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Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at TU Announces 2014-15 Fellows

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at The University of Tulsa has announced its inaugural class of fellows for the 2014-15 academic year. The nine individuals selected from applications submitted earlier this year include TU faculty and students as well as members of the Tulsa community. They are engaged in wide-ranging creative and research activities surrounding the idea of privacy — a topic the center will explore through lectures, symposia, public debates, readings and exhibitions.

The faculty fellows include Aaron Higgins, assistant professor of art, focusing on digital media; Robert Jackson, associate professor of English and a specialist in film and southern American literature; Benjamin Peters, assistant professor of communication and associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; Tamara Piety, the Phyllis Hurley Frey Professor of Law at TU and a senior research scholar in law at Yale Law School; and Karl Pollin, associate professor of French and comparative literature.

They will be joined by two students: Hope Forsyth, a senior Presidential Scholar majoring in communication and media studies; and Kathryn Webb-DeStefano, a master’s student in English interested in the way women are depicted in theater and experimental film. The center also has named two public fellows: Wayne Greene, editorial page editor for the Tulsa World, where he writes a weekly column and blog; and Preston Smith, a computer scientist at Hewlett Packard, who is interested in helping others understand the concept of privacy within the information technology environment.

We hear about privacy constantly in the news and worry about it every time we send an email, share a digital photo or update a Facebook page. But what exactly do we mean by privacy? And how has the concept changed across time and between cultures? This is a question that only the humanities can fully answer and each of the center’s fellows will explore in distinct ways. Professor Higgins, for example, uses digital art to represent the experience of privacy in a world filled with cameras, while Professor Piety writes about how companies collect and use consumer data — often without our consent. And while Professor Jackson is interested in how society defines privacy as an individual good, Mr. Greene has been a staunch critic of government secrecy and the hazards it poses to our civic wellbeing. All of these topics and more will be debated during a seminar and the results shared in a series of public events that will take place this fall and spring.

The Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at The University of Tulsa was founded in early 2014 when an interested group of faculty and administrators gathered with the shared goal of developing a public think tank focused on enduring questions about history, identity, ethics, memory, art, music and literature. Sean Latham, Walter Endowed Chair of English and Comparative Literature at TU, was named the center’s founding director. Each year, the center will focus attention on a single topic designed to help us better understand what it means to be human.

For more information about OCH and its programs, please visit

Sean Latham