Two seminars next week: Sarah Fox and Robert Appelbaum

Due to the Collaborative Future-Making symposium on Tuesday and Wednesday, there is no K3 seminar this week. But we will return with two seminars next week, both taking place in the K3 Studio, fifth floor of Niagara:

On Monday, November 18 at 15.15-17.00

Sarah Fox, Postdoctoral Fellow, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University: Looking Out from the Stall: Hygiene Resources, Maintenance, and the Internet of Things

On Wednesday, November 20 at 10.15-12.00

Robert Appelbaum, Senior Professor of English Literature, K3: The Renaissance Discovery of Violence

Below you will find abstracts and short bios.

Sarah Fox: Hygiene Resources, Maintenance, and the Internet of Things


Restrooms may appear far from contemporary sites of innovation. But over the past decade, corporations and public institutions have begun developing internet of things (IoT) technologies for these spaces in ways that increasingly define people’s experiences of hygiene resources. Drawing on a 3-year multi-sited ethnographic study, Sarah Fox will discuss how digital technologies entwine with existing forms of collaborative labor to sharpen managerial control of public restroom access and maintenance. Informed by this work, she will describe her collaboration with local activists and custodial staff to reimagine these technologies. Across 18 months throughout the city of Seattle, she developed and deployed a networked sensor designed to support the needs of people without regular access to everyday hygiene resources. This work highlights and contends with a tendency for IoT devices to prioritize concerns for cost-reducing efficiencies and regulatory techniques, rather than support collective responsibility—a concern of increasing importance as design and human-computer scholarship attends to data ethics in public life.


Sarah Fox is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Her research focuses on how technological artifacts challenge or propagate social exclusions, by examining existing systems and building alternatives. Her work has earned awards in leading computing venues including ACM CSCW, CHI, and DIS, and has been featured in the Journal of Peer Production and New Media and Society. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington and has worked in design research at Microsoft Research, Google, and Intel Labs.

Robert Appelbaum, Senior Professor of English Literature, K3: The Renaissance Discovery of Violence


Violence has a history, affected by factors ranging from technological developments to the structure of the household. The representation of violence in art and literature has a history too. In the first place, it documents changes in the history of violence. In the second place, it plays a role in moulding sensibilities, of calling attention to the uses and abuses of violence, of examining heroism, perfidy and victimhood, of bringing spectators and readers not only to see but also to feel what violence is, and of exploring what we can or ought to feel about it.

In this introductory presentation of my VR-funded project on the Renaissance Discovery of Violence, I call attention to writers like William Shakespeare and Matteo Bandello, an Italian novelist, as well as to painters like Michelangelo Caravaggio. I argue that beginning in the fifteenth century, if not sooner, violence was de-normalized in Europe – writers and painters began addressing violence as an exception in human affairs. In addition, representations of violence were subjected to aesthetic reflexivity. In other words, violence increasingly came to be seen as an expression of a grievous will to power which needed to be tempered with self-restraint and observed, at least sometimes, with horror. 


Born in New York City and educated at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, Robert Appelbaum is Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Uppsala University and Senior Professor in Arts and Communication at Malmö University. Currently the Erik Allardt Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, he is the author of numerous essays on literature, culture and history, and six books, most recently Terrorism Before the Letter: Mythography and Political Violence in England, Scotland and France 1559-1642 (Oxford, 2015) and The Aesthetics of Violence: Art, Fiction, Drama and Film (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017). In addition to completing his project on Renaissance violence, he is editing a volume for Bloomsbury, A Cultural History of Myth in the Renaissance and a special issue for Studia Neophilologica, “Is economic inequality also a literary problem?”

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