Despite its obsolescence, small-town America remains an important imaginary place that continues to supply that “dreamy idea of Americans as a people who are so fortunate that we can feel immune to the past, oblivious or blind to dark historical realities, like slavery, and equally blind to dark realities in human nature.”
Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky offered this assessment of “the town” in the inaugural Campbell Lecture Series at Rice University last week.
Acclaimed author Ha Jin intended to return to China after he earned his Ph.D. in English at Brandeis University so he could pursue a teaching career and raise his family. But then life threw him a curve: the Tiananmen Square massacre. He decided it would be impossible to return to China because he would not be able to write with integrity there. His life as an expatriate — and his journey as a writer — had begun.
Prospero, the magician who rules an unnamed island in Shakespeare's "The Tempest," served as author Alix Ohlin's springboard for the first in her three-part lecture series, "The Tempest of Nature and Art," Oct. 23 in Sewall Hall.
"Like many an artist, Prospero casts spells over those who come into contact with him," Ohlin said. "He has the capacity to make people experience emotion -- love, grief, anger -- and to make them see themselves, and the world in which they live, differently. These qualities are ways in which art works upon us."
My concerns in these three lectures are Shakespeare’s sense of freedom; his sense of beauty; and his sense of hatred.
Encyclopedic museums -- those that collect and exhibit art from across the millennia and around the globe -- may be an instrument for peace, the best hope for people from diverse cultures to understand and relate to others.
Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law, Florida International University, and Dean Emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Distinguished Professor of English, Criminal Justice and Political Science at the U
Patrick Summers currently holds the Margaret Alkek Williams Chairs and was named artistic and music director of HGO in 2011 after having served as the company's music director since 1998.