Faculty Lecture Series Continues with John Kleiner

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 10, 2017—John Kleiner, professor of English, will present the second lecture in the Faculty Lecture Series at Williams College. The talk, titled “The Hydraulic Wig or What Stage Tricks Tell Us about Emotion” will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public, with a reception in Schow Auditorium immediately following the presentation.

In his lecture, Kleiner will explore a series of historic devices that have been designed to generate terror and the theories surrounding fear that they instantiate. These devices include “Pepper’s Ghost” trick with mirrors, “Garrick’s Collapsing Chair” and the “Galvanic Probe” of Duchenne de Boulgne. These devices use everything from mechanics, to electricity, to mirrors to create fear. He will frame his talk with a practical problem from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, specifically the challenge of producing a terrifying ghost on a simple open stage. Finally, looking at each of these devices and their effects, Kleiner will “question the nature of fear machines…and the nature of fear itself.”

Kleiner teaches classes in creative nonfiction, Hollywood film, English literature, theatre, and tragic stages among many topics. He has written on death and false death in Shakespeare, on 1960s sitcoms, and the meaning of torture in Dante. Last spring, Kleiner published in Ploughshares a short story titled “Social Eros and the Methods of the Baroque.” He is the author of Mismapping the Underworld (Stanford University Press). Kleiner holds a B.A. from Amherst College, an M.S. from Cornell University, an M.A. from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

The Faculty Lecture Series was founded by 1911 by Catherine Mariotti Pratt. The chair of the series is Keith McPartland, associate professor of philosophy. The next speaker is Jacqueline Hidalgo, associate professor of Latinoa/o studies and religion, who will present “Our Book of Revelation … Is Serpentine and Regenerative: Rethinking ‘Scriptures’ After the Chicano Movement” on Feb. 23. The remaining speakers are Luana Maroja, Amy Podmore and Frederick Strauch.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map