Teas program returns to library

On April 15, Williams College Libraries and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty resumed hosting the Tuesday Teas Program, a weekly lineup of faculty speakers aimed at showcasing their latest creative projects. There will be a total of three Teas in the month of April, each featuring a 20-minute presentation and a 20-minute Q&A session. Last Tuesday’s session marked the return of this program following a five-year hiatus. Each session will be held at 4 p.m. on the main floor of Sawyer.

Lee Dalzell, the former Head of Reference, started the tradition of hosting Tuesday Teas in the late 1990s. According to Christine Menard, Head of Research and Reference Services, “The goal of the series is to celebrate the work of Williams faculty authors, with a special focus on research, writing and publishing. Faculty members participating in the series all have had books published in the previous 12 months and are asked to reflect on the research process, writing process and publishing process – in other words: the joys and tribulations of writing and publishing.” Though the typical audience of the talks is faculty of the College, the events are open to the public, and are purposely kept very informal. Menard added, “Faculty have all consistently reported enjoying this casual [set-up] and the opportunity to share with colleagues and friends in a non-stressful format.”

The annual series was formerly held in Stetson, but had to be put on hold due to construction. Menard explained, “The last series was in 2009, but we always had the intention to resume while in the new library. We decided to resume this year, because we wanted to have some events in ‘old’ Sawyer as a way of celebrating our last semester in this building.”

On April 15, Sam Crane, chair and Fred Greene Third Century professor of political science, discussed his book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of the Dao: Ancient Chinese Thought in Modern America. Yesterday, Associate Professor of History Leslie Brown presented her book, African American Voices: A Documentary Reader from Emancipation to the Present. The final opportunity to attend a Tuesday Tea this year will take place next week, when Professor of Anthropology Antonia Foias will share her book, Ancient Mayan Political Dynamics. According to Menard, the program specifically looked for “a variety of research sources” and “choice of audience” when deciding which faculty-authored works to feature this year.

“I find the Tuesday Teas to be quite pleasant, a way of speaking about a recently published book to a general audience in a comfortable setting. Faculty publish a wide variety of books in any given year and the Teas are a good way of connecting that work to the community at large,” Crane said. “My own experience has been very positive. I did a Tea about 10 years ago and had a constructive conversation then. And last week, my second Tea, was great. A good group of people, a combination of faculty colleagues and students and Williamstown community members, asking well crafted questions.  It is good to have the Teas back.”

Next year, Tuesday Teas will be held in a forum space in New Sawyer Library, which was specially designed to host a series of lectures and small performances.