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Spring 2015 Calendar of Events

Higgins Spring 2015 Calendar [PDF]

Dialogue Symposium - The Work of Play

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” “You’ve got to work hard to play hard.” Work and play often are placed in opposition; the latter serving as an antidote to or reward for the former. Or in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.”

But what about the work that play does? At its best, play shapes our identities, embodies and affirms human values, and fuels creativity.

This semester, our dialogue symposium asks where and on what terms play thrives in our achievement and results-oriented society. We will consider free play and games, cooperation and competition, sports and technology. How does play provide space for fantasy, diversion, and escape? When does it challenge the status quo and when does it re-inscribe existing hierarchies? Whether we view play as a biological imperative, a site of community, a civil right, a way to discover beauty, or a passport to cross national boundaries, there can be little doubt that the work of play is serious business.

We hope you will join us at the events listed below.

CANCELED: Come (Think About) Play, A Community Conversation

Due to poor driving conditions, we have canceled this event for Tuesday, February 3 @ 7pm in the Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons. We regret any inconvenience caused by this change in our programming.


Real Play: Promoting Children’s Intellectual, Social, and Emotional Development

Tuesday, February 10 @ 7pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

Evidence from anthropology, psychology, and history demonstrates that free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient. This capacity to learn through play evolved long ago, in hunter-gatherer bands where children acquired the skills of the culture through their own initiatives. In this talk, Peter Gray, Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College, will describe the defining characteristics of play and will show how they contribute to play’s educational and developmental power. He also will present evidence for a cause-effect relationship between the dramatic decline of play and the marked rise in emotional and social disorders in young people over the past sixty years. Running through Gray’s analysis is a commitment to improving children’s lives and promoting their happiness and learning. This event is sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities.

Playing Like a Girl: Tales of a Feminist Gamer

Thursday, February 19 @ 7pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

Can girls and women be gamers? This seemingly simple question reveals more complex debates about identity, community, and power in the world of videogames and beyond. In August of 2014, many feminist gamers became targets of #GamerGate, an Internet harassment campaign that moved from the virtual to the real world. In this talk, gamer, feminist, and media scholar Nina Huntemann will draw upon her own experiences and in-depth interviews with other self-identified feminist gamers to decipher #GamerGate and to explore four decades of the marginalization of female gamers. Her goal is not to lament the exclusion of women from gaming, but instead to demonstrate how feminist theory and theories of play constructively intersect, upending long-held assumptions about gender and videogames. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Department of Political Science, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

Dangerous Play: Racial Conflict in Twentieth-Century Urban Amusements

Tuesday, February 24 @ 7pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

In recent years, there has been a tremendous nostalgia for urban recreation of the early and mid-twentieth century. Old wooden roller coasters, lavish swimming pools, and swinging dance halls have been celebrated in documentary films and other forms of public history. Historian Victoria W. Wolcott will challenge this nostalgia, arguing that these public depictions ignore the racial exclusion on which recreation was premised — a system of segregation primarily enforced by white violence on urban beach fronts, playgrounds, and in commercial facilities like roller skating rinks and amusement parks. The incongruity of such violence coupled with images of families at play has hidden this history of racial struggle in recreational spaces, North and South. Wolcott will remind us that, before the Montgomery bus boycott, mothers led their children into segregated amusement parks, teenagers congregated at forbidden swimming pools, and church groups picnicked in white-only parks. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Department of History and is part of the Organization of American Historians’ Distinguished Lectureship Program.

Playing With Rules: Drawing on the Spirit of Sol LeWitt

Exhibition Opening and Reception

Thursday, February 26 @ 4pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

In honor of artist Sol LeWitt’s dedication to the act of artistic creation as a form of play, the Higgins Lounge will be the site of a wall drawing produced by students in Assistant Professor Toby Sisson’s course, The Expanded Mark: New Strategies in Drawing. Over several weeks, visitors to the Higgins Lounge will witness the drawing take shape; line by line, the product of a collaborative experience. This site-specific artwork references the geometry of Dana Commons’ mid-century architecture while reminding us of the human activity that takes place within its space. The composition of the drawing is the collective effort of students and faculty translating the essence of Sol LeWitt’s playful wisdom. The exhibition will run from February 26 through May 25. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

The Art of Play: An Improv Workshop and Community Conversation

Tuesday, March 10 @ 7pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

Improvisation involves listening, collaboration, and focus. It demands that we give up control, be present, and work in the service of imagination. In these respects, it distills the qualities of creativity and makes them visible, reminding us that what looks like play is often the product of hard work. In this community conversation facilitated by Dan Balel (Theater) and Gino DiIorio (Theater), we will explore theater games and improvisation exercises to develop the skills of imaginative play. Join us and see where imagination leads. This event is sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities.

Playing the Eiffel Tower

Monday, March 16 @ 7pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

For over 100 years, the Eiffel Tower has been hailed as an architectural landmark, an engineering feat, a monument, a destination. Composer Joseph Bertolozzi has turned it into a complex and dynamic musical instrument, harvesting and transforming its sounds. His Tower Music or Musique de la Tour reflects an ambitious desire to find music where it lives and is part of a long-standing tradition of percussion works produced by found objects. Bertolozzi will share stories of his time playing one of the world’s most famous monuments, the music he created, and the possibilities of playing the world around us. This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Department of Language, Literature and Culture.

Beyond Basketball? The Re-Emergence of the Politically-Conscious Basketball Star

Tuesday, March 24 @ 4pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

Recently NBA players have spoken out against the racism of Donald Sterling, the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and protested the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner by wearing “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts during pregame warm-ups. Such political consciousness is not new. Whether we consider Lew Alcinder and his student activism at UCLA, Magic Johnson and his work on behalf of AIDS education and prevention, or Lisa Leslie’s advocacy of women’s equality, professional basketball players have taken on visible roles in social and political movements. In this talk, Professor Ousmane Power-Greene (History/Office of Diversity and Inclusion) will consider basketball player activism from the Black Freedom Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s to the recent struggles against mass incarceration and police violence. Which social and political causes have inspired super-athletes such as LeBron James to use their position in society to speak and to act publicly? Do athletes, particularly basketball players, help or hinder social and political movements? This event is part of the Higgins Faculty Series sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities.

Opposite Field: A Screening and Conversation with the Filmmaker

Wednesday, April 1 @ 7pm

Jefferson Academic Center, Room 320

Clark Alumnus Jay Shapiro’s journey into a baseball community in Uganda, East Africa reveals an inspiring world of boys and young men playing a familiar game in an unfamiliar place. Bound by their love of baseball, they build a brotherhood that endures against the backdrop of personal tragedy, absent fathers, scarring legacies of war, and grinding poverty. A team of 11- and 12-year-old boys from the ghettos of Kampala carry the hopes of the nation as they attempt to become the first African team to qualify for the Little League World Series. Their remarkable tale is a triumph for anyone who has ever loved the game and a reminder that when the situation seems impossible, sometimes the most important thing we can do is “keep playing.” This event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Office of the President, and the Steinbrecher Fellowship Program.

Baseball in the Classroom

Wednesday, April 8 @ 4:30pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

Too often we imagine academics and athletics as separate parts of collegiate life. But in James Elliott’s English class on Literature of Baseball and Janette Greenwood’s History course on Baseball in American Society, the two realms merge when baseball becomes the subject of scholarly inquiry. Both courses consider the ways in which baseball has been interwoven into American literature, history, and culture. Elliott asks, “Why is baseball so attractive to American writers of all types, and how do they use the game and its players as the basis for suggesting who we are?” Greenwood considers, “How does baseball reflect the history of the U.S. and help us understand broader historical changes like immigration, urbanization, civil rights, and globalization?” In this talk, Professors Elliott and Greenwood will share their favorite examples of baseball’s place in American literature and history and will discuss what happens when students and faculty move sports into the classroom. This event is part of the Higgins Faculty Series sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities.

Roots of Everything Lecture Series

Spreading Canvas: Marine Painting and Early Modern Ways of Knowing

NEW DATE! Tuesday, March 31 @ 5pm

Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons

In the early modern period, Britain’s struggle for maritime ascendancy was represented and understood through visual culture. For example, John Pine’s Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords (1739) depicts the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and uses maps, pictures, and text — a combination of visual cues that would become typical during the eighteenth century — to present complex events. In this talk, Eleanor Hughes, Associate Director of Exhibitions and Publications and Associate Curator at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, will consider these pre-Romantic modes of representation and will ask how they might be presented for contemporary audiences. This event is sponsored by Early Modernists Unite (EMU) — a faculty collaborative bringing together scholars of medieval and early modern England and America — in conjunction with the Higgins School of Humanities. Supported by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Roots of Everything series highlights various aspects of modern existence originating in the early modern world and teases out connections between past and present.