Lecture series to focus on Sept. 11

This year’s iteration of the College’s annual faculty lecture series is entitled “Islam and the World After September 11,” and will attempt to continue efforts on campus to generate discussion on the widespread effects of the terrorist attacks. The series will specifically highlight five components of the tragedy’s roots, history and aftermath.

Beginning Feb. 14, members of the faculty will deliver lectures in the Wege Auditorium in the Thompson Chemistry Laboratory every Thursday at 4 p.m. for five weeks.

The first lecture, entitled “Paleogeography of Oil and Water: Blessing or Burden of Nature?,” will be presented by Markes E. Johnson, Charles L. MacMillan professor of geology.

Johnson will map out the history of the oil-rich shorelines of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and explain their geological formation over the past 450 million years.

“Paleogeography and present-day geography hold the key to the destiny of Islamic and non-Islamic states alike,” Johnson said.

The following Thursday, Marc Lynch, assistant professor of political science, will introduce the geopolitical element of the series with a discussion of Iraq, its current prominence in the field of international politics and the dynamics of public opinion. His talk, entitled “Sympathy for the Devil: International Politics and the Sanctions on Iraq,” stems from his research into the international relations of the Middle East, which he is currently in the process of compiling for publication.

For the third lecture, Lawrence E. Raab, Morris professor of rhetoric, will shift the series’ focus to the global response to the terrorist attacks. His discussion, entitled “Poetry in the World,” relates poetry to consolation and delves into the nature between the two with respect to the expression of sorrow.Â

“I was interested in thinking about how art – and poetry in particular – can function in the world, and in relation to events,” Raab said. A poet himself, Raab is the author of The Probable World, What We Don’t Know About Each Other, Other Children, The Collector of Cold Weather and Mysteries of the Horizon.

On Mar. 7, David Edwards, professor of anthropology and chair of the anthropology and sociology department, will speak on the history of the Afghan Media Resource Center (AMRC), a repository of images and video footage documenting the many aspects of life in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and the ascent of the Taliban regime.

Over the past several years, Edwards has gained accolades for his work in helping to save, refurbish,catalog and store the AMRC’s library. Drawing on his work with the Resource Center, he will discuss American action in Afghanistan and the nature of news and propaganda. He is the author of a much-anticipated book entitled Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad.

Holly Edwards will finish the lecture series with “Heritage Lost: Art, Islam and Afghanistan.”  She will address the history and motives behind the Taliban’s removal and destruction of artifacts and monuments.

“While [the Taliban] claimed that they acted according to the teachings of Islam, the painting and architecture produced in Afghanistan over ten centuries of Muslim rule suggest otherwise,” said Edwards.

The Faculty Lecture Series remains a long-standing tradition at the College. Open to students, faculty and community members alike, the project allows professors to present their research and speak on various areas of interest.Â

“The idea is to present complex analysis in a format that will be comprehensible to the entire community,” said Ilona Bell, a professor of English and the chair of the Faculty Lecture Series committee.

The first planning meeting for the lecture series was scheduled for Sept. 11. At the rescheduled meeting, the committee unanimously decided to change the nature of the series and establish a consistent theme. Sept. 11 and its aftermath was a natural choice due to its importance and immediacy.

A reception serving Middle-Eastern food will be held after each lecture. All talks will be broadcast on Willinet and filed in the Williams Archives.

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