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2018 Lectures

January 25, 2018


Featuring John Walbridge, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University
"Did Something Go Wrong? Science, Philosophy, and the Fate of Reason in Islam"
Location: 5:30pm, Escondido Theater, Located in the Student Union Building 

A major question in the historiography of the Scientific Revolution is why a scientific did not occur in the Islamic world. Scholars who have dealt with the question have generally pointed to one or another cause for the disappearance of science and rationality in the Greek tradition by the 12th century. Unfortunately for such accounts, more recent research has shown that that science in the Greek tradition, philosophy, and logic continued to be cultivated in the Islamic world into modern times. What was different was a focus on mysticism and related issues in later Islamic philosophy and the dominance of legal and linguistic concerns in logic. Moreover, there was no sharp cultural break in the Islamic (or Chinese) world comparable to the Protestant Reformation. 

Professor Walbridge's research interests include Islamic philosophy, studies, intellectual history (emphasis on the cultural role of philosophy and science), and Baha'i studies.

February 8, 2018
The Scientific Revolution


Featuring Peter Dear, Professor of History and Science & Technology at Cornell University
"Who Cares About the Scientific Revolution?"
Location: 6:00pm, Human Sciences Building, Room 169

The term "the Scientific Revolution" became popular among historians following the Second World War.  Although talk of a "revolution" in science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had become common in the eighteenth century, many twentieth-century historians took to the new term for a variety of reasons that do not now always seem as persuasive as they once did.  In recent decades academic historians of science have come to doubt the coherence of the concept itself, seeing it as something applied only in retrospect to a miscellany of different developments in the making of natural knowledge associated with famous names like Galileo and Newton.  But in the last five or so years, several books have been published that attempt to restore the Scientific Revolution to its former place as a crowning achievement of European culture.  This talk examines why a controversy exists over the matter, and what might be at stake for people (not just historians) in calling an entire period by such a name.

This event is the featured lecture of the Institute's highly anticipated "Science Week." In the days leading up to Dear's talk, several faculty members of Texas Tech will address the main topic of his lecture with their classes in various departments.

"The Scientific Revolution" Week Sub Lectures:

Richard Meek, Professor of Bassoon and Music Theory at Texas Tech University
"Music and Acoustical Science: Do You See What I Hear?"
February 5, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. - TTU School of Music, Choir Room 10 (basement)

Professor Meek will be speaking of the mathematics of scales and intervals, demonstrating the makeup of various sounds and how the overtone structures make our performance practice either easier or more difficult. There will be examples using various instruments and sound analysis, including those shown by Professor Gerald Dolter and Stuart Hinds. 

Barbara Hahn, Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University
"Technology in the Industrial Revolution"
February 6, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. - English-Philosophy Building, Room 163 
Dr. Hahn will explain the methods used by historians of technology to understand technological change, using the Industrial Revolution as a case study. This classic case of rapid and revolutionary technological change focuses on textile production in the north of England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with the mechanization of spinning as the key innovation in the path toward mass production. Exploring changing machines for spinning illustrates history-of-technology approaches, while interpreting mechanical change from these approaches illustrates the contextual and contingent nature of technological change - which can then be applied to the new technologies appearing today.

David Larmour, Horn Professor of Classics at Texas Tech University 
"The Birth of Greek Philosophy and Science"
February 6, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. - English-Philosophy Building, Room 302

Professor Larmour will discuss how Greek Science emerged from Greek Poetry among the Pre-Socratic philosophers in the city of Miletus in Ionia in the 7th-6th centuries BCE (Thales, Anaximander) and in the mathematically-focused school of Pythagoras of Samos. Then, the topic will jump ahead to cover a brief survey of Aristotle's natural philosophy and scientific method to look at Greek Science in the Hellenistic Period (following the death of Aristotle's one-time pupil, Alexander the Great in 323 BCE), focusing particularly on geometry, astronomy and medicine. It is these two ancient "scientific revolutions" which laid the groundwork for what we know today as the great disciplines of scientific investigation. 

Bruce Clarke, Horn Professor of Literature and Science at Texas Tech University
"Anachronism in Science Fiction and Science: The Case of H.G. Wells"
February 6, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. - English-Philosophy Building, Room 201 
"Anachronism: a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists." How does the idea of anachronism come up in the study of literature and science? Many scientific ideas have relatively short lives as newer understandings displace older conceptions. These same scientific conceptions are also intertwined with traditional as well as modern and contemporary convictions and patterns of thought. One way to do literature and science scholarship is by turning critical attention to the unfolding of these crumpled-up historical matters. Moreover, the genre of science fiction is an especially sensitive seismometer of cultural shifts and tremors. This talk will bring these considerations to bear on H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The War of the Worlds, and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End.

Joel Velasco, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas Tech University
"Science and Testability"
February 8, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. - English-Philosophy Building, Room 163
Karl Popper famously claimed that what separated science from pseudoscience was that scientific theories were falsifiable. This claim about the importance of scientific predictions and the testability of theories is still commonly accepted by scientists and non-scientists alike and was, for example, very important in American court cases involving the teaching of Evolution, Scientific Creationism, and Intelligent Design in schools. But there are well-known are arguably insuperable problems with Popper's account. This talk will examine some of these problems and ask how we should think about the nature of scientific theorizing in light of them.
Patricia Maloney, Professor of Sociology at Texas Tech University
"Sociology - An Art or Science?"
February 9, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. - Holden Hall, Room 04
Professor Maloney will be speaking about the nature of proof in social science research, and how the applicability and utility of the scientific method has shifted in the social sciences over the past two hundred years. The talk will begin by sketching out the historical conflict between positivism and antipositivism, then address how sociological research in particular has grappled with the concepts of authenticity, replicability, and generalizability. In short, is sociology a science or an art? Finally, Professor Maloney will focus on current struggle between sociology, journalism, and the law concerning the elements required to prove one's analytical assertions. 

February 15, 2018


Featuring Price Fishback, Thomas R. Brown Professor of Economics at Arizona State University
"War: What is it Good For?"
Location: 6:00pm, Rawls College of Business, Room 105

Is war good for the economy? Many people seem to think so, and they often cite the American experience during World War II as an example: “World War II brought us out of the Great Depression.” “Americans never had it so good, producing more guns and more butter.” We fought the War to prevent the Axis from establishing fascism throughout large parts of the world. But make no mistake; to fight the War, Americans had to sacrifice. This presentation talks about both the amazing output of the war effort and how much Americans sacrificed in the process. It is also important to remember, however, that Americans were the lucky ones because so little fighting took place on American soil. The sacrifices in the rest of the world were much larger. 

Price Fishback is a special guest of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. This event is hosted by the Texas Tech Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, of which ISWC Director Steve Balch is also president. 

February 22, 2018


Featuring Lawrence M. Mead, Professor of Politics and Public Policy at New York University
"Burdens of Freedom: Cultural Roots of American Power"
Location: 5:30pm, Escondido Theater, Located in the Student Union Building

Professor Mead's lecture, "Burdens of Freedom," presents a radical argument that America's world dominance and also its chief challenges are rooted in cultural differences. The United States became rich and powerful largely because of an individualist culture, but it faces problems integrating the poor and immigrants largely because most of them lack that temperament. Individualism also promotes stronger government than in the non-West, so America must succor poor countries there. Thus freedom entails burdens. It becomes obligation. The world's freest country has become the most responsible.

March 22, 2018


Featuring Alexander Beecroft, Jessie Chapman Alcorn Memorial Professor of Foreign Languages at the University of South Carolina
"Ancient Greek and Chinese Poetry"
Location: 5:30pm, Escondido Theater, Located in the Student Union Building

How does Chinese poetry help us to understand the Greeks better? And vice versa? By looking at the forms, themes, and interpretation of the earliest Chinese poems, in this lecture we will gain insights into how to think about Greek poetry, and particularly archaic lyric.
Professor Beecroft teaches courses in Greek and Latin language and literature, ancient civilizations, literary theory (ancient and modern), and the theory and practice of world literature. His major areas of research interest are in the literatures of Ancient Greece and Rome, pre-Tang Chinese literature, and current debates about world literature.

April 5, 2018
Shakespeare and His Legacy 


Featuring Paul Cantor, Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English at the University of Virginia
"William Shakespeare and the Roots of Western Civilization"
Location: 6:00pm, Escondido Theater, Located in the Student Union Building
Reception with snacks will begin at 5:30 prior to the lecture. 

Professor Cantor specializes in comparative literature, Renaissance, and Romanticism. He has published extensively on Shakespeare and is well known for his writings on popular culture.

This event is the featured lecture of the Institute's highly anticipated "Shakespeare Week." In the days leading up to Dear's talk, several faculty members of Texas Tech will address the main topic of his lecture with their classes in various departments.

"Shakespeare and his Legacy" Weeklong Lecture Series:

Bill Gelber, TTU Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance  
"Shakespeare the Director: Textual Clues to the Staging of Early Modern Drama"
April 5, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. - TTU English-Philosophy, Room 304

Originally, Shakespeare's company had, at the most, ten days of rehearsal for each new play. The position of director did not yet exist. With limited time and no overall "master of the stage," how was a work like Hamlet or King Lear successfully produced? Dr. Gelber will point out the ways in which an examination of Shakespeare's texts give clues as to what he had in mind for staging: how he directed through dialogue, and how his company would have translated what he wrote to the Globe stage. 

Stacey Jocoy, TTU Associate Professor of Musicology
"To be Made a Ballad of: Songs and Dances on Shakespeare's Stage"
Date, time and location to be determined.  

Ali Duffy, TTU Associate Professor of Dance  
"Dancing Poetry: Shakespeare's Influence on Iconic Choreographers of the 20th and 21st Centuries"
April 5, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. - TTU Creative Movement Studio, Room 108

William Shakespeare's influence on dance choreographers and artistic directors of the 20th and 21st centuries is unmistakable. This lecture will feature discussion on choreographers' staged interpretations of Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and the Love Sonnets. 

Matthew Hunter, TTU Assistant Professor of English 
Date, time and location to be determined. 

April 19, 2018


Featuring James Ceaser, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia
"James Madison: The Founder of American Founding"
Location: 5:30pm, Senate Room, Located in the Student Union Building

Professor Ceaser has written several books on American politics and political thought, including Presidential Selection, Liberal Democracy and Political Science, Reconstructing America, and Nature and History in American Political Development. He has held visiting professorships at Universities of Florence, Basel, Oxford, Bordeaux, and Rennes.

September 12, 2018
The Founding of the American Republic 


Featuring William B. Allen, Professor of Political Philosophy at Michigan State University
"Conscience: The Basis of Liberty, Character, and Civilization"
Location: To be determined

In the beginning, Americans got it right. They did not fall for the false choice between the comfort of the least and the potential of the best, sometimes posed as a choice between the common good and individualism. Instead, the founders envisioned a productive people who were at the same time a caring people. They identified social progress with realizing the potential of the best. Lately social progress tends to be identified with the comfort of the least. As a result, many have turned away from relying upon creative and productive individuals to advance society and first of all look at citizens as wards of the state (the disadvantaged) and secondly as lucky (the advantaged; “you didn't build that”). The problem is, a society can care for the least of its members only when it fosters the productivity of the best of its citizens. An upside down view of praiseworthy character threatens to undermine the foundation of social progress in good character. Good character in turn builds upon conscientious self-reliance.  

This event is the featured lecture of the Institute's highly anticipated "Constitution Week." In the days leading up to Dear's talk, several faculty members of Texas Tech will address the main topic of his lecture with their classes in various departments.

November 12, 2018
The Great War and the World it Made 


Featuring Jay Winter, Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University
"Great War Week"
Location: To be determined

Professor Winter is a specialist on World War I and its impact on the 20th century. In addition to writing and co-authoring numerous books, Dr. Winter was also co-producer and writer of the award-winning PBS/BBC documentary series, The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.

This event is the featured lecture of the Institute's highly anticipated "Great War Week." In the days leading up to Dear's talk, several faculty members of Texas Tech will address the main topic of his lecture with their classes in various departments.

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization