• Citron Public Lecture 

Jonatha M. Square Guest Lecture

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute is very excited to announce that Jonathan M. Square from Harvard University will give a talk entitled The Myth of the Tignon and the Invention of New Orleans. The talk will be on October 31st from 4:00-5:30pm in ILC S140. Jonathan M. Square is a writer, historian, and curator of Afro-Diasporic fashion and visual culture. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, and currently at Harvard University. He also runs the website Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom, which explores the intersection of fashion and slavery.  

Ora Szekely Guest Lecture

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute is very excited to announce that Ora Szekely from Clark University will give a talk entitled Violence, Identity and the Politics of Belonging in the Syrian Civil War. The talk will be on October 21st from 4:00-5:30pm in ILC S131. Ora Szekely is Associate Professor of Political Science at Clark University. Her research focuses on armed groups in the Middle East, and is based on fieldwork conducted across the region. She is the author of two books (The Politics of Militant Group Survival in the Middle East and the co-authored Insurgent Women) as well as a number of articles on the subject. She is currently working on a book on the civil war in Syria.


Malcolm Purkey Lecture, September 26

The Interdisciplinary Studies Institute is very excited to announce that the first ISI lecturer this year will be Malcolm Purkey, a major figure in the history of theatre in South Africa. He will give a talk entitled The Market Theatre in Post-Apartheid South Africa: Belonging and Not Belonging. The talk will be on September 26th from 4:00-5:30pm in ILC S140. Beginning as a student playwright and director, he was a key figure in the Junction Avenue Theatre Company, was Artistic Director of South Africa's iconic Market Theatre, was a Professor at Witwatersrand University, and served as Dean (now Dean Emeritus) at the AFDA (Africa Film Drama Art) School for the Creative Economy in Johannesburg.  For more information, see https://esat.sun.ac.za/index.php/Malcolm_Purkey.

In Memoriam: Dr. Eileen O'Neill (1953-2017)

It is with great sorrow that we note the death of our colleague, Eileen O'Neill, Professor of Philosophy. Professor O'Neill was a founding member of the advisory board of the Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Humanities and Fine Arts (ISHA), the forerunner of the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute (ISI). Her contributions were vital to establishing ISHA as a sustainable venue for scholarly and artistic exchange between faculty here at UMass and to building the foundation for its eventual transformation into ISI. We feel her loss keenly. 

Photos of "Hairdresses Are My Heroes" -- A Performance by Sonya Clark

The ISI is very pleased to pass on the news from Loretta Yarlow, of the University Museum of Contemporary Art that an event which ISI co-sponsored, “Hairdressers Are My Heroes,” a performance by Sonya Clark, was a great success. 

The performance involved an ancient African hairstyle from a sculpture in the exhibition Five Takes on African Art / 42 Paintings by Fred Wilson, re‐created by the hands of stylist Kamala Bhagat on the head of artist Sonya Clark. Clark’s work often features hair and combs to speak meaningfully about cultural heritage, gender, beauty standards, race, and identity, and this performance celebrated artists across time — from the original hairdresser who created the style, to the sculptor who created the piece, to the contemporary hair stylist, to Sonya Clark herself.

A video of the event can be seen here, and pictures of the event taken by Ed Cohen of MassLive are displayed below, with more pictures available here. 

2018 ISI Resident: Masha Gessen

The ISI is very pleased to announce that Masha Gessen has accepted our invitation to be the Institute's Resident this spring. Given that the topic of this year's seminar is dissent, Ms. Gessen was an obvious choice, given her reporting on and participation in dissent in Russia, both concerning LGBTQ rights and more generally.

We therefore are extraordinarily happy that she has agreed to accept our invitation. Most recently, Ms. Gessen has published The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the National Book Award for non-fiction.

Details of Ms. Gessen's activities as ISI's resident are still being worked out, and will be announced as soon as they're settled. In the meantime, if you are interested in hosting Masha Gessen for a classroom visit, please feel free to contact us at isi@umass.edu.

ISI Announces 2018 Graduate Student Seminar Fellows

We are excited to announce that ten graduate students have been chosen as Fellows for the ISI's inaugural interdisciplinary graduate student seminar on "Dissent", which will begin meeting on February 14. As is customary in ISI's Faculty Seminar, the Graduate Student Fellows will approach this theme from a great variety of perspectives, ranging from theater to the social sciences and the humanities, and will meet to present their work on dissent throughout the spring semester. 

The ten 2018 graduate student fellows are Swati Birla (Sociology), Jodie Childers (English), Maryam Fatima (Comparative Literature), Florianne Jimenez (English, Composition/Rhetoric), Brendan McCauley (Communication), Ben Nolan (Political Science), Sonny Nordmarken(Sociology), Emily Tareila (MFA Studio Art), Cecilia Vasquez (Anthropology), and Magdalena Zapędowska (English).

Congratulations to our new Fellows! We thank all applicants for their interest, and look forward to a fruitful and productive seminar for all participants!

ISI Welcomes New Board Members

At the beginning of the spring semester, the ISI welcomed new members to its Advisory Board. The new members of the board are David Cort from Sociology, Brian Dillon from Linguistics, Rebecca Hamlin from Political Science/Legal Studies, Shona Macdonald from Art, and Angie Willey from Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. They join Lisa Henderson from Communication, who has graciously agreed to stay on.

This is also an occasion to thank once again those members of the board who have stepped down after many years of contributing to the Institute's success; we are indebted to Janice Irvine from Sociology, Randall Knoper from English, Kathleen Lugosch from Architecture, and Banu Subramanian from Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.