Humanities Center Lectures-University Lecture Series - Carnegie Mellon University

The Humanities Center Lectures, 2011-2012: Imagining Planetarity

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

4:30 pm, Israeli Nationality room, 337 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh

Imagining Connectivity: World Picturing in Contemporary Cultures

Terry Smith, Andrew W Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Pittsburgh

Reception to follow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

4:30 pm, Adamson Wing, Baker Hall 136A

The Ecology of Everyday Life

Joshua "Sha" LaBare, Humanities Center Fellow

Thinking ecologically is perhaps the most important skill of our times. Drawing on theoretical tools from science studies, animal studies, feminist theory and science fiction, the project I call “The Ecology of Everyday Life” asks how we can make a difference in an increasingly science fictional globalizing situation, one in which global warming, mass extinction, and a forever war on terror inform the texture and tenor of day-to-day existence. The global challenge we are facing today requires not so much a technical solution – for we already have the technologies required to modernize and industrialize otherwise – as a philosophical one, an orientation that can be translated into a large-scale shift in human consciousness. Specifically for the context of “Imagining Planetarity”, I focus on the science fictional themes of first contact and sense of wonder in an effort to think beyond human exceptionalism and imagine alternatives to this world that is, alas, the case.

Reception to follow.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

6:00 pm, Giant Eagle Auditorium, Baker Hall A51

Critical Strangeness: Art, Displacement and Parrhesia

Krzysztof Wodiczko, Visual Artist and Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Professor Wodiczko is an artist renowned for his large-scale slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments.

This lecture is part of the October 27-30 "Arts of the Planet" Conference at the Wyndham Grand Hotel downtown. Details are available at The conference is co-sponsored with the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (A.S.A.P.).

Reception to follow in the Coffee Lounge of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

4:30 pm, Adamson Wing, Baker Hall 136A

Alien Earth: Science Fiction, Posthumanism, and The Planet

Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Professor of English, DePauw University, and a leading authority on science fiction

The international popularity of science fiction has made it one of the main vehicles of the social imagination of our hyper-modernizing, globalizing age. More than an artistic genre, it has become a way of thinking about things, in which contemporary concerns are projected into the future and into alien worlds. Science fiction is a child of the enlightenment, and reflects the Enlightenment’s drive to subject every supposedly natural category to critical reason and technological transformation. Science fiction artists were among the first to imagine the planet as a single thing, and humanity as a species being. Through the practice of “world reduction,” science fiction has produced an enormous variety of inhabited planets and simplified versions of our planet. Things may have reached a critical tipping point in our own age. Recent science fiction is engaged with posthumanist thought, which questions everything previous generations considered natural, including humanity and the earth itself.

For more information, please visit the Humanities Center website.