University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Past Programs & Events

Apr 22, 2015

Choiceless Choices: American Missionaries and the Armenian Genocide

What happens when human beings are faced with the ineffable, the incredible, the unimaginable, and the dangerous?  American missionaries to Armenia both witnessed and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the genocide of 1915. This talk explores the element of felt compulsion in European-Ottoman relations and American evangelizing zeal that preceded the genocide. It focuses on why American missionaries first came to Armenia and on their subsequent encounter with the progressively dehumanizing elements of genocide that preceded actual killing: systematic attack on the idea of community and the separation of individuals from notions of the normal in human relations to one another, to property, agency and time.

CAROLYN COLLETTE is Professor Emerita of English and Medieval Studies at Mount Holyoke College, a research fellow at the Centre for Medieval Studies at King's Manor at the University ofYork, and was recently a Mellon Emeritus Faculty Fellow. Her most recent book is /Re-Thinking Chaucer's /Legend of Good Women (York Medieval Press, 2014), and she is well known for her numerous scholarly publications, presentations, and awards. Professor Collette has had a longstanding interest in modern Armenian history and has researched and written about Medieval Armenia and the West. Her presentation at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies is in connection with her current research on American women missionaries to Armenia from 1850-1905.



Free and Open to the Public


Reception to Follow


Mar 30, 2015

Artist Sophie Yanow to Speak on Cities and Social Control in Her Graphic Novel “War of Streets and Houses”


Sophie Yanow, artist and teaching fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies, White River Junction, Vermont, will give a public talk and signing for her innovative and widely-praised graphic novel War of Streets and Houses. Yanow’s book is both personal and political, a diary and memory comic of the Montreal student uprisings of spring 2012 as well as a meditation on city planning, social control, the history of urban design and strategies of repression from Hausmann’s Paris to Marshal Bugead’s tactics in Algeria. Publishers Weekly in a starred review said War of Streets and Houses is “engaging and informative...each illustration conveys a wealth of emotional detail... The book’s quiet deliberation becomes more impressive with each read; Yanow is an author/illustrator to watch.”The Atlantic Cities praised her “deft sketches and minimal text [which show] how the streets of a city can simultaneously foster and crush social change, and how urban humans cling to personal freedom in an increasingly monitored world.”

Yanow studied printmaking and studio arts at the University of California Santa Cruz, and began her comics career in working a Bay Area comics shop. In 2011, she moved to Montreal for a three-month artists residency where she joined the independent, experimental Colosse Collective and published In Situ, a collection of journal comics. She was an invited artist-researcher for the Canadian Center for Architecture’s “C for Condo” workshop, and participated in projects such as the 48 Heures de la Bande Dessinée, the strike-related online Manif de Bonhommes, and La Hausse en Question strike zine. Her work has been widely exhibited in the United States and Canada, and War of Streets and Houses has been an assigned reading in a variety of urban planning and architecture courses. Yanow’s work stands in a tradition of inquiries into the life and nature of cities by Jewish graphic novelists, from Will Eisner’s Dropsie Avenue to Leela Corman’s Unterzakhn.


Yanow's appearance is part of a series of visits by women graphic novelists to the Five College area, including talks and signings by Lois Ahrens (The Real Cost of Prisons), Hazel Reed Newlevant (If This Be Sin), and Melissa Mendes (Hampshire College 2006, Freddy Stories). Each graphic novelist speaks in public, open classes in Thompson Hall, Room 106, UMass Amherst, at 10 AM, with Ahrens appearing Weds., March 25th, Newlevant Weds. April 8th, and Mendes. Weds. April 22. Modern Myths, 34 Bridge St # 4, in Northampton, (413) 582-6973,, will also host talks and signings with Newlevant on Weds. April 8th, talk at 4 PM and signing at 5 PM, and Mendes appearing together with Charles Forman, artist, founder and publisher of Oily comics, Weds. April 22, talk at 4 PM and signing at 5 PM.




Feb 12, 2015

Compostion and Compassion: Ethiopia and Rwanda Memory Transposed

Narration in Imagery, Poetry, and Prose


Amy Fagin is a U.S. based visual artist specializing in the traditional art form of manuscript illumination.  Her body of work has forged a meta-modernist contribution to the materials, techniques and theoretical principals used in manuscript illumination as a re-mediated visual art form for contemporary consideration.  She is author of Beyond Genocide; an emerging series of contemporary illuminations narrating a visual arts perspective on global historical legacies of genocide and mass annihilation.  Beyond Genocide is designed as a universally accessible visual arts experience.  Ms. Fagin is also an independent scholar in genocide studies and conducts research / seminars and advisory work on global initiatives of memory and memorialization through individual and collective arts expression and the museum experience. 

Nov 20, 2014

The Department of Languages, Literature, and Cultures Invites You to Attend Its Inaugural Medical Humanities Lecture:

The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis

Arthur Allen, currently editor at Politico's Pro eHealth, has decades of experience in journalism as a correspondent for The Associated Press. He covered the war in El Salvador for three years and was based in Germany in the 1990s. He is the author of Vaccine (Norton, 2007), a social and scientific history of vaccination, and Ripe (Counterpoint, 2011), a study of tomato breeding, genetics, and production.

Free and open to the public.
For information, contact: (Lara Curtis) or (Jonathan Skolnik)

Presented with generous support from the Amesbury Endowment for Polish Language, Literature and Culture; the College of Natural Sciences; the Department of Biology; the Department of History; the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies; the Department of Microbiology; and the Program in German and Scandinavian Studies.

Nov 12, 2014

Weaving the Memories of Others

A Reading and Conversation


Dr. Marjorie Agosín will read from I Lived in Butterfly Hill, the story of a valiant young girl transformed by the power of history as she faces dictator- ship and immigration with resilience. Explor- ing personal and public memory, it examines how we can weave the memories of others so they can became part of who we are.