Anthropologist Wade Davis Speaks at Amherst College April 18

March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Explorer and anthropologist Wade Davis will speak on “One River: Recent Exploration and Discovery in the Amazon Rain Forest” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Amherst, Davis’s talk is free and open to the public.

Wade Davis has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.” An ethnographer, writer, photographer and filmmaker, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology, and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Mostly through the Harvard Botanical Museum, he spent more than three years in the Amazon and Andes as a plant explorer, living among 15 indigenous groups in eight Latin American nations while making some 6,000 botanical collections. His work later took him to Haiti to investigate folk preparations implicated in the creation of zombies, and to Borneo, where he lived among the nomadic Penan in the forests of Sarawak.

In recent years his research efforts have taken him to East Africa, Tibet, Polynesia, Mali, Equatorial West Africa, New Guinea, Vanuatu and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland. Author of 10 books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987), One River (1996) and Light at the Edge of the World (2001), he is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lowell Thomas Medal (Explorer’s Club) and the Lannan Foundation $125,000 prize for literary nonfiction. In 2004 he was made an honorary member of the Explorer’s Club, one of 20 in the 100-year history of the club.

His film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, a four-hour series shot in Rapanui, Tahiti, the Marquesas, Nunuvut, Greenland and Peru, that will air internationally on the National Geographic Channel in the spring of 2007. Phantastica, a two-hour special inspired by his books One River and The Lost Amazon, will air this spring on The History Channel. Davis recently completed a third film project, a 3-D IMAX film, Water Planet: A Grand Canyon Adventure, which will appear in the spring of 2008.

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Bolivian Novelist Juan de Recacoechea and Translator Adrian Althoff ’04 To Read at Amherst College April 9

March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Adrian Althoff, a 2004 graduate of Amherst College, will join Bolivian novelist Juan de Recacoechea for a reading from Althoff’s new English translation of American Visa at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 9, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Spanish department at Amherst, the reading is free and open to the public.

“Beautifully written, atmospheric and stylish in the manner of Chandler,” American Visa is “a smart, exotic crime fiction offering,” according to crime novelist George Pelecanos (The Night Gardener). Mario Alvarez is an unemployed schoolteacher with a singular passion for detective fiction, who, armed with fake papers, a handful of gold nuggets and a snazzy custom-made suit, sets out from a small-town in Bolivia on a quest for an American visa, his best hope for escaping his past and reuniting with his son in Miami.

Juan de Recacoechea was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and worked as a journalist in Europe for almost 20 years. After returning to his native country, he helped found Bolivia’s first state-run television network and dedicated himself to fiction writing. He is now the author of seven novels; American Visa is Recacoechea’s first novel translated into English.

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Diplomat and Political Scientist Strobe Talbott To Speak at Amherst College April 19

March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Strobe Talbott, the John J. McCloy ’16 Professor of American Institutions and International Relations at Amherst College, president of the Brookings Institute and former deputy secretary of state, will speak on “A Consequential Aberration: George W. Bush’s Foreign Policy—and Beyond” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Talbott’s talk is free and open to the public.

Talbott served in the State Department from 1993 until 2001, for a year as special advisor for the new independent states of the former Soviet Union and then for seven years as deputy. He entered government service after 21 years as a journalist for TIME magazine. His last position there was as editor-at-large and foreign affairs columnist. He was earlier the Washington bureau chief, a diplomatic correspondent, White House correspondent, State Department correspondent and Eastern Europe correspondent, based in Belgrade.

Talbott continues to write articles and essays in The Economist, The Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Slate and The Washington Post. His books include Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb (2004), The Age of Terror: America and the World After September 11 (co-editor with Nayan Chanda, 2001), At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (with Michael Beschloss, 1993), The Master of the Game: Paul Nitze and the Nuclear Peace (1988), Reagan and Gorbachev (with Michael Mandelbaum, 1987), The Russians and Reagan (1984), Deadly Gambits: The Reagan Administration and the Stalemate in Nuclear Arms Control (1984), Endgame: The Inside Story of Salt II ( 1979), Khrushchev Remembers: The Last Testament (with Edward Crankshaw, 1974) and Khrushchev Remembers (1970).

After graduating from Yale University with a B.A. degree in 1968, Talbott studied for three years at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

The John J. McCloy ’16 Professorship was established at Amherst College in 1983 to honor John J. McCloy and his outstanding career of service and accomplishment in American politics and international diplomacy.

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Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus ’61 To Speak at Amherst College April 16

March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.— Harold Varmus ’61, an American virologist and recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the origins of cancer, will speak on the future of science in the 21st century at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 16, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Victor S. Johnson Lectureship Fund at Amherst, Varmus’s talk is free and open to the public.

After graduating from Amherst College with a B.A. degree in English in 1961, Varmus received an M.A. in literature from Harvard University in 1962. He returned to the study of medicine and received his M.D. degree from Columbia University in 1966. In 1966, he joined the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md., in 1966, where he studied bacterial gene regulation by cyclic AMP. In 1970 Varmus went to the University of California, San Francisco, as a postdoctoral fellow. At San Francisco he and J. Michael Bishop began the research into the origins of cancer for which they jointly received the Nobel Prize in 1989.

In 1993 Varmus was appointed director of the National Institutes of Health. Since 2000, he has served as president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Varmus’s other awards include California Scientist of the Year (1982), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1982), the Passano Foundation Award (1983), the Armand Hammer Cancer Prize (1984), the Alfred P. Sloan Prize from the General Motors Cancer Foundation (1984), the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1984) and the American College of Physicians Award (1987). He was elected to the National Academy of Science (1984) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1988), and received an honorary degree from Amherst College (1985) and the Alumni Gold Medal from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia (1989).

The Victor S. Johnson Lectureship Fund was established in memory of Victor S. Johnson (1882-1943) by his sons for the purpose of “bringing to the campus each year a stimulating individual worthy of the lectureship’s purpose of serving the best tradition of the liberal arts and individual freedom.”

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Amherst College Anthropologist Deborah Gewertz To Give Foster Lecture at Southern Methodist University

March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Deborah Gewertz, the G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology at Amherst College, will give the 8th annual George and Mary Foster Lecture in Cultural Anthropology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas on Monday, April 9. Gewertz will discuss “Excusing the Haves and Blaming the Have-Nots in Jared Diamond’s Histories.”

Gewertz argues that Diamond does not adequately consider the workings of world systems in either of his two popular books, Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse. As a result, she says, “Guns, Germs and Steel does not hold the ‘haves’ accountable for the choices they have had the power to make; while Collapse holds the ‘have- nots’ accountable for choices that are beyond their power.” Informed by her years of field work in Papua, New Guinea, Gewertz’s argument challenges important Western assumptions about how the world works.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1977, Gewertz, with her collaborator, Frederick Errington of Trinity College, is the co-author most recently of Yali’s Question: Sugar, Culture, and History (2004). Gewertz and Errington collaborated on several books, including Cultural Alternatives and a Feminist Anthropology: An Analysis of Culturally Constructed Gender Interests in Papua New Guinea (1987), Articulating Change in the “Last Unknown” (1995), Twisted Histories, Altered Contexts: Representing the Chambri in a World System (1991) and Emerging Class in Papua New Guinea: The Telling of Difference (1999). Gewertz is also the author of numerous articles in books and journals, including American Ethnologist and American Anthropologist.

The Foster Lecture honors the contributions to anthropology and linguistics of anthropologists George McClelland Foster and Mary LeCron Foster, who were both associated for many years with the University of California at Berkeley, and were instrumental in the development of anthropology in the U.S. and abroad.

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Amherst College Librarian Michael Kasper To Exhibit at Liebling Center at Hampshire College April 4 to 28

March 30, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Michael Kasper, a reference librarian at the Amherst College Library, will present an exhibition of collages, books and posters titled “The Union Makes Us Strong” from April 4 through 28 at the Jerome Liebling Center for Film, Photography and Video at Hampshire College. The gallery is open Sunday through Thursday from 1 p.m. until midnight, and on Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. A reception for the artist will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, at the gallery.

Critic Richard Kostelanetz, in the Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes (2001), wrote that Kasper, a widely published author and graphic artist, has produced “a series of tart visual/verbal fictions… that his peers commonly rank among the best.” The Hampshire show includes original collages, complete paste-ups for two artist’s books and an array of published work drawn from more than three decades of productive work.

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Renaissance Scholar Heidi Brayman Hackel To Speak at Amherst College April 17

March 28, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Renaissance scholar Heidi Brayman Hackel of Oregon State University will speak on “Dumb Eloquence: Chirology on the Shakespearean Stage” at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, in the Babbott Room in the Octagon at Amherst College. Sponsored by the English Department at Amherst College and the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund, the event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will follow.

Hackel’s talk will explore deafness, muteness and chirology—the language of the hand—in Shakespeare, bringing the story up to American Sign Language and the International Visual Theater, a French company including deaf actors.

An associate professor of English at Oregon State University, Hackel is the author of Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy (2005) and co-editor of The Transatlantic Worlds of Women’s Reading, 1500-1800 (forthcoming). Her lecture is part of a book in progress titled Dumb Shows, Plain Signs: A Cultural History of Muteness and Gesture in Early Modern England.

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Literary Magazine n+1 College Tour Comes to Amherst College April 13

March 28, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The editors of the award-winning new literary journal n+1 will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13, in the Paino Lecture Hall in the Earth Science and Natural History Building at Amherst College. Sponsored by the English Department at Amherst College, the event will be free and open to the public.

n+1, a twice-yearly journal of politics, literature and culture, received the Utne Independent Press Award for Best Writing in 2006 for its third and fourth issues. The fifth issue, currently available, has as its theme “Decivilizing Process.” Continuing the n+1 “tradition” of critiques of exercise, postmodern warfare and current literary practices, the writers in this issue consider “the way modern technology and the politics it spawns has changed the life of people all over the world.” The issue features a funny short story about nuclear proliferation in North Korea; a memoir of Kashmir, militancy and torture; and essays on pornography, watching television in Milwaukee, and American torture of terror suspects abroad and flying cars. Novelist Benjamin Kunkel considers “man’s being a spider to man.”

At Amherst College, editors Keith Gessen, Mark Greif, Chad Harbach, Benjamin Kunkel, Allison Lorentzen and Marco Roth will read from “Decivilizing Process,” offering “a critique of contemporary technology and life practices, such as e-mail, cell phones, blogs and Internet pornography.” They will then take questions about the magazine, literary publishing and “whatever else people think of to ask.”

Keith Gessen’s journalism and literary criticism has appeared in The Atlantic, New York, The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. His translation of Voices from Chernobyl won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction in 2005. His novel in stories, All the Sad Young Literary Men, will be published in 2008.

Mark Greif’s essays and reviews have appeared in Harper’s, Dissent, the TLS and The American Prospect. His essays from n+1 have been selected for Best American Essays 2005 and The Norton Reader.

Benjamin Kunkel is the author of the novel Indecision, a New York Times Notable Book for 2005. His criticism has also appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, In These Times and The New York Review of Books.

Marco Roth is a native New Yorker, literary critic and independent scholar. He is a frequent contributor to the TLS and n+1, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe and Nextbook.

Chad Harbach is an editor and novelist, and was the Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he received his M.F.A. in 2004.

Allison Lorentzen is an assistant editor at HarperCollins. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2003.

The n+1 college tour, with stops in Boston, New Haven, Philadelphia and Providence in addition to Amherst, is designed to bring the magazine to an audience outside New York City.

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Sculptor and Photographer Petah Coyne To Speak at Amherst College April 12

March 28, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Artist Petah Coyne will discuss her photography and sculpture in an illustrated talk at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, in the Pruyne Lecture Room (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Coyne is known for her large sculptures made of wax or horsehair within which are hidden figures of animals, saints and other found objects. Her talk is sponsored by the Mead Art Museum, where the exhibition “Back to the Future: Contemporary American Art from the Collection,” on view from March 30 through Aug. 26, includes some of Coyne’s work. A reception for the artist will be held in the Mead Art Museum following the lecture. Coyne’s talk is free and open to the public.

Coyne’s sculptures combine figurative and abstract traditions to poetically evoke contradictions of life and death, fragility and strength, and celebration and mourning. She uses such disparate materials as taxidermy, beads, bows, flowers, candles and statuettes, which she buries inside intricately built armatures made of white or black wax or woven horsehair. She has said about the activity of burying, “For me, whatever is most important, most valuable, most private, I always bury deep within the sculpture.” Her sculptural forms are characterized by great mass and extreme fragility. They hang from the ceiling or wall or lie on the floor. Coyne creates environments in the way she positions the sculptures—all the objects interact in imagined wonderlands.

Coyne also makes large scale black and white photographs that capture bodies in motion and moments in time. One of these photographs, Untitled #735 (Monks II), 1992, is currently on view at the Mead Art Museum. Coyne’s work has been shown in a major retrospective at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, at the Chicago Cultural Center and in the Sculpture Center and Galerie Lelong in New York. Her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art and the Corcoran Museum of Art. Coyne has received a Guggenheim Foundation grant, three NEA Grants and two Rockefeller Awards.

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Writer Alicia Alarcón To Speak at Amherst College April 11

March 28, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Author and broadcast correspondent Alicia Alarcón will give a talk titled “I Write for Changes” at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, in the Alumni House at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Amherst College Spanish Department and the Corliss Lamont Lectureship for a Peaceful World, the lecture will be in English and is free and open to the public.

Born in Jocotepec, Jalisco, México, Alarcón has been living in the United States for 20 years. She has worked for La Opinion, Univision and CNN en español, and now has a radio program on Radio Unica in Los Angeles. Her new book of border-crossing testimonies, La Migra me hizo los mandados/ The Border Patrol Ate my Dust, has been simultaneously released in Spanish and in English. It offers personal stories of experiences at the border between Mexico and the United States, which provide a human soul to an otherwise warlike situation.

For more information contact Lucia Suarez at lsuarez@amherst.edu or 413/542-2102.

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