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Turning of the Wheel:

The interplay of the Unique and Universal

A Digital Collection of Events from the Humanities Colloquium Series, Turning of the Wheel,
University of Idaho | Moscow, Idaho | 2011-2012

Turning of the Wheel > Questions

A Humanities Exploration – Initial Questions

  1. Application of a Metaphor:  Can the metaphor and lessons from Yellowtail's Wagon Wheel, in how Tom and Susie have successfully negotiated the many spokes yet acknowledged the shared hub and rim, be extended and applied to our entire society and to the ways we have engaged and expressed the humanities? In what ways is the “Turning of the Wagon Wheel” applicable to our own lives?   Are there other metaphors or ways of thinking and doing, besides that of Yelllowtail's, that can also facilitate the interplay between our human diversity and shared humanity? 
  2. Diversity and Universality in the Humanities:  And more generally, how have we in the humanities gone about understanding, appreciating, communicating, celebrating and on occasion challenging our rich human diversity (the many spokes in all their meanings), as well as our shared humanity (the common hub and rim in all their meanings)?  In what ways do we in the humanities disciplines express our human diversity as well as our shared humanity?
  3. The Dynamic Interplay between Diversity and Universality in the Humanities: How has the humanities informed the interplay and dynamic relationship between human diversity and shared humanity, between both these ways of knowing, experiencing and creating the world?   How do we know one from the other?  How are the individual spokes imbued with hub and rim, and the hub and rim infused with spoke?   What might the spokes and hub have in common?
  4. A spin-off question: Social Diversity and Commonality, Stability and Conflict.  How do we best maintain the balance of the turning wheel - the dynamic stasis in our personal lives and throughout our local and world communities - given all its varied social categories of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientations, age, class, able-bodiedness?   How do we best maintain the balance of the wheel and equality of the spokes if our focus is only on “my spoke,” oblivious or even dismissive of other spokes?  How do we best maintain the balance and equality if we are oblivious or even dismissive of a shared hub/rim that firmly secures the spokes of the turning wheel?  How do we best maintain the balance and equality when some spokes are periodically threatened and weakened, while the fit of the hub and rim loosened?  Are there any lessons form the Wagon Wheel that might apply to the interplay between social diversity and commonality, and to the stability or conflict in our lives?
  5. A spin-off question: Disciplinarity and Interdisciplinarity.  How have we in the academy gone about engaging in cross and interdisciplinary scholarship, performance and teaching in the face of intransigent disciplinarity?  How can colleagues from distinct disciplines attempt to collaborate when their disciplines adhere to distinctly differing modes of communication, pedagogy, research methodology and criteria of legitimizing that research?  How can we reconcile what is often understood as the mutual exclusivity of reductionist vs. systems approaches to knowledge?  Are there any lessons form the Wagon Wheel that might apply to the interplay between disciplinary integrity and interdisciplinarity?

  6. A spin-off question: Exclusivity and Inclusively.  As students and faculty engaging in new ways of communication, knowing and doing, in new ways of defining our very identity, do we have to give up what once was in order to fully become a new?  Does an American Indian student, for example, have to give up his or her Tribal identity and ways in order to be successful in the ways of the Euro-American academy?  Does a professor of literature have to give up his or her academic competencies in literature in order to be competent as an ethnographer or even social scientist?  Are there an lessons from the Wagon Wheel that might apply to the interplay between inclusively and exclusivity?
  7. A spin-off question: the Idiosyncratic and Nomothetic.  How have we in our everyday personal and professional lives reconciled and integrated our richly differentiated, idiosyncratic experiences from the search for normality, consistency and the nomothetic?  How has each, in interaction with the other, contributed to acts of imagination, discovery and creativity, as well as structures of stability, continuity and stasis?  Are there any lessons from the Wagon Wheel that might apply to the interplay between the idiosyncratic and nomothetic?
  8. A spin-off question: the Finite and Infinite/Eternal.   What is our place in the cosmos, reconciling our finite self with the boundless infinite, our present self with the timeless eternal?  Are there lessons from the Wagon Wheel that might help situate our humanity within the universe?

  9. A spin-off question: Communications Technology.  How have our rapidly changing technologies and modes of communications, such as in the social media, impacted our human diversity as well as our shared humanity? For example, can the events unfolding throughout the world today be in part attributed to this new mode of communications, either unleashing some expression of our common humanity, e.g., desire for sovereignty, or colonizing the spokes of others with the values of one dominate spoke, e.g., the American Dream, or perhaps it's the influences of some of each?

  10. A spin-off question: Communication and Collaboration, Tolerance and Respect, Creativity and Intellectual Curiosity, and Perennial Wisdom and Tradition. What are the implications of the interplay of our human diversity and shared humanity on our capacities for communication and collaboration, for local and global community, for tolerance, respect and empathy, for imagination and creativity, for intellectual curiosity and discovery, for perennial wisdom and tradition, . . .  for what it means to be human?  Are there lessons from the Wagon Wheel that might help us understand and cultivate our communications, tolerance, creativity, intellectual curiosity and tradition, to help use understand and cultivate our humanity?

  11. The Humanities Disciplines.  How have the humanities disciplines of anthropology/ethnography, communication studies, cultural studies (American, Black, International, Latin American, Native American, Religious,  Women's), languages, literature, history, philosophy, and the reflection and theory in creative writing, the performing arts of music, dance and theatre, and the visual arts of painting, sculpting and architecture attempted in their varied ways to grapple with the diversity of the many spokes and the universality of the shared hub/rim, and the interplay between them, addressing the various questions posed here as well as other questions?
  12. The Exploration.  In our quest to better understand and appreciate the interplay between our human diversity and shared humanity, this series of talks and performances, of interactive discussions and experiences thus seeks to equip each participant of this exploration with the regalia that can facilitate discovery of his or her own meaning to the spokes and hub/rim, and of the turning Wagon Wheel.   This will be a humanities exploration.   Let's see what we discover.

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For more information: Rodney Frey