Date: Saturday October 24, 2015
Location: Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (map)
Books on the Move: #Bibliomigrancy
Summary: How did the Epic of Gilgamesh—which the Sumerians read on stone tablets 2000 years ago—end up on your electronic tablet? How do books travel? How do they become vessels of stories and migrate from one part of the world another? How do they find shelf space in libraries of new readers? How are our perceptions of books and libraries “coded” and “recoded” through history? Care about these questions? Come listen to one of your Area Book Nerds. Don’t care? You are still welcome.
Presenter bio: B. Venkat Mani is Professor of German at UW-Madison. He co-directs UW-Madison’s Mellon Sawyer Seminar, “Bibliomigrancy: World Literature in the Public Sphere.” He spent a year recently at the German National Library as an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Fellow. His first book, Cosmpolitical Claims (University of Iowa Press, 2007) was on migration of human beings and literature. His forthcoming book, Recoding World Literature (Fordham University Press, 2016) is about migration of books. His bucket list consists of pilgrimages to libraries around the world. He judges books by their covers and cities by their public libraries.
The Physics of Color
Summary: Unless we are colorblind, as soon as we look at something, we know what color it is. Simple, isn’t it? No, not really. The color we see is rarely just determined by the physical color, that is, the wavelength of visible light associated with that color. Other factors, such as the brightness surrounding a certain color, or the illuminating light affect our perception of that color. Most striking, and useful, is understanding how the retina and the brain work together to interpret the color we see, and how they can be fooled by additive color mixing, which makes it possible to have color screens and displays. Pupa will show the physical origin of all these phenomena and give live demos as she will tell us how they work. Bring your own eyes!
Presenter bio: Pupa Gilbert is a professor of physics at UW-Madison, who studies biominerals, including seashells, sea urchin spines and teeth, corals, and eggshells. She likes to figure out how they are formed by living organisms who master physics and chemistry. She lives in Madison and Berkeley, teaches “physics in the arts”, likes to travel and collect biominerals, to do experiments at the synchrotron, and to make wine.
From Filter Bubbles to NBIC Technologies: Why it’s easier and easier to be wrong about science, and what we can do about it
Summary: We live in a world in which it is possible for citizens to access more (scientific) information with less effort than ever before. At the same time, politically divided news environments have created a world of filter bubbles and echo chambers that allow us to only hear what we already believe in. What are the effects of these new news environments on our democracy? And why are we as a country less equipped than ever before to debate controversial issues with each other in a civil fashion? This talk will explore some of these questions and what the latest research tells us about causes and possible solutions.
Presenter bio: Dietram A. Scheufele is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Honorary Professor of Communication at the Dresden University of Technology (Germany). He currently also co-chairs the National Academies’ Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences. Scheufele’s deals with the interface of media, policy and public opinion. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, and a member of the German National Academy of Science and Engineering. His consulting experience includes work for PBS, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank.
Date: Wednesday September 30, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
Doin’ It Like They Do On the Discovery Channel: A Guide to Zoo Animals Gettin’ It On
Summary: Unlike their counterparts in the wild, most species living in zoos need a little assistance to reproduce. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) works to ensure that animals in zoos are able to procreate to keep the circle of life going now and for the next 500 years. Surprisingly, most of this work takes place real close to Madison is more complicated than just letting two animals going at it. With a lot of data, science, and research behind it all, the AZA keeps zoos full of baby animals for people like us to coo over.
Presenter bio: Although she worked for a zoo, Tomissa Porath never worked directly with the animals or their reproductive behaviors. Tomissa currently works for the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association as a Prospect Research Analyst. In her spare time, she enjoys craft beer, travels the country in search of the best fast food burger, and drinks a whole lotta coffee.
Lovecraft and the Superfan: A Not-Quite Inspirational Tale of the Evolution of Modern Horror
Summary: Ever play the Dark Descent or Batman: Arkham Asylum? Watch the Evil Dead? Get disappointed by the second season of True Detective because it was nowhere near as good as the first? Modern horror and suspense would be completely unrecognizable without the influence of H.P. Lovecraft, but his influence would have been gone unnoticed if not for the tireless work of one man. This is an improbable story of friendship, horror, and tireless devotion that would forever change what we think is scary.
Bio: By day, Laura Felley is an MD/PhD student who spends her days drawing blood, begging cells to grow, and telling people to get HIV tests and flu shots. But by night, she is The Cultist: An unrepentant horror nerd and blogger (contemporarylovecraft.com) from whom no weird fiction or Lovecraft-inspired story is safe.
Summary: Making booze is easy. Long before hoppy craft beers, Stone Age humans made primitive cocktails from grains and raisins. Animals regularly get wasted off rotten fruit. Huge clouds of alcohol even occur naturally in space! This presentation covers the history and science behind booze production, then shows how a trip to Woodman’s and some simple tricks are all you need need to start making your own DIY hooch.
Presenter bio: Mark Coatsworth is a graduate student at UW Computer Science. He moved to Madison from Toronto in 2014 and indulges his spare time in hockey, old time banjo, fast bicycles and whitewater canoeing. He is an alumnus of Nerd Nite Toronto, and is super excited to bring his science experiments to an international audience.
Date: Wednesday August 26, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
Of Ants and ALF: Aliens, Inquilines, and Social Parasites of All Species
Summary: Ants are one of the most successful groups of organisms on Earth. They are fully social, incredibly adaptive, and form colonies of superorganisms capable of thriving on nearly every landmass on the planet. The Tanners are a suburban middle-class family in the San Fernando Valley. Both the Ants and the Tanners experience certain levels of social success, and with that social success comes freeloaders looking to cash in on the cushy, catered lifestyle of nesting with their successful associates. For Ants, these freeloaders take many forms: beetles, butterflies, even other ants. For the Tanners, it’s ALF, an Alien Life Form crash-landed from planet Melmac. In this talk, we’ll break down the beauty of social parasitism, and show how freeloading in the natural world can be so much more than just eating cats.
Presenter bio: Ben Taylor has been the Boss of Nerd Nite Madison since 2013. He’s big time psyched about that.
Summary: If you’re feeling a little vengeful, look no further than the garden for an all-natural way to do a little damage to your fellow man. While you and I are no Walter White, a little know-how around castor beans and nightshades may give you an upper hand … or at least minimize your chances of harm when lost in the garden and hungry.
Bio: Christy Marsden is a Horticulture Educator for UW-Extension, a job that surprisingly makes use of both her BS in Human Development and MS in Environmental Horticulture from the University of California, Davis. This is her second time on the stage for Nerd Nite.
How to Invent an Alien Language
Summary: In 2013 I was hired to create a language for a race of aliens in a video game. Without actual aliens to go do fieldwork on, how do you go about creating an alien language? In this talk I’ll show how I used what we know — and don’t know — about natural human languages to help me create, if not a truly alien language, at least something better than processed gibberish or a simple code for English.
Presenter bio: By day, William Annis is a Unix systems administrator. Working all day with computers makes him about as mild-mannered as you might expect. By night, he practices the art of language creation, as he’s done for about thirty years now, mixed with occasional bouts of gardening, and playing the banjo to depress local property values.
Date: Wednesday May 27, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
Sneaker Males OR “Sneaky Fucker Strategy”
Summary: Thanks to John Maynard Smith we have a title for this reproduction strategy in the vernacular. Guys dressing up as girls is an old trope that has been used to great comic effect throughout the ages. Turns out that is just another idea we stole from the animals. Whenever alpha males get too big and bad “life, uh… finds a way” as Dr. Ian Malcolm says and in that case The Way is for a non-alpha dude to look like a lady. We’ll drink champagne and dance all night under electric candlelight and by the end of the night we’ll all have a little more respect for those males sneaky enough to hide their secondary sex characteristics.
Presenter bio: Brendon Panke is the organizer for Madison Storytellers. He spends almost all of the rest of his time taking care of a small human being. But before all of that he got a couple of degrees in ecology.
Holy Censorship Batman!
Summary: When everyone was focusing on the Rosenbergs and the Red Scare, something even more sinister was afoot. A plot of to tear apart the very fabric of the collective American imagination! Will Science Fiction and Fantasy ever be the same again? Will Dr. Wertham have his way? Find out tonight, when the biggest censorship in US history is revealed: The Comics Code Authority!
Bio: Ken Goldstein is not a historian, but he does love his comic books. He has a BFA in Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking from the University of North Florida and a collection of over 5000 comics. You might call him a nerd’s nerd. This is his first time presenting at Nerd’s Nite.
Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-A-B-Select-Start: A Brief History of Console Gaming
Summary: I’ll tell you about systems more primitive than Pong, the designer of River Raid who was ahead of her time, the reason blowing on cartridges actually makes things worse, how Nintendo and SEGA got supplanted by an electronics company and a software publisher, and why virtual reality is finally here to stay. Enjoy the nostalgia—they ain’t makin’ any more of it!
Presenter bio: Mike Hendrickson is a staff member in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at UW-Madison. He is also co-founder of NeuroSolis, Inc., a drug development start-up working on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. If you have a spare million dollars to invest, see him after the presentation—he’ll buy you a beer and TWO slices of pizza. His all-time favorite console is the Atari 5200.
Date: Wednesday April 29, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
The Swayze Theory: An explanation for everything
Summary: Some scientists believe in a hypothetical theory that would be a coherent framework to explain all physical aspects of the universe. The recently-developed Swayze Theory posits that crux of this “theory of everything” has been in our minds and hearts for years: Patrick Swayze. This talk will delve into some of the history and present day discussion about the elusive ultimate theory, and explain why this tough guy and romantic heart throb holds the key to it all. Nerd Nite is the first time the Swayze Theory will be presented to the world.
Presenter bio: Jamie is not what most would refer to as an “expert” in advanced theoretical physics or Patrick Swayze, but he does think Road House is just as interesting as the Higgs boson. This is his second time presenting at Nerd Nite, the first time he talked about Wikipedia (which assisted in some of the research for this talk).
Summary: When asked, most people can name a few benefits that spiders have bestowed upon man-kind: maybe some people recognize that most of our food supply would be gone if spider-soldiers weren’t marching around eating up pest species, or some people appreciate the decrease in man-eating insect populations. However, did you know that one special group of spiders -the Golden Orb-Weavers- have contributed to the development of transgenic spider silk producing goats? Or that they were the first spiders to visit the international space station? The Golden Orb-Weavers do all of the above and more! Learn a little about what it takes to become a spider-naut, why on Earth anyone would want goatsilk, plus other amazing spiderfacts that will morph you into a superspidernerd.
Bio: Meghan Fitzgerald is a graduate student in her last year of a Zoology PhD at UW Madison. She studies (non-) social interactions of Nephila spiders in Costa Rica and spends most of her time wishing it was acceptable to hire a dissertation ghost-writer. In her non-nerd time (ha!) she plays the ukulele, listens to storytelling podcasts and dreams of tiny-house building.
Monday Night Wars: When Professional Wrestling Ruled Cable TV
Summary: In the 90s, Ted Turner started World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and went head to head against Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Foundation (WWF). For six glorious years, these two shows battled over TV ratings. I’ll talk (and show video clips) about some of the major events in this era and how reality influenced the scripted world of professional wrestling. Prepare to learn about Hulk Hogan, the nWo, Bret “The Hitman” Heart, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Presenter bio: Rob Lumley is a Digital Solutions Manager at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. He has zero experience as a professional wrestler, but he was able to get through his adolescence by watching wrestling every Monday night. Shockingly, he is now married with a kid.
Date: Wednesday March 25, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
Why 60 Minutes? 5000 years of tradition and science
Summary: The minute and second were first measured by astronomers of 16th-century Europe, but both measures existed in writing as far back as the 11th century. Why did medieval astronomers choose to cut the hour into 60 pieces, and why did this choice persist for so long? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, because this story actually traces back many thousands of years! The 60 we use today is the same the Sumerians used before the oldest known writing. This tradition has been handed from civilization to civilization in one long, unbroken line. We’ll follow 60 from its origins, to how it became tied to astronomy, trigonometry, and navigation, and how it came to be the system we still use today.
Presenter bio: Robert Coolman is a graduate researcher in the department of Chemical Engineering at UW-Madison. Robert explores interactions between science and history in his writing at LiveScience.com. When he’s not getting anything done you can find him in the kitchen with his wife or in the living room playing tabletop games.
Alcibiades: Classical Greece’s most legendary badass and possibly, its biggest douchebag
Summary: If you were to get wasted, walk up to Morgan Freeman, and clock him in the face you would probably end up one of the most hated people on the planet. If Alcibiades were do the same thing, Mr. Freeman would ask him to marry his daughter. Alcibiades was one of the Athenian Athenians to ever roam this planet. He was a tactical genius, a great orator, obscenely wealthy, and absurdly beautiful. When he wasn’t banging Socrates and leading Athenian armies he was leading Spartan armies against Athens (while banging the King’s wife). Join the talk and learn more about one of history’s most ridiculous characters.
Bio: Teddy de Groot is a graduate student in the biomedical engineering department at the UW. Though a biomedical engineer all his life, he has taken an inexplicable interest in classical studies and how history was written before it was ruined by Germans in the 19th century with their socioeconomic-driven explanations for everything.
Linguistic attitudes: Why we think the things we do about language
Summary: We all place different values on the ways that we, and others, use language. Southern accents might make us tingle (in a good way) while hearing the word ‘literally’ just one more time might drive us up the wall (like, figuratively speaking). But why? In this talk we’ll look at the science behind language attitudes, the term that linguists use to describe our common understanding of different varieties of language. Come prepared to look at the language of wartime cartoons, overanalyze why we love and hate different slang terms, and raise a glass to the diversity of English dialects.
Presenter bio: Joshua Raclaw is a postdoc and resident sociolinguist at the UW’s Center for Women’s Health Research, where he studies how biomedical researchers use language in their evaluation of grant applications. He’s also interested in how language helps construct our relationships and identities and how new technology changes how we communicate with one another, and one time he wrote over two-hundred pages on the word ‘no’. In his spare time he enjoys huddling for warmth in his apartment with his wife, cats, and beloved Netflix account.
Date: Wednesday February 25, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
How the Sun got its spots…(and other plasma astrophysics stories)
Summary: A long, long time ago, down by the banks of the Limpopo River…well, the Sun probably had sunspots back then too. The question astrophysicists ask is, why? We know that sunspots are a result of the Sun’s turbulent and twisting magnetic field, but the real question is: why do stars, planets, galaxies – practically every visible thing in the universe – even have magnetic fields to begin with? In this talk we’ll go on a whirlwind tour of the many different types of magnetic structures that populate the heavens, and see how scientists are trying to replicate the underlying physical processes in laboratory experiments. The key ingredient? Plasma, the exotic 4th state of matter, unimaginably hot at millions of degrees, and being tamed here on Earth for next-generation power plants, microprocessor fabrication,…and graduate dissertations.
Presenter bio: Dave Weisberg is a doctoral candidate in the UW Madison Physics Dept. studying hydrodynamic flows and kinetically-driven MHD instabilities in unmagnetized plasmas. When he’s not burning off his fingerprints in the electronics lab, Dave also likes to study the aerodynamics of Frisbees, the friction coefficients of rock climbing, and (insert compulsory coffee joke here). PS: Happy Global Plasma Month!
From Photons to Faces: A Visual Tour of the Visual System
Summary: For most humans, vision dominates our experience of reality. With decent acuity, we perceive depth, color, and motion. To accomplish this, our visual system collects and processes a tremendous amount of data. It contains specialized modular areas to maintain your circadian rhythm, track moving objects, and recognize faces. We’ll follow the flow of visual information from detection of photons in the eye through creation of conscious visual percepts in the cortex with a few stops along the way. Immediately after the Q&A, we’ll test your knowledge of facial recognition with a contest to name characters form nerd-dome.
Bio: Mike Hendrickson is a staff member in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at UW-Madison, and has a long-standing interest in neuroscience. He is also co-founder of NeuroSolis, Inc., a drug development start-up working on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. If you have a spare million dollars to invest, see him after the presentation—he’ll buy you a beer and a slice of pizza. He’s not joking about the last part.
Love is Weird, and Sometimes Gross
Summary: Love is an elusive topic to define, but for as long as people have been baby-makin’, bizarre and sometimes gross rituals and practices have been put in place for the single end-goal of helping people get down. And if love wasn’t complicated enough already, enter the internet! and science! It’s a messy story of love in its past and present forms that will ultimately have you falling in love with love and all its quirks, squirts, and sweaty shirts.
Presenter bio: Maia first fell in love with love when she found out that (Spoiler Alert!) chemicals in our sweat may have something to do with it. This was for a project on the “Neuroscience of Love” she did as a wee college student. Maia is now a grown-ass graduate student studying Neuroscience full-time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her part-time leisure activities include playing matchmaker for her friends and consuming music by the earful.
Date: Wednesday January 28, 2015
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
What Makes a Sport Real: The Case of Professional Ultimate Frisbee
Summary: Professional sports are a big business, and sports once considered niche are attracting more and more attention in the form of media coverage and financial sponsorships. But the biggest hurdle sports face when trying to break into the mainstream is the perception over whether or not they are real. So what makes a sport real? This talk will discuss various benchmarks established by fancy academics to judge when a sport has successfully transitioned from the edge into the mainstream, and apply them to the case of pro ultimate. It will also look at how a historically marginalized sport attempts to shed the stereotypes that have long defined the sport in order to attract new fans.
Presenter bio: Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen is a graduate student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she specializes in media history and writes papers about Ultimate Frisbee on the side (her lack of coordination prevents her from being a serious on-the-field threat).
A Brief History of Cannabis: A Dope Story
Summary: Cannabis is currently legal in four states and the District of Colombia, and 23 states have medical marijuana laws. But what is Cannabis? Why was it illegal? Why did these states legalize it? What effects have these drug laws had? What is “medical marijuana” used for? Should you care? In this invigorating talk, I’ll keep you from feeling dazed and confused and take you on an excellent adventure to learn more about this famous plant, its history, and its uses, so you can be a better educated citizen!
Bio: M Stillwell has learned from his time in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin that science is an incredibly important aspect to understanding the world around you. Originally from Colorado, he takes great interest in nature and loves finding new surprises that nature leaves. He is also interested in policy and does his best to stay up to speed with politics when he isn’t living under a rock in lab.
Rodents of Unusual Size and Islands, Environments of Unusual Character
Summary:Approximately 150 years ago, mouse stowaways made the jump from ships to Gough Island, one of the most remote islands on the planet. Since that time, Gough Island mice evolved the largest body size of any wild mouse population in the world – truly, rodents of unusual size! This phenomena has been observed in other species on other islands: animals and plants marooned on islands often evolve either gigantism or dwarfism. Our lab maintains a colony of Gough Island mice. We aim to uncover the mutations and genes underlying the island-induced size evolution of these mice. Perhaps our most helpful colleagues in this quest are other islands, since they naturally crank out other unusually sized rodents, permitting us to answer one of the most important questions in evolutionary biology: Do two widely separated populations that share a trait, such as large body size, evolve that trait as a result of mutations in the same or different genes?
Presenter bio: Mark J. Nolte is a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Genetics at UW-Madison. He hopes that his academic success in Evolutionary Biology can catch up to his success in applied Darwinian Fitness where he boasts four children and a beautiful, choosy wife. He enjoys reading about altruism, cognitive science, religion and naked mole rats (which is really just more altruism).
Date: Wednesday December 3, 2014
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
Bitcoin and the Mystery of Money
Summary: It’s in your pockets, it’s deep underground, it’s even in the cloud. Everyone uses it in some ways shapes and forms, that right I’m talking about money! All sorts of money from dollar dollar bills to gold to cryptocurrency, it’s everywhere in our society, but have you taken a moment and actually thought about what money is? Fear not, this talk is going to break if down for you. In the first half we’ll go on an allegorical journey and shift your paradigm of what money is in a cultural and philosophical sense. In the second half, we’ll break down this convoluted and controversial topic of Bitcoin.
Presenter bio: By day, Sisi Li is a graduate student studying neuroscience at UW-Madison. By night, she is a crochet and wine enthusiast. Ever since a young age, she’s been interested in understanding how the world works which naturally lead her to investigate the superlative organ that enables all learning, the brain. Her hobbies include International traveling (6 continents and counting), improv, sailing, crochet, ultimate frisbee, wine, and most importantly learning.
Summary: Wikipedia is the sixth most popular site on the interwebs, it has been cited in important legal rulings–including Wisconsin’s Wolf v. Walker–and now it even has a statue (in Poland of all places). In this talk I’ll share how the site came to be what it is today, and share some facts that will be especially useful in cocktail party banter. I’ll also demonstrate why Wikipedia is such a splendid distributor of knowledge: a fancy thing called hyperlinks.
Bio: Jamie Holzhuter once made it through an entire semester of Greek classics literature by writing response papers based on reading Wikipedia articles (he prefers to call it “efficient learning,” and the articles were actually quite good). We works at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, which is not at all related to his talk but it’s good to know anyway.
Axotlotl in Regenerative Research
Summary: Learn the tale of a delightful little amphibian that did just fine despite its perpetual immaturity. Through a presentation that spans evolutionary biology, massive inbreeding, regenerative medicine, and a handful of disturbing images, Laura Felley hopes to convince you that no matter how large the discrepancy between your chronological and behavioral age, everything will be peachy just the way it is.
Presenter bio: On graduating college, Laura Felley decided she was not yet ready to leave her warm cocoon of academics and social awkwardness. As such, she joined the MD/PhD program at the University of Wisconsin. Currently a graduate student, she studies human immunology and novel vaccination strategies. Her average workday is spent drawing blood, ordering reagents and equipment worth two to three times her net value, and trying to convince everyone to get a flu shot. (You DID get the flu shot, right?)
Date: Wednesday November 5, 2014
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)
The Magic of Solar Panels and Why They Will Save the World
Summary: Solar power has been in the news lately as the “it” girl of alternative energy. But is she really that awesome on the inside, or is it just more hype? We’ll play science dodge-ball, and learn why solar roadways are a HORRIBLE idea but other applications of solar power will truly save the world.
Presenter bio: Robin Lawson is a Jane of all trades, master of many. A 4th generation mechanical engineer, she grew up in northern WI with her very own maker space in the woods. Robin is currently the co-founder (with her genius engineer brother) and design diva of Lumen Electronic Jewelry, which creates twinkling LED jewelry powered by the magic of solar cells. She also enjoys tricking minors into loving science through their kits and classes. When she isn’t melting metals she can also be found dancing like no one is watching.
All Samples Cleared: The Curious Rise and Fall of Sampling In Hip-Hop
Summary: At the bedrock foundation of hip-hop is sampling. Flipping drum beats, chopping up horn stabs, and looping breaks for the b-boys used to be the way it all went down. Then, once the money started flowing starting with Rapper’s Delight, the lawyers came calling and more or less put an end to it making it so that landmark albums like Paul’s Boutique would now be too cost-prohibitive to ever get produced and released legally in today’s music landscape. In the same way that English teachers use hip-hop to make poetry fun, let’s try and use it as a jump off to examine the current messed-up state of copyright laws in America.
Bio: A Madison transplant from North Carolina where he wrote his undergrad thesis on “Hip Hop’s Interdisciplinary Cultural Roots”, Chris sometimes writes things for The Isthmus and Tone Madison, occasionally performs standup comedy, often times sells people records at MadCity Music Exchange, and will always have a last name that’s a sex-verb.
Midwest is Best!: Serial Killer Heavy Hitters
Summary: We’ve all heard the phrase “Midwest is Best,” and that sure rings true when it comes to serial killers. Four of the most infamous serial killers of the past 150 years have hailed from the great states of Illinois and Wisconsin: H.H. Holmes, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, and Jeffrey Dahmer. This presentation will delve into the lives and deaths of these four men and their heinous crimes, looking at what may have driven them to kill, details of some the murders, and the aftermath personally for these men, for popular culture, and for the reputation of the midwest. Whether it’s that clown at your child’s birthday party, your doctor, that chocolate factory worker, or your neighbor, you just can’t always trust that Midwestern hospitality.
Presenter bio: Originally from Ohio, Alexandra Newman came to Madison a few years back, receiving her Master’s degree in Art History in 2012 with the thesis “The Trope of the Enwhitened Boy Adventurer: Tintin and Jonny Quest.” She studies French and American cartoons and comics, and American pop music ephemera. Currently she teaches Art History at Madison College, serves as the Celebrity and Stardom Chair for the Midwest Pop Culture Association, and has a mild obsession with watching Investigation Discovery crime shows.