Jan Dizard lectures on hunting culture

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In April 2015, the American Studies Program had the good fortune of welcoming Dr. Jan E. Dizard for a series of lectures and discussions on the subject of sport hunting in America. Dr. Dizard is both a dedicated hunter and the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor in American Culture at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he brings a sociological perspective to his scholarship on mass culture and environment.

Dr. Dizard’s presentation before a large audience in the Classroom Building focused on the challenges posed to contemporary hunting – both within, by militarization of weapons and the monolithic power of the gun lobby, and without, by animal rights activists and the anti-gun movement. His comments served as a launching point for debate at a later hunting symposium, hosted by faculty member John Dorst, and paneled by faculty members Frieda Knobloch and Andrea Graham, as well as graduate students Susan Clements and Maxine Vande Vaarst. Dr. Dizard was also kind enough to meet with students for sandwiches and good conversation at the Cooper House. The program would like to extend its thanks to John Dorst for his role in bringing Dr. Dizard to campus.

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Claudia Rankine visits the Cooper House

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On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, the poet and essayist Claudia Rankine visited the Cooper House for an informal discussion on matters of literature, racism, and the imaginary. Rankine’s recent book, Citizen: An American Lyric, was a 2014 National Book Award finalist, amongst other national and international honors. In the discussion, Rankine remarked on Citizen’s impact on both American culture and her own creative process. “Booksellers are telling me that Citizen has created renewed interest in poetry,” Rankine said. “People are buying poetry books again.” Citizen, already in its third printing, has been inseparable from the recent discourse on racism in America, particularly in regards to police violence on Black men, but also relating to other forms of racial violence, found in everyday life. “If this book were about anything else,” Rankine said, “I’d be on to the next project by now. But I feel a responsibility.” Other topics discussed in the hour-long conversation covered the spheres of Blackness and Whiteness that Americans inhabit, the racist pathology of Ebola screening at airports, and the ways we confront suicide and depression in public and private expressions. Later that evening, Rankine read from Citizen in a public event at the UW Art Museum.