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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Saturday U Profs Tackle Taxidermy, Burying the Dead in Singapore, and Avalanches

Jackson, WY- What does the skin of a mounted animal remember? What do Chinese Singaporeans believe about burying their dead? How can you recognize the signs of serious avalanche conditions in the mountains?

Skin Remembers: Taxidermy as Material and Living Memory

John Dorst, Professor - American Studies, University of Wyoming

Taxidermy, whether as hunting trophy or décor, enacts two kinds of memory. The mounted animal can of course recall specific experiences, but the very materiality of the object, the skin, can also be understood as memory, in that it "remembers" and "reactivates" the living animal. This philosophical point is not entirely academic.  For example, it can help us understand something about powerful emotional effects evoked in some of Alfred Hitchcock's films.

Burying the Dead: When the State Says No

Ruth Toulson, Assistant Professor - Anthropology, University of Wyoming

Dr. Toulson 

Appropriately burying the dead is one of the most shared human desires. In Singapore, the state has ordered the destruction of cemeteries, which is particularly traumatic for Chinese Singaporeans, who believe their own fortune and health stem from the proper burial of parents and ancestors. Go behind the scenes of Singapore’s funeral industry and see how bereaved families struggle to make sense of a rapidly changing spiritual world and lose their certainty that the dead will rest in peace.

Snow Monitoring: Listening for Avalanches

Jerry Hamann, Professor - Electrical Engineering, University of Wyoming

When an avalanche sends its snow tumbling down the mountain, it makes a recognizable sound. But the sound is so deep, only a whale could hear it without technological assistance. UW Researchers, in partnership with Inter-Mountain Labs of Sheridan, have worked out how to install monitors that allow managers in avalanche-prone areas near roads and ski areas (including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort) to keep a sensitive ear to-the-ground during avalanche season and enable them to warn people to avoid dangerous spots.

Participants may earn half a college credit or half a PTSB credit for Saturday U from Central Wyoming College. To register for college credit or PTSB credit, call Susan Thulin, CWC outreach coordinator, 307-733-7425. For general information about Saturday U: The Free One-Day College Education or library programs, visit the library online, tclib.org, or contact Teton County Library Adult Humanities Coordinator, Oona Doherty, 733-2164 ext. 135, odoherty@tclib.org.

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