Public Humanities at WesternWestern Arts and Humanities

2012 Events

“Interrogating Scholarly Responsibility in an Era of Market Fundamentalism”
November 2012

Join us as we consider the limits and possibilities of research, teaching and faculty self-governance within the neoliberal, corporatized university. 
SPEAKERS: Moderator: Alison Hearn (Rogers Chair, FIMS) Matthew Rowlinson (English) Nick Dyer-Witheford (FIMS) Alexandra Torres (FIMS) Bryce Traister (English)

In 1992, Jacques Derrida insisted that the “strongest responsibility for someone attached to a research or teaching institution is…to make…its system and its aporias as clear and as thematic as possible” (Derrida 1992: 22–23). In 1996, Bill Readings urged those of us working within the university to adopt a form of “institutional pragmatism”, which would involve “ceasing to justify our practices in the name of an idea from ‘elsewhere,’ an idea that would release us from responsibility for our immediate actions” (The University in Ruins,1996: 153). Given the intensifying transformations of the university system that are currently taking place around the globe, what does “scholarly responsibility” mean today? And, what are the intellectual and political implications of adopting a form of “institutional pragmatism” in the face of these changes?

“Mobilizing Knowledge and Imagining Campus-Community Collaboration”
November 2012

Entering its second year of activities, The Public Humanities at Western is pleased to launch a new Public Scholarship Education Series, which is designed to bring together the research programs and community engagements of graduate students. Our inaugural one-day workshop, “Mobilizing Knowledge and Imagining Campus-Community Collaboration,” will begin the process of incubating new campus-community initiatives in the broad area of the arts and humanities, and will ask participants to make connections between their current research and the communities they feel connected to beyond their immediate departments. The workshop’s primary objective is to give graduate and post-graduate researchers the opportunity to think about the process of translating knowledge generated from their research projects to related areas of inquiry within and beyond academia, with a particular emphasis on critical research that engages with issues of public concern and the public good.

"Public Intellectuals and the Crisis of Higher Education as a Public Good"
October 2012

Henry A. Giroux writes and teaches on the topics of public education, cultural studies, higher education, media studies, and critical theory at McMaster University, where he holds the Global Television Network Chair in the Department of English and Cultural Studies.

He is also one of the groundbreaking theorists of the critical pedagogy movement, and his essays have appeared in numerous academic publications and public forums. His most recent books include: Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy (2010); Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (2010); The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (co-authored with Grace Pollock, 2010); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (2011); Henry Giroux on Critical Pedagogy (2011); Education and the Crisis of Public Values (2012); and Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability(2012). His website is

"Organizing Culture"
April 2012

Julie Ellison Professor of English, American Culture, and Art and Design, University of Michigan; Founding Director, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

For publicly engaged scholars, rethinking professional roles and aspirations is not just a reaction to stresses in higher education. It is also a chance to think in an evolutionary way about publicly engaged cultural organizations, and our roles in them. Collectively, we have fostered what amounts to an ad hoc 'curriculum' that allows us to think critically about how community-engaged humanists are working with, learning in, and thinking about cultural organizations; how these experiences are changing us; and the extent to which these altered professional practices are having, or could have, an reciprocal impact on the organizational settings in which we work as engaged scholars. Every party to campus-community partnerships works across differences in organizational types, organizational cultures, and organizational roles. The people who are involved in such relationships—students, faculty, administrators, staff—are actively reflecting on these inter-organizational dynamics. It is not surprising, then, that we are witnessing the emergence of what we might call "cultural organizational studies." This community of inquiry has grown from the direct experience of collaborative projects and programs involving partnerships between university programs and nonacademic organizations and institutions. Such a‘reorganizing’ of the arts, humanities, and cultural disciplines invites us to consider the ways in which the exercise of civic agency--working across lines of difference to address public problems--changes what kind of organizational knowledge we acquire, and how.

"A Visit with James Bartleman"
March 2012

James Bartleman 27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Trudeau Mentor, and Writer

Mr. Bartleman’s lecture, “Canada’s Forgotten Native Children,” will be focused around the recent release of his first novel, As Long as the Rivers Flow (Knopf Canada, 2011). The novel follows one girl, Martha, from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario who is “stolen” from her family at the age of six and flown far away to residential school. In advance of the lecture, Mr. Bartleman will be visiting with Dr. Pauline Wakeham’s First Nations Literatures class, which is currently reading his recent novel as part of the course syllabus. A representative from Knopf Canada will be available to sell copies of As Long as the Rivers Flow, and Mr. Bartleman will be available for a book signing.This event will be of interest to those working on human rights, international relations, law, political science, indigenous health and well being, public history, anthropology, sociology, first nations studies, social justice and peace studies, as well as literature and aesthetics.

"Culture, Policy, Urban Space, and the City"
March 2012 Museum London

Keynote Speaker Dr. Will Straw Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Public Humanities @ Western is pleased to support this seminar event, organized by the Faculty of Information & Media Studies and SSHRC postdoc Dr. Martin Lussier and FIMS faculty member Dr. Matt Stahl. At 6 p.m., a roundtable discussion will explore themes of cultural policy, the arts, and the relationship(s) between The University of Western Ontario and the city of London, with the following participants representing these institutions: Robin Armistead (City of London), Tom Carmichael (Dean of FIMS), Patick Mahon (Museum London) and Joshua Lambier (Western grad student). At 7:30 p.m., Dr. Straw will give a public lecture on Music in the Regulatory Matrix, how cultural policy is rarely where one looks to find it.

"In Conversation: Larry Towell speaks with Sharon Sliwinski"
February 2012 at Museum London

Larry Towell Award-winning Canadian photographer with Magnum agency

The Public Humanities @ Western and the Centre for Social Concern (King’s University College) are pleased to present “Larry Towell and Sharon Sliwinski in conversation.” at Museum London. Professor Sliwinski will engage with Towell’s work for an in depth conversation about Danger and Aftermath, an exhibition of photographs from Afghanistan. They will discuss working in conflict zones, the gap between photographic evidence and photographic meaning, and the difficulties of telling a story in pictures. Danger and Aftermath, a salon-style installation, is the first public exhibition of Towell’s Afghanistan series. The photos capture the turmoil caused by longstanding war, corruption and displacement, as well as the peril of landmines and the mushrooming problem of addiction. Large-scale prints and panoramas create an almost immersive experience, with the content – victims of war, ruins, detainees and insurgents – bringing the current conflict in Afghanistan to life for the viewer. “Larry Towell and Sharon Sliwinski in conversation” will be of interest to those working on human rights, international relations, social justice and peace studies, as well as photography, contemporary art, literature and aesthetics.

"Lies Your Nation Told You: Aboriginal Art and the Canadian State"
Steven Loft, February 2012

In partnership with McIntosh Gallery and the Department of Visual Arts, Public Humanities @ Western is pleased to host a lecture by Steven Loft, curator, theorist, writer and Trudeau Fellow at Ryerson University. Loft’s lecture will be of interest to those working in contemporary art and art history, curatorial studies, First Nations Studies, public history, media and information studies, as well as literature and aesthetics.

"From Infamy to Acclaim: An Inside Look at Five Years of Al Jazeera English"
November 2011

Jeremy Copeland Television journalist for Al Jazeera English (AJE) and Lecturer in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western.

Jeremy Copeland shoots, reports and produces stories from across Canada for Al Jazeera English TV and teaches in the Graduate Program in Journalism at Western’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies. He started his career with CBC TV; spent three years at BBC World TV in London, England; opened a news bureau in New Delhi where he covered stories across South Asia for CBC and BBC TV and radio, the Globe and Mail and CBC Online. He helped run Iraq’s first elections after the fall of Saddam Hussein and was part of the team in Washington, D.C. that launched Al Jazeera English.

Presented in partnership with The Arab Students' Association and Students United in Representation of Latin America.

"Mengele's Skull: Human Rights and Forensic Aesthetics"
November 2011

Thomas Keenan Director of the Human Rights Project and Comparative Literature Professor, Bard College

In 1960 Adolf Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem and the 'era of the witness' commenced. In 1985, the body of Josef Mengele was identified by a group of forensic scientists in Brazil, giving birth to a rather different notion of evidence in human rights discourse. The talk will explore the emergence of the object in human rights, the conditions of its presentation, and the aesthetic operations involved in deciphering the 'speech of things.

"Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity"
October 2011

Book Launch and Inagural Event for the Public Humanities @ Western

Our goal for the inaugural event of The Public Humanities @ Western is to provide a forum for a public conversation on the question of “reconciliation” in Canada today. To guide us in this discussion, we will be welcoming Jonathan Dewar, Director of Research for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), and Ashok Mathur, Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry from Thompson Rivers University, to introduce the third and final publication in the AHF's series on Truth and Reconciliation, entitled, Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity. The volume brings together disparate voices to address how communities—immigrant, racialized, ‘new’ Canadians, and other minoritized groups—relate to the intricacies of reconciliation as a concept. Many of the contributors included in the volume address questions of land, Aboriginal histories, and different trajectories that have led to the current configuration and conglomeration of peoples in this geographic space. A central organizing principle of this collection of essays is artistic practice, and how embedding creative acts within critical responses helps to create a relevant framework of possibilities as we move inexorably into uncertain futures.