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March 2010 Events


March 4, 2010
Central Europe Under Communism:  Material and Consumer Cultures
4 p.m.
Wende Museum, 5741 Buckingham Parkway, Suite E, Culver City
RSVP to or (213)740-8999

The Wende Museum, a fascinating collection of ephemera from the world of East Germany, is the venue for this exploration of daily life and consumer culture under Communism with Justinian Jampol (Director, Wende Museum), Patrick Patterson (UC San Diego) and moderator Joes Segal (Utrecht University/Wende Museum).

The event will begin with a tour of the museum, which will place particular emphasis on artifacts of East German consumer and material culture, including toys, magazines, clothing and radios. Next will be a panel discussion with Jampol, director of the museum; Segal, a history professor from Utrecht University and visiting curator at the museum; and Patterson, a history professor from UC San Diego and expert on consumer culture in Eastern Europe under Communism. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided.

A bus will be provided to take participants from campus to the Wende Museum and back. It will depart campus from Howard Jones field (off McClintock Avenue) at 3:15 p.m. and will return after the conclusion of the event at 6 p.m.

March 11, 2010
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Animals But Were Afraid to Ask Vegetables
Guest Speaker: Timothy Morton, Professor of English (Literature and the Environment) at UC Davis.
4 – 6 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240

Evolutionary science blurs the boundaries between species and variants, between one species and another species, between genera, classes and all the other Linnaean classificatory orders. As a matter of fact, evolution even makes us question the idea of thin, rigid separations between broad categories of life and non-life. In particular, the line between plant and animal, while seemingly obvious, is not as clear and tight as one might think. We shall explore what this blurred boundary (to say the least) implies for thinking about both plants and animals. Then we'll proceed to study how these implications invite new ways of thinking about poetry and poetics.

Timothy Morton is Professor of English (Literature and the Environment) at the University of California, Davis.  He is the author of many books and articles, including Ecology Without Nature (Harvard UP, 2007) and The Ecological Thought (forthcoming from Harvard UP in April 2010).

March 23, 2010
Spiritual Border Crossings
12 - 2 p.m.
University Club
RSVP to or (213) 740-8562

Thomas J. Csordas: “Catholic Charismatic Communities: A Global Geography of the Spirit.”

Karen Fjelstad: “Local Spirits/Transnational Rituals: Reconciling ‘Difference’ with Vietnam’s Mother Goddess Religion”

Thomas J. Csordas received his Ph.D. from Duke University, and is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of California San Diego. He is best known for his work in cultural phenomenology and embodiment, and has written about religious language, ritual healing, religion and globalization, and religious movements based on ethnographic research in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and in the Navajo Nation. His most recent book is the edited volume Transnational Transcendence: Essays on Religion and Globalization (University of California Press 2009). He is presently collaborating with Janis Jenkins in an NIMH funded project on adolescent mental health, entitled Southwest Youth and the Experience of Psychiatric Treatment.

Karen Fjelstad teaches Anthropology at San Jose State University and has done research on religion, gender studies, ethnopsychiatry and Vietnamese studies. She is the contributing editor of Possessed by the Spirits: Mediumship in Contemporary Vietnamese Communities (Cornell University Press 2008) and has also published on issues of transnational pilgrimages, globalization and immigration, and indigenous models of healing.

Spaces are limited for this lunchtime seminar co-sponsored by the Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Please RSVP to by March 21 to reserve a seat. Copies of the paper will be emailed to all those who RSVP.

March 23, 2010
Sensing the Gods:  Materiality, Perception and the Divine
3 - 6:30 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240

This half-day symposium considers the ways in which the sacred realm — worlds beyond everyday experience and earthly perception — are made materially manifest to the senses. How do material objects and spaces communicate and create knowledge about the divine? Recent trends in ritual studies and reception theory has underscored the power of both religious performance and images as agents of social, cultural, and political identity and change. Building on and expanding from such work, this symposium moves beyond the strictly visual study of sacred images to investigate how the sacred is constructed as perceivable to a wide range of bodily senses and understood through the material world of things. Reception to follow.

Introduction: Ann Marie Yasin (USC, Classics and Art History)


Glenn Peers (UT Austin, Art History), “Transformative Touches among Things in Byzantium”
Lisa Bitel (USC, History, Gender Studies and Religion), “Bruised by the Saints”
James McHugh (USC, Religion), “Seeing Scents: Multisensory Adornment in Indian Religions”
Milette Gaifman (Yale University, History of Art), “Strategies for the Creation of the Sacred in Greek Antiquity”

Speaker Bios:

Glenn Peers (University of Texas at Austin, Art History). Byzantine Art. Has published on the theoretical aspects of Byzantine art, as well as on theological and hagiographical problems. Books include, Subtle Bodies: Representing Angels in Byzantium (Univ. of California Pr. 2001) and Sacred Shock: Framing Visual Experience in Byzantium (Penn State University Pr. 2004). Currently working on twelfth-/thirteenth-century Eastern Christian art, Christian spolia in early Islamic contexts, and an exhibition on Byzantine materiality.

Lisa Bitel (USC, History, Gender Studies and Religion). Studies the social, cultural, and religious history of medieval Europe. She has written four books about religion and/or gender in early medieval Europe, and published articles about sex, dreams, architecture, and Christianity, among other topics. She is currently researching two books about religious vision: a book on the material history of medieval visions and a collaborative book about a modern-day vision event in the Mojave desert.

James McHugh (USC, Religion). Medieval South Asia. Research interests include the role of smell in religions, as well as the material culture of South Asian religions more broadly. At USC he teaches courses on South Asian religions and on the material culture of religion. His dissertation was entitled “Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in South Asian Culture and Religion.”

Milette Gaifman (Yale, Art History). Greek art. Currently working on the divine image in Greek religion from the naturalistic to the non-figural.  Recent and forthcoming publications include: “Statue, Cult and Reproduction,” Art History,(April 2006), 258-279; “The Aniconic Image of the Roman Near East,” in: The Variety of Local Religions of the Ancient Near East, Ted Kaizer ed., in the series Religions in the Greco-Roman World (Brill 2008), 37-72; “Framing Divine Bodies in Greek Art,” in: Framing the Visual in Greek and Roman Art, Michael Squire and Verity Platt eds., (Cambridge University Press forthcoming).


March 26, 2010
Beyond Neural Cartography
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Hedco Neuroscience Building (HNB) Auditorium

We have all used atlases to find our way around the world, and a photograph can be thought of as a "map" of what is in front of the eyes. These diverse notions of a map have intrigued neuroscientists ever since the first "homunculi" were discovered which mapped the body surface to cerebral cortex. In this one-day event, organized by USC College’s Tansu Celikel (Neuroscience), ten neuroscientists map the state of the art in studying maps in the brain. They will reveal for neuroscientist and non-neuroscientist alike how maps in the brain underlie the principles that govern sensory processing and perception and lead on to action.

The USC community is invited to attend any or all of the sessions to share this progress in understanding the brain.

Speakers include:

Michael Arbib (USC)
Jose Carmena (UC, Berkeley)
Tansu Celikel (USC)
Daniel Feldman (UC, Berkeley)
Ron Frostig (UC, Irvine)
Judith Hirsch (USC)
David Kleinfeld, (UC, San Diego)
Stefan Leutgeb (UC, San Diego)
Fritz Sommer (UC, Berkeley)
Charles Stevens (Salk Institute)


9:00       Welcome and Opening remarks “What is a Map in The Brain?”

9:30       Judith Hirsch (USC) Neural Representations of Visual Space and the History of the Receptive Field.

10:05     Fritz Sommer (UC, Berkeley) How are Visual Features and Their Context Represented in Neural Activity?

10:40     Chuck Stevens (Salk Institute) Map Scaling: How They Change with Size

11:15     Coffee Break

11:30     Ron Frostig (UC, Irvine) Cortical Maps: Stability vs Plasticity

12:05     Dan Feldman (UC, Berkeley) Cellular Mechanisms that Regulate Point Representations in Sensory Maps

12:40     Stefan Leutgeb (UC, San Diego) Attractors in spatial maps: Differences Between Hippocampus and Enthorhinal Cortex

1:15       Lunch Break

2:00       Jose Carmena (UC, Berkeley) Emergence of a Stable Cortical Map for Neuroprosthetic Control

2:35       David Kleinfeld (UC, San Diego) A Tale of Two Maps: The Merge of Exafference and Reafference in Vibrissa Cortex

3:10       Tansu Celikel (USC) Sensory Map as a Spatial Template for Memory Storage

3:45       Michael Arbib (USC) A Multitude of Maps: From Perception to Planning to Action

4:20       Coffee Break

4:30       Round Table: Are maps incidental or functionally essential to brain organization?



Events and details subject to change. For more information, email