October 15, 2008
"Bikes, Cars, and the Limits of 'Automobility'"
Driving is not only the primary mode of transportation in the United States, it is one of the central cultural practices that defines and organizes the American 'way of life'. Critics of our car culture have long pointed to the negative impact that driving has on the environment, public health/safety and U.S. foreign policy, but with few exceptions there has been virtually no public dialogue, much less debate, about the 'system of automobility' as a whole. Urban bicyclists are among those who consistently broach this taboo subject in the United States, and since the early 1970s there has been a small but growing movement of politicized cyclists dedicated to the goals of pedal powered mobility and sustainable transportation. This presentation highlights this trend and engages with the larger issues raised by this amorphous cycling counterculture, namely the ways in which cyclists have historically connected bicycles to the politics of feminism, socialism, anarchism, environmentalism and DIY (Do it Yourself) punk. But in doing so, Furness complicates, rather than validates, the idea that bikes are revolutionary devices or technological expressions of 'freedom'. By turning attention to the larger theoretical and everyday problems of 'automobility', he argues that bicycle transportation needs to be further reconceptualized within the struggles for social and environmental justice, instead of being championed as a personalized solution to a set of structural and political problems.
Zack Furness is an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago and author of the forthcoming book One Less Car: Bike Culture and the Politics of Cycling (Temple University Press)
November 19, 2008
"Teaching a Culture of Peace and Justice"
The human journey, individually and collectively, has been one of war and peace, of barbarism and compassion, of greed and sharing, of ugliness and beauty, of hate and love. Why is this so? Are we as much drawn to violence and injustice as we are to peace and justice? Is it possible to make the teaching of peace and justice a value of the highest importance as a guide to how we lead our lives?
Drawing upon political, historical, mythological, psychological, cultural, philosophical and religious/spiritual perspectives and insights, we will examine the roots, nature and dimension of these questions and the challenges to be faced in pursuit of a peaceable and just world.
Louis Silverstein teaches “Peace Studies,” “Death & Dying,” “Social Problems in American Society,” and “Education, Culture and Society” at Columbia College Chicago. He is a transcendental philosopher and practitioner, multicultural and multi-consciousness educator, writer and social activist.
June Terpstra teaches “Law and Terrorism,” “Human Rights” and “Race and Ethnic Relations” at Northeastern Illinois University and at Columbia College Chicago.
Patricia Walker teaches “U.S. Foreign Policy” at Columbia College Chicago. She is the president and founder of The Center for Art and Spirituality in International Development (CASID).
Robert Hogg teaches “The Holocaust” with a focus on its wider implications for humanity at Columbia College Chicago.
December 10, 2008
"From Salon to Department Store: Women's Taste and French Identity"
France today remains synonymous with good taste, and so do its women. Yet what sort of taste is this? French women are naturally linked in our minds with fashion, chic, personal style, an innate (or cultivated) thinness – but we don’t tend to think of them as art or literary critics (and we don’t tend to complicate this narrative in terms of class, or any other, identity). Once, in the seventeenth-century Parisian salons, the situation was quite different, with women, by virtue of their taste, widely acknowledged as the rightful arbiters of literature. This lecture asks, how did we get here from there? Its answer is an examination of eighteenth-century discourses about taste, femininity, Frenchness and the Enlightenment, which charts a dramatic constriction and channeling of women’s taste into the modern, domestic and fashionable taste complex with which we remain familiar. Understanding that and how this happened helps us recognize what can be at stake in cultural stories about taste, gender and national identity.
Katharine Hamerton is Assistant Professor of History in the Liberal Education Department of Columbia College Chicago. She teaches courses in French and European history, and is working on a book, Taste and Gender in Old Regime France.