2012 Fall Guide: Lectures & Discussions

Pandemics, politics, post-war slavery and more.

By Kishwer Vikaas
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 19, 2012

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More than movement: Choreographer Ananya Chatterjea will bring her activist spirit to the Defining Ourselves panel Oct. 7.

Photo by Paul Virtucio

Want to learn how to exercise your First Amendment right to free press by writing for a newspaper? Aside from the obvious approach—come intern for PW!—tonight, you’ve got the chance to hear several experienced and newly minted pros discuss Careers in Journalism and New Media at the Kelly Writer’s House. This panel of Penn grads are living the journalist’s dream and, each in their own way, helping to redefine journalism, including Columbia University journalism professor and former Philadelphia magazine editor Stephen Fried and Melody Kramer, former associate producer (a.k.a. social-media goddess) at NPR’s Fresh Air. (Sept. 19. 5pm. Free. 3805 Locust Walk. University of Pennsylvania. Kelly Writer’s House. writing.upenn.edu/wh)

If you thought slavery ended in 1863 with Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation, you’re going to have to correct yourself. Sam Pollard’s documentary film Slavery By Another Name, based on Douglas Blackmon’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, tells the story of eight decades of post-Civil War forced labor in America. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; now it’s presented in Philadelphia by Scribe Video Center’s Producers’ Forum, where filmmaker Pollard will be on hand to participate in a discussion about this forgotten era of “neoslavery.” (Sept. 20. 7pm. $5-$10. Ibrahim Theater of the International House. 3701 Chestnut St. 215.387.5125. peacedayphilly.org)

You could sit around all day grumbling about Pennsylvania’s new voter ID laws, or you could join the group of geeks that have begun discussing how to invent a path toward full electoral enfranchisement. Last weekend, software developer Azavea and the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews initiative cohosted a seminar titled Hacks for Democracy: Hacking Elections and Politics in the United States—and over the next two and a half weeks, that discussion will continue through several follow-up meetings as civic hackers, election officials, journalists, data analysts and designers talk about ways to use technology to increase voter engagement. Do you have an idea for an app that would help make voting easier? How about ways to increase data transparency from City Council? Bring your brain over to Hacks for Democracy and make your voice heard. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #hacks4d while tweeting. (Sept. 24 and Oct. 1 at 6pm; Oct. 5 at 5:30pm. $5. Azavea, 340 N. 12th St., Suite 402. azavea.com)

Five years ago, Junot Díaz published his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Diaz, a full 16 years after his debut short-story collection. Thankfully for rabid Junot fans everywhere, writer’s block has eased its cruel grip, and he’s back with his second collection of short fiction, This Is How You Lose Her. For the third time, Díaz brings back the character of Yunior, a Dominican American who lives in New Jersey and never can seem to get out of trouble with the girls. In the book, Díaz traces Yunior’s slow drop into chronic infidelity, from cheating on a girlfriend to sleeping with over 50 women while being engaged to a fiancée. But who better to hear about cheating than from Díaz himself, who may be one of the few authors as good a speaker as he is a writer. He’ll speak at the Free Library, along with Temple’s own Samuel R. Delany , the novelist and memoirist who’s beloved as a pioneer of both science fiction and LGBT writing. (Sept. 29. 7:30pm. $7-$15. 1901 Vine Street. Central Library of Philadelphia. freelibrary.org)

Baseball may be the great American pastime, but it’s also a hotbed for racial politics, as examined in a recent book by Temple religion professor Rebecca Alvert, Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball. In a discussion titled The American Idea on Sports And Race, Alvert and Larry Lester, a co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and author of The Negro Leagues Book, discuss the history of race and baseball. (Oct. 2. 3:30pm. Free. 1210 Polett Walk. Paley Library. Temple University. Main Campus. 215.204.0744. sites.temple.edu/libraryprograms)

Artist/writer/life coach Monica Day is set to helm the workshop Your Essensual Life: From the Moment to the Page, geared toward helping you express your sensuality and eroticism in writings or drawings, all in a freeing—not THAT freeing—atmosphere. (Wed. Oct. 3, 7pm. $15. Pig Iron Theatre, 1417 N. Second St. 215.901.1327. thesensuallife.com)

Pretty in Pink actor Andrew McCarthy ditches his Brat Pack reputation for a brand new label: travel writer. Whodathunk? He joins WHYY’s Patrick Stoner in an event hosted by the Geographical Society of Philadelphia to discuss his new travel memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down. (Oct. 3. 7:30pm. $7-$15. 1901 Vine Street. Central Library of Philadelphia. geographicalsociety.org)

Choreographer Ananya Chatterjea can dance, but that’s not all she does. The Minnesota-based social activist and educator joins Asian Arts Initiative and other local artists for Defining Ourselves: Performance at the Intersections of Art and Social Change, a roundtable discussion after a performance featuring her dance company, Ananya Dance Theatre. Also performing is Philadelphia-based artist Germaine Ingram, who sponsors the event. Dancing and a discussion about the ways and means of artistic practice for social change? What could be more provocative? (Oct. 7. 2-4:30pm. Free with advanced reservation. Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street, Philadelphia PA. 215.557.0455. asianartsinitiative.org)

If you’ve watched Contagion or any of the end-of-days series that seem to be rampant these days— The Walking Dead , anyone?—you’ll probably want to take a break from your post-apocalyptic hoarding and head to the Academy of Natural Sciences to hear from David Quammen, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic and contributing writer for National Geographic . If you need a little help predicting the next pandemic, Quammen has some theories you might just want to hear. (Oct. 16. 6:30-8pm. $5. The Academy of Natural Sciences. 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 215.299.1000. spillover.eventbrite.com)

So it turns out that in addition to whiling away time picking fights with Internet trolls on Twitter, @SalmanRushdie has also been busying himself with some nonfiction: the recently released Joseph Anton: A Memoir. In 1989, the then-young British author received a phone call from a journalist asking him about Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death. Within a day, Rushdie was ushered to a life underground where he lived under the alias Joseph Anton. (Joseph Conrad, meet Anton Chekhov.) Now Rushdie’s ready to tell all, and in case you were wondering, yes, he does write in the third person. And no, it’s not as annoying as you may think. (Oct. 30. 7:30pm. $7-$15. 1901 Vine St. Central Library of Philadelphia. freelibrary.org)

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