Humanities Forum: There’s a Crack in Everything: That’s How the Light Gets In (3/4)

RaskowitzWednesday, March 4 | 7:00 p.m.
There is a Crack in Everything: That’s How the Light Gets in*
(*from Anthem by Leonard Cohen)
Michael Rakowitz, Professor, Art Theory & Practice, Northwestern University
Performing Arts and Humanities Building, Room 132

Artist Michael Rakowitz discusses his work, in the context of hope and antagonism, and at the intersection of problem solving and trouble-making. Rakowitz’s symbolic interventions in problematic urban situations extend from paraSITE (1998 – ongoing), in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s HVAC system, to Minaret (2001-Ongoing), in which access is gained to an architecturally-appropriate rooftop in a Western city and the Islamic call to prayer is sounded five times a day with the help of a megaphone for amplification. In Spoils (2011) Rakowitz made a culinary intervention at New York City’s Park Avenue restaurant by inviting diners to eat traditional Iraqi dishes on plates looted from Saddam Hussein’s personal collection. The project culminated in the repatriation of the former Iraqi President’s flatware to the Republic of Iraq at the behest of current Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki on December 15, 2011, the date Coalition Forces left Iraq. In a related culinary-art project in Chicago, titled Enemy Kitchen (2012), Rakowitz devised a food truck that was manned by Iraqi War veterans working under Iraqi refugee chefs and served Iraqi cuisine to the public.

Michael Rakowitz is Professor of Art Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.  Born in New York  in 1973, Rakowitz is an Iraqi-American conceptual artist who works in a range of media to provoke discourse on contemporary politics. His solo exhibition, The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own (2010), was exhibited at the Tate Modern, London. Another project, The Breakup, first presented at Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem in 2010, was exhibited at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago in 2014. Rakowitz’s work  is featured in major private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Van Abbemuseum, Endhoven, Netherlands; British Museum; Kabul National Museum, Afghanistan; and UNESCO, Paris. Rakowitz is the recipient of a six prestigious awards from international foundations, most recently, a 2012 Louis Tiffany Foundation Award.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Visual Arts Department; the Center for Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Arts; the Center for Arts, Design and Visual Culture; the American Studies Department; and the Modern Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communications Department.

Humanities Forum: A Stirring Song Sung Heroic (2/24)

Interior, Fort Morgan, Battle Site Mobile Bay, Alabama 2003 Silver gelatin print

Interior, Fort Morgan, Battle Site
Mobile Bay, Alabama
Silver gelatin print

Tuesday, February 24 | 4:00 p.m.
William Earle Williams, Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts, and Curator of Photography, Haverford College
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

A Stirring Song Sung Heroic features the work of photographer William Earle Williams. The history of American slavery is presented across three series of 80 black and white silver gelatin prints.  These images document mostly anonymous, unheralded, and uncelebrated places in the New World—from the Caribbean to North America—where Americans black and white determined the meaning of freedom. Archives of prints, newspapers, and other ephemera related to the struggle accompany the work.

William E. Williams is the Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts, and Curator of Photography at Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. His photographs have been widely exhibited including group and solo exhibitions at the Cleveland Museum of Art, George Eastman House, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The National Gallery, Smith College and Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His work is represented in many public collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Williams has received individual artist fellowships from the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery, the Africana Studies Department, and the History Department.

Humanities Forum: Panel Discussion on “Slavery by Another Name” (2/9)

On Monday, February 9, Dr. Spencer Crew presents the Humanities Forum “Panel Discussion on ‘Slavery by Another Name.” The event will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Slavery By Another NameThe film Slavery By Another Name explores a reality that often went unacknowledged: a huge system of forced, unpaid labor, mostly affecting Southern black men, that lasted from the 1800s until World War II. Based on the Pulitzer-Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, the film Slavery By Another Name tells the story of black men who were forced to work as convict laborers in factories, mines, and farms. These men were bought, sold, and abused by law enforcement officers who cited regulations against vagrancy, loitering, or walking near railroads. These ‘black codes’ were laws that essentially re-enslaved blacks; many former slaves and their descendants were not free in reality. These laws existed despite the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Confederate defeat in the Civil War. Although Congress enacted the Fourteenth Amendment (enshrining birthright citizenship and equal protection of the law) in 1868 and the Fifteenth Amendment (guaranteeing the right to vote for all men regardless of race) in 1870, Southern communities ignored these federal mandates. The film includes interviews with the descendants of victims and perpetrators. Panelists will discuss the film and what it suggests about life in America today.

Dr. Spencer Crew is the Robinson Professor of American, African American, and Public History at George Mason University. He has served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and as director of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

For more information, click here.

*The film Slavery By Another Name will be screened at 12 p.m. on February 2nd and 4th in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Sponsored by the Africana Studies Department; the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.

Humanities Forum: Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea (12/2)

Sherman's MarchOn Tuesday, December 2 at 4:00 p.m., UMBC professors Anne Rubin and Kelley Bell will present the Humanities Forum, “Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea.” The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Rubin, an associate professor of history, and Bell, an assistant professor of visual arts, will use the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s March to the Sea to discuss their collaboration on a digital project about this American Civil War event. Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory is an experiment in digital history that uses storytelling to introduce viewers to ideas about the intersections of place and memory. By showing the various approaches to one historical event—the 1864 March to the Sea—this project opens up questions about the stories that are told about the past.

The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and by the History Department, the Imaging Research Center, and the Visual Arts Department. For more information, click here.

Humanities Forum: The Honor Code (10/20)

On Monday, October 20 at 5 p.m., Kwame Anthony Appiah, a renowned philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist, will present the Humanities Forum, “The Honor Code.” The event is the Daphne Harrison Lecture and will take place in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building Theatre.

Appiah image

Philosophers spend a lot of time thinking about what is right and wrong, and some time thinking about how to get people to see what is right and wrong—but almost no time thinking about how to get them to do what they know is right. Anthony Appiah has spent the last decade thinking about what it takes to turn moral understanding into moral behavior. In this talk, he will explore one of the keys to real moral revolution: mobilizing the social power of honor and shame to change the world for the better.

Named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 public intellectuals, Kwame Anthony Appiah teaches at New York University. He previously taught at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and the University of Ghana. He is the President of the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest human rights organization and is second vice-president of the Modern Languages Association. In 2012, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by The White House.

The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and by the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the Philosophy Department; the Africana Studies Department; and the Global Studies Program. For more information, click here.

Humanities Forum: Translating the Indian Past: The Poets’ Experience (10/13)

On Monday, October 13 at 4 p.m., Arvind Krishna Mehrotra will present the Humanities Forum, “Translating the Indian Past: The Poets’ Experience.” The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Mehrotra, one of India’s most celebrated contemporary poets and an acclaimed translator of Indian literature, will talk about how three important Indian poets (Toru Dutt, AK Ramanujan, and Arun Kolatkar) translated the Indian classics. Translation is never simple, but these Indian translators added to their translations many strands, giving their work the feel of a multicolored rope. Toru’s translation of a Purana story would be unthinkable without her Christianity; Ramanujan’s translations of Sangam poetry, Nammanlvar, and the Virasaiva poets without Modernism; and Kolatkar’s of the Marathi bhakti poets without the American idiom, which he sometimes employed in his own poems as well. While these translations bring past and present together in the ongoing construction of India’s literary heritage, they also lead us to ask broader questions: Are the Indian poet-translators exemplars of ‘world lit.’ or do they bring a particularly ‘Indian’ perspective to translation; or is it both?

The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and by the Asian Studies Program; the English Department; the Global Studies Program; and the Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication Department. For more information, click here.

Humanities Forum: Children of Rus’: Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation (10/2)

On Thursday, October 2 at 4 p.m., Faith Hillis, an assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago, will present the Humanities Forum and Webb Lecture, “Children of Rus’: Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation. The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Webb LectureDuring the recent crisis in Ukraine, Russian national interests in Ukraine became front-page news. In this talk, Prof. Hillis places the struggle for control of Ukraine in a broader historical context. The nineteenth century saw a powerful and transformative Russian nationalist movement sweep across what is today central Ukraine. Claiming to restore the ancient customs of the East Slavs, the region’s Russian nationalists sought to empower local Orthodox residents and to diminish the influence of non-Orthodox minorities. By about 1910, Russian nationalism had become the preeminent political force in central Ukraine, dwarfing the influence of rival national movements; indeed, the region boasted the most politically successful Russian nationalist movement in the entire tsarist empire.

Reconstructing how and why Russian nationalism took hold on the empire’s southwestern periphery, Prof. Hillis puts forth a bold new interpretation of the relationship between state and society and between center and periphery under tsarism. By examining how intellectual developments in the nineteenth century created the architecture for the horrific violence of the twentieth, this discussion reflects on the causes of and offers potential solutions for the current crisis in Ukraine.

The event is sponsored by the History Department and by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. For more information, click here.