Reports From Iraq Under Sanctions Feb. 21

February 14, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, MA—Lauren Cannon and Tom Jackson will bring “Reports from Basra 2000: Living under Sanctions” on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Theater at Amherst College. Their firsthand report of the effects of sanctions on the people of Iraq is free and open to the public.

Cannon, 30, will speak about her recent experiences in Iraq. She traveled to Iraq in 1998 to witness the effects of sanctions on the people of Iraq, to bring donated medical supplies and to break the embargo, risking a $1 million fine and 12 years in prison. Last summer Cannon was one of six delegates who lived in Iraq for eight weeks as members of the “Basra 2000 Project.”

Tom Jackson will give the premiere presentation of his documentary video, “Greetings from Missile Street.” The film is based on the “Basra 2000 Project” in which delegates lived with Iraqi families in the Al-Jumhuriya district of the southern port city of Basra. Jackson was also one of the six who lived in Basra as part of the project.

“The Basra 2000 Project” is the work of Voices in the Wilderness, a Chicago-based campaign to lift the economic sanctions against Iraq. After first going to Iraq, Cannon organized non-violent demonstrations calling to end the production of the Tomahawk Cruise Missiles, which were used against Iraq, at the Raytheon Corporation in Andover, Mass. She served 30 days in a maximum-security prison for women for this action at the weapons plant. Cannon has also become a war tax resister since seeing the effects of the bombings in the “southern no-fly zone” of Iraq in '98.

The program is sponsored by the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Task Force of the Franklin/Hampshire Chapter of CPPAX, Amherst College Community Outreach Program, Traprock Peace Center, Northampton Committee to Lift the Sanctions and Stop the Bombing of Iraq, American Friends Service Committee, NOOR and the Amherst College Center for Religious Life.

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Abiodun Addresses Cross-Cultural Translation in New African Art Book

February 12, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.— In his preface to the groundbreaking and recently released A History of Art in Africa ($85, 544 pp., Prentice-Hall/Abrams, New York 2001), Professor Rowland Abiodun, John C. Newton Professor of Fine Arts and Black Studies at Amherst College, argues that the field of African art studies has been vexed by the problem of cross-cultural translation.

African art scholars, Abiodun writes, must consider the African perspective as well as the formerly dominant Western view. This will enable them to deal with the challenges presented by the visual art traditions of the pre-colonial peoples of Africa, who did not write. Scholars must also avoid the error of thinking that if an idea about art in another culture does not take the form we are familiar with in the West, it must be absent.

As an illustration, Abiodun points out that the biases of early researchers led them to assume that authorship of art works was unimportant among African people, preventing scholars from diligently probing for the artists' full given names—names which were referred to in abundance, if one knew where to look. Abiodun notes the irony that the myth of African anonymity has been so highly valued by art historians who, conversely, celebrate heroic geniuses such as Picasso who were inspired by African forms.

Rowland Abiodun has been a member of the Amherst faculty since 1988. His scholarly interests are in aesthetics and interrelationships of verbal and visual arts in Africa, and he is the co-author and co-editor of several books on Yoruba art and aesthetics.

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Black Maria Film + Video Festival Feb. 26

February 12, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The 20th annual Black Maria Film + Video Festival will present an evening of independent film and video in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College on Monday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m. The screening is free and open to the public.

Black Maria is a competitive festival judged by film curators from the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Film Festival, among others. These are short movies made by non-commercial filmmakers whose work, according to festival guidelines, must show “artistic imagery, dynamic production values and concern for the human condition.”

The festival originated in New Jersey and was named for a tar-paper shack at the Edison Laboratories where the very first films—all films were short and experimental then—were made in the 1890s. The tar paper reminded workers of a police wagon, commonly called a “Black Maria.”

John Columbus, the founder and director of Black Maria, teaches filmmaking at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He was inspired to make films by a childhood visit to Edison Labs.

Columbus asks, “We appreciate short stories and short poems, we appreciate small etchings and watercolors and minuets, why can’t we appreciate the short art form in film? Unfortunately, our perception and definition has been circumscribed by the Hollywood model, which is narrative storytelling in chronological order. After more than 100 years, why can’t we expand our idea of what film can be?”

The Thomas Edison Black Maria Film-Video Festival is sponsored in part by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Its appearance at Amherst is sponsored by the Amherst College Department of English. Its Website is at http://ellserver1.njcu.edu/TAEBMFF/bmff/bmff_home.html

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Amherst and Williams Colleges Receive Mellon Grant To Plan For Faculty Needs

February 8, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Trustees of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have approved a grant of $91,000 to Amherst College to use in collaboration with Williams College to help plan to address needs for faculty career enhancement.

Tom Gerety and Morton Schapiro, the presidents of Amherst and Williams, in their application for this grant, expressed their hope that it would “enable us to examine a broad range of issues that affect faculty during their professional lives, such as juggling teaching and research at a liberal arts college, the challenge of employing new pedagogies and technologies, and the need for long-range professional planning.”

Amherst’s Faculty Career Enhancement Project will be directed by Rose Olver, L. Stanton Williams ’41 Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, and Michele Barale, Associate Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies. At Williams College, James B. Wood, Willmott Family 3rd Century Professor of History, George R. Goethals, Webster Atwell Class of 1921 Professor of Psychology, and Karen B. Kwitter, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Astronomy, will oversee the project.

Founded in 1821, Amherst College enrolls approximately 1,650 students from nearly every state and 48 other countries. Amherst offers the B.A. degree in 33 fields of study. Founded in 1793, Williams College enrolls approximately 2,000 students from nearly every state and 50 other countries. Williams offers the B.A. degree, with 31 majors plus concentrations and special programs.

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Dickinson Homestead Opens for the Season March 3

February 8, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.— The Dickinson Homestead, home of the poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), at 280 Main St. in Amherst, Mass., will open for its 2001 season on Saturday, March 3. The Homestead—the birthplace and home of the poet for 40 years—is open for guided tours from March through mid-December.

New this year is an exhibit “in progress” of the Emily Dickinson bedroom, the recent subject of a historic furnishing report to investigate the room’s appearance during the poet’s lifetime. Also now available for sale at the Homestead is a new publication, The Poet at Home, that introduces readers to Emily Dickinson, her poetry and her home. The booklet contains several essays and a map of Amherst.

Upcoming events include the annual Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk on Saturday, May 12, at 1 p.m., with an Open House, 1-5 p.m.; Living History Day on Saturday, September 8; and the Birthday Open House on Saturday, December 8, 1-5 p.m. Visitors can also look forward to the opening of the Homestead’s new Tour Center and orientation exhibit later in the year.

The Homestead’s days and hours of operation change seasonally. In March, the Homestead is open Wednesday and Saturday with tours on the hour from 1 to 4 p.m. (Last tour at 4 p.m.). Beginning in April, the Homestead is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Reservations are recommended for tours, especially on Saturdays, and may be made by calling 413/542-8161. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors/students, $3 for young people ages 6 to 18, and no charge for children under 6 or for students currently enrolled at one of the Five Colleges.

For more information, please call the Homestead at 413/542-8161, or visit the Homestead’s new web site at http://www.amherst.edu/~edhouse. The Homestead is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Trustees of Amherst College.

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Morgan State University Choir Feb. 23

February 8, 2001
Douglas Wilson
413/542-2321

AMHERST, Mass.—The Morgan State University Choir, one of the nation’s best-known choral ensembles, will present a concert at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23, in Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College. The concert, one of the February events scheduled at Amherst in celebration of the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is free and the public is invited

The choir’s repertory includes classical, gospel and contemporary popular music. It is also noted for its emphasis on preserving the heritage of the spiritual, especially in the historic practice of performance. It has performed with many leading orchestras in the United States including the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D. C., the New York Philharmonic and the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble, as well as in Europe and Asia. Choir director is Nathan Carter, a graduate of the Hampton Institute, the Juilliard School of Music and the Peabody Conservatory. The choir has a Website at http://www.morgan.edu/choir/msuchoir.htm.

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New Guidebook to the Home of Emily Dickinson

February 8, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Dickinson Homestead has just published Emily Dickinson: The Poet at Home, a visitor’s guide to the poet, her home and the world in which she lived. The Poet at Home includes a fold-out map of Dickinson sites in the town of Amherst, many historic photographs and drawings, and three informative essays.

Karen Sanchez-Eppler, an associate professor of American Studies and English at Amherst College, traces the life of the poet. “To live is so startling,” Dickinson wrote, and Sanchez-Eppler’s essay demonstrates how Dickinson’s reclusive life offered startling opportunities for feeling, thought and the arduous work of poetry. Christopher Benfey, professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, where Dickinson studied, writes about her poetry, stressing the “possibility” that she found in her work. David Dillon, an Amherst resident who is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and an admirer of Dickinson, presents an architectural history of the Homestead, showing it to be “a palimpsest of changing architectural styles as revealed in a small New England house over nearly two centuries.”

Experienced Dickinson scholars will find something of interest in The Poet at Home, and the guide will enhance the experience of newcomers to the poet who visit the Homestead. The book will be available for $5 at the Homestead, at local bookstores and by mail. (Add $2 for shipping and handling.)

The Dickinson Homestead opens to the public on Saturday, March 3. The Homestead’s days and hours of operation change seasonally. In March, the Homestead is open Wednesday and Saturday with tours on the hour from 1 to 4 p.m. (last tour at 4 p.m.). Beginning in April, the Homestead is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Reservations are recommended for tours, especially on Saturdays, and may be made by calling 413/542-8161. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors/students, $3 for young people ages 6 to 18, and no charge for children under 6 or for students currently enrolled at one of the Five Colleges.

For more information, please call the Homestead at 413/542-8161, or visit the Homestead’s Website at http://www.amherst.edu/~edhouse . The Homestead is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Trustees of Amherst College.

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Writer Thomas Glave To Read March 5

February 8, 2001
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass—The Amherst College Creative Writing Center presents a reading by Thomas Glave on Monday, March 5, at 4 p.m. in the Babbott Room of the Octagon at Amherst College. The event is free and open to the public.

Thomas Glave, author of Whose Song? And Other Stories, has been hailed as the best black gay writer of his generation. He won the O. Henry Prize in 1997 and was a Fulbright Scholar in 1998 and 1999. He is a founding member of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays. His work is challenging, marked by energy, ambition and fearlessness.

Gloria Naylor writes, “In this collection of short stories Thomas Glave walks the path of such greats in American literature as Richard Wright and James Baldwin while forging new ground of his own. His voice is strong and his technique dazzling as he cuts to the bone of what it means to be black in America, white in America, gay in America, and human in the world at large. These stories…are brutal in some places, tender in others, but always honestly told.”

Glave was born in the Bronx and grew up there and in Kingston, Jamaica. A two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, he is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Brown University. He teaches at Binghamton University.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center puts on a yearly reading series featuring emerging and established authors. Future events in the 2000-01 series include readings by Forrest Gander and Agha Shahid Ali and a celebration of the work of James Merrill. See the Center’s Website at www.amherst.edu/~cwc, for more information.

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Contact

Peter Rooney
Director of Public Affairs
(413) 542-2321
prooney@amherst.edu