Recently I had the opportunity to sit-in on a lecture of Dr. Rebecca Nesvet’s for her class “The English Novel: 1850’s to the Present.” The reason why this lecture was particularly interesting was because it covered the topic of binary knitting, or knitting code – an idea of two very different disciplines fusing together. Professor Alison Gates, Chair of the Arts program and well-versed in the world of textiles, assisted in the lecture by discussing her knowledge about different types of knitting around the world and the commonalities between knitting and writing codes. A way that this can be done is by simply using a pattern between knitting and purling.
We have all heard a variation of the phrase “Knit one, purl two.” When it comes to knitting a code, it isn’t very different than using a pattern of ones and zeroes as we would for computer coding. Even more interesting that this strategy was discovered long before the first computer. How this ties together with Dr. Nesvet’s English Novels class is in the interest of Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Madame Defarge was introduced as the wife of a shopkeeper, knitting in the corner, as that was a common activity for women of that time period to be doing. What was not immediately prevelant, however, was the fact that she was knitting code. As if the idea of an old woman knitting a secret cipher was not interesting enough, the message that she was knitting was what we would, by today’s standards, call a hit list.
Madame Defarge seated with her knitting in the wine shop.
Courtesy of Wikipedia / Fred Barnard
The interest revolving around this topic has not been limited to just Dr. Nesvet’s class; here are some additional sources to look at:
Madam Defarges Cypher – Montgomery Bell
Steganographic Knitting – Sky Fish Knits
Associate Professor Hernán Fernández-Meardi will lead a discussion of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed as part of Humanistic Studies’ Great Book Series at the Brown County Library on Tuesday, December 8th at 6:30pm. In his critically acclaimed work, Friere advocates for a pedagogy that empowers students as producers of knowledge. Interested readers may find Friere’s book online.
This spring, Dr. Derek Jeffreys will be teaching HUM STUD 351 on the theme of Punishment. Dr. Jeffreys has completed detailed research into the subject spirituality and solitary confinement and a follow-up study on spirituality and torture. Check out an interview he did with Harper’s Magazine on one of his publications on the subject!Last year he won a major national grant to assist his development of this new course on punishment, and the grant will allow him to bring in several preeminent speakers on the subject. The course is a great opportunity not to be missed!
“Pope Joan”this Wednesday(April 29) starts at 7:00 pm in Christie Theatre.
Everyone is welcome!
In 814 A.D Johanna’s young life seems already determined, but she senses a spiritual calling and strikes out against the confines of social and ecclesiastical rule and follows her growing faith and conviction. Disguising herself as a man, she enters the Bendictine cloister in Fulda, where she lives as an herbalist and doctor until her true identity is in jeopardy of being discovered…
Say hello to something new!! The Humanistic Studies Department is introducing a new minor in Science Fiction.
Professor Aldrete has been chosen to receive the University of Wisconsin System‘s highest recognition for members of its faculty and academic staff as one of two recipients of the 23rd annual Regents Teaching Excellence Awards! For more information about this award: https://www.wisconsin.edu/news/archive/regents-honor-outstanding-uw-system-teachers-6/
Gregory S. Aldrete, Professor, Department of History, UW‑Green Bay. Aldrete has been teaching at UW-Green Bay since 1995. He regularly teaches eight different courses of approximately 450 students per year, as well as numerous independent studies. Recently, he developed an innovative interdisciplinary course on military history in which students learn through “living history.” An example was the multi-year Linothorax Project, in which his students re-created and tested the linen armor that Alexander the Great wore during his conquests. The published results garnered international attention. His teaching methods include analyzing primary documents, holding debates, role-playing, and other hands-on activities. He has written and recorded dozens of video lectures for The Teaching Company, with the first series entitled, “The History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective.” Aldrete gives frequent public lectures, including local venues as well as Iowa State University, Boston University, and the University of Manitoba in Canada. His students frequently comment on his depth of knowledge and passion for the subject of history and for teaching. Aldrete was selected in 2012 as Wisconsin Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement of Education (CASE). In 2009, he received a national award of merit from the American Philological Association as one of the nation’s top teachers of classics.
Below you’ll be able to see the scholarships that the Humanistic Studies Department will be awarding. I highly recommend applying for these scholarships! There was also an email sent out by Dr. Saxton-Ruiz with all of this information in PDF form. Let Dr.Saxton-Ruiz know if you have any questions regarding the scholarships.
Prof. Cristina Ortiz of Humanistic Studies was an invited speaker at the 4th Annual Humanities Symposium held at the Universidad de Oviedo (Spain), where she presented her latest research. During her visit she was also asked to teach a graduate course in the European Master of Gender Studies program entitled “Nation, gender and literature.” Her invitation was sponsored through an Erasmus Mundus grant from the European Union.
UW-Green Bay Prof. Gregory S. Aldrete spent spring break on the road as part of the Archaeological Institute of America’s distinguished lecturer series. He spoke at Florida State University in Tallahassee on “Hammers, Axes, Bulls, and Blood: Practical Aspects of Roman Animal Sacrifice”; and at both the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Central Florida in Orlando on “Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome.” Aldrete is one of two Joukowsky National Lecturers this year selected and sponsored by the AIA, the professional organization of archaeologist and publishers of Archaeology Magazine. As part of its outreach activities to the public, the AIA picks two scholars to be Joukowsky lecturers and sends them around the country giving public lectures. During the fall semester, Aldrete presented a dozen Joukowsky lectures in Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, California, and Oregon. Next month he will conclude his series with a lecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
Historian Gregory S. Aldrete, professor of Humanistic Studies, recently had two articles published, including one in the most prestigious journal in the field of Roman history. That article, “Hammers, Axes, Bulls, and Blood: Some Practical Aspects of Roman Animal Sacrifice,” appeared in The Journal of Roman Studies 104, 2014. In the article, Aldrete notes that sacrifice was a central component of ancient Roman religion, but scholars have tended to focus on the symbolic aspects of these rituals, without addressing the practical challenges involved in killing large, potentially unruly animals. He draws upon ancient sculpture, comparative historical sources, and animal physiology to argue that the standard, semi-sanitized interpretations don’t capture what must have been the real nature of these public rituals. Aldrete’s second article, “The Linothorax Project,” with Scott Bartell and Alicia Aldrete, appeared in the February 2015 edition (Vol. 13, Issue 1) of The Virtual Costumer Magazine, the journal of the International Costumer’s Guild.