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Spring 2021 Event Series

All events hosted by the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities will be virtual, available via Zoom and/ Facebook, for the 2020-21 academic year. Please RSVP to receive full event information and an invitation to the virtual session.


 Dante and American Popular Culture

Lecture Poster

  • Thursday, February 25, 20201
  • 5:00-6:30 PM
  • Live on Zoom: Register by clicking here
  • This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Literatures and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

2021 marks 700 years since the death of medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri and has been declared the year of Dante in Italy. While Dante has been celebrated around the world, he has been particularly influential in the popular culture of the United States. Elizabeth Coggeshall will discuss her research on Dante in popular culture and her website Dante Today: Citings and Sightings of Dante's Works in Contemporary Culture (with Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College). Dennis Looney will address the African American reception of Dante that he has detailed in Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy.

Moderated by Cosetta Gaudenzi (World Languages and Literatures).

Elizabeth Coggeshall // Florida State University

Elizabeth Coggeshall (PhD, Stanford University) specializes in the literature and culture of medieval Italy, with a particular focus on Dante. Her research centers on the intersections of literature, ethics, and cultural identity; medievalism and popular culture; and the transmedia reception of Dante's works. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the disputes over the role of friendship in medieval Italian literary culture. She is also the co-editor (with Arielle Saiber, Bowdoin College) of the website Dante Today: Citings and Sightings of Dante's Works in Contemporary Culture, a curated, crowd-sourced digital archive that showcases Dante's sustained presence in contemporary culture.

Dennis Looney // Modern Language Association

Dennis Looney is the director of the Office of Programs and director of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages at the Modern Language Association. From 1986 to 2013, he taught Italian at the University of Pittsburgh, with secondary appointments in classics and philosophy. His publications include Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance (1996) and Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy (2011). With D. Mark Possanza, he is the co-editor and translator of Ludovico Ariosto's Latin Poetry, I Tatti Renaissance Library, Harvard University Press (2018).


 'This Dastardly Act': San Francisco's 1916 Preparedness Day Bombing

Lecture Poster

Belle McWilliams Lecture in History

Jeff Johnson // Providence College

  • Thursday, March 11, 2021
  • 6:00-7:30pm
  • Live on Zoom. To join, click here
  • This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of History and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

Jeff Johnson in virtual conversation with Caroline Peyton and Christine Eisel (History, Memphis).

In the summer of 1916 a patriotic parade in support of WWI occurred in San Francisco. When a violent attack erupted, the parade, San Francisco, and the country were forever altered. In the coming days authorities scrambled to find the culprit(s). The dubious conviction of a local labor organizer raised serious questions about extremism, pluralism, and freedom in the United States that continue to resonate in the twenty-first century.

Dr. Jeff Johnson is Professor of History and Director of the Graduate Program at Providence College in Rhode Island, where he teaches courses on the Gilded Age / Progressive Era, labor history, and the American West. He is the author of They Are All Red Out Here: Socialist Politics in the Pacific Northwest, 1895-1925 (The University of Oklahoma Press, 2008); the edited collection Reforming America: A Thematic Encyclopedia and Document Collection of the Progressive Era (ABC-Clio, 2017), which received an American Library Association award, being placed on its 2018 List of Best Historical Materials; and The 1916 Preparedness Day Bombing: Anarchists and Terrorism in Progressive Era America (Routledge, 2018).


Memphis-Style Rap in Germany: A Conversation with Skinny Finsta 

Lecture Poster

Skinny Finsta // Universal Music.

  • Wednesday, March 24, 20201
  • 4:00-5:15pm
  • Live on Zoom: Register by clicking here.
  • This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Literatures and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

Skinny Finsta, whose real name is Tassilo Treiber, records Memphis-style rap in German. Join Jaren Boyd of the Daily Memphian in digital conversation with Treiber about German rap music, the musical influence of Southern rap globally, and cultural differences between the US and Europe. Moderated by Robert Kelz (World Languages and Literatures).

Jared Boyd // The Daily Memphian

Jared Boyd is an arts and culture columnist at The Daily Memphian and program manager for WYXR 91.7 FM.