Orange Alert

Two world premieres among highlights of Syracuse Symposium 2012

"Memory-Media-Archive" is theme of fall events, activities

Aug. 28, 2012, by Rob Enslin

"Memory-Media-Archive" logo
"Memory-Media-Archive" logo

With the theme “Memory-Media-Archive,” Syracuse Symposium, the annual semester-long intellectual and artistic festival, will kick off Sept. 14 with the world premiere of “Cry for Peace: Voices From the Congo.”

Originally workshopped in Syracuse in 2010,“Cry for Peace” is based on in-depth interviews that bring to life five real Central New Yorkers who are survivors of and refugees from the recent Congolese civil war. Syracuse Symposium is sponsoring opening night of “Cry for Peace,” on Sept. 14 at Syracuse Stage, including a special Q-and-A session following the performance with Ping Chong, Kyle Bass and Cyprien Mihigo, and moderated by Timothy Bond, producing artistic director of Syracuse Stage.

Additionally, a Society for New Music-commissioned work by Andrew Waggoner, professor of music in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, will premiere at the Oct. 28 Syracuse Symposium event “Aural Auras and Their Reflections: A Sound/Image Dialogue,” which explores the changing concept of film music.

Organized and presented by The SU Humanities Center for SU's College of Arts and Sciences and entire Syracuse community, Syracuse Symposium 2012 encompasses two lectures; four performances and readings; a colloquium and conference; the 10th annual Human Rights Film Festival; and a political cartoon exhibition. Also unique to this year’s symposium are four academic seminars, available to students and faculty.

“Whether understood as the material continuum of individual and collective memory in the passage through different media or storages, or as the existence of the past as an expression of human recollection and culture, memory-media-archive is the basis for humanistic inquiry into conditions of the living present,” says Gregg Lambert, founding director of both the SU Humanities Center and Central New York Humanities Corridor, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation initiative. “We intend to explore the many facets of memory, which French philosopher Henri Bergson famously called the ‘spiritual equivalent’ of common perception.” Lambert also serves as Dean’s Professor of the Humanities in The College.

All Syracuse Symposium events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. For more information, call The SU Humanities Center at 315-443-7192 or visit

The full Syracuse Symposium schedule is as follows (the previously scheduled event with author Jonah Lehrer has been cancelled and is not part of the Syracuse Symposium schedule):


    Professor of art and art history, Michigan State University (MSU); curator, MSU Museum; and director, The Quilt Index
    Lecture: “Piecing Peace: Quilts As Visual Discourse of Conflict, Reconciliation, and Memory”
    Monday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m.
    Maxwell Auditorium, Maxwell School

MacDowell is a publicly engaged scholar who studies the production, meaning, and use of traditional material culture, particularly among Asian Americans, Native Americans, South Africans, and women. Throughout her career, she has served as coordinator of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program, founding director of the Great Lakes Folk Festival, co-founder of MSU’s museum studies program, and curator of more than 30 national and international exhibitions.

Co-Sponsors: Hendricks Chapel Quilters; and Department of Anthropology, Maxwell School

    Associate professor of English, New York University
    Lecture: “Olson’s Archives: From Cosmology to Discourse in New American Poetry”
    Thursday, Nov. 15, 6 p.m.
    Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library

Shaw is a poet and critic whose expertise encompasses 19th- and 20th-century literature, contemporary poetry, art history, and urbanism. He is currently working on two book projects: one about the politics of time in depicted landscapes and another about the status of poetry in recent theoretical debates. His presentation at SU draws on the work of American modernist poet Charles Olson, and considers site-specific poetry and art as forms of experimental historiography and ethnography.

Co-Sponsor: The 2012-13 Ray Smith Symposium, “Positions of Dissent,” involving The College of Arts and Sciences and SU Library’s Special Collection Research Center

Performances and Readings

    Ping Chong & Company
    Sept. 12-23
    Archbold Theater, Syracuse Stage (820 East Genesee St.)
    Admission: Free for SU students and employees on Sept. 12-13 and 18-20; all performances are $15 for Syracuse Stage subscribers and $20 for the general public

Syracuse Stage and SU proudly present the world premiere of “Cry for Peace: Voices From the Congo,” originally work-shopped in Syracuse in 2010. Based on in-depth interviews, “Cry for Peace” brings to life five real Central New Yorkers who are survivors of and refugees from the recent Congolese civil war. The work is part of Chong's Undesirable Elements series, in which actors perform sitting in a semi-circle, while images are projected behind them onto a large video screen. “Cry for Peace” was written by Ping Chong and Kyle Bass with Sara Zatz. It is presented in conjunction with Ping Chong & Company; the Congelese community of Syracuse; “IMAGES? Precisely!,” an initiative of SU’s Transdisciplinary Humanities Project and Transdisciplinary Media Studio.

Presenting Sponsor: Arts Engage

Show Sponsors: Syracuse Symposium and the Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation

    Donna Mejia, dancer, choreographer, and scholar
    William Beeman, professor and chair of anthropology, University of Minnesota
    Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.
    Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3

Meja teaches, choreographs, and performs an emerging genre of dance that combines Arab, African, and nomadic traditions with American hip hop and electronica. She also is founder and director of The Sovereign Project, a nonprofit arts collective addressing issues of social repression, distortion, sedentary lifestyle, and acts of violence. Beeman’s research interests include sociolinguistics and the semantics of interaction, as well as cross-cultural comparisons of theatrical and performance genres. Much of his work centers on the Middle East and Central Asia. He also is a professional operatic bass.

Co-Sponsors: Graduate Student Organization, the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs in the Maxwell School and the Phi Beta Delta honor society

    Society for New Music
    Sunday, Oct. 28, 4 p.m.
    Hendricks Chapel

The Society for New Music (SNM) presents a program exploring the changing concept of film music. The concert begins with music by 20th-century composer Virgil Thomson, and concludes with the premiere of an SNM-commissioned work by Andrew Waggoner, professor of music in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. The latter’s piece incorporates music, narrative, text, visual images and projection.

    B.H. Fairchild, professor of English, University of North Texas
    Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m.
    Downtown Writer’s Center, YMCA (340 Montgomery St.)

Known for his moving portrayals of working-class Midwesterners, Fairchild is the author of six books of poetry, including “Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004), which earned him the National Book Critics Circle Award, and “The Art of the Lathe” (Alice James Books, 1997), which led to him being named a finalist for the National Book Award. Fairchild has received many other honors and awards, including fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He previously served on the faculties of California State University, San Bernardino and Claremont Graduate University.

Co-Sponsor: The Downtown Writer’s Center of the YMCA of Greater Syracuse

Exhibitions and Screenings

    Thursday, Sept. 20-Saturday, Sept. 22
    Auditorium (001), Life Sciences Complex

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the SU Human Rights Film Festival (formerly Illuminating Oppression: The Human Rights Film Festival) presents groundbreaking documentaries and fiction films about human rights and social justice issues. This year’s festival includes “The Invisible War,” a new documentary exploring sexual assault in the U.S. military. For a complete listing of dates, times, screenings, and associated panel discussions, visit

Presenters: S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Alexia Foundation

Co-sponsors: Department of History and the South Asia Center in the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, Maxwell School; Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, The College of Arts and Sciences; Syracuse University Library; New York State Council on the Arts; and The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes

    Through Sunday, Nov. 4
    Onondaga Historical Association (321 Montgomery St.)

Using recent and historic examples, “Take No Prisoners” exhibits editorial cartoons by local and national illustrators, notably Tim Atseff, Joe Glisson ’84, and Frank Cammuso ’87. The exhibition includes an original cartoon from 1808, ridiculing graft within Syracuse's salt industry, as well as one from 1874, poking fun at New York Lt. Gov. Thomas Gold Alvord.

Co-sponsor: Syracuse New Times

Conferences and Symposia

    Friday, Sept. 28, 9:30 a.m.
    Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Bird Library

This daylong colloquium is presented in memory of James Powell, professor emeritus of history at SU, who passed away unexpectedly in January 2011. A scholar of the Crusades and medieval church history, he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, a corresponding fellow of the Royal Historical Society at University College London (U.K.), a founding member of the Midwest Medieval History Conference, and an active participant of the International Congress on Medieval Studies. The colloquium features friends and colleagues of Powell’s from SU, Princeton, Cornell University, University of Tennessee, Knoxville and SUNY Empire State College.

Co-Sponsors: Departments of History and Political Science, Maxwell School; Department of Religion and the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Working Group, The College of Arts and Sciences; and SUNY Empire State College

    Thursday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m.
    Cornell University (venue TBA)
    Friday, Nov. 2, 9:30 a.m.
    Slocum Hall Gallery and Auditorium, SU

Walter Benjamin, a 20th-century German-Jewish philosopher and social and literary critic, is the subject of a two-day conference at Cornell and SU. Using his writings as a starting point, the conference seeks to pinpoint the visual and spatial dimension of semiotic systems as forms of collective mediation. In particular, scholars will discuss how the vocabulary of cultural semiotics (i.e., the relationship between signs and the things to which they refer) has evolved since Benjamin’s death in 1940.

“MemoryScapes and Imageworlds” is sponsored by the Central New York Humanities Corridor, which is generously funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The conference is presented in conjunction with “IMAGES? Precisely!,” a Transdisciplinary Humanities Project involving the SU Humanities Center and School of Architecture.

Co-organizers: Brigid Doherty, associate professor of art and archeology and of Germanic languages and literatures, Princeton University; Peter Gilgen, associate professor of comparative literature, Cornell University; Karl Solibakke, associate professor of German culture and literature, SU; Mark Linder, Chancellor’s Fellow in the Humanities and professor of architecture, SU; and Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and founding director of the SU Humanities Center, SU

Co-Sponsors: The College of Arts and Sciences’ Office of the Dean and Graduate Programs at Syracuse Architecture, SU; and Department of German Studies, Institute for German Cultural Studies, and Society for the Humanities, Cornell University

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 “Identity,” “Conflict: Peace and War,” “Migration,” “Justice” and “Light.”

The SU Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities, and is home to the Central New York Humanities Corridor; the Watson 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.

Media Contact

Rob Enslin