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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Syracuse Symposium explores 'Identity' through photography, written word Sept. 28

Husband-wife team demonstrates synergy between photography, written word

Sept. 20, 2011, by Rob Enslin

Jan Heller Levi
Jan Heller Levi

Syracuse Symposium continues its exploration of the theme of “Identity” with a multimedia presentation by the husband-and-wife team of Christoph Keller and Jan Heller Levi. The program, “Corresponding Perspectives: Poetry, Prose and Photography,” is Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Gifford Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Syracuse Symposium is an annual program in the public humanities, organized and presented by The Syracuse University Humanities Center for The College of Arts and Sciences and for the Syracuse community. For more information, call 315-443-7192, or visit

“Corresponding Perspectives” is co-sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics; the Center on Human Policy, Law and Disability Studies; and the School of Education.

“Christoph Keller and Jan Levi are accomplished artists, individually and collectively,” says Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor for the Humanities and director of both The SU Humanities Center and the Central New York Humanities Corridor. “Their work is largely autobiographical and is suffused with wit, imagination and what some people call a ‘disarming directness.’ Audiences will marvel at the synergy between photography and writing—a balance so fine that one doesn’t overtake the other.”

Levi serves on the creative writing faculty of Hunter College in New York City. She is the author of two books of poetry, published by Louisiana State University Press: “Once I Gazed at You in Wonder” (1999), winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and “Skyspeak” (2005). Also, she is co-editor of “A Muriel Rukeyser Reader” (W.W. Norton & Co., 1995), a revised version of “The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), and “Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan” (Copper Canyon Press, 2005).

Christoph Keller
Christoph Keller
Keller is a Swiss-born, Manhattan-based novelist, memoirist, playwright and essayist. His memoir, “The Best Dancer” (Ooligan Press, 2009), which chronicles his struggles with spinal muscular atrophy, spent six weeks on the Swiss bestseller list, and has been translated from the original German into English. His work has appeared in the Paris Review, Gobshite Quarterly, Two Lines, The Means, Failbetter Absinthe, New European Writing and Threepenny Review, among others. He is working on his first novel in English, titled “River Madness.”

“Be Kind”—an exhibition of Keller’s photography, taken from the vantage point of his wheelchair—will be on display in the Panasci Lounge of SU’s Schine Student Center from Tuesday, Sept. 27, to Thursday, Oct. 13. Keller will attend an opening reception on Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. The exhibition is sponsored by the German Program in LLL, The SU Humanities Center, and the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York.

Launched in 2001, Syracuse Symposium has become a fall tradition at SU, drawing thousands of people to free lectures, panel discussions, performances, and exhibitions built on annual themes. Past symposia include “Conflict: Peace and War,” “Migration,” “Justice” and “Light.”

“Whether understood as a principle of sameness that gives rise to a perception of individual and social identity or as the point where people and societies diverge, ‘Identity’ is a persistent theme of the public humanities,” says Lambert. “Through a series of public events, we are creating a dialogue that provides the foundation of a common understanding among many peoples.”

The SU Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities, and is home to the Syracuse Symposium, the Central New York Humanities Corridor, the Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship and Visiting Collaborator programs, the HC Mini-Seminar and Symposium Seminar series, the Perpetual Peace Project, and other annual research initiatives, fellowships, and public programming.