Reaping Profits, Reckoning Loss

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Reaping Profits, Reckoning Loss Colloquium Program, March 1-2, 2007

About the Topic

We seem to live in a world devoted to profit but defined by loss. We witness a relative few standing atop pinnacles of wealth, while millions of others live in the sloughs of deprivation. Our television screens are filled with images of destruction, while along the bottom, numbers charting the progress of a rising stock market march past. Profit and loss may seem to be the province of economists and those in business and government, rather than of humanists and artists. By placing these terms in different and broader contexts and media, however, humanists and artists can redefine both the nature and interrelation of these terms, and thereby open up new questions for investigation. When we consider loss in its various senses, meaning, say, not only the "diminution of one's possessions or advantages," but also "perdition, ruin, destruction: the condition or fact of being 'lost,'" we are led to think of conditions about which the humanities and arts have long been concerned.

For centuries, philosophers and spiritual teachers have cautioned that it is unwise to seek profits defined solely in terms of wealth, power, and fame. From Milton’s Paradise Lost to the television show Lost, artists have sought to address the question of loss in its more complex and painful aspects: as fall, as trauma, as apolcalyptic break, and as death, so much so that one may even wonder whether the profit of art is not inextricably tied to its expressions of loss. The Center for Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado at Boulder will spend this year exploring not only what the humanities and arts may tell us about loss and profit, but also how the humanities and arts are themselves affected by a world that increasingly defines profit and loss exclusively in economic terms.

The Center for Humanities and the Arts holds a year-long faculty and graduate student seminar
devoted to the theme, "Reaping Profits, Reckoning Loss." In addition, we will host a series of distinguished lectures and events, as well as a Colloquium on March 1–2, 2007. All events are free and open to the public.

Seminar Participants

Valerie Forman

Valerie Forman: Assistant Professor, Department of English | Professor Forman's research interests include early modern drama, gender and property in early modern England, early modern economic theory, and Marxist Theory. She is currently completing a book on the productivity of loss both in theories of the economy and in representations on the early modern stage. Focusing on the relationship between new dramatic genres and developing practices of overseas trade (especially those of the newly formed English East India Company and the Levant Company) the book brings together economic theory, the works of early "mercantilists," narrative accounts of merchants in the "Indies," and documents regarding England's trade with both the East Indies and the Ottoman Empire.

Donna Goldstein

Donna Goldstein: Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology | Professor Goldstein has written extensively on the intersection of race, gender, poverty and violence in Brazil and is the author of Laughter Out of Place: Race, Class, Violence, and Sexuality in a Rio Shantytown (California, 2003), which was awarded the Margaret Mead Award in 2004. Drawing on more than a decade of experience in urban Brazil, Goldstein tells the stories of impoverished women who cope with suffering, violence and social abandonment. She has also written about the impact of neoliberal policies on poverty in the US and about ethnic nationalism and Jewish identity in post-War Hungary. Her current research project focuses on the effects of pharmaceutical politics and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on local populations in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil.

Jill Heydt-Stevenson

Jill Heydt-Stevenson: Associate Professor, Department of English and Department of Comparative Literature | Professor Heydt-Stevenson's research interests include Romanticism, feminist and gender studies, the Romantic novel, and visual/verbal studies. She is the Associate Editor of the Cornell Wordsworth: Last Poems of William Wordsworth and the author of Austen's Unbecoming Conjunctions: Subversive Laughter, Embodied History (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2005). In the latter work, Professor Heydt-Stevenson investigates the role that dissident comedy plays in Austen's writings. Using sexuality as a lens upon circa-1800 literary culture, this book emphasizes the physical life of Austen's heroines, and contributes to recent analyses of popular culture and material history.

Peter Hutchings

Peter Hutchings: M.A. Candidate, Department of Comparative Literature | Peter's research interests include French and English Romanticism, theories and practices of translation, and didacticism in literature. His current research explores the relationship between faith and suffering in the Méditations poétiques of French poet and Second-Republic politician Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869). Outside of his work at the University of Colorado, Peter is the head of Creative Writing for the production company SophiArte, which is committed to promoting well-being through art and culture. He enjoys traveling, playing the piano, and writing poetry.

Audra King

Audra King: Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Philosophy | Audra's areas of specialization include ethics, social and political philosophy, feminist theory, critical race theory, and global justice. Her dissertation research is primarily in the areas of development ethics, social and political philosophy, and feminist epistemology. She employs certain views from feminist and pragmatist epistemologies to argue that the formulation of overarching visions of development, specifically those of ethically-based human development, requires more inclusive decision-making processes at the global level. Audra's aim is to show that insofar as mainstream development policy and practice has, at best, failed to promote the well-being of the worst off and, at worst, actually exacerbated their living conditions, it has done so partly because of the exclusionary decision-making processes within international institutions of development.

Thomas LeCarner

Thomas LeCarner: Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English | Thomas specializes in nineteenth century American literature, law & literature, and literary theory. In his current project as a CHA Fellow he is beginning the early stages of work on a project that will eventually become his dissertation. This project involves a comparison of the early iterations of the U.S. bankruptcy code in the nineteenth century and the literature of the period. Seeing bankruptcy as a legally sanctioned form of forgiveness, he will explore how and why this idea of forgiveness, which ultimately equates to a transaction involving profit and loss, manifests in the literature of the time. His most recent publication focuses on the biographical film "Derrida" and its impact on Lacanian film theory. He earned his M.A. degree in English from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, his J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law, and his B.A. in English from University of California, Irvine.

Cecilia Pang

Cecilia Pang: Assistant Professor/Head of Performance, Department of Theatre and Dance | Professor Pang is the Head of BFA Performance Program in the Department of Theatre at CU Boulder. She is first and foremost a theatre director and therefore has a variety of research/creative interests ranging from Classical Greek drama to new play development to Sondheim musical to Peking Opera and Kabuki Theatre. Her latest passion is a foray into documentary filmmaking. For her current project as a CHA fellow, she will research, write and create a documentary film about a group of solo performing artists who are also mothers, entitled "What Price Passion: Art and Motherhood." The project takes a multidisciplinary, multi-cultural, and cross-genre approach, by looking at a cross section of performance artists and exploring how motherhood affects their process of creating art; specifically in terms of rewards and sacrifices.

Micheline Van Riemsdijk

Micheline Van Riemsdijk: Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography | Micheline van Riemsdijk is a Ph.D. candidate in human geography. Her dissertation research focuses on the migration of registered nurses from Poland to Norway, and their experiences in the Norwegian labor market. The study investigates the ways Polish nurses are perceived by Norwegian employers, co-workers and patients, and how this informs attitudes and behaviors in the work place. The dissertation project builds on recent literatures on migration, whiteness studies and care work.

CU-Boulder Center for Humanities and the Arts

The colloquium will be held in the Center for British and Irish Studies (5th floor of Norlin Library on the CU-Boulder campus) unless otherwise noted.


7:00pm (Muenzinger Auditorium) International Film Series, sponsored by Conference on World Affairs Athenaeum, "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport." This Academy Award-winning documentary chronicles one of the lesser-known stories of the Holocaust: that of the kindertransport, which saved the lives of 10,000 Jewish children who were sent by desperate parents to England to seek refuge from Nazi oppression. Introduction and Q&A with director Mark J. Harris.



Opening of the Colloquium: Michael E. Zimmerman, Director, CHA
Welcome: Susan Avery, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Chancellor for Research


Panel 1: Negotiating Global Acquisitions
Chair: Carla Jones (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Donna Goldstein (University of Colorado at Boulder), The Negotiation of Sacred Goods: Pharmaceutical Politics in Late Capitalist Latin America
Aihwa Ong (University of California at Berkeley), Win-Win in Global Philanthropy?


Panel 2: Literary Transvaluations
Chair: Jeffrey N. Cox (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Mary Beth Rose (University of Illinois at Chicago), "Increasing store with loss and loss with store": The Economics of Suicide in Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra
Peter Hutchings (University of Colorado at Boulder), Fides Quaerens Intellectum: Lamartine and the Poetics of Transformation
Jill Heydt-Stevenson (University of Colorado at Boulder), Radiant Profits and Miserable Losses: Diamonds and Statues in Romantic Literature


Panel 3: Neither Gain nor Loss, Only the Trying
Chair: Polly McLean (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Cecilia Pang (University of Colorado at Boulder) What Price Passion: Art and Motherhood
Micheline Van Riemsdijk (University of Colorado at Boulder), Profiting from Loss: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of International Nurse Migration


Panel 4: Balancing Trade and Forgiving Debt: Forging the National Economy
Chair: Katherine Eggert (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Thomas LeCarner (University of Colorado at Boulder), The Humanization of a Nation: Forgiveness and Charity in the Literature and Law of 19th Century America
Valerie Forman (University of Colorado at Boulder), Renegades, Tunisian Pirates, and the Development of Balance of Trade Theory in Early Modern England


First Keynote Address: Bill Brown (University of Chicago), Commodity Nationalism and the Lost Object
Introduction: Nan Goodman (University of Colorado at Boulder)



Panel 5: Philosophical Prospects
Chair: Claudia Mills (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Audra King (University of Colorado at Boulder), Something Old, Nothing New: A Gendered Analysis of the Millennium Development Goals
Maria Talero (University of Colorado at Denver), Exploring Groundlessness and Loss: Sartre, Heidegger and the Human Condition


Second Keynote Address: Harry Berger, Jr. (University of California at Santa Cruz), Discursive Profit and Loss in Shakespeare's Language-Games
Introduction: Katherine Eggert (University of Colorado at Boulder)


Panel 6: The Human Costs of Anti-Semitism
Chair: Ruth Mas (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Mark J. Harris (University of Southern California), Breaking the Cycle
Paul Shankman (University of Colorado at Boulder), Discussion with Mark Harris