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University events and lectures preview/review (Oct. 28-Nov. 17)

A preview and review of U events and lectures, Oct. 28–Nov. 17

Compiled by Adam Overland

Continuously Rich 165

October 26, 2010

“Continuously Rich: Black Women in Cultural Productions Symposium,” Oct. 21 to Oct. 23.
The "Continuously Rich: Black Women in Cultural Productions Symposium" was jam-packed with engaging and thought-provoking dance pieces and lectures that celebrated the work of black women choreographers. Organized by U of M director of dance Ananya Chatterjea, the symposium began Oct. 21 with an intriguing lecture on African bodies as texts, led by Awam Amkpa, Cowles Visiting Scholar and author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires and Archetypes, Stereotypes and Polytypes: Theatres of the Black Atlantic.

Amkpa spoke about how female choreographers are challenging the traditional African culture by using dance, rather than more traditional forms, as a means to express themselves and their experiences.

Oct. 22 and 23 featured University dance students performing previews of the restaging of Jawole Will Jo Zollar’s classic piece, Walking with Pearl…Southern Diaries, and a restaged version of Nora Chipaumire’s work, Dark Swan.

Walking with Pearl…Southern Diaries was created as a tribute to the African American dance pioneer and activist Pearl Primus. It was a powerful combination of African music and riveting choreography that blended African and modern dance and ballet. Dark Swan, which originated as a solo for an African woman, bare-chested in a tutu, was restaged for a group of male dance students.

Those who were unable to see these compelling pieces during the symposium will have another chance when they are performed again in the University Dance Theatre’s annual dance concert Dec. 10-12, the Southern Theater.

Saturday also included a Student History Jam and a keynote lecture on the contributions of black women to American concert dance by Cowles Visiting Scholar Thomas DeFrantz, the acclaimed scholar and author of Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance and Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s Embodiment of African American Culture. This lecture traced the history of black women's presence in American dance, emphasizing the fundamental opportunities that these artists have made possible. For more information, photos, and videos from the event, see Continuously Rich: Black Women in Cultural Productions.

--Review by Jennie Germain, communications coordinator, Theatre and Dance

Public talk and scholarship presentation with astronaut Dan Brandenstein. Oct. 28, 12:35-1:30 p.m., Mississippi Room, Coffman Union. Free. For most of us, looking at the night sky is the closest we're ever going to come to space. But Captain Dan Brandenstein has flown four space shuttle missions and logged more than 780 hours in space. He commanded the maiden voyage of the shuttle Endeavour. Early in his career, Brandenstein flew 192 combat missions in the Vietnam War. He was serving as an A-6 flight instructor when NASA tapped him to become an astronaut in 1978. It makes you wonder how much time he's actually spent on the ground.

In any case, he's flown often and well enough to be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003, and he currently serves on the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's Board of Directors. In addition to the talk, Brandenstein will present College of Science and Engineering students Matthew Coudron (mathematics and physics) and Scott Isaacson (chemical engineering) each with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students. 

Jonnycake versus Escargot: Food, Dining and Identity in Antebellum Urban America. Oct. 28, 4-5:30 p.m., 125 Nolte. Free. In the early nineteenth century, the act of cooking was treasured in America as a sacred female duty and a patriotic act. In their kitchens, wives and mothers prepared foods characteristic of an emerging national diet that nourished their families' bodies as well as their virtue. By the late 1820s, the rise of commercial dining in urban centers began to undermine women’s domestic role as food provider. At the same time, rising immigration and the growing influence of ethnic foods and methods of eating in commercial establishments—especially the introduction of French restaurants—threatened to stint the further development of a distinctly "native" cuisine. This presentation traces antebellum America's burgeoning multicultural commercial-dining landscape and the challenges it posed to gender roles and national identity during this period.

Frontiers in the Environment: "Animal Translocation: Public Health Implications of Moving Animals and Animal Products," featuring Jeff Bender, associate professor, Veterinary Public Health. Nov. 3, noon-1 p.m., IonE Seminar Room R380, VoTech Bldg., St. Paul campus or via UMConnect. Millions of animals cross the U.S. border annually, some legally, and some illegally. In addition, within-country movement of animals and animal products has been linked to outbreaks impacting human health and regional economies. The demand for animals and animal products also impacts the environment. Jeff Bender will provide an overview of recent case studies and the need for a thoughtful discourse about the need for food and the cultural implications of changing trade and movement policies.

Seventh Annual NOMMO African American Authors Series, featuring poets Patricia Smith, Gary Jackson, and Yusef Komunyakaa; beginning Nov. 3, 7 p.m., with Patricia Smith. Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Center. Tickets: $15 per event; $25 for the two-event series. Presented annually since 2004 by the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, the series provides rare opportunities to publicly define the state of the art of African American literature and to locate the work and contributions of national as well as Twin Cities African American writers within the present authoring of our literary tradition. Complimentary tickets are available to U students and Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries. For more information, call 612-624-2345.

dirty war 165"The Mexican 'Dirty War' and Student Radicalism," 1971-1982." Presented by Fernando Calderon, Department of History. Nov. 4, 12:15 p.m.-1:30 p.m., 609 Social Sciences. Free. The Mexican "dirty war," is perhaps the most understudied period of political strife in Latin America during the 1970s. The prevailing historical record depicts Mexico in this period as the “pax priísta,” in which the ruling party presided over a period of political stability and economic growth, and only experienced insignificant episodes of coercion, which never put the perpetuity of the system at risk. However, thousands of leftists, students, intellectuals, workers, peasants, and innocent civilians were harassed, arrested, tortured, raped, murdered, or "disappeared" by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and counterinsurgency groups. This talk focuses on the contribution of student urban guerrilla movements to popular politics and the culture of rebellion during the 1970s.

Author event: Music and literary critic Thomas Larson will discuss his book The Saddest Music Ever Written. Nov. 8, 4 p.m., U Bookstore. Free. The Saddest Music Ever Written is the first book ever to explore Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Learn the story of the prodigal composer and his seminal masterpiece from its composition in 1936, when Barber was just 26, to its orchestral premier two years later. Larson explores how Barber’s composition emerged as America’s secular hymn for grieving our dead, through its use at presidential funerals, the anti-war theme from the film Platoon, and as a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Part biography, part cultural history, part memoir, The Saddest Music Ever Written captures the deep emotion of Barber and how his work became an icon.

Author event: Best-selling author Robert Putnam on American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. Nov. 9, 3-4:30 p.m., Mayo Memorial Auditorium. Cost: adults $20; students $10. Unique among nations, America is deeply religious, religiously diverse, and remarkably tolerant. But in recent decades, the nation’s religious landscape has been reshaped. Join best-selling author Robert Putnam for a discussion about his new book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, based on two of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America. It includes a dozen profiles of diverse congregations across the country, illuminating how the trends described by Putnam and his co-author David Campbell affect the lives of real Americans.

Research at the Red Stag. "The Very Hungry River: What happens with the removal of a 95-year-old dam?" Nov. 10, 5:30p.m., Red Stag Supper Club. Free. This series, featuring discussions on the second Wednesday of every month, bridges the gap between science and culture in a setting that bridges the gap between brain and belly. Food, beer, and learning are on the menu in a happy hour forum that offers the opportunity to talk with researchers about their current work, its implications, and its fascinations.

The Nov. 10 event features Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist with the USDA Forest Service who works on some of the largest dam removal projects in North America. Addressing the "juicy problems" that accompany such large-scale ecological changes, Grant will lead a lively discussion on the complexities of removing a long-standing dam and environmental management in the wake of its removal.

Josef A. Mestenhauser Lecture Series on Internationalizing Higher Education: "Intercultural Matters: The Internationalization of Higher Education," by Jolene Koester, president, California State University, Northridge. Nov. 12, 2-4 p.m., 3M Auditorium, Carlson School. Free. Jolene Koester is a noted scholar and author in the field of intercultural communication. She earned a Ph.D. in speech communication from the University of Minnesota in 1980 and was professor of communication studies at Sacramento State University.

This annual lecture provides an academic forum in which scholars from around the world present innovative and thought-provoking scholarship on the internationalization of higher education. The lecture will be recorded and posted online, and the paper will be published by the Office of International Programs.

Math and Science Family Fun Fair. Nov. 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Great Hall, Coffman Union. Free. Truly fun for the whole family, the Math and Science Family Fun Fair features fascinating activities, hands-on exhibits, and entertaining presentations showcasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This year’s highlights include Physics Force shows, a Mystery Science Room, and much more.

Leonid meteor shower, Nov. 17-18, planet earth and beyond. Okay, this event doesn't take place strictly on the Twin Cities campus, but Northop Mall would probably provide a pretty nice view of this yearly celestial event. In the monthly column "Starwatch," U writer Deane Morrison says that this year we’ll have to rise early to get the best view of the meteor shower. "A waxing moon will interfere until it sets around 4 a.m.; still, that leaves a couple of hours before sunrise to watch for meteors as they shoot out of the eastern sky. The Leonids are typically very fast and bright, and more than half can be expected to leave persistent trails."

UMTC offers public viewings of the night sky during fall and spring semesters through the Department of Astronomy.

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.