Lawrence Weschler at UMBC

 450Humanities Forum

Tuesday, March 25 | 4:30 p.m.
“The Fraught Crossroads: Where Class, Race, Sex and Violence Converge across American History”
Lawrence Weschler, author
7th Floor, Albin O. Kuhn Library

Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. Co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies and the Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture.

Using assemblage artist Edward Kienholz’s harrowing 1970 lynching tableau Five Car Stud as a point of departure, Lawrence Weschler explores the ways in which race has served as the radioactive core of American history, continually warping the potential for ordinary class-based politics and accounting for all manner of perverse American exceptionalisms (the subject of Weschler’s current work-in-progress).

Lawrence Weschler was for over twenty years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was also a recipient of Lannan Literary Award (1998).

His books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984); A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990); and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998). His “Passions and Wonders” series currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995); A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998) Boggs: A Comedy of Values  (1999); Robert Irwin: Getty Garden (2002); Vermeer in Bosnia (2004); and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (February 2006). Mr. Wilson was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Everything that Rises received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

Admission to this event is free.

Orser Center Blog Remodeled for 2014

You may notice a new look at the Orser Center blog. The advisory committee decided that the Center needed a fresh look and a focused social media presence (feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter). The center’s director and social media sub-committee chair Kate Drabinski (Gender & Women’s Studies, UMBC) worked with Beth Harper Designs on the project.

So far in 2014 the Orser Center has been involved in some great events, including the Dresher Center Humanities Forum Constructing Heritage panel on February 18 organized by advisory committee member Michelle Stefano featuring James Count Early (Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage), Mario Santo Domingo (Psychology, UMBC), and Ashley Minner (Baltimore American Indian Center). You can view a video of the panel discussion here. Elaine Eff author of The Painted Screens of Baltimore: Urban Folk Art Revealed spoke about her new book at the UMBC Library Gallery on February 25. We also helped to organize a Bmore Historic Happy Hour (with Baltimore Heritage) on March 8. Elaine Eff gave us a tour of the painted screens exhibition at MICA (up through March 16) with drinks following at the Mount Royal Tavern.

Orser Center director Nicole King (American Studies, UMBC) and Lindsey Loeper (Archivist, Special Collections at UMBC) are co-chairs of the 2014 Bmore Historic happy hour committee. If you have ideas for happy hour events, please let us know. The next Bmore Historic Happy Hour is at the Hamilton Club in Mount Vernon on Friday, April 11. We kick things off with a tour of historic clubs in the neighborhood and end with heavy appetizers and drinks at the Hamilton club. We had such a successful Bmore Historic happy hour at Hamilton Club in May 2013 we are doing it again.

Other upcoming Orser Center events include Lawrence Weschler’s “The Fraught Crossroads: Where Class, Race, Sex, and Violence Converge Across American History,” which takes L.A. artist Edward Keinholz’s harrowing 1970 lynching tableau Five Car Stud as a point of departure for exploring how class-based politics, race, place, and art come together.

Four different UMBC courses (AMST 422: Preserving Places, AMST 403: Ethnography in America, ART 390: IRC Fellows, and MCS 499: MCS Fellows) are all focusing on deindustrialization in Baltimore and working with Marc Steiner and the Center for Emerging Media (CEM) on amplifying the stories of such transitions through various projects. These projects include the debut of the Remembering Sparrows Point documentary film at the Creative Alliance on Thursday, April 10 at 7:30pm; a week-long radio series on the Marc Steiner Show (WEAA) on May, 12 through 16; and a fundraiser for the Filbert Street Community Garden, a non-profit in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore, at the 2640 space on Sunday, May 18 at 5pm.

Our spring 2014 advisory committee meeting is Wednesday, March 12 at Red Emma’s on 30 W. North Avenue in Baltimore. Committee members are invited to stop in at 6pm and get some great food from the café before we settle into our meeting space in one of the Free School classrooms. The meeting should end before 8pm, and then everyone is welcomed to stop by the Windup Space (just down the street) for the opening of 10: A Community Art Project co-curated by American Studies (’10) graduate Katie Smallwood. This is the third community art project Smallwood has curated at the Windup Space, and they are always great. There will be snacks, music, and, of course, art.

Everyone should also make sure to save the date for the 2014 Bmore Historic unconference at the Maryland Historical Society on Friday, October 10, 2014.

Watch the Orser Center blog and social media for updates on the Center’s projects and our other upcoming events in 2014.