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Program in the Humanities

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


 September 2015

Greetings from Chapel Hill! We’re hosting a number of exciting programs, some with our old friends the GAA and PlayMakers, and some with some new ones, including the Friday Center, the Archie Davis Conference Center in RTP, and the Raleigh Little Theater. We’re so excited about these new collaborations that we’re extending our Early Bird Pricing for all Adventures in Ideas until September 15.

American Muslims & Immigrant Identities

With the 2016 presidential election right around the corner (assuming “around the corner” means “a year and a half out before the actual election”) and the rise of Donald Trump as a leading presidential contender, immigration has been a much discussed topic on the nightly news (and trending on Twitter, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “nightly news.”) One thing that gets lost in all the shouting and number crunching about immigration is the fact that there are real
people behind the labels.

Join three exceptional educators on September 19 as they meditate on some of the challenges facing American Muslims and immigrants. The seminar begins Jacqueline Lawton analyzing PlayMakers production of Disgraced – the Pulitzer Prize winning play that tackles immigration, Islamophobia and questions of Muslim – American identity. Juliane Hammer will then analyze the multiple identities, politics, and voices of American Muslims, and NC State historian Akram Khater will expand the social analysis of contemporary American society by examining how migration and assimilation create new conceptions of selfhood and new cultural challenges for present-day migrant communities.

As an added bonus, discounted tickets for the Saturday opening night performance of Disgraced will be available for seminar participants. If PlayMakers’ track record of excellence isn’t enough to convince you to see the play, one critic noted, “This is one of the rare plays that one wishes were longer.” Wow!

To register for this seminar at the Early Bird Price, visit our website or call us at 919.962.1544.

“A Revolution of the Word”: Modernist Poetry and the Responses it Provoked

In the early-20th century, Modernism radically changed the nature of the arts throughout the English-speaking world, but in poetry, one might ask what was so fundamentally different? This “active learning” seminar featuring George Lensing will introduce participants to Modernism as a movement before delving deeply into Modernist poetry. We will become familiar with key works by Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery, and Seamus Heaney, three 20th century poets whose work responded to, resisted, assimilated, and redefined the movement and poetry at large in the contemporary world. This seminar’s discussion-based format will allow participants to share with and learn from one of Carolina’s most distinguished scholars of literature.

To register for “After ‘Modernism’: Three Poets Respond to a Movement” at the Early Bird Price on September 26, visit our website or call us at 919.962.1544.

Great Books Reading Groups: A Chance to Makeup for Past Mistakes

If you’re like certain unnamed staff members who never read the books they were assigned in high school and college, you now have a chance to correct the mistakes of your youth! This semester, we’re hosting FIVE Great Books Reading Groups, so there’s really no excuse for not reading what you should’ve read in Sophomore English. If assuaging your guilty conscience isn’t enough, maybe the fact that you’ll be taking a deep dive into some classic literature with some of UNC’s best and brightest professors or the chance to claim membership in the coolest club in Chapel Hill will convince you to sign up.

Don’t wait until the last minute to register, seats are filling up fast and you’ll need time to read the book before the first meeting. If you’re like us, you no longer have the energy to pull an all-nighter; so the sooner you get started the better!

All Great Books Reading Groups take place at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Jessica Tanner, Assistant Professor of French
Tuesdays, September 15 and 29, 2015

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Ruth Moose, Lecturer Emerita in Creative Writing
Tuesdays, September 22 and October 6, 2015

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Matthew Buckley Smith, Visiting Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature
Tuesdays, October 13 and 27, 2015

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Rebecka Rutledge Fisher, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature
Tuesdays, October 20 and November 3, 2015

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Eren Tasar, Assistant Professor of History
Tuesdays, November 10 and 24, 2015

To sign up for one (or two, or three, or four, or five…) Great Books Reading Groups, visit our website or call us at 919.962.1544


Don’t worry! The Program in the Humanities isn’t sending out an SOS because we’re on a sinking ship, we just wanted to get your attention to let you know about our upcoming Spotlight on Scholars series. (For future reference: If we were on a sinking ship, we’d probably call the Coast Guard or post a message to our Twitter account or Facebook page).

This upcoming SOS series touches on a wide variety of topics, from film to biology to American History -  there’s something for everyone. Even if these topics don’t interest you, take a step outside your comfort zone and learn something new. Who knows? It could change the entire course of your life! At the very least, you’ll hear from some great professors and get some new cocktail party anecdotes.

Remember! You’re eligible for a tuition discount if you pre-register. It’s $20 for those who register at the door. Click the titles below for more information about registering for each lecture.

Funny Valentine: Paris, Blackface, and Paramount’s Funny Face
Michelle Robinson, Assistant Professor of American Studies
September 15, 2015
TIME: 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Simone Weil: Encounters with the Attention Ethic
Julia Haslett, Assistant Professor of Communication
September 22, 2015
TIME: 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Squid Tentacles, Elephant Trunks, Tongues, and Soft Robots
William M. Kier, Professor of Biology
September 29, 2015
TIME: 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution
Kathleen DuVal, Professor of History
October 6, 2015
TIME: 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Remember, Remember, the 10th of September (Because We’ve Got Two Great Programs that Day)

We decided it would be selfish of us to try to keep the fabulous Dr. Mary Floyd-Wilson hidden away in Chapel Hill, so we’re packing up the Humanitiesmobile, picking up our friends from the GAA, and taking our show down I-40 to the Raleigh Little Theater.

Join us for “Shakespeare and Familial Relations” to hear Dr. Floyd Wilson discuss several plays side-by-side and consider how Shakespeare revises stories of tragic dysfunction with comic fantasies of restoration and forgiveness.Light refreshments will be served before the talk from 6:00pm – 6:30pm.

This event is FREE for GAA members and $10 for non-GAA members. Register via the GAA’s website, here.

This event is part of the Beyond the Stone Wall series sponsored by the GAA.

Everyone’s favorite game show is back! (No, not Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune.) Oh the Humanities! returns to the DSI Comedy Theater on Thursday, September 10 at 7pm.  Our host with the most, Max Owre, pits two UNC professors against one another in a series of fun games based on their research. Two hilarious comedians from DSI will serve as our judges. This month’s contestants are Dr. Daniel Matute from Biology and a SPECIAL MYSTERY GUEST! You have to attend to find out who it is. [It's Dr. Al Duncan from Classics]. It’s only $6 to attend.

For more information, visit the Humanities NightLabs site.

  Odds & Ends

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K-12 educators, remember our endowment funds ensure that you receive a 50% discount on tuition as well as a $75 stipend!  (Please note: Although the tuition discount applies for all Adventures in Ideas seminars, teachers can only claim one $75 stipend a semester.)  Be sure to visit our webpage to learn about our teacher trainings — we have new content, new lesson plans, and new opportunities for your classrooms!

Check out our website and sign up today!

Please share your suggestions and comments about the newsletter and the program. Contact us at 919-962-1544 or email

For more on the Program’s opportunities for K-12 teachers including free lesson plans and our schedule of teacher trainings, sign up for the Civic Education Consortium’s monthly electronic newsletter by clicking here.

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