March 3, 2022 at 9:15 am

CHI Speakers Series presents Victoria Lee discussing new book, March 17

Victoria Lee, portrait

Dr. Victoria Lee

From the Ohio University Calendar

Ohio University’s Contemporary History Institute hosts Dr. Victoria Lee discussing her new book, The Arts of the Microbial World: Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan (University of Chicago Press, 2021) on Thursday, March 17, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Bentley Hall 136.

Her talk is part of the Contemporary History Institute’s long-running Speakers Series, which regularly brings distinguished speakers to Athens to conduct seminars and deliver public lectures. The event is also cosponsored by the History Department Faculty Research seminar.

Lee’s lecture marks the return of CHI/History Department events to an in-person setting. Past participants in the CHI Speakers Series have included academics and government policymakers, prominent journalists and documentary filmmakers.

A livestream of the event also will be available on Microsoft Teams. As with all CHI events, Lee’s talk is free and open to the public.

Lee, assistant professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences, teaches classes on the history of modern science and technology and modern Japan, with a focus on the role of Japan in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her book looks at Japanese society’s engagement with microbes in science, industry and environmental management. It explores how fermentation expanded beyond small-scale traditional manufactures to take special prominence in food, resources, and medicine, addressing scientists’ and technicians’ role in defining the texture of everyday life and material culture as an aspect of political economy. In doing so, it demonstrates that knowledge of microbes lay at the heart of some of Japan’s most prominent technological breakthroughs in the global economy.

Before coming to Athens in 2016, Lee was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Germany. She was subsequently a 2020–21 fellow at the Institut d’études avancées de Paris, where she organized the public event Our Microbial Lives: A Forum Against Eradication. She has authored articles in a number of journals in the history of science and technology, one of which was awarded the quadrennial Zhu Kezhen award, and has reviewed for outlets including the Los Angeles Review of Books. In 2021 she received Ohio University’s Arts & Sciences Outstanding Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award. She is a native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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