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University events and lectures preview/review, Oct. 16-31

A preview and review of U events and lectures, Oct. 16-31

Compiled by Adam Overland

Peter Smith's bookcover

October 12, 2010

Author event, U of M Bookstore: A Porch Sofa Almanac, by Peter Smith. Peter Smith has written what he says may be the perfect bathroom reader. Each short essay is designed to be read in two-and-a-half minutes or less to a Minnesota Public Radio audience on Tuesday mornings with Cathy Wurzer. Now, his essays have been conveniently compiled for your quiet leisure in a book you can take wherever you please, bathroom included. His essays are on topics quintessentially Minnesotan, from hot dish and ice fishing, to small-town football and people-watching at Lake Calhoun. Like birch bark in a fire, Smith's essay burn fast but brightly, crackling with insight and wit that leaves you feeling warm and wanting more.

At a reading at the U of M Bookstore, Smith said he felt in sync with Minnesota when he came here decades ago by train from Chicago. "Things are more my style here. I've always been impressed by Minnesotans' openness, their warmth, and their ability to welcome you in," said Smith.

If you've lived in Minnesota for any amount of time at all, Smith's short essays will ring true, and if you're a recent arrival, they're a good preview of a culture unlike any other. Smith's talk, as well as previous authors appearing at the U of M Bookstore, are available via podcast. --Review by Adam Overland

Sustainable Shelter: Dwelling within the Forces of Nature, opens Oct. 16, Bell Museum. Just as birds solar house-thumbnail 117select and gather materials from their local environments to fashion safe and nurturing nests, humans build homes that use natural resources to meet an array of needs and desires. The exhibit reveals innovative new building technologies and strategies that can help restore the health and viability of natural cycles. You'll be introduced to the functions of shelters, and how animals and humans have adapted to differing environments through an amazing diversity of structures. The ICON solar house, the U's 2009 Solar Decathlon entry, is being reconstructed in front of the Armory as part of this Bell Museum exhibit.

Second Annual Social Justice Film Festival for faculty, staff, and students. Oct. 16, with five films shown at 1 p.m. and another five at 3 p.m., Tate Physics Building. Social justice documentary films selected for this year's festival are sure to inform, with topics like sex and power in music videos, racism and white supremacy in the United States, the "race to the bottom" in television news, and more. All documentaries will be followed by discussion. Be one of the first 150 participants and you'll receive a free t-shirt.

Stalled Writing: A Day on Writing Participatory Public Art Project, Oct. 20, 8-10 a.m., Nicholson Hall bathrooms, ground-level and first floor. Bring your own writing utensil. Bathrooms have long been sites of public—albeit vandalistic—writing. Stalled Writing creates opportunities to indulge in bathroom graffiti without defacing public property by papering over the stall walls. Provided with such a canvas, you are invited to sit down and write...contemporary proverbs, political commentary, anonymous conversations, and whatever else the porcelain muse inspires.

"Property Rights on the New Frontier: Climate Change, Natural Resource Development, and Renewable Energy," Oct. 20, noon-1 p.m., IonE Seminar Room 380, VoTech Building, St. Paul campus (available via UMConnect). Free. As a historical matter, natural resource development law often focused on granting private property interests in natural resources such as water, minerals, and oil and gas, to encourage development of those resources. By contrast, the pollution control laws of the 1970s and 1980s attempted to limit property rights in land and resources in order to protect the environment and reduce harmful emissions to air, water, and land. Climate change, of course, is a pollution control problem with a natural resource development solution, namely, the need to create new, renewable energy sources to replace petroleum, coal, and natural gas and new technologies to eliminate CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use. Professor Alexandra Klass will analyze the history of natural resource law and pollution control law to provide some insights into current efforts by states to create wind easements, solar easements, and other property rights in the use of or access to renewable resources.

Professors Write: A Roundtable on Faculty Writing and Faculty Writing Support, Oct. 20, 2-3:30 p.m., 123 Burton Hall. Free. Refreshments provided. Writing—and publication—remains a crucial component of success for faculty at a research institution. Yet faculty find little support for accomplishing their writing goals. The Center for Writing’s recent Summer Hunker events have created time, space, and community in order to sustain and support faculty in their writing endeavors. At this roundtable, past Summer Hunker participants will share what they have accomplished as writers and what they have learned in the process, hoping to help you—their colleagues from across campus—find more writing success. The event is part of the U's celebration of the 2010 National Day on Writing.

State Parks of Minnesota, Oct. 21, 6-9 p.m., Continuing Education and Conference Center, St. Paul. $40. Camping season in Minnesota may be all but over, but that just means there's soon to be plenty of indoor time to prepare for next year's excursions. Get started with this short course offered by the College of Continuing Education's LearningLife program. From Blue Mounds in the extreme southwest corner of the state, to Grand Portage at the northernmost edge of Lake Superior’s north shore, Minnesota’s 66 state parks are a treasure trove of history, nature, and recreation. Explore these valuable state assets through photography with Doug Ohman, author and photographer of the recently published Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota’s State Parks.

University faculty and staff receive a 10 percent discount on any of LearningLife's short courses. For a complete listing of the topics explored through this year’s short courses, see LearningLife or call 612-624-4000 to register.

Urban Bush Women, Oct. 24, 7 p.m., Ted Mann Concert Hall. $27, $37, $47. "So juicily do the dancers in Urban bush women smallJawole Willa Jo Zollar's company project empowerment, self-esteem, and strength under duress that after every dance, you want to cheer." --The Village Voice. Founded in 1984 by choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Urban Bush Women brings to light the under-told stories of disenfranchised people through a feminist perspective. For their 25th anniversary, Zollar unleashes the erotic integrity in a retrospective collection of her most controversial work from the mid 1980s and early 90s, a time period plagued with artistic censorship. The result is a frank depiction of both female desire and torment with the uplifting outcome of the female rising above the cultural and historical turmoil. Contains nudity.

Author event: U professor Douglas Starr will discuss his book, The Killer of Little Shepherds, Oct. 29, 4 p.m., U Bookstore, Coffman Union. Free. In his book, The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science, Starr delivers an important contribution to the history of medicine and criminal justice. Follow the story of the late 19th century serial killer Joseph Vacher who terrorized the French countryside and eluded authorities for years until he ran up against a prosecutor and criminologist. Learn how these men developed forensic science as we know it—including one of the earliest uses of criminal profiling, the first use of blood-spatter evidence, the development of a systemized autopsy, and ground-breaking psychological research.
Halloween Programs at The Raptor Center, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Cost: $5 per child, $7.50 per adult. Did you know that owls used to be mistaken for ghosts? To hear about this raptor legend, as well as other myths and legends about raptors, come to a special Halloween program at The Raptor Center. All children who come in costume will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win great prizes.

Find more Twin Cities events using the U's events calendar.

University events and lectures preview/review is a periodic column (about every two weeks) highlighting events and lectures recently past and soon-to-come on the UMTC campus. Faculty and staff are invited to contribute. Review submissions should be no more than 500 words, previews 200 or fewer. Both are subject to review by the Brief editor.