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Institute for the Humanities pres.

FellowSpeak: "Small Talk: Talk Therapy and the Microscopic Science of Face-to-Face Interaction"

Michael Lempert

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Associate Professor of Anthropology and 2018-19 Institute for the Humanities Richard and Lillian Ives Faculty Fellow Michael Lempert will give a 30 minute talk followed by Q & A.

"Small Talk: Talk Therapy and the Microscopic Science of Face-to-Face Interaction"

When the sciences of face-to-face interaction became a boom industry in postwar and early Cold War America, many grew convinced that interaction was small: a micro-sociological world knowable through mechanical recording, painstaking transcription, and fine-grained analysis. The most feverishly microscopic researchers tried to catch the subtlest verbal and nonverbal signs that people gave off, as if straining to touch the nerve of interpersonal life. This microscopy arose from an intimate dialogue between psychiatry and communication science that began in the 1930s with the study of psychoanalysis using dictation machines. Recording-based talk therapy research left the sciences of conversation with a microscopic sensibility and a conviction about the scale of their object of knowledge.

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