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Writers, Scholars to Discuss Cultural Identity During UMaine Humanities Initiative’s Spring Symposium

franco-amerian symposium

The Franco-American Centre and Franco American Studies program at the University of Maine will host the spring symposium “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco America” April 25–26.

The series of free events, sponsored by the UMaine Humanities Initiative and  le Ministère des Relations internationales, Francophonie et Commerce extérieur du Québec, will take place on the Orono campus from 1:30 p.m. Friday, April 25 until 6 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

“Questions of ‘home’ and of ‘place’ can walk a line between the public and private spaces that take shape for each of us as individuals and as community members,” says Jacob Albert, a research associate at the Franco-American Centre. “We’re really excited to offer a forum for some powerful writers and thinkers to address these kinds of universal questions that are especially important for thinking about cultural identity.”

Keynote speaker and Canadian author Clark Blaise will read from his work-in-progress, “The Kerouac Who Never Was,” from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 25.

Blaise is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa where he was the director of the International Writing Program. He also is the founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University. He has written more than 20 books, including “I Had a Father: A Post-Modern Autobiography,” “The Meagre Tarmac” and the Pearson Prize-winning “Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time.”

The symposium will feature readings from other acclaimed writers including Jane Martin, Ron Currie Jr., Rhea Côté Robbins and Steven Riel; panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada on “Franco Elections, Activism and Public Opinion,” “Historical Reflections on Place and Identity,” and “Franco American Archives and Collections in New England;” and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Albert at jacob.albert@maine.edu or 207.581.3795. A full symposium program is available online.

This symposium features precisely the sorts of interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of regional significance that the Humanities Initiative aims to promote,” says Justin Wolff, UMHI director and an associate professor of art history at UMaine.

The UMaine Humanities Initiative (UMHI), housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and established in 2010, advances the teaching, research and community outreach of the arts and humanities to enrich the lives of all Maine residents.

More information about the UMHI is online.

Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747

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