Feeling is Believing, Professor Donovan Schaefer, January 9-11, 2024

The Humanities Research Center is pleased to invite students and faculty to meet with our scholar-in-residence, Professor Donovan Schaefer, from the University of Pennsylvania, who will be at DKU during the first week at of the spring semester.

Professor Schafer is well known for his work on affect theory and has published two major monographs on the relationship of religion, science and affect.

His first book, Religious Affects, draws on affect theory and evolutionary biology to explore the extent to which nonhuman animals have the capacity to practice religion, linking human forms of religion and power through a new analysis of the chimpanzee waterfall dance as observed by Jane Goodall. In his compelling case for the use of affect theory in religious studies, Donovan Schaefer provides a new model for mapping relations between religion, politics, species, globalization, secularism, race, and ethics.

His recent award-winning monograph, Wild Experiment, challenges the conventional wisdom that feeling and thinking are separate. Drawing on science studies, philosophy, and affect theory, Schaefer reconceptualizes rationality as defined by affective processes at every level. The fact that cognition is felt, Schaefer demonstrates, is both why science succeeds and why it fails. He concludes that science, secularism, atheism, and reason itself are not separate from feeling but comprehensively defined by it.

While at DKU, Professor Schaefer will lead three events.

University Colloquium

Feeling is Believing: A New Approach to Conspiracy Theory

Tuesday, January 9, 4pm-5:30pm, AB1087

What makes people believe? How do science and disinformation battle to convince us? And why has the apocalyptic discourse of conspiracy theory risen to prominence in the current political moment in America? This talk considers a new way of assessing the relationship between thinking and feeling, suggesting that we see them as deeply interrelated rather than fundamentally separate. Shifting our frame of reference allows us to draw a clearer map of how and why conspiracy theories have managed to gain such a powerful hold in contemporary society.

Jointly organized with the University Colloquium Committee

Faculty Workshop

Thursday, January 11, 3:30-4:30pm, in the Library Tea House

The Affective Academic: Reflecting on Embodied Research and Emotional Pedagogy

In this workshop, participants have the opportunity to explore the emotional dimension of research and teaching. How does affect/emotion affect the process of research discovery and publication? How does affect/emotion shape faculty pedagogy  positively or negatively? How can paying attention to the affective dimension of faculty life help to strengthen well-being and performance?

This event will be followed by faculty happy hour from 4:30-5:30pm.

Jointly organized with the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Office of Faculty Development

Superdeep Seminar

Thursday, January 11, 6-7pm, IB2026

Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin

In this seminar, Professor Schaefer will discuss the main ideas of his recent book that defines rationality as a process shaped by affect. Professor Miller will respond with a discussion of Chinese philosophical ideas of the heart/mind  (xin 心) and Daoist theories of embodied knowledge. All participants are invited to contribute their own ideas to the conversation.

Jointly organized with Superdeep.

Unveiling the Patriarchy: Exploring Homosociality, Homophobia, and Misogyny

Join us for a lecture on “Homosocial, Homophobia, Misogyny: understanding patriarchal society” with sociologist, intellectual feminist activist, and best-selling author Chizuko Ueno from Tokyo University.

Date: Fri, Nov 10th

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 AM BJT

Venue: IB Lecture Hall


日期: 11 月 10 日,星期五

时间:上午 10:00 –  11:30

地点:IB  Lecture Hall


Artist Ho Rui An and Curator Zian Chen in Residence at DKU

The Artist-in-Residency program is organized by DKUNST Art on Campus curated by prof. Zairong Xiang, co-sponsored by the Division of Arts and Humanities and the Humanities Research Center.

On Tuesday April 11th, internationally renowned artist Ho Rui An will give a public lecture on his artistic practice; together with his collaborator Zian Chen they will also introduce their current research project titled “Drawing the Lines: Politics and Technology in China’s Industrial History.” Students will have opportunity to join their team as research assistants. Curious about how artists do research and what is a “research-based artistic practice”? Interested in the history of textile industry in our own Yangtze River Delta region? Join us on Monday!

Time: 3:45 to 5:50 Tuesday, April 11th 2023
Location: AB 3107


Ho Rui An is an artist and writer working in the intersections of contemporary art, cinema, performance and theory. Across the mediums of lecture, essay and film, his research examines systems of governance in a global age. He has presented projects at the Bangkok Art Biennale; Asian Art Biennial; Gwangju Biennale; Jakarta Biennale; Sharjah Biennial; Kochi-Muziris Biennale; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Kunsthalle Wien; Singapore Art Museum; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; and Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Japan. In 2019, he was awarded the International Film Critics’ (FIPRESCI) Prize at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany. In 2018, he was a fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.

Zian Chen collaborates with artists and writers to develop alternative frameworks for thinking and speculation. He is one of the founding members of Pailang Museum of Settler Selves (2022–), an editor-in-residence for Compost in ICA NYU Shanghai (2021–2022), as well as one of the editors for Made in Public (2022) and Arrow Factory: The Last Five Years (2020). He has also curated Production Fever 2008: Study Materials in Nida Art Colony, Nida (2022). In 2020–21, he was one of the founding editors for Heichi Magazine, an online journal for contemporary art published weekly in Chinese and English.


PART I: Ho Rui An’s Artist Talk (3:45 – 4:45 pm)

Title: Ways of (Not) Seeing “the Economy”

In recent years, the projects of Ho Rui An have sought to understand what it means to observe the thing we call “the economy”. Through works that have examined such seemingly abstract and expansive phenomena as financial capitalism and the so-called socialist market economy in Reform-era China, his artistic practice seeks to produce knowledge and make arguments that returns them to the body. This presentation explores the ways that economic abstractions come to be embodied and proposes embodied modes of observation that question what it is exactly we talk about when we talk about “the economy”.

PART II: Presentation of the Research-based Art Project at DKU (5:00 – 5:50 pm)
Title: Drawing the Lines: Politics and Technology in China’s Industrial History

Since 2018, Ho Rui An and Zian Chen have collaborated across various projects researching the material networks and geopolitical imaginaries that have animated the regions of East and Southeast Asia. Expanding the narrative developed in Ho’s recent film, Lining (2021), which examines the rise and decline of the textile industry in Hong Kong, their residency at Duke Kunshan focuses on the development of the industry within the Yangtze River Delta before its displacement to Hong Kong in the late 1940s as well as the subsequent “return” of industrial capitalism to the mainland following the launch of China’s economic reforms.

In this presentation, they will share their preliminary observations gathered from their ongoing archival and field research. In considering the shifting historical relations between labor, technology, and capital in China, they identified a recurrent theme especially present in the textile industry: the politicization and depoliticization of technology. From the import of Western machinery as a means of national salvation in the early twentieth century to Maoist-era experiments in collapsing the distinction between manual and technical labor to the restructuring of state-owned enterprises under the pressures of technological displacement during the Reform era, the lines of politics and technology continually meet and part along a historical trajectory that has culminated in China’s deeply unsettled postsocialist condition.

The speakers will also share details for an open call for participants to join their research between August and September this year.

Lining (2021), Ho Rui An, 4K video (Courtesy of the Artist)

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Stubborn Silences: Writing the History of Chinese Women

The following event is a part of Women’s History Month sponsored by the Humanities Research Center and the Arts and Humanities Division.

The Gender Studies Initiative is pleased to announce a guest lecture by Professor Gail Hershatter on Tuesday Mach 20 at 11:30am.

Stubborn Silences: Writing the History of Chinese Women

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 28, 11.30am
IB Lecture Hall
Guest Speaker: 
Professor Gail Hershatter

Abstract: Scholars of women and gender in China have often liked to make the claim that adding a serious consideration of women to our understanding of Chinese history would not be like adding a spice, as in add women and stir, but rather that it would alter the field fundamentally. Have we delivered, collectively, on that claim? And what do we most want our students to learn that could help them to think about the world of the past and the world they inhabit.

Biography: Gail Hershatter is Research Professor and Distinguished Professor Emer. of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a former President of the Association for Asian Studies.  Her books include The Workers of Tianjin (1986, Chinese translation 2016), Personal Voices: China Women in the 1980s (1988, with Emily Honig), Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution in Twentieth-Century Shanghai (1997, Chinese translation 2003), Women in Chinas Long Twentieth Century (2004), The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and Chinas Collective Past (2011; Chinese translation 2017) and Women and Chinas Revolutions (2019).

Computational Humanities Seminar Series: Estimating Remaining Lifespan from the Face

Computational Humanities Seminar Series

Date: Feb 24 (Friday) 10 AM, China time

Meeting ID: 987 3096 4006
Passcode: 2023

Abstract: The face is a rich source of information that can be utilized to infer a person’s biological age, sex, phenotype, genetic defects, and health status. All of these factors are relevant for predicting an individual’s remaining lifespan. In this study, we collected a dataset of over 24,000 images (from Wikidata/Wikipedia) of individuals who died of natural causes, along with the number of years between when the image was taken and when the person passed away. We made this dataset publicly available. We fine-tuned multiple Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) models on this data, at best achieving a mean absolute error of 8.3 years in the validation data using VGGFace. However, the model’s performance diminishes when the person was younger at the time of the image. To demonstrate the potential applications of our remaining lifespan model, we present examples of using it to estimate the average loss of life (in years) due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to predict the increase in life expectancy that might result from a health intervention such as weight loss. Additionally, we discuss the ethical considerations associated with such models. Continue reading “Computational Humanities Seminar Series: Estimating Remaining Lifespan from the Face”

Citizenship Lab Presents: The Climate Emergency and Tuvalu’s Escape to the Metaverse: Challenging the Complicity of Design in Technological Solutionism 

Date: March 9, 2023
Time: 4-5:30pm China time
Location: IB 1010
Zoom ID: 962 8265 9729
Speakers: Nick Kelly, Marcus Foth (Queensland University of Technology)

The full recording of this event can be found here.

Rising sea levels due to climate change are already having severe impacts on the nation of Tuvalu. It proposes to build a digital replica of itself in the metaverse. In this talk, we will not only ask whether it can be done but explore the actual message hidden in this announcement. This leads us to explore some broader questions pertaining to the relationship between citizenship and the politics of climate change: Will technology innovation save us? What responsibility should citizens take in making ethical consumption choices? What is the role of design and designers in intermediating between government, industry and citizens? Continue reading “Citizenship Lab Presents: The Climate Emergency and Tuvalu’s Escape to the Metaverse: Challenging the Complicity of Design in Technological Solutionism “

Freedom Lab Presents: US Studies Speakers’ Series – Boris Vejdovsky

Date/Time: Dec 15, 4pm China time
Location: Zoom ID 334 3189 585
Speaker: Boris Vejdovsky (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)

The speaker will be discussing the film, Stagecoach, an early Western, in 1939. Freedom Lab will have a film screening the evening before, on Dec 14, 5:30pm China time. Learn more here >>

The Global Performance of American Culture: Rhetoric and Symbolic Forms in American Western Movies

The Western has often been read as a quintessentially American form of popular art, a genre that has expressed over decades the moods and anxieties of the nation. While many studies have shown that the Western metonymically expresses the social, political, racial, and sexual tensions of the nation, relatively little attention has been paid to its aesthetic and political forms. In other words, many critics have paid attention to what the Western says, but not so much to how it does it; while it is always dangerous to seek to oppose form and content, I propose to focus on the rhetoric and the prosody the Western. Continue reading “Freedom Lab Presents: US Studies Speakers’ Series – Boris Vejdovsky”

Third Space Lab Presents: Irina Golubeva – Should we teach intercultural citizenship at universities, and what do students think about this?

HRC Third Space Lab presents: “Should we teach intercultural citizenship at universities, and what do students think about this?” with Irina Golubeva.

Date/Time: Dec 2, 10pm China time, 9am EST
Zoom ID: 248 487 9248
RSVP here Continue reading “Third Space Lab Presents: Irina Golubeva – Should we teach intercultural citizenship at universities, and what do students think about this?”

Book Talk with Yitzhak Lewis, author of “A Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity”

Yitzhak Lewis, Assistant Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University recently published A Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity. Please join us on his book talk at the Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University.

Date/Time: Wed, Nov 2, 2022, 12:00-1:00pm Eastern Daylight Time; 6-7pm Barcelona time; Thurs, Nov 3, 2022, 12:00-1:00am Beijing Time.

Register for Zoom information.

More information from the Institute’s website: Continue reading “Book Talk with Yitzhak Lewis, author of “A Permanent Beginning: R. Nachman of Braslav and Jewish Literary Modernity””

Third Space Lab Presents: Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange

This event features Robert O’Dowd from the University of León, Spain, on Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange.

The recording for this talk is now available: Robert O’Dowd: Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange

Date/Time: Nov 11, 12pm Barcelona time/7pm BJT
Location: Zoom ID 248 487 9248; https://duke.zoom.us/j/2484879248?from=addon

Please RSVP by Thursday, Nov 10th: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cGDSAJsfzpDlp3M

In universities around the world, more and more teachers are engaging their students in intercultural collaborative projects with partners from other countries using digital technologies. This is commonly known as Virtual Exchange (VE) or Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) or telecollaboration. VE has great potential to foster a range of 21st century employability skills which include media and digital literacy, communication skills, global awareness, empathy, critical and analytical thinking, foreign language skills and intercultural competences. Continue reading “Third Space Lab Presents: Developing authentic international learning experiences through Virtual Exchange”