(BONUS! Dr. Blackler will host a Pre-Speak at the Jacket Zone at 617 Main St. on Wednesday, January 31, at 4:00 p.m. Join us at either location on either day.)
1: Adam Blackler: “Berlin Now: A Portrait of a City after the Wall”
Since the turn of the millennium, Berlin has been one of the most popular cities in the world. Why, however, in an elusive question. One can find delicious cuisine in each of Berlin’s various neighborhoods, for instance, but the Hauptstadt nevertheless lacks the culinary reputation of other European capitals. Though Berlin claims a proud architectural and scientific history, the history of the Third Reich casts a wide shadow, darkening even the most innocuous building and public park. It also boasts no famous architectural monument on the same scale as the Arc de Triomphe, Roman Forum, or Greek Parthenon. Berlin’s most iconic monument, in fact, is what little remains of a twelve-foot high concrete wall that once separated East from West.
What attracts so many people to Berlin are precisely those qualities that are missing in more picturesque capitals—the vibrant history, the perpetual incompleteness, the weirdness, and the general outlandishness that exemplify Berlin now. Few places have experienced the extreme transformations that Berlin has undertaken over the past century. The destruction of the old cityscape in the wake of two dictatorships still marks the architectural and cultural fabric of Berlin. Yet this defect does nothing to detract visitors from falling in love with “the Wall city.” This presentation will explore the architectural, cultural, and historical marvels that make Berlin such an iconic place to experience. From its embrace of John F. Kennedy’s famous ‘jelly-donut speech’ to Mustafa’s Döner Kebaps, Berlin offers something for everyone.
8: Tim Steckline: “America’s Favorite Carnage: Selling Wilderness Ordeals as Spectacle”
As the French Situationist movement could tell you, it’s refreshing to get lost in this day and age. But the reinscribed media genre of the “wilderness ordeal,” in which a human protagonist is depicted as lost and desperately alone in the wilderness, threatens to domesticate even this most feral narrative form. A Situationist critique of the film 127 Hours, which dramatizes the ordeal of Aron Ralston in a Utah slot canyon, shows us a person engrossed in the digital spectacle even when pinned in a Utah slot canyon. Ralston’s episode is compared not only to other recently dramatized ordeals, such as those of Timothy Treadwell and Chris McCandless, but also for historical context the wilderness ordeals of Hugh Glass and Cabeza de Vaca, or the less well publicized modern ordeals of Rudi Lambrechtse and John Ey III. The Situationist take on such reinscribed narratives emerging in the era of the digital spectacle would advise that once our everyday life experience has become so alienating that it requires a spectacular rebirth in a lonely wilderness ordeal, we are culturally in bad shape. We consumers of spectacles may be compared to George Bailey from Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, or a Deadhead pleading for tickets: we need a miracle.
15: Dan May and Courtney Huse Wika: “Fano-Plane and Di-Graph Poetics: Intersections of Math and Poetry”
At first glance, poetry and the discrete mathematics of incidence geometry seem far apart. However there is a history of overlap between combinatorial mathematics and poetry, stretching back at least to sestinas of the twelfth-century. In this talk we will provide a short introduction to graph theory and finite projective planes. We will then describe our recent work of composing poetry using these mathematics objects as structural frameworks. No experience in math or poetry is needed, though you may find yourself wielding both by the end of this Geek Speak.
(BONUS! Dr. Fuqua will host an encore Geek Speak at the Jacket Zone at 617 Main St. on Friday, February 23, at 4:00 p.m. Join us at either location on either day.)
22: Amy Fuqua: “A little more than kin and less than kind.”
The Bantu people of Nigeria say, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” a human being is human because of other human beings. The Lakota people of High Plains of North American say, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” we are all related. This project will examine the idea of relation across religious and cultural traditions.