond to? That is, what perceived limitations does it seek to rectify? How does it relate to other subfields in gender studies? For example, what is its relation to feminist studies? Is the construction of the male body any more (or less) ideological than that of the female body? If not, how can we address the ideological dimensions of both bodies without simultaneously flattening their different genealogies – or, for that matter, the diversity of male bodies as inflected by race, class, sexuality, nationality, and other axes of power?

In tackling this topic, we will turn first to conceptual pieces that theorize (Western) masculinity, exploring its various meanings and deployment in a number of different disciplines as well as its relationship to feminism. We then spend three weeks on non-Western masculinities and two on gender-variant masculinities. We will conclude our workshop with a wrap-up session during which we will watch a film that is a focus of study for Nohemy Solórzano-Thompson: Amores Perros, a 2001 film by Alejandro González-Iñárritu.