UAH

UAH Liberal Arts Speakers Bureau

Would you like to have a guest speaker for your school class, community organization, or club?

Faculty members of the UAH College of Liberal Arts are interested in sharing their knowledge, ideas, and talents. This page contains information about some of these faculty members, their interests, and subjects about which they are prepared to make presentations. Because an important mission of the University of Alabama in Huntsville is to disseminate the results of its faculty's research to the community, there is no charge for these presentations! It is our job to share our ideas and expertise and we enjoy doing it.

To request a speaker, please either complete the form at the bottom of this page or contact the Associate Dean of the College, Dr. Andrew Cling at clinga@uah.edu to arrange for a presentation.

Participating Faculty

berbrierMitchell Berbrier (Sociology)


"The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity" 
What do the terms "race,"  "ethnicity" and "minority" really mean? Some people think that these things are meaningless terms, others that they are extremely important. Some think we should ignore these group boundaries, while to others they are at the heart of their personal identties. This talk offers a sociologist's perspective on how such groups are created, why they persist, why they change, and whether these are real things or not. Warning: Mildly entertaining.

Irena BuksaIrena Buksa (Foreign Languages and Literatures)

Dr. Buksa is a specialist on Russian language, literature, and culture. Here are some of the talks that she is prepared to give:

"Why study Russian?"

"Russia yesterday and Today"

"The Golden Age of Russian Literature: An Overview"

a.clingAndrew D. Cling (Philosophy)

Professor Cling's research is focused on problems about the nature and limits of knowledge and on the relationship between the mind and the body. Some talks he is prepared to give include:

"Is the Mind the Same Thing as the Brain?"
The mind and the brain seem to be closely connected since damaging the brain can damage the mind. But is the mind nothing but the brain? I consider various ways in which it has been claimed that the mind and the brain are the same and various objections that have been raised to these views.

"What is Thinking Critically and How Can We Do It?"
To think critically we need to understand arguments: reasons given in support of claims. In this short talk, I present some simple and powerful techniques for identifying, analyzing, and evaluating arguments, including some tips for spotting common fallacies in reasoning.

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Erin Colwitz (Music)

Erin Colwitz received her Bachelors of Music from the University of Minnesota in 1998 in education.  She taught in the Centennial/Lino Lakes School District for four years while also singing professionally with the Minneapolis-based Grammy-nominated Dale Warland Singers.  Dr. Colwitz later completed the Master of Music (2004) and Doctor of Musical Arts (2007) degrees from the University of Southern California in choral music with minors in musicology, sacred music and music education.Dr. Colwitz is the Director of Choirs at the UAH.  She conducts the Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, teaches conducting, music history, and choral methods.  Dr. Colwitz is an active adjudicator and clinician.  She is founder and advisor to the ACDA student chapter at UAHuntsville and serves on the Alabama ACDA board as the Repertoire and Standards Chair for Community Choirs.  Dr. Colwitz is also a national board member and the Alabama representative for the National Collegiate Choral Organization.

"The Fab Four: The Legacy of the Beatles (1957-1970)"
Many are aware of the Beatles fame and influence, but the Beatles' musical legacy is far more profound than many realize.  The Beatles impact was felt and heard throughout pop music almost immediately following their debut album released in 1963.  It is a lesser known fact that many classical composers, as well as pop and rock musicians, were influenced by Lennon and McCartney, and to a lesser extent Harrison and Ringo Starr.  George Martin, the Beatles long-time friend and producer had a profound influence on the Beatles sound and therefore, significant influence over music of all genres going forward.  This lecture, which is really only a cursory glance of the Beatles' contributions to music, will touch on their humble beginnings in Liverpool, England and follow their careers through to their break-up in 1970.

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Glenn T. Dasher, Dean (Art & Art History)

Glenn Dasher, Dean of the UAH College of Liberal Arts, has been an active sculptor for over 30 years, specializing in the creation of surrealistic assemblages utilizing the processes of stone carving, metal fabrication, and bronze casting.  He came to UAH in 1985 as a professor of sculpture after having taught at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.  His work has been exhibited in over 70 national and international juried exhibitions, over 25 solo museum and gallery exhibitions, and is in collections across the U.S.

"The History of Stone Carving"

"The History of Bronze Casting"

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Rolf J. Goebel (Foreign Languages and Literatures)

Professor Goebel is an expert on modern German literature, aesthetics, and media studies. He has a special interest in the way in which cities are represented in literature. Some of the talks he is prepared to give include:

"German Music, Poetry, and Philosophy: Interdisciplinary Explorations"
Since the age of Romanticism, poets and philosophers have explored answers to questions about music that music itself apparently cannot answer itself: Why does music move us like no other art? Is music a universal language? Does music express metaphysical truths? What is the connection of music to other arts? The talk explores some of these interdisciplinary issues. 

"German Poetry in the Age of Digital Media"
The talk explores ways in which German poetry (and poetry in general) may create spaces of aesthetic sensibility, attentive reading, and intellectual reflection in an age of accelerated data processing, instantaneous communication, and the consumerist over-supply of images promoted by digital media.

"Walter Benjamin: The Fate and Triumph of a Modernist German Literary and Cultural Critic"
The talk explores the life and works of the German-Jewish cultural critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940), whose immensely important writings on literature, the philosophy of history, Messianic thought, technological media, and the modern metropolis resonates with some of the most important issues of our own times. 

 GyasiKwaku Gyasi (Foreign Languages and Literatures) 

Dr. Gyasi specializes in modern French literature that has been written by citizens of former French colonies. Some of the talks he is prepared to give include:

"African Literatures and Cultures"

"French Literature and Culture"

"The Literatures and Cultures of French-Speaking Countries"

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Deboarah Heikes (Philosophy)

Professor Heikes is somewhat obsessed with understanding the nature of rationality and why, if this faculty is truly human, it has been understood so differently across time and culture. She is even more obsessed with the concept of objectivity—why we have to have it but can barely even hope to obtain it.  Oh, and by the way, she is also an expert in philosophy of the 17th and 18th centuries and will tell anyone who will listen why you cannot understand the first thing about philosophy today without understanding this period.     

"The Birth and Death of the Scientific Revolution"
By the 17th century, the Aristotelian science that had dominated western science for over a millennia, was in decline.  In its place was a new science governed by the strict laws of mathematics and objective observation of the world. Yet as powerful as this new science has become, it has taken less than three hundred years for its conclusions and methods to be seriously challenged. The objectivity, determinism, and value-neutrality of Newtonian science are increasing difficult to maintain, even for practicing scientists.  This lecture addresses the ideals of the Scientific Revolution and how advancements in science and philosophy over the last century have led us to question those ideals.  

"Why Reason Needs Emotion"
During the Enlightenment scientists and philosophers became convinced that reason and emotion were entirely separate faculties and that if one wanted to understand the world, one had to entirely divorce oneself from feelings and emotions. Despite the fact that this division has produced some seriously warped views of the world, many people still consider emotions to be irrational and unnecessary for (or even opposed to) proper reasoning. This lecture discusses the historical reasons for the divide between reason and emotion as well as why this division is widely considered untenable today. 

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David Johnson (Foreign Language and Global Studies)

David Johnson (Foreign Languages). Dr. Johnson is an expert on contemporary German literature and culture. He is also the Director of the UAH Global Studies Minor and is especially interested in the globalization of the contemporary world.

"Globalization and the US Southeast"
This lecture examines the benefits and challenges that the multifaceted phenomenon of globalization poses for the southeastern United States. The lecture discusses changes to the culture and economy of the south brought by immigration, outsourcing, and the infusion of new manufacturing (for example: the car manufacturers). 

"Culture and Globalization"
This lecture examines the ways in which globalization challenges local identities and cultures, but also helps reinforce them. Globalization is not simply about making tastes and interests the same around the world. A McDonald's does not look the same in Mumbai as it does in Huntsville. Local practices have strong influence on globalizing trends, helping shape and reshape them in ways that make them unique in different parts of the world.

"The History of the European Union and its Present and Future Challenges"
The European Union has led to an unprecedented era of peace as well as increased trade and wealth for its member states. The sovereign debt and Euro crises, however, have revealed flaws in its political and economic structures, and there is much uncertainty about the future of the EU. Will national and cultural differences tear the EU apart? Or will solutions be found to keep the EU together? This lecture explores the history of the EU and examines the possibilities and challenges for its future. 

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Molly Johnson (History and Women's Studies)

"How Did the Nazis Win Power?"
This lecture looks at the rise of the Nazi party from a small, marginal group in 1919 to the centerpiece of a dictatorship by 1934, examining economic, social, and cultural factors behind this political shift.  

"Nazi Propaganda and Power"
This lecture looks at how the Nazis made masterful use of a variety of propaganda techniques, including the new technologies of radio and film, to boost their power. 

"Gender, Race, and the Politics of Fertility in Nazi Germany"
This lecture looks at women's roles in the Third Reich, particularly how women's experiences varied by their racial categorization.  It also examines how state reproductive policies affected women's lives.

"The Holocaust in Historical Context"
This lecture examines the Holocaust within the broader context of Nazi racial policies and the Second World War.

 Nick JonesNicholaos Jones (Philosophy)

 

Dr. Jones' research is focused on problems in the philosophy of science and on Asian philosophy. Some topics on which he is prepared to talk include:

"Karma, Yoga, and Morality in Hinduism"
When it comes to understanding the notions of karma and yoga, American popular culture gets almost everything wrong. Karma is not the idea that what goes around comes around; and yoga is not the practice of making one's body bendy and flexible. In this talk, I focus on the way in which the founders of the Hindu tradition understand karma and yoga, and the way in which they develop a system of morality on the basis of these notions.

"Will the Real Scientific Method Please Stand Up?"
Many introductory science textbooks discuss something called "the scientific method." This method, the authors of these textbooks tell us, consists primarily of four stages: observation, hypothesis formation, hypothesis testing, and drawing conclusions. What one finds, however, in paying attention to how science works is that these accounts are not correct. They leave out important details, and the details they include are presented in a way that distorts what actually happens during scientific inquiry. In this talk, I focus on the hypothesis testing stage of the scientific method, providing case studies that illustrate the nuances of scientific practice.

John KvachJohn F. Kvach (History)

Dr. Kvach teaches Southern history, the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and public history. One talk he is prepared to give is:

"Never Say Never, Never Say Always: How To Always Approach the American Civil War and Never Regret It"
This presentation against using absolute terms and claims when discussing history and to begin using more nuanced approaches. I will focus on the American Civil War and highlight how beliefs about history can be distorted, changed, and manipulated to shape current discussions about the past. The audience will be asked to think about how they use the word "facts" and to question what they see and read.

"The Emancipation Proclamation in Civil War Alabama"
Who freed the slaves? Was it Abraham Lincoln, Union troops, or the slaves themselves who ended slavery in the United States? Learn more about slavery in Huntsville and Madison County while gaining a better understanding of how the Emancipation Proclamation changed the future of Alabama. Listen to passages taken from diaries and private letters that highlight how white masters and black slaves felt about freedom and bondage in Alabama.

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Linda Maier (Foreign Languages and Literatures)


Professor Maier is a specialist on contemporary Spanish literature, especially the literature of Latin America and the work of Jorge Luis Borges. Some of the talks she is prepared to give include:

"An Introduction to Argentine Author Jorge Luis Borges"

"An Introduction to Spanish and Spanish American Poetry"

"How to Prepare a Typical Spanish Dish: Tortilla de patatas, or Spanish Potato Omelet"

"Foreign Language Majors and Minors: Transitioning from Community College to the University of Alabama in Huntsville"

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Jeffrey Neuschatz (Psychology)

Dr. Jeffrey Neuschatz (Psychology). Professor Neuschatz is an expert in memory and eyewitness testimony. He has extensive experience both as a researcher and as an expert witness on eyewitness identification in criminal trials.

"How Reliable is Eyewitness Testimony?"
Common sense holds that eyewitness testimony is second only to confession as powerful evidence in criminal trials. This talk uses the results of some important experiments in cognitive psychology to show the ways in which eyewitness testimony, and memory generally, is subject to systematic illusions. Examples from actual criminal trials will be used to illustrate sources of memory error.

"Psychology and Criminal Trials"
Drawing on his extensive experience as an expert witness, Professor Neuschatz discusses interesting cases in which he has participated and what these cases show about the science of psychology, the criminal justice system, and how the two are, and ought to be, related.

Pottenger

John Pottenger (Political Science)

Professor Pottenger teaches and researches issues in classical, medieval, and modern political philosophy; contemporary political theory, Christian and Islamic political theology, and religion and politics in civil society. Presentations and workshops include the following topics:

"Religious Liberty and the Founding of the American Republic"
An overview of the religious and secular arguments that influenced the founding of the American republic.

"The Logic of Liberal Democracy"
The philosophical assumptions and premises that sustain the logical structure of modern politics.

"Justice and Civil Society"
The promise, performance, and limits of achieving justice in modern civil society.

"Political Theology: Ethics and Radical Social Critique"
A consideration of liberation theology as radical critique of modernity.

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Clarke Rountree (Communication Arts)


Professor Rountree is a specialist in rhetoric, especially political and legal rhetoric. He has written extensively on former President George W. Bush. Some of the talks he is prepared to give include:

"Ancient Rhetoric in Aristotle's Time"

"George W. Bush: The Chameleon President"
George W. Bush is a much more complex political figure than some popular caricatures suggest. This lecture discusses the varied and competing ways of understanding the 43d president.

"Getting to Brown v. Board of Education: The NAACP's Strategy for Overturning Plessy v. Ferguson."

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Christine Sears (History)


 Dr. Sears specializes in American history with a special focus on comparing different systems of slavery and the early American republic. Some talks she is prepared to give include:

"Lynching and Ida B. Wells' Anti-Lynching Crusade" 
Born in 1862 of Mississippi slaves, Ida B. Wells grew up to be a powerful speaker and lobbiest for African American rights. In this talk, I consider the historical context and meaning of her work given US race relations in Jim Crow America following the Civil War. Most importantly, Wells fought the myth that black men were lynched because they raped white women. We will look at her ground-breaking investigation and journalistic reports that exposed the “Red Record” of Southern lynchings. This presentation can be geared to consider Wells’ rhetorical approaches in writing and speeches.

"Slavery in the Atlantic World" 
This talk examines how and why plantations and African slavery developed in the Atlantic Word. Why did planters start using African slaves? How did African slaves live and what work did they do in the New World? While looking at the period from 1400 to 1700, this talk considers the early use of African slaves in the New World, particularly the growth of sugar plantations and their use of African slaves, particularly in Brazil and the English Atlantic.

"Women in American History: The Path to Suffrage" 
Although many American women could and did vote prior to the 19th Amendment, women’s suffrage was a hotly contested issue in American history. This talk considers women’s work for as well as against suffrage and considers how suffragists and anti-suffragists argued for their causes and how they portrayed one another.  We will look at legal developments affecting women’s rights, particularly voting rights, as we investigate the battle for women’s suffrage.

"Westward Expansion, Andrew Jackson, and Indian Removal"
Americans experienced multiple changes in the mid-19th century, including the growth of a capitalist economy and market, several reform movements, ideas about Manifest Destiny and westward expansion, and the ability of all white men to vote. In this talk, the audience is asked to consider Andrew Jackson’s roles in these changes and whether he is a symbol for the age or if it is, as some have suggested, “The Age of the Common Man.”

PaviPavica Sheldon (Communication Arts)


"Social Media Uses and Gratifications"
What are the main motivations for social media use? Why do people play Facebook games? How do we self-disclose on Facebook? What are gender differences in Facebook use? Who are the people who do not use Facebook? How do students and teachers maintain their relationships on social network sites?

sitaramanBhavani Sitaraman (Sociology)

 Dr. Sitaraman conducts research on the sociology and anthropology of  gender and globalization. Her research has explored public opinion on abortion politics in the United States, cultural construction of domestic violence in India and  culture and work in transnational call centers  Some of the talks she is prepared to give are:

 

Clothing Matters:  The Controversy Surrounding  Muslim Veiling 
The headscarf and other forms of Muslim women’s dress have emerged as powerful symbols of collective identity that are also politically controversial in many countries. Is the veil a symbol of women’s oppression?   This talk examines the cultural, historical and global context of this controversy .

Are Americans Pro-choice or Pro-life?
Public opinion surveys are often used to argue that Americans are pro-life or pro-choice in their support for or opposition to abortion. How do we evaluate and understand these claims from the critical perspective of social science?  This talk answers this question using examples from my own research and other public opinion surveys.

Culture and Domestic Violence in India
Cultures vary in whether, when, and how they define and deal with domestic violence as a social problem. This talk illustrates these differences by examining the cultural understanding of domestic violence in India.

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Eric Smith, English

Dr. Eric Smith specializes in the areas of Modern and Contemporary British and Postcolonial Literatures and has published on a wide range of topics from Bram Stoker'sDracula to James Joyce's Ulysses to contemporary popular cinema. He is available to discuss the following topics:

"Utopian and Dystopian Literature"

"Postcolonial Science Fiction (and other topics in SF)"

"Globalization and Literature"

"Contemporary Caribbean Literature"

"Zombies in American Culture"

"Modern and Postmodern British Literatures"

Dr. David Stewart

David Stewart, Art History

Dr. Stewart on "Why I’m an Art Historian:" I love to travel toEurope. I love to look at art. I love to get paid to travel and look at art. I love to take my students with me, and I love to learn from them.

I teach 19th, 20th, and 21st century art. Studying the history of art convinces me more and more everyday that there is always something new under the sun. Ideas and art change as fast as technology. Ten years ago Facebook reshaped the world and very few people  could have imagined the impact it would have. The pace of change is what I love to study. Understanding past revolutions helps me understand just how radically different our future will be from our present. I find that exciting.

"Revolutions in Art"