Dyson Seminars in the Humanities and Social Sciences
New York City campus • Spring 2020

Monday, February 24
12:10pm - 1:10 p.m.
Civic W626, New York City campus

Speaker: Roger Salerno, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Pace University

Title: Fear City Cinema and the Social Construction of New York: 1965-1995


This is a critical socio-historical analysis of New York City as it was portrayed in a collection of films made between 1965 and 1995, which the author has termed “Fear City Cinema”. It also deals with one of the bleakest periods of New York City’s modern history—one characterized by race riots, blackouts, police corruption, skyrocketing crime rates, racial paranoia, “white flight”, serial killers, and, of course, graffiti saturated subway cars. This was a time when cities were regularly portrayed in the news media as cauldrons of deviance, violence, sadism, disease, and greed. However, this study examines how such images resonated with and intensified existing anti-urban sentiment in the United States and promoted distorted views of cities which shifted public policy and resources from a focus on ending poverty to an emphasis of locking people up.

About the Speaker: Dr. Roger Salerno is a professor of sociology and the founding chair of the Sociology/Anthropology Department here at Pace University in New York. He holds degrees in business, urban planning, sociology and is a licensed psychoanalyst. He served as an urban planner with the City of New York in the early 1970s, worked in community development in East Harlem, and served as a lead budget analyst for the City’s Office of Management during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His teaching has focused on social theory, urban sociology and human identity. His research has emphasized urban development, modernization and social change. He has written six books and numerous articles on the history of social thought ranging from Landscapes of Abandonment (2003) to Boyhood and Delinquency (2017). He is currently working on two book projects, simultaneously, both of which have to do with New York City (of which he is a native) during the financial crisis of the 1970s. Tone of the two projects is an examination of what he refers to as “Fear City Cinema” –films produced during this same period that promoted dark and frightening images of New York City. It is this project that he will focus on here.


Monday, March 9
12:10pm - 1:10 p.m.
Civic E317, New York City campus

Speaker: Andrés Villagrá, Professor of Modern Language and Cultures, Pace University

Title: Autobiography, Memory, and Identity in the Generation of the Pact of Silence in Spain


Having reached maturity and spurred on by the editorial and public interest in autobiographical writing since the 1990s, a number of Spanish authors published memoirs of childhood under Francoist regime and the first democratic elections in 1977. The members of the so-called “Generation of the Pact of Oblivion” or “Generation of the Political Amnesty” confront stories of the post–memory, or selective memories deep-rooted by hegemonic discourses anchored in “historical amnesia” or a “Pact of Silence”. This is particularly relevant since Spanish democracy inherited Francoist political, economic and historical narratives that persist today. This study will address issues of history and memory through contemporary Spanish autobiographical modes of representation.

About the Speaker: Dr. Andrés Villagrá is a Professor of Modern Languages.  He received his PhD from Syracuse University in 1992.  As a specialist in autobiography and Spanish literature in exile, his work has been published literary magazines in the United States and Spain such as Hispania, Modern Languages Quarterly Review, Cuadernos de ALDEUUs, Confluencia, as well as in several encyclopedic entries. He also serves as a reviewer for Hispania, the journal of the Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese in the US.  His most recent publications addressed autobiographical writing from Víctor Fuentes, Francisco Ayala, Rafael Alberti, María Teresa León , Mario Vargas Llosa, Esmeralda Santiago. Other areas of research and publication include literary writers in Asturian language spoken in Northern Spain and applied technology and online education, which appeared in specialized journals. He is also a board member of the Hispanic Culture Foundation and the International Association of Hispanists.


Monday, April 13
12:10pm - 1:10 p.m.
Civic E327, New York City campus


Speaker: Motoki Nomachi, Professor of Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University

Title: Migration and Identity Change: The Case of Canadian Kashubs


In Ontario (Barry’s Bay and adjacent areas), one finds a few settlements of Kashubs, Slavs of West Slavic origin. They are descendants of the migrants from Prussia who settled in Canada in the mid-19th century. Most of the Kashubs in Canada today maintain their national and linguistic identity inherited from their ancestors. However, in the past three decades, after the fall of the communist regime in Poland, there have appeared a number of Kashubs who have been framing and promoting their identity in a new context. In this presentation, Motoki Nomachi will analyze the (non-)change of the Kashub's identity and the reasons for it from a sociolinguistic perspective. Special attention will be paid to their attitudes as they appear in the linguistic landscape and the local discourse.

About the Speaker: Motoki Nomachi is Professor in the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center at Hokkaido University, Japan. He holds a PhD in Slavic linguistics from the University of Tokyo. His research interests are in language contact, linguistic typology with a special focus on Polish, Kashubian, Slovene and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, sociolinguistics of Slavic micro-languages such as Banat Bulgarian, Lachian, and West Polissian. He has authored around 60 articles and edited 13 volumes, including Slavic on the Language Map of Europe: Historical and Areal-Typological Dimensions (2019, co-edited with Andrii Danylenko), Linguistic Regionalism in Eastern Europe and Beyond: Minority, Regional and Literary Microlanguages (2018, co-edited with Dieter Stern and Bojan Belić), Slavic Microphilology (2018, co-edited with Aleksandr Duličenko), The Palgrave handbook of Slavic languages, Identities and Borders (2015, with Tomasz Kamusella and Catherine Gibson).