McMicken College of Arts & Sciences logo

FaceBook   Twitter   Digg!

Humanities in a Post- 9-11 World Topic of Ropes Series

The 2008 Ropes Lecture Series boasts a stellar roster of speakers and offers the chance to explore the interrelations of violence and literature in a world forever changed by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Date: 1/16/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577

UC ingot  

A topic of global concern and a stellar roster of speakers promise national and international attention for the eighth annual 2008 Ropes Lecture Series.

"Violence and Literature: The Humanities in a Post-9-11 World" will explore the interrelations of violence and literature in a world forever changed by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and seeks to understand how human rights issues are central to the humanities.

Playwright and author Heather Raffo


The popular series is named for Cincinnati industrialist Nathaniel Ropes and funded through Ropes' endowment to UC. Each year, the series focuses on a central theme, inviting prominent writers and scholars for public lectures, panel discussions, and participation in classes on the master's and PhD levels.

"The Ropes series gives students and faculty a rare and unique opportunity: the chance to focus intensively on a key issue within the field, while inviting well-known writers and scholars to tackle that issue in a public lecture," says Jana Braziel, associate professor of English.

In a grave new world, and an election year to boot, this year's seminar topic is especially timely, Braziel says.

Iranian-American writer Porochista Khakpour


"Given the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, as well as the declared without-end global terror war, we felt compelled to foreground an issue of pressing concern, both inside and outside the academy, an issue that would engage professors and students as well as the larger public," she says. "The lecture topic asks audiences to consider the ways that the world has changed in a post-9/11 context; and as scholars and students working within the humanities, we feel compelled to offer (or at least envision) alternatives for that world, or future possibilities for humanity in the world."

Audiences can expect cutting-edge conversation from this year's speakers, whose public lectures begin at 8 p.m. in ERC 427. The public lecture lineup:

Tuesday, Jan. 22: "Of Death and Taxes: Three Decades of Bad Imagery Culminating in the 'Relevant' Novel," by Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-American writer whose debut novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects has received high critical praise.

Tuesday, Jan. 29: "Inspiring War: How Personalizing Violence Shapes an Iraqi Psyche in 9 Parts of Desire," a performance-lecture by Heather Raffo, critically acclaimed playwright and author of 9 Parts of Desire. Raffo is an Iraqi-American playwright and performer who explores the impact of violence on Iraqi women's lives during both Gulf Wars.



Tuesday, Feb. 5: "Untidy Corners: Torture, Narrative, and the Humanist Position" by Joseph Slaughter, a literary scholar and professor at Columbia University who traces the historical conjunction of human rights discourses, international law and the novel as a genre in provocative ways in his book Human Rights, Inc.

Tuesday, Feb. 12: "Of Manifestos and Manifesting: Professing Literature and Human Rights in the Age of Terror" by Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg, professor of literary and cultural studies at Babson College in Massachusetts. Goldberg explores the intersections of narrative, gender theory, and trauma, and particularly how stories and storytelling relate and shape our understandings of torture, violence, and human rights violations in her book Beyond Terror: Gender, Narrative, Human Rights.



Wednesday, Feb. 20: "Taxonomies of Terror" by Colin Dayan, a well-known American studies scholar and professor at Vanderbilt University. Dayan contextualizes in her book The Story of Cruel and Unusual our contemporary discussions of torture and detention within the histories of capital punishment, the U.S. penitentiary system, and legal interpretations of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. constitution prohibiting "cruel and unusual punishment."

"We are privileged to have this venue for study, thought, and discussion of ideas," says Braziel.



About the Ropes Lecture Series

Organized around a unifying theme, the Ropes Lectures focus on each year's Ropes theme, in which students focus on readings around the series topic. The series supports the modern and contemporary literature graduate programs and provides a unique opportunity for students to interact with leading figures in certain areas of study. Past topics have included "Writing Sex," "Science, Technology, and the Future of Literature" and "Stowe and Twain: Repressing America." Featured speakers and classroom guests have included Andrew Ross, Richard Powers, Robert Coover, E.L. Doctorow, Christopher Hitchens, Francine Prose, Noel Ignatiev, Caryl Phillips, Bharati Mukherjee, Michael Cunningham and Shelley Fisher Fishkin.

The Ropes 2008 Lecture Series is sponsored by the Nathaniel P. Ropes Endowment and the Department of English and Comparative Literature, McMicken College of Arts & Sciences.
For more information, contact Jana Braziel at (513) 556-0834 or

More A&S News | A&S Home | A&S Research | UC News | UC Home