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Conversations & Cocktails

Conversations and Cocktails will be at Holly’s Gourmet’s Market & Cafe, 5107 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919. Each event will be from 6:00-7:30 P.M.

Participate in stimulating conversation, and enjoy special dinner and appetizer selections.  Dinner reservations are required to attend and seating is limited.  Please call 865-330-0123 to make your reservation!

The conversations served up during the new series include:

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2017
    “James Agee Reviews the South:  Films and Books (1927-1947)”
    Guest Scholar:  Michael Lofaro, professor of English
    Abstract: While James Rufus Agee (1909-1955) is best known as the author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, A Death in the Family, and of Let Us now Praise Famous Men and The Morning Watch, among his many achievements, he also wrote award-winning poetry, the screenplays for The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter, founded modern film criticism, and the lead piece for Time magazine on the dropping of the first Atomic bomb.  In all of his wide-range of literary forms, a subject to which he always returned was the search for his true identity.  Born a Knoxvillian, educated at St. Andrews School in Sewanee, Knoxville High, Phillips Exeter Academy, and then Harvard, he often interrogated the effect of his original Appalachian-ness and Southern-ness upon his world view.

    A new way to help answer Agee’s question is now possible through two new volumes in the series The Works of James Agee, which publishes all of the so far discovered book and film reviews that Agee wrote that concerned the South.  These materials have previously received little attention; none of the book reviews were easily available and only some of the film reviews.  Professor Lofaro will be evaluating Agee’s “Southern” reviews over his entire career to discern a sense of “his” South, or at least how he has constructed it from his experiences and memories, and also to discern his vision of its “accurate” depiction, a depiction extracted from the repeated themes and emphases in his reviews and from his entertaining and well-written responses to these books and films.

    Click here to listen to the WUOT interview with Michael Lofaro.

  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017
    "Adorned Identities: An Archaeological Perspective on Race in Eighteenth-century Virginia" 
    Guest Scholar:  Hope Smith, Doctoral Student of Anthropology
    Abstract: "Institutionalized slavery helped to create the concept of race in the American mind and forced people into new social categories based on superficial bodily characteristics.  People used dress, adornment, and physical action to negotiate, reinforce, or challenge these new identities.  Hope Smith combines an archaeological analysis of clothing and adornment artifacts with a close reading of mass-produced satirical prints and runaway slave advertisements to reveal how 18th-century Virginians, both free and enslaved, negotiated multiple identities within the confines of this system."
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017
    "Using and Abusing the Memory of the Holocaust”
    Guest Scholar:  Daniel Magilow, Associate Professor of German
    Abstract:  "Whether on cable news or the Internet, comparing contemporary events with the Holocaust is a familiar rhetorical ploy.  Yet remembering the Holocaust as we want it to have been—rather than how it actually was—has been a common theme in Holocaust art, film, and literature ever since World War II.  Using selected case studies, including early atrocity films, Anne Frank’s diary, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and other famous and not-so-famous examples, this talk offers a broader historical context for understanding how the memory of Hitler, Nazis, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust is used and abused in contemporary politics."

    Click here to listen to the WUOT interview with Dan Magilow.

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017
     “Religion and the Meaning of Civil War Emancipation”
    Guest Scholar:  Luke Harlow, Associate Professor of History
    The Civil War was arguably America’s holiest war, with the nation’s majority of Christian believers claiming divine sanction for all aspects of the cause. Overwhelmingly their arguments hinged on the slavery question. This talk tracks the postwar fate of the Christian perspectives that had driven the conflict: both pro- and anti-slavery.

  • Tuesday, May 9, 2017
    Title: “Buddhism, Capitalism, and the Politics of Identity in Contemporary Thailand” 
    Guest Scholar:  Professor Rachelle Scott Associate Professor and Associate Head of Religious Studies
    Thailand has experienced significant economic growth over the past fifty years.  This growth has led to emergence of new forms of prosperity religion, from urban and affluent new religious movements to lottery cults and consumer animism.  These developments have also spurred new critiques of religious consumerism and the commodification of religion within broader debates about globalization, economic development, and Thai identity.  This talk will explore these varied religious responses to postmodern economic, political, and social change in Thailand.

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