Daniel H. Wilson is Cherokee author from Portland, Oregon. He is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author and robotics engineer. He is the author of Robopocalypse, Amped, and The Clockwork Dynasty, among other publications.
He earned an M.S. in Robotics and in Machine Learning, and a Ph.D. in Robotics in 2005 at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His thesis work, entitled Assistive Intelligent Environments for Automatic Health Monitoring, focused on providing automatic location and activity monitoring in the home via low-cost sensors such as motion detectors and contact switches. He has worked as a research intern at Microsoft Research, the Xerox PARC, Northrop Grumman, and Intel Research Seattle. Also, he hosted a series on the History Channel entitled The Works, where he explained the hidden workings of everyday items.
In this guest lecture, Daniel H. Wilson is going to talk to us about his novel Robopocalypse. In the near future, a massively powerful artificial intelligence called Archos is created and cannot be contained. In those early months, only a handful of technological glitches are noticed by humans, as Archos starts to take over our cars, aircraft guidance systems, military robots, and computer networks – enslaving the entire global system that runs our lives. Then comes Zero Hour: The robot war suddenly ignites and as all the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us, the human race is both decimated and for the first time in history, united. In the devastation that follows, humankind must destroy its own civilization to survive.
In the context of contemporary Indigenous Literature, Robopocalypse is revolutionary. It tackles issues of kinship, panhumanism, and indigenous futurism. The latter, employs tropes of science fiction to convey a decolonial narrative. Through techniques such as slipstream, worldbuilding, and First Contact scenarios, Robopocalypse constructs a speculative future that forces the reader to redefine the notion of humanity as such.
Moustafa Bayoumi (Brooklyn College, City University of New York) David Sirakov (Atlantic Academy Rheinland-Pfalz) Sean M. Theriault (The University of Texas at Austin) Chad E. Seales (The University of Texas at Austin)
Everyone is welcome to join us for this series of guest lectures on the status of American democracy!
Please see below for all details or click here for an overview of the program.
The Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies organizes a lecture series by internationally renowned fellows of the Obama Institute and eminent critics of current crises and challenges of democracy as visible in the United States of America and elsewhere. For long, American democracy has served as an exemplary model for the introduction and practice of democratic principles which have inspired and determined transnationally the growth of nations. Germany is certainly one of the prime examples. In his publications, Barack Obama has repeatedly addressed issues of democracy in crisis and questioned for whom democracy works at home and abroad. „And so the world watches America … to see if our experiment in democracy can work“ and he continues to believe „in the possibility of America—not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind“ (A Promised Land). We will begin with the following lectures:
2.20 p.m. “That’s the thing about the Americans. They’ll believe anything but the truth.”: What reading Guantánamo Bay Literature Can Tell Us About the Future of American Democracy – Moustafa Bayoumi
Abstract: Since near the beginning of the War on Terror, the American penal colony in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba has been considered by many to be an “exceptional” space, a prison seeking to exist beyond the reach of the laws of war. But what happens if we consider Guantánamo Bay as something “ordinary” instead? In so doing, do we discover, within this very ordinariness, an even more pressing threat to the future of American democracy? This lecture takes up these questions and examines them through reading some of the contemporary literature that has been produced out of Guantánamo Bay.
Bio: Moustafa Bayoumi is the author of How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America (Penguin) and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror (NYU Press). He is also the co-editor (with Andrew Rubin) of The Edward Said Reader (Vintage), which was recently reissued in an expanded edition as The Selected Works of Edward Said (1966-2006). Bayoumi is a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Nation and is a professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
3.15 p.m. The Populist Moment: Populism and Polarization in the US – David Sirakov
Abstract: Political and societal polarization in the U.S. at least over the past 30 years has paved the way for the rise of populism and the electoral victory of Donald J. Trump. In his talk, David Sirakov explores the meaning and interrelation of these two phenomena that so profoundly shape US politics and society today.
Bio: Dr. Sirakov is the director of the Atlantic Academy Rheinland-Pfalz. He studied political science and public law at the University of Trier and obtained his doctorate on the U.S.-Russian relations in the Bush-Putin era (2000-2008) at the Technical University Kaiserslautern. His research focuses on polarization in U.S. Congress and American society, the rise and challenges of authoritarian populism, U.S. foreign policy and transatlantic relations. Amongst others, he is a member of the advisory boards of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies.
4.15 p.m. American Politics and the Midterm Elections 2022 – Sean M. Theriault
Abstract: Professor Theriault will describe the status of American politics at the end of 2021 with an eye toward the 2022 midterm elections. He will place these elections into a broader context taking into consideration both the lessons from history and the polling of today. He will end his presentation with his predictions of what is likely to transpire in November 2022.
Bio: Professor Theriault, who is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Government Department at the University of Texas, is fascinated by congressional decision-making. He is the author of five books and numerous articles and is currently researching the effect of interpersonal relationships within the U.S. Congress. Professor Theriault, whose classes include the U.S. Congress, Congressional Elections, Party Polarization in the United States, and the Politics of the Catholic Church, has won a number of the biggest teaching awards given on campus. Before obtaining his Ph.D. from Stanford University (2001; M.A. in Political Science in 2000), he attended the University of Richmond (B.A., 1993), and the University of Rochester (M.S. in Public Policy Analysis, 1996).
5.15 p.m. The System Will Not Be Labeled: Industrial Food and American Democracy – Chad E. Seales
Abstract: This talk examines the relationship between the industrial food system and participatory democracy in the United States. It focuses on the lack of transparent labeling for Genetically Modified (GM) foods, despite citizen support for effective federal legislation, to show how the marketing of biotechnology obscures relationships between production and consumption. On the side of production, biotech companies clearly brand and market GM seeds to farmers, in order to protect their proprietary claims. However, on the side of consumption, biotech companies do not reveal GM ingredients of food products produced through industrial agriculture. The goal of the talk is to consider how the producer/consumer split is part of a broader American secularism that hides the very industrial and consumer religions it produces within neoliberal democratic ideals of free markets, personal choice, and moral goodness.
Bio: Chad Seales is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Brian F. Bolton Distinguished Professor in Secular Studies. He taught at New College of Florida in Sarasota and George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia before arriving at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned a B.A from the University of Florida, an M.T.S. from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research addresses the cultural relationship between religion and secularism in American life, as evident in the social expressions of evangelical Protestants, the moral prescriptions of workplace chaplains and corporate managers, and the salvific promises of neoliberal capitalism. He is the author of Religion Around Bono: Evangelical Enchantment and Neoliberal Capitalism(Penn State University Press, 2019), and The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town(Oxford University Press, 2013),and has published articles on industrial religion, corporate chaplaincy, religion and film, and secularism and secularization in the United States.
Come join us for the annual Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, where we will hear a lecture on “Graphic Narratives of the Middle Passage” by Prof. Dr. Daniel Stein from the University of Siegen and will give out awards for outstanding undergrad and PhD work.
Following the Obama Lecture and Award Ceremonies, please join us online on MS Teams for Dr. habil Philipp Reisner’s Öffentliche Antrittsvorlesung on “Crises of Faith in Jonathan Franzen’s Fiction and the Role of Theology in American Studies”
The Obama Institute welcomes Prof. Hugh Sheehy, author and Professor for Creative Writing and Literature at Ramapo College, NJ. Prof. Sheehy will spend the winter semester 2021/22 as a teaching fellow of the German Academic Exchange Service (GAAS/DAAD) at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, where he will offer seminars on the American short story as well as a creative writing workshop.
Prof. Sheehy is the author of several award-winning short stories and two forthcoming novels. His collection of stories, The Invisibles (University of Georgia Press, 2011), has won the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award and has since been translated into French. His fiction has appeared in magazines such as Five Points, The Cincinnati Review, The Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, The Antioch Review, Crazyhorse, and Copper Nickel, as well as in The Best American Mystery Stories 2008. His critical work has been published in several outlets, including the L.A. Review of Books. He sits on the advisory board of the Hong Kong Review. In his teaching, Prof. Sheehy focuses on creative writing of long- and short-form prose as well as poetry.
The Obama Institute and Johannes Gutenberg University are excited to have Prof. Sheehy join our team this semester. We look forward to offering JGU students a unique round of courses and workshops that will allow them to engage with American literature in new ways, by approaching writing from a maker’s perspective. We thank the GAAS/DAAD for making this visit possible.