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Humanities Center Names Four Faculty Fellows for 2017-2018

Posted 04/04/2017
Submitted by Nicholas Ealy
Category: Campus Announcements

Four University of Hartford professors have been named Faculty Fellows of the Humanities Center for 2017-2018: Karen Cook, Marco Cupolo, Larry Gould and Jack Powell.

Each fellow will be working on a scholarly project related to the 2017-2018 theme of the Humanities Center Seminar, “The Secular and the Spiritual,” developed and led by Richard Freund, Greenberg Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies.

Each fellow will also give a talk as part of the Spring 2018 lecture series associated with the theme.

Karen Cook, assistant professor of music history in the Hartt School, will present a lecture titled “Hearing the Spiritual in Video Games” that will explore how certain video game soundtracks utilize pre-existing sacred music in order to designate a particular space, time period or world as spiritual. In the talk she will examine how the use of such music can however problematize this spiritual aspect and end up supporting racist, xenophobic and/or religiously intolerant worldviews.

Marco Cupolo, associate professor of Hispanic studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, will talk on “Today’s Revival of Caudillismo and the Cult of Bolívar in Venezuela,” which will treat the ways in which Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez transformed the cult of Simón Bolívar, his country’s national hero, into a political religion for his supporters. As such, Cupolo posits, Chávez was able to promote “Chavism,” a controversial populist and socialist interpretation of “Bolivarianism,” which has resulted in making Venezuela not only a failed state but a place in which numerous institutions – including the Catholic Church – have had to lead a fight against the country’s current deterioration.

Larry Gould, professor of physics in the College of Arts & Sciences, will discuss “Science and the Secular Spirit,” an exploration of why a reason-based approach is fundamental to science as well as a guide to values. In the talk, Gould will argue that human-based moral principles cannot be rationally derived by an appeal to a religious base or from an emotional base, but rather from a scientific (observation- and evidence-based) approach.

Jack Powell, professor of psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences, will explore the question “Does Spirituality Make Us Happier, Healthier and Nicer?” by drawing upon tensions in current psychological studies that examine how religion, spirituality and secularism are used to measure mental health, physical health and behavior. As Professor Powell states: “Psychology and religion have had an ‘interesting’ relationship, especially since the days of Freud. Most of the time, the relationship has been conflictual. So, I always enjoy the opportunity to discuss ways that psychology and the methods employed by psychologists can help us understand the important roles that religion and spirituality play in our lives.”

The Humanities Center Honors Seminar is a two-semester course for honors students. The Lecture Series on “The Sacred and the Spiritual” in the Spring 2018 semester is open to all students, faculty and staff as well as members of the community. Lectures begin at 7:30 in the Mali Lecture Hall, and are free and open to the general public. The Humanities Center at the University of Hartford supports interdisciplinary scholarship focusing on the humanities through arts, sciences, technology, media, psychology, history, film, philosophy, music and literature. For more information, contact Nicholas Ealy, interim director, at