Winter 2018

Adapting “In Sight of the Lake” into the short film “Piano Lessons”: Creative Research in Medical Humanities 
Dr. Marlene Goldman  Department of English, University of Toronto, Toronto
January 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm in IC318

Marlene Goldman argues that novelists, poets, and dramatists play a profound role in any period’s understandings of illness and disease. In the case of late-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, language—specifically, clusters of familiar metaphors and literary genres such as tragedy and the Gothic—constitutes the central medium for the ongoing interplay between biology and culture. The idea that fiction more than medicine is responsible for shaping our concepts of disease is central to her recent book, Forgotten: Age-Related Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in Canada. Her training in literary studies enables her to step back from authoritative and popular narratives about aging and age-related diseases to consider how they are narratively constructed and whose interests they serve. In her talk, she will explore the profound relationship between literature and gerontology. She will also screen her own short film “Piano Lessons” based on Alice Munro’s story “In Sight of the Lake.” Ultimately, she argues that the humanities play an important role in both entrenching and challenging ageist conceptions of both old age and age-related illnesses.

Bio: Dr. Marlene Goldman is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto who specializes in Canadian literature, age studies, and medical humanities. She recently completed a book entitled Forgotten: Age-Related Dementia and Alzheimer’s in Canadian Literature on the intersection between narrative and pathological modes of forgetting associated with trauma, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2017). She is currently writing a book entitled Performing Shame: Simulating Stigmatized Minds and Bodies. In addition to her scholarly works, she has also written, directed, and produced a short film about dementia entitled “Piano Lessons” based on Alice Munro’s short story “In Sight of the Lake” from her collection Dear Life (2004). At present, she is adapting the story “Torching the Dusties” about aging and intergenerational warfare from Margaret Atwood’s recent collection Stone Mattress (2014) into a short film. She is the author of Paths of Desire (University of Toronto Press, 1997), Rewriting Apocalypse (McGill-Queen’s Press, 2005), and (Dis)Possession (McGill-Queen’s Press 2011). For more information about Dr. Goldman’s research, film making, and publications, please see her website:


Cultures of worker protest in South Korea: Space, Infrastructure and the Politics of the Body.

Prof. Jennifer Chun  Department of Sociology, University of Toronto Scarborough
February 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm in AA160

Dramatic acts of resistance and solidarity are a mainstay in South Korea’s political landscape, especially for protesting workers and the broad base of union activists, students, religious leaders, progressive party members and human rights proponents that support their struggles. While many labor and social movement scholars have examined the instrumental, organizational and structural factors that promote strategic forms of collective action, much less attention has been paid to the embodied, spatial and infrastructural dimensions of public protests. Why do people engage in extreme acts of protest, particularly acts that involve exceptional sacrifice and a high level of social suffering? How do extreme protest acts utilize the built environment, including the streets, the public squares, the transport systems, and the capitalist infrastructure itself, to express and carry on oppositional cultures of resistance and solidarity over time and place? What does the dynamic character of protest cultures reveal about the expectations and aspirations of dissenting political subjects? This talk seeks to advance knowledge about the shifting dynamics cultures of protest among South Korean workers by sharing findings from extensive field research conducted over the past decade.

Bio: Jennifer Jihye Chun is Associate Professor in Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Korea, housed at the Asian Institute in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. She is the author of the award-winning book Organizing at the Margins: The Symbolic Politics of Labor in South Korea and the United States (Cornell University Press, 2009) as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles on gender, labor, migration and social movementsCurrently, she holds a SSHRC Insight grant for a collaborative project with Professor Ju Hui Judy Han on “Protesting Publics in South Korea.” She is also engaged in research collaborations on immigrant women workers and care worker organizing in California and global comparative approaches to studying informal and precarious worker organizing. In 2017, she was named a Research Excellence Faculty Scholar at the University of Toronto Scarborough. 


Pushing past tired debates in invasion biology: a close look at the propagule pressure hypothesis. 

Prof. Julie Lockwood  Department of Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University
March 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm in AA160

Invasion biology began to emerge as a distinct field in the early 1990s, and since then the number of hypothesis proffered to explain and predict patterns and impacts of species invasions has grown exponentially.  This growth is a healthy sign for any scientific field, but there also comes a point where debate surrounding some hypothesis grow stale.  I argue that this is the case for the propagule pressure hypothesis.  I’ll describe evidence showing that this hypothesis has solid empirical and theoretical support, and thus providing yet more evidence is not terribly helpful. I will then dig deeper into the mechanisms behind the hypothesis highlighting substantial gaps in our knowledge that are critical to address if we are to make headway within basic and applied aspects of invasion biology.


Bio: Julie Lockwood, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, obtained her PhD in Zoology from the University of Tennessee and is currently a Professor in Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources at Rutgers University.  She and her lab group seek to document the fate of biodiversity in the wake of global change, with a particular interest in biological invasions.  Her current research topics include socio-economic connections in invasion science, the use of eDNA in species surveillance, the role of the pet trade in producing vertebrate invasions and extinctions, and the conservation of species in urbanizing coastal ecosystems.


The science and philosophy of evolutionary theory.

Prof. Massimo Pigliucci Department of Philosophy, The City University of New York
March 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm in AA160

One often hears talk of ‘paradigm shifts’ in science in general and in evolutionary biology in particular. In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about the differences between the Modern Synthesis of the 1940s and ‘50s and various proposals for an Extended Synthesis that accommodates novel empirical discoveries and conceptual advances made over the past several decades. But is the Extended Synthesis an example of paradigm shift in biology? What is a paradigm shift, anyway? In this talk I present two major examples of theoretical transitions in biology – the move from natural theology to Darwinism and the move from the Modern to the Extended Synthesis – and defend the view that the first but not the second one represented a genuine paradigm shift, arguably the only time in the history of biology in which any such shift has occurred.


Bio: Prof. Massimo Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He currently is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, the nature of pseudoscience, and the practical philosophy of Stoicism. Prof. Pigliucci has been elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack.”