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Bound: Film Screening and Discussion

The College will present Bound: African versus African Americans (AVAA) — a hard-hitting documentary that addresses the tension that exists between Africans and African-Americans — at noon Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. The film screening will be followed by a highly interactive discussion opportunity; refreshments provided.

AVAA uses personal testimonials to expose the rift between Africans and African-Americans, then it takes us on a journey through the corridors of their historical experiences as it illuminates the moments that divide and bind them.

The event is sponsored by the Cultural Films Committee, Department of American Studies, and Office of Student Affairs.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Carnival and Creativity

February 11-12, 2016 at Grinnell College

Queen ReesieOn August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Roughly five years later, on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake rocked the small island nation of Haiti.

These cataclysmic events, this shared experience of trauma, added a further layer of connection between these two regions, already linked by their shared African and French heritage, the legacy of colonialism, and the experience of slavery that made Louisiana and Haiti home to vibrant, thriving Afro-diasporic communities.

February 2016 represents the 10th and 5th anniversaries (respectively) of the first Pre-Lenten celebrations – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Haiti – to follow these social and environmental catastrophes.

Bennie Pete and Hot 8 Brass BandIn New Orleans and Port-Au-Prince alike, Carnival did what Carnival always does: it gave the community a chance to come together in solidarity in the face of struggle; it provided an opportunity to heal from trauma; and it offered a moment for people who are often ignored – especially within the upper echelons of global social and economic power – to give voice and movement to their struggles and their triumphs through song and dance and celebration.

These Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations showed us the remarkable power that music, dance, and art have to heal and to empower individuals and communities.

On February 11-12, 2016, we will pay tribute to those individuals and communities with a series of events that mark the 10th and 5th anniversaries of the 2006 and 2011 Carnival celebrations:

Thursday, Feb. 11

4:30-6:30 p.m., Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Lawson Hall, Room 102
New Orleans Brass Band Workshop with Bennie Pete, tuba and co-founder, Hot 8 Brass Band
7:30-9 p.m., Bucksbaum Center, Lawson Hall, Room 152
"If You Don't Like What the Big Queen Says, Just...": An Evening With Queen Reesie (Cherice Harrison-Nelson, curator of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and Big Queen of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians)

Friday, Feb. 12

4:15-6 p.m., Bucksbaum Center, Lawson Hall, Room 152
Carnival and Creativity Roundtable Discussion
Discussants:
  • Gage Averill, University of British Columbia
  • Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame
  • Tess Kulstad, Grinnell College
  • Bennie Pete, Hot 8 Brass Band
  • Moderated by Mark Laver, Grinnell College
8-9:30 p.m., Bucksbaum Center, Sebring-Lewis Hall
The Grinnell Jazz Ensemble Plays the Music of New Orleans, featuring Bennie Pete and Cherice Harrison-Nelson. Directed by Mark Laver.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Music, the Center for Humanities, the Center for International Studies, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

Bridging Scholarship and Activism

BlainGrinnell College's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will feature a speech on Tuesday, Jan. 26, by University of Iowa Assistant Professor of History Keisha N. Blain.

Although Jan. 18 was the King Holiday, the College is celebrating it on Jan. 26, the day after classes begin for the 2016 spring semester.

Blain's speech, titled "Bridging Scholarship and Activism: Reflections on the #Charlestonsyllabus," will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101. Immediately following the talk, Blain will join attendees in a buffet dinner. Both the speech and dinner are free and open to the public.

"Dr. Blain is a rising academic whose work demonstrates how scholarship and activism for social change can and must be connected," said Professor of History Sarah Purcell, who also directs the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights

"She will speak about connections in her own work on African American history," Purcell added, "and her work to educate the public about historical context necessary for understanding the Charleston shootings and continuing to combat white supremacy. Anyone with an interest in racial justice, current affairs, or history should not miss this talk."

Blain is one of the co-developers #Charlestonsyllabus, a Twitter movement and crowdsourced list of reading recommendations relating to the history of racial violence in the United States. It was created in response to the racially motivated shooting that took place in June 2015 during a Bible study class in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The reading list has drawn international media attention from news outlets such as PBS, BBC, NPR, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Blain also is a co-editor of "Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence," forthcoming later this year from the University of Georgia Press. In addition, she is completing her first solo-authored book, "Contesting the Global Color Line: Black Women, Nationalist Politics, and Internationalism," which is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Grinnell College's Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights is sponsoring Blain's speech and the buffet dinner. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is co-sponsoring the events.

Scholars' Convo: Katherine Verdery

Katherine VerderyLeading anthropology scholar Katherine Verdery, who studied her own surveillance file from Romania’s secret police force, will discuss the anthropology of the Romanian secret police during the first Scholars’ Convocation of the spring semester on Thursday, Jan. 28.

The free, public event, “Surveillance Techniques of the Romanian Secret Police” begins at 11 a.m. in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Verdery is the Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In addition to CUNY, she has taught at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan.

A past president of the American Association of Slavic Studies, Verdery is considered one of the world’s leading anthropologists of Eastern Europe and has been doing fieldwork in Romania since 1973. Her work, emphasizing themes of inequality, nationalism, and political economy, has earned seven book prizes, including the 2013 Society for Romanian Studies Biennial Book Prize.

Her research on the secret police began in 2008 when she obtained a copy of her own surveillance file from the Securitate, Romania’s secret police force. She read the files as if they were field notes of an anthropologist, seeking to reproduce the attitudes, worldview, and goals of the officers and informers who spied on her.

Verdery noted that the Romanian secret police always assumed she was a spy, not a scholar, because her research methods closely resembled their own tactics. She concluded that the methods of the police in tracking suspects and seeking dissidents often closely resembled the modern technique of social network analysis, since the police force was extremely interested in disrupting the social networks of potential dissidents and reincorporating them into the more politically acceptable sphere of Romanian life.

Verdery has published a book on her findings, Secrets and Truth: Ethnography in the Archives of Romania's Secret Police, and is working on a second, My Life as a Spy: Memoirs of a Cold War Anthropologist.

Journalists Talk About the Iowa Caucuses

Three national political journalists will discuss the role of the news media covering the 2016 Iowa caucuses at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

The panel discussion, which is free and open to the public, will conclude the fall series of public events leading up to the Iowa caucuses sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights. The series has brought to campus political activists, authors, professors and, now, journalists, to share their perspectives of the Iowa caucuses. 

The journalists serving on the media panel will be:

  • David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;
  • Jennifer Jacobs, chief political reporter at the Des Moines Register; and
  • Kathie Obradovich, political columnist at the Des Moines Register.

An acclaimed journalist, Shribman became the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2003. Before joining the Post-Gazette, he covered politics for several other distinguished newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His column, "My Point" is nationally syndicated. He received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his coverage of Washington in 1995.

Jacobs has been the chief political reporter at the Des Moines Register since 2011. She covers presidential, congressional, and state politics in Iowa, as well as Iowa's first-in-the-nation role in the caucus. A respected voice for Iowa politics, she has been featured on Iowa Press, CNN, CSPAN, MSNBC, and NPR.

A 25-year veteran of covering Iowa politics, Obradovich has been at the Des Moines Register since 2003. Her columns, focusing on presidential, congressional, and local politics, are published weekly. For 10 years, Obradovich served as the Des Moines bureau chief at the Iowa Statehouse for several Iowa papers, including the Quad-City Times, and Mason City Globe-Gazette

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Up From the Roots

Musicians Randye Jones of Grinnell College and Damani Phillips of the University of Iowa will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by sharing the rich history of the music of the African-American tradition.

The 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery in America, was ratified by the states on Dec. 6, 1865, eight months after the Civil War ended.

To mark this milestone, Jones and Phillips will present a free public lecture, "Up From the Roots," and a musical performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in Herrick Chapel.

They will explore the development of music from the end of the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, including spirituals, gospel, jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues.

The Office of Intercultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring the event.

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

Randye Jones

Randye JonesJones, a soprano and researcher, is a doctoral student in vocal literature at the University of Iowa. She also serves as media room supervisor in Burling Library at Grinnell College.

Jones has gained recognition for her writings on African-American vocalists and composers, and as a performer and lecturer through her projects, "The Art of the Negro Spiritual, Afrocentric Voices in Classical Music," and the recently published "The Spirituals Database."

She regularly presents lecture-recitals and concerts, and serves as a panelist at events such as the Research, Education, Activism, and Performance (REAP) National Conference on Spirituals, African American Art Song Alliance Conference, and the National Association of Negro Musicians conference.  

Damani Phillips

Damani PhillipsPhillips, formerly on the music faculty at Grinnell College, is an assistant professor of jazz studies and African-American studies at the University of Iowa.

An active saxophone player, pedagogue, and composer, Phillips has taught and performed throughout the United States, England, and Japan, and is actively sought as a guest artist, clinician and adjudicator. Phillips has performed with artists/groups such as Lewis Nash, Christian McBride, the touring Dave Matthews cover band "Crush," and many others. He has released five albums of his own, including his most recent recording project, "Duality," a double album featuring a unique synergy between straight-ahead jazz and hip hop music.

The Yellow Ticket

Grinnell College will host a live, multi-media concert on Saturday, Nov. 21, featuring a screening of the silent film The Yellow Ticket with a klezmer score performed live by its composer, renowned violinist Alicia Svigals, and award-winning pianist Marilyn Lerner.

Klezmer, the spirited folk music introduced to America by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, is best known as the style of music performed in Fiddler on the Roof. Svigals composed The Yellow Ticket score, which is as fresh, vital, and contemporary as the music she has performed as a solo violinist and with the Grammy Award-winning ensemble known as The Klezmatics.

The event will start at 7 p.m. in Herrick Chapel. Tickets are required for this free public concert, and will be available starting Nov. 17 at Bucksbaum Center for the Arts Box Office.

The Yellow Ticket, a 1918 drama set in Poland and czarist Russia, portrays a woman’s struggle to overcome adversity in a story of secret identities, heroic measures and triumphant love.

Svigals, considered the world's premier klezmer fiddler, received first prize at the International Klezmer Festival in Safed, Israel. Her debut solo album, "Fidl (Traditional Crossroads)" is the world's first klezmer fiddle CD. Her work as a composer earned her the 2014 MacDowell Fellowship.

Lerner, a jazz pianist, has earned international acclaim in creative improvisation, klezmer and 20th century classical music. She also has composed for film, theater, radio and television. Her piece titled "Healing Hands" received the Montreal International Jazz Festival award for best composition in 1994.

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

Reducing Political Polarization

Jacob Hess and Phil Neisser Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, political opposites and co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative will host two Iowa caucus-related events Nov. 19 and 20.

Their workshop, "How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise," will teach strategies for engaging in more civil and productive political conversations. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Neisser and Hess will also give a free public lecture, titled "Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus," at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. The workshop and lecture cosponsors are the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, President Raynard S. Kington, and the Ombuds Office.

For two years, Neisser, a leftist; and Hess, a conservative; have been engaging in difficult and in-depth conversations about controversial political issues, including sexuality, race, big government, and big business. Working to reduce polarization by both pressing each other and listening to each other, the two compiled highlights of their conversations into their book, You're Not as Crazy as I Thought. The book was featured on the popular public radio show This American Life.

Neisser is a professor of political theory at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where he also serves as the associate dean of Arts and Sciences. A gifted teacher, he received the SUNY Potsdam Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000. Neisser is also the author of United We Fall: Ending America’s Love Affair with the Political Center, as well as several acclaimed essays in various political science books.

Hess, a psychologist, is research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation research on long-term depression treatments. He has written 13 peer-reviewed articles and two books. A teacher of mindfulness-based stress reduction, Hess co-founded All of Life, a nonprofit that educates people about scientific discoveries in brain science and how these findings can be used to help overcome mental and emotional challenges.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can make accommodation requests to Conference Operations and Events.

Caucus 2016: Fifty Years after Selma

The Rosenfield Program is bringing experts from across the political spectrum and from different professions to speak at a series of free public events leading up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

"Iowa is a politically impactful state and the Iowa caucuses are an important part of America's political landscape," said Sarah Purcell, professor of history and director of the Rosenfield Program. "Whether you participate in the caucuses as a voter or an observer, it's important to go beyond the headlines and engage in the issues. We want to give people the tools they need to participate in politics in an educated and civil manner."

Judith Brown-DianisLawyer and activist Judith Browne-Dianis will present the first event, a lecture about voting rights, at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.

Her talk, "Fifty Years after Selma: Voting Rights Under Attack," will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by describing its role in the Iowa caucuses and the presidential selection process.

Co-director of the Advancement Project and former managing attorney of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., Dianis has extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing and employment.

The Advancement Project is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization focused on dismantling structural racism by changing public policies.

The president's office is co-sponsoring the lecture.

Caucus 2016

The Rosenfield Program is holding four additional caucus-related events during the fall semester:

How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise
4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101
A workshop with Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative.
Neisser, professor of political theory at State University of New York at Potsdam and a leftist; and Hess, research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children, and a conservative; will conduct a workshop about how liberals and conservatives can have more civil and productive conversations.
Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Ombuds
Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus,
4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
A lecture by political opposites and co-authors Neisser and Hess.
Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Ombuds
What Are the Iowa Caucuses?
6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1
ARH Auditorium, Room 302
An introduction to the history and politics of the Iowa caucuses presented by Purcell and Barbara Trish, professor and chair of political science.
Journalists Talk About the Iowa Caucuses
5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
A panel discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winner David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jen Jacobs, Des Moines Register chief political reporter; and Kathie Obradovich, Des Moines Register political columnist.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to event sponsors or Conference Operations and Events.

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.