Speaker series begins Sept. 21 with Indian dancer-choreographer
A dancer from India, a pair of street poets, a poet and writer, a rock musician who has performed across the Middle East, and a media critic will visit Hobart and William Smith Colleges as The Fisher Center series for Fall 2006 focuses on gender, art and activism. All evening talks are free and open to the public; except as noted, they will be in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library on Pulteney Street.
• The series will open with Ananya Chatterjea, associate professor of dance at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, speaking on “Dancing My Politics,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21.
Chatterjea retraces her journey from a classical Indian dancer to a contemporary choreographer to address questions of identity, representation and politics. The artistic director of “Women in Motion,” a company of South Asian women performing political theatre, she creates pieces for them about issues in the lives of women of color, particularly those of South Asian origin.
She will offer a master class from 11:50 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 in the Winn-Seeley dance studio. Her performance, “Duurbaar (unstoppable), journeys into horizon,” will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, also at Winn-Seeley.
• Climbing PoeTree will present a workshop, “Smokin’ Wordz,” at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 in The Fisher Center, 212 Demarest Hall, on South Main Street. The principals are Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman — “poets who moonlight as street artists, and art activists who deploy their weapons of mass imagination.”
Their performance, “Art — our Weapon, our Medicine, our Voice, our Vision,” will begin at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29.
Garcia and Penniman teach poetry and political education to prisoners and young people through a number of school and social service organizations. They’ve described their mission, “to reshape the world through (r)evolutionary art,” and have rocked international festivals from Maine to South Africa, headlined shows at more than 40 colleges and universities, and propelled the 2004 Lyrics on Lockdown tour, an effort to raise consciousness about the criminal justice system in and outside of prisons.
• Writer and poet Susan Griffin will speak on “Ecologies of Soul: Restoring the
Connection Between Self and World, Art and Society,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4.
Griffin recently wrote a musical drama, “Canto,” depicting the massacre of villagers in El Salvador during the 1980s, and has begun the third volume of her social autobiography, “Wrestling with the Angel of Democracy, the Autobiography of an American Citizen.”
She is co-editing an anthology, “Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World,” and her “A Chorus of Stones, the Private Life of War,” was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Award and won the BABRA award in 1992. Griffin has been named by Utne reader as one of 100 important visionaries for the new millennium, and has received an NEA grant, a Macarthur Grant for Peace and International Cooperation, and an Emmy award for her play, “Voices.”
She will read from – and talk about – her works starting at 4:30 p.m. the next day at The Fisher Center.
• Mark LeVine, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California-Irvine, will discuss “Heavy Metal Islam: The Untold Struggle of Islam’s Generation X,” at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 1.
A rock musician and teacher, LeVine is “a leader of the new generation of historians and analysts of the modern Middle East and Islam. He argues that counters to the violence that defines global politics are to be found in youth culture and a world music scene that blends political dissent and virtuosity.”
He uses heavy metal and hip-hop to unite young Arab musicians, their more religious counterparts and Americans. He has helped organize performances, in Lebanon and elsewhere, with artists from around the world, as one way to build an alternative discourse to the war on terror and the idea that “you are either with us or against us.” He spent eight years living, researching and reporting from the region, including Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Morocco. He has appeared on several radio and television programs, and has written articles for the Los Angeles Times, Le Monde, the Christian Science Monitor, as well as numerous articles, chapters and books and is working on a new book on heavy metal Islam and youth culture.
• The fall series will conclude with a talk by media critic Jennifer Pozner, on “Broadcasting, Bombs and Babes: Women’s Activism for Media Justice,” at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 29.
Pozner is the founder and director of Women In Media and News, a women’s media analysis, education and advocacy organization, and has asked about war being reported as a women’s issue – “and whatever happened to the Afghan women the Bush administration supposedly waged war to ‘save'”?
A former director of the Women's Desk for the national media watch group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, she has published in magazines including Ms., Newsday, Chicago Tribune, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, and a variety of anthologies about women, media, politics and popular culture.
She will offer a media workshop from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30 at The Fisher Center, with lunch provided and suggestions for students and faculty on what makes something newsworthy and how a group can get its message heard.
Pozner recently responded to a controversial Forbes' Magazine article, both on the radio and on the on the WIMN Blog.
Since October 1998, the Fisher Center has brought together faculty, students, and experts in gender-related fields to explore gender and sexuality in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences, in an effort to foster mutual understanding and social justice in contemporary society. The Center was endowed with a $1 million gift from Emily and the late Richard Fisher, whose son Alexander graduated from Hobart College in 1993. Creation of the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men reflects a perfect intersection of the Colleges' coordinate history and trends in the study of gender throughout academe.