Weissman Center Spring Series Begins

Acts of Reconstruction, the spring 2006 series of Mount Holyoke's Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, will consider efforts by individuals, communities, and nations to restore or renew social, political, artistic, cultural, and religious spheres.

Through public lectures, panels, and dramatic performances throughout the semester, the series will explore the ways in which land, history, law, art, and society have been transformed, threatened, and protected by such acts. The celebratory and mournful dimensions of acts of reconstruction will be examined, along with their implications for transforming the earth, resurrecting the dead, inspiring the living, and impacting future generations.

"The aftermath of natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, fighting in Iraq and the Sudan, and the civil rights and social justice issues in our own country make it clear that today there are communities and nations under siege. After recovery, comes reconstruction," said Lois Brown, director of the center and associate professor of English, African American studies, and American studies. "Stories keep cropping up in the news, for example, about the quiet, relentless work of social activists who work to achieve justice and closure for families who have suffered in the wake of wrenching upheaval, destabilization, and trauma. It's my hope that this series will highlight further the work--intellectual, social, creative, political, and physical--that we can do as students, professors, thinkers, and caring people. Acts of reconstruction require bold leadership and fearlessness. They have the potential to liberate us and to teach us more about the world we inhabit."

The first event in the series will be "Reconstruction and the Arts: Set and Reset with Trisha Brown," on Friday, February 10, at 4:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium in the Art Building. Brown, acclaimed choreographer and founder and artistic director of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, will lead an illuminating discussion about dance, the body, design, and choreography. Brown will focus on Set and Reset, a masterpiece created in 1983 that established Brown as a pioneering force in postmodern dance and a leader in abstract choreography. Set and Reset has been hailed for its explorations of visibility and invisibility, its flirtations with the boundaries of the stage, and its evocative costumes. This spring, members of the Five College Dance Department will perform the piece and experience firsthand the challenge of Brown's artistic vision.

On Thursday, February 23, at 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium in the Art Building, "Un/Natural Intervention: Changed Lands and Transformed Lives" will focus on coal and the communities it affects, as witnessed by the recent mining tragedies. Speakers will include a young activist on the frontlines in West Virginia and a former miner who is now a Kentucky state legislator fighting for corporate responsibility in mining.

On March 9, Ben Chaney, brother of civil rights activist James Chaney, who was killed in Mississippi in 1964 along with Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, will speak at "Reconstruction and Restitution: Civil Rights and Lasting Wrongs" at 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium in the Art Building. Chaney has devoted his life to the same causes his brother fought for and is increasing awareness about the murder trial surrounding the three activists, which was the subject of the film Mississippi Burning.

Dramas of Post-Civil War America, an original and commissioned play by Zakiyyah Alexander, playwright and guest artist in residence, will take place Wednesday, April 26-Saturday, April 29, in Rooke Theatre. It is the first time the center has commissioned an original work, in which Mount Holyoke students will be cast.

The series concludes with "Recalling History: A Symposium on Women and American Memories," Friday, May 5-Saturday, May 6, to be held at various locations on campus. The keynote speaker will be Thulani Davis, author of My Confederate Kinfolk: A Twenty-first- Century Freedwoman Discovers Her Roots. Other panels, performances, and film screenings will look at the vital ways in which women have attended to matters of reconstruction and the leadership role they play in recalling history.

All events are open to the public. Admission charge for Rooke Theatre.

Related Links:

Weissman Center for Leadership Spring Events

Trisha Brown to Open Weissman Spring Series