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Programs and Events

2011-2012 EXPLORATORY THEME

URBAN PALIMPSEST

destruction and renewal

Through lectures, discussions, film, and art installations, The Commons seeks to explore the implied and inherent values of the urban environment, both visible and understood. The word palimpsest suggests the act of scraping away a layer of writing in preparation for the inscription of new words. Programs provided throughout the year will examine the many ramifications of what comprises life of a city.

Possible questions include:

- Why do we build cities in uninhabitable places?
- Are cities more critical to our survival than rural areas?
- What importance should we place on the layers of meaning within a city?
- Is it wise to rebuild cities that have been devastated by natural disasters and may be again?
- What does it take to rebuild a city?
- Can we separate emotion from the discussion of a city’s contributions to the world?

EVENTS

Garth Myers

Idea Café

What Causes City Dwellers to Riot, and How Do Cities Recover?

11:30am Friday, October 7 | The Commons

Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies, Trinity College

The Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 followed a period of unrest and rioting that gripped the city for seven years prior. Subsequent riots embroiled Zanzibar City off and on from 1988 to 2001 and have manifested in occasional flare-ups since. Professor Myers will respond to Northwestern University historian Jonathon Glassman's new book, War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar (2011), in which the author addresses the roots of Zanzibar's contemporary political violence and struggles and what caused ordinary people to not only riot, but, kill innocent people. Since 2002, Zanzibar City has largely been peaceful, and as of October 2010, it has been governed by a "Government of National Unity." Are there any lessons from its experiences for post-riot recovery for other cities?

Jake Wagner

Idea Café

Disasters as Design Moment: Does Urban Design Make Sense after Disasters?

12:30pm Wednesday, November 9 | The Commons

Jake Wagner, Associate Professor of Urban Planning + Design, University of Missouri - Kansas City

The Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 followed a period of unrest and rioting that gripped the city for seven years prior. Subsequent riots embroiled Zanzibar City off and on from 1988 to 2001 and have manifested in occasional flare-ups since. Professor Myers will respond to Northwestern University historian Jonathon Glassman's new book, War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar (2011), in which the author addresses the roots of Zanzibar's contemporary political violence and struggles and what caused ordinary people to not only riot, but, kill innocent people. Since 2002, Zanzibar City has largely been peaceful, and as of October 2010, it has been governed by a "Government of National Unity." Are there any lessons from its experiences for post-riot recovery for other cities?

Alex Lukas

Visiting Artist Talk

Alex Lukas, Printmaking/Drawing

7:00pm Thursday, November 17 | The Commons

Co-sponsored by the University Honors Program and the Department of Visual Arts.

Philadelphia-based artist Alex Lukas is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Lukas works in highly detailed drawings and intricate Xeroxed 'zines. Lukas's imprint, Cantab Publishing, has released more than 35 small books and 'zines since its inception in 2001. His drawings have been exhibited in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Stockholm, and Copenhagen and have appeared in Swindle Quarterly, Proximity Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, Dwell Magazine, Juxtapoz, and The New York Times Book Review.

An alumnus of the now legendary Philadelphia artist-run Space 1026, Lukas's eclectic output demands diverse techniques and materials, including: watercolor, ink, acrylic, gouache, enamel, silkscreen, and spray-paint on paper. His works often draw upon a viewer's unease. With an acute faculty for incorporating politics and sociological dynamism, Lukas's work lends critical thinking to our understanding of cities in America. More information can be found on his website: http://www.alexlukas.com/.

FILM FESTIVAL


Germany Year Zero

Germany Year Zero (1948)

3:00pm Sunday, January 29 | The Commons

G.D.B. Film Directed by Roberto Rosselinni; Screenplay by Roberto Rosselinni, Max Kolpé Stars Edmund Moeschke, Ernst Pittschau, Franz-Otto Krüger, and Ingetraud Hinze

Partially filmed among the rubble of post-World War II Berlin, Germany Year Zero follows the life of thirteen-year-old Edmund Kohler (Moeschke) and his destitute family as they struggle with life in the aftermath of the War. Edmund deals with trials outside of his home as well when he becomes involved in the Hitler Youth and a former school teacher who makes romantic advances toward him.

Dark City

Dark City (1998)

4:30pm Sunday, January 29 | The Commons

New Line Cinema Directed by Alex Proyas; Screenplay by Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs, David S. Goyer Stars Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jennifer Connelly

A futuristic drama, Dark City is set in an urban environment that never emerges from the darkness of night. It tells the story of John Murdoch (Sewell), a man suffering from amnesia who finds himself accused of murder. Murdoch attempts to discover his true identity and clear his name while on the run from the police and a mysterious group known only as the "Strangers."

FILM SCREENING & TALK

Carl Deal

Carl Deal, Filmmaker

6:15pm Sunday, January 29 | The Commons

Carl Deal's visit is co-sponsored by The Commons and The University Honors Program.

Carl Deal, co-director and co-producer of the 2008 documentary, Trouble the Water, will speak about his experience making the film. Following his remarks, there will be time for questions before the screening of Trouble the Water, at 7pm.

Deal is a 1988 graduate of the University of Kansas, and holds a MS in journalism from Columbia University, where he earned its Social Justice Prize. Prior to the making of Trouble the Water, Deal worked as an international news producer and a writer, reporting from natural disasters and conflict zones throughout the U.S., Latin America, and in Iraq. He has written investigative reports for NGOs about civil and environmental justice. Deal is a member of the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture arts and Sciences. For more information on Deal and his work: http://www.troublethewaterfilm.com/content/pages/the_filmakers/

Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water (2008)

7:00pm Sunday, January 29 | The Commons

Zeitgeist Films Directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal Documentary

An Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, Trouble the Water follows the story of residents of the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the district. Trouble the Water includes hand-held film footage of the storm, images of the aftermath, and interviews with residents as they struggle to recover and rebuild. Trouble the Water famously draws attention to issues of race, class, and the relationship of a government to its citizens as they presented themselves in the weeks, months, and years post-Katrina.

Kevin Gotham

LECTURE

The Architecture of Utopia: From Rem Koolhaas's Scale Models to RMB City

7:30pm Thursday, February 9 | The Commons

Dr. Yomi Braester, Professor of Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies, University of Washington

Co-sponsored by The University Honors Program.

The topic for the 2012 University Lecture Series at The Commons is The Visual City: The Intersection of History, Memory, Space and Image. Dr. Gotham's talk will dovetail with the Commons course designed for Honors Program students, co-taught in Spring 2012 by Dr. Catherine Preston, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Dr. Anton Rosenthal, Associate Professor of History.

VALENTINE'S DAY FILM FESTIVAL


Paris Je taime

Paris Je t'aime (2006)

5:00pm Tuesday, February 14 | The Commons

Le Fabrique de Films Produced by Emmanuel Benbihy and Claudie Ossard Stars Juliette Binoche, Leonor Watling, and Ludivine Sagnier

Composed of 18 episodic stories and carried by an ensemble cast Paris Je T'aime is set in multiple neighborhoods of Paris and explores different types of relationships in a cosmopolitan environment. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401711/

Cairo_Time

Cairo Time (2009)

7:00pm Tuesday, February 14 | The Commons

Cinemien Directed and written by Ruba Nadda Stars Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Tom McCamus, Elena Anaya, Amina Annabi

Cairo Time tells the story of an unexpected love affair in contemporary Cairo, in the context of ancient culture, displayed by the Pyramids and traditional social behavior. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0896529/

Max Grinnell

LECTURE

What We Talk About When We Talk About Art in Cities

7:00pm Monday, February 20 | Lawrence Public Library

Co-sponsored by the Lawrence Public Library

The question "what is art" can be simple or complex. When we think about art in cities, things get even murkier. Who is art for? Is it statues of long-gone military heroes? How does art enhance the public realm? Author and urbanologist Max Grinnell will talk about the role of public art in American cities, through illustrative materials from his travels. Through this talk, guests will see how public art shapes our understanding of urban spaces and how different public art projects can truly be exercises in community building.

Max Grinnell is a writer, traveler, and explorer who has published extensively on urban environments, most often those in Chicago and Boston. As part of his professional experience, Max has worked with the Michael Sorkin Design Studio, the Newberry Library, Frommer’s Publications, AA Publishing, the Chicago Tribune, the city of Chicago’s Cultural Affairs Department, the Worldwide University Network, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago. He has designed and taught courses on urban studies, community development, geography, planning and sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Boston University, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Chicago. For more information on Max Grinnell, search his site: www.theurbanologist.com.

Rebecca Colnit

LECTURE

"Civil Society, the Phoenix in the Ruins: Disaster, Carnival, Revolution, and Public Joy"

7:30pm Wednesday, February 29 | The Commons

Rebecca Solnit

Do we return to our original nature in chaos and crisis? That's been the theory of disaster management (and Hollywood disaster movies), but what if our original nature is calm, openhearted, generous, and creative? Rebecca Solnit has studied and written about major disasters and reached conclusions that are relevant not only to emergencies but to larger questions about our deepest desires and greatest possibilities.

Based in San Francisco, Solnit is the author of thirteen books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. They include November 2010’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators; 2009's A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, and many others, including Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities; Wanderlust: A History of Walking; As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). She has worked on an array of topics including climate change, Native American land rights, antinuclear, human rights, antiwar and other issues as an activist and journalist. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a contributing editor to Harper’s and frequent contributor to the political site Tomdispatch.com and has made her living as an independent writer since 1988.

IDEA CAFÉ

"Do We Need Crisis to Have Citizenship?"

10:30am Thursday, March 1 | The Commons
Rebecca Solnit

The Idea Café consists of a fifteen-minute introduction to a provocative topic by an expert in the field, followed by a dinner-table-style discussion among members of the audience. It is intended to serve as an alternative model of engagement between scholars, and between scholars and the broader community, which elicits energetic exchanges between attendees in response to the speaker's introduction.

Kevin Gotham

LECTURE

A Repertoire of Authenticity: Tourism Gentrification and the Transformation of the French Quarter

7:30pm Monday, March 5, | The Commons

Dr. Kevin Gotham, Professor of Sociology/Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the School of Liberal Arts, Tulane University

Co-sponsored by The University Honors Program.

The topic for the 2012 University Lecture Series at The Commons is The Visual City: The Intersection of History, Memory, Space and Image. Dr. Gotham's talk will dovetail with the Commons course designed for Honors Program students, co-taught in Spring 2012 by Dr. Catherine Preston, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Dr. Anton Rosenthal, Associate Professor of History.

Janet Ward

LECTURE

Visualizing the Ruined City

7:30pm Tuesday, April 3 | The Commons

Dr. Janet Ward, Professor of History, University of Oklahoma

Co-sponsored by The University Honors Program.

The topic for the 2012 University Lecture Series at The Commons is The Visual City: The Intersection of History, Memory, Space and Image. Dr. Ward's talk will dovetail with the Commons course designed for Honors Program students, co-taught in Spring 2012 by Dr. Catherine Preston, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Dr. Anton Rosenthal, Associate Professor of History.