Sunday, March 8, 2015

Special Treat for Plainfield Seniors at Essex Humanities Conference

This week, from March 10-13, Essex County College, where I am a professor, will host a celebration of Humanities Week, centered around our Spring 2015 Conference, "Speculations: Steampunk to Afrofuturism." The conference is free and open to the public. Below is a listing of the week's activities. Click HERE to navigate to the conference website.

As one of the co-chairs of this year's conference, I am excited that we have been able to arrange to bring some of Plainfield's senior citizens to a special performance of "The Silver Thread." This special staged reading of Housley-McLaughlin's award-winning play will be performed by the New York City-based Liberation Theatre Company. The Plainfield Division of Recreation and Parks is sponsoring a free trip for seniors to Essex County College for the performance--please contact Recreation by calling 908-753-3097 if you would like to reserve a seat. I am very excited to welcome our seniors to my school! 


There will be an hors d'oeuvres reception at 5:30 pm, prior to the event, sponsored by Dr. Stephanie A. Steplight Johnson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer. 

The performance will be staged in the state-of-the-art Mary B. Burch Theater for the Performing Arts on Thursday, March 12 at 7:00 pm. Pianist Richard Alston, Associate Professor of Music at Essex County College, will open the evening with a special performance of Franz Liszt's "The Mephisto Waltz." There will be a 30-minute talk-back with the actors after the performance. 

This is the 3rd annual conference of our division (Humanities), and it helps to illustrate why the disciplines in the Humanities matter. My colleague and conference co-chair, Communications Prof. Jennifer Wager, noted this eloquently:
In this age of devastating economic austerity, the Humanities give us the inspiration and tools to imagine a better world. This conference brings together leading scholars and artists from all over the country and even internationally to examine how the Humanities has created space for speculation, creativity and positive social change. The first step in revolutionary change is to speculate, to free our minds and imagine that change is even possible. 

As a Predominantly Black Institution, Essex leads the way nationally and internationally as a two-year college dedicated to the creation and dissemination of historically accurate knowledge of communities of African descent locally and globally. With this year’s special emphasis on the legacy, work, and influence of the late Octavia E. Butler, the Humanities Division’s conference once again highlights the foundational contributions of Black history and culture to the Humanities with this year's theme, “Speculations: Steampunk to Afrofuturism.” 


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