• Citron Public Lecture 

ISI 2018 Resident, Masha Gessen, to Give Public Lecture on 4/16 at 6:30pm

MASHA GESSEN as our distinguished Resident for 2017-18. Masha Gessen
will visit the UMass campus from April 10-April 24, as part of this
year’s ISI seminar theme, ‘Dissent’. Gessen's work as an author,
journalist, and critic makes her a particularly apt choice as this
year's Resident.

U.S./RUSSIAN RELATIONS'. A reception will be held at 6:00 PM, and the
LECTURE WILL BEGIN AT 6:30 PM. Signed copies of her award-winning book
will be available to buy there.

Masha Gessen is perhaps best known for her advocacy for LGBTQ rights in
Russia, but her work forcely addresses a very broad range of central
political and social issues in present-day Russia and more recently in
the United States. Gessen won the National Book Award for nonfiction in
2017 for here book "The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed
Russia". She is currently a staff writer at The New Yorker.

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.