58 episodes

Podcasts from Columbia University's The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, where we feature talks with professors about their recent work, publications, novels and more. Hear them read from their work, and also responses from other professors in their fields.

We also feature The Trilling Tapes. In this podcast series, we mine the recorded archives--the Trilling Tapes--to uncover and contextualize more than forty years of exceptional critical thought.

Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University Podcasts SOF/Heyman

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 6 Ratings

Podcasts from Columbia University's The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, where we feature talks with professors about their recent work, publications, novels and more. Hear them read from their work, and also responses from other professors in their fields.

We also feature The Trilling Tapes. In this podcast series, we mine the recorded archives--the Trilling Tapes--to uncover and contextualize more than forty years of exceptional critical thought.

    Eugenia Lean's Vernacular Industrialism in China

    Eugenia Lean's Vernacular Industrialism in China

    In early twentieth-century China, Chen Diexian (1879–1940) was a maverick entrepreneur—at once a prolific man of letters and captain of industry, a magazine editor and cosmetics magnate. He tinkered with chemistry in his private studio, used local cuttlefish to source magnesium carbonate, and published manufacturing tips in how-to columns. In a rapidly changing society, Chen copied foreign technologies and translated manufacturing processes from abroad to produce adaptations of global commodities that bested foreign brands. Engaging in the worlds of journalism, industry, and commerce, he drew on literati practices associated with late-imperial elites but deployed them in novel ways within a culture of educated tinkering that generated industrial innovation.

    Through the lens of Chen’s career, Eugenia Lean explores how unlikely individuals devised unconventional, homegrown approaches to industry and science in early twentieth-century China. She contends that Chen’s activities exemplify “vernacular industrialism,” the pursuit of industry and science outside of conventional venues, often involving ad hoc forms of knowledge and material work. Lean shows how vernacular industrialists accessed worldwide circuits of law and science and experimented with local and global processes of manufacturing to navigate, innovate, and compete in global capitalism. In doing so, they presaged the approach that has helped fuel China’s economic ascent in the twenty-first century. Rather than conventional narratives that depict China as belatedly borrowing from Western technology, Vernacular Industrialism in China offers a new understanding of industrialization, going beyond material factors to show the central role of culture and knowledge production in technological and industrial change.

    • 34 min
    Casey Blake, Daniel H. Borus, and Howard Brick's At the Center

    Casey Blake, Daniel H. Borus, and Howard Brick's At the Center

    At a time when American political and cultural leaders asserted that the nation stood at “the center of world awareness,” thinkers and artists sought to understand and secure principles that lay at the center of things. From the onset of the Cold War in 1948 through 1963, they asked: What defined the essential character of “American culture”? Could permanent moral standards guide human conduct amid the flux and horrors of history? In what ways did a stable self emerge through the life cycle? Could scientific method rescue truth from error, illusion, and myth? Are there key elements to democracy, to the integrity of a society, to order in the world? Answers to such questions promised intellectual and moral stability in an age haunted by the memory of world war and the possibility of future devastation on an even greater scale. Yet other key figures rejected the search for a center, asserting that freedom lay in the dispersion of cultural energies and the plurality of American experiences. In probing the centering impulse of the era, At the Center offers a unique perspective on the United States at the pinnacle of its power.

    • 39 min
    Deborah Paredez's Year of the Dog

    Deborah Paredez's Year of the Dog

    In the tradition of women as the unsung keepers of history, Deborah Paredez’s second poetry collection tells her story as a Latina daughter of the Vietnam War. The title refers to the year 1970—the Year of the Metal Dog in the lunar calendar—which was the year of the author’s birth, the year her father prepared to deploy to Vietnam along with many other Mexican-American immigrant soldiers, and a year of tremendous upheaval across the United States. Images from iconic photographs and her father’s snapshots are incorporated, fragmented, scrutinized, and reconstructed throughout the collection as Paredez recalls untold stories from a war that changed her family and the nation.

    In poems and lamentations that evoke Hecuba, the mythic figure so consumed by grief over the atrocities of war that she was transformed into a howling dog, and La Llorona, the weeping woman in Mexican folklore who haunts the riverbanks in mourning and threatens to disturb the complicity of those living in the present, Paredez recontextualizes the Vietnam era, from the arrest of Angela Davis to the haunting image of Mary Ann Vecchio at the Kent State Massacre, never forgetting the outcry and outrage that women’s voices have carried across time.

    • 29 min
    Elleni Centime Zeleke's Ethiopia in Theory: Revolution and Knowledge Production, 1964-2016

    Elleni Centime Zeleke's Ethiopia in Theory: Revolution and Knowledge Production, 1964-2016

    Between the years 1964 and 1974, Ethiopian post-secondary students studying at home, in Europe, and in North America produced a number of journals where they explored the relationship between social theory and social change within the project of building a socialist Ethiopia. Ethiopia in Theory examines the literature of this student movement, together with the movement’s afterlife in Ethiopian politics and society in order to ask: what does it mean to write today about the appropriation and indigenization of Marxist and mainstream social science ideas in an Ethiopian and African context; and, importantly, what does the archive of revolutionary thought in Africa teach us about the practice of critical theory more generally.

    • 36 min
    Maggie Cao's The End of Landscape in Nineteenth-Century America

    Maggie Cao's The End of Landscape in Nineteenth-Century America

    New Books at the Heyman Center: a podcast featuring audio from events at Columbia University, and interviews with the speakers and authors.

    The End of Landscape in Nineteenth-Century America examines the dissolution of landscape painting in the late nineteenth-century United States. Maggie M. Cao explores the pictorial practices that challenged, mourned, or revised the conventions of landscape painting, a major cultural project for nineteenth-century Americans. Through rich analysis of artworks at the genre’s unsettling limits—landscapes that self-destruct, masquerade as currency, or even take flight—Cao shows that experiments in landscape played a crucial role in the American encounter with modernity. Landscape is the genre through which American art most urgently sought to come to terms with the modern world.

    • 20 min
    Adam Tooze's Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

    Adam Tooze's Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

    New Books at the Heyman Center: a podcast featuring audio from events at Columbia University, and interviews with the speakers and authors.

    From a prizewinning economic historian, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly led to the shockwaves being felt around the world today.

    In September 2008 President George Bush could still describe the financial crisis as an incident local to Wall Street. In fact it was a dramatic caesura of global significance that spiraled around the world, from the financial markets of the UK and Europe to the factories and dockyards of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, forcing a rearrangement of global governance. In the United States and Europe, it caused a fundamental reconsideration of capitalist democracy, eventually leading to the war in the Ukraine, the chaos of Greece, Brexit, and Trump.

    It was the greatest crisis to have struck Western societies since the end of the Cold War, but was it inevitable? And is it over? Crashed is a dramatic new narrative resting on original themes: the haphazard nature of economic development and the erratic path of debt around the world; the unseen way individual countries and regions are linked together in deeply unequal relationships through financial interdependence, investment, politics, and force; the ways the financial crisis interacted with the spectacular rise of social media, the crisis of middle-class America, the rise of China, and global struggles over fossil fuels. Finally, Tooze asks, given this history, what now are the prospects for a liberal, stable, and coherent world order?

    • 29 min

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