Following the 2011-2012 speaker series “Rehumanizing the University: New Perspectives on the Liberal Arts,” the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere invites UF faculty, students, and members of the public to join in this series of panel discussions on academic freedom and activism; racial, gender, and ethnic integration; sexual freedom; dialogues between sciences and humanities; and the impact of market forces at the University of Florida (and North Florida more generally).
Events in this Series
The History of Academic Freedom and Activism at UF
28 January, 6:00-7:30 pm, Smathers Library (East) 1A
This panel and audience discussion will address the history and legacy of academic freedom and activism at the University of Florida in the 1960s and 1970s. Participants in the round-table will offer their thoughts on the nature of activism of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students at UF and in Gainesville, particularly during the period of the civil rights movement, Vietnam protests, the Johns Committee, and Roe vs. Wade. They will measure the implications of involvement in political causes on freedom of expression on campus, faculty tenure, the creation of faculty and graduate student unions, the viability of a student-led campus newspaper, and life in Gainesville more generally. Following four ten-minute presentations, there will be time for a question and answer period and more broad discussion of these issues.
Malini Johar Schueller, Department of English (University of Florida)
Michael Falcone, Department of History (Northwestern University)
Deeb Paul Kitchen II, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences (Florida Gulf Coast University)
Paul Ortiz, Department of History (University of Florida)
Ron Sachs, Ron Sachs Communications (a Florida-based public relations firm)
Links of Interest
- “Open Letter from Prison,” Avon Park, Fla., 21 January 1976, by Bob Canney. As described in this letter, Canney was arrested in 1970 in connection with political activity while a graduate student and teacher at UF. See also the Press Release publicizing his parole in 1976.
- “Academic Freedom at the University of Florida,” by Christopher Crenshaw, Michael Falcone, Sarah Kleinman, Josh Krusell, Elizabeth McNeill, and Peter Sanders. A special section in Alpata: A Journal of History 9 (Spring 2012): 1-19.
- “Alternative UF: Counterculture through the Decades,” an online exhibition on campus activism at the University of Florida during the Age of Protest. Presented by UF Smathers Libraries, selected from an exhibition displayed April 20 – May 31, 2009.
- “Academic Freedom at the University of Florida,” by Richard R. Renner and John V. Godbold. In The Educational Forum 35,2 (1971): 167-71.
- “Social Unrest through the Alligator’s Lens,” by Quenta P. Vettel. A look back at the UF College of Journalism and Communications students who documented the furor and turmoil of the early 1970s on the UF campus, 8 July 2013.
About the Discussants
Michael Falcone (Panelist) is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University. He received both the BA and MA from the University of Florida, where he researched local radicalism, the dissemination of alternative cultures, and the development of regional antiwar organizing during the Vietnam period. His current research explores the political left’s relationships to military-industrial technology in the 1960s and 70s. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Deeb Paul Kitchen II (Panelist) is an instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of Florida, where his dissertation entitled “The Union Makes Us Strong: A Case Study in the Graduate Labor Movement” examined organizing work in the UF Graduate Assistants United organization. While in graduate school, he served as co-president of UFGAU from 2006-2009, a grievance officer, and member of the bargaining team. His article entitled “On Graduate Unions and Corporatization” was published in The Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy, and a second article entitled “A Critical View of Graduate Unions” is forthcoming in Societies Without Borders.
Paul Ortiz (Panelist) serves as director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and associate professor of history at the University of Florida. He is the author of the book Emancipation Betrayed (2005) and co-author of Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Talk about Life in the Jim Crow South (2008). He is the recipient of the Lillian Smith Book Prize awarded by the Southern Regional Council, the Carey McWilliams Book Prize awarded by the Multicultural Review, and the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Book Prize awarded by the Florida Historical Society. Prof. Ortiz is a veteran of the United States Army, faculty adviser for the UF Student Farmworker Alliance and the Venezuelan Student Association, and a member of the United Faculty of Florida’s executive committee.
Ron Sachs (Panelist), a Tallahassee-based media veteran, is an Emmy-Award-winning newspaper, magazine, and television journalist. The former chairman of the highly regarded Leadership Florida, Mr. Sachs has served two Florida governors as senior communications counsel and worked in corporate and non-profit work. His current firm, Ron Sachs Communications, works actively in public affairs issues and crisis work. In late 1971, when Ron Sachs was a University of Florida student and editor at The Alligator newspaper, he approved the printing of an insert with the addresses of known abortion counseling agencies (when abortion was illegal in Florida). After a public controversy and legal battle with then UF-President Stephen C. O’Connell, the university president took action to force the newspaper off campus — with some ensured initial subsidies in advertising contracts — thus giving birth to The Independent Florida Alligator.
Malini Johar Schueller (Moderator) is a Professor of English at the University of Florida, where she has been member of the faculty since 1986. She is the author of several books examining postcolonial and critical race theory and U.S. empire studies, including The Politics of Voice: Liberalism and Social Criticism from Franklin to Kingston (1992), U.S. Orientalisms: Race, Nation, and Gender in Literature, 1790–1890 (1998), and Locating Race: Global Sites of Post-Colonial Citizenship (2009). She has co-edited three essay collections, including Exceptional State: Contemporary U.S. Culture and the New Imperialism (2007), and Dangerous Professors: Academic Freedom and Labor (2009).
“Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee” at UF
11 March 2013, 5:30 pm film, 6:00-7:30 pm panel, Smathers Library (East) 1A
This documentary film screening, and following panel and audience discussion, will examine the legacy of the Florida Legislative Investigation Committee, known as the Johns Committee (1956-1965), in current social and political debates concerning public higher education in Florida nearly half a century later. Under the direction of Florida Senator Charley Johns, the Johns Committee was designed by the Florida State Senate to weed out communism and homosexual activity across Florida. The Committee chose the University of Florida in 1958 as its first academic target. Building on the January and February panel discussions about academic freedom and diversity, this event will link to ongoing conversations about political influence in higher education, support for gay and lesbian students, staff, and faculty at UF, and decisions about how to record our collective memory of individuals and events at UF (including the J. Wayne Reitz Union). Following the film screening and four ten-minute presentations, there will be time for a question and answer period and more broad discussion of these issues.
Churchill Roberts, College of Journalism and Communications (University of Florida)
Allyson Beutke DeVito, Author of the film “Behind Closed Doors”
Stacy Braukman, Writer and Editor
Kim Emery, Department of English (University of Florida)
Jim Schnur, Special Collections (USF-St. Petersburg); Department of History (Eckerd College)
Links of Interest
- “Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida,” Florida Legislative Investigation Committee [Official Report of the Johns Committee]. Tallahassee, 1964.
- “Cold Warriors in the Hot Sunshine : The Johns Committee’s Assault on Civil Liberties in Florida, 1956-1965,” by James Schnur. Master’s thesis, University of South Florida, 1995.
- “Closet Crusaders: The Johns Committee and Homophobia,” by James Schnur. In Carryin’ On in the Lesbian and Gay South, ed. by John Howard. New York: New York University Press,1997.
- “Closet Crusaders, ‘Perverts’ under the Palms, and Sunshine State Subversion,” by James Schnur. Paper presented at the annual meeting of History of Education Society, St. Petersburg, FL, November 2008.
- “Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee,” by Allyson A. Beutke and Scott Litvak. Student project for the College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, 1999.
- See also And They Were Wonderful Teachers: Florida’s Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers, by Karen L. Graves. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
About the Discussants
Allyson Beutke DeVito (Panelist) is the co-producer, with Scott Litvack, of the 2000 documentary entitled “Behind Closed Doors: The Dark Legacy of the Johns Committee.” This documentary served as the creative thesis for completion of their master’s degrees in Mass Communication at The Documentary Institute, formerly at the University of Florida. Ms. Beutke DeVito is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and part-time faculty in the Division of Instructional Communication at the University of Kentucky and in the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University.
Stacy Braukman (Panelist) is the author of Communists and Perverts under the Palms: The Johns Committee in Florida, 1956-1965 (University Press of Florida, 2012). She received a PhD in history at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She works as a writer and editor, and lives in Atlanta.
Kim Emery (Panelist) is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Florida. Since joining the UF faculty in 1994, she has taught courses in queer theory, pragmatism and performativity, critical pedagogy, and U.S. literatures and culture. She is the author of The Lesbian Index: Pragmatism and Lesbian Subjectivity in the Twentieth-Century United States (SUNY UP, 2002) and is currently at work on a book about queer theory and the future of the university. She is a past president of the UF chapter of the United Faculty of Florida and a member of the bargaining team that negotiated the historic 2010-2013 collective bargaining agreement .
Churchill Roberts (Moderator) is a Professor in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida, where he co-directed the Documentary Institute. He is co-author (with Samuel L. Becker) of Discovering Mass Communication, and he has served as co-director/co-producer of several PBS documentaries, “Giving Up the Canal” (1990), “Campaign for Cuba” (1992), “Last Days of the Revolution” (1994), “Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore” (2001), and “Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power” (2006). His teaching and research interests include documentary film, international telecommunication, and the impact of media on society.
Jim Schnur (Panelist) serves as special collections librarian at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and adjunct instructor of history at Eckerd College. While a graduate student in History at USF, he completed a master’s thesis in 1995 that documented the history of the Johns Committee and the political climate that nurtured its actions. Mr. Schnur’s research focuses on all aspects of the Committee’s history, including attacks against the civil rights movement in Florida, academic freedom violations, and gay and lesbian witch hunts.
The Humanities and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Fields
25 March, 6:00-7:30 pm, Smathers Library (East) 1A
This panel and audience discussion will explore the relationship of research inquiry and teaching in the humanities disciplines and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Participants in the round-table will describe various ways in which advances in history, literature, and philosophy inform and are informed by work in computer engineering, biomedicine, neuroscience, and mathematics. In articulating the relationship of different bodies of knowledge and disciplinary cultures in their own work, the speakers will point to the central role of the liberal arts and sciences in education and innovation at the contemporary and future research university. Following five ten-minute presentations, there will be time for a question and answer period and more broad discussion of these issues.
Willard Harrison, Department of Chemistry; former Dean of CLAS (University of Florida)
Erik Deumens, Department of Chemistry; Department of Physics (University of Florida)
Kevin Knudson, Department of Mathematics; Director, Honors Program (University of Florida)
Joseph Murphy, Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures (Japanese) (University of Florida)
Christopher Sistrom, Department of Radiology (University of Florida)
Betty Smocovitis, Department of History; Department of Biology (University of Florida)
Please join us for the Inaugural Meeting of the Collective for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medicine and Culture (CISMaC) on 18 April, 2013, 3:00-5:00pm, at the Harn Museum of Art.
Links of Interest
“Report of the Commission on the Humanities,” The Commission on the Humanities [sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States, and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa]. New York: The American Council of Learned Societies, 1964. This report raised the need for a National Humanities Foundation comparable to the National Science Foundation, established in 1950. Congress subsequently established the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1965. See especially pp. 2-3, 6, 7.
“The Two Cultures,” by C. P. Snow. Leonardo 23, no. 2/3 ( 1990): 169-73. Reprinted from “The Rede Lecture, 1959,” in C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: And a Second Look, pp. 1-21. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959. C. P. Snow identified a cultural divide between academics working in the sciences and those working in the arts.
“‘The Two Cultures’ Today,” by Roger Kimball. The New Criterion 12 (1994): 10. A review of the legacy of C. P. Snow and his critics, thirty-five years after the initial publication of “The Two Cultures.”
“Our Two Cultures,” by Peter Dizikes. The New York Times, March 19, 2009, New York edition, BR23. This essay reviews the legacy of C. P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” after fifty years, reflecting upon the original Cold War context of its publication.
About the Discussants
Erik Deumens (Panelist) is a physicist, mathematician, computational scientist and computer engineer at the University of Florida, with faculty appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Physics. Since 2005, Dr. Deumens has directed the UF High Performance Computing Center and oversees research computing activities across the UF campus. His current research interests include the relationships of religious narrative, digital humanities, and computational biomedical science.
Willard Harrison (Moderator) is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Florida. He served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1988-2000. Prof. Harrison’s research interests include analytical optical and mass spectroscopy, and he currently teaches courses on writing in the sciences.
Kevin Knudson (Panelist) has been Director of the University Honors Program and Professor of Mathematics at UF since 2009. His current research interests are in the areas of computational topology, topological data analysis, discrete Morse theory, and the homology of linear groups. He loves mathematics precisely because it lies at the nexus of the sciences and the humanities. Mathematics is beautiful and Dr. Knudson attempts to prove it to his students by folding origami, giving (flawed) logical arguments for the existence of God, or simply blowing their minds with paradoxical constructions.
Joseph Murphy (Panelist) is an Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Florida. Prof. Murphy is the author of The Metaphorical Circuit: Negotiating the Gap Between Literature and Science in 20th Century Japan (2002), and his teaching and research specialties include Japanese literature and culture, manga, anime, and video games. Prof. Murphy has a BS in mechanical engineering and advanced degrees in modern Japanese literature and film.
Chris Sistrom (Panelist) is Associate Professor of Radiology at the UF College of Medicine. His research interests include the practice and necessity of physician-ordered imaging tests, the evidence-based practice movement, and moral philosophy.
Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis (Panelist) is a Professor of History and Biology at the University of Florida, where she has developed new courses in biology and society and in the philosophy of biology. Her areas of expertise include the history of modern evolutionary biology, genetics, systematics, paleontology and ecology, anthropology and the history of American botany in the twentieth century. She is the author of Unifying Biology: the Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology (1996), and she was named the UF Distinguished Alumni Professor for 2009-2011.
Privileging Science over Humanities: How Privatization and Vocational Training in Higher Education Reinforce Social Stratification
2 April, 6:00-7:30 pm, Ustler Hall Atrium (2nd floor)
Sheila Slaughter (University of Georgia)
In her public lecture, Professor Sheila Slaughter will discuss the rising emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and professional fields, and the many disparities this has created between these disciplines and the humanities in research universities. Among the disparities that will be discussed are: salaries, research funding, infrastructure, investment, course loads, and student numbers. In raising these issues, Professor Slaughter will speak to the ensuing deprofessionalization of the humanities. She will conclude by addressing how these trends may be changed.
Sheila Slaughter is the first occupant of the McBee Professorship of Higher Education at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education. A distinguished scholar of higher education, her most recent book is Academic Capitalism and the New Economy: Markets, State and Higher Education(2004, Johns Hopkins University Press) with Gary Rhoades. Professor Slaughter’s current scholarship concentrates on the relationship between knowledge and power as it plays out in higher education policy at the state, federal and global levels. During the last fifteen years she has focused on topics such as intellectual property and statutes, commercialization of academic science and technology, and market mechanisms in higher education. Professor Slaughter has served as the President of Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and received the ASHE and AERA lifetime research awards. She has substantial funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and has served as program director of Societal Dimensions of Engineering, Science, and Technology at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Slaughter has also worked with the European Universities Project, Hedda – the European association of research centres, the Salzburg Seminar, and various groups in Mexico and Argentina. Her past publications include over 34 refereed articles, 25 book chapters, 11 edited books or special journal issues, three additional monographs: Academic Capitalism: Politics, Policies and the Entrepreneurial Universitywith Larry Leslie (1997, Johns Hopkins University Press), The Higher Learning and High Technology: The Dynamics of Higher Education Policy Formation (1990, SUNY Press), and Serving Power: The Making of the American Social Science Expert with E.T. Silva (1984, Greenwood).