The University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA), Amherst, MA, United States
28 Sep 2013

The Symposium Du Bois in Our Time brings together historians, social scientists, artists, political activists, writers, curators, and students to share their understandings of the connections of W.E.B. Du Bois to the 21st century on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death in 1963.

The purpose of this Symposium is to experiment in pushing the boundaries of these disparate modes of understanding. Nothing honors the multiple talents, the broad vision, and the fearless creativity of Dr. Du Bois than the idea of using his life’s work to convene a new way to define and exemplify interdisciplinary imagination.

Symposium panelists will ask what happens to an artist who has the opportunity to try out ideas through a dialogue with scholars who have studied, taught, and written about Du Bois’ work for decades. In turn, what happens to a scholar whose work goes through the process of collaborating with such artists? What kind of new understanding occurs when a student of history or literature is a first-hand witness to the crucible of artistic creativity? How does artistic expression serve as a method of scholarly research and discovery? This Symposium will investigate new territory and will open the doors to new ideas which will become increasingly relevant in the years to come.


Symposium Schedule:

9:00                     Acknowledgements and thanks • Loretta Yarlow, UMCA Director

9:15                      Welcome • Provost James V. Staros

9:30 – 10:15       Featured Speaker • Johnetta Cole

Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Dr. Cole was the first African-American female president of Spelman College from 1987 to 1997; she was a faculty member at UMass Amherst in the Department of Anthropology (1970-1983), where she also served as provost of undergraduate education from 1981 to 1983.

10:30 – 11:15     The Literary Man

Moderator: Prof. Amilcar Shabazz (Afro-American Studies, UMass) — with Prof. Reiland Rabaka (Africana Studies, Women & Gender Studies, University of Colorado Boulder) and artists Jefferson Pinder, Tim Rollins, and Carrie Mae Weems • Q & A

11:30  – 12:15     Art and Politics

Moderator: Prof. Susan Jahoda (Art, UMass)— with Prof. Bill Strickland (Afro-American Studies, UMass) and artists Ann Messner and LaToya Ruby Frazier • Q & A

12:30 – 2:00       Lunch

2:15 – 3:00         UMass and Du Bois

Emeritus Prof. Ekueme Michael Thelwell (Afro-American Studies, UMass) and artist and Professor of Art Emeritus Nelson Stevens in dialogue, as witnesses to the connection and deep roots between Du Bois and UMass in the last 50 years

3:14 – 4:00         Racial Perspective

Moderator: Prof. Manisha Sinha (Afro-American Studies, UMass) — with Prof. Saidiya Hartman (English and Comparative Literature, and Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Columbia University) and artists Mickalene Thomas and Radcliffe Bailey • Q & A

 4:15 – 5:00        Global Legacy

Moderator: Prof. Tanya Fernando (English and Comparative Literature, UMass) — with Prof. James Campbell (History, Stanford University) and artists Mary Evans and Brendan Fernandes • Q & A


Download programme here


The Symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is necessary; please register here


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