The WIIH invites scholars, artists, and other distinguished guests based on an annual theme that connects the humanities to other fields of study. Through the WIIH, visitors share their expertise in large venues and intimate settings with members of the Wheaton community. Via lectures, performances, exhibitions, and discussions, we give students and colleagues the opportunity to explore ideas more deeply by engaging with expert practitioners who are often teacher-scholars, by sharing innovative intellectual inquiries with our undergraduates and by creating a forum for thoughtful exchange in and beyond the Wheaton community.
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This year’s theme will aggregate and amplify student activism in our Wheaton community, with a focus on social justice and environmentalism.
Intersections of Digital, Cinematic and Environmental Humanities
9 March 2022
Colombian American poet and activist, Carlos Andrés Gómez
Colombian American poet Carlos Andrés Gómez, star of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and Spike Lee’s #1 box office movie Inside Man with Denzel Washington, will perform his original work on Wednesday March 9th at 6:00 PM in Holman Room, Mary Lyon Hall. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing with Gómez. Carlos Andrés Gómez is the author of Hijito, for which he was awarded the Foreword INDIES Gold Medal and the International Book Award for Poetry in 2020, and the coming-of-age memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood, released by Penguin Random House in 2012. His most recent book, Fractures, was selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as the winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry.
This year’s series of events enacted the humanities by expressing our shared human experience through collaborations with dynamic artists, healers, and expert scholars. Led by Playwright-in-Residence Charlotte Meehan in partnership with Provost Renée White, and Professors M. Gabriela Torres, Stephanie Burlington Daniels, Kirk Anderson, and Wheaton undergraduates, the Institute is hosting two powerful and inspiring performance events in the fall and a two-day participatory symposium on narrative medicine in the spring.
This programming provides Wheaton students and the whole community with opportunities for experiential learning, inclusive conversation, art making, ritual healing, and storytelling. We will use these occasions to choose the generous life of the mind and to celebrate its transformative power together.
Narrative Medicine and the Healing Arts: A Participatory Symposium
6-7 March 2019
A two-day celebration of holistic healing practices for body, mind, spirit, and community. Yoga workshops, story circles, poetry, drama, and sharing through music will be complemented by ceremonial meals to bring the Wheaton community into a new state of mindfulness around contributing to a peaceful and just world from within. Yoga master Maya Breuer, playwright Brenda Foley and Irene Strong Oak Lefebvre, founder of the Visioning B.E.A.R Circle Intertribal Coalition, join together to bring Wheaton students and the whole community into two full days of thinking, moving, and healing.
Haas Visiting Artist and poet, Sarah Gambito, and performance artist Robbie McCauley read from their works. Professor Gambito, director of Fordham University’s MFA creative writing program, brings a poet’s mind to psychic, emotional, and physical healing. Emerson College Professor Emerita Robbie McCauley uses methodologies of theatre and storytelling to address charged issues of race and to frame the personal through the large. Hosted by Professors Charlotte Meehan, Stephanie Burlington Daniels and Gabriela Torres.
Abena Koomson-Davis: Songs of Transformation
1 November 2018
Abena Koomson-Davis, Musical Director of the Resistance Revival Chorus, will bring the most beloved works of African American poetry into song with Wheaton’s own Voices United to Jam and other students for the whole community. Discussion with Provost Renée T. White, Ms. Koomson-Davis, Olivia Bennisan ’19 (SGA President) and Candice Appiah ’21 (ICB Chair) to follow the performance. All are invited to a special dinner in the Chapel Basement afterwards.
Reverend Billy Talen & Savitri D: Performing Resistance
26 September 2018
Savitri D and Reverend Billy Talen are co-founders of the New York-based radical performance community, “The Church of Stop Shopping.” The core of the group are singers and musicians, known as “Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir.” They are known as activists-who-sing. They visit Wheaton after years of activism against the toxicity of Monsanto and Bayer, with concerts in Trump Tower, at EPA hearings, and at the Statue of Liberty. Because some of the Stop Shoppers are from Peru, South Korea, Ethiopia and Ireland, they are targeted by immigration police, with nine arrests this year.
This year’s events provided Wheaton students and the whole community with opportunities for experiential learning with a diverse roster of distinguished guests. They created occasions for celebration, collaboration, and creative means of interpreting our world today through courses and a series of events from impactful theater, to discussion about gastronomic objects, to a performance by a MacArthur genius, and a conversation about Islamic law.
Conspiracy Theories: The Humanities, Values, and Careers
1 May 2018
Dr. Paula Krebs is the Executive Director of the Modern Language Association and was a professor of Victorian literature and English Department chair at Wheaton College where she taught for 20 years. She discusses the importance of the humanities in higher education and in our world today.
Sharia to the People: Breaking the Interpretive Monopoly on Islamic Law
27 March 2018
Rumee Ahmed, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Associate Professor of Islamic Law at University of British Columbia, will speak on contemporary Islamic interpretation of the Qur’an.
Guillermo Gómez-Peña: The Most (un)Documented Mexican Artist
21-22 March 2018
In his latest solo work, ‘El border brujo’ internationally acclaimed MacArthur fellow Guillermo Gómez-Peña draws from his 30-year-old living archive and combines new and classic performance material to present a unique perspective on the immediate future of the Americas. His self-styled “imaginary activism” invokes performance art as a form of radical democracy and citizenship. This spoken word performance includes multiple cameos by collaborator, Balitronica Gomez.
The next day’s performance workshop is open to all Wheaton students.
The Gastronomic Object: A Conversation with Rosemary Liss ’11
13 November 2017
Wheaton alum Rosemary Liss ’11 and Professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus discuss her art work that explores the connection between taste and embodied experience. Among the topics covered will be flavor profiles, making a mess, and intuitive womb movements.
Say It With Food
14 November 2017
An interactive installation of food, art and conversation composed and performed by artist in residence Rosemary Liss ’11 and the students of the “Rituals of Dinner” First Year Seminar.
Making Personal, Historical, and Topical Occurrences into Impactful Theater: A Multimedia Lecture by video artist and playwright James Scruggs
3 October 2017
James Scruggs presents a multimedia talk/dialog/workshop focusing on his career as a writer, performer and producer of large-scale theatrical works often exploring race, racism and gender politics. Actor and director Mark Rayment will join the discussion, particularly around the development of the new work 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show, which Sleeping Weazel will premiere at Boston Center for the Arts in early November.
Afterwards, Director Mark Rayment engages students in an improvisational workshop on creating theatre as social practice.
This year’s events presented an interdisciplinary education forum that prepared all participants — students, faculty and staff — to embark on a conversation about the multidimensional intersection of identities.
Resist Competes in 2017 LGBTQ Shorts Film Festival
6 July 2017
The WIIH presents Resist, an insightful and beautiful short documentary about queerness and queering. Leury Holguin ’19 (double major in Film Production & Social Change and Hispanic Studies) directs this crisp production and Sol Martínez Guevara ’19 (double major in Sociology and Hispanic Studies) share their experience and understanding of queerness.
Making Suffering Visible: Critique in Queer Left Activism and Anthropology
9 March 2017
The WIIH presents a lecture by Margot Weiss, Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University and specialist in Queer theory and feminist anthropology is the author of the award winning ethnography, Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011). The book analyzes BDSM by linking spectacular performances of race, gender and sexuality to class, consumerism and the social dynamics of late capitalism.
International Women’s Day
8 March 2017
WIIH holds a public event in the Dimple to commemorate International Women’s Day.
Queer Politics, Bodies of Color and Islam
1 March 2017
WIIH presents a lecture on Queer Politics, Bodies of Color and Islam by Imam Daayiee Abdullah.
Workshop on Queerness and Queering
10 February 2017
Presentation and Table Talk Session with the Board of Trustees: “Humanities at Wheaton: Queerness, Interpretation, and Artistic Expression.” Prof. Montserrat Pérez-Toribio and Prof. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus
Panel on Masculinity
29 November 2016
The Triangle and the Unicorn: On Gay and Lesbian Politics and Queer and Transfeminist Biopolitics
14 November 2016
Marie-Hélène/Sam Bourcier, Professor of Cultural Studies and Queer and Gender Studies, is a queer activist and theorist who teaches at the University of Lille. He is the translator of Monique Witting and Teresa de Lauretis and one of the first thinkers to have introduced queer theory in France. He has written extensively on queer culture, theory and politics; sexual subcultures; feminisms and postfeminisms; and minority identities in France and in other countries. He is the author of the Queer Zones trilogy: Queer Zones 1, Politique des identités sexuelles et des savoirs (2001), Queer Zones 2, Sexpolitiques, (2005) and Queer Zones 3, Identités, Cultures, Politiques (2011).
Freddie Mercado: My Life in Transgression
25-26 October 2016
The Creative Writing Program and the Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities (WIIH) proudly present performance artist and painter Freddie Mercado. Sponsored by the Dale Rogers Marshall Visiting Artists Program Endowed Fund within the Evelyn Danzig Haas ’39 Visiting Artists Program with support from the SGA Venture Fund.
Performance artist Mercado is one of the greatest advocates of the performing arts in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. His performative work has acquired an international dimension through his participation in important expositions and shows in Dominican Republic, Spain and United States. Freddie Mercado’s work explores the ambiguity and transgression of the human being. Through humor, sound and a spectacular Baroque atmosphere, his thought-provoking performative interventions stimulate not only the senses, but also engage the viewer in a self-reflection about the variability and instability of identity categories.
Amplify: A Celebration of the Humanities
6 October 2016
WIIH co-director, Professor Montserrat Pérez Toribio, along with two Wheaton students, Gavriel Cohn and Pia Parisi-Marcoux, attended the 2016 Celebration of the Humanities presented by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. This council promotes public understanding and appreciation of the tradition of thought and accomplishment that we call the humanities. Its work is based on the conviction that history, literature, philosophy, theology, civics, the arts and other fields of the humanities are central not only to formal education, but to the daily lives of a free and diverse people. Professors Shawn Christian and Touba Ghadessi are both board members of the Council.
WIIH and QTPOC Present: Mala Mala
15 September 2016
Screening of Mala Mala, a 2014 Puerto Rican documentary film directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles.
This year’s theme aimed to approach questions of gender and social justice from a range of cross-disciplinary perspectives and widen our knowledge of these questions through a variety of programs and experiences. A series of lectures, workshops, art exhibitions and other events provided students with a cross-disciplinary understanding of the ways in which scholars, researchers and activists address and engage with issues related to social justice and initiatives promoting social justice throughout the world.
WIIH Sponsored Student Approaches to Sexual Assault Prevention
2 & 4 May 2016
Presentations of Medical Anthropology and Violence Against Women students on their ideas for change to Wheaton’s sexual assault prevention materials, a semester-long project in WIIH-affiliated courses culminating in group proposals.
The Violence of Care
28 April 2016
A lecture followed by discussion with Sameena Mulla, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Marquette University (WI), about her most recent book The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses and Sexual Assault Intervention.
Jane E. Ruby Lecture: Redefining Rape
23 March 2016
The annual Jane E. Ruby lecture, this year by Estelle Freedman, Edgar E. Robinson Professor of History at Stanford University, on her formative book Redefining Rape, a history of rape that demonstrates that our definition of rape has depended heavily on dynamics of political power and social privilege.
Gender, Sexual Health Promotion, and the Practice of Public Health
7 December 2015
An alumni mentor panel composed of Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz ’94, Vice President of Programs and Development at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Co-Founder of Intersections/Intersecciones Consulting; Valerie Tobia ’07, Integrated Behavioral Health Clinician at the Family Health Center of Worcester; and Sophie Howard ’14, Health Care Assistant at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
Public Speaking Workshop
9 November 2015
A talk for WIIH fellows by Jennifer Madden, Visiting Instructor of Theater at Wheaton College.
Data Visualization Workshop
5 November 2015
An interactive workshop for WIIH fellows with Patrick Rashleigh, Data Visualization Coordinator at the Rockefeller Library of Brown University.
Craig Werner: Outreach Teaching
26 October 2015
A lecture on the role of academia in promoting social justice by Craig Werner, Professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and participant in the Odyssey Project.
Social Media Workshop
8 October 2015
A conversation for WIIH fellows with Antonio Jakes, Associate Engagement Manager at Carrot Creative and alumnus mentor, about social media marketing.
5 October 2015
An interactive workshop for WIIH fellows to learn from Martha Peterson, Chief Strategist at Mercury Media and alumna mentor, about social media, project management, and marketing.
Grant Writing Workshop
28 September 2015
A workshop for WIIH fellows to learn the fundamentals of grant writing, led by Marcia Cone, C.E.O. and Founding Executive of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (2005-2014).
Creativity, Community, and Social Justice: Photography and Democracy”
23 September 2015
A lecture and discussion with Cedric Nunn, documentary photographer from South Africa, in conjunction with two special exhibits of South African resistance art in the Beard Gallery (“Unsettled: One Hundred Years War of Resistance” and “Johannesburg in Print”).
This year’s events had a profound impact on Wheaton students, who acquired professional skills, made valuable art industry contacts, and greatly benefited from the varied and diverse approach to learning.
Goya and Beethoven: Finding a Voice out of Silence
19 November 2014 – 9 January 2015
This exhibition, created and organized by Professor Evie Staudinger’s Art History class, Impossible Monsters: Goya as Painter and Printmaker featured prints by the artist from Wheaton’s Permanent Collection, including one that was donated in December 2013 by Alexander B.V. Johnson and Roberta J.M. Olson, and one that will be newly purchased by students in this class through the generosity of a fund provided by Kathy Denniston ’73.
This year’s events explored the relationship between knowledge and the humanities, asking how knowledge has historically been constituted and organized and how knowledge is constituted in today’s digital world.
April 20, 2014
2014 saw the inauguration of Wheaton Leaps, an event which brings recent Wheaton graduates back to campus to discuss their paths to success in the professional world.
19 March 2014
Using their respective explorations of the earth’s poles, Artist Jane Marsching and Geochemist Matt Evans shared their research, methodologies, and outcomes to elucidate the similarities and the differences between an artist’s and a scientist’s quest for knowledge.
Artist Jane D. Marsching explores our past, present and future human impact on the environment through interdisciplinary and collaborative research-based practices. Her project “Arctic Listening Post” explores climate change and sustainability through a multiplicity of voices that combine various materials such as film, photography, web-based production, and writing components.
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Geology Matthew Evans is working on a NASA-funded study of the connections between recent ice sheet melt, sea ice decline and enhanced ocean biological productivity on the coast of Antarctica. With Wheaton students, he is searching for a historical precedent for the rapid changes that are occurring in Antarctica, Greenland, and elsewhere.
The Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities was lucky enough to have Professor Evans and Jane Marsching participate in a dynamic panel discussion about the future of climate change, and the role of the humanities in shaping that discussion.
The event was a huge success, and was even featured in an article by Wheaton’s communication office. Of further note was the fact that this event was completely organized and moderated by student fellows of the WIIH, thus giving students an opportunity to expand their classroom learning in practical ways.
Art, Science, and the Cosmic Connection: A Lecture by Monica and Tyler Aiello
20 February 2014
This guest lecture by the Aiellos, in conjunction with their exhibition at Wheaton College, spoke to the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the role of art in emerging scientific fields.
In the space between art and science exists the artistic explorations of Monica and Tyler Aiello, the husband and wife team who translate the macro and micro of the Universe into form. Monica consults with noted scientists involved with NASA’s planetary missions to construct her astro-geologically inspired work. After extensive research, she creates her lush, glassy pieces by meticulously layering acrylic, varnish, ink and fiber – like strata to interpret the geomorphology of the planets and moons within our Solar System. Tyler’s elegant sculptures draw from the micromorphology within the organic world of biology, botany and chemistry using mathematics. He unites sensual, biomorphic forms using industrial materials such as wood, steel and light.
The event provided students with an intriguing opportunity to learn how the humanities continue to shape the discipline of science, in addition to illustrating the ways we navigate the information gleaned from scientific discovery. The work of Monica and Tyler Aiello speaks to the interdisciplinarity of knowledge and narrative expressed through scientific data and visual creations, and, as such illustrate the WIIH’s theme for this year.
The events of the WIIH’s inaugural year gathered experts in the fields of business, engineering, law, medicine, and science-technology who are incorporating the humanities as a coherent aspect of their practice. These events demonstrated the constructive ways in which the professional fields and the humanities — both independently and in conjunction with each other — can push the rigid boundaries that have defined them until now.
The Humanities Give Back: Inaugurating the WIIH
1 April 2013
This event, a gala round table discussion on the value of the humanities brought renowned scholars to Wheaton to discuss the state of the humanities in Higher Education today and the path to humanities revitalization going forward.
The WIIH’s official inauguration brought Dr. Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University and 2011 President of the American Historical Association back to campus to moderate a gala roundtable discussion featuring: Prof. Khiara Bridges (Criminal Law and Anthropology, Boston University), Prof. Rafael Campo (Internal Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Lesley University Creative Writing Program), Prof. Diana Dabby (Electrical Engineering and Music, Olin College of Engineering), Prof. Tara Nummedal (History of Science, Brown University Science and Technology Program), and Prof. Miguel Rivera-Santos (Strategy and International Business, Babson College and EMLYON Business School).
Practicing Medicine and Practicing the Humanities
28 February 2013
The WIIH’s inaugural season opened with four leading medical practitioners in the community discussing how they bring the arts and humanities into their profession. This event focused on the important role the humanities currently plays in fields traditionally thought to be isolated from the humanities.
The panelists spoke about how their backgrounds in the humanities enabled them to acquire the skills that would become crucial to their professional success. All four doctors stressed the fact that knowing the science was only part of the equation when it came to being an excellent physician. Equally important, when it came to treating patients, was the compassion and understanding of the human condition that can only be gained from having a rich background in the humanities.
Participants included Dr. Cheng-Chieh Chuang (Internal Medicine, Lakeside Family Practice), Dr. Melissa DiPetrillo (Internal Medicine, Boston University Medical School), Dr. Angela Leung (Endocrinology, Boston University Medical School), and Dr. Daniel Oates (Geriatrics, Granite Medical Group).