Faculty Shop Talks



Fall 2014 Schedule

Presenter: Kathy Lund Dean

Title: Workplace Religious Discrimination Disputes & Resolutions
Time and Place: September 19, 2014 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: Compared to other Title VII workplace discrimination protections, religious discrimination research has received little attention. This study compares workplace religious discrimination disputes with more common forms of discrimination claiming including race, sex, and sexual harassment. We analyzed 72 Federal Circuit Court of Appeals religious discrimination cases to ascertain what organizational roles both plaintiffs and perpetrators held, and at what organizational levels. We also examined differences in dispute resolution behaviors employed by both plaintiffs and perpetrators/defendant firms. Consistent with other forms of Title VII complaints, most plaintiffs in religious discrimination cases hold technical or line positions, and most perpetrators are the plaintiff’s direct supervisor. Also consistent, we found that plaintiffs utilize internal voicing processes prior to alerting an external body. However, we found differences from other discrimination forms, including evidence that plaintiffs themselves may obstruct complaint resolution and that some organizational policies or collective agreements contribute to religious discrimination complaints.


Presenter: Joaquin Villanueva

Title: Capturing Urban Change: Methodologies for the Study of the Restless Urban Landscape
Time and Place: October 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: A central feature of the contemporary city is change – social, economic, political, cultural, and/or demographic change. Is it possible, this presentation asks, to identify urban change without long-term observation or prior knowledge of a location? Based on research conducted this summer in three neighborhoods of New York City – South Bronx, Williamsburg, and Flushing Meadows – the presentation will argue that with careful observation of certain features (such as tastes, architecture, commodities, or technology), urban change can be discernible in the short-term. The research entailed walking visits to neighborhoods which the researchers had no prior knowledge (South Bronx), limited knowledge (Flushing Meadows) and substantial knowledge (Williamsburg) that urban change was in fact happening. Drawing on photos and field notes taken during and after our three visits we were able to develop a pedagogical tool for our students. This tool is currently being tested in our classrooms in order to train our students to observe, analyze, and critically assess the restless urban landscape. 


Presenter: Paschal Kyoore

Title: Dagara Verbal Art: A West African Tradition
Time and Place: October 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: This presentation focuses on the verbal art of the Dagara people of West Africa who dwell in the modern states of Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire.  The presentation is based on research that I have undertaken in the region over a number of years, and the findings are based on interviews with xylophonists and praise singers, as well as on analysis of recordings of riddles, folktales, proverbs, and folk songs. Verbal art is defined in this context as forms of communication that are done through speech and song. The presentation demonstrates how verbal art is a performance involving the narrator/performer, the audience, and the setting. Verbal art performance brings together members of a community, is culture-specific, and comes in variable ways that are unique to that culture.There will be a short performance on the Dagara (African) xylophone before the talk.


Presenter: Dan Moos

Title: Flipping a Classroom: The Role of Embedded Self-Regulated Learning Prompts
Time and Place: November 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: “Flipping” a classroom is becoming increasingly popular and a robust body of research examining its effectiveness has emerged. In essence, a flipped classroom inverts a more traditional approach to teaching. Homework in a flipped classroom might include a video of a teacher’s lecture while classroom time is devoted to what is more typically assigned as homework (e.g., collaborative group work and/or individual problem sets). Advocates of this approach argue that it is easier for students to access foundational knowledge through a video as opposed to a more traditional lecture. Supposedly, diverse cognitive needs are met because students can control the pacing of information delivered in a video. However, high-level executive functioning moderates the effectiveness of videos. In order for students to maximize the autonomy offered by videos, they need to: (a) Identify when a discrepancy occurs between their current knowledge state and a desired knowledge state and; (b) Accurately identify this discrepancy. In other words, students need to be “self-regulated learners.” This Shop Talk will present results from one my studies that examined the effect of embedding self-regulated learning prompts in a video designed for a flipped classroom. Participants (N = 40) in this study were individually run through an experimental quantitative research study. Results indicate those participants who received the embedded prompts self-regulated their learning significantly more frequently while watching the video. Specifically, they monitored their emerging understanding and activated prior knowledge more frequently. Furthermore, this increased use of self-regulatory processes significantly predicted performance on the posttest. This Shop Talk will also include a discussion on the practicality of embedding these prompts in videos designed for flipped classrooms.


Presenter: Julie Bartley

Title: Biosignatures: Records of Life, on Earth and Elsewhere
Time and Place: December 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: Life is all around us – we can hardly escape the impact it has on the landscape. The green of chlorophyll in trees and in the ocean; the haze of pollen during the springtime; the tracks of animals in the mud; even the air we breathe comes from the actions of life on this planet. But imagine a very different Earth, one without animals, without plants, perhaps without oxygen in the atmosphere. How would we know whether life existed at all on such a planet? Think of Mars, dusty and barren; did microbes ever live there? Biosignatures are the geologic records of life on a planet. In deposits from the early Earth, we can read the clues that microbes inhabited, thrived, and forever changed the terrestrial landscape. On Mars, we’re not so sure. This talk will examine stromatolites, a type of biosignature common on Earth and potentially discoverable on Mars, using the same strategies that geologists have used to establish that Earth was, indeed, inhabited by microscopic organisms as early as 3.5 billion years ago.


Spring 2015 Schedule

Presenter: Carlos Mario Mejia Suarez

Title: "I didn’t know the dead one was me”. Masculinities Beyond Property and Propriety in Colombian Post-Conflict Novels
Time and Place: February 27, 2015 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: What role can dispossession play in imagining new venues for male performance in "post-conflict" Colombian culture? I attempt to answer this question by drawing from reflections that Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou outline on the possibility of displacing the definition of human events beyond the realm of men “with property and propriety.” I study the way in which contemporary Colombian novelists propose precarious forms of masculinity (Azriel Bibliowicz, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Tomás González, Fernando Molano, Evelio Rosero, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Alonso Sánchez Baute). I study patterns of "proper" male performance and how it relates to ways of having land, money, goods, and family or other human relations. I argue that the representations of male protagonists in these writers showcase a gradual shift towards renouncing channels through which power is passed along in regional and urban patriarchal societies. Particularly telling of this process is the character of Felipe in Molano's Un beso de Dick. Felipe, a young soccer player and high school student, performs traditional male rituals, but feels homosexual desire in the very heart of such homosocial power dynamics. Rather than silencing the uncomfortable implications of such desire, Felipe faces physical violence and an uncertain future, nuanced via an encounter with a homeless man in the streets of Bogotá. I claim that Molano and other Colombian authors propose forms of masculinity in which the discovery of one's own identity lies in the act of renouncing individualistic notions of masculinity that would be bound to property (capital), to propriety (a clearly delineated sense of self), and to violent conflict (forceful self-assertion).


Presenter: Thia Cooper

Title: Sex with God
Time and Place: March 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

I am working on a book entitled Sex with God. It addresses desire, sexual intercourse, the sex trade, reproduction and marriage. This book was born out of the reluctance to dive into theological discussions of sex by our students and ourselves particularly on the part of those who are within or have come from the Christian tradition. Building on the work of sexual theologians, and liberation theologies generally, I ask how seeing each sexual act as an act with God as the partner can help to move forward. Beginning with the idea that sex is a way to know God, I examine briefly what this could mean for sex and sexuality. I'll give a brief overview of my work and then talk more specifically about reproduction and sexual intercourse.

Presenter: Betsy Byers

Title: Indeterminate Present, The Objective and Subjective Experience of Painting the Landscape
Time and Place: March 20, 2015 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract painting has the ability to make manifest the boundaries between real and imagined; present and past; objective and subjective. My current studio work investigates and translates the perceptual paradox between objective observation and subjective experience of the landscape. This faculty shop talk will detail the development of my paintings for my most recent solo exhibition (January-February 2015 at Kolman & Pryor Gallery in Minneapolis, MN), as well as briefly contextualize the work within the historical and contemporary approaches to landscape painting.


Presenter: Deborah Downs-Miers

Title: Subtexts and Subversions Redux: What Do Stealth Writers Want?
Time and Place: April 10, 2015 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Stealth Writers. I created this label sometime during the thinking/writing process of my recent sabbatical and my ongoing work since returning to teaching. It occurred to me that I should try to find out if this term has been used by others. A Google search yielded very small returns, and nothing which is anything like what I mean by "stealth writers." Furthermore, I hope I can find a more felicitous term--felicitous at least in my view. I needed a term to signify those writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery/Detective Fiction, and all the categories of texts marketed to younger-than-adult readers who clearly have agendas beyond/in addition to entertainment; Stealth Writers is the best I have been able thus far to manage: I welcome suggestions!  My ShopTalk has two distinct strongly related parts, one of which is itself divided; neither is very manageable, nor lends itself well to some current conventions of public presentations. Perhaps by April I will have made progress in this regard. One part is my theorizing about what Stealth Writers do want. The other part is your sharing your ideas about this question. Thus, context is crucial:  I am interested in fiction employed by writers (not publishers) as a vehicle for messages which are regarded as controversial, challenging, variously difficult, and often not satisfactorily engaged in public fora or in the schools. It is not my intent to show that these subtexts do in fact occur, for it is well recognized that Science Fiction, for example, has long used defamiliarization tactics to present controversial issues, primarily sociopolitical ones. We understand it is prudent to air these issues in ways which may allow them to be more reasonably engaged and processed. Other stealth genres also frequently employ this strategy. While it is fascinating and highly enjoyable to observe, analyze, and articulate how these strategies work as literary devices and as creators of the writer's ethos and thus also evaluate the probable effectiveness of the work, I am interested in something more. We know we can gauge "effectiveness" via various quantifications: how many copies were bought? How many editions were printed? How long has the text been in print? Is the text taught in schools and colleges? Is the writer a household name? Etc. We can also speculate with some authority about how/why the writer's content and style have caused varying degrees of success. Again, thinking, conversing, writing, and publishing about these matters is, for many, highly enjoyable and even useful.  With this understanding as background, what I want to do during part of the ShopTalk session is to hear from each of you what you think writers want readers to DO with and about the sub-textual and often subversive "message" we discern when we think about these sorts of texts. We will spend about 20 minutes conversing along these lines.  I would like to begin with reminding us of the background: the fact that many fiction texts which are most often read--at least initially--because they promise to variously entertain, actually do far more than this. Moreover, we LIKE this reality, a fact which encourages writers to continue to use the venues or fora of stealth fiction. Having reviewed this idea, I would like to open the conversation as indicated in the previous paragraph. Finally, I will offer some of my own theorizing about what Stealth Writers want readers to DO with their ideas/as a result of reading their works. I imagine some of our conversation will be congruent with some of my theory, that much will enhance and refine my theory, and that some, though not useful to me at present, will be of itself interesting and useful to me and to others.


Presenter: Mary Solberg

Title:  A Church Undone: Documents from the German Christian Faith Movement, 1932-1940
Time and Place: April 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center

Abstract: Decades after the Holocaust, many assume that the churches in Germany resisted the Nazi regime.  In fact, resistance was exceptional. Almost all Germans were Christians, and almost all Christians in Germany stood by, becoming intentionally or unintentionally complicit in Nazi policies and practices. In the early 1930s, a movement emerged within German Protestantism with the aim of fully integrating Nazi ideology, German national identity, and Christian faith.  As the Third Reich unfolded, the “German Christians,” as they were called, married centuries-old Christian anti-Judaism to the Nazis’ racial antisemitism and sought to eradicate all traces of Judaism from Christianity. A Church Undone, just published, presents a selection of representative documents of the German Christians for the first time in English.  Solberg’s presentation will invite reflection on what we can and must learn about our own commitments from examining such documents.