The aim of the Griot Institute’s spring 2015 series was to extend the conversation and narrative about the myriad significances, meanings, and cultural transformations available to America now that it has elected its first African-American President. Particularly, we were interested in deliberating the symbolic, ideological, iconographic impacts on Americans' conceptions of themselves as a people. For instance, in what ways has the United States been changed as a result of electing Barack Obama: in terms of race relations, political progress, a newly emboldened conservatism, and other aspects of life in America in the twenty-first century.
FREE film screening of Selma
On Martin Luther King's birthday, in recognition of the profound significance of his life and accomplishments, The Griot Institute for Africana Studies and Multicultural Student Services (MSS) provided free tickets and transportation for students, faculty, and staff to attend a screening of the acclaimed film Selma at the Lycoming Mall.
Black History Month Bus Trip to Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Griot Institute, Multicultural Student Services (MSS), and the Samek Art Museum invited students to sign-up for a bus trip on Sunday, February 1 to see the new exhibit Represent: 200 Years of African American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Students received an exclusive guided tour of the exhibit, and dined together in downtown Philly to discuss the exhibit.
Griot Project Book Series Reading
Reading by Angele Kingue from the new translation of her novel The Venus of Khalakante, published in the Griot Project Book Series by Bucknell University Press.
The Ghosts of Monticello
"The Ghosts of Monticello" was presented by the Bucknell Opera Company and produced and directed by Emily Martin, director of the Bucknell Opera Company and assistant professor of music. With composition by Garrett Fisher, libretto by Carmen Gillespie, the opera tells the story of two ghosts: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson's enslaved mistress, and her white half-sister Martha Wayles Jefferson, Jefferson's wife, who struggle to understand, and heal, their multivalent relationship. || View event poster.
The Griot Institute for Africana Studies, in partnership with Bertrand Library, hosted the Dancing Mind Challenge. The Dancing Mind Challenge, based on Toni Morrison's reflections in her essay "The Dancing Mind," is an opportunity for Bucknell students, faculty and staff, and community members to "unplug" and read without electronic interruptions or distractions for several consecutive hours.
The aim of The Griot Institute's The Civil Rights Movement: Fifty Years Later series was to offer the University and the local community an opportunity to examine the histories of the American civil rights movement, in an effort to extend the conversation and to acknowledge and define the necessity and current trajectories of the primary goal of the movement: to enable the US to fulfill its articulated principles, guaranteeing equality to all of its citizens.
Arts. Everywhere. Opening Ceremony: Soul in Motion
As part of the annual Arts. Everywhere. festival, the Griot hosted Soul in Motion: African Dance and Drum Troupe. Soul in Motion is an energetic thirteen-member company of African dancers and drummers with a mission to share the richness and the experiences of the African-American culture through theatre, dance, and drumming. Their performances are expressions of the African-American experience, highlighting influences from West Africa, Cuba, and Brazil.
The Dancing Mind Challenge
In October, the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, in partnership with Library and IT, will hosted the Dancing Mind Challenge. Based on Toni Morrison's reflections in her essay "The Dancing Mind," is an opportunity for Bucknell students, faculty and staff, and community members to "unplug" and read without electronic interruptions or distractions for several consecutive hours.
Griot Book Reading Groups
The Griot hosted reading groups throughout the fall semester, discussing Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh, by Thomas Glave; The Book of Night Women, Marlon James; and Open City: A Novel by Teju Cole.
Griot Project Book Series
The Griot announced its fall publication of Venus of Khalakanti (first English translation) by Angele Kingue and Post-Racial America? edited collection. Click here to learn more about the Griot Project Book Series.
Arts. Everywhere. Opening Ceremony: Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble
As part of the second annual Arts. Everywhere. festival, the Griot hosted the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble.
Griot Book Reading Groups
The Griot hosted reading groups throughout the fall semester, discussing Toni Morrison's Home as well as Farah Jasmine Griffin's novel, If You Can't Be Free, Be A Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday.
Griot Project Book Series
The Griot announced its fall publication of The Clearing: Forty Years with Toni Morrison, 1970 - 2010 as well as Catastrophic Bliss by Myronn Hardy, winner of the 2012 Griot-Stadler Prize for Poetry.
CSREG's Annual Black Experiences Lecture
The Griot co-sponsored the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender's 26th annual Black Experiences lecture, featuring Barbara Smith. In 1974, Smith co-founded the Cohambee River Collective in Boston, a community-based black feminist group. Her seminal work, Towards a Black Feminist Criticism, was the first study to explore black female literature and the role of black lesbians in it. || Learn more about Barbara Smith.
Griot Literary Bus Trip
The Griot traveled to Virginia Tech for an evening conversation with literary greats Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Nikki Giovanni on October 16, 2012.
Interdisciplinary Conference: Post-Racial America?
The Griot Institute hosted a mini-conference entitled Post-Racial America?: An Interdisciplinary Conversation on November 9th and 10th, 2012 at Bucknell. Farah Jasmine Griffin, the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at Columbia University, was the keynote speaker for the Griot's upcoming post-racial conference. || Learn more.
Spring Lecture Series: Jonestown Reconsidered
2013 marks the 35th anniversary of the Jonestown tragedy. The Jonestown narrative engages fundamental questions of religion, race, nationality, power, civil rights, sexuality, poverty, aspiration, and identity that are not disconnected from the dilemmas of the present moment. In the spring of 2013, the Griot Institute offered an interdisciplinary series that examined the narratives that surround the Jonestown massacre from multiple perspectives. All of the lectures in the Griot Jonestown Series from the fall of 2013 are available on-line to view and/or for classroom use.
Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: An American Origin Story
Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: An American Origin Story sought to explore and examine the various narratives of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson interdisciplinarily in terms of their historical and contemporary resonances and significances. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, Secretary of State, U.S. President, and founder of the University of Virginia, during his lifetime and into to 21st century, has been implicated in a relationship with one of the more than 100 people he enslaved, a woman named Sally Hemings.
This Bucknell Griot Institute series examined the Hemings-Jefferson historical narrative in terms of its potential to illuminate the trajectory of American race relations and to examine the fundamental divisions between the ideals of the country and its realities. It interrogated the narrative from multiple disciplinary perspectives and employed the expertise and artistry of guest lecturers and performers in order to present the various nuances and dimensions of the tale. The series was open to the university community and the general public. || Read more.
Bill T. Jones at Bucknell
This four-part event series was not to be missed! On January 23, 2012, Bill T. Jones shared his observations about directing, choreographing and the life of an artist during "An Evening with Bill T. Jones." On January 31, students and faculty participated in the Last Night On Earth discussion group and viewed the accompanying demonstration by the Bucknell dance faculty. The film A Good Man screened on February 7, and the series wrapped up with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company's performance of Body Against Body on February 11. || Read more.
The Dancing Mind Challenge
On November 19, 2011, The Griot Institute for Africana Studies, along with its partners, sponsored the Dancing Mind Challenge. This event, based on Toni Morrison's reflections in her essay "The Dancing Mind," was an opportunity for Bucknell students, faculty and staff and community members to "unplug" for six consecutive hours and commit to reading for six hours. || Read more.
Capstone Course: Extreme Creativity, October 2011
On Saturday, October 1st, the students of the new Extreme Creativity capstone course performed a collaborative installation in the Samek Art Gallery. The class joined with the Gallery's fall exhibition of photographs by Myra Greene and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, generating student engagement with the creative process. Their performance synthesized their experiences during class with the literary, visual and performing arts and artists, sociologists, cultural critics, scholars and the exhibition itself by generating collaborative, creative and unique examinations of the complexities of art , representation and identity. Before and during the installation, students had an opportunity to collaborate with visiting artist and scholar Petra Kuppers of the University of Michigan to "assemble" their creative projects and performances into an interactive public response. The event functioned as a metanarrative creation and response to the photographic exhibit and the complex ideas and issues the exhibit generated. View the Extreme Creativity website for students' personal images and reflections on their experiences in the class along with brief guest faculty biographies.
Poetry Reading: Shara McCallum, September 2011
On September 27, the Griot Institute co-sponsored a poetry reading by Bucknell faculty member Shara McCallum. McCallum is the Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and an associate professor of English at Bucknell. She is the author of four books of poetry: "This Strange Land," "Song of Thieves," "The Water Between Us," and "The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems." McCallum is originally from Jamacia.
Bucknell in Brooklyn, September 2011
As part of the new Presidential Arts Initiative, Bucknellians witnessed the arts in action on September 24th -- Bucknell in Brooklyn offered students and faculty alike the opportunity to experience Brooklyn's DUMBO Arts Festival, a celebration of the arts that featured 100 studios, 50 galleries and stages, and over 500 artists from a variety of disciplines.
Mandala Project, September 2011
Loosely translated, "mandala" is the Sanskrit word for "circle." Mandalas have deep spiritual significance in both Buddhism and Hinduism, and may be used in many rituals and meditation practices. Traditionally, the mandala is the symbol for cosmic wholeness. In Mandala: Journey to the Center, Bailey Cunningham writes, "Awareness of the mandala may have the potential of changing how we see ourselves, our planet, and perhaps even our own purpose."
On Sunday, September 18, Bucknell students created a mandala from pebbles and stones outside the Art Building with artist Nancy Cleaver (view image). As the mandala is affected by the elements, time and traffic, observers can view it and reflect on its message from the third floor of the Art Building, or by climbing the hill of the Grove.
Arts. Everywhere., August 2011
Bucknell hosted a three-day arts festival celebrating the fine, visual, creative and performing arts called Arts. Everywhere. The event featured numerous activities on campus and in Lewisburg, including a street festival along with art, dance, fiction, film, music, performance art, poetry and theatre programming.
The festival was the first event of the new Presidential Arts Initiative. In 2010, representatives of the arts departments and centers at Bucknell coalesced into what has become the Bucknell Arts Council. Later that year, the Arts Council designed an arts initiative for advancing, supporting and enhancing the arts at Bucknell. || Learn more
Alex Dupuy, "Class, Power and Sovereignty: Haiti Before and After the Earthquake", April 2011
Alex Dupuy is an internationally-recognized Haitian scholar and specialist, and is Professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. He has given national and international interviews and commentary on Haitian politics and affairs, and is the author of numerous books and articles, including his most recent The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community, and Haiti(2007). His talk is funded by the Chuck and Gail Dombeck Family, the Griot Institute for Africana Studies, the Office of the Dean, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy.
Edwidge Danticat - Reading Groups, March and 2011
Edwidge Danticat is a Haitian-American author who visited campus as part of the Bucknell Forum speaker series "Creativity: Beyond the Box." Danticat is the author of several books, including The Farming of Bones, Brother I'm Dying and Create Dangerously. The reading groups read Brother I'm Dying and Create Dangerously in two separate meetings. || Learn more
Amber Gray, Dancing in our Blood: Creative Resistance and Recovery Work in Haiti, April 2011
A 1993 Bucknell graduate, Gray is the founder and director of Trauma Resources International and established Haiti's first program for victims of organized violence and torture in 2004. She has worked with survivors of human rights abuses and trauma in Haiti for more than 13 years. She is an award-winning Dance Movement Therapist, a licensed mental health professional, and Continuum Movement teacher, and a Sevito in the Fran Ginee tradition of Vaudu (Voodoo).
Because When God is Too Busy: Haiti, Me and the World by Gina Althea Ulysse - Lecture and Spoken Word Performance, March 2011
Gina Althea Ulysse is a Haitian-born anthropologist, poet, and spoken word artist whose scholarly work has focused on Jamaican women market traders, the history of Haitian refugees, and Vodou. She was the Bucknell Women and Gender Studies Visiting Distinguished Lecturer for 2011-2012. || Learn more
Berenice Johnson Reagon -- Reading/Listening Group, February 2011
The Griot group read If You Don't Go, Don't Hinder Me: The African American Sacred Song Tradition, and listened to the CD "Give Your Hands to Struggles" both by Bernice Johnson Reagon. Professor Barry Long, Samuel Williams Professor of Music, led the Griot group in a follow-up lunch discussion. || Learn more
Egypt: A Panel Discussion and Conversation, February 2011
In the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution and the stepping down of President Hosni Mubarack, the Griot Institute held a panel discussion to help members of the Bucknell community make sense of the situation. Professor Hager El Hadidi of Bloomsburg University and Professors Tony Massoud and Hilbourne Watson of Bucknell University discussed the effects of the revolution's success on a personal, regional and global scale. The discussion was followed by a lively question and answer session.
Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop by Guthrie Ramsey - Discussion, January 2011
University of Pennsylvania scholar and musician Guthrie Ramsey, visited Bucknell as part of the Samuel Williams Colloquia on Jazz and Culture. In his lecture "Jazz as Social Contract", Prof. Ramsey illustrated the sonic relationships that exist between seemingly distinct musical genres such as jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, blues, and hip-hop. || Read more about Ramsey's visit
AIDS Quilt Closing Ceremony - Event, December 2010
Smoke, Lilies and Jade (SLJ) performed at the closing ceremony of the AIDS quilt display on Tuesday, December 7th. The performance was co-sponsored by the Samek Gallery, the Bucknell AIDS Quilt Committee and the Office of LGBT Awareness. In addition to the performance at the AIDS quilt closing ceremony, SLJ provided a master class for theatre and dance students on Monday, December 6th.
William Faulkner and the Ledgers of History by Sally Wolf - Lecture, November 2010
Dr. Sally Wolff visited campus on November 9th and gave a lecture on her recently published book of the same name, which details her discovery of a diary that served as a primary source for William Faulkner's novels. This runs counter to Faulkner's assertions that the people, places and events in his novels originated in his imagination. Early in the day Dr. Wolff sat down with students, faculty and staff to discuss her book over lunch.
The Dancing Mind Challenge - Event, November 2010
This event based on Toni Morrison's essay sought to highlight the importance of sustained concentration and deep reading by challenging students to "unplug" from all electronic devices for eight hours and engage with a book. It was truly a cross-campus effort to make this event the success that it was. Faculty, staff and students from a variety of disciplines banded together to create a promotional video in which they recommend they "danced" with their favorite book. One hundred eighteen Bucknellians, from first-year students to retired faculty, participated in this event. Students shared their reflections on this experience by posting on the Griot's blog. In December the Dancing Mind Challenge was one of three winners of the Maxwell Award.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? by Danzy Senna - Reading Group, April 2010
The Farming of Bones, Edwidge Danticat - Reading Group, April 2010
Bus Trip to Broadway Show "Fela!", March 2010
The Griot Institute sponsored a bus trip to New York City to watch the play "Fela!", a dramatic interpretation of the life of Fela Kuti, the late Nigerian musician and political activist. The play chronicles his political challenges including the horrific murder of his mother and the emergence of Afro-Beat, the musical form created by Fela himself. The group which consisted of students, faculty, staff, and graduate students had some time to take in the sights at Times Square both before and after the play. In the week following the trip, the Griot Institute sponsored a lunch that featured a lecture/discussion led by French Professor Angèle Kingué. || Read more about Fela Kuti.
FACEing Race Installation, February 25th - 27th, 2010
Bucknell University's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender and the Griot Institute, in collaboration with eight Bucknell professors and their students, produced a unique public "happening" that creatively explored the theme of Race in the 21st Century. "FACEing Race: A Multimedia Installation & Performance," featured the chair of the Northwestern University Department of Communications, performance artist E. Patrick Johnson. Johnson performed an excerpt from his one-man show "Sweet Tea" from 4:00 - 5:00 pm. || Learn more
Philadelphia Fire by John Edgar Wideman - Reading Group, September 2009
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Reading Group, March 2009
MLK Community Service Week, January 2009
Toni Morrison's New Novel, A Mercy - Reading Group, December 2008 || Learn more
Race, Gender, Age and the 2008 Election: A Dinner Conversation, November 2008 || Learn more
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