Every year the McGillicuddy Humanities Center organizes a series of symposium events related to a central theme, which for the 2019-20 academic year was “Society, Colonization and Decolonization.” From guest lecturers to a film series to community suppers, the MHC planned and sponsored events that explored the complicated global legacy of colonization, and the ways in which the humanities use decolonial tactics to address and critique the perceived universality and superiority of Western knowledge and culture. Below is a sampling of symposium events from the last year.

March 4. 2020: Erin J. Kappeler’s on “Mary Austin’s Time Machine: Modernist Poetics and Settler Time”

Visiting professor Erin J. Kappeler (Tulane University) spoke in Hill Auditorium in Barrows Hall on Wednesday, March 4, at 3PM. Kappeler explored key texts by the modernist poet and activist Mary Austin, who helped to invent Native American poetry as a field, to show that the concept of free verse was a tool of settler cultural domination as much as it was a democratization of poetic language or a formal innovation. This history of free verse translations of Native American oral expressions opens pressing questions about the ethics of translation and about legacies of settler colonial appropriations of Native American cultural materials in contemporary English departments.

Throughout the Fall, the McGillicuddy Humanities Center held a series of bean suppers as part of our annual symposium theme of “Society, Colonization and Decolonization.” Each of the suppers featured a different cultural identity and bean recipe, including Franco-American bean-hole beans with brown bread, US southwestern-style beans with red & green chiles, Cuban bean chili, Brazilian black beans, and a final potluck supper to which community members contributed beans cooked from their own recipes.
Each evening included a brief presentation by a local specialist, including historians, farmers, and folklorists, who touched on the process by which the beans and the recipes arrive in the Americas–the human dimension of beans.
All suppers were FREE and open to the public, held at the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono. 

October 3. 2019: Lecture by Professor Ann M. Little on “The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright: Communities of Women in the Northeast Borderlands”

Ann M. Little, Professor of History at Colorado State University, offeedr a lecture and discussion on, “The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright: Communities of Women in the Northeast Borderlands.” The event, part of  the Alice Stewart Lecture Series, was held from 12:00pm-1:30pm in the Bumps Room of Memorial Student Union.

The lecture emphasized the methodology in writing about a person with little traditional historical evidence to document her life, and the connections and continuities she forged across linguistic, religious, and cultural borders in the eighteenth-century northeast. Ann Little’s 2016 Yale University Press book of the same title won the biennial Corey Prize of the American Historical Association and the Canadian Historical Association as the best book in Canadian-US history.

Co-hosted by the Canadian-American Center; History; McGillicuddy Humanities Center; Modern Languages and Classics; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.