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October 2010 Events


October 7, 2010
Artists and Scientists Consider Becoming Animal
4 – 6 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240
Part III of a Series of V
To secure your spot please RSVP to:

This event brings together a panel of experts for a dynamic conversation on the human/animal divide as understood in radically different contexts from the lab to the art gallery. In the first presentation, Rachel Mayeri and Deborah Forster discuss their work on the social, political and erotic lives of primates. Mayeri, a video-maker and art curator, works closely with Forster, a cognitive scientist and the two have produced a video titled “Baboons as Friends.” In the second presentation, LA artist Sean Dockray will discuss his project Ameising 1, a pheromonal portrait made by Argentine ants, with Deborah Gordon, a Stanford University based biologist who runs an ant lab.


October 19, 2010
The Infrastructural Human: Food Circuits
4 – 6 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240
To secure your spot please RSVP to:

Part I of the Infrastructural Series

As individuals and as collectives, humans are – ever more so – deeply reliant on technological systems, or infrastructures, that serve to feed us, salve our thirst, carry away our waste, keep us warm, illuminate our nights, and connect us with others. The development and extension of these systems, in turn, is fundamental both to individual experience and to the capacity for collective action. Strangely, these complex, extensive and fragile infrastructures of living typically do not enter into discussions among humanists, social scientists and natural scientists about the nature of the human, about our ethics and our politics. This event will seek to address this gap, focusing on how our systems of food circulation shape us as individuals and as members of a collectivity.


  • Elizabeth Dunn, University of Colorado-Boulder, "The Pasteurized State: Raw Milk, Public Health, and the Making of Modern Governance."
  • Christopher Otter, Ohio State University, "Planet of Cows: Cattle Breeding and the Emergence of the Global Meat Complex."


  • Susanna Hecht, University of California, Los Angeles, focuses on political ecology but her results have major implications for climate change adaptation, mitigation and longer term rethinking of longer term resilience strategies.


October 21, 2010
The 2010 Nobel Prizes: Who/What/Why, Part I
12 – 2 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240
To secure your spot please RSVP to:

"Who got the Nobel prize for Peace this year...?"
"What about for Physics...?"
"Really?! Why did she get it? What did she do...?"

If we are asking these questions, it must be October, and Nobel Prize season. Each year, in a pair of lunches, The College Commons brings together the USC College community to chat about the scholars, writers and public figures awarded the prizes, the years of work and imaginative striving behind them, and what makes their work so resonant. Come and hear about the gossip, the anecdotes,  the personalities involved, and of course, the ideas and the work. There'll be faculty with expertise on the various prizes  at the lunches, helping to lead the discussion. Join in the conversation, have some lunch, and make some discoveries yourself!

This year, the first lunch will focus on Physics, Physiology/Medicine, and Peace. The second Nobel lunch, focusing on Chemistry, Literature, and Economics, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 26.


October 22, 2010
Are Celebrities Mortal?
Cemetery Tour Preview
3– 5 p.m.
Gross Seminar Room, Ray Irani Hall (RRI)
NEW time and place due to President Obama's speech

To secure your spot please RSVP to:

At his Staples Center memorial service last year, Michael Jackson was eulogized as an eternal source of healing and love. Speaker after speaker associated him with Christ-like transcendence, conflating his fame on earth with eternal fame in heaven. This seemingly arbitrary association between the dynamics of celebrity and of religion points to a deeper truth endemic to our fame culture: stars function as gods both while embodied in human form and after.

In this panel discussion, USC faculty Leo Braudy, Anne Porter, and Diana Blaine will examine the mechanics of fame and how they relate to larger cultural questions surrounding identity and mortality in the modern age. Of special consideration will be the memorializing of dead stars in popular culture as well as a cross-cultural study of the socio-political function of the commemoration of the dead. Be sure to attend this panel in order to join us on October 23 for a field trip to Hollywood Forever cemetery.


October 23, 2010
Dead Hollywood
The Tour
Bus departs at 9 a.m.
Greater Los Angeles Area
Event is currently at capacity, to place your name on the waitlist please RSVP to:

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, billing itself as the “resting place for Hollywood’s immortals,” houses some of the most famous stars to have ever graced the silver screen. Join Professors Anne Porter and Diana Blaine for a tour of this fascinating graveyard as they examine the relationship between fame and immortality.

Because this cemetery combines conventional ritual burial with modern digital technology, participants will see how memorializing impulses attempt to establish notions of transcendence in the face of human mortality for both the famous and the unknown. Even those who never achieved fame on earth become stars at Hollywood Forever.


October 26, 2010
The 2010 Nobel Prizes: Who/What/Why, Part II
12 – 2 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240
To secure your spot please RSVP to:

The second of the two lunches hosted by The College Commons in which USC College faculty discuss the year’s awards, including describing the crucial work, offering insights into its relevance and perhaps handicapping the other possibilities?


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