September 6, 2002
Writer Pico Iyer to Kick Off Weissman Center Series
© Mark Richards
A little more than
a year has passed since the attacks on the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, but anxieties about safety still trouble many
would-be travelers. While we fret, essayist and inveterate voyager
Pico Iyer urges us to continue to explore, arguing that travel
has taken on a new necessity since last September. "Travel,"
writes Iyer in Time magazine, "is how we put a face
on the Other and step a little beyond our secondhand images of
the alien. It is, in fact, how we learn about the world and come
to terms (and sometimes peace) with it."
Using Iyer's vision
as a starting point, Mount Holyoke's Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman
Center for Leadership will take up the meaning of travel this
fall in a semester-long series of events. Destinations: New
Meanings of Travel will include conversations with leading
travel writers and editors and draw from the perspectives of a
world-famous mountain climber, an art historian, a visual artist,
an architectural historian, and a biologist. Iyer, author of The
Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home
(2000), will kick off the series with a lecture titled "Moving
around a Moving World: Travel as Modern Reality," Thursday,
September 12, at 7:30 pm in Gamble Auditorium.
Karen Remmler and
Christopher Benfey, the Weissman Center's codirectors, hope the
series will spark discussion on shifting ideas about travel, highlighting
several developments: first, the ways in which "globalization"
in its various formscultural, economic, and demographichas
changed our sense of travel; second, how the traumatic effects
of September 11 have had an impact 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 Benfey, "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 the series,
the Weissman Center has worked closely with the Mount Holyoke
College Art Museum and the Center for Environmental Literacy,
as well as faculty representatives from a variety of departments.
The first event of
the series will feature "transcendental travel writer"
Iyer. A prolific essayist and author of five books, Iyer has been
writing for two decades about how cultures meet and mingle, and
how travelers project their various notions upon the Other. In
his most recent book The Global Soul, Iyer takes readers on "a
tour of the transnational village," culture hopping from
the Los Angeles International Airport to Toronto, Hong Kong, Atlanta's
Olympic Village, and Japan. Along the way, Iyer attempts to interpret
the effects of globalization and displacement on individual lives,
and to decipher the meaning of "home" in a world that
is increasingly, in his word, "centrifugal." A self-proclaimed
"nowherian," Iyer was born in England to East Indian
parents, moved to California as a boy, and was later educated
at Eton and Oxford. He now spends much of his time in Japan. In
addition to The Global Soul, Iyer is the author of a novel
and three collections of essays, including Video Night In Kathmandu.
The series continues
Friday, September 13, with "Destinations through Music,"
a night of music with travel themes featuring the works of Ives,
Ravel, Corigliano, Montsalvatge, and others. The following MHC
music department faculty are participating: Robert Eisenstein,
David Gibson, Mark Gionfriddo, Adrianne Greenbaum, Alison Hale,
Linda Laderach, Eugenie Malek, Marjorie Melnick, Larry Schipull,
Melinda Spratlan, Gary Steigerwalt. The concert takes place at
7:30 pm in Pratt Hall's McCulloch Auditorium.
author Tracy Kidder will be the guest of honor at the opening
reception for Changing Prospects: The View from Mount Holyoke
at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. The exhibition, which
runs through December 8, will interpret the historical significance
of Mount Holyoke, the prominent mountain from which the College
takes its name, and a nineteenth-century tourist destination that
rivaled Niagara Falls. The gala opening reception, featuring Kidder
in conversation with Marianne Doezema, director of the museum,
takes place Friday, September 27, at 5 pm at
the art museum.
The most versatile
and talented mountain climber of his time, Conrad Anker is best
known for his role in discovering the body of legendary climber
George Mallory on Mount Everest in 1999. The next event in the
travel series is an intimate discussion with Anker that explores
a range of subjects, including the alpinist's hypothesis about
Mallory's death, Anker's climbing motivations and adventures,
his Buddhist outlook on life, and his environmental ethic. The
event, sponsored by the Center for Environmental Literacy, takes
place Thursday, October 3, at 7 pm in Gamble Auditorium.
On Thursday, October
10, at 7 pm, in conjunction with the Changing Prospects exhibition
at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, New Yorkbased painter
Alfred Leslie will give a lecture titled "My View from Mount
Holyoke" in Gamble Auditorium. A member of the Amherst College
faculty in 1972, Leslie was the first major contemporary painter
to return to the site depicted in Thomas Cole's nineteenth-century
canvas known as The Oxbow. Leslie's Holyoke Range, Near Oxbow,
Easthampton, Massachusetts, painted in the 1970s, is a featured
part of the Changing Prospects exhibition.
24, is opening night for Thomas Cole: A Waking Dream. This
multimedia production, based on the life of the Hudson River School
painter, is written
and directed by Donald T. Sanders, executive artistic director
of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. Staged
by MHC's Department of Theatre Arts, the production features a
jazz score by Henry Threadgill and costume and set design by Vanessa
James, associate professor and chair of the theatre arts department.
A preview performance takes place October 23 at 8 pm. The show
runs from October 24 through 27, Thursday through Saturday at
8 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm in Rooke Theatre.
When the impressionist
painter Claude Monet painted tourist spots along the Normandy
coast, he eliminated all signs of tourism. In a lecture titled
"Monet and the Tourist View," Robert Herbert, impressionism
scholar and Mount Holyoke Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts, explores
this paradox using old prints and photographs of actual sites
painted by Monet. Herbert is the author of Monet on the Normandy
Coast: Tourism and Painting, 18671886. The event, which
is cosponsored by the Weissman Center and the art department,
takes place Friday, October 25, at 5 pm in Clapp Laboratories'
Hooker Auditorium. "Little by little the gap grows larger
and larger between people and their roots. Western life now plays
out far from its origins in nature and history," writes James
F. O'Gorman in Connecticut Valley Vernacular: The Vanishing
Landscape and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields.
O'Gorman, architectural historian and Grace Slack McNeil Professor
of American Art at Wellesley College, will discuss tobacco barns
as vernacular architecture in a talk titled "Landscape, People,
and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields." The
lecture, sponsored by the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, takes
place Friday, November 8, at
7 pm in Gamble Auditorium.
of Travel in Contemporary Travel Writing" will be the topic
of discussion for a distinguished panel of speakers on Thursday,
November 14. Panelists include Ian Buruma, writer on Chinese dissidents
and contemporary Japan and Germany (Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels
from Los Angeles to Beijing and The Wages of Guilt: Memories of
War in Germany and Japan); Nancy G. Novogrod '71, editor-in-chief
of Travel + Leisure magazine; and Caryl Phillips, West Indian
novelist and travel writer (The Atlantic Sound and The European
Tribe). Michael Gorra, professor of English at Smith College,
will moderate the event, which takes place at 7:30 pm in Gamble
On Thursday, November
21, David Foster, director of the Harvard Forest, lectures on
the depiction of forests in landscape paintings included in the
Changing Prospects exhibition. Foster, principal investigator
on the Harvard Forest long-term ecological research site, will
use his considerable expertise in how human and natural disturbances
change forest ecosystems to explore and interpret a series of
landscape paintings depicting the northern hardwood forests of
the northeastern United States. Sponsored by the art museum and
the Center for Environmental Literacy, the event takes place at
7 pm in the art museum's Weissman Gallery.
In conjunction with
the Weissman Center series, the Mount Holyoke College Archives
and Special Collections is featuring a historical display titled
So, You Think the Delles to Dickinson is a Long Walk? Traveling
through the Archives and Special Collections. Using the College's
historic documents along with personal papers of alumnae and faculty
and materials from the rare books collection, the display will
illustrate the themes of imaginative travel, intellectual travel,
work-related and political travel, and travel abroad. The display
can be viewed through December in the lobby of Archives and Special
Collections on the lower level of Dwight Hall. And, during October
and November, the Film Studies Program will present Destination:
Future, a film series on imagining future travel. Consult the
CSJ calendar for details.