Fall 2020  –  Thursdays

Virtual Zoom Lectures  –  The University of Maine

Zoom link for all Fall programs


Upcoming Programs


Check back soon for information about the Spring 2021 series.



Recent Programs


Nov. 12: THE HUMANITIES AS ACTIVISM IN CHICAGO (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)

Watch this program here.

This session will feature four remarkable panelists: Karen Sieber, Tonika Johnson, Kevin Coval, and Nicole Marroquin. This program is being sponsored by the McGillicuddy Humanities Center at the University of Maine.

Karen Sieber is Humanities Specialist at the McGillicuddy Humanities Center. She is a former Chicagoan, who is a public historian doing research on what she calls “tactical humanities,” or using the humanities in strategic outside-of-the-box ways to draw attention to urgent issues.

Tonika Johnson is a Chicago artist, photographer, and community activist. Her Folded Map project examines the long history of redlining and segregation in the city and works to address inaccurate negative perceptions about the South and West sides of Chicago. She is co-founder of RAGEnglewood and was named a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year.

Kevin Coval is a poet, the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, and the founder of Louder Than a Bomb, the world’s largest youth poetry festival. Author of over a dozen books, including A People’s History of Chicago, and editor of BreakBeat Publishing, Coval was the recipient of the 2018 Studs Terkel Award.

Nicole Marroquin is an artist, educator, activist, and the creator of Chicago Raza Research Consortium, a grassroots effort to map, gather, and present Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Latinx, and Raza history in Chicago. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Oct. 29: KARL MARX IN 2020 (12:30 – 1:45 p.m.)

Watch this program here.

Cindy Isenhour, Associate Professor, Dept. of Anthropology and Climate Change Institute

Michael Howard, Professor of Philosophy

Doug Allen, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy

The three panelists, among the most productive and influential faculty at UMaine, maintain that the insights, methodology, theoretical framework, and interpretations formulated by Karl Marx, when creatively formulated and applied, are more essential and significant for understanding our world of 2020 than during his lifetime. How does Marx help us to understand conflict-based theories of change? How does commodity fetishism mask the true social, economic, and environmental cost of goods and why is it unsustainable? How can an updating of Marx’s social vision inform a defense of worker-managed market socialism? How can Marx’s vision of the transition from “each according to work” to “each according to need” inform recent work on universal basic income? How can Marx’s historical and dialectical approach provide the most insightful analysis of class relations, exploitation, oppression, corporate domination, globalization, and imperialism? How does Marx allow us to understand alienation and meaninglessness today, and how we can express social and moral development and unalienated human flourishing?



Watch this program here.

John Dieffenbacher-Krall, Chair of the Episcopal Committee on Indian Relations and former Executive Director of Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission

Chelsea Fairbank, PhD Candidate in Anthropology & Environmental Policy

Darren Ranco, Chair of Native American Programs and Associate Professor of Anthropology

The Doctrine of Christian Discovery and Domination comprises a worldview and promotes the legal and moral authority justifying the invasion and conquest of non-Christian lands. Historically, this Doctrine’s legal and moral authority derive from papal bulls, edicts and declarations, from the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the later use by Western Christendom’s secular leaders to reference the Doctrine to authorize their voyages of “discovery” into the New World. This Doctrine of Discovery forms the foundation of Federal Indian Law and the most important U.S. Supreme Court case affecting the Original Nations and Peoples of this land. The University of Maine exists on occupied Penobscot Indian Nation land legally justified via the Doctrine. Panelists will develop this program by presenting information on “Settler Colonialism, the Doctrine of Discovery, Capitalism, and Extractivism,” and on “the Doctrine of Discovery and the State of Maine.”


Sept. 24: LOVE, MARXISM, AND READING (2:00 – 3:15 p.m.)

Phillip E. Wegner, Marston-Milbauer Eminent Scholar and Professor of English, University of Florida

What does it mean to read as a Marxist? Building on a lifelong passion for reading, the essays collected together in Phillip Wegner’s latest book, Invoking Hope: Theory and Utopia in Dark Times (U of Minnesota P, 2020), make an appeal for the undiminished importance of the practices of theory, utopia, and deep close, and even critical reading in our current situation of what Bertolt Brecht refers to as finsteren Zeiten, dark times. The roots of his argument can be found in a chapter entitled, “‘The Point Is…’: On the Four Conditions of Marxist Cultural Studies,” from his previous study, Periodizing Jameson: Dialectics, the University, and the Desire for Narrative (Northwestern UP, 2014). In his talk, Wegner will explore the links between the work done in the earlier essay and in Invoking Hope, and he will reiterate the importance, especially in our current dark times, for any Marxist practice of reading to be attentive to what Alain Badiou terms the fourth condition of truth, that of love.


The Fall 2020 Socialist and Marxist Studies Series is coordinated by Michael Swacha, Lecturer in English and Philosophy, and Doug Allen, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy. The series is sponsored by the Marxist and Socialist Studies Minor, coordinated by Don Beith, Assistant Professor of Philosophy. It is co-sponsored by the Maine Peace Action Comm. (MPAC) and the Division of Student Affairs and with support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Dept. of Philosophy. Speakers do not necessarily present socialist or Marxist viewpoints. For additional information, contact: Michael Swacha at michael.swacha@maine.edu.
The University of Maine is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.