Adventures in Ideas: Humanities Seminars

Sponsored by the Fulton School of Liberal Arts and the Whaley Family Foundation. Adventures in Ideas Humanities seminars feature outstanding faculty from the Fulton School of Liberal Arts exploring important social, cultural, or moral topics.

2018-2019 Seminars

Artificial Intelligence in Science Fiction and Film: Pain and the Pathways to Personhood

with Drs. T. Ross Leasure and Timothy Stock

The HBO series reboot of Michael Crichton’s 1973 film, Westworld, participates in a long literary and cinematic tradition (from Frankenstein to Blade Runner 2049) as it postulates a theory of consciousness, and ponders the ethical implications of the creation of artificial intelligence. In particular, the new series posits the centrality of suffering to the formation of individual identity, and challenges assumptions about personhood with regard to non-human minds of our own making. The program will examine the notion of consciousness-as-maze, mysterious and potentially perilous, and our continuing exploration of that concept through fiction and film (like Asimov’s Bicentennial Man and Garland’s Ex Machina) as human beings come ever closer to creating ‘thinking machines’ constructed in their own image.

To enable you to participate fully in this discussion it is recommended that you watch Alex Garland's 2015 film, Ex Machina (streaming on Amazon Prime and Netflix) and the first season of the HBO series Westworld.

1968 at Fifty

with Drs. Dean Kotlowski and Danielle Cumming

In the US, there were assassinations, riots, anti-war protests, and a presidential campaign like no other. Abroad, there was the Tet Offensive, unrest in Paris and Prague, and Olympics in Mexico. Paramount was the music—the age’s soundtrack. Join us for a historical and cultural journey back to 1968, the year America and the world seemed to be “coming apart” and yet held together.

Thoreau, Adventure, Anarchism, and Zen

with Dr. Donald Whaley

History professor emeritus Donald Whaley will examine how Henry David Thoreau combined ideas from Buddhism, anarchism, and adventure literature to create his philosophy.