Friends of the Institute

Victorian Fiction and the Location of Experience

Adela Pinch
Visitor, School of Social Science
May 22, 2020
What do we mean by “experience”? How have philosophers sought to help us understand this essential category of human existence? And how have novelists and literary critics grappled with this category? This talk brings the tools of literary analysis to both Victorian novels and Victorian philosophy, in order to enrich our appreciation of “experience.” Authors featured included Charlotte Brontë and William James, but you will also be introduced to some lesser-known figures, such as Shadworth Hodgson and May Sinclair.

Will I Have to Mortgage My House? Reflections on Gene Therapy, Innovation, and Inequality

Eben Kirksey
Friends of the Institute Member, School of Social Science
May 15, 2020
The first FDA-approved gene therapy, Kymriah, was released to the public in August 2017 with a $475,000 price tag. With the emergence of personalized genetic medicine, we are entering a new era of profound inequality. This talk explores the stories of children and parents who signed up for the Kymriah clinical trial before it was approved--risking their lives and household finances in pursuit of a cancer cure. Issues of race and class played out at Penn Medicine, as researchers explored new horizons of hope with living cellular therapies.

On Math, Shadows, and Digital Sundials

Silvia Ghinassi
School of Mathematics
May 8, 2020
Geometric measure theory is a branch of mathematics that, loosely said, focuses on studying geometric properties of objects, such as size and shape. In this talk, Silvia Ghinassi will discuss: How do we measure size? How do we know when an object is one-dimensional, or two-dimensional? What if it is neither? How can we describe shape? What does a cylinder look like if I look at it from below? And from the side?