Arts & Culture

All Arts & Culture

  • The first civil rights movement

    Most of us think of the Civil Rights movement as something that took place in the transitional 1950s and the tumultuous 1960s. It’s seen as a cultural artifact squeezed between the defiance of Rosa Parks (1955) and the demise of Martin Luther King Jr. (1968).

  • Goodfellow Liotta visits University

    Film actor Ray Liotta recently (Feb. 25) visited the Harvard Foundation as a special guest. He met with representatives of several student cultural organizations, including the Harvard Italian-American Cultural Society.

  • New Ph.D. film program launched

    The study of moving images has always been viewed through a wide lens at Harvard. Since the beginning, film studies at the University has sought to incorporate a broad range of disciplines in order to appreciate and understand the visual experience. The rich fields of philosophy, psychology, and the fine arts were all mined early on to examine the medium. Harvard widened its scope recently with the announcement of a new doctoral program in film studies in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES). The program, its creators said, will build on the University’s eclectic approach to the subject.

  • Hollywood writer wins kudos at Rosovsky Hall

    Irreverence was the theme of the evening (Feb. 21) as one of the sharp satirical minds behind the nation’s quirkiest cartoon family addressed a rapt audience at Harvard Hillel’s Rosovsky Hall. Mike Reiss ’81, a founding writer of the animated series “The Simpsons,” gave the crowd what they came for with an hourlong stand-up routine peppered with sarcasm and profane punch lines. His younger audience members and their parents, all equally adoring fans, roared their approval.

  • Playwright Tony Kushner to deliver Tanner Lectures

    Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner will deliver this year’s Tanner Lectures on Human Values, sponsored by the Office of the President and the Department of English at Harvard University. Kushner will speak on the topic “Fiction That’s True! Historical Fiction and Anxiety” on April 9 and 10 at 4:30 p.m. in Lowell Lecture Hall. On April 11 from 10 a.m. to noon, Kushner will lead a seminar with Harvard commentators at the New College Theatre.

  • Exploring the shadows

    “If you wouldn’t tell Stalin, don’t tell anyone else!” In the early years of the Cold War, a billboard near an atomic bomb testing site in New Mexico urged passersby to keep research developments close to the vest. Secrecy was of the utmost importance in that era — and not just in scientific circles — as Americans nervously watched the Soviet Union expand its influence throughout the East.

  • Fieldwork, community service key in study abroad

    Long lines at the airport customs desk? Blame those Harvard undergraduates — in the 2006-07 academic year alone, 1,458 students had an international experience of some kind. While summer travel has historically been the most popular option, increasing numbers of undergraduates are choosing to spend a full semester abroad.

  • Hancock named Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year

    The Artist of the Year award will be presented to Herbie Hancock during the Harvard Cultural Festival on Saturday (March 1) in Sanders Theatre. He will receive the award during the afternoon show, which starts at 3 p.m.

  • E-mail collaboration yields chamber opera

    Critics say that composer Elena Ruehr – a Radcliffe Fellow this year – makes music that is challenging, natural, intelligent, and socially aware. She brought all of these qualities to a Feb. 13 presentation on the creative process. “From Novel to Opera,” spliced with musical samples and punctuated by laughter, was a low-key discourse on how composers work.

  • Ancient text has long and dangerous reach

    Ask a well-read individual to list the most dangerous books in history, and a few familiar titles would most likely make the cut: Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” Marx and Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto,” Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book.”

  • Man of The Year is man of few words

    Actor, dancer, writer, and Academy Award winner Christopher Walken — best known for his big-screen roles as edgy villains — went to pot on Friday (Feb. 15), Hasty Pudding-style.

  • HCL maps set in stone

    Three years ago, Big Dig officials approached David Cobb and his staff in the Harvard Map Collection with a request: Help them design a map for the North End parks that would illustrate how Boston had changed in the centuries since its founding. When the parks officially opened in November 2007, not one but seven maps from the Map Collection came to occupy the new parks.

  • HUL launches extensive ‘Contagion’ collection

    The Harvard University Library (HUL) Open Collections Program recently launched http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/contagion. Created with support from Arcadia, the new collection, titled “Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics,” brings carefully selected historical materials from Harvard’s renowned libraries, special collections, and archives to Internet users everywhere.

  • A new kind of aria from Dershowitz

    “Yo-Yo Ma was over the house yesterday … he was begging me to go to the piano and play a few notes and I said I wasn’t ready yet.” While the renowned composer John Williams could have uttered those words, last week they belonged to Harvard’s Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz, who was discussing his first — opera.

  • Loeb Music co-authors issue major report on audio preservation

    A new best-practices report co-authored by Loeb Music Library staff is drawing national and international attention for its comprehensive and candid approach to the field of audio preservation at both the curatorial and technological levels. “Sound Directions: Best Practices for Audio Preservation” provides solid grounding for institutions pursuing audio preservation, either in-house or in collaboration with an outside vendor.

  • Vivian Gornick takes on novelists Bellow, Roth

    This year, Vivian Gornick, — a writer who lives in New York City — is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She updated her observations on the brilliance (literary) and the failings (cultural) of male Jewish American writers of three decades ago on Feb. 4 in the Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture in Art and the Humanities.

  • Exploring the influence of cultural texts on Chile’s consciousness

    Economic change was a hallmark of the late 20th century, when nations such as Russia, China, and Chile turned away from state-centered economic models to adopt free market exchange. Liberalization was not a simple process, particularly in Chile — where decades of political and social upheaval had left the country crippled. Even so, by the late 1980s, the economy was on the rise and the free market concept had taken deep root in Chilean culture.

  • ‘For the Bible Tells Me So’

    The plight of families who struggle to reconcile their religious beliefs with their children’s sexuality is the focus of the film “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which was screened recently (Feb. 12) in the Thompson Room at the Barker Center for the Humanities.

  • Pauletta Washington honored

    There was no debating the glamour of the Harvard Foundation’s black-tie, red-carpet premiere of “The Great Debaters,” starring and directed by Denzel Washington, at the Harvard Film Archive at the Carpenter Center. Close to 200 students, faculty, and staff attended the Dec. 18 premiere, which was followed by a lively question-and-answer session with Washington and his wife, Pauletta, a Juilliard-trained pianist and vocalist.

  • Exhibition shows a lot of soul

    Ever wonder what a soul looks like? You have 30 chances to see a picture of one at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Gutman Library through Feb. 15. Hundreds more chances if you look at the related book, “Soul” (Reg Vardy Gallery/Satellite Arts, 2007), or if you go to the Web site http://www.drawyoursoul.org.

  • Gamelanathon!

    Stepping carefully in their stocking feet, the musicians thread their way among the array of low-lying gongs, drums, and metallophones and lower themselves cross-legged onto the floor. Lifting their padded mallets, they begin to play. The ringing sound of the metal bars, punctuated by the dry slap of the drum and the gong’s shimmering resonance, come together in a gentle, unhurried rhythm, a flowing narrative that seems to capture the miraculous within the pulse of the everyday.

  • Exploring tangled legacy of slavery

    Certain adages exist about historical repetition: those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it, for example, or history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme. Walter Johnson doesn’t necessary believe in these old chestnuts, but he does see how the past and the present can illuminate one another in order to provide each greater context, urgency, and understanding.

  • Gamelan rings out at Harvard

    The hypnotic, orotund tones of Gamelan, a venerable musical tradition from Indonesia that employs gongs, drums and metallophones, now resonates in University seminar rooms.

  • Cabaret lecture, satirical chansons

    Robert Darnton describes the political power of street songs, the “newspapers” of 18th century France, while French mezzo-soprano Helene Delavault sings her heart out.

  • French history is taught, sung in ‘cabaret lecture’

    In 18th century Paris, political gossip and courtly intrigue swirled through the city as smoothly and deliciously as well-aged wine. To stay current, most citizens turned not to newspapers but to street songs, popular tunes that were improvised and modified as affairs developed.

  • Chute on graphic narratives — they’re not just comic books anymore

    The title of Hillary Chute’s Nov. 29 lecture, “Out of the Gutter: Contemporary Graphic Novels by Women,” has a double meaning. It refers to the elevation of graphic narratives — comics — from the lowest, most disreputable level of artistic expression to a form worthy of New York Times best-sellerdom, literary prizes, and academic attention.

  • ‘The diverse ways history can be written’

    Relocating to a foreign city for a new job can be stressful in the most congenial circumstances. Trying to depart your home country in the middle of a Communist coup? As Serhii Plokhii, Hrushevs’kyi Professor of Ukrainian History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, can tell you — that’s downright complicated.

  • Scholar uses Singer sewing machine to parse cultural, economic development

    Harvard historian Andrew D. Gordon ’74, Ph.D. ’81 specializes in modern Japan and has written or edited a handful of breakthrough books on big labor, big steel, and big management.

  • Africans, ‘Africanness,’ and the Soviets

    It’s no secret that a century and a half after the Civil War, the United States still struggles to come to terms with the legacy of African slavery.

  • A.R.T. announces ‘Family Friday’ for ‘No Child …’ premiere

    The American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) is offering a special discounted ticket price for its Nov. 23 premiere of “No Child … ” — the Obie Award-winning one-woman show by Nilaja Sun. Tickets for the “Family Friday” performance are $25 for each member of a family with a young adult under 21 years of age. (“No Child …” contains strong language and is suitable for children 15 and up.)