Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Fisher Center 2020-2021: What’s in a Name?
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Fisher Center 2020-2021: What’s in a Name?

Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice invites faculty, students, staff and visiting speakers to interrogate language as they explore the theme, “What’s in a name?” The Colleges also welcome Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Alla Ivanchikova as the Fisher Center’s new director.

“What’s in a name?” will invite speakers from a range of perspectives to consider, what are the stakes when we call something by one name, and not by another. “Black Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter?” An epidemic or a pandemic? Global warming, climate change, or climate emergency? “In 2020 – 2021,” Ivanchikova says, “the Fisher Center wants to interrogate how we talk about what we talk about. Names matter. We want to know when, where, why, and to whom.”

This year’s talk series will also address how we speak about the overlapping crises of the Covid-19 emergency and racial injustice in the US.

Read more about the “What’s in a Name?” theme here.

The series begins on Wednesday, Sep. 23 with Contagion: COVID-19, the Outbreak Narrative, and Why We Need to Change the Story,” a lecture by Priscilla Wald, a R. Florence Brinkley Professor of English and Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. She is the author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (Duke University Press 2008).

All of the Fisher Center talks begin at 7 p.m. and will be held via Zoom. Zoom links will be listed here.

Other fall speakers include Naminata Diabate, author of Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa (Duke UP, 2020) who will give a talk on Oct. 21. Lance A. Twitchell (who carries the Tlingit names Du Aaní Kawdinook Xh’unei and the Haidu name Ḵ’eijáakw), is an Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages, a multimedia artist, a creative writer, a cultural ambassador, and Alaska languages and cultures scholar. He will speak on Nov. 18 about his lifelong project of revitalizing Alaska’s Native languages and traditions.

The Fisher Center is committed to creating space for interdisciplinary conversation between the humanities, arts, natural and social sciences to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society. This year’s faculty fellows are: Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Maggie Werner, Professor of Physics Don Spector, visiting scholar Elizabeth Johnson, Associate Professor of English Rob Carson, Visiting Assistant Professor Iskandar Zulkarnain and Fisher Center Predoctoral Fellow Jessica Farrell.

New Fisher Center’s director Ivanchikova’s research and teaching boasts considerable breadth, spanning critical theory, psychoanalysis, war literature, and science fiction. Her first book Imagining Afghanistan: Global Fiction and Film of the 9/11 Wars came out in 2019 with Purdue University Press. Her other project, an edited collection The Future of Lenin, is under contract with SUNY Press. She is currently working on the new book, tentatively titled Techno-immortality: The First 200 Years, which traces the fantasy of techno-immortality from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, through Russian revolutionary Cosmists, to today’s Silicon Valley.