events

ISI Hosts Symposium in Honor of James W. Foley

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute hosted a symposium titled “The Task of Witnessing: A Symposium in Honor of James W. Foley” in collaboration with the Journalism Department and the MFA Program for Poets and Writers, University of Massachusetts on September 19-20, 2016.

James W. Foley was a student at the University of Massachusetts from 1999 to 2003, in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers in the English Department. Both while he was on our campus, and afterwards when he worked for Teach for America in Arizona and Chicago, he was dedicated to working in and with marginalized communities, helping students to widen their educational range and find their own voices. At UMass he volunteered at a local care center for unwed mothers, helping them earn their GEDs; both as teacher and journalist he was active in mentoring others. He worked on development projects in Iraq, and became an embedded journalist with the Indiana National Guard, and then with the US Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, before becoming a freelance journalist working on the front lines in both Libya (where he was abducted and released) and in Syria. There he was kidnapped and ultimately executed in the most horrific and public way by the so-called Islamic State in August 2014. This campus, along with many others, mourned his loss deeply.

Our symposium was offered in memory of James Foley, to pay tribute to him by considering a range of issues that not only affected his life but have also impacted the lives of many around the world. Since 2001, if not before, we have been caught up in various forms of undeclared and undefined war. Both in the US and around the world we face a baffling array of developments which are hard to contain in any coherent form of understanding. We live in a context of shifting boundaries, large-scale movements of people, strange mixtures of enmity and belief, the unnerving event and its instant reproduction. What, in these circumstances, are the complex tasks of witnessing, of giving voice, of attempting to tell the truth? How do we see, how do we write, how do we report? How and where do we operate in the borderlands—both lived and conceptual—of encounter? What are the obligations of witnessing—and what are the dangers? How do we give voice to the otherwise unreported, to the unknown, to those whose voices would otherwise go unheard? How do we, as readers and viewers, witness atrocity? What, in short, are the tasks and perils of witnessing in our current world?

Funding for The Task of Witnessing comes from the Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; the Provost, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; College of Humanities and Fine Arts; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Interdisciplinary Studies Institute; Department of Journalism; Department of English; Department of History; Department of Communication; Commonwealth Honors College; Nexus, Mt Holyoke College; and the Creative Writing Center, Amherst College.

Please click "Foley Symposium" in the menu bar above for the full schedule and biographies of panelists.

Parents of James Foley Discuss Documentary 'Jim' With UMass Community

On September 19, the first evening of the Task of Witnessing: A Symposium in Honor of James W. Foley, Jim's parents Diane and John attended the film's screening and answered students' questions about Jim and journalism in conflict areas around the world. Diane and John Foley were joined by Heather MacDonald, who helped produce the film and was Jim's friend as well. A video clip of the event, produced by the University of Massachusetts's Office of News and Relations, can be found here

WAMC Radio Interview: James Foley to be Honored at UMass Symposium

Ahead of 'The Task of Witnessing: A Symposium in honor of James Foley,' ISI Director Stephen Clingman was interviewed on WAMC: Northeast Public Radio about James Foley and symposium's vision. 

The symposium commences on September 19, at 7 p.m. with a screening of Jim: The James Foley Story documentary in S215 in the Integrative Learning Center. We are excited to spread the word that the documentary was awarded 'Exception Merit in Documentary Filmmaking' at the 2016 Emmy Awards. 

Citron Residency Public Events: Lecture and Panel Discussion

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI) is delighted to welcome Professor Danielle Citron, Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, who will visit UMass from April 4-8 as part of the 2016 ISI Residency. Professor Citron will present a public lecture entitled “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” on Tuesday, April 5 at 4:30 pm in Room 904-908 of the UMass Campus Center. In addition, Professor Citron will join current ISI Fellows Jennifer Fronc (History), TreaAndrea Russworm (English), and Jenny Vogel (Art) for a panel discussion on Wednesday, April 6 at 12:30 pm in Room 174-176 of the UMass Campus Center. The panel is titled “Identity CTRL: Trolls, Bullies, and Power in the Digital Age.” Professor Citron will also interact with students and faculty across the disciplines during seminars, classroom visits, and a meeting with this year’s ISI Faculty Fellows, who have been considering the topic of “Secrecy, Publicity, Privacy, Security” from various perspectives throughout the year.

ISI Cosponsors 'Methods' Symposium

ISI is proud to sponsor the upcoming 'Methods' symposium, an interdisciplinary one-day symposium devoted to the question of method hosted by graduate students from the English Department at UMass, Amherst. The symposium, held on March 11, will include three workshops designated as queer studies, postcolonial studies, or black studies, to which interested students can apply.  The symposium invites graduate students from across the humanities and social sciences whose work makes methodological interventions in queer, postcolonial, and/or black studies to participate in workshops and a panel discussion that ask the question, "What methods; why now?" The workshops will be facilitated by Heather Love (UPenn), Lisa Lowe (Tufts), and Christina Sharpe (Tufts), all of whom will also participate in a public roundtable. There is no cost to apply or participate in the workshops, and refreshments and a reception will be included. 

750-word proposals are due January 29, 2016 to methods@umass.edu. More information, including the full call for papers and description of the event, can be found on the Methods Symposium website

ISI to Host Achebe Symposium


FORTY YEARS AFTER
CHINUA ACHEBE AND AFRICA IN THE GLOBAL IMAGINATION

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

14-15 October 2015
Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell Hall

Full symposium schedule can be viewed here

On 18 February 1975, the great African writer Chinua Achebe presented a Chancellor’s Lecture at the University of Massachusetts, entitled ‘An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.’ The lecture was subsequently published in the Massachusetts Review, and since that time it has become celebrated and iconic: a remarkable moment both in literary criticism, and in a broader cultural assessment of how Africa has been perceived and represented in the Western world. In making his case, Achebe challenged the entire framework in which works of art would be judged, and in which the discussion of Africa would be sustained.

To mark the fortieth anniversary of this epic moment, as well as the fortieth anniversary of the Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series at the University of Massachusetts, the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute will host a symposium devoted to the impact of Achebe’s lecture and its continuing legacy. In this, our aim is twofold: first, to commemorate the event itself, and its significance; and second, to bring the discussion into the present by reconsidering both Achebe’s importance, and the shape of things today in terms of the issues he raised.

Panelists and speakers include NoViolet Bulawayo, Jules Chametzky, Johnnetta Cole, Achille Mbembe, Maaza Mengiste, Okey Ndibe, Caryl Phillips, Michael Thelwell, Esther Terry, and Chika Unigwe, among others.

Full details of the program will be forthcoming. If you plan on attending the symposium from out of town, we urge you to make hotel accommodations as soon as possible. The UMass Visitor's Guide includes a comprehensive list of area hotels and accommodations, and can be access here

 

ISI Cosponsored Events in April

As always, ISI is happy to cosponsor events in collaboration with other organizations on campus. This month, our cosponsored events include a number of interesting lectures and symposia:

  • A visit to UMass of Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika (Clemson University) on April 8, who will speak on diversity in public radio;
  • A public lecture by Dr. Victor Burgin, renowned conceptual artist and theorist, on April 9;
  • "Neurodiversity University," a symposium on neurodiversity and autism, with events on April 16 and April 24;
  • The "Five College Multicultural Theater Conference," taking place on April 17. 

Click "read more" below for more information about each of these events.

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