Texas Tech University

Upcoming Events



Value/Values Speakers Series:

Dr. Nan Z Da
(Johns Hopkins University)

“On Real and Artificial Intelligence”

This talk poses the central question of language-based, large-data artificial intelligence in literary-critical terms: can you find solutions in empiricism for what cannot be had in comprehension? The latest innovations in this area of artificial intelligence such as the wider application of a neural-net-based attention mechanism to areas as different as corporate and legal "moral reasoning" and "entailment," on the one hand, and aural and graphic recognition software, on the other, allow us to pose the question with more precision and a better sense of real and artificial overlaps. As it turns out, and as Jeffrey Binder and Ted Chiang have recently demonstrated, much that was previously seen as ineffable and elusive can be pattern-detected with somewhat acceptable margins of error; what is harder to replicate is what we might call "important sequence of information that matters to someone." This caveat increasingly matters as more disparate things are rounded up and treated as language models-- i.e. how to predict what x is, given n before it, with internal tests for statistical soundness. These new applications reveal the underlying mechanical workarounds in this kind of intelligence, workarounds which join up with existential questions in literary criticism: "what part of literature is empirically available?"; "what are the benchmark for inferential soundness and what beliefs guarantee them?"; "how much information can really be contained in forms and motifs of language and culture?"; and, finally, "as one processes information in writing where is not just error, but wronging, introduced?"

Nan Z Da 笪章难 is an associate professor in the Department of English. She taught at the University of Notre Dame in the departments of English and East Asian Language and Literatures for nine years before moving to Johns Hopkins. 

Da's teaching and scholarship cover nineteenth-century American and trans-Atlantic literature and letters, modern Chinese literature and letters, literary and social theory, and the intersection of literary studies and the data sciences. Her book, Intransitive Encounters (Columbia University Press 2018), asks about literary-cultural interactions that do not lead to synthesis, reflecting both phenomenological reality and various predicaments of global modernity.  Her other published works discuss the mechanisms of disambiguation, literature and complexity, parrhesia and literary criticism, and contemporary Chinese history.

She has taught courses on Transcendentalism and its aftermaths, discourses of China, literature and social theory, as well as traditional survey courses on pre-1850 American literature, world literature, and comparative methodologies. Courses taught at Johns Hopkins will include "Literary Studies as Data Science" and "Nineteenth-Century American Literature.”

With Professor Anahid Nersessian she edits the Thinking Literature series housed at the University of Chicago Press

Join us at 7:30pm at Human Sciences 169.


Yours, Mine, and Ours

A workshop with scholar-in-residence Dr. Adriel Trott

To be attuned to and appreciative of difference and inequality invites concern for recognizing and appreciating what belongs to others. Replacing appropriation with appreciation requires seeing how marginalized cultures and identities are taken up with a pseudoappreciation in the service of the hegemonic culture with little concern for elevating those from whom the appropriation is drawn. For some, the concept of appropriation operates through a fraught notion of ownership that depends on viewing creative work as commodities to which value is attached and through which value circulates. Much of the creative projects of art, music and literature depend on influence and an appreciative referential style drawing on the work of others. Language itself one might say draws on words one did not form to speak. Metaphor functions by moving between one thing to what is other than it in a way that moves from what belongs to one thing to what belongs to another. This workshop will consider questions around the extent to which taking up what is other functions as appropriation especially in metaphor.

Wednesday, March 27, at 4pm. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Loraux, Brill, LaRocque.

Learn more here or register now.


Values and Vernaculars Workshop Series:
"Vernacular Learning and Values"

TLPDC Room 153, 12:00-1:20pm

In a changing world in which many are questioning the presumed applications of a postsecondary degree, higher education practitioners are faced with a perennial existential question: What is the purpose of higher education today? Is it to transmit knowledge and train skills for the workforce, or are such justifications too narrow to capture the possibilities for postsecondary education? While diverging perspectives abound (Bass & Thomas, 2023), this session will explore how faculty can design assessments that connect course learning objectives to the embodied knowledges and inherited skills that learners bring to the physical or virtual classroom. Led by the directors of the Vernacular Music Center and the Humanities Center at Texas Tech, participants will engage with a sampling of assignments across our campus by which students demonstrate their capacity to engage critically with the world beyond the university through project-based learning. By the end of this session, participants will have new ideas for evaluating student learning that are connected to their sense of purpose as higher education practitioners. Lunch will be provided.

Please register by Friday, April 12th at https://ttu.elementlms.com/all-events/

Reference:  Baas, L., & Thomas, D. (2023). Calibrating the narratives on the purpose of higher education. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 4, 100222.  Join via Zoom: https://texastech.zoom.us/j/97413135388


Community, Land, People
A workshop with scholar-in-residence Dr. Adriel Trott

Weeks Hall, 2nd Floor, 4:00-5:30pm

Community is good for human beings. We flourish and grow and become who we are through organized engagement with others. When we think of community and political life, we tend to think of a specific group with particular practices and institutions defined in distinction to other groups. The problem with that approach is that it invariably leaves some people on the outside, and in fact, many of the ways human beings have historically construed community -- shared land, shared blood, shared parentage – function to exclude. In the service of considering that it could be possible to think community that refuses to distinguish between those who are valued and those are not, this workshop will interrogate the status and limits of the notion of “a people” as a given or natural community and the notion of land as the ground for community.  By “a people” we refer to a group with a shared history, culture, and language. This can be liberatory, especially in efforts to resist how being so construed has produced inequity, but it might also introduce restrictive and essentializing patterns. “Land” can refer to territory, property, but also to the life-giving capacities of nature, of the earth itself, which sustains all human existence. This workshop will consider issues surrounding the ways that various ways of conceiving of “a people” and “land” contribute to sharing value or to dividing between the valued and the unvalued.

Readings from Sharma, Balibar, Locke, Betasamosake Simpson

Learn more here or register now.


Public talk by Dr. Kevan Q. Malone,
2023-2024 Post-Doctoral Fellow: 

"Borderline Unsustainable: Urbanization, Conservation, and the Limits of Environmentalism at the U.S.-Mexico Boundary"

This presentation examines the limitations of environmentalism in the binational Tijuana River watershed—in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands of San Diego and Tijuana—since the 1970s. American private enterprise has driven rapid population growth in the Mexican city of Tijuana for more than a century. Although sewage overflow in the Tijuana River has polluted American communities downstream since the 1930s, American-owned maquiladoras (assembly plants) in Tijuana have exacerbated the problem since the 1960s. In 1967, the International Boundary and Water Commission of the United States and Mexico agreed to construct a concrete channel on the Tijuana River. Intended for flood control, the channel was also expected to help solve the pollution problem. However, in the 1970s, environmentalists in San Diego blocked the project on the U.S. side of the border, preserving the wetlands around the river's estuary for a California state park and wildlife habitat. Meanwhile, Mexico moved forward with the project south of the border. Since its completion in 1979, the channel has functioned as a projectile for pollutants from Tijuana into the parkland on the U.S. side. Therefore, the conservation of the estuary was both a win and a loss for environmentalists. While Americans have often blamed Mexicans for the pollution, this environmental hazard must be understood as a product of two historical developments: the division of the Tijuana River watershed between two sovereign and unequal nation-states; and the cross-border economy that has benefitted American companies at the expense of the environment and public health in communities adjacent to the border.

2nd Floor, Weeks Hall, 4:00-5:00pm


Value/Values Film Series:
Xanadu (1980)

with special guest, Dr. Paul Reinsch

7:30pm, Alamo Drafthouse-Lubbock

Tickets available at https://drafthouse.com/lubbock/event/film-club-xanadu


Value/Values Conference

Formby Room, Southwest Collection


9:00am-9:30am: Pastries and coffee

9:30am: Opening remarks: Dr. Michael Borshuk, Director of the Humanities Center at Texas Tech

9:40-11:00am: Session 1: Value Across Space and Time

·       Pavel Andrade (Texas Tech University), “A Genuine Event for Theory, or, Values of the Novel”

·       Daniel L. Bennett (Presbyterian Christian School), “The Valuable Present: Seneca on Time”

·       Katherine Sabo (Texas Tech University), “The Betrayal of the Values of a Revolution and Its Lasting Value”

11:00-11:15: Coffee break

11:15-12:30pm: Session 2: Values, Rhetoric, Discourse

·       T.J. Geiger (Texas Tech University), “Coming to Faith, Coming to Science: Lula Pace, Ethos Strategies, and Demarcation in a Pre-Scopes Evolution Controversy”

·       Kyna Bullard (Texas Tech University), “Superstitious Activities: An Analysis of Sixteenth-Century Spanish Ecclesiastical Writing Regarding Sorcery and Popular Medicine”

12:30pm: Lunch served.

12:45: 1:45pm: Lunch Keynote:

Adriel M. Trott
Professor of Philosophy, Andrew T. and Anne Ford Chair in Liberal Arts 
(Wabash College)"
Humanities Center at Texas Tech Spring 2024 Scholar-in-Residence

"Autochthony and Indigeneity: Conceptualizing Political Life from Athens to Turtle Island"

1:45-2:00pm: Coffee break

2:00pm-3:30pm: Special Session: 

The Value of the Human Experience: Developing an Integrated Humanities Program in the Core Curriculum Across the Texas A&M University System

·        Sharon Kowalsky, History Department, Texas A&M University-Commerce 

·       Debbie Lelekis, Humanities Department, Texas A&M International University 

·       Rebecca Weir, Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages, West Texas A&M University 

·       William Bush, History Department, Texas A&M University-San Antonio

7:00pm: Keynote Lecture:

Agnes Callard
Associate Professor of Philosophy
(University of Chicago)

“The Value of Political Equality”

Senate Room, Student Union Building

8:30pm: Reception

Good Line Beer Co.
2611 Boston Ave

Drinks and hors d'oeuvres served.