Transcendental Travel Writer Pico Iyer to Kick off MHC Fall Events Series, Destinations: New Meanings of Travel

For Immediate Release
August 21, 2002

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass.--While many people continue to feel uneasy about the safety of travel, writer Pico Iyer urges that travel has taken on a new necessity since the events of last September. "Travel," writes Iyer, "is how we put a face on the Other and step a little beyond our secondhand images of the alien." Using Iyer's vision as a starting point, Mount Holyoke College's Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership will present a series of events this autumn based on the theme, Destinations: New Meanings of Travel. All events in the series take place at Mount Holyoke College and are free (with the exception of the theater production). All events are open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

The series ranges widely, with lectures, presentations, and panel discussions featuring well known travel writers and editors. It draws, as well, from the perspectives of a world famous mountain climber, an art historian, a visual artist, an architectural historian, and a biologist. Additional series highlights are a concert of music with travel themes, a theater production, and a special exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. In conjunction with the Weissman Center series, the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections will feature a historical display on MHC and Travel, and the film studies program will present Destination: Future, a film series on future travel.

By devoting the fall semester to the theme of Destinations, the Weissman Center hopes to spark discussion on our shifting ideas about travel, highlighting several developments: first, the ways in which "globalization" in its various forms--cultural, economic, and demographic--has changed our sense of travel; second, the traumatic effects of September 11 on our emotional response to travel; and third, the rise of new ways of writing and thinking about travel, during a period in which the meaning of "travel" often merges with "travail." "What we are after," says Christopher Benfey, codirector of the Weissman Center, "is what the poet Elizabeth Bishop called the 'Questions of Travel'--to ask, in a deep sense, where it is we are going."

In planning these events, the Weissman Center has worked closely with other institutions on the Mount Holyoke campus, including the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, the Arts Group, and the Center for Environmental Literacy.

The schedule is as follows:

On Thursday, September 12 at 7:30 pm, "transcendental travel writer" Pico Iyer will kick off the series with a lecture on "Moving Around a Moving World: Travel as Modern Reality." Iyer is an essayist and the author of five books, most recently, The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home. The event takes place in the Art Building's Gamble Auditorium.

On Friday, September 13 at 7:30 pm, "Destinations through Music" will be a night of music with travel themes featuring the works of Ives, Ravel, Corigliano, Montsalvatge, and others, performed by Mount Holyoke College music department faculty. The concert takes place in Pratt Hall's McCulloch Auditorium.

On Friday, September 27, at 5 pm, Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder will be the featured guest at the opening reception for the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum exhibition, Changing Prospects: The View from Mount Holyoke. The exhibition, which runs from September 3 through December 8, will interpret the historical significance of Mount Holyoke, the prominent mountain from which the College takes its name. The first major exhibition in the newly renovated and expanded museum, it will feature Thomas Cole's famous 1836 oil painting, View from Mt. Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts after a Thunderstorm (The Oxbow), on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as contemporary views of the mountain by Stephen Hannock and Alfred Leslie, along with an array of prints, photographs and other historical material. Kidder will speak about a contemporary view of the mountain in conversation with Art Museum director Marianne Doezema. The event takes place at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

On Thursday, October 3 at 7 pm, Conrad Anker, the most versatile and talented mountain climber of his time, will lead an intimate discussion that explores a range of subjects. Best known for his role in discovering the body of legendary climber George Mallory on Mount Everest in 1999, Anker will discuss his Mallory hypothesis, his climbing motivations and adventures, his Buddhist outlook on life, and his environmental ethic. The event, sponsored by the Center for Environmental Literacy, takes place in the Art Building's Gamble Auditorium.

On Thursday, October 10 at 7 pm, in conjunction with the Changing Prospects exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, American contemporary realist painter Alfred Leslie will lecture on "My View from Mount Holyoke" in the Art Building's Gamble Auditorium.

Thursday, October 24, is opening night for Thomas Cole: A Waking Dream, a play written and directed by Donald T. Sanders, executive artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. The play, which will be presented by Mount Holyoke College's department of theatre arts, is based on the life of the Hudson River School painter whose 1836 oil painting View from Mt. Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts after a Thunderstorm (The Oxbow), is on loan to the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The play features a jazz score by Henry Threadgill and costume and set design by Vanessa James, associate professor and chair of the theatre department. A preview performance takes place on October 23 at 8 pm. The show runs October 24 through 27, Thursday through Saturday with performances at 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm, in Rooke Theatre. For tickets call 413-538-2406.

On Friday, October 25 at 5 pm, Impressionism scholar and Mount Holyoke College Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts Robert Herbert will explore "Monet and the Tourist View" using old prints and photographs of actual sights painted by Monet. Herbert is the author of Monet on the Normandy Coast: Tourism and Painting, 1867-1886. The event, which is cosponsored by the Weissman Center and the art department, takes place in Clapp Hall's Hooker Auditorium.

On Friday, November 8 at 7 pm, James O'Gorman, architectural historian and Grace Slack McNeil Professor of American Art at Wellesley College, will discuss tobacco barns as vernacular architecture in "Landscape, People, and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields." O'Gorman is the author of Connecticut Valley Vernacular: The Vanishing Landscape and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields. The lecture, sponsored by the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, takes place in the Art Building's Gamble Auditorium.

On Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 pm, "New Meanings of Travel in Contemporary Travel Writing" will be the topic of discussion for a distinguished panel of speakers, including Ian Buruma, writer on Chinese dissidents and contemporary Japan and Germany (Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing, The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan); Nancy Novogrod '71, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure magazine, Mount Holyoke alumna, and former trustee; and Caryl Phillips, West Indian novelist and travel writer (The Atlantic Sound, The European Tribe). Michael Gorra, professor of English at Smith College, will moderate the event, which takes place in the Art Building's Gamble Auditorium.

On Thursday, November 21 at 7 pm, David Foster, director of the Harvard Forest, lectures on the depiction of forests in landscape paintings included in the Changing Prospects exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. Sponsored by the Art Museum and the Center for Environmental Literacy, the event takes place in the Art Museum's Weissman Gallery.

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