Humanities Center

Humanities Center

Upcoming Events for 2022-2023

Next Event:

Works-In-Progress:  Jason Clower, "Planned Obsolescence: China Leaps Backward Into the Future"

Professor Jason Clower from the Dept of Comparative Religion and Humanities 

Jason Clower is Professor in the Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities where he focuses on Asia.  

Friday, April 7th

Humanities Center, PAC 113, 12:00 PM

Reckless and pragmatic in equal parts, "New China" gambled on an alternative to both the capitalist West and Soviet socialism that chose deliberately to turn the clock back almost to the time and technology before Stalin.  Jason Clower tells a story of how China grew into a world power by clinging to technologies from the 1930s, in a mix of shrewd ingenuity, bureaucratic inertia, tragicomic miscalculation, and awful sacrifice that led overall to brilliant success.

University Film Series:  The Music Room (Jalsaghar)

An Indian woman standing in the music room.

99 minutes.  Directed by Satyajit Ray (India, 1958)

Monday, April 10th

Ayres 106 (tiered lecture hall), 6:00 PM, FREE

With The Music Room (Jalsaghar), Satyajit Ray brilliantly evokes the crumbling opulence of the world of a fallen aristocrat (the beloved actor Chhabi Biswas) desperately clinging to a fading way of life. His greatest joy is the music room in which he has hosted lavish concerts over the years—now a shadow of its former vivid self. An incandescent depiction of the clash between tradition and modernity, and a showcase for some of India’s most popular musicians of the day, The Music Room is a defining work by the great Bengali filmmaker.

This film is FREE and open to the public!

Visiting Scholar:  David George Haskell, "Sounds Wild and Broken"

David Haskell standing in front of a wall of ivy.

Introduction by Dr. Alisa Wade.

Thursday, April 20th

Rowland Taylor Recital Hall - PAC 134, 5:30 PM, FREE

Sonic communication was a late-comer to the evolution of life on Earth. But once song got started, the links that it forged became powerful generative forces. Today, the diverse sounds around us from chirping crickets, to birdsong, to the human music in our earbuds reveal the many layers of this evolutionary and cultural creativity. Yet sonic diversity is also threatened, especially in rainforests and the oceans. Sound is alsoften undervalued in conservation efforts and, more broadly, in our society that privileges sight over all other senses. Using examples from his own explorations of sound, Haskell will show how attention to the sensory richness of the world, especially its sonic dimensions, can root and guide environmental ethics and action.

David Haskell is a writer and a biologist. His latest book, Sounds Wild and Broken, explores the story of sound on Earth. Starting with the origins of animal song and traversing the whole arc of Earth history, he illuminates and celebrates the emergence, diversification, and loss of the sounds of our world, including human music and language. The New York Times selected the book as an “Editor’s Choice”. His previous books, The Forest Unseen and The Songs of Trees are acclaimed for their integration of science, poetry, and rich attention to the living world. Among their honors include the National Academies’ Best Book Award, John Burroughs Medal, finalist for Pulitzer Prize, Iris Book Award, Reed Environmental Writing Award, National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature, and runner-up for the PEN E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Haskell received his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Cornell University. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, a Guggenheim Fellow, and William R. Kenan Jr. Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, USA. Find him at and on social media @DGHaskell (Twitter), DavidGeorgeHaskell (Instagram and Facebook).

Digital Humanities Series:  David Dvorin, "Artificial Intelligence in Music Making"

MUTA Professor David Dvorin

Wednesday, May 3rd, 5PM

Click here to join meeting:  David Dvorin ZOOM

Department of Music and Theatre faculty member and composer David Dvorin will give an introductory session exploring the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) in music making. The presentation will trace the pathways starting from the algorithmic music-generating machines of the 1950s, the deterministic generators of the 1970s, the pioneering work of David Cope (Experiments in Musical Intelligence) in the 1980s-1990s, and finally ending with contemporary AI-assisted composition. David will show how modern musicians can access AI for their own music activities, not as a substitute for human creativity, but as a valuable interactive tool to generate ideas that make us think and hear differently.

David Dvorin is an Emmy-nominated composer, guitarist, author, and educator who has had his concert music performed in numerous new music and multimedia festivals around the United States and Europe. Versatile in both electronic and acoustic music mediums, he has written for and collaborated with such notable artists as Terry Riley, the California E.A.R. Unit and the Kronos Quartet. Regarded internationally as an expert on Apple’s Logic Pro software, his textbook, Logic Pro X: Advanced Music Production has been adopted by educational institutions worldwide, and is the basis for Apple Computer’s certified training. David has been on the faculty at California State University, Chico since 2006, teaching composition, electronic music and recording arts. In addition to his teaching and artistic activities, he is also the Artistic Director for the annual New Music Symposium, which showcases the work of young composers and brings acclaimed contemporary composers and performers to the North State area of California.


The 2022-2023 Humanities Center theme, Soundscapes, explores perceptions and interpretations of acoustic environments in their respective cultural, political, and spatial contexts.  Ranging from the sounds of nature to a multitude of expressive forms such as music, poetry, dance, and storytelling, every culture has created distinctive soundscapes that shape our daily experiences and mediate our relationships to the world.  Events will highlight interdisciplinary humanities research and creative activity on this year’s theme. 

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