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Syracuse Symposium Announces Yearlong Theme of ‘Belonging’

L.A. artist Suné Woods kicks off star-studded lineup examining cultural identity

Sep 6, 2017 — Article by: Rob Enslin

Photo of Sune Woods

Suné Woods

The Syracuse University Humanities Center announces its lineup for the 2017-18 Syracuse Symposium, whose theme is “Belonging.” The popular series highlights innovative, interdisciplinary work in the humanities by renowned scholars, artists, authors and performers.

Fall guests include visual artist Suné Woods (Sept. 13-16); poets Janice Harrington and Oliver de la Paz (Sept. 26-27); Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal (Oct. 12-13); Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Keiko Ogura (Oct. 24-28); Black feminist scholars Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Paula J. Giddings and Beverly Guy-Sheftall (Nov. 27); and gender studies scholar Melissa Adler (Dec. 4-5).

“Belonging is as much about being included and recognized as part of a wider community, as it is about denial,” says Vivian May, director of the Humanities Center and professor of women’s and gender studies in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). “We will examine a range of issues—belonging as it relates to structural and political power and to interpersonal relationships—from various perspectives and in different genres and settings. The result is a rich survey of theory and practice, showing how the humanities address some of the most pressing issues of our time.”

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Humanities Center in A&S at 315.443.7192 or visit

The fall schedule is as follows:

Suné Woods
Wednesday, Sept. 13
Artist Exhibition, Reception and Conversation: “You are mine. I see now, I’m a have to let you go.”
Los Angeles artist Suné Woods will unveil her solo show at Light Work, titled “To Sleep with Terra,” examining absences and vulnerabilities within cultural and social histories. The program includes a panel discussion with Fred Moten, professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, and James Gordon Williams, assistant professor of African American studies at Syracuse.
6-7:30 p.m.
Watson Theater, Menschel Media Center (316 Waverly Ave.)

Saturday, Sept. 16
Workshop: “Processes of Translation”
Woods leads a photo-collage workshop. Space is limited; registration required. Contact Mary Lee Hodgens, associate director of Light Work, at
10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Light Work Lab (316 Waverly Ave.)

Photo of Oliver de la Paz and Janice Harrington

Oliver de la Paz and Janice Harrington

Janice Harrington and Oliver de la Paz
Tuesday, Sept. 26

Reading: “Poetry and Belonging”
Syracuse Symposium teams up with the YMCA’s Downtown Writer’s Center for a reading by Harrington, professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and De la Paz, associate professor of English at College of the Holy Cross. Both poets will address notions of race, ethnicity and identity with their original, award-winning work.  
7-8:30 p.m.
Jason Shinder Theater, YMCA Downtown Writer’s Center (340 Montgomery St.)

Wednesday, Sept. 27
Workshop: “Working Between Worlds”
Harrington and De la Paz lead a workshop for writers of all ages, backgrounds and levels of experience. Space is limited; registration required. Contact Phil Memmer, executive director of the YMCA Arts Branch, at
9-11 a.m.
304 Tolley Humanities Building

Thursday, Sept. 28
Lecture: “Belonging to the International: Gender, Sexuality and Communist Identity During the Spanish Civil War”
Lisa Kirschenbaum, professor of history at West Chester University, explores communism as a way of life during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Part of an official Syracuse Symposium course, Kirschenbaum’s lecture will draw, in part, on her award-winning book “International Communism and the Spanish Civil War: Solidarity and Suspicion” (Cambridge University Press 2015).
11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.
Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library

Thursday, Sept. 28, to Saturday, Sept. 30
Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival: “Through Film, We Fight On!”
The 15th annual Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival presents an outstanding lineup of critically acclaimed films, addressing social rights issues around the world. Visit for film descriptions, screening times and locations.

Thursday, Oct. 5
Lecture: “Embodied Belongings: Exploring the Politics of ‘Queer’ in South Asia”
Vivek Shraya, a South Asian artist, musician and writer, highlights the complex relationship between belonging and embodiment. Shraya’s work focuses on matters of family, religion, public space, queerness and “transness.”
7-8:30 p.m.
Kilian Room, 500 Hall of Languages

Photo of Wafaa Bilal

Wafaa Bilal

Wafaa Bilal
Thursday, Oct. 12

Lecture: “Performing Change: Diaspora and Belonging”
Bilal, associate professor of photography and imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, uses online performative and interactive works to tackle questions about identity, exile and U.S. politics.
5-6:30 p.m.
Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library

Friday, Oct. 13
Workshop: “On Art and Resistance”
Bilal leads a small-group discussion on the relevance and role of artistic expression in relation to war trauma, violence and diasporic belonging. Space is limited; registration required. Contact Amy Kallander, associate professor of history in the Maxwell School, at
10-11:30 a.m.
304 Tolley Humanities Building
Photo of Keiko Ogura

Keiko Ogura (Photo by Rob Gilhooly for The Telegraph, U.K.)

Keiko Ogura
Tuesday, Oct. 24
Panel Discussion: “Warped by Time, Shaped by History: The Art and Architecture of ‘That Day Now’”
Edward Morris, professor of practice of transmedia and co-director of the Canary Lab in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, moderates a panel discussion about the effects of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Japanese art and architecture. Participants include Keiko Ogura, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing; Yutaka Sho, associate professor of architecture; and Linda Zhang, a 2017-18 Boghosian Fellow of Architecture. Ogura’s visit is part of a spate of local events, including an exhibit at the Everson Museum of Art titled “That Day Now: Shadows Cast by Hiroshima,” running through Nov. 26. More information about Ogura's visit is at
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Slocum Hall Atrium and Marble Room

Saturday, Oct. 28
Symposium: “The Day in 1945: Effects of the Atomic Bombs on Post-World War II Japanese Culture”
Ogura headlines a daylong program that includes remarks by Daisaku Yamamoto, associate professor of geography and director of Asian studies at Colgate University; Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of the award-winning books “Hiroshima in the Morning” (Feminist Press, 2010) and “Why She Left Us” (Harper Perennial, 2000); Chad Diehl, assistant professor of history and coordinator of Asian studies at Loyola University Maryland; and Susan Napier, professor of international literary and cultural studies at Tufts University.
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Slocum Hall Auditorium

Friday, Nov. 3
Lecture: “Where Have All the Alphabets Gone?: Disappearing Traditional Writing Systems and the Worldwide Loss of Cultural Identity”
Tim Brookes, associate professor of communication and creative media at Champlain College, uses carvings and stories from various cultures to illustrate how writing systems affect a culture’s sense of belonging.
10-11:30 a.m.
Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library

Paul Prior and Jody Shipka
Wednesday, Nov. 8
Workshop: “Enough With All These Border Walls: Redrawing Disciplinary Becoming and Belonging”
Prior, professor of English at UIUC, leads a small-group discussion on sociocultural theories of writing. Space is limited; registration required. Contact Patrick Berry, assistant professor of writing and rhetoric, at
9 a.m. to noon
304 Tolley Humanities Building

Wednesday, Nov. 8
Lecture: “Making and Remaking a Literate Life: Being, Longing, Belonging”
Prior returns to campus with Jody Shipka, associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for a presentation that challenges static notions about being and belonging in accounts of literacies and disciplines.
2:15-3:45 p.m.
Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library

Thursday, Nov. 9
Workshop: “Making, Being and Belonging Through Multimodal Composing”
Shipka leads a small-group workshop on the growing importance of podcasts, blogs, collages, video and audio essays, comic strips and storyboards. Space is limited; registration required. Contact Patrick Berry, assistant professor of writing and rhetoric, at
9 a.m. to noon
304 Tolley Humanities Building
Photo of Johnnetta Cole, Paula Giddings and Beverly Guy-Sheftall

From left: Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Paula Giddings and Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Monday, Nov. 27
Keystone Event: “Black Feminists and the Transformation of American Public Life”
The Syracuse Symposium Keynote brings together three prominent Black feminist scholars: Johnnetta Betsch Cole, former president of Spelman and Bennett colleges and recently retired director of the National Museum of African Art; Paula J. Giddings, the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor Emerita of Africana Studies and senior editor of “Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism” at Smith College; and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman. This distinguished trio will offer personal reflections on confronting inequality and creating change, touching on topics ranging from the power of collaboration, educational pathways and politics, to key lessons from Black women’s history of activism and scholarship, past and present.
6-7:30 p.m.
Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, 140 Newhouse 3

Saturday, Dec. 2
Concert: “Music and Food in Multicultural Syracuse: Performing New American Traditions”
Syracuse University and With Love, a project of Onondaga Community College, celebrate the folk traditions of local immigrant and resettled refugee communities with this distinctive multicultural event. Highlights include musical performances by Burundi, Congolese and Burmese musicians and dancers, as well as cuisine prepared by Burmese chef Shwe HninSi.
6-7:30 p.m. (concert), Grant Auditorium
7:30-8:30 p.m. (reception), Wildhack Lounge, Grant Hall
Photo of Melissa Adler

Melissa Adler

Melissa Adler
Monday, Dec. 4
Lecture: “Consequences of Classification: Systemic Violence against Marginalized Communities”
Adler, assistant professor of information science and of gender and women’s studies at the University of Kentucky, illustrates how systems of classification—from biological taxonomies to library shelves—define relationships of belonging and exclusion. She will focus on some of the ways in which the marginalization of queer and racialized subjects is systemic.
5:15-6:30 p.m.
Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, 114 Bird Library

Tuesday, Dec. 5
Workshop: “Taxonomic Repair Work”
Adler leads a small-group discussion on deconstructing social norms and taxonomies, as they pertain to LGBTQ communities. Space is limited; registration required. Contact the Humanities Center at 315.443.7192.
9 a.m. to noon
304 Tolley Humanities Building

Organized and presented by the Humanities Center, Syracuse Symposium is a public humanities series that revolves around an annual theme. Programs include lectures, workshops, performances, exhibits, films and readings. Located in the Tolley Humanities Building, the Humanities Center serves the campus community by cultivating diverse forms of scholarship, sponsoring a broad range of programming and partnerships and addressing enduring questions and pressing social issues.

Contact Information

Rob Enslin