2013 Tucson Humanities Festival

The week long series of events showcases professors and topics from the College of Humanities, introducing audience members to languages, literatures and cultures of the world. From current historical fiction to french comedy, meteorite hunting to Dante, College of Humanities faculty bring expertise and thoughtful insight to both critical and timeless issues.

2013 Tucson Humanities Festival Videos

The Sky is Falling: The Fascinating Science and Crazy History of Shooting Stars

Presenter: Christopher Cokinos, English Department

From folk tales that attributed meteors to the tears of saints to worries that a shooting star foretold death, humans have attributed deep symbolic meaning to lights passing in the sky. Join us for an entertaining and provocative overview of our attempts to incorporate meteors and meteorites into various cultures.
Meteorite Hunters: Real-Life Adventures in Search of Meteorites

Presenter: Christopher Cokinos, English Department

Weaving natural history, memoir and the stories of maverick scientists, daring adventurers, and stargazing dreamers, author Christopher Cokinos will be your guide for the evening. Hear captivating stories that take us from a driveway in Oregon where, a century ago, a rogue backwoodsman stole a 15-ton meteorite; to Arizona’s Meteor Crater, where Daniel Barringer challenged establishment science, lost a fortune and died of a broken heart; and all the way to Antarctica where Cokinos himself helped to discover hundreds of meteorites until he confronted the limits to his endurance on the barren ice sheets at the bottom of the world.
Counter Culture: Exploring Faraway Lands & Cultures

Presenter: Critical Languages Program

Discover distant cultures and hear unique languages from across three different continents. The UA Critical Languages Program will take you on a tour of several Asian, European and African cultures. Learn more about this program and the less commonly taught languages they offer.
Heartache: Teaching Love at the U of A

Presenters: Albrecht Classen, German Studies

Philosophers and poets throughout the ages have understood the fundamental significance of love, have written about it, debated it intensively, and recognized thereby the fundamental meaning of love in human life. One way to approach this topic is through using a historical lens; in Dr. Classen’s class students study eroticism and love in the Middle Ages from many different perspectives. Dr. Classen tells his students frequently, “Getting a car requires a driver’s license. To get married requires almost nothing in terms of intellectual, ethical, moral, religious, or philosophical preparation, but marriage is a very serious matter, making or breaking a life.”
A Divine Dilemma: Dante’s Representation of Jewish People

Presenter: Fabian Alfie, French & Italian Department

In March 2013 the Italian Human Rights Group Gherush92 called for Dante’s Comedy to be banned from the schools because, they argued, Dante was anti-Semitic. This may be an unfair judgment processed through a modern day logic. For medieval Christians, the presence of Jewish communities within Christendom provoked contradictory reactions: Jewish holy books were also Christian holy books, and their rites were sanctioned by the God of Israel; at the same time, the Jewish people rejected Christ as the Messiah, and did not follow the New Law. Join us as we explore Dante’s paradoxical views about Jewish people of medieval Europe.
Slapstick Superstars: What Makes the French Laugh

Presenter: Alain-Philippe Durand, French and Italian

Why do the French like Jerry Lewis so much? Ever wonder why Hollywood remakes so many French comedies? What do Adam Sandler, Steve Carell, and Eddie Murphy owe to the French? Delve into the comedic and humor techniques used in French cinema throughout the years and come prepared to laugh.
Brit Wit: Downton Abbey as Historical Fiction

Presenter: Jerry Hogle, English Department

The Downton Abbey series is notable for many things, among them its incorporation of actual historical events as they sweep up and engulf its fictional characters. In this respect, Downton follows in a long tradition of historical fiction given its greatest impetus in the nineteenth century by Walter Scott in the United Kingdom and James Fenimore Cooper in the United States. Professor Hogle will examine the principal and most lasting features of this tradition as it flows into Downton Abbey and highlight several key historical events and people that this series has incorporated and used as motivators over its first three seasons.
Made in China: Cinematic Aesthetics and the Disappearing Chinese Factory

Presenter: Hai Ren, East ASian Studies

Although manufacturing in China is big business, the factory as spatial organization seems to be disappearing around the world; but not in the movies. Join Professor Hai Ren as we discuss three cinematic engagements with the Chinese factory: ethical cinema with the factory as part of a ritualized process of a community; representational cinema that shows the factory where workers become disciplined and docile; and the cinema of aesthetics, which engages the factory as a place where temporal and intellectual equalities become possible.
Magical Moments: The Spirituality of Wonder in Religion and Literature

Presenter: Alex Nava, Religious Studies

Explore the metaphor of wonder in the history of the Spanish exploration of the New World, beginning with the period of the Conquest through the 20th century style of literature called, magical realism. Since wonder is way of describing an encounter with something new, unexpected, and largely incomprehensible, it was used in great abundance by many Latin American explorers and later writers of the Americas. Join Professor Alex Nava to learn more about the spirituality behind the wonder.
Lowriders: Chicano Culture – From Low to Slow to Show

Presenter: Chuck Tatum, Spanish and Portuguese Department

Lowriding is a form of expressive culture that fits within the broader context of Chicano culture and reflects the social, artistic and political dimensions of America’s fastest-growing ethnic group. With striking photos, author Chuck Tatum will demonstrate the unique aesthetics of lowrider vehicles and he will briefly trace the mechanics of building a lowrider vehicle, and lowrider culture in the media. He will also trace how lowrider culture has recently expanded beyond the urban streets and into the massive exhibit halls of lowrider shows, exposing lowrider culture to even more enthusiasts.
Love, Revolution, and a Cracked Skull: Trotsky in Mexico

Presenter: Russian and Slavic Studies

Leon Trotsky (née Bronstein), was one of the greats of the Russian Revolution. As Lenin’s right-hand man, he was hounded from power by Stalin and his cronies after the Civil War (1917-22). Through poetry in Russian, Spanish, French, and English, learn more about Trotsky’s time in Mexico where he lived in exile. Discover his ideas on poetry; the revolution; love between revolutionaries, including his dalliance with revolutionary artist Frida Kahlo; and his last moments before his unfortunate death at the hands of an assassin.