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The Humanities Center presents Laptop Lectures

Faculty discuss their research expertise and COVID-19

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Pepper Stetler

By Avery Treend, university news and communications intern

Pepper Stetler, associate professor of art history and associate director of the Humanities Center at Miami University, recently organized the Laptop Lectures series to keep people engaged in the humanities during this pandemic.

Stetler took some time to answer a few questions about the lecture series.

What was the inspiration for the series?

Steve Conn, a Miami faculty member, had mentioned that there was another school doing an online lecture series, so I thought it might be interesting to do it in remote learning. It would be a way for the Humanities Center to stay visible in people’s minds and be at the forefront of what people are thinking about.

What is the main goal of the videos?

Miami faculty record themselves for 1-2 minutes. They see how their research might correlate with the pandemic. I told Steve Conn he had to be the first to record because he brought the idea to my attention. Now that we have several under our belt, there have been many volunteers.

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Steven Conn

Is there a theme to these videos?

All of the laptop lectures have to do with the pandemic. The videos are meant to be some kind of reflection to showcase what’s going on right now in various capacities. There are a lot on history and comparing to early historical moments or health crises. There is one gerontology professor who discussed the models and conventions of aging narratives that have been conformed to certain stereotypes.

Will you be uploading your own lecture?

Perhaps I should just admit that I've been more focused on the production and organization of the laptop lecture series and haven't put enough time into how I could contribute. I plan on contributing to the series in the future, focusing on how news photography of the COVID-19 pandemic is drawing on the photographic styles popular during the Great Depression.

Do you have any other concluding thoughts about this project?

We are trying to get many different facets of humanity disciplines as well to diversify it. We are hoping to continue posting every other day. I was really excited about this project because everyone was so focused about making the most of teaching and learning. This was a great opportunity to show how Miami faculty impacts the world in other ways.

Laptop Lectures can be found here on Miami’s Humanities Center website. The speakers and topics include:

Andrew Casper, associate professor of art: "The Shroud of Turin in the Age of COVID-19"

Steven Conn, W.E. Smith Professor of History: Cities and Epidemics

Kimberly Hamlin, associate professor of history: Voting Rights in a Time of Pandemic

Erik Jensen, associate professor of history: The Diaries of Käthe Kollwitz

Kate de Medeiros, O’Toole Family Professor of Sociology and Gerontology: Narratives of Aging in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Allan Winkler, Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus: A New New Deal?