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Alternative Universities as Sites of Creativity

Artists from the Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHQFU) and Vincent Katz, a professor of art at Yale University, will give talks on alternative universities as sites of creativity on Wednesday, April 20, at Grinnell College.

The free and public talks will take place at 7:30 p.m. Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Earlier that day, the founders of BHQFU will hold a workshop, “B.Y.O.U.: Build Your Own University,” in the Masonic Temple downtown, 928 Main St., Grinnell. The workshop on teaching and learning will take place from 1-3 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The founders of BHQFU will “How to Die an Artist: Resistance and Futility.” BHQFU, founded in 2009, is New York’s Freest Art School. It provides tuition-free classes, residencies, workshops, exhibitions and public programs to a community of thousands of New Yorkers. The school is an alternative to contemporary art schools that emphasize professionalization.

A professor at the Yale University of Art, Katz will discuss “Black Mountain College: Finding the Center in the Remote.” His lecture will cover the pedagogy of Black Mountain College in terms of its location and locus, especially as related to the college’s later years. He also will discuss Black Mountain’s relevance today, as a model, and also consider parallels to modern, remotely-operated web-based experience of culture.

Katz is a celebrated poet, critic, translator, editor and curator. His criticism has been published in numerous books, catalogs, and journals, including in Apollo, Art in America, ARTnews and Art on Paper, among others. He is also the author of The Complete Elegies Of Sextus Propertius, winner of the National Translation Award in 2005.  

He has curated several celebrated exhibitions, including an exhibition on Black Mountain College for the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, and Street Dance: The New York Photographs of Rudy Burckhardt for the Museum of the City of New York.

The Center for Humanities is sponsoring these events as part of this year's theme: Sites of Creativity: Streets, Salons, Studios, and Schools.

Dave Stamey & Grinnell Symphony Orchestra

The Grinnell Symphony Orchestra will perform with celebrated Western musician Dave Stamey in concert at Grinnell College on Saturday, April 16.

A singer, songwriter and guitarist, Stamey also has been a cowboy, a mule packer, a dude wrangler, and is now one of the most popular Western entertainers working today. His "Vaquero Song" is widely considered one of the best Western songs of all time.

The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Herrick Chapel. No tickets are required for this event, which is free and open to the public.

Stamey also will conduct a songwriting workshop from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. Friday, April 15, in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 103. The workshop, which is free and open to all, offers a great chance to talk with Stamey and learn about the art and business of songwriting.

In 2010, 2011, and 2013, Stamey was named True West Magazine's "Best Living Western Solo Musician." The Western Music Association has voted Stamey Entertainer of the Year seven times, Male Performer of the Year six times, and Songwriter of the Year five times. He also received the Will Rogers Award from the Academy of Western Artists.

Stamey says he has long dreamed about it, but this will be his first time performing with a symphony orchestra, said Grinnell Professor of Music Eric McIntyre who directs the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra. Stamey will sing 10 of his songs that McIntyre has arranged for orchestra.

"The orchestra has a long history of performing with soloists and ensembles that are not from the standard classical tradition," McIntyre said. "These include collaborations with Grinnell College's Young, Gifted and Black gospel choir, Jazz Ensemble, a hip-hop DJ narrator, and even a traditional German Oompah band.

"This performance will be the first time the orchestra has worked with a singer/songwriter," McIntyre added. "It is a wonderful opportunity to expand our range of styles and savor the experience of working with a popular artist."

McIntyre noted that Stamey has a big following and that the College has received inquires from people who plan to travel to Iowa to hear Stamey perform with an orchestra.

"It's going to be an amazing show," he said. "We recommend that people come early to get good seats."

The Grinnell Symphony Orchestra is comprised of student musicians representing all disciplines within the College who are unified by a love of music and a dedication to the art of orchestral performance.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations and Events.

Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company will present Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories is a multimedia dance project that bears witness and celebrates the lives of poets and artists lost to AIDS. Based on the anthology "Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS", this evening-length performance brings together spoken word, artists, dancers, and stunning visual designs in short vignettes that create an imaginary world inspired by the poems.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Flanagan Theatre, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. Tickets are required for this free event and are available at the Campus Box Office begin April 4.

The day before their performance, three members of Dakshina — Chris August, Daniel Phoenix Singh, and Gowri Koneswaran — will speak on the interdisciplinary nature of Dakshina’s work and how art can address social issues within the context of their upcoming performance of Mortal Tongues, Immortal Stories. The entire company of 11 will be present to contribute to the discussion and answer questions.

The event begins at noon, Friday, April 8, in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152, and lunch provided.

Grinnell College's Artists@GrinnellDepartment of Theatre & Dance, Center for International Studies, and Center for Humanities are sponsoring the free, public events.

About Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company

Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company is an emerging dance company based in Washington D.C. They perform and present Indian dance forms, such as Bharata Natyam, and modern dance, mirroring the multiple identities of second generation South Asians. The group combines the arts with social justice issues by incorporating the themes into their work and partnering with local community centers and schools.

Les Pecheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers), Live in HD

Les Pêcheurs de PerlesGrinnell College will stream six of the Metropolitan Opera’s productions live and in high-definition from January through April at the Harris Center Cinema, 1114 10th Ave., Grinnell.

The Met celebrates its 10th anniversary of “Live-in-HD” movie theater transmissions this season, starting the New Year with Georges Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles at noon on Saturday, Jan. 16. Don Smith, professor emeritus of history at Grinnell College, will give an opera talk at 11:30 a.m. at the Harris Center.

Set in the Far East, Les Pecheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers), centers on Leila, the beautiful Hindu priestess courted by competing pearl divers. Soprano Diana Damrau stars as the priestess with tenor Matthew Polenzani and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as her suitors. Gianandrea Noseda conducts the opera, which will grace the Met’s stage for the first time in 100 years.

Four of the next five broadcasts will feature opera talks by faculty and staff members.

All of the talks will start at 11:30 a.m. in the Harris Center Cinema. Each live broadcast will begin at noon.

The five additional spring semester operas are:

Puccini’s Turandot
Saturday, Jan. 30
Set in “legendary” China and featuring characters that wander from Italy to China, the opera satirizes Venetian politics. Nina Stemme stars as the Princess Turandot, who rejects every suitor until Marco Berti, as Calaf, steals her heart.
Soprano Randye Jones, a doctoral student in vocal literature at the University of Iowa and media room supervisor at Burling Library, will give the opera talk.
Puccini’s Manon Lescaut
Saturday, March 5
The opera tells the story of desperate love, starring soprano Kristine Opolais as a country girl who transforms herself into a Parisian seductress, and Jonas Kaufmann as the student who tries to win her love.
Jennifer Brown, associate professor of music, will present the opera talk.
Puccini’s Madam Butterfly
Saturday, April 2
Madam Butterfly is set in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, one of the country’s only ports open to foreign ships. Soprano Kristine Opolais stars in the title role and has her heart broken by naval officer Pinkerton, portrayed by tenor Roberto Alagna.
Mariko Schimmel, associate professor of Japanese, will deliver the opera talk.
Gaetano Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux
Saturday, April 16
Set in Westminster Palace in London between 1599 and 1601, the opera follows Queen Elizabeth I as she is compelled to sign the death warrant of the nobleman she loves, Robert Devereux. Soprano Sandra Radvanovsky plays Queen Elizabeth I, and tenor Matthew Polenzani portrays Devereux.
There will be no opera talk before this broadcast.
Richard Strauss’s Elektra
Saturday, April 30
Originally set in Greece after the Trojan War, this production is modernized to an unspecified contemporary setting. Soprano Nina Stemme, a maven of Strauss and Wagner’s heroines, stars as Elektra as she works to avenge her the murder of her father, Agamemnon.
Angelo Mercado, assistant professor of classics, will present the opera talk.

Refreshments will be available for sale in the lobby of the cinema before each opera and during intermission.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children, and Met Opera members.

The Office of the President has generously funded tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff and students, and tickets are available for free at all locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Visitor and accessible parking is available in the lot to the east of the Harris Center. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Bakopoulos Receives 2016 Creative Writing Fellowship

Dean BakopoulosIn the first grant announcement of its 50th anniversary year, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded individual creative writing fellowships of $25,000 each to 37 fiction and creative nonfiction writers including Dean Bakopoulos, writer-in-residence at Grinnell College.  

Since its establishment in 1965, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion in grants in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so.

The NEA selected Bakopoulos from among 1,763 eligible applicants evaluated by 23 readers and panelists. This is his second NEA fellowship, a rare accomplishment.

Through its creative writing fellowships program, the NEA gives writers the time and space to create, revise, conduct research, and connect with readers. Fellows must wait 10 years before applying for a second fellowship. Bakopoulos won an award for fiction in 2006; the 2016 award is for creative nonfiction.

"Since its inception, the creative writing fellowship program has awarded more than $45 million to a diverse group of more than 3,000 writers, many of them emerging writers at the start of their careers," said NEA Director of Literature Amy Stolls. "These 37 extraordinary new fellows, including Dean Bakopoulos, provide more evidence of the NEA’s track record of discovering and supporting excellent writers."

"I’m so grateful to the NEA for recognizing my work for a second time," Bakopoulos said. "This is an important boost for me on many levels, not just financially, but also emotionally. I’m finishing a difficult and somewhat perplexing book, and this fellowship has given me the courage to keep working, to finish the manuscript I was very close to throwing away.

"The nonfiction manuscript, titled 'Undoings,' is a book-length meditation on the way things fall apart, and how we, as individuals, as families, as artists, often become undone by our own obsessions and our own pasts. I wrestle with many demons and blessings in that book: marriage, divorce and parenthood; my own family's history as war refugees and the long shadows cast by war trauma; as well as everything from country music to fast food to the role of religion in clinical depression. Right now, it's a mess of a book, and this fellowship gives me the time to give it the focus it needs." 

Bakopoulos, who teaches fiction and creative nonfiction courses at Grinnell, is the author of three novels — Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, My American Unhappiness, and Summerlong. The film version of his first novel, co-written by Bakopoulos, wraps shooting this month and stars James Franco, Rashida Jones, and Jeffrey Wahlberg. The film version of Summerlong, also adapted by Bakopoulos, is in the works. In addition to his two NEA awards, Bakopoulos is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship.

The NEA’s creative writing fellowships program is arguably the most egalitarian grant program in its field. Applications are free and open to the public; fellows are selected through an anonymous review process in which the sole criterion is artistic excellence. The judging panel varies year to year and is always diverse with regard to geography, ethnicity, gender, age, and life experience.

Since 1990, 81 of the 138 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA creative writing fellows.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15.

Renaissance Compline Concert

Jennifer Williams BrownThe Grinnell College Collegium Musicum will perform a 30-minute candlelit concert, featuring English and Latin chants interspersed with vocal and instrumental pieces by English Renaissance composers Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. The compline concert, based on evening prayers, is free and open to the public. It starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 1026 State St., Grinnell.

The Collegium Musicum is an ensemble that studies and performs Early Music, including pieces from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods of Western European music history. Including both vocalists and instrumentalists, the ensemble gives students a unique opportunity for hands-on learning about early Western music. Instrumentalists learn and perform on Grinnell College's first-class collection of replica period instruments under the direction of director Jennifer Williams Brown.

Brown is an associate professor of music. She specializes in the history and performance of Baroque music, especially 17th century Italian opera. An acclaimed scholar, Brown was awarded the American Musicological Society Claude V. Palisca Award for the best scholarly edition or translation in the field of musicology in 2008. She also has received numerous fellowships and grants for her work. She has been published in several journals, including The Cambridge Opera Journal, The New Grove Dictionary of Music, and The Journal of Musicological Research.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. St. Paul's Episcopal Church has an entrance through the office door for people with disabilities. Parking is available on the street and in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church across the street at 1025 Fifth Ave.

Joy, Joy, Joy: An Organ Reflection

Grinnell College Organist Linda Bryant will present "Joy, Joy, Joy: An Organ Reflection" at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, in Herrick Chapel. The performance is free and open to the public. 

Most of the program will be carol-based music, reflective of the quiet and exuberant moods of the holiday season. Bryant will be playing the 59 rank Aeolian-Skinner organ installed in 1949 and completely restored in 2009. 

"Take a break from whatever you are doing," Bryant says, "and enjoy 45 minutes of respite during this busy holiday season."

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Clark Lindgren, Iowa Professor of the Year

Clark Lindgren, Patricia A. Johnson Professor of Neuroscience and professor of biology, has been selected as the 2015 Iowa Professor of the Year.

The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program honors excellence in undergraduate instruction, recognizing professors who profoundly influence the lives and careers of their students. Lindgren is one of 35 state winners from across the nation.

A member of Grinnell's faculty since 1992, Lindgren has strived, as both a professor and an adviser, to help students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences overcome external challenges and find success in scientific fields. He served as an early faculty director of The Grinnell Science Project, which is designed to increase retention and success of science students from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM fields.

Clark Lindgren talking with Yang Chen '17The former students who wrote letters of recommendation for Lindgren have been successful despite external challenges they faced because of their background. Lindgren said, "For each student I try to be appropriately demanding and yet encouraging at the same time, and that to me is really the essence of what good teaching is about – finding that balance."

Lindgren has continued to advise these students past graduation. One former student and nominator, who described herself as "woefully unprepared" to meet the expectations of the biology department when she arrived at Grinnell, said she owes much of her success to Lindgren. By graduation, she had been selected as a Rhodes Scholar, which she applied for at the encouragement of Lindgren, and later went on to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Johns Hopkins Sydney Kimmel Cancer Center.

"I have achieved more, reached further, and contributed that which I would not have been able to otherwise because of Professor Lindgren's investment in me as a teacher and as a mentor," she wrote. "I would not be the learner, the teacher, or the cancer doctor I am today, were it not for him."

In addition to helping students pursue their goals in and out of the classroom, Lindgren is a pioneer of engaging, authentic, and interdisciplinary biology teaching methods. He was a co-architect of the upside-down biology curriculum, in which students are immersed in research from their first biology course. Now emulated across the country, the biology 150 course is, according to a colleague and nominator, "an important transition from faculty-centered teaching to student-centered learning."

Lindgren also helped create Grinnell's neuroscience concentration, now one of the largest concentrations on campus. The neuroscience concentration's curriculum, which attracts students from all majors and divisions, is interdisciplinary, including courses from biology, psychology, social sciences, and the humanities.

A celebrated professor and adviser, Lindgren is also being recognized for his scholarship. For the past three decades, he has been working to understand the remarkable ability of chemical synapses, the nexus between individual neurons, to change their behavior in response to the activity they experience. He has authored articles in 16 peer-reviewed publications.

Lindgren includes students in his research. Since arriving at Grinnell, he has worked closely with 64 undergraduate students researchers, almost 70 percent of whom have gone on to graduate school in neuroscience or a related field.

An engaged member of the Grinnell faculty, Lindgren has served as the chair of the biology department twice, the chair of the science division, and on various college-wide committees, such as the Personnel Committee and Executive Council, a faculty advisory committee to the president and dean.

For Lindgren, this award is a testament to the outstanding students and colleagues he works with each day at Grinnell.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education launched the U.S. Professors of the Year Awards Program in 1981. That same year, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching began hosting the final round of judging, and in 1982, became the primary sponsor.

The program awards four national winners and one winner from each state every year.

Professors are judged on four criteria:

  • impact on and involvement with undergraduate students;
  • scholarly approach to teaching and learning;
  • contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community, and profession; and
  • support from colleagues and former undergraduate students.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge.

Writers@Grinnell: Edward Hirsch

Celebrated poet Edward Hirsch ’72 will join Professor of English Ralph Savarese in a conversation about poetry and parenting at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in the Faulconer Gallery.

 “‘If the Music is Too Loud You’re Too Old:’ A Conversation with Edward Hirsch ’72 about Poetry, Parenting, Disability, and Grief” will use Hirsch’s most recent publication, “Gabriel,” to open discussion. “Gabriel” is a book-length elegy for Hirsch’s late son. This free public event, which is part of the Writers@Grinnell series, will be streamed live.

Hirsch also will lead an informal roundtable discussion about “Reading as Relationship” at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in the Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center Room 209. This event also is open to the public at no charge.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

About the Participants

Edward Hirsch

President of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation since 2003, Hirsch has been honored with numerous awards including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. He was also elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008.

Hirsch is the author of nine collections of poetry, including a Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award winner, a Lavan Younger Poets Award winner and a National Book Critics Award winner. He has also published five books of prose, including the national bestseller “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry.”

Ralph Savarese

Savarese, who co-directs the Writers @Grinnell series, is the author of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption and co-editor of Papa PhD: Essays on Fatherhood by Men in the Academy.

About Writers @Grinnell

Writers@Grinnell logoWriters@Grinnell brings to campus authors of all kinds: poets, novelists, memoirists, essayists, radio essayists, columnists, graphic memoirists, playwrights, and short story writers.

Believing language to be a dynamic and communal medium, we give its crafted versions the attention they deserve, and we take seriously the importance of diverse perspectives. Through the generous support of an anonymous donor, the program hosts an annual distinguished author reading. Such authors have included Alison Bechdel, Tracy K. Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Edward P. Jones, Adrienne Rich, Marilynne Robinson, and W.S. Merwin. In addition to readings and roundtables, the program funds two six-week short courses taught by writers from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and it helps students to find internships in writing-related professions.

Otello, Live in HD

This fall Grinnell is streaming four of the Metropolitan Opera's productions live and in high-definition as the Met celebrates its 10th anniversary of Live-in-HD movie theater transmissions.

The screening of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello starts at noon, Saturday, Oct. 17, in the Harris Center Cinema, with an opera talk at 11:30 a.m.

In this adoption of Shakespeare's Othello, the Met has updated the opera's setting to the late 19th century, where the tragedy will unfold in a shape-shifting glass palace. Directed by Bartlett Sher and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Otello features tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko as Otello and new soprano actress Sonya Yoncheva as his innocent wife and victim, Desdemona. Presenting the opera talk will be Ellen Mease, associate professor of European dramatic literature, criticism, theory and theatre history.

The season continues with screenings featuring opera talks by faculty members:

  • Richard Wagner’s "Tannhäuser" on Saturday, Oct. 31, with an opera talk by Kelly Maynard, assistant professor and department chair of European Studies
  • Alban Berg's "Lulu" on Saturday, Nov. 21, with an opera talk by Eugene Gaub, associate professor of music theory and music history

Refreshments will be available for purchase in the lobby of the cinema before each opera.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore, and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and Met Opera members.

The Office of the President has generously funded tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students, and these tickets are available for free at all locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.