Spring 2020

Revolutions: Material Forms, Mobile Futures 

On its 50th anniversary, the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University returns to its inaugural theme of 1969-70 (“The Humanities in Revolution”) to consider anew the forms and meanings of revolutions past, present and future.  Evolving from the Latin verb revolver (meaning to turn back, again, around or over), revolutions take many forms, from periodic, temporal returns to spatial rotations around a central point or axis. Although cyclical, their movements need not demarcate a closed circuit, whether that of a defined historical period or geographical boundary, but often coil, spiral and loop through unexpected convolutions in hitherto unimagined, unbounded configurations.  They recur in myriad scales (from the micro to the macro) and temporalities, unfolding gradually in the ongoing work of sustaining or re-making everyday life, and suddenly, in the form of crises or upheavals that overturn established orders, paradigms and institutions. 

Repetition and transformation form the double helix of revolutions.  Whether small or grand, sudden or gradual, fugitive or epochal, revolutions past may serve as resources for grappling with challenges of the present moment, as occasions to reexamine the histories, contemporary realities and future possibilities of social and cultural movements, and as opportunities to rethink the material flows, forms, and shapes of power and resistance today.  In so doing, we return to an older meaning of “revolution,” namely, the process of turning over in the mind, of considering, reflecting and mediating upon, of discussing and debating an idea, and of searching and researching, as a means of turning, returning and overturning, of moving on, around and beyond.

This year, the Center for the Humanities provides an axis around which researches into the many forms of revolutions past, present, and future may unfold from diverse disciplinary, interdisciplinary and anti-disciplinary perspectives.



All lectures begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and are held in the Daniel Family Commons, which is located in the Usdan University Center.

Artifice Intelligence: Digital Policing in the Age of Deep Fakes


MITALI THAKOR • Wesleyan University


Queer Exile: Archives of Belonging


ROMAN UTKIN • Wesleyan University


The Cradle of Words: Languages, Knowledge, and Governance in Early Latin America


VALERIA LOPEZ FADUL • Wesleyan University


Biotranscendentalism: Emerson’s new picture of life


RYAN FICS • Wesleyan University


Big Data & the Credibility of the Future


JULIA SIMON KERR • The University of Connecticut School of Law


Intersectional Tech: Black Praxis in Digital Gaming


KISHONNA GRAY • University of Illinois, Chicago


Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots and the Politics of Technological Futures


KALINDI VORA • University of California, Davis 

NEDA ATANASOSKI  • University of California, Santa Cruz


Of Flesh and Skin: Livestock, Extractavism, and their Alternatives in Native America, 1492 - 1650

04/13/2020   (CANCELLED)

MARCY NORTON • University of Pennsylvania


Laboratory of the Future: Lenin's Body between Biochemistry and Art


ALEXEI YURCHAK • University of California, Berkeley


What More Am I To Do? On Critique and Praxis  (CANCELLED)


BERNARD HARCOURT • Coumbia University