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The "Sustaining Stories" Writing Contest

When Dec 07, 2021 04:00 PM to
Feb 21, 2022 11:55 PM
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This contest is part of the 2022 Centre County Reads/CALS Community Read of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, in which Kimmerer argues that the recuperation of indigenous knowledge and ways of living is necessary to sustain the long-term health of our environment. Rather than exploiting the land as a resource, which has contributed to wide-scale environmental degradation, we must instead cultivate a reciprocal relationship to the land we depend on. Essential to this project of mutual sustainability, Kimmerer suggests, are stories that upend our human-centered approach to nature as an inactive object at our disposal.

In the spirit of this reorientation, enter your best example of writing that centers nature as an active subject, a teacher of sustainability rather than an object of appropriation. Submit your piece of 7,500 words or less for competition in one of the following categories: Best Short Fiction, Best Nonfiction, Best Poetry, and Best Entry for a Writer under 18. The deadline for all submissions is February 21, 2022.

The overall winner will receive a $300 Grand Prize, and additional prizes will be given to the winner of each category. Please send entries to cals@psu.edu and include a cover letter with your name, address, contact information, a brief biography, and contest category. Winning entries to be displayed at Schlow Centre Region Library and www.cals.la.psu.edu.

The Role of the Humanities in Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

When Jan 21, 2022
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Zoom (registration required)
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CALS’s second webinar of this academic year, “The Role of the Humanities in Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy,” will launch January 21.COVID-19 remains an ongoing public health threat in the United States, despite widespread availability of effective vaccines. The anti-vaccination movement has been characterized as a disingenuous partisan ploy underwritten by far-right politicians and media outlets, but those who refuse vaccination are not all willfully ignorant or dangerously misinformed—that is, the causes of vaccine hesitancy are multifarious and complex. Beginning from the premise that the humanities are uniquely equipped to confront such complicated social, political, and ethical matters, this webinar will explore the causes of, and potential solutions to, vaccine hesitancy from a variety of disciplinary (and interdisciplinary) perspectives.

Panelists:

  • James Phelan, Distinguished University Professor of English and Director of Project Narrative, The Ohio State University. Phelan has devoted his research to thinking through the consequences of conceiving of narrative as rhetoric, an effort that has recently taken him to the emerging subfield of narrative medicine. Among his many books are Reading People, Reading Plots; Narrative as RhetoricLiving to Tell About It; Experiencing Fiction; Reading the American Novel, 1920-2010;  and Somebody Telling Somebody Else. Since 1992, Phelan has been the editor of Narrative, the journal of the International Society for the Study of Narrative. In 2021, the Society named him the recipient of its Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Dennis Yi Tenen, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University. Tenen’s research and teaching focus on various topics including literary theory, the sociology of literature, media history, and computation narratology. The author of Plain Text: The Poetics of Computation (Stanford University Press, 2017), he is currently writing a book on the creative limits of artificial intelligence. Tenen serves as Project Lead for “Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence,” an initiative funded by a grant from Columbia World Projects. 
  • Janet Lyon, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Penn State. Lyon is an affiliate of the Rock Ethics Institute and director of Penn State's Disability Studies Minor. She publishes on modernism and disability, focusing especially on the emergence of “disability” as a category in the modernist period. Lyon is a former registered nurse.

Moderator:

Jess Rafalko, Graduate Student, Department of English, Penn State

Please register for the webinar here.

"Grown Deep Like the Rivers": The Black Lives Matter Movement(s) from Langston Hughes to the Present

When Dec 03, 2021
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where Zoom
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2021 marks the centennial anniversary of Langston Hughes publishing one of his best known poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” The poem was a signature poem of the Harlem Renaissance and written by a teenage Hughes as he was crossing the Mississippi River on his way to see his father in Mexico. It was Hughes’ first poem to be published in The Crisis, the NAACP’s official magazine edited by W. E. B. Du Bois. Like the magazine it was published in, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” has been a touchstone for generations owing to its themes of race pride, historic and diasporic consciousness, and eloquent dignity in the face of centuries-old patterns of slavery and racial violence. Panelists will remark upon the importance of Hughes and his poem and suggest how we might connect both to artistic and literary productions shaping, and shaped by, the Black Lives Matter movement(s) in our own time, all the while pointing out how one or the other movement may (or may not) be unprecedented after all.

Panelists include:

  • Tony Bolden, Professor of African and African-American Studies, University of Kansas. Bolden’s published works include Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2004) and Groove Theory: The Blues Foundation of Funk (University Press of Mississippi, 2020). Bolden serves as Editor of The Langston Hughes Review.
  • Autumn Womack, Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies, Princeton University. Womack is the author of The Matter of Black Living: The Aesthetic Experiment of Racial Data, 1880-1930 (forthcoming from The University of Chicago Press, 2022). Her research and teaching interests are located at the intersection of African American literature, visual studies, and print culture.
  • Aldon Lynn Nielsen, The George and Barbara Kelly Professor of American Literature, Penn State. Nielsen is the author most recently of Back Pages: Selected Poems of A.L. Nielsen (BlazeVox Books, 2021) and The Inside Songs of Amiri Baraka (Palgrave MacMillan, 2021). Nielsen has won numerous awards for his poetry, edited volumes, and critical scholarship including a Larry Neal Award for Poetry, the Josephine Miles Award, two Gertrude Stein Prizes, the SAMLA Studies Prize, a Darwin Turner Award, and an American Book Award.

Moderator:

  • Laura Vrana, Assistant Professor of English, University of South Alabama. Vrana’s teaching and research focus on African American literature. Her recent scholarship includes several articles focused on Black women poets including Thylias Moss, Robin Coste Lewis, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Evie Shockley published in various journals including MELUS, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, the Journal of Ethnic American Literature, and Obsidian.

Please register for the webinar here.