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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

2011 Syracuse Symposium examines many facets of "Identity"

Events include lectures, performances, readings, exhibitions, and screenings

Aug. 17, 2011, by Rob Enslin

“Identity” is the theme of the 2011 Syracuse Symposium, an annual intellectual and artistic festival on the Syracuse University campus. This fall’s festival encompasses six lectures, including one by best-selling author/philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah; four performances and readings, including the world premiere of a multimedia work by Society for New Music composer Greg Wanamaker and visual artist Carrie Mae Weems; and five exhibitions and screenings, including the ninth annual Human Rights Film Festival. All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

The SU Humanities Center organizes and presents Syracuse Symposium for SU’s College of Arts and Sciences and for the entire Syracuse community. More information is available by calling (315) 443-7192.

“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 Gregg Lambert, director of both The SU Humanities Center and The Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation initiative. “Through a series of public lectures and conversations, we are creating a dialogue that provides the foundation of a common understanding among many peoples.” Lambert also serves as Dean’s Professor of the Humanities in The College of Arts and Sciences.

The schedule is as follows:


The Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy, Princeton University
Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3

Appiah is author of the landmark books “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen” and “Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers,” both published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2010 and 2006, respectively. A distinguished professor in Princeton’s Department of Philosophy and University Center for Human Values, he has written extensively about philosophy of mind and language, African and African-American intellectual history, and political philosophy. Also, Appiah serves as president of the PEN American Center, the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization.

Co-Sponsor: The Goldring Arts Journalism Program


Professor of English and Asian American studies, University of Pennsylvania
Monday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m.
The Killian Room (Room 500), Hall of Languages

Eng is an expert in American literature, Asian American studies, Asian diaspora, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, queer studies and visual culture. He is author of the forthcoming book “The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Diasporas and the Racialization of Intimacy” (Duke University Press) and of the acclaimed “Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Duke University Press, 2001). In addition, Eng is co-editor with David Kazanjian of “Loss: The Politics of Mourning” (University of California Press, 2003); with Alice Y. Hom of “Q&A: Queer in Asian America” (Temple University Press, 1998); and with Judith Halberstam and Jose Muñoz of a special issue of the journal “Social Text” (Duke University Press, 2005), “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” Eng is currently working on a study of neoliberalism and desire in Chinese cinema and on an analysis of political and psychic reparation.

Co-Sponsors: Department of English and LGBT Studies Program


Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, The College of Staten Island (CUNY)
Monday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Gifford Auditorium, H.B. Crouse Hall

Schulman is a novelist, playwright, filmmaker and activist renowned for her groundbreaking work in lesbian and gay culture. A prolific writer with more than a dozen books and multiple plays to her credit, she is co-founder of the ACT UP Oral History Project, documenting the lives and strategies of members of the HIV/AIDS activist organization ACT UP/New York. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies.

Co-Sponsors: LGBT Resource Center, LGBT Studies Program, the Creative Writing Program and the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies

The Julian Schwinger Distinguished Professor of Physics, Purdue University
Thursday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m.
Maxwell Auditorium

Shipsey is a distinguished particle physicist known for his creativity and imagination. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he divides time between CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, site of the most powerful atom smasher in the world, and Fermilab, a proton-antiproton collider in Batavia, Ill., where he co-coordinates the Large Hadron Collider Physics Center. Between the ages of 30 and 42, Shipsey was deaf, the result of an antibiotic treatment he received for severe pneumonia. A “bionic ear”—invented and tuned by technologies he champions—not only broke his silence but also has given him a new lease on scientific teaching and research. He is this fall’s Wali Lecturer in The College of Arts and Sciences.

Co-Sponsors: The Kameshwar C. Wali Lecture in the Sciences and Humanities and the Department of Physics

Public radio humorist and best-selling author
Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m.
Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center

Sedaris shot to fame more than a decade ago with “Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays” (1995) and “Holidays on Ice: Stories” (1997), both of which showcase his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques. He has since published collections of humorous essays—“Naked” (1998), “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (2001), “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” (2004), “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” (2009) and “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary” (2010)—that have sold more than seven million copies worldwide and have been translated into 25 languages. His original radio pieces are heard on “This American Life,” distributed nationally by Public Radio International and produced by WBEZ. His appearance is a joint presentation with University Lectures.

Co-sponsor: University Lectures

Host of public radio’s “Tech Nation” and “BioTech Nation”
Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

Gunn will moderate a panel discussion titled “The State of the Earth,” involving Carol Finn, a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey and president-elect of the American Geophysical Union; Pamela Matson, The Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences and The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies at Stanford University; and Elsa Reichmanis ’72, G’75, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As host of “Tech Nation” and “BioTech Nation,” Gunn is heard weekly on more than 200 public radio stations nationwide and throughout 180 countries worldwide. A former NASA employee, she serves as associate professor of global information systems and biotechnology at the University of San Francisco. Her appearance is a joint presentation with University Lectures.

Co-sponsor: University Lectures

Performances and Readings


Novelist, memoirist, playwright and essayist
Poet and associate professor of English, Hunter College (CUNY)
Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m.
Gifford Auditorium, H.B. Crouse Hall

The husband-wife team of Keller and Levi is noted for combining creative excellence with disability advocacy. Keller has written three prize-winning novels in his native German; plays for Swiss, Austrian and German audiences; and the memoir “The Best Dancer” (Ooligan Press, 2009), about his living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Levi is author of two books of poetry: “Once I Gazed at You in Wonder” (Louisiana State University Press, 1999), winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and “Skyspeak” (LSU Press, 2005). She also co-edited “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). Levi serves on the English faculty of Hunter College.

Co-Sponsors: Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics; and The Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies


Photographer, folklorist and storyteller
Composer and theorist at The Crane School of Music, SUNY College at Potsdam
Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel

Weems is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker and videographer whose work is acclaimed for its treatment of issues involving racism, gender relations, politics and personal identity. Wanamaker is a composer of mostly solo and chamber music that has been commissioned, performed and commercially recorded throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. “The Geography of the Imagination” is joint work between the two, addressing the poetics of identity and historical memory, and incorporating music, narration, text, visual imagery and projections. The work was commissioned by the Society for New Music and was largely underwritten by an NEA grant. It is part of SNM’s annual fall concert at SU.

Co-Sponsor: Society for New Music


Professor of English and The Miller Family Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing, University of Missouri-Columbia
Professor of English, North Carolina State University
Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m.
The YMCA’s Downtown Writer’s Center (340 Montgomery St., Syracuse)

The Downtown Writer’s Center marks its 10th anniversary with the opening of a new facility and with readings by two preeminent poets. Eady is the author of eight books of poetry, including “Brutal Imagination” (Putnam Adult, 2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and whose stage adaptation garnered an Oppenheimer Award. His libretto for the opera “Running Man” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999. Eady is co-founder with writer Toi Derricotte of Cave Canem, a summer retreat for African American poets. Laux is the author of five collections of poetry, including “The Book of Men” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011) and “Facts About the Moon” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2005), the latter of which won the Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. The winner of two “Best American Poetry Prizes” and a Pushcart Prize, she has taught poetry for more than a decade.

Co-Sponsor: The YMCA’s Downtown Writer’s Center

Oct. 19-Nov. 16
Archbold Theater, Syracuse Stage
Ticketed Event:

“The Boys Next Door” is a play written by Tom Griffin and directed by Timothy Bond (Stage’s producing artistic director) about four mentally disabled men in a group home. A gentle blend of comedy and compassion, the play has been praised by the New York Daily News for “[hitting] squarely on the truth of life, with its constant interplays and shadings of triumphs and tears.” The production is part of Syracuse Stage’s 2011-12 season and marks the 60th anniversary of Arc of Onondaga, the largest provider of services to people with developmental disabilities in Onondaga County.

Exhibitions and Screenings

Photographer and Light Work Artist-in-Residence
Exhibition: Through Oct. 14
Artist Reception: Thursday, Oct. 6, at 5-7 p.m.
Light Work Main Gallery in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, 316 Waverly Ave.

Anderson-Staley’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally and has been published widely in print and online. A former Light Work resident artist, she specializes in tintypes—photographs popular in the 19th century made by creating direct positives on sheets of iron metal and then blackened by painting, lacquering or enameling. The exhibition “[hyphen] Americans” alludes to the split character of American identities (e.g., Irish-American, African-American) and encourages the viewer to reconsider the boundaries of American identity politics.

Co-Sponsor: Light Work

Sept. 15-17
Auditorium (Room001), Life Sciences Complex

“Illuminating Oppression” is an annual weekend festival exploring human rights issues through award-winning documentaries and feature films. For a complete listing of dates, times, screenings and associated panel discussions, visit

Co-Sponsors: Digital Humanities Working Group of The Mellon CNY Humanities Corridor; S.I. Newhouse School for Public Communications; South Asia Center, Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs; and SU Library

Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.
The Palace Theatre (2384 James St., Syracuse)
Ticketed Event:

“Dolphin Boy” follows the story of a young boy who disconnects himself from humans after a violent attack on his village. Dramatic complications ensue when his father takes him to “swim with the dolphins” off the Israeli port of Eilat. Written, directed and produced by Dani Menkan (“39 Pounds of Love”) and Yonatan Nir (“Cutting Away the Pain”), the documentary was shot over four years and vividly captures the healing power of nature.

Co-Sponsor: Visual Arts and Culture Working Group of The Mellon CNY Humanities Corridor

Saturday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m.
The Palace Theatre (2384 James St., Syracuse)
Ticketed Event:

“Raising Renee” is the story of acclaimed artist Beverly McIver and her promise to take care of her mentally disabled sister, Renee, when their mother dies—a promise that comes due as Beverly’s career takes off. Filmed over six years by the award-winning team of Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher, “Raising Renee” captures the tenacity of family bonds and the power of art to transform experience into something beyond words.
Co-Sponsors: School of Education and School of Architecture

Photographer and professor emeritus of English, Syracuse University
Oct. 15-Nov. 14
Exhibition: Panasci Lounge, Schine Student Center
Artist Lecture: Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.
Gifford Auditorium, H.B. Crouse Hall

Gates is a nationally recognized photographer whose work has been featured in dozens of publications, including National Geographic Traveler, Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography. Since 2006, his photography has been the subject of more than 20 exhibitions throughout the Northeast, garnering him numerous honors and awards, including third place in the nature category of Photo Life magazine’s international competition.

Co-Sponsor: Media Finishings

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.” Since 2009, The SU Humanities Center has organized and presented Syracuse Symposium for The College and for the campus community.

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