Polymathic Pizza Part II: The Tapestry of Knowledge: Technology, Art, and Philosophy

Spring 2018
Polymathic Pizza
Polymathic Pizza Part II: The Tapestry of Knowledge: Technology, Art, and Philosophy

The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry (circa 1500 CE) is a rich and textured blend of wool, linen, and silk. One of the panels tells the story of nobelmen in pursuit of the mystical creature, an allegorical telling of the links and contestations between contemporary pagan and Christian traditions. But it is the variegated weave that magnifies and texturizes the narratives and which makes it so compelling and tactile for the viewer. The threads of inquiry are - similar to the Unicorn tapestry - a weave of variegated interests, disciplines, and expertise, and what we identify as the Tapestry Quadrant, one of the four philosophical underpinnings of the Harman Academy. The first syllable of tapestry, Sidney Harman observed, possesses a pleasant acronym, T-A-P, Technology, Art, and Philosophy - a "weave," he called it. "And that rich tapestry," noted inaugural director Kevin Starr, "is knowledge." For the spring 2018 series, we explore this weave of technology, arts, and philosophy in the active scholarship of some of our most polymathic practitioners here at USC. How might a biochemist weave art into a better understanding of the delicate biodiversity of the ocean, or a game designer integrate and converse with 19th-century philosophy? In these sessions, we will translate their tapestries into practical discussions of how disparate realms of knowledge might be intertwined to support innovation, creativity, and problem solving.

Spring 2018 | Sessions held on Wednesdays, 5:00–6:30 p.m., DML 241, unless otherwise noted

Tracy Fullerton, Professor & Chair of Interactive Media and Games
January 17, 2018
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, DML 241

“A polymath is one who not only masters several disciplines, but who synthesizes them, integrates them.”Sidney Harman

Professor Tracy Fullerton is a master weaver of multiple threads of knowledge. She is an internationally recognized experimental game designer and her research...

Tara McPherson, Professor of Cinematic Arts
February 7, 2018
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, DML 241

“The number of hate groups operating in the [U.S.] in 2016 remained at near-historic highs.”  --The Southern Poverty Law Center

“[T]he Internet has for some time provided extremists with a sense of community, that they are not alone in their beliefs.”  --Rick Eaton...

Jed Fuhrman, McCulloch-Crosby Chair in Marine Biology & Professor of Biological Sciences
February 28, 2018
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, DML 241

“For I am yearning to visit the limits of the all-nurturing Earth, and Oceans, from whom the gods are sprung.”--Homer

The gods, or alternatively, the sources of life, do indeed spring from the ocean, and Biological Science Professor Jed Fuhrman, like Homer, has been visiting the “all...

Oliver Mayer, Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives & Professor of Dramatic Writing
April 4, 2018
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, DML 241

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." –Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

With the critical acclaim and popularity of the musical Hamilton, historic renderings on the...

Rebecca Wexler, Lawyer at The Legal Aid Society and The Data & Society Institute
April 19, 2018
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, DML 241

“Today, closed, proprietary software can put you in prison or even on death row.”  --Rebecca Wexler

“Big data’s broad ethical consequences strain the familiar conceptual and infrastructural resources of science and technology ethics.”  -- Council for Big Data, Ethics and Society

We...