When colloquia collide.

Today was full of academic excellence here at the UW — so much so that I had to split my time between a couple of amazing visiting speakers who were both giving multiple presentations over the course of the day at the same times. The African environmental historian Jim McCann of BU gave today’s CHE colloquium, in which he shared with us a work in progress on food and cooking in Ethiopia. For the History of Science colloquium we had David Rosner of Columbia, who spoke about being a historian in the courtroom. Rosner — who, Anna reminded me, appeared in Judith’s film Blue Vinyl (which you should go rent now if you haven’t yet seen it) — has written about occupational health and hazards, in particular silicosis and mining, vinyl chloride and the petroleum industry, and lead poisoning and the lead/paint/pigment industry. Most recently, he’s been involved in a number of cases relating to the effects of lead paint on children growing up in public housing and other housing stock finished in lead paint, beginning with the landmark case in Providence, RI a few years back. His was a truly inspiring talk that made you really want to go out and do publicly relevant work, and one of the best department colloquia I’ve been to; I hope that I can find such an important and meaningful topic. And I’m definitely putting Deceit & Denial on my prelims list.
Afterwards, a few of us went down to the Union and talked over a pitcher of the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (the legend lives on!). All in all, a day to truly make one happy to be here in Madison — even, I might venture to say, to make one glad to be in graduate school.

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