Wayne State University

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Humanities Center has scheduled talks to be held during the Fall and Winter semesters. These talks are held mainly on Tuesday and Wednesday, but occasionally on other weekdays as well. All lectures will be held in 2339 FAB from 12:30 - 1:30 unless otherwise announced.

Since the inception of the weekly Brown Bag Colloquium Series, literally hundreds of Wayne State humanities and arts faculty and students have participated either as speakers or as members of the audience. Each new year brings an increase in the number of faculty volunteering to present talks. As a result, the Center regularly hosts talks twice a week throughout the academic year. Brown Bag talks are free and open to the public. We are inviting junior and senior scholars in the humanities and arts as well as those working in the natural and social sciences whose work overlaps with the humanities.

CALL FOR SPEAKERS! Click here to sign up.


September 10 - Jon E. Cawthorne
Dean of Wayne State University Library System and the University’s School of Information Sciences

For Everyone: A 21st Century Academic Library

Abstract: The 21st century research library benefits the campus, the students, and the alumni. In order to accomplish our goals, we are focusing our work within four pillars –student success and retention, scholarship, community engagement, and organizational development. We are addressing some of the organizational culture issues that stifle creativity, growth, and innovation. This presentation will share some of the cultural changes taking place in the library that will position us to become the best research library in the world.

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September 11 - Bill Harris
Professor Emeritus, English

I Got To Keep Moving - reading from short stories

Abstract: In the twenty-five linked short stories in his collection, I Got to Keep Moving, celebrated Detroit author Bill Harris vividly and deftly describes the inner and outer lives of a wide cast of characters as they navigate changing circumstances in the southern United States, pre- and post-Civil War. Addressing vital aspects of life—hope, family, violence, movement, and memory—I Got to Keep Moving is as mesmerizing as it is revealing.

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September 17 - Mark Lumley
Mark Lumley: Distinguished Professor and Director of the Clinical Psychology PhD program

Emotional awareness and expression therapy for chronic pain conditions

Abstract: Current evidence-based psychological interventions for chronic pain have only modest efficacy, in part because of limitations in their therapeutic targets.

Trauma, conflict, and related emotional factors are usually ignored or viewed as problems to be controlled by current pain management approaches. In contrast, research supports the value of approaching, disclosing, expressing, and emotionally processing negative emotional experiences.

My colleagues and I have developed and tested novel, potentially more powerful psychological pain treatments, particularly Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy. This treatment emphasizes the role of a changeable brain in chronic pain and targets the fear, stress, and trauma that often underlie such pain.

I will present the background of this therapy and some studies documenting its value, and discuss pros and cons of its implementation.

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September 18 - Carolyn Shields
Carolyn Shields: Education, Professor

A Case for a Normative Theory of Educational Leadership

Abstract: In this presentation, Dr. Shields will provide a brief overview of her 25+ year career as a professor of educational leadership, beginning with insights from her 19 years as a K-12 teacher, moving to her research with the Navajo in SE Utah, and concluding with her major work, theorizing and articulating the theory of Transformative Leadership.

During one project on the Navajo reservation, after posing the question “What would help to improve the academic outcome of these students?” the respondent quickly replied, “Better parents.” Repeatedly hearing versions of the same response, Dr. Shields concluded that rational and technical approaches to educational leadership were insufficient to effect significant socially-just and inclusive transformation of educational institutions and that the ability to address “isms” and “obias” including negative mindsets, implicit bias, and deficit thinking were essential leadership skills. Hence, in recent years, she has been involved in academic debates about the desirability of “non-affirmative theories,” and has argued the need for a critical, normative, values-based, and ethical approach to educational leadership.

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September 24 - Daphne Ntiri
Daphne Ntiri: African American Studies, Professor

What do you mean by feminism when there is Africana womanism? : 21st century perspectives on gender and race

Abstract: Feminist ideas and thinking are now to a large extent part of everyday global living. Feminist scholars have upheld feminism, an international movement as a force to liberate women of the world from oppression and marginalization and to seek gender equality.

Though the feminist movement has made significant gains over the last century in its push for gender parity and empowerment in the political, social and economic spheres, minority groups such as African American women have expressed dissatisfaction at the priorities and agenda of the feminist movement that may not have taken full account of their historical realities of hegemony, oppression and ethnocentrism.

The status, struggles, experiences and contributions of the black woman, some scholars maintain, remain uniquely different as a result of the historically produced race, class and gender matrix. Africana womanism offers a new paradigm for women of African descent that functions outside the dominant histories of consciousness and examines the plight of the Africana woman to address the conflict between the mainstream feminist and the Africana womanist. In her seminal work, Africana Womanism, Reclaiming ourselves, Hudson-Weems, the coiner of the concept claims that, “Africana people do not have the luxury of being consumed by gender issues. Africana women must prioritize the struggle for human dignity and parity… as human discrimination transcends sex discrimination” (Hudson-Weems, 29).

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September 25 - Elizabeth Faue
Elizabeth Faue: History, Professor and Chair

Battle for or in the Classroom: Teacher Strikes in the Context of School Violence and Integration

Abstract: During the 1970s, a succession of government studies and media reports sounded the alarm about rising rates of violence, drug use, theft, and vandalism in the nation’s public schools. The context for understanding the school violence epidemic was, however, the slow integration of public schools across the nation.

The politics of school violence played a critical role in promoting “zero tolerance” policies against juvenile offenders and in moving students into what activists have called the “school-to-prison pipeline.” School violence policies generally substituted heavy-handed policing and surveillance for structural solutions to school segregation and underfunding. In the 1990s and 2000s, teachers union leaders advocated more progressive policies that sought to protect teachers and students from violence and to avoid criminalizing youth.

Teacher activists, both inside and outside unions, have engaged in debates about the school as a learning and working environment, including the lack of support personnel, lack of community integration and poor teacher compensation, and the “wave” of school shootings that threaten schools. Against the backdrop of continued pressures for privatization, the “Bargaining for the Common Good” campaigns and the surge of teacher strikes challenge the public and local and state governments to evaluate not only education in the narrow curricular sense but the role of public schools in our society.

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September 26 - Nadejda Marinova & Raed Ahmed
Nadejda Marinova: Political Science, Associate Professor
Raed Ahmed: Political Science, PhD Candidate

Pleases Note : The presentation will be held in RM.1339

Organizing of Diaspora Communities in Metro Detroit against Trump’s Muslim Ban

Abstract: Executive Order 13769 (the “Muslim Ban”) of 2017, affected US travel for citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen and banned Syrian refugees. In 2018, it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

This paper examines the response of diasporas in metro Detroit, emphasizing Muslim and Arab American community mobilization. The ban led to protests, media activism, communications with Congress, and federal lawsuits.

It incorporates the activity of Arab-American Civil Rights League, National Network for Arab American Communities, American Moslem Society, Islamic Center of Detroit, Michigan Muslim Community Council, American Human Rights Council, Arab-American National Museum, Arab American Civil Rights League, “Take on Hate,” Michigan United, ACLU and ADC.

The emphasis is on the mobilization of Arab and Muslim Americans as minorities facing discrimination. The research fills a gap by looking at those organizations anew. Most work on right-wing populism and xenophobia’s anti-immigrant focus portrays immgrant groups as monolithic, passive actors, not the complex groups they are. Looking at the active minority response to anti-immigrant sentiment tells the story anew, examining groups’ internal organization, alliances among related but distinct Arab-American communities and alliances across ethnicities (interactions between Arab Muslims, Arabic-speaking Christians and other Muslims; Arab and Latino groups).

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October 1 - Julie Hanna & Brad Ray
Julie Hanna: Associate Director, Center for Behavioral Health and Justice; Brad Ray, Director, Center for Behavioral Health and Justice

Brad Ray: Director, Center for Behavioral Health and Justice

SMART DECARCERATION: Approaches to the opioid crisis

Abstract: The Center for Behavioral Health and Justice (CBHJ) envisions communities in which research, data, and best practices are used by multiple stakeholders to enhance the optimal well-being of individuals with mental illness and/or substance use disorders who come in contact with the criminal/legal system.

One of the CBHJ's areas of focus is the intersection of opioid use and criminal justice and helping communities to strengthen their infrastructure for addressing opioid use and other substance use. This session will focus on the CBHJ's work overall, the use of county data to assess the level of need related to opioid use, and specific initiatives related to prisoner re-entry and building Opioid Treatment Ecosystems.

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October 2 - Janine Lanza
Janine Lanza: History, Associate Professor & Director of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Program

Justice, equality and punishment during the French Revolution

Abstract: In our current political climate, the guillotine has come to be used as a symbol of social justice and a tongue in cheek way to address increasing inequality.

My research traces how the guillotine became such a charged cultural object over the two and a half centuries since it came to prominence as the tool for carrying out the death penalty during the French Revolution of the 1790s. This talk will discuss the process by which the guillotine came to replace earlier methods of execution and the meaning it took on as the French Revolution ran its course from a movement to create a constitutional monarchy to one that sought to implement egalitarianism, through the use of political Terror.

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October 8 - Walter Lucken IV
Walter Lucken IV: Graduate Teaching Assistant, English

Valerio’s Wall: Visual Rhetoric,Vulnerability, and Basic Writing

Abstract: In basic writing curricula at the university level, the literacy narrative is a common assignment in which undergraduate students tell a story about their relationship to reading and writing, in hopes of situating themselves at the beginning of the course and opening a space for self reflection and metacognition as they grow as writers and readers.

While the literacy narrative has important resources and affordances, it may have significant drawbacks in that students with an overwhelmingly negative relationship to print based literacy may find the experience of narrating it upsetting and counterproductive. In this lecture, I will argue that by engaging visual rhetoric and literacy at the beginning of the student's academic career, we can work around their potentially negative affective and emotional relationships to reading and writing, and open a space for them to engage their own rhetorical agency beyond print based or even discursive forms of communication.

Drawing on Ralph Cintron's book Angel's Town and his discussion of how a young man labeled "learning disabled" was able to use visual literacy to make sense of his world, I will argue that we can better serve students in basic writing courses by providing them with a more diverse and capacious sense of their own rhetorical capabilities.

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October 9 - Mary Herring; Kevin G. Lorentz II; Teresa Patton; Jordan Sabolish; Stephanie Zarb
Mary Herring: Political Science, Associate Professor Kevin G.
Lorentz II: Political Science, Assistant Professor at University of Michigan—Flint
Teresa Patton: Political Science, PhD Student
Jordan Sabolish: Political Science, PhD Student
Stephanie Zarb: Political Science, PhD Student

Gender Differences in Policy Priorities: Evidence from a Mock Legislature

Abstract: While a gender gap in legislative institutions is well-documented, the most consistent divergence in the legislative behavior of women and men is in the types of legislation they introduce. In this study we ask whether this difference is also observable in adolescents participating in a mock legislature.

Our initial analysis examines whether the bills introduced exhibit gender differences in policy area and ideological direction similar to those noted in formal legislatures. In a second stage of the study we employ textual analysis to explore whether male and female delegates use gender-linked language to describe bills, even when the policy area is controlled.

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October 10 - Kim SchroederRoom 3339 Faculty Administration Building 12:30pm-1:30pm
Kim Schroeder: Lecturer, School of Information Sciences

Adaptation in the Gay Community: Exploration Through Oral Histories

Abstract: Adaptation in the Gay Community: Exploration Through Oral Histories - Through three years of collecting oral histories in the LGBTQ community, Professor Schroeder has analyzed the content and has seen the dramatic change in attitude based on a changing political climate.

She notes the differences in attitude in the community over the last three years. Initial interviews were hopeful to obtaining full rights while riding the wave of the passing of marriage equality. In comparison, with a current less supportive political environment, there is a dramatic change in attitude. The adaptation and strength in this community is explored.

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October 15 - Lisabeth Hock
Lisabeth Hock: English, Associate Professor

German-Speaking Women Represent Black Masculinity

Abstract: The Federal Republic of Germany does not collect data on its citizens and inhabitants with regard to race and ethnicity. This means that it has no data with regard to discrimination against groups from specific racial and ethnic backgrounds. The September 2017 “Report of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Germany” criticized the Federal Republic for its “lack of disaggregated data on people of African descent without a migrant background” (13). As a result of its study, the report recommended that “People of African descent in Germany should be legally recognized by the Government as a minority group that has made and continues to make profound economic, political, social and cultural contributions to Germany.” (14).

If there are few statistics on Black Germans in general, there are even fewer on Black men in Germany, although activist groups have found that, as is the case here in the US, they are frequently the targets of racial profiling. Certainly, Black German-speaking men, such as Jet and Ebony magazine editor Hans Massaquoi (Destined to Witness), and Theodor Wonja Michael (Black German. An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century), have told their own stories. Yet, as Julia Gruhlich has noted, the study of black masculinities in Germany is only in its infancy.

In this paper, I will examine four contemporary German-speaking women who have represented Black men in their work and who, collectively, do so from the Enlightenment period to the 2015 migrant crisis. Two of the authors, Jenny Erpenbeck and Jana Simon, are white women from the former East Germany, two, Yoko Tawada and the film maker Branwen Okpako, are exophonic artists of color. All of the texts I will examine deal with historical figures and all of them have documentary qualities. They also represent men who are affected by processes of colonialization and globalization and who are left holding the short end of the stick in asymmetrical power relationships.

The question remains, however, about how we should read these characters. To what extent are they individualized characters in multifaceted stories; to what extent are they objectified and/ or reduced to a symbolic function? What role do they play and what does this tell us not only about their own masculinity, but also about the non-Black characters in the text, and also about the female artist’s standpoint and fantasies?

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October 22- Fran Shor
Fran Shor: History, Professor Emeritus

Adaptation in the Gay Community: Exploration Through Oral Histories

Abstract: Why does the United States have so much gun violence and why is it so difficult to overcome? Although there are numerous contributing factors to the persistence of the high amount of American gun violence, from the frontier past to the continuing proliferation of guns, one significant, but often overlooked, aspect is the role of systemic racism and the accompanying white racist frame. This fifty-minute power point presentation will explore the long history of racist currents in American gun violence.

Drawing from material in my forthcoming, Weaponized Whiteness: The Constructions and Deconstructions of White Identity Politics (Brill 2020), the racist dimensions of colonial and imperial war and repressive policing will be examined for their impact on American gun violence. In addition, recent challenges to these racist currents in American gun violence, from Black Lives Matter to the March for Our Lives, will be highlighted.

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October 23- Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri
Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri: Indian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist; Eric Montgomery, Faculty Member in WSU Peace & Conflict Studies and Cultural Anthropologist, Michigan State University

Framing Mami Wata

Abstract: This social justice film tackles the topics of Women, Race, and Water - three connected, contemporary themes in today’s world. Mami Wata is a pantheon of Water Spirits, mostly feminine, stretching back thousands of years to pre- Dynastic Egypt. Today, we need water more than ever, and we need Mami Wata, Mami Wata spirits, and other spirits - Yemaya, Oshun, and more.

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October 24- John Gruda
John Gruda: Independent Scholar

The Sociology of Art

Abstract: In this talk, I will deal with the impact that art has on our lives, and the impact art has on society in general. While this is topic has been covered by philosophers and others for centuries, speculation on this continues today in many places. Social scientists have constructed their own theories and I will cover a few of them.

But it seems clear that art in all of its various forms today is the very crux of our lives—from advertising to popular music, electronic gaming, television, not to forget art museums themselves. It is everywhere but virtually invisible. This irony is part of my focus. What exactly is art? What is the role of the modern artist in today’s world? Is art like a mirror reflecting society or does it help shape our hopes, dreams, and possibly even our nightmares? Do we express ourselves to feel free? Does art help create that very freedom that makes it actually possible? The popular presses tends to focus only on the art we enjoy, only hinting at the larger implications that makes art both necessary to our lives and why it brings joy to us. This talk is both reflection and mediation on the role of art in our lives.

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October 29- Chera Kee
Chera Kee, English, Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies

Beware the Zuvembies: Circumventing Comics Censorship with the Not-Quite Undead

Abstract: By the late 1940s, several groups were worried about the impact violence and gore in comics had on children. In response, the industry created the Comics Code Authority in 1954 to self-censor; one of the first things prohibited was the zombie. However, from the start, comics producers tried to find ways around the Code, and in the early 1970s, the Code was finally relaxed. It remained firm on zombies, though: as creatures without literary antecedent, zombies were considered too unrefined for comics readers. Yet, the zombie was experiencing a renaissance in pop culture, largely due to the cult success of Night of the Living Dead (1968), so Marvel found a new way to circumvent censorship with creatures called “zuvembies.”

This presentation traces the history of the living dead in comics—from the horror comics of the 1950s to the zuvembies of the 1970s—to explore how zombies in comics have consistently pushed the boundaries of acceptability while anticipating later shifts in how the undead have been conceived of in other mediums. It will ultimately argue that from almost the beginning of their tenure in comics, zombies have existed as “zuvembies,” both embodying and challenging popular expectations of the undead.

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October 30- Billicia Hines Pleases Note:The location for the presentation is Old Main Building- Maggie Allesee Dance Theatre (Studio B/ room 3317).
Billicia Hines: Theatre & Dance, Assistant Professor; Karen Prall, Theatre & Dance, Dance Lecturer; Ras Mikey Courtney, Theatre & Dance, Assistant Professor

De-Colonizing the Art

Abstract: The Freedom Players, one of the two ensembles within the Black Theatre and Dance Collective in the Theatre and Dance Department, devised a play based on the social justice theme, Liberation. The developed play, “I AM: A Journey Towards Liberation” is about the continual challenges of seeking liberation. This play was developed as a research project by its directors Hines, Courtney, and Prall’s who, along with the cast, engaged in a collaborative approach towards a young person’s experience of oppression and what it means to embody one’s journey towards the liberation of self.

In this presentation, we will present how our research into the development and presentation of I Am… has given us a framework to aid in the decolonization of the arts. Through embodying the personal narratives of marginalized communities, in an effort to reduce the need to define oneself based on archetypal norms that are not culturally or socially inclusive and designed by our oppressive society, this opened the student’s ability to move with more confidence while expressing their own story. This project has been a way of healing, empowerment, and discovery for all involved, including the audience. Original cast members will be performing excerpts of the play to exemplify and explain our process.

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November 5 - Jack Blaszkiewicz
Jack Blaszkiewicz, Assistant Professor, Music

Splintered Urbanism: Music, Popular Theater, and the Cultural Geographies of Nineteenth- Century Paris

Abstract: Urban histories of nineteenth-century Paris have long focused on visual phenomena: new vistas, new landmarks, and new ways of capturing modernity through photography and painting. What is less understood, however, is how urbanization altered the soundscape of the city. This talk examines Parisian street and café musicians and their representation in cartoons, memoirs, and police records. Through their lyrics as well as through published memoirs, songwriters offered vivid commentary on economics and politics in Second-Empire Paris, often focusing on the detrimental effects of urbanization on everyday musical life.

I argue that Parisian popular music, far from being a trivial distraction, offered passersby alternative—and at times, subversive—narratives about urban living, construction and demolition, and the tensions between city and country. This talk is part of a larger project that brings together music history and urban history, and it seeks to shed interdisciplinary light on modernity as a sonic phenomenon in the nineteenth century city.

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November 7 - renee hoogland
renee hoogland , English Professor

State of Exposure: Splicing Time in Tom Bianchi’s Fire Island Pines Polaroids

Abstract: This paper explores the paradox of photography and the complex power of exposure in relation to shifting temporalities, which, ultimately, I propose, inscribe the irreducible connection of both with (questions of) life and death. My reflections are organized around Tom Bianchi’s Fire Island Pines Polaroids 1975-1983 (2013). A unique collection of images of (predominantly white) gay young men, playing, loving, and being happy under, in Edmund White’s words, “an earthy paradise … under an eternally cloudless sky,” these photographs, in theatrical Polaroid color-schemes, impose the complexity of exposure in multiple, poignant ways.

First, gay men exposing themselves as such to the camera, comfortably, if not defiantly. Second, the sight of beautifully ripped, buff, and (half-naked) male bodies inscribing a reality of “gay happiness” that straight society had not yet been exposed to—and would not till decades later. And finally, our exposure to these images, taken just before the aids-crisis would render all inscriptions of gay life quite literally an exposure to death. The question, then, remains, how does temporality shift the terms of exposure, and how does photographic, visual exposure itself become an inscription of precisely the tension between life and death?

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November 12 - Jule Thomas
Jule Thomas, English, Senior Lecturer

Wayne State University Writers: Who uses the WRT Zone and who doesn’t

Abstract: Writing center assessment has a tangled history of methodology and findings (Gillespie, 2002; Babcock, 2008; Lerner, 2009; Thompson, 2009; Brizee, Sousa, Driscoll, 2012). All have responded to a call for empirical research within writing centers. Recently, a four-year, longitudinal study by Salem (2016), investigated who and who did not utilize the writing center at Temple University. Salem used her findings to assess unique student demographics, needs of students who visited, and if traditional tutoring best practices met those students' needs.

She found that students who came from non-traditional and disadvantage backgrounds were more likely to utilize writing center services. She ended her research with a call for a re-investigation of tutoring best practices that meet the unique needs of students who visit our centers. This presentation will provide findings from research of student demographics and usage at Wayne State University's writing center and will provide suggestions for tutoring strategies and support for our unique student needs. It will end with plans for further research and suggestions for institutional assessment and practical application of that assessment for tutor training and best practices.

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November 13 - Robert Sedler
Robert Sedler, Law, Distinguished Professor

"The Trump Presidency, Impeachment, and The Constitution"

Abstract: The Framers[of our constitution] assumed that the first President would be George Washington and that he would exercise those powers with wisdom and great ability. But they were worried about the next President. They had to deal with the possibility that there would be a "bad' President who should be removed from office.

The Framers debated a number of solutions and rejected the idea of a judicial proceeding. Instead they looked to the English parliamentary practice and came up with the idea of impeachment. Impeachment was a process by which Parliament would impeach - call into question - an officer of the Crown for breach of duty or abuse of power. Trial would be before the Parliament, and if the officer was found guilty, the officer would be removed.

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November 19 - Krista Brumley
Krista Brumley, Sociology, Associate Professor

The Social Construction of Time: Work, family, and conflict

Abstract: Today’s workers are expected to work longer hours and are increasingly required to travel. Even when they are home, workers are often tethered to their jobs by technology, and expected to be available at nearly all times. Higher demands on a worker’s time can lead to work-family conflict. Given these intensifying work demands, we examine how individuals in dual-income partnerships make sense of, and manage, competing demands on their time. Time is commodified in U.S. culture – we “buy” time, “save” time, and “spend” time. It is literal, tangible, and thus, can be manipulated and controlled. Time is also figurative where pressure is perceptual such as when the “needed” time is seen to exceed the “available” time.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with parents and childfree couples, our study shows participants attempt to control their time to address hectic work and family lives. However, this is often not successful, leading to sometimes paradoxical outcomes. Despite the difficulty of managing and controlling time because of real or perceived external time demands, they work to make their limited time meaningful. This study extends our theorizing on how work and family demands shape perceptions and meanings of the structure of time.

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November 21 - Karen Prall

Pleases Note: The location is Old Main Building Studio E/Room 3374

Karen Prall, Theatre & Dance, Dance Lecturer

Central African dance and the emergence of Afro-Beat dance

Abstract: Taking you on an African American dancer’s journey from Detroit, in navigating the world of Ballet and Modern dance to the compelling world of central African dance, existing in all three worlds, as I Found dance as part of my future. The challenge of being introduced to *new movements, music, culture, and language, outside of the world of modern and ballet while maintaining all, with modern and African eventually becoming my form of communication as a dancer, performer and instructor. Realization that those *new movements are quite old and the story behind why we observe an African dance movement and can relate to or compare to another movement or dance that is done in the U.S. Traveling to Congo, Brazzaville, and Congo, Kinshasa, Paris, France, Accra, Ghana, and more assisted in the development and observance of African dance and music with its effects on modern dance as well as ballet. My introduction to the world of Congolese dance, drum, songs, chants, offered me a chance to view the art of dance from new eyes. Experiencing the art with the dancers and drummers as your extended family, not just dancing but talking, listening, exchanging cultural norms, taking care and looking out for each other. All the while you are learning the traditional style you kept an eye on the contemporary (music and dance) style of Soukous. Soukous was some of the main popular music (party) all over Africa for quite some time.

In my personal observance of the emergence of Afro-beat on the scene as well as the dance movements that answer to this change, it happened quickly once Nigeria’s youth took hold from Fela Kuti and put their generational stamp on Afro-beat not just the music but also the dance. You may wonder why is this important? For our youth it is quickly becoming a means of communication, the area you are from, we should know the foundation/roots of Afro-Beat and where it originated from, this style is now requested in auditions for music videos, commercials. Staying connected and current with dance styles, In this work I will speak and provide a lecture demonstration myself and the audience (minimal movement), can be done moving or in a chair, this will be a part of this dancers journey as is spoken.

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December 3 - Dominic Nanni
Dominic Nanni, English, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Michael Oakeshott’s Conservatism

Abstract: In the United States, conservatism is experiencing something of an existential crisis. To most the word refers to economic policies that call for lower taxes for the rich, deregulation of the economy, and cutting the social safety net. Conservatism also refers to religious extremists. The Republican Party, Andrew Sullivan argues, has become a religious organization rather than a serious political party. Over time this has eroded the ideological thrust of conservatism as an idea advocating moderation, restraint, and skepticism in politics. Once envisioned as the antagonist of ideologies and extremists, conservatism has itself become an ideology of extremes.

There is a necessity for a strong moderate voice in our politics and conservatism should be that voice. It cannot be that voice if it does not resolve it’s existential crisis and return to its original motivating ideas. In this talk, I describe what could be the foundation for a new kind of conservatism, an intellectual conservatism similar to that of Russell Kirk: the conservatism of the philosopher Michael Oakeshott.

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December 4 - Patrick Cooper-McCann
Patrick Cooper-McCann, Urban Studies & Planning, Assistant Professor

Michael Oakeshott’s Conservatism

Abstract: In 1977, planner Norman Krumholz orchestrated the state takeover of Cleveland’s lakefront parks, calling it “one of the most satisfying and rewarding” examples of equity planning in his career. Yet the deal ultimately proved unpopular, and in 2013, Cleveland’s lakefront parks changed hands again, from state to regional management. In Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young rejected a proposal to transfer Belle Isle Park to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority in 1974. Forty years later, Belle Isle became a state park against the City Council’s objections. This talk will discuss the fiscal and racial politics of these cases.

The cases reveal that more is at stake when the scale of urban park provision changes than a simple realignment of tax dollars. Park agencies have different missions, constituencies, labor forces, planning processes, and access policies—all of which also influence the social and racial equity of public space.

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January 14 - Jerry Herron, Irvin D
Jerry Herron, Irvin D. Reid Honors College, Dean Emeritus

Living With Detroit: An All-Purpose History of America

Abstract: The ways Americans have devised for living with Detroit are an all-purpose guide to our history as a people. Everything that makes us who we are has gone further and faster here than anyplace else. In other words, when America happens, Detroit is the result—so exaggeratedly typical that it looks like an exception, except it is not.

The question is what to do with the truths about ourselves that get revealed in Detroit, this most extravagantly typical American place. As to the nature of those truths, they might be thought of in terms of five revelations that Detroit manifests—about memory, history, forgetting, design, and nostalgia—that we have had to live with, or not, depending on who we happen to be and how things look from our particular points of vantage. But rather than accepting the exemplary truths about ourselves revealed here, we have mostly been living in denial—right from the start, so that our history is defined by the serial denials we have contrived when confronted with this most representative expression of ourselves—Detroit.

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January 15 - Frederic Pearson
Frederic Pearson, Political Science, Professor, Baher Elsaid, Political Science, PhD Candidate

Analyzing the Transition from 'Fragile' to 'Failed' States in World Politics

Abstract: The scholarly debate about factors leading to state failure is divided among different subfields of Comparative Politics as well as World Politics. It could be boiled to two main schools, those who believe that state failure is due to mismanagement, and corruption of political elites in the Less Developed Countries (LDCs) countries, and those who believe that mismanagement, and corruption contribute to state failure, but there are some structural elements in building those fragile states and their military, that makes maintaining those states almost impossible.

The latter builds on the inherited characteristics of the decolonized states, and how the political and military structures they inherited are so weak and costly to preserve. The public goods provided by the LDCs states are decaying in most of the cases, including security which leads finally to state collapse. It becomes surprising that some of the LDCs recover from state failure. The conditions of state failure and state recovery becomes not an easy task to explain, but still some of the previous attempts to correlate state failure empirically with other factors were statistically significant. In this paper, we will try to explain a model built on both structural criteria of fragile states, and other developments which gather to lead to the collapse of the state.

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January 21 - Marsha Richmond
Marsha Richmond, History, Professor

Theo Colborn, the Great Lakes, and the Discovery of Environmental Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Abstract: Industrial pollution was hard to escape in the 1970s, especially in the Great Lakes region. Decades of industrial dumping led the Rouge River to catch fire near Zug Island in October 1969. Responding to public alarm (and to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, 1962)—the Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970 and Environment Canada in 1971. Biologists also were increasingly concerned about the impact of persistent toxic chemicals, especially PCBs, on Great Lakes fauna and began to commission dedicated studies.

In 1988, Canadian officials hired Dr. Theo Colborn (1927-2014), a Conservation Foundation and World Wildlife Fund biologist, to produce a systematic study of reported problems in 15 keystone species. Her 1990 findings sent shock waves throughout scientific and government circles. Rather than causing cancer, as expected, Colborn found clear cases of developmental deformities. A hunt soon commenced to identify causes of such abnormalities. She announced the findings in 1991: manmade chemicals in the environment—“endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs) they called them—could interfere with embryonic development in humans and animals. How studies of Great Lakes pollution led to the discovery of EDCs is the focus of this talk.

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January 22 - Alisa Moldavanova
Alisa Moldavanova, Political Science, Associate Professor

Arts at Work: Investigating the Impact of the Arts on Self-Reported Health in U.S. Counties

Abstract: This talk presents the results of a collaborative research project that empirically investigates the relationship between creative cultural capital and public health. Specific research questions asked include: 1) Does the presence of aggregated arts and creative activity in local communities contribute to improved community-level public health? 2) Is such contribution independent from the effects of social capital and other conventional determinants of public health?

Relying upon multiple measures of creative cultural capital and controlling for established determinants of community health, we use data from over 2,500 U.S. counties to examine the effects of creative cultural capital on self-reported public health. The results show that higher levels of creative cultural capital yield long-term community health dividends. The study also finds that social capital, median income and income equality, as well as level of education, serve as important components of the positive relationship between arts infrastructure and self-reported health.

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January 23 - Natalia Rakhlin
Natalia Rakhlin, English/Linguistics, Associate Professor

What makes us smart: acquisition of clausal structure as a cognitive augmenter

Abstract: Hierarchical clause structure as a tool for cognitive advances in early childhood Humans, even in infancy, possess non-verbal means for mental computations that involve reasoning about concrete objects and events directly accessible to sensory experience. These capacities are not unique to our species. However, unlike other species, (adult) humans are also capable of reasoning about “psychologically distant” objects and events (i.e., those beyond direct sensory access).

While such reasoning may be possible without language, it would be at best slow, imprecise, and inconsistent. The capacity to reason about psychologically distant objects emerges gradually, but the earliest elements of this ability appear around the same age as the onset of combinatorial language.

I will present an argument for a close link between linguistic and cognitive development using convergent findings from child language acquisition and cognitive development. I will introduce a gradualist theory of the acquisition of clausal structure (Rakhlin & Progovac, 2017) and show how the steps in the development of the layers of the syntactic hierarchy align with (and arguably pave the way for) cognitive milestones documented in developmental research. According to this view, the emergent layers of syntactic structure augment children’s non-verbal representations allowing children to go beyond their innate “core knowledge” systems and non-linguistic processing mechanisms (sensory-perceptual and affective). This expansion provides representational means for representing information about hidden causes, others’ desires and beliefs, distant past (or future) and counterfactual situations.

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January 28 - Adrienne Jankens
Adrienne Jankens, English, Associate Professor

Using an Ecologic Pedagogy to Frame a Classroom Study of Rhetorical Awareness

Abstract: Students in my F19 ENG 1020 class, “Rhetoric and Responsibility,” explored working definitions of “rhetorical responsibility” as applicable to their academic research and writing. We drew on the definition of “responsibility” in The Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing, “the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for one’s self and others,” and worked to understand learning and writing as a shared process (CWPA 2010). Because the health and success of our rhetorical relationships impacts our health and success in school, the workplace, our social organizations, and our intimate lives, learning to write with these relationships in mind seems an essential focus of the writing classroom.

Composition scholars like Patrick Sullivan (2015) and Shari Stenberg (2014) have emphasized responsibility, listening, empathy, and related concepts in the writing classroom, showcasing their own classrooms as evidence of pedagogical possibilities. How to study this pedagogy beyond the context of one classroom, however, remains a puzzle. I describe my explicit attention to responsibility in first-year writing, review pilot study results from F19, describe curricular revisions for W20, and raise questions about the scalability of such a study, and the feasibility of scaling pedagogical studies at large.

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January 29 - Arash Javanbakht
Arash Javanbakht, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Assistant Professor and Director of Stress, Trauma and Anxiety Research Clinic

“Trauma and Stress in Syrian and Iraqi Refugees Resettling in Michigan: Epidemiological Findings, Biomarkers, Interventions, and Current Directions”

Abstract: Years of conflict in Syria have exposed millions to war related trauma, scarcity of resources, uncertainty about the future, loss of loved ones and belongings, relocation, and adjustment to the new environment. Despite reports on high level of trauma among refugees in the Middle Eastern countries, much less is known in Syrian refugees resettled in the Western countries.

Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC) has taken the mission of determining the impact of such chronic exposure to trauma among Syrian refugees resettling in the US, and addressing the trauma with creative intervention methods. This project has been featured on the CNN, Aljazeera, NPR, American Psychiatric Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

We have screened 157 adults and 131 children Syrian refugees resettling in the southeast Michigan within the first month of their arrival in the US. We have followed this cohort one year later. I will present the data on prevalence of mental health consequences of trauma exposure, within family dynamics of trauma, and changes in symptoms severity, and its environmental correlates. I will also briefly describe our body based interventions to help the children and their mothers.

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February 4 - Juanita Anderson
Juanita Anderson, Area Head, Media Arts and Studies, Department of Communication

“Hastings Street Blues Project”

Abstract: By 1943, when Detroit became the epicenter of the nation’s largest wartime race riot, Hastings Street had already emerged as the vibrant center of business and commerce for the city’s burgeoning African American Community. But by 1960, it had become a ghost town—giving way to construction for the new Interstate, I-75.

Hastings Street Blues is a documentary work-in-progress that will examine mid-20th Century African American life in Detroit and the city’s pre-Motown music legacy. The blues and its duality of hope and hard times becomes a driving narrative, and metaphor for the film’s parallel themes of self-determination and community displacement. Hastings Street record shop owner and record producer, Joe Von Battle becomes the central character who weaves these themes together. The writings and performances of his daughter, Kresge Literary Fellow Marsha Music, inform his story, as will the first person accounts of those who knew him, archival images and the music he recorded. Filmmaker Juanita Anderson addresses the process of developing this documentary feature film, and ponders the relationship between present-day physical place, collective memory and forgetfulness.

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February 5 - Lance Gable
Lance Gable, Law, Associate Professor

“Litigation and the Opioid Crisis”

Abstract: The upsurge of litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and sellers currently proceeding through the US court system—with nearly 3000 state and local governments as plaintiffs—raises a number of complex legal, political, and strategic issues. Although offering a wide array of legal theories, most of the local government lawsuits have been consolidated in a multi-district litigation, currently being overseen by a federal judge in Ohio. The state government lawsuits are mostly proceeding separately in state courts. This multiplicity of theories and plaintiffs may lead to conflict and competition between different plaintiffs, as state and local governments compete to control the legal strategy deployed in the cases and the resources that may be garnered from successful rulings or settlements.

This presentation explores the trajectory of the litigation as well as the implications of conflict between state and local governments as the opioid lawsuits proceed. The presentation also will examine how legal trends of preemption and privatization affect the ongoing litigation strategies and likely outcomes. The ongoing opioid litigation raises political and strategic concerns about incentives, resource allocation, and legal authority.

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February 11 - Richard Smith Shawn P. McElmurry Sydney O’Shay-Wallace
Richard Smith, Social Work, Associate Professor; Shawn P. McElmurry, Engineering, Associate Professor; Sydney O’Shay-Wallace, Communication, Ph.D Candidate,

“Water and Health Infrastructure, Resilience, and Learning (WHIRL)”


Water and Health Infrastructure, Resilience, and Learning (WHIRL): Boil Water Advisories as Risk Communication

Drinking water and public health depend on each other. In many places it is difficult to avoid and fix big problems related to water quality when they happen. The NSF-funded WHIRL project will assess threats to safe water quality and what happens when people’s access to clean water is disrupted. To do this, we need to better understand the connections between drinking water and public health. We will present an overview of the WHIRL project as well as results from an analysis of boil water advisories (BWA) which we argue are a form of risk communication.

When water systems experience (potential) contamination, risk communication is utilized to advise publics to boil water before consumption and use. This study sought to understand how local news media in the U.S. incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC; 2016) guidelines when reporting on BWAs. A content analysis of n = 1041 local news media articles did not consistently incorporate CDC (2016) guidelines when reporting BWAs. As local news media are primary informational sources for publics, there are serious implications related to news media’s reporting of BWAs, resiliency, and the importance of locallevel partnerships.

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February 12 - Dr. Jessica Robbins
Dr. Jessica Robbins, Anthropology/Gerontology, Assistant Professor

“Gardening, Memory, and Wellbeing in Later Life: Comparative Insights from Ethnographic Research in Poland and Detroit”


In this talk, I explore new directions for understanding memory and wellbeing among older adults living in postindustrial urban contexts. Two distinct ethnographic studies—one on memory and personhood among older allotment gardeners in Poland, and the other on gardening and wellbeing among older African Americans in Detroit—show that the collective past shapes possibilities for wellbeing in the present. In Poland, practices of gardening involve collective memories that intertwine home and nation, thus sustaining personhood (Robbins-Ruszkowski 2017).

In Detroit, gardening fosters connections with the past, as gardeners are reminded of deceased loved ones through practices and the plants themselves. These intimate connections and everyday activities are situated in racialized histories of migration, disinvestment, and “revitalization,” even as they provide the means to cultivate life in the present (Robbins and Seibel 2019). This talk works to develop comparative insights on aging, memory, and wellbeing that include person-plant relations, embodied memory, and the moral imagination.

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February 13 - Veronica Bielat
Veronica Bielat, University Libraries, Librarian IV

“Detroit Bronze to Hot Cast: 20+1 years of Cast Metal Sculpture in Detroit”


In 1986, the Michigan Gallery in Detroit hosted “Detroit Bronze”. This exhibition highlighted the work of the community of Detroit region sculptors working in cast bronze using a variety of processes, including direct and indirect lost wax casting, resin sand, and direct foam casting, the latter an artistic adaptation of the lost-foam casting method used in the auto industry. This presentation begins with Detroit Bronze and explores 21 years of art, artists and the foundries in and around Detroit that nurtured a robust and prolific explosion of cast metal work in bronze, aluminum and iron.

Culminating with the at Zeitgeist Gallery in Detroit in December 2007, we’ll explore the uniquely Detroit Aesthetic that sprang from this community during those 21 years, including bi-metal lost foam casting, the iron pour traditions, and the “gypsy” pour artists. This presentation reflects an effort to capture the history of and recognize one of the many vibrant and active art communities in Detroit beyond the confines of “Kick out the Jams” in 1981 and the myth of Detroit as a place void of a creative community promulgated by the national press in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

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February 19 - Barbara L. Jones
Barbara L. Jones, MA, Community Dispute Resolution Specialist/Faculty Instructor, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies

“Social Justice Activism: Theoretical Frameworks Subsets of Conflicts, Implications and Opportunities”


Social justice activism and social movements involve various concepts of theoretical frameworks and critical analysis in the field of social justice. Theoretical implications and strategies such as collective action, collective identity, resource mobilization, collective behavior and subsets of master frames along with collective action frames within social movements will be emphasized along with nuanced baseline foundations of interconnected conflicts.

. Acts of violence and civil unrest will be examined with open-minded perspectives and underpinnings advancing peaceful and just human relationships and how it relates to social justice activism whether it be individually and/or collectively.

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February 25 - Marc Kruman canceled
Marc Kruman, History, Professor & Director, Center for the Study of Citizenship

“Citizenship for Health”


Marc Kruman will discuss the Citizenship for Health Program and the application of the democratic deliberative practices to community health. The Program is a collaboration of the HOPE Village neighborhood (located in west-central Detroit and part of Highland Park), Wayne State University’s Center for the Study of Citizenship and members of the University’s faculty, staff, and students.

Our overarching objective is to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents of Hope Village. To attain that objective, we seek to enhance the civic capacity of HOPE Village and deepen habits of civic engagement regarding public health. In a broader sense, the Program seeks to use democratic deliberation to establish the public's leadership in public health.

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February 26 - Ronald Brown, R. Khari Brown
Ronald Brown, Political Science, Associate Professor; R. Khari Brown, Sociology

“Race, Religion, and Environmental Policy Attitudes”


Using four national probability studies between the years of 2010 and 2015, this study examines how religious beliefs help explain American support for or opposition to governmental efforts to protect the environment. We do so by investigating how race moderates this relationship. We find that religious beliefs associates with and likely informs the environmental policy attitudes of Non-Hispanic Whites. We have less evidence that the same holds true for Hispanics and Blacks.

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March 4 - Thomas Killion
Thomas Killion, Anthropology, Associate Professor

Questioning Abandonment: Landscape Ethnoarchaeology in Highland Valencia Spain

Abstract: Living in Detroit, “abandonment” becomes a familiar if tiresome trope, particularly to residents, who question use of the term at all! Abandonment obscures temporal and spatial scales and sensationalizes the interpretation of landscapes and explication of culture and environment as components of long-term interactive processes. Our work in Valencia, inspired by dispersal from Detroit, examines mass migration from rural Spain in the 20th century.

Questioning abandonment has evolved to an assessment of sustainability featuring the stories of people who walked away from highly productive village life just as the “golden age” of agriculture and terracing reached a zenith at the end of World War II. We focus, not on the life people moved to on the urban coast but on the complex system that unraveled in the highlands; from ruined irrigated gardens that once provided vegetables for villagers and fodder for animals to tumble-down terrace fields that climbed to mountain tops and provided olives, wine and bread for the table and a surplus for export. Narratives of abandonment provide compelling historical background to green shoots of resurgence today as the landscape fills with wind turbines, solar farms, hiking and biking trails, new country homes for refugees of sweltering summer heat on the coast, and a host of alternative approaches to farming, preserving heritage and carrying on the millennia-long tradition of life in the highlands of the western Mediterranean.

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March 5 - Peter Blackmer
Peter Blackmer, Research Fellow with the Detroit Equity Action Lab, an initiative of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at WSU Law

“Counter-Narratives and Community-Driven Research for Racial Equity in Detroit”

Abstract: In the years since the City of Detroit exited emergency management and bankruptcy, popular narratives have hailed the city’s resurrection while marginalizing the experiences, voices, and struggles of long-time residents. Understanding the ongoing crises of water shutoffs, displacement, and school closures as consequences of structural racism, emergency management, and austerity politics in Detroit, local people and community leaders have been at the forefront of dynamic grassroots campaigns to resist unjust policies, uproot the systemic causes of these issues, and put forth alternative visions for the future of the city.

This talk will explore the often marginalized histories of community-led struggles for human rights, self-determination, and racial equity in Detroit over the past 20 years through the lenses of African American Studies and Critical Race Theory. Centering the voices of Detroit’s grassroots organizers, the presentation will: 1) analyze the ways organizers are utilizing counternarratives in their work to resist structural racism and build movements for racial equity, human rights, and self-determination; 2) workshop the Detroit Equity Action Lab’s Voices from the Grassroots project, a community-driven oral history project to document, amplify, and support the work of grassroots organizers in the city.

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March 17 - Melba Boyd
Melba Boyd, African American Studies, Distinguished Professor

“Sound and Sensibility: Composing Poetry for Music and Musicians”

Abstract: “Sound and Sensibility: Composing Poetry for Music and for Musicians” will be a conversation about the creative process and collaboration between poet Melba Joyce Boyd and jazz musician, Marion Hayden. Boyd will explain how she engages language and sound properties, while Hayden will explain how she translates poetics into musical compositions or applies them to songs that reiterate those elements inherent in the poetry. In addition to their conversation, they will perform a few pieces to illustrate their collaboration.

. Boyd will also show sequences from her documentary, The Black Unicorn: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press and discuss the collaborative experience she engaged with the late Kenn Cox, who composed the original score for the film.

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