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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Spring 2020

  • CANCELLED: The Arts of Politics: Cultural Agency, Memory, Resilience
  • CANCELLED: The Black Embodiments Studio
  • CANCELLED: Re-Mix: Sound Studies, Sound Practices, and the Archive
  • CANCELLED: Abolition Geographies: A UW and Community Collaboration


      The Arts of Politics: Cultural Agency, Memory, Resilience

      (1 credit, C/NC)

      Instructor: María Elena García (Comparative History of Ideas)

      Description: This microseminar explores the political importance of art in responding to the violence of dictatorship, war, and extractive economies. It is organized around the spring 2020 visits of four scholar-artists from Puerto Rico and Peru. Puerto Rican visual anthropologist and filmmaker Patricia Alvarez Astacio is an Assistant Professor at Brandeis University. Her films and written work critically explore the Peruvian alpaca wool supply chain analyzing how, through the intervention of development projects, Indigenous women artisans and their aesthetic traditions are interpolated into “ethical fashion” manufacturing networks. In their individual and collective art projects, Peruvian artists and activists Karen Bernedo, Jorge Miyagui and Mauricio Delgado reveal the connections between ongoing colonial processes, the political violence of the 1980s and 90s, and contemporary manifestations of gendered, racialized, and other forms of structural violence. Their collective Museo Itinerante Arte por la Memoria, a mobile museum for art and memory, won the 2014 Prince Claus Award for “outstanding achievement of visionaries at the front-line of culture and development.” The seminar will meet four times and explore the power of art in uncovering and contesting the hidden foundations of violence. We will explore how art can create and sustain political and cultural counter-narratives that resist racial capitalism, patriarchy, and the ongoing marginalization of Indigenous peoples in Peru. We will read texts that address the particular context of Peru, as well as broader theoretical works about art, cultural agency, memory, and politics.

    • Requirements: Sessions meet in Communications 218D on Wednesdays, April 8, April 22, May 20, and June 3, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
    • Questions? Please contact María Elena García at


    • The Black Embodiments Studio
    • (2 credit, C/NC)
    • Instructor: Kemi Adeyemi (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

      Description: The Black Embodiments Studio is a critical arts writing incubator examining contemporary black art in and beyond Seattle. Students meet for daylong intensives April 10 & 11 and May 29 & 30 to discuss diverse models of arts writing, and to gain intimate contact with artists and curators whose practices model innovation, accessibility, and criticality— including, this quarter, the artist Ilana Harris-Babou.

      Residents will also visit 4 exhibitions and/or performances, and learn to develop their own publishable piece of arts writing (600-2K words).

      How to Apply: Interested graduate students and postgraduates should submit a 2-page letter of inquiry in PDF format to Dr. Kemi Adeyemi ( by 5 pm PST on March 25, 2020.

      This letter should detail the applicant’s critical practice, how thinking through black contemporary art may be generative, and what they hope to gain through their participation. Ten residents will be notified of their acceptance by March 27, 2020.


      Re-Mix: Sound Studies, Sound Practices, and the Archive

    • (1 credit, C/NC)

      Instructor: Michelle Habell-Pallán (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies), Sonnet Retman (American Ethnic Studies), and John Vallier (UW Libraries)

      Description: This course draws upon sound studies and digital humanities to “explore how sonic experience might transform our scholarly networks, writing processes, research methodologies, pedagogies, and knowledges of the archive” (Lingold, Mueller and Trettien 2018). As the field has taken shape, scholars have called for a more expansive conception of sound studies, one that “listens in detail” for social relations of power within the field of sound and technology. In response to this call, feminist sound studies scholarship has ushered in an intersectional reconsideration of everything from overlooked historical actors to the role played by women in hardware development and sound recording, as well as the gender and race of the sensory and of perception (Kheshti, 2018).

      This course works in conjunction with spring quarter’s Sound Practices Symposium and the Sound Collaboratory to prepare graduate and undergraduate students to analyze sound in the archive. It asks two broad questions: what constitutes a sound archive and how do we produce knowledge through sound? Students will become familiar with critical sound studies scholarship. They will also learn basic techniques for creating podcasts. In connection with the seminar, students will attend the Sound Practices Symposium, the Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference, and the Pop Conference.

    • Requirements:
    • All classes meet from 4:30 - 6:00pm.
      April 9: Communications 218D
      April 16: Media Arcade (Suzzallo-Allen Library)
      April 23: Pop Conference (Museum of Pop Culture/MoPop)
      April 30: Media Arcade (Suzzallo-Allen Library)
      May 7: Sound Practices Symposium (Allen Auditorium in Suzzallo-Allen Library)
      May 9: Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference: Ofrendas for the Futures (El Centro de la Raza, Seattle)
      May 14: Communications 218D
    • Questions? Please contact Michelle Habell-Pallán at


      Abolition Geographies: A UW and Community Collaboration

    • (1 credit, C/NC)

      Instructor: Megan Ybarra (Geography) and JM Wong (PARISOL & FIGHT/APICAG family)

      DescriptionThis seminar seeks to prepare for and build from the visit of Ruth Wilson Gilmore, an activist scholar who advocates for a prison abolition that means not just the closing of prisons but also the building of vital systems of support that many communities need. To do so, we will center our discussion from reading her seminal work, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California (2007). We will challenge ourselves to think through the role of racial capitalism in building up new prisons and detention centers in order to understand Gilmore’s framework of “abolition geography” and think about how we could build strategic coalitions that bring communities together to support each other. In this seminar we will foster dialogue with folks who are (1) community- based organizers (2) recent UW graduates working across university and community spaces; and (3) UW graduate students who are doing activist scholarship. The seminar will challenge participants to share strategies across classroom- based curriculum and community-based curriculum designed to advance abolition and base-building projects.

    • Course Meetings:
    • Sessions meet on the University of Washington Seattle campus in the Communications Building, Room 202, on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and Friday, April 24 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Students will also be expected to attend Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Katz Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday, April 22 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm in Kane Hall Room 120.
    • To apply to join the seminar, please email Megan Ybarra at and JM Wong at