There’s nothing like western Massachusetts and the Berkshires in the fall.  The leaves will be stunning and you’ll want to see them in all their changing glory.  And also this fall, you can visit Nerd Nite too!  Yes, the good folks at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) invited Nerd Nite to be their special guest.  So come enjoy funny-yet-smart presentations about mumblecore movies, sex robots, and the sordid-yet-tasty history of cheese, while, of course, you drink along with your friends.  MASS MoCA + autumn + learning + drinking = a perfect night!

Buy tickets ($10 students / $14 adults)
October 13, 2012
MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA

Back to the Lectures At-Hand:
*Presentation #1
Mumblecore: The Film Movement that Didn’t Roar
by Maria San Filippo

Description: Whether you’ve got a Netflix queue full of mumblecore or this is the first you’ve heard of the “m” word, there’s much to muse about in these homegrown indie movies that forged the first film movement of the 21st century.

Bio: Maria saw Blue Velvet at the impressionable age of 14, so naturally she now teaches cinema and media studies. She has a PhD from UCLA, is a visiting lecturer at Harvard and MIT, and is a research associate in feminist new media at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. Her book The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television is forthcoming next year from Indiana University Press. Her friends, family, and therapist often admonish her that real life isn’t like the movies…but mumblecore just may prove them wrong. Learn all about her here.

*Presentation #2
Nerds & Whey: how the controlled spoilage of milk begets the world’s tastiest cheeses
by Aaron Foster

Little Miss Muffett sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey… what a poor cheesemaker she was. In her defense though, making cheese is hard work. It’s remarkable how only four ingredients can yield so much variation! Maybe Miss Muffett didn’t use the right proportion of rennet. Or perhaps the milk wasn’t allowed to properly acidify before coagulation. In this talk, we’ll explore the science, history, and culture of cheesemaking, and how those four ingredients give us Asiago and Zimbro, and the thousands of cheeses in between.

Bio: Aaron Foster is the head cheese buyer for Murray’s Cheese, New York City’s oldest cheese shop, located in Greenwich Village. Before narrowing his focus to the cheese trade, Aaron studied the classics at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. This grounding in philosophy and literature proved surprisingly relevant to a career in comestibles, with food sitting squarely at the intersection of art, science, and culture. Aaron went on to pursue a course in gastronomy at the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche, the school established by Slow Food near Torino, Italy. Upon his return to the US, Aaron served as buyer and importer for a number of cheese retailers and distributors, notwithstanding a dalliance with a small bean-to-bar chocolate company in Somerville. He has worked for Murray’s Cheese since February 2011.

*Presentation #3
Hey, Where’s My Robot Girlfriend? The Singularity, Sperm Bots and the Future of Sexual Technology
by Laura G. Duncan

Description: Technology and sexuality have long been intimately connected. The robotic bride. The orgasm ray. The sex machine. These classic tropes of science fiction – how fictitious are they really? Hybrids of sex and technology are flourishing in contemporary culture, from basement workshops where power tools are lovingly repurposed into bedroom aids to media empires with genres devoted solely to robot-human couplings. So just how close are we to having a real life Data, the beloved android from Star Trek as fawning partner to our eminently human Tasha Yar? Will we be able to disable our foes with weaponized orgasms? Can you learn to love a robot? Can a robot learn to love you? Using examples from science fiction, the medical sciences and actual sex/tech projects, this talk will explore the past, present and future of sexual technology and its implications for the changing nature of sexuality, technology and the body.

Bio: Laura is a sexual health researcher currently studying social inequity in sexual healthcare and the influence of medicine on social understandings of sexuality and the body. She has taught sexual health education in a variety of academic, non-profit and community venues and currently serves as a full-spectrum doula. She is, disappointingly, not a robot.