Popular Culture – 2009-2010 Annual Theme

Popular culture is an expression of a country’s distinctive traditions, history, and language, as well as its current social, economic, and political systems and its degree of technological development. How events, institutions, and artists/performers shape popular culture and how in turn popular culture shapes the lives and identities of cultural consumers is a complex reality that defines much of contemporary life.
Globalization, multiculturalism, and diversity provide additional lenses through which to think about popular culture. Does American popular culture support a bland collection of homogenous Americans living uniform lives in gray suburbs or a rich cacophony of cultural voices that clash, “crash,” and co-mingle along lines of race, ethnicity, class, religion, and sexual orientation? To what extent do forms of popular culture express and inculcate dominant social values and support existing institutions? To what extent can popular culture provide a means for challenging such values and institutions? The degree to which the United States and other nations export their cultures produces new sources of cultural tension, resistance, and creativity. During 2009-2010, The Clarke Forum will explore these issues in a number of different contexts and from a variety of different perspectives.

Brian Haig

brian haig poster webBestselling Author and Former Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Fiction Explains Things Nonfiction Can’t

Friday, September 23, 2011
Stern Center, Great Room, **3:30 p.m.**
Book Sale/Signing will follow the lecture.
The Capital Game and Man in the Middle will be available for purchase.

Haig will discuss the impact of fiction on how readers understand their political and social worlds and how this understanding can shape their conduct and hence our future. For example, Tom Clancy introduced us to military technology, Dan Brown made us re-think religion, Steig Larsson made us see Sweden in a whole new way. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped launch a civil war to end slavery; Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War kicked off the World War Two craze; Leon Uris’s Exodus shaped how Americans see Israel; and Alex Haley’s Roots explained the black experience in America.

Brian HaigBiography (provided by the speaker)
Brian Haig P’12 and P’13 graduated from West Point in 1975, spent 22 years on active duty, his last four as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After retiring from the Army, he was president of two companies before becoming a writer. Read more

Colson Whitehead

whitehead poster webAuthor of The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Sag Harbor and other novels

The Art of Writing

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:00 p.m

Whitehead will provide micro-lectures on craft, style, and what we can all learn from the Donna Summer version of “MacArthur Park.”

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Office of Student Development and the Office of Institutional and Diversity Initiatives, the Department of American Studies, the Office of Diversity Initiatives and the Department of Sociology.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Colson Whitehead is the author of The Intuitionist, his accomplished debut novel that received widespread and enthusiastic critical praise for its quirky and imaginative writing and complex allegories of race. The Intuitionist won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices Award and was a finalist for the Ernest Hemingway/PEN Award for First Fiction.

Recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “genius award” given to scholars, artists, and others to free them to pursue their work, Whitehead has been praised for writing novels with inventive plots that weave American folklore and history into the stories.

His most recent work is Sag Harbor: A Novel. Before this, he wrote Apex Hides Read more

Paul Campos

Campos Poster webProfessor of Law, University of Colorado Law School

The Politics of Fat

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

America is in the grip of a moral panic about fat. The “obesity epidemic” is the “reefer madness” of our time, and the sooner we recognize this fact the sooner we will stop demonizing body diversity.

The event is co-sponsored by the Women’s Center and the Departments of Sociology and Psychology.

Topical Background (provided by the speaker)
A wide range of cultural authorities, that includes such disparate figures as First Lady Michelle Obama, leading public health officials, and the National Football League, are assuring Americans that we are in the midst of an “obesity epidemic,” that presents a major public health crisis, which requires a strong response from both the government and the private sector. In fact these claims are symptoms of a classic moral panic. Moral panics occur when social anxieties focus on a marginalized group, that is blamed for causing a serious social problem. Such panics feature responses that are disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the group (which indeed, as in the case of fat, may well be largely or completely imaginary). Professor Campos’ Read more

Ellen McLaughlin

Ellen McLaughlin poster final webPlaywright and Actress

Readings by Ellen McLaughlin

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

McLaughlin will read excerpts from several of her plays, including Infinity’s House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus and Ajax in Iraq. She is most well known for having originated and developed the part of the Angel in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, having appeared in every U.S. production from its earliest workshops through its Broadway run.

The event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Classics, Theatre & Dance and English.

color book jacketBiography (provided by the speaker)
Ellen McLaughlin’s plays have received numerous national and international productions. They include Days and Nights Within, A Narrow Bed, Infinity’s House, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Tongue of a Bird, The Trojan Women, Helen, The Persians, Oedipus, Penelope, Kissing the Floor and Ajax in Iraq.
Producers include: Actors’ Theater of Louisville, The Actors’ Gang L.A., Classic Stage Co., N.Y., The Intiman Theater, Seattle, Almeida Theater, London, The Mark Taper Forum, L.A., the Public Theater in NYC, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The National Actors’ Theater, N.Y., Read more

Faculty Weigh-In

Friday, April 9 – 4:00 p.m.
Stern Center, Great Room

A discussion about the cultural meaning and significance of hip hop.

Participants Include:
Prof. Stephanie Gilmore (Women’s and Gender Studies)
Prof. Patricia van Leeuwaarde Moonsammy (Africana Studies)
Prof. Crispin Sartwell (Art & Art History / Philosophy)
Prof. Cotten Seiler (American Studies)
Prof. Sarah Skaggs (Dance)
Prof. Edward Webb (Middle East Studies) – Moderator

The event was organized by The Clarke Forum Student Board and The Clarke Forum Student Project Managers. Read more

Mark Anthony Neal

Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University

How You Gonna Be the King of New York?

This event of part of the two-day Hip Hop Symposium (April 8-9)

Thursday, April 8 – 7:00 p.m.
Stern Center, Great Room

Hip-Hop culture has been a site for the promotion of black hypermasculininity. In the past decade, artist Jay Z (Shawn Carter) has challenged this logic in many of his music videos, including one in which Jay Z is symbolically killed, which creates the context for the “birth” of a cosmopolitan black masculinity within mainstream hip-hop.

About the Speaker
Mark Anthony Neal is professor of black popular culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University. Neal is the author of four books, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (1998), Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (2002), Songs in the Keys of Black Life: A Rhythm and Blues Nation (2003) and New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity (2005). Neal is also the co-editor (with Murray Forman) of That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (2004).

Neal’s essays have been anthologized in a dozen Read more

Shanté Paradigm Smalls

Adjunct Professor at NYU and Adjunct Associate Professor at Pace University (New York) and Brooklyn-based singer, emcee, poet and scholar

This event is part of the two-day Hip Hop Symposium (April 8 – 9)

Lecture – “Pick Up the Mic”
Friday, April 9 – 12:30 p.m.
Stern Center, Great Room

Smalls will discuss the documentary film “Pick Up the Mic” an award-winning documentary about the queer hip-hop scene(a.k.a. homohop. Shot over a three-year period in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, and even the Ozarks, the film captures the birth of the “homohop” movement and chronicles its growth into a global community of out artists that has emerged and thrived despite improbable odds.

Performance during “Hip Hop in Action”
Friday, April 9 – 7:00 p.m.
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium

About the Speaker/Performer
Smalls is an adjunct professor at NYU and adjunct associate professor at Pace University (in New York), who teaches on representations in popular culture, performance studies, and critical race, gender, sexuality and class theory. Smalls is currently writing her dissertation, Heretics of Hip-Hop: Performing Race, Gender and Sexuality in New York City.

Shanté Paradigm Smalls is a Brooklyn-based singer, emcee, poet and scholar, working at the Read more

So, You Think You Can Choreograph?


Vincent Paterson ’72

Choreographer, director and producer; Metzger-Conway Fellow

Thursday, April 1, 2010 – Noon
Weiss Center, Rubendall Recital Hall

Watch students from Professor Skaggs’ Applied Choreography class get professional feedback from professional dancer and choreographer, Vincent Paterson ’72.

Vincent Paterson is a world-renowned director and choreographer whose career spans just about every genre of the entertainment industry including film, theatre, Broadway, concert tours, opera, music videos, television and commercials.

“What I try to do with my work is to fill the audience with an energy that alters their being in a positive way. The work is the stone thrown into the pond. The ripples emanate from the audience. If the audience is affected even infinitesimally in a positive way, they might make something positive happen in the next five minutes, or tomorrow, or next week. That action will vibrate into the ether and the better the world will be.”

Vincent directed the critically acclaimed opera Manon with soprano Anna Netrebko and conducted by Placido Domingo. His direction of Anna Netrebko: The Woman, The Voice received a nomination for “Best Television Arts Program” at the Montreaux Film Festival. The DVD is the top selling classical DVD in Read more

Hip Hop Symposium

hip hop

This symposium will include special speakers, student and faculty panel discussions, and live hip hop entertainment.

The event was coordinated by The Clarke Forum Student Board and The Clarke Forum Student Project Managers.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Creation of a Graffiti Wall
11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Britton Plaza

Thursday, April 8, 2010

7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

How You Gonna Be the King of New York?
Mark Anthony Neal, professor of African and African American studies, Duke University
More Information

Friday, April 9, 2010

12:30 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

“Pick Up the Mic”
Shante Paradigm Smalls, New York University
More Information

2:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

The Culture of Hip Hop
Student Panel Discussion

4:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

Faculty Weigh-In
Discussion about the cultural meaning and significance of hip hop.
More Information

7:00 p.m. – Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium

Hip Hop in Action
Live performances by Hypnotic, REACH, open mic acts and Shanté Paradigm Smalls

Read more

Vincent Paterson ’72

vincent parterson

Choreographer, Director and Metzger-Conway Fellow

The Man Behind the Thrones

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.

Patterson will talk about his career in the entertainment business and the challenges he confronts as he works intimately with famous performers, making them look their best, while attempting to remain fairly anonymous himself.

About the Speaker
Vincent Paterson is a world-renowned director and choreographer whose career spans just about every genre of the entertainment industry including film, theatre, Broadway, concert tours, opera, music videos, television and commercials.

“What I try to do with my work is to fill the audience with an energy that alters their being in a positive way. The work is the stone thrown into the pond. The ripples emanate from the audience. If the audience is affected even infinitesimally in a positive way, they might make something positive happen in the next five minutes, or tomorrow, or next week. That action will vibrate into the ether and the better the world will be.”

Vincent directed the critically acclaimed opera Manon with soprano Anna Netrebko and conducted by Placido Domingo. His direction of Anna Netrebko: The Woman, The Voice received a nomination for “Best Television Arts Read more

Neil Printz

web WarholPoster

Art Historian, co-editor of the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné

Andy Warhol: Post-Pop or Not?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 4:00 p.m.

Printz considers Warhol’s work after the 1960s in light of photographs and the works of art recently donated to Dickinson College by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Photographic Legacy Program.

This event is co-sponsored by The Trout Gallery.

Topical Background
Born Andrew Warhola in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1928, Andy Warhol became one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Known mainly as a leading figure in the Pop Art movement, Warhol is also recognized for his work as an avant-garde film maker, record producer, author, and public figure. By the time of his death in 1987, Warhol coined the popular phrase “15 minutes of fame,” sold his canvas Eight Elvises for $100 million dollars, and was identified by the media as the “Prince of Pop.”

Warhol showed early artistic talent at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, known today as Carnegie Mellon University. He then worked in New York as an illustrator for various magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and The New Yorker. As Warhol became more concerned with turning his Read more

Rebecca Skloot

Award-winning science writer; professor of English, University of Memphis

Web Poster

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m

Rebecca Skloot discusses her new book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a story inextricably linked to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles that could determine whether we own the stuff we are made of. A booksigning will follow the presentation.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of Biology, Sociology and Psychology

Topical Background
Born in 1920, Henrietta Lacks, a mother of five, was a native of rural southern Virginia whose family grew tobacco. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital and died on October 4, 1951 at the age of thirty-one.

While at Johns Hopkins Hospital, researchers took a biopsy of her tumor without her knowledge or permission. The cells, named “HeLa” for Henrietta Lacks, multiplied outside her body at an unprecedented rate. Because they can potentially divide an unlimited number of times in a laboratory setting, HeLa cells have been described as “immortal”. “If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh Read more

Leonard Cassuto

Poster Cassuto  web

Professor of English, Fordham University

What’s in a Bestselling Crime Novel?

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

After exploring the origins and complexities of “bestsellers,” Cassuto applies his conclusions to the way crime novels are read and understood in the U.S.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of English and American Studies

Topical Background
The broad genre of “crime fiction” first captured the American imagination in the mid-19th century. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841, told of a dark mystery based in Paris. Its protagonist, C. Auguste Duperin, appears to be one of the first characters resembling what would come to be the archetypical crime fiction detective.

Soon after Poe’s works hit the literary world, Britain’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turned the detective novel into a phenomenon. The popularity of his Sherlock Holmes anthology transcended the Atlantic and sparked an enormous production of crime and detective novels. Crime fiction quickly became one of America’s favorite literary genres.

New categories of crime fiction are popularized with each generation of crime novelists. “Whodunits,” “hardboiled” fiction, legal thrillers, police mysteries, and spy novels are just a few of the many types of crime Read more

Art Spiegelman – "Morgan Lecturer"

Spiegelman Final Poster Web

Pulitzer Prize-winning artist/illustrator; author of Maus

Comix 101.1

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:00 p.m.

Through a chronological tour of the evolution of comics, this Pulitzer Prize-winning artist/illustrator explains the value of this medium and why it should not be ignored.

The event is Dickinson College’s annual Morgan Lecture in honor of James Henry Morgan, professor of Greek, dean, and president of the college.

Co-sponsored by The Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life, The Trout Gallery, Women’s Center, the Office of Institutional and Diversity Initiatives, and the Departments of Political Science, English, German, Judaic Studies, Art and Art History, History, Sociology, and Film Studies.

Topical Background
Comics are a graphic medium in which images are used to convey a sequential narrative. The term “comics” arose because the medium was at first used primarily for comedic intent. Today the term is applied to all uses of the medium, including those which are far from comic. The sequential nature of the pictures and the predominance of pictures over words distinguish comics from picture books, though there is some overlap between the two media. Different conventions have developed around the globe, from the manga of Japan to the manhua Read more

"Bah, Humbug"

christmas carol posterCOMMON HOUR
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Weiss Center for the Arts, Rubendall Recital Hall

We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. But what don’t we know? Why did Dickens write A Christmas Carol in the first place? What can it tell us about Victorian culture, from the issue of poverty to the myth of the good death? How does it continue to shape our idea of the “traditional” Christmas? And what is a humbug, anyway? One part lecture, one part storytelling, and one part theatrical performance, “Bah, Humbug” explores the story behind one of the most popular ghost stories in English literature.

“Bah, Humbug” was developed with generous support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Jump Street Arts Development.

About the Performer
A former English professor at Gettysburg and Elizabethtown, Steve Anderson is a professional actor and storyteller with more than twenty years of performance experience. His credits include more than one hundred stage plays, ten years with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, seven years as a storyteller in Gettysburg, and three years as a certified living-history interpreter with the Pennsylvania Past Players. He narrates audiobooks, writes a newspaper column on Pennsylvania history… and visits schools, theatres, libraries, Read more

Thomas Boellstorff

Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California and Editor-in-Chief, American Anthropologist

virtual poster for web

Virtual Popular Culture

Monday, Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

Virtual worlds represent an important new modality of human interaction. The discussion will focus on emerging forms of popular culture in virtual worlds, the promise of ethnographic methods for studying these emerging forms of popular culture, and the broad social implications of their emergence.

Topical Background
A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment inhabited by avatars. Avatars are computer users’ representations of themselves or alter egos in the form of a three dimensional model, a two dimensional icon, or a text construct. Communications between users range from text, graphical icons, visual gesture, and sound. Multiplayer online games commonly represent a world very similar to the real world. However, virtual worlds are not limited to games; they can encompass computer conferencing and text-based chat rooms. Persons who interact and forge new forms of selfhood and society in virtual worlds are creating a virtual culture.

One of the earliest virtual world experiences can be traced back to 1968 when the first virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display system was invented at Massachusetts Institute Read more

Marilyn Wann


Author, Editor, and ActivistThe Real F Word Poster for web with drop shadow

The Real F-Word: FAT

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

Marilyn Wann offers a funny and engaging discussion of what it currently means to be fat or thin, the impact of such messages, and a revolutionary new alternative for how we should live in and think about our bodies.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Marilyn Wann is a fat civil rights activist. She published a print ‘zine in the mid-90s called FAT!SO? and later wrote a book of the same name. Wann was centrally involved in successful passage of San Francisco’s height-weight anti-discrimination law in 2000 and lobbies for similar laws elsewhere. She has performed with several fat-positive groups: Marilyn splashed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” as part of the Padded Lilies synchro swim team; shook pompoms with the Bod Squad cheerleaders who oppose weight-loss surgery; and danced with the Phat Fly Girls hip hop troupe, a Big Moves project.

Video of the Program

  Read more

Sharalyn Orbaugh

Professor of Asian studies and women’s & gender studies, University of British Columbia

JapCyborgsPoster web

Why are Japanese Cyborgs Always Female?

Thursday, November 5, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

In the robot, android or cyborg body, sex and gender are constructed and unnecessary rather than biological and functional; nonetheless, most depictions of such post-human entities retain gender and sex markers. This presentation explores the reasons behind this phenomenon in recent Japanese anime films, such as Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis.

Co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Studies

Topical Background
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a cyborg is “a person whose physical tolerances or capabilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by a machine or other external agency that modifies the body’s functioning.”

The idea of the technologically enhanced human has been prevalent in fiction since Edgar Allen Poe wrote of the prosthetic General John A.B.C. Smith in his 1839 short story, “The Man that was Used Up.” Darth Vader, the Terminator, and The Six Million Dollar Man are just a few of the cyborgs that have entered American popular culture. In Japan, cyborgs frequently appear in animated works.
Japanese animation usually depicts cyborgs as female. In the cyborg body, Read more

Brenda Dixon Gottschild

Cultural Historian, Actress, and Dancer

PublabBlackDancingBody web

The (Black) Dancing Body as a Measure of Culture

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

Through dance demonstrations and visual images, Dixon Gottschild examines the pervasive Africanist presence in American culture and the sociopolitical implications of its invisibility. With dance as the focus and race the parameter, she reveals Africanisms in modern and postmodern dance and American ballet.

A book signing will follow the presentation.

Topical Background
Cultural appropriation is the adoption of practices and traditions from a specific culture by another group of people. This usually involves mimicking or borrowing musical techniques, dance styles, or other art forms.

The term “Africanist,” as used by Brenda Dixon Gottschild, refers to concepts, practices, attitudes, and forms that are rooted in Africa or African culture. The term originated in the works of American anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits. In Myth of the Negro Past (1941), Herskovits was one of the first to examine African influences on both African Americans and whites in the United States. Others to use the term include author Toni Morrison, who describes Africanism in her book Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992), which explores the presence Read more

Bob Weick

MarxnSohoPoster web

Actor and Monologuist

Howard Zinn’s “Marx in Soho”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Depot, 7:00 p.m.

Returning to earth for one hour to clear his name, Karl Marx launches into a passionate, funny and moving defense of his life and political ideas in Howard Zinn’s brilliant, timely play, Marx in Soho. The play is an excellent introduction to Marx’s life, his passion for radical change, his analysis of society, and its relevance to current events, trends, and developments.

Topical Background
Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818 in Trier, Germany. He studied jurisprudence and law at the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin. In 1843, the 25-year-old Marx moved to Paris, where he devoted himself primarily to studying political economy and the history of the French Revolution. In 1845, Marx moved to Brussels after the Paris authorities ordered him to leave for openly approving the assassination attempt on the King of Prussia. In 1849, Marx moved to London and remained there for the rest of his life. In London, Marx devoted himself to understanding political economy and capitalism, and to revolutionary activities. He argued that capitalism would inevitably produce internal tensions which would lead to its Read more