January 22, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Griot Institute for Africana Studies at Bucknell University is hosting a series of events examining the Jonestown massacre.

"Jonestown Reconsidered, 35 Years Later," will explore the events in Jonestown in 1978 and how they relate to many contemporary social and geo-political dilemmas, according to Rebecca Willoughby, lecturer in English at Bucknell and interim assistant director of the Griot Institute.

"The events in the series will seek to examine fundamental questions of religion, race, nationality, power, civil rights, sexuality, poverty, aspiration, and identity through the lens of Jonestown and its cultural significance," said Willoughby

"The Peoples Temple and its leader, Jim Jones, were intimately associated with and, at least early in the history of the organization, endorsed by some of the leading social and political figures of the 1970s.

"The lecture/discussion series will examine the Jonestown narratives through campus visits with the people who lived the experience as well as the scholars and artists who have contributed to the understanding of the Jonestown massacre," she said.

Events open to the public without charge begin Wednesday, Feb. 6, with the talk, "A Dream Deferred: The Promise and Pathos of Peoples Temple." Rebecca Moore, chair of the department of religious studies at San Diego State University, will speak about her interest in Jonestown, which stems in part from the loss of three family members there. Moore's talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center.

Other events in February include:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 19: Stanley Nelson's documentary, "Jonestown: The Life and Death of The Peoples Temple," will be shown at 7:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg, to be followed by a discussion.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 20: film-maker Stanley Nelson will give the talk, "Documenting Jonestown," at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27: playwright Leigh Fondakowski will give the talk, "Narrating Jonestown: Transforming History into Art," at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center. Fondakowski, who has been nominated for an Emmy as co-screenwriter for HBO's "The Laramie Project," is the author of the play, "The Peoples Temple," which received the Glickman Award.

The series continues in March with talks by Jordan Vilchez, a teenage member of the People's Temple, on March 6, and with Tim Carter, a survivor of the massacre, on March 20.

In April, the series continues with talks by journalist Julia Scheeres on April 3; "Jonestown Reconsidered: A response from students in the Jonestown class," on April 10; and Stephan Jones, son of Jonestown founder Jim Jones, on April 17.

Contact: Division of Communications