Popular Culture

Popular culture is an expression of a country’s distinctive traditions, history, and language, as well as its current social, economic, and political systems and its degree of technological development. How events, institutions, and artists/performers shape popular culture and how in turn popular culture shapes the lives and identities of cultural consumers is a complex reality that defines much of contemporary life.
Globalization, multiculturalism, and diversity provide additional lenses through which to think about popular culture. Does American popular culture support a bland collection of homogenous Americans living uniform lives in gray suburbs or a rich cacophony of cultural voices that clash, “crash,” and co-mingle along lines of race, ethnicity, class, religion, and sexual orientation? To what extent do forms of popular culture express and inculcate dominant social values and support existing institutions? To what extent can popular culture provide a means for challenging such values and institutions? The degree to which the United States and other nations export their cultures produces new sources of cultural tension, resistance, and creativity. During 2009-2010, The Clarke Forum will explore these issues in a number of different contexts and from a variety of different perspectives.

Brian Haig

Bestselling Author and Former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Fiction Explains Things Nonfiction Can’t

Friday, September 23, 2011
Stern Center, Great Room, **3:30 p.m.**
Book Sale/Signing will follow the lecture.
The Capital Game and Man in the Middle will be available for purchase.

Haig will discuss the impact of fiction on how readers understand their political and social worlds and how this understanding can shape their conduct and hence our future. For example, Tom Clancy introduced us to military technology, Dan Brown made us re-think religion, Steig Larsson made us see Sweden in a whole new way. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped launch a civil war to end slavery; Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War kicked off the World War Two craze; Leon Uris’s Exodus shaped how Americans see Israel; and Alex Haley’s Roots explained the black experience in America.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Brian Haig P’12 and P’13 graduated from West Point in 1975, spent 22 years on active duty, his last four as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After retiring from the Army, he was president of two companies before becoming a writer. He has published eight novels, several of which have been New York Times bestsellers. He has Masters from Harvard and Georgetown, and now lives in New Jersey with his wife and four children.

Visit http://www.brianhaig.net/ for more information.
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Colson Whitehead

Author of The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Sag Harbor and other novels

The Art of Writing

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:00 p.m

Whitehead will provide micro-lectures on craft, style, and what we can all learn from the Donna Summer version of “MacArthur Park.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Office of Student Development and the Office of Institutional and Diversity Initiatives, the Department of American Studies, the Office of Diversity Initiatives and the Department of Sociology.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Colson Whitehead is the author of The Intuitionist, his accomplished debut novel that received widespread and enthusiastic critical praise for its quirky and imaginative writing and complex allegories of race. The Intuitionist won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award and was a finalist for the Ernest Hemingway/PEN Award for First Fiction.

Recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius award” given to scholars, artists, and others to free them to pursue their work, Whitehead has been praised for writing novels with inventive plots that weave American folklore and history into the stories.

His most recent work is Sag Harbor: A Novel. Before this, he wrote Apex Hides the Hurt: A Novel, a funny and moral novel about a small town dealing with an identity crisis. He is also the author of The Colossus of New York: A City in 13 Parts, a masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, capturing the city’s inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories.

Whitehead’s multilayered novel, John Henry Dayswas a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. It won rave reviews for juxtaposing the story of the 19th century folk-hero John Henry, a black railroad worker who died in the act of defeating a steam drill in a contest, with J. Sutter, a modern-day hack journalist who is sent to cover a John Henry Day festival. Praising the novel for exploring such dualities as legend and history, black and white, altruism and greed, and the machine age and the digital age, Booklist called it “masterfully composed and full of myth and magic.” John Henry Days also won the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, established to honor a novel or short story collection by an American author age 35 or younger.

Whitehead is also the winner of a 2000 Whiting Writers’ Award. His journalism has appeared in Newsday, Spin, Vibe, and The Village Voice.

Paul Campos

Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School

The Politics of Fat

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

America is in the grip of a moral panic about fat. The “obesity epidemic” is the “reefer madness” of our time, and the sooner we recognize this fact the sooner we will stop demonizing body diversity.

The event is co-sponsored by the Women’s Center and the Departments of Sociology and Psychology.

Topical Background (provided by the speaker)
A wide range of cultural authorities, that includes such disparate figures as First Lady Michelle Obama, leading public health officials, and the National Football League, are assuring Americans that we are in the midst of an “obesity epidemic,” that presents a major public health crisis, which requires a strong response from both the government and the private sector. In fact these claims are symptoms of a classic moral panic. Moral panics occur when social anxieties focus on a marginalized group, that is blamed for causing a serious social problem. Such panics feature responses that are disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the group (which indeed, as in the case of fat, may well be largely or completely imaginary). Professor Campos’ talk will explore the politics of fat: the ways in which an aesthetic preference for thinness has been transformed first into a medical problem and then into a medical-moral crisis. He will explain why the current war on fat is based on a combination of bad science and deep cultural prejudice, and how the weapons being deployed in that war are doing far more harm than good. He will argue for the concept of body liberation: the idea that a more inclusive idea of what constitutes a healthy and desirable body would do far more good than efforts to make Americans slimmer.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado. He is the author of The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession With Weight is Hazardous to Your Health (Gotham Books, 2004). Professor Campos has published extensively on the current debate regarding the extent to which weight management should be a subject of public health intermediation. His work on this subject has been featured in, among other publications, Scientific American, New Scientist, the New York Times, the New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times.
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Ellen McLaughlin

Playwright and Actress

Readings by Ellen McLaughlin

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

McLaughlin will read excerpts from several of her plays, including Infinity’s House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus and Ajax in Iraq. She is most well known for having originated and developed the part of the Angel in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, having appeared in every U.S. production from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run.

The event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Classics, Theatre & Dance and English.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Ellen McLaughlin’s plays have received numerous national and international productions. They include Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity’s House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, The Trojan Women, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus, Penelope, Kissing the Floor and Ajax in Iraq.
Producers include: Actors’ Theater of Louisville, The Actors’ Gang L.A., Classic Stage Co., N.Y., The Intiman Theater, Seattle, Almeida Theater, London, The Mark Taper Forum, L.A., the Public Theater in NYC, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The National Actors’ Theater, N.Y., A.R.T. in Cambridge, MA, and The Guthrie Theater, MN, among many other venues.

Grants and awards include: Great American Play Contest, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the NEA, the Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, the Berilla Kerr Award for playwrighting, The NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Grant.

McLaughlin’s acting career has included work on and Off Broadway as well as extensively in regional theater. She is most well known for having originated the part of the Angel in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, appearing in every U.S. production from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run. Other favorite roles include The Homebody in Homebody/Kabul, (Intiman Theater) Pirate Jenny in Threepenny Opera (Trinity Rep., Elliot Norton Award), Mrs. Alving in Ghosts (Bk Rep.), Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (McCarter and the Paper Mill Playhouse) and Claire in A Delicate Balance at Arena Stage and at Yale Rep. Television work has included roles on Law and Order.

She has taught playwrighting in numerous venues, from Yale School of Drama to Princeton University. She has been teaching at Barnard College since 1995.

She is a member of New Dramatists and served on the board of T.C.G.

Her most recent production: Ajax in Iraq at ART, MA.
Her most recent publication, by T.C.G., is The Greek Plays.
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Faculty Weigh-In

Friday, April 9 – 4:00 p.m.
Stern Center, Great Room

A discussion about the cultural meaning and significance of hip hop.

Participants Include:
Prof. Stephanie Gilmore (Women’s and Gender Studies)
Prof. Patricia van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy (Africana Studies)
Prof. Crispin Sartwell (Art & Art History / Philosophy)
Prof. Cotten Seiler (American Studies)
Prof. Sarah Skaggs (Dance)
Prof. Edward Webb (Middle East Studies) – Moderator

The event was organized by The Clarke Forum Student Board and The Clarke Forum Student Project Managers.

Mark Anthony Neal

Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University

How You Gonna Be the King of New York?

This event of part of the two-day Hip Hop Symposium (April 8-9)

Thursday, April 8 – 7:00 p.m.
Stern Center, Great Room

Hip-Hop culture has been a site for the promotion of black hypermasculininity. In the past decade, artist Jay Z (Shawn Carter) has challenged this logic in many of his music videos, including one in which Jay Z is symbolically killed, which creates the context for the “birth” of a cosmopolitan black masculinity within mainstream hip-hop.

About the Speaker
Mark Anthony Neal is professor of black popular culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University. Neal is the author of four books, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1998), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002), Songs in the Keys of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation (2003) and New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity (2005). Neal is also the co-editor (with Murray Forman) of That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (2004).

Neal’s essays have been anthologized in a dozen books, including the 2004 edition of the acclaimed series Da Capo Best Music Writing, edited by Mickey Hart, where his essay “The Tortured Soul of Marvin Gaye and R. Kelly” appears and in the collections The Funk Era and Beyond: New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture, edited by Tony Bolden and Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic edited by Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai. Neal’s essay “Bodies in Pain”, on the music of Linda Jones and Keyshia Cole was chosen for inclusion in the 2009 edition of Best African-American Essays, edited by Gerald Early and Debra Dickerson.

Neal has appeared in several documentaries including Byron Hurt’s acclaimed Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (2006), John Akomfrah’s Urban Soul (2004) and the BBC’s Soul Deep: the Story of Black Popular Music (2005). A frequent commentator for National Public Radio Neal also contributes to several on-line media outlets, including The Root.com, theGrio.com and SeeingBlack.com. Neal maintains a blog at NewBlackMan (http://newblackman.blogspot.com/).

Shanté Paradigm Smalls

Adjunct Professor at NYU and Adjunct Associate Professor at Pace University (New York) and Brooklyn-based singer, emcee, poet and scholar

This event is part of the two-day Hip Hop Symposium (April 8 – 9)

Lecture – “Pick Up the Mic”
Friday, April 9 – 12:30 p.m.
Stern Center, Great Room

Ms. Smalls will discuss the documentary film “Pick Up the Mic” an award-winning documentary about the queer hip-hop scene(a.k.a. homohop. Shot over a three-year period in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, and even the Ozarks, the film captures the birth of the “homohop” movement and chronicles its growth into a global community of out artists that has emerged and thrived despite improbable odds.

Performance during “Hip Hop in Action”
Friday, April 9 – 7:00 p.m.
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium

About the Speaker/Performer
Ms. Smalls is an adjunct professor at NYU and adjunct associate professor at Pace University (in New York), who teaches on representations in popular culture, performance studies, and critical race, gender, sexuality and class theory. Smalls is currently writing her dissertation, Heretics of Hip-Hop: Performing Race, Gender and Sexuality in New York City.

Shanté Paradigm Smalls is a Brooklyn-based singer, emcee, poet and scholar, working at the intersections of live and recorded performance and critical artistry. She’s performed at venues such as CBGB’s, Galapagos, WOW Cafe, Yale University, Toronto Pride Festival and has appeared on MTV, VH1 and the BBC. a Found member of the hip-hop soul group, B.Q.E., Paradigm is currently working on an untitled album.

So, You Think You Can Choreograph?

PatersonCommonHour

Vincent Paterson ’72

Choreographer, director and producer; Metzger-Conway Fellow

COMMON HOUR
Thursday, April 1, 2010 – Noon
Weiss Center, Rubendall Recital Hall

Watch students from Professor Skaggs’ Applied Choreography class get professional feedback from professional dancer and choreographer, Vincent Paterson ’72.

Vincent Paterson is a world-renowned director and choreographer whose career spans just about every genre of the entertainment industry including film, theatre, Broadway, concert tours, opera, music videos, television and commercials.

“What I try to do with my work is to fill the audience with an energy that alters their being in a positive way. The work is the stone thrown into the pond. The ripples emanate from the audience. If the audience is affected even infinitesimally in a positive way, they might make something positive happen in the next five minutes, or tomorrow, or next week. That action will vibrate into the ether and the better the world will be.”

Vincent directed the critically acclaimed opera Manon with soprano Anna Netrebko and conducted by Placido Domingo. His direction of Anna Netrebko: The Woman, The Voice received a nomination for “Best Television Arts Program” at the Montreaux Film Festival. The DVD is the top selling classical DVD in European history. Vincent directed and choreographed Berlin’s first original production of the musical Cabaret at Bar Jeder-Vernunft, a mirror-tent from 1914. Vincent’s direction of the play Gangsta Love, set in a boxing club, earned him a Los Angeles Drama-Logue award for Outstanding Director. He directed Prague’s National BlackLight Theater in Gulliver’s Travels.

Vincent created many projects for Madonna and Michael Jackson, including directing and choreographing Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour and her legendary “Marie Antoinette”/Vogue performance for MTV. For Michael Jackson, he directed & choreographed the Bad Tour and Blood on the Dance Floor, choreographed Smooth Criminal and many other Jackson music videos and live performances.

Vincent directed and choreographed the musical sequences in Lars Von Trier’s Dancer In The Dark. Among the many films he choreographed are The Birdcage and Closer for director Mike Nichols, and Evita for director Alan Parker. The TNT Telefilm, In Search of Dr. Seuss, which Vincent directed, received seven Emmy nominations. He choreographed London’s West End production of Lenny for director Sir Peter Hall and LA Opera’s Grand Duchess for director Garry Marshall. Vincent received a Tony nomination for choreographing Hal Prince’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman. He choreographed over 250 commercials, many winning awards in collaboration with director, Joe Pytka.

Sponsored by The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Hip Hop Symposium

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This symposium will include special speakers, student and faculty panel discussions, and live hip hop entertainment.

The event was coordinated by The Clarke Forum Student Board and The Clarke Forum Student Project Managers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Creation of a Graffiti Wall
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Britton Plaza

Thursday, April 8, 2010

7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

How You Gonna Be the King of New York?
Mark Anthony Neal, professor of African and African American studies, Duke University
More Information

Friday, April 9, 2010

12:30 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

“Pick Up the Mic”
Shante Paradigm Smalls, New York University
More Information

2:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

The Culture of Hip Hop
Student Panel Discussion

4:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

Faculty Weigh-In
Discussion about the cultural meaning and significance of hip hop.
More Information

7:00 p.m. – Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium

Hip Hop in Action
Live performances by Hypnotic, REACH, open mic acts and Shanté Paradigm Smalls

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Vincent Paterson ’72

vincent parterson

Choreographer, Director and Metzger-Conway Fellow

The Man Behind the Thrones

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.

Patterson will talk about his career in the entertainment business and the challenges he confronts as he works intimately with famous performers, making them look their best, while attempting to remain fairly anonymous himself.

About the Speaker
Vincent Paterson is a world-renowned director and choreographer whose career spans just about every genre of the entertainment industry including film, theatre, Broadway, concert tours, opera, music videos, television and commercials.

“What I try to do with my work is to fill the audience with an energy that alters their being in a positive way. The work is the stone thrown into the pond. The ripples emanate from the audience. If the audience is affected even infinitesimally in a positive way, they might make something positive happen in the next five minutes, or tomorrow, or next week. That action will vibrate into the ether and the better the world will be.”

Vincent directed the critically acclaimed opera Manon with soprano Anna Netrebko and conducted by Placido Domingo. His direction of Anna Netrebko: The Woman, The Voice received a nomination for “Best Television Arts Program” at the Montreaux Film Festival. The DVD is the top selling classical DVD in European history. Vincent directed and choreographed Berlin’s first original production of the musical Cabaret at Bar Jeder-Vernunft, a mirror-tent from 1914. Vincent’s direction of the play Gangsta Love, set in a boxing club, earned him a Los Angeles Drama-Logue award for Outstanding Director. He directed Prague’s National BlackLight Theater in Gulliver’s Travels.
Vincent created many projects for Madonna and Michael Jackson, including directing and choreographing Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour and her legendary “Marie Antoinette”/Vogue performance for MTV. For Michael Jackson, he directed & choreographed the Bad Tour and Blood on the Dance Floor, choreographed Smooth Criminal and many other Jackson music videos and live performances.

Vincent directed and choreographed the musical sequences in Lars Von Trier’s Dancer In The Dark. Among the many films he choreographed are The Birdcage and Closer for director Mike Nichols, and Evita for director Alan Parker. The TNT Telefilm, In Search of Dr. Seuss, which Vincent directed, received seven Emmy nominations. He choreographed London’s West End production of Lenny for director Sir Peter Hall and LA Opera’s Grand Duchess for director Garry Marshall. Vincent received a Tony nomination for choreographing Hal Prince’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman. He choreographed over 250 commercials, many winning awards in collaboration with director, Joe Pytka.

Vincent is featured in the best selling, Smithsonian publication, Masters of Movement: Portrait’s of America’s Greatest Choreographers.

“My first step with Viva ELVIS was to understand Elvis the man and his music. Michael Jackson once told me, “Listen to the music. It will speak to you.” It did. The power of Elvis was in his voice. With his originality and complexity of influences, he created a revolution. When Elvis was in Las Vegas, his shows weren’t as big as Viva ELVIS because no shows were this big at that time. What I’m trying to paint, with all humility, is the show he might do today. I would be ecstatic if a new generation became Elvis fans.”

Neil Printz

web_WarholPoster

Art Historian, co-editor of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné

Andy Warhol: Post-Pop or Not?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 4:00 p.m.

Printz considers Warhol’s work after the 1960s in light of photographs and the works of art recently donated to Dickinson College by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Photographic Legacy Program.

This event is co-sponsored by The Trout Gallery.

Topical Background
Born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928, Andy Warhol became one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Known mainly as a leading figure in the Pop Art movement, Warhol is also recognized for his work as an avant-garde film maker, record producer, author, and public figure. By the time of his death in 1987, Warhol coined the popular phrase “15 minutes of fame,” sold his canvas Eight Elvises for $100 million dollars, and was identified by the media as the “Prince of Pop.”

Warhol showed early artistic talent at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, known today as Carnegie Mellon University. He then worked in New York as an illustrator for various magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and The New Yorker. As Warhol became more concerned with turning his “high art” into a form of mass production in the 1960’s, he created The Factory in New York, which used silkscreen painting to reproduce his work for mass consumption. By the end of the 1960’s, Warhol had produced some of his most popular images of iconic American products and celebrities such as the Campbell’s Soup Cans, Coca-Cola Bottles, Elvis Presley, Mohammed Ali, and Elizabeth Taylor. Also around this time, Warhol created his first underground film, Sleep, which depicted a man sleeping for 6 hours.

In his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Andy Warhol Museum commemorates his life and art. The Warhol Museum opened in 1994 and features an extensive collection of more than 12,000 works of art by Warhol, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, film, and videotapes.

About the Speaker
Neil Printz has been the co-editor of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné since 1993. Each volume of the Catalogue Raisonné documents all of Warhol’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings during a particular time and also discusses his source materials and working materials.

Printz earned his B.A. and M.A. in art history from the University of Michigan. He then went on to earn his M. Phil. and Ph.D. in art history from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.

From 1995-2004, Printz was a member of the board of directors for the Andy Warhol Authentication Board and from 1999-2004, he was the editor of Isamu Noguchi Catalogue Raisonné. Printz has also been an assistant professor of art history at Caldwell College and a Henry Luce Visiting Scholar of American Art at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum.

Rebecca Skloot

Award-winning science writer; professor of English, University of Memphis

Web-Poster

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m

Rebecca Skloot discusses her new book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a story inextricably linked to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles that could determine whether we own the stuff we are made of. A booksigning will follow the presentation.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Biology, Sociology and Psychology

Topical Background
Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks, a mother of five, was a native of rural southern Virginia whose family grew tobacco. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital and died on October 4, 1951 at the age of thirty-one.

While at Johns Hopkins Hospital, researchers took a biopsy of her tumor without her knowledge or permission. The cells, named “HeLa” for Henrietta Lacks, multiplied outside her body at an unprecedented rate. Because they can potentially divide an unlimited number of times in a laboratory setting, HeLa cells have been described as “immortal”. “If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings.”(Skloot)

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine and new treatment for cancer, AIDS, in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping. Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without their informed consent. HeLa cells have been bought and sold by the billion, but her family never saw any of the profits. California court has held that biopsied tissues are not the property of the person from which they were taken, and therefore, can be purchased and sold as commodities.

About the SpeakerSkloot Author Photo-web
Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; Prevention; Glamour; and others. She has worked as a correspondent for NPR’s Radio Lab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW, and is a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine. Her work has been anthologized in several collections, including The Best Food Writing and The Best Creative Nonfiction. She is a former vice president of the National Book Critics Circle, and is on the faculty at the University of Memphis, where she teaches creative nonfiction. She blogs about science, life, and writing at Culture Dish, hosted by Seed magazine. For more information,visit www.rebeccaskloot.com.

Leonard Cassuto

Poster (Cassuto)_ web

Professor of English, Fordham University

What’s in a Bestselling Crime Novel?

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

After exploring the origins and complexities of “bestsellers,” Cassuto applies his conclusions to the way crime novels are read and understood in the U.S.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of English and American Studies

Topical Background
The broad genre of “crime fiction” first captured the American imagination in the mid-19th century. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841, told of a dark mystery based in Paris. Its protagonist, C. Auguste Duperin, appears to be one of the first characters resembling what would come to be the archetypical crime fiction detective.

Soon after Poe’s works hit the literary world, Britain’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turned the detective novel into a phenomenon. The popularity of his Sherlock Holmes anthology transcended the Atlantic and sparked an enormous production of crime and detective novels. Crime fiction quickly became one of America’s favorite literary genres.

New categories of crime fiction are popularized with each generation of crime novelists. “Whodunits,” “hardboiled” fiction, legal thrillers, police mysteries, and spy novels are just a few of the many types of crime fiction widely read today. Even children’s literature has become dominated by mystery. The ever-evolving genre of crime fiction continues to fascinate the American public.

About the Speaker
Leonard Cassuto, professor of English at Fordham University, is the author of Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories (Columbia, 2009), named one of the year’s Ten Best crime and mystery books by the LA Times, and shortlisted for the Edgar and Macavity Awards. His previous books include The Inhuman Race: The Racial Grotesque in American Literature and Culture (Columbia, 1997), and three edited volumes, and he is the General Editor of the forthcoming Cambridge History of the American Novel. Cassuto writes widely about American crime fiction for both scholarly and general audiences; he is also an award-winning journalist on subjects ranging from science to sports. For more information, visit his Website: www.lcassuto.com
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Art Spiegelman – "Morgan Lecturer"

Spiegelman--Final-Poster-Web

Pulitzer Prize-winning artist/illustrator; author of Maus

Comix 101.1

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.

Through a chronological tour of the evolution of comics, this Pulitzer Prize-winning artist/illustrator explains the value of this medium and why it should not be ignored.

The event is Dickinson College’s annual Morgan Lecture in honor of James Henry Morgan, professor of Greek, dean, and president of the college.

Co-sponsored by The Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life, The Trout Gallery, Women’s Center, the Office of Institutional and Diversity Initiatives, and the Departments of Political Science, English, German, Judaic Studies, Art and Art History, History, Sociology, and Film Studies.

Topical Background
Comics are a graphic medium in which images are used to convey a sequential narrative. The term “comics” arose because the medium was at first used primarily for comedic intent. Today the term is applied to all uses of the medium, including those which are far from comic. The sequential nature of the pictures and the predominance of pictures over words distinguish comics from picture books, though there is some overlap between the two media. Different conventions have developed around the globe, from the manga of Japan to the manhua of China, and to the larger hard cover comic albums in Europe.

Comics as a real mass medium started to emerge in the United States in the early 20th century with the newspaper comic strip. The strip quickly developed into a standardized form, one with images and speech balloons. The combination of words and pictures proved popular, and quickly spread throughout the world. Comic strips were soon gathered into cheap booklets or comic books. Original comic books soon followed. Comics in the United States is usually traced back to the first appearance of the Yellow Kid in the New York World newspaper in 1895. Today, comics are found in newspapers, magazines, comics books, graphic novels, and on the Web. Although historically the form dealt with humorous subject matter, its scope has expanded to encompass the full range of literary genre.

About the SpeakerSpiegelmanColor credit Nadja Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman has almost single-handedly brought comic books out of the toy closet and onto the literature shelves. In 1992, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his masterful Holocaust narrative Maus – which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus II continued the remarkable story of his parents’ survival of the Nazi regime and their lives later in America. His comics are best known for their shifting graphic styles, their formal complexity, and controversial content. In his lecture ‘Comix 101.1″ Spiegelman takes his audience on a chronological tour of the evolution of comics, all the while explaining the value of this medium and why it should not be ignored. He believes that in our post-literate culture the importance of the comic is on the rise, for “comics echo the way the brain works.”

Having rejected his parents’ aspirations for him to become a dentist, Art Spiegelman studied cartooning in high school and began drawing professionally at age 16. He went on to study art and philosophy at Harpur College before becoming part of the underground comix subculture of the 60s and 70s. As creative consultant for Topps Bubble Gum Co. from 1965-1987, Spiegelman created Wacky Packages, Garbage Pail Kids and other novelty items, and taught history and aesthetics of comics at the School for Visual Arts in New York from 1979-1986. In 2007 he was a Heyman Fellow of the Humanities at Columbia University where he taught a Masters of the Comics seminar. In 1980, Spiegelman founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Françoise Mouly—Maus was originally serialized in the pages of RAW. They’ve more recently co-edited Little Lit, a series of three comics anthologies for children published by HarperCollins (“Comics-They’re not just for Grown-ups Anymore”) and Big Fat Little Lit, collecting the three comics into one volume. Currently, he and his wife publish a series of early readers called Toon Books—picture books in comics format. They have co-edited A Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics (Fall 2009). His work has been published in many periodicals, including The New Yorker, where he was a staff artist and writer from 1993-2003. A collection of his New Yorker work, Kisses from New York was published in France, Germany and Italy, and will be published in the U.S. by Pantheon, who also published his illustrated version of the 1928 lost classic, The Wild Party, by Joseph Moncure March.

In 2004 he completed a two-year cycle of broadsheet-sized color comics pages, In the Shadow of No Towers, first published in a number of European newspapers and magazines including Die Zeit and The London Review of Books. A book version of these highly political works was published by Pantheon in the United States, appeared on many national bestseller lists, and was selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2004.

Spiegelman’s work also includes a new edition of his 1978 anthology, Breakdowns (Fall 2008); it includes an autobiographical comix-format introduction almost as long as the book itself, entitled Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!; as well as a new children’s book (published with Toon Books), called Jack and the Box. Additionally, in preparation is a book with a DVD about the making of Maus, entitled Meta Maus. In 2009 Maus was chosen by the Young Adult Library Association as one of its recommended titles for all students (the list is revised every 5 years and used by educators and librarians across the country). McSweeney’s has published a collection of three of his sketchbooks entitled Be a Nose. A major exhibition of his work was arranged by Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, as part of the “15 Masters of 20th Century Comics” exhibit (November 2005). In 2005, Art Spiegelman was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and in 2006 he was named to the Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame. He was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 2005 and—the American equivalent—played himself on an episode of “The Simpsons” in 2008.

“Spiegelman has become one of the New Yorker’s most sensational artists, in recent years drawing illustrations for covers that are meant not just to be plainly understood but also to reach up and tattoo your eyeballs with images once unimaginable in the magazine of old moneyed taste… From his Holocaust saga in which Jewish mice are exterminated by Nazi cats, to the New Yorker covers guaranteed to offend, to a wild party that ends in murder: Art Spiegelman’s cartoons don’t fool around.”
— Los Angeles Times

"Bah, Humbug"

christmas-carol-posterCOMMON HOUR
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Weiss Center for the Arts, Rubendall Recital Hall

We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. But what don’t we know? Why did Dickens write A Christmas Carol in the first place? What can it tell us about Victorian culture, from the issue of poverty to the myth of the good death? How does it continue to shape our idea of the “traditional” Christmas? And what is a humbug, anyway? One part lecture, one part storytelling, and one part theatrical performance, “Bah, Humbug” explores the story behind one of the most popular ghost stories in English literature.

“Bah, Humbug” was developed with generous support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Jump Street Arts Development.

About the Performer
A former English professor at Gettysburg and Elizabethtown, Steve Anderson is a professional actor and storyteller with more than twenty years of performance experience. His credits include more than one hundred stage plays, ten years with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, seven years as a storyteller in Gettysburg, and three years as a certified living-history interpreter with the Pennsylvania Past Players. He narrates audiobooks, writes a newspaper column on Pennsylvania history… and visits schools, theatres, libraries, and special events throughout Pennsylvania with his own touring series, GreatTalesLive.com.

Thomas Boellstorff

Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California and Editor-in-Chief, American Anthropologist

virtual poster for web

Virtual Popular Culture

Monday, Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

Virtual worlds represent an important new modality of human interaction. The discussion will focus on emerging forms of popular culture in virtual worlds, the promise of ethnographic methods for studying these emerging forms of popular culture, and the broad social implications of their emergence.

Topical Background
A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment inhabited by avatars. Avatars are computer users’ representations of themselves or alter egos in the form of a three dimensional model, a two dimensional icon, or a text construct. Communications between users range from text, graphical icons, visual gesture, and sound. Multiplayer online games commonly represent a world very similar to the real world. However, virtual worlds are not limited to games; they can encompass computer conferencing and text-based chat rooms. Persons who interact and forge new forms of selfhood and society in virtual worlds are creating a virtual culture.

One of the earliest virtual world experiences can be traced back to 1968 when the first virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display system was invented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1972, role playing was born when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax created the first set of rules for Dungeons and Dragons. In 1974, the first networked, 3D multi-user first person shooter game, Maze War, was invented. Maze was the first game to include the concept of online players as eyeball “avatars” chasing each other around in a maze. Then in 1978, MUD (multi-user dungeon) was released as the game that could be played by everyone. Other games such as SimCity, Cybertown, and Second Life were also very popular. In 1998, inside Cyberspace, the world’s first online, graphical multi-user cyber-conference was held in multiple virtual worlds platforms and with multiple physical “nodes” on five continents.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Tom Boellstorff, Ph.D., is professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and editor-in-chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. His research projects have focused on questions of virtual worlds, sexuality, globalization, nationalism, language, and HIV/AIDS. He is the author of The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2005), winner of the 2005 Ruth Benedict Award from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists; A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia (Duke University Press, 2007); and Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (Princeton University Press, 2008). He is also co­editor of Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language (University of Illinois Press, 2004), co-editor of a theme issue of Ethnos, “Bodies of Emotion: Rethinking Culture and Emotion through Southeast Asia” (Volume 69:4, 2004) and co-editor of a theme issue of Anthropological Forum, “East Indies/West Indies: Comparative Archipelagos” (Volume 16:3, 2006). He is the author of publications in many journals, including American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist (twice), Cultural Anthropology, Annual Review of Anthropology, Journal of Asian Studies, Law and Society Review, PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Games and Culture, and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (three times). He is also a core faculty member for the Culture and Theory Ph.D. program at Irvine, as well as a program faculty member for the Arts, Computation, and Engineering graduate program. He has worked as a consultant for the Intel Corporation, and sits on the advisory boards of two community-based HIV/AIDS organizations in Indonesia (Gaya Nusantara in the city of Surabaya (East Java province), and Gaya Celebes in the city of Makassar (South Sulawesi province).
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Marilyn Wann

Author, Editor, and ActivistThe-Real-F-Word-Poster-for-web-with-drop-shadow

The Real F-Word: FAT

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

Marilyn Wann offers a funny and engaging discussion of what it currently means to be fat or thin, the impact of such messages, and a revolutionary new alternative for how we should live in and think about our bodies.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Marilyn Wann is a fat civil rights activist. She published a print ‘zine in the mid-90s called FAT!SO? and later wrote a book of the same name. Wann was centrally involved in successful passage of San Francisco’s height-weight anti-discrimination law in 2000 and lobbies for similar laws elsewhere. She has performed with several fat-positive groups: Marilyn splashed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” as part of the Padded Lilies synchro swim team; shook pompoms with the Bod Squad cheerleaders who oppose weight-loss surgery; and danced with the Phat Fly Girls hip hop troupe, a Big Moves project.
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Sharalyn Orbaugh

Professor of Asian studies and women’s & gender studies, University of British Columbia

JapCyborgsPoster_web

Why are Japanese Cyborgs Always Female?

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

In the robot, android or cyborg body, sex and gender are constructed and unnecessary rather than biological and functional; nonetheless, most depictions of such post-human entities retain gender and sex markers. This presentation explores the reasons behind this phenomenon in recent Japanese anime films, such as Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis.

Co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Studies

Topical Background
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a cyborg is “a person whose physical tolerances or capabilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by a machine or other external agency that modifies the body’s functioning.”

The idea of the technologically enhanced human has been prevalent in fiction since Edgar Allen Poe wrote of the prosthetic General John A.B.C. Smith in his 1839 short story, “The Man that was Used Up.” Darth Vader, the Terminator, and The Six Million Dollar Man are just a few of the cyborgs that have entered American popular culture. In Japan, cyborgs frequently appear in animated works.
Japanese animation usually depicts cyborgs as female. In the cyborg body, sex and gender are constructed and almost unnecessary, as they serve little biological or functional purpose; nonetheless, most depictions of such posthuman entities retain gender and sex markers.

This phenomenon is present in Osama Tezuka’s 1949 manga (Japanese comic book) Metropolis. In 2001, the manga was adapted into a feature length, animated film by the Japanese director who goes by the name Rintaro. This film explores the posthuman future, in which mechanical and organic beings struggle for dominance. The physical appearance of these animated cyborgs sheds light on the role of gender in Japanese society.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Sharalyn Orbaugh, professor of Asian studies and women’s & gender studies at the University of British Columbia, is a specialist in modern Japanese literature and cultural studies. Her research addresses issues of race, gender, sexuality and visuality in Japanese fiction and film, as well as popular culture media such as manga and anime.
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Brenda Dixon Gottschild

Cultural Historian, Actress, and Dancer

Brenda Gottschild poster

The (Black) Dancing Body as a Measure of Culture

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

Through dance demonstrations and visual images, Dixon Gottschild examines the pervasive Africanist presence in American culture and the sociopolitical implications of its invisibility. With dance as the focus and race the parameter, she reveals Africanisms in modern and postmodern dance and American ballet.

A book signing will follow the presentation.

Topical Background
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of practices and traditions from a specific culture by another group of people. This usually involves mimicking or borrowing musical techniques, dance styles, or other art forms.

The term “Africanist,” as used by Brenda Dixon Gottschild, refers to concepts, practices, attitudes, and forms that are rooted in Africa or African culture. The term originated in the works of American anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits. In Myth of the Negro Past (1941), Herskovits was one of the first to examine African influences on both African Americans and whites in the United States. Others to use the term include author Toni Morrison, who describes Africanism in her book Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992), which explores the presence of African stereotypes in European-influenced literature.

The cultural appropriation of Africanist traditions by European-American society likely began in blackface minstrel shows during the nineteenth century. Since these shows represented African Americans as unintelligent, uneducated individuals, they were racist and demeaning in character. An era known as the Harlem Renaissance in the early 20th century saw the rise of many prominent African-American entertainers, including poet Langston Hughes and jazz musicians Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. Jazz and the blues, themselves rooted in the work songs of African-American slaves, strongly influenced the 1950’s rock n’ roll movement, particularly the work of Elvis Presley. Today, art forms traditionally associated with African-American culture, such as rap and hip-hop, continue to affect European-American society. From music and dance to literature and social behavior, African-American customs have deeply shaped European-American culture.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Brenda Dixon Gottschild is the author of Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other Contexts (Greenwood Press 1996, paper 1998); Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era (Palgrave/St. Martin’s Press 2000, paper 2002 – winner of the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication); and The Black Dancing Body-A Geography from Coon to Cool (Palgrave/Macmillan 2003, paper 2005 – winner of the 2004 de la Torre Bueno prize for scholarly excellence in dance publication). In 2008 she was awarded the Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Leadership in Dance Research; and a grant from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through Dance Advance to begin work on a new book, titled Joan Myers Brown and The Improbable Hope of the Black Ballerina- an American Portrait. She is Professor Emerita of dance studies at Temple University and a senior consultant and writer for Dance Magazine. She performs with her husband, choreographer Hellmut Gottschild, in an innovative form of somatic and research-based collaboration for which they coined the term, “movement theater discourse.”

Co-sponsored by the Departments of American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Theatre and Dance and the Women’s Center.
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Bob Weick

MarxnSohoPoster_web

Actor and Monologuist

Howard Zinn’s “Marx in Soho”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Depot, 7:00 p.m.

Returning to earth for one hour to clear his name, Karl Marx launches into a passionate, funny and moving defense of his life and political ideas in Howard Zinn’s brilliant, timely play, Marx in Soho. The play is an excellent introduction to Marx’s life, his passion for radical change, his analysis of society, and its relevance to current events, trends, and developments.

Topical Background
Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in Trier, Germany. He studied jurisprudence and law at the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin. In 1843, the 25-year-old Marx moved to Paris, where he devoted himself primarily to studying political economy and the history of the French Revolution. In 1845, Marx moved to Brussels after the Paris authorities ordered him to leave for openly approving the assassination attempt on the King of Prussia. In 1849, Marx moved to London and remained there for the rest of his life. In London, Marx devoted himself to understanding political economy and capitalism, and to revolutionary activities. He argued that capitalism would inevitably produce internal tensions which would lead to its destruction. Marx also led the First International, a socialist movement from 1863 to 1876.

Marx was a philosopher, political economist, and a historian. His ideas are credited as the foundation of modern communism. Some of his well-known works include Wage-Labor and Capital (1847), the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), and the Capital (1867). He died on March 14, 1883. His body is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Bob Weick, national touring actor of Howard Zinn’s, “Marx in Soho.” The celebrated actor and 2003 Barrymore Award nominee has presented over 160 performances of Zinn’s play from Maine to California. A Graduate of Lehigh University and a farrier by trade, Bob began his acting career in 1995 and in the aftermath of the 2000 election, 9/11, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, chose to use his talent to contribute to the education and engagement of students and citizens.

About the Author
Renowned historian and activist, Howard Zinn, is widely known for his books A People’s History of the United States, and The Twentieth Century, to name a few. Professor emeritus at Boston University, Zinn grew up in Brooklyn and worked in the shipyards before serving as an Air Force bombardier in WWII. Zinn was the chair of the history department at Spelman College where he actively participated in the civil rights movement. He now lives in Massachusetts and lectures widely on history and politics.

Related Readings

Short Works:
The Communist Manifesto by KM
Artists in time of War and War and Terrorism, by Howard Zinn

Longer Works:
Jihad vs. McWorld by Benjamin Barber
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Agrarian Justice by Thomas Paine

For more information about the play, please visit http://www.ironagetheatre.org/.