Lowell Humanities Series

The work of distinguished writers, scholars, and artists will be showcased on campus this semester

A lineup “markedly global in its orientation”—which includes appearances by distinguished writers, scholars, artists, and a recent United States Poet Laureate—will be presented by the Boston College Lowell Humanities Series this semester, according to Interim Director Sylvia Sellers-García.

Subjects will include the women of Iran, stories from Latin America, and the history of Cuba, said Sellers-García, a professor in the History Department.“As is often the case, the spring 2024 speakers demonstrate how the arts can be joined to the work of activism, and how storytelling can recast and transform the way we see the world around us. I'm very excited to be hosting these distinguished artists and thinkers.”

All events are free and open to the public, and will be take place at 7 p.m. in Gasson Hall Room 100. Register to attend atbc.edu/lowell.

Roya Hakakian
Provided photo

Roya Hakakian

Roya Hakakian
“The Plight of Women in Israel and Iran, and the Silence of Feminists”
January 31

An Iranian-American writer, journalist, and public speaker, Hakakian’s opinion columns, essays, and book reviews appear in prominent publications such asThe New York Times,The New York Review ofBooksandThe Atlantic. A founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, she has offered commentary to CNN, MSNϱ, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, and the State Department. Her latest book,A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious,has been called a contemporary Tocquevlllian account byThe Wall Street JournalandThe Boston Globe. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and other prizes, Hakakian is regarded as among her generation’s most important activists, academics, and journalists. Cosponsored by the ϱ International Studies and Islamic Civilization and Societies programs, with support from an Institute for the Liberal Arts Major Grant.

James Alison
Provided photo

James Alison

Fr. James Alison
Annual Candlemas Lecture:“Catholicity, Sacrifice, and Shame: Subverting Polarization in Our Contemporary Ecclesial and Political Cultures”: February 7

A Catholic theologian, priest, and author who has written on issues of polarization, reconciliation, and LGBTQ individuals, Fr. Alison has studied, lived, and worked in Mexico, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Spain, the U.S., and his native England. A systematic theologian by training, he is the author of several books including Knowing Jesus, Raising Abel, The Joy of Being Wrong, Faith Beyond Resentment: Fragments Catholic and Gay, On Being Liked, Undergoing God, Broken Hearts and New Creations: Intimations of a Great Reversal. His most recent, Jesus the Forgiving Victim: Listening for the Unheard Voice, follows the insight into desire from French thinker René Girard. Fr. Alison is a fellow and chair of the Education Committee at IMITATIO, an organization focused on Girard’s insights into mimetic desire. Cosponsored by the ϱ Theology Department.

Joy Harjo
Photo by Matika Wilbur

Joy Harjo

Poetry Days Presents Joy Harjo
“Indigenous Poetry and Native Literature”
February 21 [rescheduled from fall 2023]

In 2019, Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position and only the second person to serve three terms. Her nine books of poetry include Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light, An American Sunrise, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. She is also the author of two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior, and has edited several anthologies of Native American writing including When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came ThroughA Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. Her many writing awards include the 2022 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, for which she is a chancellor. Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation board of directors, Harjo—a saxophonist whose most recent album is “I Pray For My Enemies—is a Bob Dylan Center artist-in-residence. Cosponsored by the ϱ Poetry Days Series, American Studies Program, English Department, Creative Writing Discretionary Fund, and ϱ Forum on Racial Justice in America.

Daniel Alarcon.
Provided photo

Daniel Alarcón

Daniel Alarcón
“Stories Everywhere: Listening to Latin America”
February 28

A writer and radio producer, Alarcón explores the social, cultural, and linguistic ties that connect people across Latin America and Spanish-speaking communities in the Americas. His narrative storytelling chronicles individual lives and underreported topics against the backdrop of broader geopolitical and historical forces. A former Mills College distinguished visiting writer and University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism fellow, Alarcón joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014 and is a School of Journalism associate professor. He also is the executive producer of Radio Ambulante, and a contributing writer on Latin America at The New Yorker. The author of the novels At Night We Walk in Circles and Lost City Radio, short story collections The King is Always Above the People and War by Candlelight, his writing has appeared numerous publications. He was the recipient of both Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships. Supported by an ILA Major Grant.

Ada Ferrer
Photo provided by Simon and Schuster

Ada Ferrer

Ada Ferrer
"Cuba: An American History"
March 13

Ferrer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Cuba: An American History chronicles more than 500 years of Cuban history and its relations with the U.S. She also authored Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868–1898, which won the Berkshire Book Prize for the best first book by a woman in any field of history, and Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution, which won prizes from Yale University and the American Historical Association. Ferrer is New York University’s Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and research support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Commission, and others. She also is co-curator of “Visionary Aponte: Art and Black Freedom,” an exhibit on carpenter and artist José Antonio Aponte, that has been housed at NYU, Duke University, and Havana’s Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales. Cosponsored by the ϱ History and Romance Languages and Literatures departments, Heinz Bluhm Memorial Lecture Series, and McMullen Museum of Art.

Yiyun Li 
Photo: Agence Opale

Yiyun Li

Fiction Days Presents Yiyun Li
"Wednesday’s Child"
March 20

Li is the author of 11 books, including The Book of Goose, Where Reasons End, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, and Tolstoy Together, 85 Days of War and Peace with Yiyun Li. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Li’s honors and awards include MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, four PEN America Literary Awards, and others. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, an independent film directed by Wayne Wang and adapted by Li from her short story, was the winner of Golden Shell for best film at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. She is a professor at Princeton University, where she directs the Program in Creative Writing. Cosponsored by the ϱ Fiction Days Series, American Studies and Asian American Studies programs, and ϱ Forum on Racial Justice in America.

Bill Rauch.
Photo by Jenny Graham

Bill Rauch

Bill Rauch
“Adaptation: A Lifetime of Building Bridges”
April 3

Rauch is the inaugural artistic director of The Perelman Center for the Performing Arts at the World Trade Center. His work has been featured on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning production of Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way and its companion play,The Great Society, and at many of the country’s regional theaters. From 2007 to 2019, Rauch was artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the country’s oldest and largest rotating repertory theater, where he directed seven world premieres and innovative productions of classic musicals and commissioned new plays. Rauch co-founded the Cornerstone Theater Company, and as artistic director from 1986 to 2006, directed more than 40 productions. He was a Claire Trevor Professor at the University of California Irvine and taught at the University of Southern California and UCLA. Cosponsored by the ϱ Theatre and English departments, and Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.

For more information about the Lowell Humanities Series, visit bc.edu/lowell.