Save the date: Archives and Blue Lives, October 3

Event date: Monday, October 3rd
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Location: McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall

Archives and Blue Lives. Join Jarrett M. Drake, Digital Archivist at the Princeton University Archives for a special guest lecture. In light of this summer’s tragic shootings, many individuals are asking: “What contributions, if any, can the archive make towards restoring and repairing communities most impacted by police violence?”. This talk will offer concrete examples of how communities, librarians, and archivists might use the archives as a space and a process to redress the trauma communities endure from prolonged public violence. Mr. Drake will propose that archives possess an untapped potential to humanize the people directly experiencing the violence, as well as the people propagating it. This event is part of the semester-long series, Data is Made Up of Stories: University-wide Futures from the Digital Humanities, sponsored by the DCII’s Ph.D. Fellows Program and the Dedman College Dean’s Office. For more information visit http://www.smu.edu/Dedman/DCII/Events.

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Laugh and learn with Willard Spiegelman’s ‘Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead’

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 2, 2016

At this point in my life, after more than 40 years as a journalist and writer, I just want to be with people, and that includes authors, who can teach me something or make me laugh.

Willard Spiegelman, Hughes Professor of English at Southern Methodist University, does both.

At first, I thought the author of a book titled Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead would be an academic geezer calling up pedantic allusions as he remembers the days of wine and roses and rages against the dying of the light.

Well, it’s true that Spiegelman, who’s interested in Greek and Latin, has written dozens of scholarly papers and recorded lectures on “How to Read and Understand Poetry” for the Great Courses series, can sling around arcane, arty allusions.

After all, he was editor in chief of the august literary quarterly Southwest Review for more than 30 years and has been a regular contributor to the Leisure & Arts pages of the The Wall Street Journal for more than a quarter-century.

But stick with him, for he’s an agreeable, wise and witty companion — edifying, fun and fearless as he proffers lessons in happiness and aging learned during his long, distinguished career.

In the preface to this essay collection and memoir based on his 71 years on the planet, he gets right to it: “Life has not been a dress rehearsal,” he says. “It is what we have, and all that we will have had.”

Since he’s a nonreligious nonbeliever, an orthodox afterlife based on reward and punishment seems implausible. Instead, he believes, we come into the world alone and exit the same way to confront the final, eternal silence.

“The fun, all the pleasure and adventure, lies in between,” he says, then describes what delights him (talking, books and looking at art) and kvetches about what irks him (noise in restaurants, museums and libraries, which is why he never goes anywhere without earphones).

The Philly native, who has an erudite, candid, conversational style, got his talking chops from his loud, noisy Jewish extended family and from his mother, who, he says, “had a mouth on her.”

She had strong opinions and wasn’t timid about sharing them. And neither is the author as he muses on the subject of “Talk,” ending with his move to Texas, where both language and everything else at first seemed foreign to him.

His essay “Dallas” could have just as easily been titled “Stranger in a Strange Land” as Spiegelman recalls his arrival at Love Field on “a broiling, torpid, sweat-inducing day (there is no other kind in North Texas from June through September) in August 1971.”

Although, he says, it occurred to him to rush back to the tarmac to try to reboard the plane for its return trip to Boston, he gamely stuck it out and acclimated to life in Texas, if never as a Texan.

And while his ruminations on the city make author Larry McMurtry, who has had a longtime public aversion to Dallas, look like a booster, they’re honest, lyrical and funny.

As a Yankee, he missed lilacs, horse chestnut trees, poplars and ginkgoes but appreciates our wisteria and catalpa. And while, he says, Texas food won’t qualify for anyone’s low-fat, low-carb, low-sodium diet, he adores chicken-fried steak.

Spiegelman bemoans the absence here of wild nature, pedestrian life and four distinct seasons. He can’t get over the way everything warrants a standing ovation with “whoops, barks and hollers,” sport is a religion, and finding a native in Dallas is as difficult as finding a good bagel.

In his essay “Japan,” he explains why he never felt “so unmoored, unconnected yet exhilarated, and so fully myself” as in the Land of the Rising Sun. And why, upon returning home to Dallas, he decided after four decades to move to New York.

And it’s in “Manhattan” that the poet in Spiegelman soars. He has seen as much of the city’s five boroughs as he can, averaging 6 pedestrian miles a day, and his 11-hour, 20-mile walking gastronomic-and-spirits tour of Manhattan from tip to toe with friends is a joy.

The essay on “Books,” listing two of his favorite contemporary authors as Shirley Hazzard and James Salter as well as old favorites like Austen, Cather, Dickens, George Eliot, Forster and Woolf, is a blissful must for all bibliophiles.

True, Spiegelman can be a bit of a snob and sometimes a little too cute referring to Marilyn Monroe as “a great twentieth-century intellectual,” but this engaging book is a gift for adults of all ages, especially AARP’s.

Senior Moments ends with thoughtful meditations on “Art,” “Nostalgia” and “Quiet.” It does what a great teacher can do: motivate. He makes us want to walk around our city, read, savor the blessings of silence, slow-look at art and practice “the essential human art of conversation.” READ MORE

Plan your life

Willard Spiegelman has several Dallas events scheduled for Senior Moments:

Thursday, he’ll appear at 7:30 p.m. at the Wild Detectives, 314 W. Eighth St., along with Greg Brownderville, the new editor ofSouthwest Review.

Sept. 22, he’ll speak at 6:30 p.m. at the Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora St. Register at nashersculpturecenter.org by Sept. 15.

Oct. 26, he’ll appear at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 2719 Routh St. 6:30 p.m. reception; 7 p.m. presentation.

Senior Moments

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Willard Spiegelman

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24)

Available Tuesday

History professor helped organize St. Petersburg conference on lessons of Russian revolution

SMU NEWS

Originally Posted: July 11, 2016

DALLAS (SMU)One hundred years ago, a world that had long known monarchy, empire, and briefly democracy and a republic, was introduced to a new form of government: Communism, which rose to power with the fall of Tsarist Russia.

On the centennial anniversary of the Russian Revolution, a gathering of the world’s leading historians of Russia met at the European University St. Petersburg, Russia, from June 9-11 for a conference co-organized by Southern Methodist University (SMU) history professor Daniel Orlovsky with colleagues from The EurDaniel-T-Orlovskyopean University and the Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences. The international colloquium was titled “The Epoch of War and Revolution, 1914-1922.”

“There’s a new round of confrontation and diplomatic conflict between Russia and the west,” Orlovsky says. “The real question is how official Russia, the government, Putin, the media and the academic establishment in general will treat this centennial, and how this may manifest itself in our sessions among participants or from the audience, which will be large,” Orlovsky adds.

While contemporary interpretations of the centennial may vary, the impact of Russia’s revolution on the past century is undeniable.

“The Russian Revolution was actually two revolutions, the collapse of Tsarism in February and the rise of the Bolsheviks in October,” says Orlovsky, who helped fund the conference with a prestigious grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

“The February revolution is a model of revolutions that collapse authoritarian regimes and attempt to build a liberal or socialist world, but often don’t work and lead to new authoritarian regimes,” Orlovsky adds. “It’s an important question: Why does a regime fall apart, and why do more liberal successors fail?”

The Russian story has been echoed in other idealistic revolutions in the 100 years since – most recently in the color revolutions of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and in the Middle East.

Studying where Russia’s revolution went off the democracy rails is important, says Orlovsky, because in many ways the modern world has similarities to 1916.

“Nationalism is still a big issue, ethnic problems persist, the threat of domestic upheaval and terrorism were there then as they’re here now,” Orlovsky says. “The Russian Revolution itself has endured as a powerful model for people, but outcomes differ. The biggest controversy of the conference will be over the larger questions: What did the revolution means for Russia and the world, what is its significance for today and is it a model for change around the world?”

Spirited debate took place at the conference over the parameters of the Revolution, its periodization, the role of such factors as ethnicity, leadership cults, foreign policy, the role of language and symbols, gender, the nature of power, emotions, etc. The concluding discussion praised the renewal of scholarly interest in Revolution as an enduring script in historical memory. READ MORE

First ‘Human Rights Dallas’ summit set for July 9

SMU News

Originally Posted: July 7, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – Texas may lead the nation in job creation and exported goods, but in human rights rankings, it holds these five dubious distinctions:

  • Texas has the largest number of hate groups espousing racist, xenophobic and anti-LGBT sentiments. (Conversely, it’s home to the nation’s largest number of resettled refugees/asylum seekers, mostly from Myanmar, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.)
  • Texas ranks second in the nation for human trafficking crime, which is on the rise.
  • Texas leads the U.S. in the number of people exonerated by wrongful convictions while
    also leading in the number of state-sanctioned executions.
  • Texas ranks high in the number of children who die from abuse and neglect – and is the
    No. 1 state for hot car-related fatalities involving children and infants.
  • Texas is home to the nation’s largest number of people without health insurance.

Alarmed by such statistics, some 300 Dallas-Fort Worth community leaders are expected to gather at SMU Saturday, July 9, for “Human Rights Dallas”– the first-ever summit focused on highlighting and resolving Dallas’ most pressing human rights issues. The summit is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in SMU’s Martha Proctor Mack Ballroom in Umphrey Lee Center, 3300 Dyer St.

“The goal of ‘Human Rights Dallas’ is to create a culture for people in for-profit and non-profit fields to not only get involved in issues they care about, but also to form a coalition dedicated to ensuring all people’s rights are protected,” says Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, the event’s sponsor.

The attendee roster reflects leaders in regional business, faith, health and education organizations as well as groups working to combat human trafficking; prevent racial, religious and sexual-orientation discrimination; strengthen immigration and refugee rights; and tackle the surging numbers of the mass-incarcerated and homeless.

Texas’ large number of hate groups is of particular concern to Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

“Currently there are 84 active hate groups in the state, 56 of which are Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups – 11 of them in North Texas,” Higgins says. “As the country faces this dramatic incline, there’s no better time to come together to promote human rights in our community.”

Paralegal Toya Walker hopes the event accomplishes three goals: “Awareness, education and action to get people motivated, inspired and involved,” says Walker, who provides counsel on compliance/employment issues for SMU and the Sabre Corporation.

The ideal end-result? “Transformation and healing,” says Jill VanGorden, director of education for the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

For more details about “Human Rights Dallas” or the Embrey Human Rights Program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, contact humanrights@smu.edu.

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Tower Center Forum: Populism in Europe and Germany

Event Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Location: Great Hall, Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall

Dr. Sergey Lagodinsky is currently Head of the EU/North America Department of the Heinrich Böll Foundation based in Berlin. He is an attorney and author, also working as consultant on strategy and leadership. Sergey’s areas of expertise include transatlantic relations, international and constitutional law as well law and politics of diversity and integration. He is a Member of the Assembly of Representatives of the Jewish Community of Berlin and was a founding chairman of the Jewish Working Group in the Social Democratic Party in Germany (SPD). He ran for the German Bundestag for the German Green Party in 2013.

Sergey is a regular guest and contributor to major German and international media outlets. He has appeared among others on Deutschlandfunk, DeutschlandradioKultur, the BBC World Service, Radio Liberty and various other radio stations. For many years he was a regular guest on Deutsche Welle TV and a political host and commentator on the global Russian channel RTVi. His commentaries have been published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, ZEIT, Handelsblatt, taz and Tagesspiegel, among others. His recent book Contexts of Antisemitism (Metropol Publishing, 2014) explores the relationship between freedom of speech and protection against anti-Semitism in German and international law. Sergey holds a PhD degree in law from the Berlin’s Humboldt University, a law degree from the University of Göttingen and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University. From 2008-2009, he was a fellow with the stiftung neue verantwortung in Berlin and in 2010 – a Yale World Fellow in residence at Yale University in New Haven. READ MORE

The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

Celebrating Dedman College Faculty Books

  • View a slideshow of the event photos here.
  • For more information on Dedman College faculty books, click here.

May Commencement Weekend

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Congratulations to all the Dedman College graduates. Looking for the latest schedule of events? Read More 

SMU’s May 14 Commencement celebrates academic achievement

SMU News

Originally Posted: May 3, 2016

SMU will celebrate the academic accomplishments of more than 2,500 students at its 101st annual Commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, in Moody Coliseum.

Guests are urged to arrive early as seating in the coliseum is limited to four guests per student. Additional seating will be available for a simulcast of the event at Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports, Crum Auditorium and McFarlin Auditorium. The ceremony also will be broadcast outside Moody Coliseum on Bolin Plaza, and there will be a live webcast of the ceremony at http://www.smu.edu/live.

READ MORE