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Fall 2017 Calendar of Events

Fall 2017 Calendar of Events [PDF]

Dialogue Symposium - Common Pursuits/Public Good

A commitment to the public good premises a system of shared values, even as those values change and, sometimes, come into conflict with each other. Consensus can be elusive, and compromise difficult, but the pursuit continues. Institutions as well as individuals benefit from  and contribute to broader social, cultural, and civic goals. This fall, we invite dialogue on how the arts and humanities contribute to the public good through acts of advocacy and teaching; creation and critique; contemplation and scholarship. We hope you will join us.

ENGAGE: An Exhibit by William Chambers
On display from September 12 through November 21
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

Part installation, part performance, wholly participatory. These ongoing socially-engaged works by artist and instructor William Chambers use the power of art objects to foster conversation on important issues and to allow for the unexpected.


“Service Station” begins with a vintage cloth hand-towel dispenser. Participants are asked to describe “What’s missing?” in the world or in their lives. Their answers are turned into symbols and then embroidered on the towel. “Service Station” has collected more than 300 responses in its tour of ten cities to date. This will be its first showing in Worcester.


“Repairs” is an old-fashioned street-cart repair shop. Costumed repairers invite participants to bring objects (and less tangible items) to be repaired on the spot. Whether a practical fix is desired or a more fantastical transformation is created, personal interaction and surprising conversations are the inevitable result. This fall, “Repairs” will debut at Clark University, with public repair events at 920 Main Street on the following Saturdays from 2-6pm: September 16, October 21, November 4, and November 18. “Fixed” items will be on display in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons.


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts

What’s In It for Us? A Community Conversation on the Public Good
Thursday, September 28 @ 7pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

The pursuit of common goals derives from a consideration of many individual perspectives—what we know from experience, what we imagine through compassion, and what we learn by listening to others. But with so many stakeholders involved, how do we support, utilize, and recognize contributions to the public good? Do we think first of organizations—whether public or private—or of individual relationships and everyday interactions within communities? Must benefits to some also serve the interests of many? Join us for a community conversation facilitated by Barbara Bigelow (Graduate School of Management) and Toby Sisson (Studio Art), who will bring their respective expertise in dialogic process and community-based art, as we begin this semester’s exploration of the “Public Good.”


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and Difficult Dialogues

Why Bother with Prison Education?
Thursday, October 5 @ 4:30pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

Arguments for the value of prison education generally focus on larger social benefits, such as reduced recidivism. Arguments might also be made, however, for the less quantifiable but no less transformative outcomes for individuals themselves. Professor and poet Jill McDonough (University of Massachusetts Boston) has seen this transformation firsthand, teaching literature and creative writing in Boston University’s Prison Education Program for fourteen years and volunteering in several prisons and juvenile detention facilities. Arthur Bembury was one of McDonough’s students at MCI-Norfolk and is now Executive Director of Partakers, a non-profit organization devoted to helping volunteers mentor incarcerated students. Together, they will lead a conversation on the fundamental role of education in the prison system. McDonough will share her experiences as an instructor and read samples of her incarcerated students’ poetry. Bembury will reflect on prison education and his work with Partakers, opening the conversation to the audience and inviting them to ask questions and offer ideas.


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Department of English, and the Hiatt Center for Urban Education


Why Get Involved with Prison Education?
Tuesday, October 17 @ 4:30pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

Students and teachers, tutors and mentors, organizers and activists—all those involved in prison education programs can speak to the many overlapping benefits for individuals, families, and communities. In this follow-up panel to “Why Bother with Prison Education?”, participants will discuss the goals of various programs, offer reflections on their own experiences, and provide further information on volunteer opportunities for those interested in getting involved. Panelists will include: Clark University professor Shelly Tenenbaum (Sociology), who taught last year at MCI-Norfolk, a medium security prison for men, through the Boston University program; Claude Kaitare, a former Clark student who worked with Tenenbaum as a teaching assistant; and Steffen Seitz from the Petey Greene Program, an organization that trains undergraduate and graduate students to tutor in prison educational programs.


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Department of Sociology


Terror Rising: The Village Mob
Wednesday, October 25 @ 7pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

A swarm of angry villagers emerges from the mist, torches lit and pitchforks drawn. Marching through the darkness, they hunt a monster, spurred on by fear and screaming for retribution. Are they coming to save the day, or do they blindly seek to crush that which is more misunderstood than menacing? What happens when actions meant to protect society go terribly wrong?


As has become our Halloween tradition, Professors Gino DiIorio (Theater), James Elliott (English), and Jennifer Plante (The Writing Center) will read scary stories that turn our attention from the fear of the monster to the fear of the mob. Combining the beauty of language, the art of storytelling, and the desire for community, Readings in the Higgins Lounge continues to showcase the power and pleasure of the humanities.


Sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities


Off-Campus Event! Community and Memory: The Bullard Photographs
Sunday, October 29 @ 4pm
Belmont A.M.E. Zion Church
55 Illinois Street, Worcester


Recently discovered historical images by Worcester photographer William Bullard spark numerous questions about community, its meaning, and how we remember it. The site of most of Bullard’s photographs of people of color—the vital, diverse Beaver Brook neighborhood in Worcester—now largely consists of empty lots. How does loss of place impact the memory of a community? What are the implications to an entire city, such as Worcester, when the histories of individual neighborhoods are overlooked?


Cheryll Toney Holley (Sinks’ and historian of the Nipmuc Nation and Hassanamisco Band of Nipmuc Indians) and Janette Thomas Greenwood, Professor of History at Clark University, will preface the discussion by showing how the Bullard photographs can help us reconstruct this neighborhood, its families, and their stories, suggesting lessons we can learn about community and memory today.


Rediscovering an American Community of Color: The Photographs of William Bullard, 1897-1917 will be on display at the Worcester Art Museum from October 14, 2017 to February 25, 2018.


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Department of History


Race/Memory/Public Space
Friday, November 3 @ 12pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

Last July’s KKK march in Charlottesville, Virginia protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument that dominated a city park was in some ways a rag-tag reenactment of the Klan march that celebrated the statue’s unveiling in 1924. Then as now, the public monument venerated Southern heritage as the mythic deeds of Confederate martyrs, but more significantly it elevated Lee as a sentinel of white supremacy to remind black residents daily of the limits of their citizenship and humanity. This and other recent controversies, such as public murders of unarmed African American men and women by the police, beg the question of whether or not public space in the United States remains racialized, divided, and dangerous to black life despite landmark strides in civil rights. As a cultural historian who has written about the National African American Museum of History and Culture and as a designer of UVA’s Memorial for Enslaved African American Laborers, Mabel O. Wilson will explore the current and historical intersections of race, architecture, and the public realm.


This event is part of the African American Intellectual Culture Series and is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Office of the Provost, Africana Studies, and the Department of Political Science through the Chester Bland Fund.


Health Care for Good: What We Need to Learn from Radical Clinics
Tuesday, November 7 @ 7pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

In the 1960s and 70s, most urban centers in the US boasted a thriving array of radical clinics, often linked to political movements such as the Black Panther Party and the Women’s Health Movement. A handful of these clinics remain and continue to evolve, still offering exceptional care today. In the best examples, radical clinics provide working models of respectful, collaborative, and affordable care that is for people, not profit. As author, performer, and practitioner Terri Kapsalis suggests, there is much work to be done both in expanding economic and geographic access to health care and ensuring the quality of the care provided. Drawing on interviews with radical clinic participants and more than twenty-five years of experience as a collective member of the Chicago Women’s Health Center, Kapsalis will offer a vision of what radical health care has been and what it can be.


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities; the Center for Gender, Race, and Area Studies; and Women’s and Gender Studies

Art as Social Practice
Wednesday, November 8 @ 7pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

Socially engaged art exists at the intersection between powerful symbolic statements and quantifiable political change. Rooted in the long history of artistic traditions and more recent upheavals and revolutions, socially engaged art has the power to interrogate privilege and inequity as well as identity-based pretexts for social and political discrimination. William Chambers, instructor at Massachusetts Bay Community College and Visual Arts Chair at the Bancroft School, will present a series of case studies that demonstrate the complex interplay between theory and practice, precedents and challenges found in a field that exists at once in the heart of our social and artistic spheres and nowhere at all.


Sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities


Also at the Higgins School this semester

The Science of Undeath: Zombies and Animated Corpses in Historical Perspective
Wednesday, October 18 @ 4:30pm
Higgins Lounge, 2nd Floor, Dana Commons

The popularity of shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Zombie Nation” reveal an increasing national fascination with the undead. But interest in zombies, revenants, and animated corpses is nothing new, having long captured the imagination not just of fiction writers, but also of theologians, philosophers, and even scientists. The question of when a human is truly dead has been the focus of scholarly investigation for millennia. In this talk, historian Winston Black (Assumption College) will examine how and why medieval scholars debated corpse animation and hence understood the porous boundaries between life and death. Clark University professor Deborah Robertson (Biology) will offer commentary.


This event is part of the Roots of Everything, a lecture series sponsored by Early Modernists Unite (EMU)—a faculty collaborative bringing together scholars of medieval and early modern Europe and America—in conjunction with the Higgins School of Humanities. The series highlights various aspects of modern existence originating in the early modern world and teases out connections between past and present.


Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, Early Modernists Unite, and the Departments of Biology and History