Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities

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In addition to organizing its own programming, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities supports and promotes humanities programming available throughout the Case Western Reserve University and Greater Cleveland community.  Below is the listing of upcoming humanities-related programming:


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
March 23, 2017
6:00 PM
Maltz Performing Arts Center, 1855 Ansel Road
Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s presents the F. Joseph Callahan Distinguished Lecture, which is also the keynote address for the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities’ contributions to the Cleveland Humanities Festival. Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. A literary critic and filmmaker, he also sits as jury chair of Cleveland’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. He has authored or co-authored 21 books and created 16 documentary films, the latest of which is Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise. Known for his commitment to African-American representation in literature and film and his fight for the recognition of that history, Gates has received more than 55 honorary degrees as well as numerous academic and social action awards.

This event is part of the Think Forum Lecture Series. Tickets (free) are required. Get tickets HERE


A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life RemadeBarbara Rylko-Bauers
March 24, 2017
12:00 PM
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122
In her talk, author and anthropologist Barbara Rylko-Bauer will use her mother’s story to talk about broader issues of immigration, examining the echoes from the past that are appearing today.  Her mother’s story is the focus of her book, A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade, which weaves personal family narrative with twentieth-century history to present a daughter’s account of her Polish Catholic mother’s World War II experiences as a prisoner-doctor in Jewish slave labor camps in Nazi Germany and the challenges of “surviving survival” – rebuilding a new life, first as a refugee doctor in Germany and later as an immigrant in the United States.

Free and open to the public.  Registration recommended. Register HERE.


Marshall ImagePseudoscience Fictions
Kate Marshall
March 24, 2017
3:00 PM
Bellflower 102
“Pseudoscience Fictions” traces a resurgent contemporary interest in the category of pseudoscience. Although the term circulates in critical culture in part as a warning against larger movements aimed at the debunking of scientific claims, it has a more interesting history as an idea than this vaguer use would indicate. The concept of pseudoscience, emergent in the nineteenth century and made most popular in the early twentieth with the likes of Karl Popper, waned after it was shown by Thomas Kuhn and others to lack the kind of distinction-making capacities it claimed for itself. It is returning, though, in popular culture as well as in science scholarship. Marshall will explore the concept and its resurgence through a category of contemporary writing she refers to as “pseudoscience fiction,” in examples from Don DeLillo and others.

Kate Marshall is associate professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where she also serves on the faculty of the history and philosophy of science. She is the author of the award-winning Corridor: Media Architectures in American Fiction and articles on fabulism, weird fiction, media theory, and technology in journals including American Literary History, Modernism/Modernity, and NOVEL. She is the 2016-2017 Founders’ Fellow at the National Humanities Center, where she is completing work on her study of nonhuman narration, Novels by Aliens. She edits the Post45 book series at Stanford University Press, and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English.

Free and open to the public.


Imagination and Diaspora in Peter Balakian’s Poetry and Prose
Peter Balakian
March 24, 2017
4:30 PM
Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom A, 11038 Bellflower Road
Peter Balakian, Pulitzer-prize winning Armenian American poet and writer and the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of Humanities at Colgate University, will discuss the impact of the post genocide Armenian diaspora in his poetry and his memoir Black Dog of Fate.  He will explore how the impact of the history of exile and uprooting can inflect and shape literary imagination and in doing so help create a wider understanding of the legacy of traumatic history.
This event is co-sponsored by the Armenian Cultural Organization.

Free and open to the public.  Registration recommended. Register HERE.


Muslim in America: A Conversation with Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar
March 27, 2017
5:00 pm
Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom A, 11038 Bellflower Road
Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Ayad Akhtar discusses the Muslim experience in America with Justine Howe, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies. Akhtar is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. His stage play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within.

Free and open to the public.  Registration recommended. Register HERE.


Internal Immigration and Return: Jewish Renaissance in Sicily and Sardinia
Irene Shaland
March 28, 2017
12:00 PM
Clark Hall Room 206, 11130 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106

The infamous 1492 Edict of Expulsion of the Jews forced close to 500,000 people into exile. Many had to leave their home-country where they lived for centuries, but still many, with nowhere to go, were pressured into conversion and into what became their “internal immigration.”

Travel with Irene Shaland to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia that present a fascinating chapter in both, the history of immigration and the history of Jewish Diaspora. Discover a world of little-known Jewish narrative: centuries marked by fear and secrets, decades filled with the search for one’s identity, and courage to defy conventions by reinventing oneself. These are the stories of B’nei Anousim, or “children of the forced ones” from the South of Italy. The elimination of institutional Judaism by the Edict and the Inquisition did not mean the end of Judaism itself. The destruction of synagogues and the burning of “Judaizes” five centuries ago forced the Jews of Sicily and Sardinia to “immigrate internally:” take their traditions into the cellars of their homes where the memories and stories were kept alive, even when descendants forgot their exact meaning. And now, the number of those with a “call of blood,” who think they have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about it, or even embrace their newly-discovered heritage, is on the rise throughout these islands. Let the story of the Anousim lead you into the world of hope: the cultural and spiritual reawakening – and — return.

Irene will also introduce her latest book The Dao of being Jewish and Other Stories: Seeking Jewish Narrative all Over the World. Book signing follows the presentation.

Free and open to the public.  Registration recommended. Register HERE.


Film Screening and Discussion – I Learn America: One High School, One School Year, Five New Americans 
March 29, 2017
4:30 PM
Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom A, 11038 Bellflower Road
In America, nearly one student in four is a child of immigration. How America fares in welcoming immigrants will determine our identity for the years to come. This film follows five immigrant teenagers over the course of one year at the International High School at Lafayette, a public high school in Brooklyn, NY dedicated to newly arrived immigrants from all over the world. By walking in the shoes of five complex (and in some ways, typical) teenagers who encounter everything from learning a new language, adapting to families they haven’t seen in years, to social pressure and visa uncertainties while coming of age in a new land — schools, communities, and their leaders have come to understand how these children– and the millions like them throughout the USA – are an integral part of America today. A discussion about how we welcome today’s immigrants in this country, facilitated by Facing History and Ourselves staff, will immediately follow the film screening.

Free and open to the public.  Registration recommended Register HERE


Who Should Enter the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy in Historical Perspective
John J. Grabowski
March 29, 2017 
12:00 PM
Clark Hall Room 206, 11130 Bellflower Road
The current debate about immigration often neglects or misinterprets past “policies” that have related to immigration and citizenship in the United States. In his talk John Grabowski, CWRU’s Krieger-Mueller Joint Professor in History and Historian and Senior Vice President for Research and Publications at the Western Reserve Historical Society, provides a broad historical perspective on not only the creation (or, indeed, the absence) of policy relating to immigration to the United States but on the manner in which citizens and policymakers chose to see immigrants and immigration in relation to economic, social, and political issues over time.

Free and open to the public.  Registration recommended. Register HERE.


BurkhartThe Anthropocenotaph: Structures of Mourning a Transforming World
A Lecture by Matt Burkhart
March 31, 2017
3:00 PM
Guilford Parlor, 11112 Bellflower Road
How do recent works of climate change fiction, documentary film, and installation art help us envision the “slow violence” of the Anthropocene? This talk establishes how Burkhart’s concept of the anthropocenotaph offers critical leverage on literary and visual arts that depict monuments dramatizing accelerated anthropogenic changes to biotic communities and global climate systems. Conventionally, cenotaphs memorialize remote tragedies or bodies interred elsewhere. As a critical concept, the anthropocenotaph invites readers and viewers to witness—if not figuratively inhabit—structures for mourning a world that humans are transforming rapidly through the mechanisms of global capital. This talk critiques expressions of the anthropocenotaph appearing in the photography and films of Edward Burtynsky, in the installation art of Maya Lin, and in the “cli-fi” novels of Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, and Paolo Bacigalupi. Centrally, this talk considers how the anthropocenotaph might spur a process of affective mapping, which builds upon melancholic contemplation to establish a platform for critical and creative reckoning with monumental loss.

Matt Burkhart is an English Lecturer at CWRU, where he teaches Environmental Humanities-based SAGES seminars. Previously, he served in visiting positions at Colby, Bates, and Unity Colleges, focusing on U.S. Multiethnic Literature, American Indian Literature, and Environmental Humanities. Before that, he taught Environmental and Regional Humanities for several years in Northern Arizona University’s Comparative Cultural Studies Department. His work has been published in Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment and Western American Literature.

Free and open to the public.



Page last modified: March 15, 2017