Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Conference April 24-26, 2009

On April 24-26, 2009, Macaulay Honors College Visiting Professor Lee Quinby and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Sylvia Tomasch host many distinguished speakers as they address the tensions between systems of security within and between societies and systems of surveillance over members of those societies. Participants in the “Surveillance Societies: What Price Security?” conference come from ten countries in addition to the United States and 29 academic departments.

The conference begins on Friday, April 24 with opening remarks from Dean Ann Kirschner of Macaulay Honors College. A plenary lecture by Charles Strozier, Professor of History and Director of the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, on “Surveillance and the Culture of Fear after 9/11” follows. Professor Strozier’s work has focused on apocalyptic violence and related issues of terrorism; he is directing a major psychological study of the World Trade Center disaster.

Afternoon panels are followed by the keynote address, “Ubiquitous Border? Understanding the New Surveillance,” by Stephen Graham, Professor Human Geography at the Durham University (UK). The focus of Professor Graham’s work is on the intersections of urban planning, geopolitics, and terrorism, and the social implications of surveillance technology.

The first day concludes with a screening of the German drama The Lives of Others, a 2006 film revolving around the monitoring of the cultural scene of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR’s secret police.

The second day of the conference is devoted to panel discussions on topics such as “Implications of High Technology Surveillance,” “Policing Subjects,” and “Everyday Practices of Surveillance.” After lunch, Cindi Katz, Professor of Geography in Environmental Psychology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, gives a plenary address on “At Home with the Security State.” Professor Katz’s research focuses on social reproduction and the production of space; place and nature; children and the environment; and the consequences of global economic restructuring for everyday life.

After a series of panels on topics such as “The Long Arm of Prisons: Pre- and Post-Release Surveillance for People Who Have Been Convicted of a Violent Crime,” Curriculum and Control,” “Threats to and Claims for Civil Liberty,” the day concludes with a reception for all participants.

Panels on the conference’s final day include “Theoretical Approaches to Social Control” and “Ethics, Intelligence Gathering, and Urban Security.” The conference concludes with the premiere performance of a play, “The Point of Deviance,” written for the occasion of this conference by Greg Paul of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Baruch College in collaboration with Macaulay Honors College students.

The public is welcome to all lectures, including the lunch and dinner functions, but registration is required. See:

Lee Quinby, conference co-organizer, is Visiting Professor at Macaulay Honors College 2007-10. An interdisciplinary scholar who specializes in the study of apocalyptic and millennial belief in American society, Professor Quinby’s areas of scholarly interest include issues of freedom and citizenship in the era of techno-globalization. She is the author and editor of numerous publications, including Genealogy and Literature, Feminism and Foucault, and Gender and Apocalyptic Desire. At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, she held the Harter Chair for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities 2001-06, and she was the inaugural Zicklin Chair in the Honors Academy at Brooklyn College (CUNY) 2005-07.

At the Honors College since 2005, conference co-organizer Sylvia Tomasch is Associate University Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Hunter College (CUNY), where she chaired the department 2002-05. Professor Tomasch has published widely on Middle English and Chaucer, medieval antisemitism, and the history of the discipline of Medieval Studies, as well as co-editing a volume of essays on medieval literature, history, and spatiality, Text and Territory: Geographical Imagination in the European Middle Ages. Her present work focuses on medieval practices of surveillance. A past president of the Medieval Club of New York (2001-03), she has served on the Executive Committee of the Chaucer Division (2005-06) and the Comparative Medieval Division (2007-11) of the Modern Language Association.

Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York offers an exceptional academic and co-curricular environment for engaged and motivated students, who come from all parts of New York and around the world. Macaulay students enroll in one of seven CUNY colleges (Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, Queens and Staten Island). Through the unique Macaulay advising program (MAP) each student develops a coordinated, individualized academic program that includes research, global learning, graduate and professional mentoring, community engagement, and close faculty-student collaboration.