Letter from the Director

Submitted by Suzanne St Peter on

Dear Friends,

As fall draws to a close and winter settles in, I write with a brief update on CHID’s resilience in the midst of budgetary crisis and administrative restructuring. Since my last note in the spring, we have been fortunate to receive the green light to work toward CHID’s official move from “program” to “department” status. This process of departmentalization represents a significant moment in CHID’s history, as it solidifies our place at the University of Washington and offers exciting possibilities for programmatic growth. As always, we will move slowly and intentionally as we increase our faculty numbers and develop curricular offerings for our students. We are still moving through the necessary bureaucratic process, but I am hopeful that we will soon be able to announce an official shift toward the Comparative History of Ideas Department.

In the meantime, CHID faculty, students, and alums continue to impress and inspire. As you can read below, mathematician and CHID Affiliate Faculty member Jayadev Athreya offers a wonderful meditation on the significance of interdisciplinary, collaborative projects, such as his collaboration with the visual artist Timea Tihanyi. Reflecting on the ways mathematicians are “makers of patterns,” Athreya reminds us of the convergences in artistic and mathematic representational practices, offering one more example of the CHID spirit to reveal connections that are often obscured by the dusty divisions between disciplines and departments. Some of the work that resulted from this collaboration will be on display at the Center on Contemporary Art in March 2018. We hope to see many of you there.

In two notes from our alumni, we get a terrific sense of the intellectual range of our students. Radical environmental activist Nicole Bradford (now at Climate Direct Action) recalls her undergraduate days at CHID as a swirl of “erotic encounters with libraries,” “chronic anxiety in the classroom,” and “Nietzschean bravado.” Persuasively, she describes how this was the perfect preparation for her work in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and others on the front lines of environmental struggles. Cyrus Olsen, now at the University of Scranton, offers what at first blush seems like a very different narrative than Bradford’s as he moves us from his time at CHID exploring “Renaissance humanism” to his discovery of Jesuit spiritual and academic work, with a few Jesuit movie reviews along the way. Yet, like Bradford’s account, Olsen’s is a powerful example of CHID’s stance against “the globalization of indifference.”

Finally, just a few weeks ago, CHID selected our 2018-2019 Collaborative Learning and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy (CLIP) Fellows, Alan-Michael Weatherford (PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media) and Caleb Knapp (PhD Candidate in English). Weatherford and Knapp will join CHID next year to teach an extraordinary set of courses under the theme of Interrogating Carceral Logics, Practices, and Histories. Current CLIP Fellows Logan O’Laughlin and Jey Saung will conclude their CLIP Fellowship in Spring 2018 with an exciting co-taught course entitled Race, Reproduction and Sexuality.

As these exciting stories of math and art, environmentalism and social justice, and graduate student pedagogical innovation illustrate, the CHID community of students, staff, faculty and alums continues our rhizomatic adventures. Can’t wait to see where we go next!


María Elena García