September 11, 2008


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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University's Focus Year, "Cultures at the Confluence," will highlight the Susquehanna Valley and environmental humanities with a series of discussions and exhibits of the immediate bioregion, one of the largest watersheds in the eastern United States.

Scholars from various academic disciplines and institutions will focus on the ecological and cultural significance of the Susquehanna Valley during a number of panel talks starting in September and continuing through the spring.

Faculty coordinators are Katherine Faull, chair of the foreign languages department and professor of German and comparative humanities, and Alf Siewers, assistant professor of English and environmental humanities coordinator for the Bucknell Environmental Center.

Renewed institutional focus
"This year's series seeks to engage Bucknell's renewed institutional focus on the environment with its backyard," said Faull.

"The Susquehanna River's continuing combination of rich farmland and deeply entwined communities, together with changing demographics, provide an opportunity for the region, one of the largest watersheds in the eastern United States, to become an example for future sustainable development in North America," she said.

Ecological and cultural region
"This series of events is an outgrowth of Professor Faull's important work in translating the 18th-century Moravian Shamokin diaries reporting details of relations between Amerindians and early Euroamerican arrivals in the area," said Siewers.

"It also represents the Environmental Center's commitment to understanding the Susquehanna Valley as both an ecological region and a cultural region, linked by innovative new cross-disciplinary studies at Bucknell," he said.

The University Focus Year will combine several of Bucknell's ongoing series – the Humanities Institute, the Social Science Colloquium, and the Focus Year – along with the Environmental Center, the Environmental Humanities and the Susquehanna Initiatives.

Humanities scholars
The fall semester events begin with a panel discussion on Friday, Sept. 26, at 5 p.m. in the Gallery Theatre of the Elaine Langone Center. Three prominent humanities scholars will discuss "Academia and the Region or Blind Men and the Elephant: Humanities Perspectives."

Panelists include John Protevi, Louisiana State University, who will focus on geophilosophy and critical theory; Cynthia Radding, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who will focus on environmental history; and Evan Thompson, University of Toronto, who will focus on environmental phenomenology.

The three panelists also will participate in a roundtable discussion, "Regional Environmental Humanities in the Susquehanna Valley," on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 11 a.m. in Arches Lounge of the Elaine Langone Center.

Native American photo exhibit
The photo exhibit, "100 Nations: Native Americans in the 21st Century," may be viewed now through Dec. 31 in the Bertrand Library, level 2. This exhibit by Obaidullah Mamoon presents visual perspectives on the lives and tradition of American Indians today, including scenes from powwows in the Susquehanna Valley and from Indian cultures associated with Susquehanna Valley traditions. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13, in the Collaborative Lounge in Bertrand Library from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Other events in the fall series include:

Oct. 28: "Thinking like a Watershed: The Susquehanna Valley as Ecoregion," with Benjamin Hayes, coordinator of the Bucknell Environmental Center, Craig Kochel, professor of geology, and Matt McTammany, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies. Bucknell scientists and regional partners will examine the Susquehanna Initiative's progress and prospects in involving human societies in the region with ecological restoration.

Dec. 1: "Living Traditions: Native Americans and the Susquehanna Valley – The Conestoga Creek Massacre and its Significance," with Jerry Lewis, a Pottawatomi Citizens Nation tribal historian.

Dec. 2: "The Susquehanna Valley's Heritage Across a Continent: A Potawatomi Perspective" with Lewis.

The spring semester will focus on the Susquehanna Valley as a geographic region with topics including coal towns, Europeans and Native Americans, and the plan for an American utopia on the Susquehanna.

Contact: Division of Communications

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