Upcoming Events

Craig Steven Wilder, Russwurm Lecture: 'Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities'

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March 31, 2015 6:30 PM  – 8:30 PM
Moulton Union, Main Lounge

Craig Steven Wilder, professor of history at MIT and a leading historian of race in America, will deliver the annual John Brown Russwurm Lecture in the Main Lounge of Moulton Union. A reception in the Russwurm House Library will precede the lecture at 5:00pm. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Professor Wilder will examine the contrasting figures of "the matriculating Indian" and "the uneducable Negro" to explore the limits on access to higher education in the second half of the 18th century. Looking closely at the experiences of two friends, the Reverend Samson Occom - a member of the Mohegan nation who became a Presbyterian minister, and poet Phillis Wheatley - the first African-American woman to be published, Professor Wilder will demonstrate how illusory were even the modest hopes of education held by Native and enslaved Americans. Though hailed by well-wishers as possessors of exceptional talents, Occum and Wheatley could find no institutional structures that would support them in intellectual, literary, or religious pursuits. 

This lecture stems from Wilder's important and widely reviewed new study, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities, where he argues that many of America's revered colleges and universities were soaked in the sweat, the tears, and sometimes the blood of people of color.

Professor Wilder is a senior fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative, where he has served as a guest lecturer, commencement speaker, academic advisor, and visiting professor. For more than a decade, this innovative program has given hundreds of men and women the opportunity to acquire a college education during their incarcerations in the New York State prison system. 

He has advised and appeared in numerous historical documentaries, including the celebrated Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon film, The Central Park Five; Kelly Anderson's highly praised exploration of gentrification, My Brooklyn; the History Channel's F.D.R.: A Presidency Revealed; and Ric Burn's award-winning PBS series, New York: A Documentary History

Named after the first African-American graduate of Bowdoin College (class of 1826), the John Brown Russwurm lecture series explores "the legacy and status of Black Americans". Notable speakers include Robert Levine, Lani Guinier, Carl Stokes, Vernon Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Hooks, and Julian Bond, among others.


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Lisa Yaszek: "Afrofuturism as Global Science Fiction?"

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April 1, 2015 7:00 PM  – 8:30 PM
Moulton Union, Lancaster Lounge

Lisa Yaszek explores the global aspects and movement of science fiction over the past two centuries through the focusing lens of Afrofuturism. As a mode of aesthetic practice characterized by the use of science fictional tropes and narrative technique to investigate the necessary relations of science, technology, and race, Afrofuturism has been deployed by artists across media to recover lost African and Afrodiasporic histories and to imagine rich, racially-diverse worlds of tomorrow that oppose the white-washed futures implicit in much first-world scientific and economic rhetoric. 

Yaszek begins her talk with a brief overview of Afrofuturism and its
relation to genre science fiction. She then considers the evolution of
Afrofuturism from its roots in nineteenth-century African-American utopian and military fiction to its integration with mid-twentieth- century Western science fiction and its current spread across the Atlantic seaboard and Africa itself. Taken together, the stories, films, and comics produced by black men and women over the past 200 years demonstrates both the global nature of race relations in the modern era and the centrality of science and technology to the production of these relations.

Lisa Yaszek is a professor of science fiction studies a the School of Literature, Media and Communication at Georgia Tech, where she also serves as the director of the SciFi@Tech. She is the past president of the Science Fiction Research Association, and her research interests include science fiction, cultural history, critical race and gender studies, and science and technical studies. Her books include Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women's Science Fiction, (Ohio State University Press, 2008), and she co-edited the Configurations special double issue on science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson (Winter-Spring 2012), among other publications. She is currently completing an anthology on women's work in the early science fiction community and serving as associate producer for the science fiction film Rite of Passage.

This event is open to the public and is free of charge.

For more information, contact Arielle Saiber (asaiber@bowdoin.edu).

Sponsored by the Departments of Romance Languages, English and Africana Studies and the Cinema Studies Program.

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Noliwe Rooks: "Because What is Beautiful is Good: Erasing Race and Selling Feminism in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty"

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April 6, 2015 7:00 PM  – 9:00 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

This talk explores the role that Black women played at the beginning and the end of the first international Dove brand "real beauty" campaign and how and why that campaign used feminism as an advertising tool.

Noliwe Rooks is currently an Associate Professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies at Cornell University where she is also the Director of Graduate Studies in Africana Studies. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work explores the racial implications of beauty, fashion and adornment as well as the way race and gender both impact and are impacted by popular culture, social history and political life in the United States.

Rooks is the author of three books. The first, Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture and African American Women (1996, Rutgers University Press) won both the 1997 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book, and the Public Library Associations 1997 award for Outstanding University Press Book. Her second book, Ladies Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture that Made Them (Rutgers University Press) was published in 2004. Her most recent book, White Money/Black Power: African American Studies and the Crises of Race in Higher Education was published in 2006 with Beacon Press.

She has two forthcoming edited collections: "Black Fashion: Gender. Art. Politics" a special issue of NKA: Journal of Contemporary Art, Duke University Press, Fall 2015, No. 37 and Women and Magazines in the 21st Century: Race, Writing and New Media (Under Consideration). Her current book project is about the politics of race and economics of K-12 education in the United States and tentatively titled, Apartheid in America and Why it Matters That We Have Reached the Beginning of the End of Public Education.

Open to the public free of charge.

For more information, contact Hanetha Vete-Congolo at mvete@bowdoin.edu.

Sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation (Mellon Humanities Initiative).

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Zaheer Ali: "From Malcolm Little to El Hajj Malik Shabazz: A Journey of Faith"

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April 7, 2015 5:00 PM  – 8:00 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

Most discussions of Malcolm X's life tend to emphasize his politics and downplay the role of religion in his life. Or, if they do address his religion, these examinations often see Islam as something that Malcolm truly embraces only after leaving the Nation of Islam and making his hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. This talk examines the ways that religion in general, and Islam in particular, figured very early in Malcolm's life, and provided a passport for his growing internationalist politics.

Zaheer Ali is a PhD candidate in history at Columbia University. Under the direction of the late Manning Marable, he served as one of the project managers and a senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project (MXP), a multi-year research initiative on the life and legacy of Malcolm X.

Free and open to the public.

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Ambassador Thomas Pickering '53, H'84: "Civil War to Civility: Bowdoin's Sons and Ending Strife-Then and Now"

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April 9, 2015 7:00 PM  – 8:30 PM
Memorial Hall, Pickard Theater

Ambassador Thomas Pickering holds the personal rank of career ambassador, the highest in the United States Foreign Service. Over five decades, he served as the United States ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 2005, Ambassador Pickering became the fourteenth recipient of the Bowdoin Prize, the College's highest honor. In his presentation, "Civil War to Civility: Bowdoin's Sons and Ending Strife-Then and Now", he will speak about the peace reached on April 9, 1865 as part of the College's commemoration of the end of the Civil War.

Open to the public, free of charge.  

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Anne Sarah Rubin: "Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory"

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April 16, 2015 4:30 PM  – 6:00 PM
Hubbard Hall, Room 208 Thomas F. Shannon Room

Sherman's March, cutting a path through Georgia and the Carolinas, is among the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War. In this presentation, Anne Sarah Rubin uncovers and unpacks stories and myths about the March from a wide variety of sources, including African Americans, women, Union soldiers, Confederates, and even Sherman himself. Drawing her evidence from an array of media, including travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers, Rubin uses the competing and contradictory stories as a lens into the way that American thinking about the Civil War has changed over time.

Anne Sarah Rubin is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Part of the Enhancing the Humanities at Bowdoin Civil War Era Cluster.

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Cristina Malcolmson: 'Studies of Skin Color in the Early Royal Society'

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April 23, 2015 4:30 PM  – 5:30 PM
Massachusetts Hall, Faculty Room

In her most recent book, Studies of Skin Color in the Early Royal Society: Boyle, Cavendish, Swift (Ashgate, 2013), Cristina Malcolmson demonstrates how unstable the idea of race remained in England at the end of the seventeenth century, and yet how extensively the intertwined institutions of government, colonialism, the slave trade, and science were collaborating to usher it into public view.

Arguing that the early Royal Society moved science toward racialization by giving skin color a new prominence as an object of experiment and observation, Malcolmson provides the first book-length examination of studies of skin color in the society. She also brings new light to the relationship between early modern literature, science, and the establishment of scientific racism in the nineteenth century.

Malcolmson, professor of English at Bates College, has also written The 'Empire of Man over the Inferior Creatures': British Women, Race, and Seventeenth-Century Science for The Palgrave History of British Women's Writing, and a collaborative article with Ruth Paley (first author) and Michael Hunter on 'Parliament and Slavery 1660-c.1700' which appeared in the journal Slavery and Abolition in 2010.

Sponsored by the English Department. For more information, contact department coordinator Laurie Holland at 207-725-3552 or lholland@bowdoin.edu.

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