Faculty Research Symposium Highlights Professor Karin Lin-Greenburg

On the afternoon of Monday, October 28th, Siena’s School of Liberal Arts hosted its annual Faculty Research Symposium. The event serves as a celebration of faculty members’ accomplishments post their return from sabbatical. Sharing one of her stories, “Housekeeping”, from a collection of short stories she recently completed, titled “Lost or Damaged”, was Associate Professor of English, Karin Lin-Greenburg

Before sharing her work with the audience, Professor Lin-Greenburg provided background on how her surroundings have influenced her writing. She explained that, in her recent collection, all of the short stories take place in the Capital Region as she has lived here since she began teaching at Siena in 2012. “One of the things that has been great for me with my job at Siena is that is has allowed me to settle down in one place and to use that place as the setting for my stories” she expressed.

Besides geographically, the stories in her collection are connected through “acts of unkindness”, as Professor Lin-Greenburg put it, and focus often on conflicts between women. “In the stories, I try to show the motivations for the characters’ actions” she stated in discussing how she hopes listeners can perceive problematic characters as sometimes sympathetic or rounded. The stories in the collection combine lost or damaged characters (hence the title) with a sense of humor to better understand the heavy topics.

I won’t give any spoilers, but once Professor Lin-Greenburg began reading “Housekeeping”, it was clear to see that the main character was a perfect example of the noted “problematic-yet-sympathetic” character. The story focuses on two sisters living in upstate New York whose modest lives get turned upside down after the suicide of a celebrity in their small town. The younger sister is extremely bright but tends to also be pessimistic and critical of her legal guardian/ older sister. The older sister continuously sacrifices her own wants and needs to meet those of her little sister.

Professor Lin-Greenburg decided to share “Housekeeping” to read not only because it was the first story she wrote while on sabbatical, but also because it was recently accepted by The Southern Review. The literary journal has been a favorite of Professor Lin-Greenburg’s for over a decade and after hearing many “no”’s from them in the past, she was excited to finally hear a “yes”.

Once Professor Lin-Greenburg had finished reading “Housekeeping”, she was met with the applause of the audience. After attendees had their apple cider and cider donuts (perfect for the story’s upstate NY setting) on their way out, the Faculty Research Symposium came to an end. If you are interested in other upcoming SOLA events, be sure to check out this week’s Greyfriar Living Literature Series featuring fiction author Jaimee Wriston Colbert. Visit our Facebook page, @sienalibarts, for more info!

“Echoes of my Mind” Opening Reception

Siena’s various departments consistently invite engaging and entertaining guests to campus. Between performances, discussions, workshops, etc., special visitors are always appreciated in sharing new experiences and knowledge with the campus community. However, when an event is solely based on the creative accomplishments of someone from our campus, there is a communal sense of pride that comes along with the entertainment. This past Wednesday, Sergio Sericolo of Siena’s Marketing and Communications Office, showcased his artistic abilities and was met with the amazement of faculty and students alike.

The “Echoes of My Mind” art exhibition’s opening ceremony encouraged guests to enjoy mixed media artworks and to meet the artist, Sergio Sericolo, himself. Outside of being an art director for Siena’s Marketing and Communications Office and an adjunct drawing and painting instructor on campus, Sericolo is also an experienced exhibiting artist. With all of his Siena involvement in mind, it only seems fitting for his work to be shared right here on campus. In Yates Gallery, located on the second floor of the Standish Library, attendees were invited to refreshments as they enjoyed the afternoon. Sericolo was present during the event and freely engaged with guests as they moved from throughout the exhibition. 

“In my work, I incorporate pictures taken from anatomy, biology, and other natural history texts and books” Sericolo included in his displayed artist statement. He focused on layering his work to give more texture and depth to the pieces. He went on to explain that he “begin(s) each work with no plan, no preconceived notion of how the final product might look.” With themes in mind but no set plan for how his art might turn out, Sericolo was able to create pieces that could both stand on their own and complement one another in a collective display. 

Sericolo’s pieces embodied so much detailing that the longer I viewed them, the more complex the stories they told became. I had to make a few rounds of all of the displayed pieces to fully take in the unique the elements in each one. A few notable themes throughout the exhibition were human anatomy and nature, which seemed to be used to create completely new narratives. In many of his pieces, Sericolo utilized contrasting black and white patterns with bold colors to act as either the centerpiece or border of the piece. His use of pictures from textbooks humanized the work while still leaving it very abstract. Sericolo best expressed his work in the final line of his artist statement as a “natural abstraction.”

If you missed out on the opening reception of the “Echoes of my Mind” art exhibition, don’t worry! Sericolo’s artwork will be on display now through the end of the semester in the Yates Galley in the Standish Library. And while the previously mentioned “communal sense of pride in a campus member’s accomplishments” won’t be in the air, Serigio Sericolo’s pieces are still breathtaking, nonetheless.

Annual Clare Center Lecture Focuses on Relational Love in the Mayo Clinic

The 26th installment of the Clare Center Lecture Series brought Dr. Amy Koehlinger to campus on the evening of Wednesday, October 2nd. Each year, the lecture series aims to engage the Siena community in learning about a contemporary or historical aspect of the Franciscan tradition. This year’s lecture highlighted the Franciscan value of relational love in the developing of and revolutionary medical practices in the Mayo Clinic.

“I’m coming from Oregon so it may seem raining to you guys, but for me this is just an average Wednesday” Dr. Koehlinger joked about the dreary night as she began her presentation.  Dr. Koehlinger, an assistant professor of history and religious studies at Oregon State University, focuses her research on the culture of American Catholicism, the intersections of social reform and religion, and gender roles within American religious traditions. For her visit to Siena, it was only fitting that she discussed the historical connections between the  Franciscans and the Mayo clinic since the college announced it’s new dual-nursing program with Maria College last month.

As Dr. Koehlinger explained in her lecture, the Mayo Clinic is a premier medical center located in Rochester, Minnesota. While today it is currently ranked as the number 1 overall best hospital in the United States by the U.S News and World Report and is home to one of the top medical schools in the nation, the clinic had very humble beginnings. After a tornado struck the small town of Rochester, many individuals were left in need of immediate medical care. As they both realized their community was in desperate need of aid, a partnership between a physician William Mayo and Catholic nun Mother Mary Moes was born.

Dr. Mayo and Mother Mary Moes  would go on to lay the foundation for  “one of the most unexpected and enduring institutional partnerships in the American medical profession” as Dr. Koehlinger referred to it. The duo recruited local physicians and the sisters from Mother Moes convent and got to work healing their community members. Years later, Mother Moes and Dr. Mayo would go on to open up St. Mary’s Hospital, a Catholic facility fully staffed with Catholic sisters, but open to people from all religious backgrounds. 

“(The Franciscan  sisters) worked back-to -back shifts and slept on the floor when the hospital was filled to capacity, as it almost always was” Dr. Koehlinger stated. In her discussion, she explained that the sacrifices the sisters made were what made the hospital so revolutionary at the time. Patients were never turned away, measures to insure conditions were sanitary were being implemented like never before, and most importantly, the staff treated the entire being of a patient, not just the part of their body that most obviously needed care. Throughout the years, the Mayo Clinic never lost its core Franciscan values, as Dr. Koehlinger expressed in her closing. While eventually the nursing staff would no longer only be made up of  Franciscan sisters and the  Franciscans would let go of legal and financial control of the hospital all together, the core values that started it all still live on in the organization to this day.

Today, the Mayo Clinic has a sponsorship board dedicated to making sure that  Franciscan values are still embedded into every department. Dr. Koehlinger ended the 2019 Clare Lecture Lecture Series by telling the audience that the original  Franciscan values are still alive in the clinic as every new employee to asked to follow in the original sister’s footsteps by “treat(ing) every patient and every colleague with respect and dignity.” It was the Franciscan value of relational love that made the original medical partnership, the care patients received, and Mayo Clinic, so exceptional.

LGBTQ Discrimination and Sex Rights Discussed by Constitution Day Lecturer

On Monday, September 23rd, the Siena community came out to attend “Constitution Day 2019: Sex Rights and the Liquor of Bureaucracy” featuring guest lecturer, Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis. A national holiday, Constitution Day exists to commemorate the signing of the Constitution in September, 1787. Here on campus, Constitution Day serves as an annual opportunity to discuss a relevant concern regarding constitutional law. This year’s Constitution Day took on a question that has been recently creating turmoil in American legislation: who really is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? 

The discussion was opened by Professor of Political Science, Dr. Leonard Cutler. Dr. Cutler elaborated on the relevance of this year’s theme, “A few weeks ago, the Trump administration took it’s staunchest position to date in legalizing anti-gay discrimination..” he continued  “..when it asked the supreme court of the United States to declare that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act permits private companies to fire workers based on their sexual orientation.” 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. As explained by Dr. Cutler, the current presidential administration has taken on the stance that members of the LGBTQ community are not protected under Title VII in regards to private employers discriminatory practices. Following Dr. Cutler was Professor of Political Science, Dr. Jack Collens. Dr. Kreis and Dr. Collens attended graduate school together at the University of Georgia and after sharing his accolades with the crowd, it was time for Dr. Collens to invite Dr. Kreis to the stage. 

Dr. Anthony Michael Kreis currently teaches legal writing at Chicago-Kent College of Law. He authored the Illinois state law banning gay and transgender panic defenses in murder trials in 2017, which is the second of its kind in the U.S. Dr. Kreis opened by discussing how the accidental discovery of gay and lesbian bars during the Prohibition era sparked an ongoing dispute of the LGBTQ, immigrant, and working class communities versus American law-makers and private groups that wanted to maintain the social norms of pre-Industrial Revolution times. 

“If you had too many feminine men in your bar, they deemed it a place of disorderly conduct. And they put pressure on wholesalers to deny those establishments of liquor” Kreis stated. “In the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s the state said ‘If we see too many feminine men in a bar, we’re assuming it’s a gay bar and we’re shutting it down” he said about the determination if establishments could remain open post-prohibition. Basically, the battle between the LGBTQ community and American law-makers has been occurring for over a century.

At this point in the lecture, the question still remained, what does all of this mean for today’s concerns surrounding a new interpretation of Title VII? “The idea here is that you cannot discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation without also discriminating against them because of their sex.” He elaborated that the stereotypes surrounding gender roles used by employers to justify discriminatory practices against LGTBQ employees directly plays into sex discrimination. 

Dr. Kreis closed out his discussion by stating “Title VII is ultimately supposed to reflect our constitutional values and the law has been shaped by an understanding that sex stereotypes are dangerous..” Following the lecture, Dr. Kreis opened the floor for Q&A and soon after, Constitution Day 2019 came to an end. After all was said and done, attendees walked away from the event with a greater understanding on a topic that Dr. Kreis referred to as, currently, “the greatest civil rights case of our time.”

Siena Holds 6th Annual Hip-Hop Week

From Monday March 18th to Friday March 22nd, 2019, Siena celebrated its sixth annual Hip-Hop Week, a week-long celebration of the social and cultural impacts of the music genre. The week is coordinated by the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center and Dr. Todd Snyder, associate professor of English, as well as the professor of a popular, upper-level writing class, “Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop.”

Hip-Hop Week kicked off on Monday with a visit from hip-hop pioneer, Biz Markie. Born Marcel Theo Hall but better known by his stage name, Markie has been working in the music industry for over thirty years and is well-known for his unique musical style, beatboxing skills, and DJ performances, as well as a brief dabbling in an acting career. When he took the stage in the Sarazen Student Union on Monday, he performed his hit single from 1989, “Just a Friend” and the audience sang loudly along to the familiar song. 

In Dr. Snyder’s introduction, he proudly shared that Siena is “the only college in the United States of America that has an annual Hip-Hop Week.” The event has become a staple not only in the Siena community but in the larger Capital Region, as Markie’s visit drew an impressive crowd of students, faculty, and community members. Dr. Snyder then lead a Q&A with Markie, asking about his initial interests in the hip-hop genre, as well as some of his personal influences with music. Markie was an engaging speaker, and his entertainer personality shown through in his responses; he would beatbox throughout his answers and crack jokes with the audience.

The events of the week also featured Hip-Hop Karaoke on Wednesday night, where students could win prizes by performing and dressing as their favorite artists, as well as a Hip-Hop Trivia Night on Thursday. This Friday March 22nd, Hip-Hop Week will conclude with “Expozé: Evolution of Hip-Hop” at 7:30pm, presented by Siena College’s Black & Latino Student Union. The event is a talent showcase that will feature a number of performances by Siena’s dance clubs. Tickets cost $3 for Siena students & faculty and $5 for outside guests, and all proceeds will be donated to the Coalition for Homeless Youth. 

Hip-Hop Week is sponsored by the Black & Latino Student Union, the Diversity Action Committee, Damietta-Cross Cultural Center, the English Department, Greyfriar Living Literature Series, Community Living, and Student Activities & Leadership Development.

If you’re interested in reading more about Markie’s visit, I covered his performance and keynote lecture in the 3/29 issue of The Promethean, which can be read here.

Greyfriar Author Speaks with English Class

Each year, the English Department hosts the Greyfriar Living Literature Series in which they invite a distinguished literary writer to hold a workshop, discuss writing, and read from their work. This year’s Greyfriar author was Anand Prahlad, a published poet, memoirist, and professor. Prahlad visited my African American Literature class on Tuesday March 5th in the afternoon before his lecture and shared some of his insights on writing with our class. 

As part of our assignment for the day, my professor, Dr. Wilhite, assigned selected passages from Prahlad’s 2017 memoir, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie. His memoir discusses his experience with autism spectrum disorder and describes the way he sees the world. Prahlad kicks off his memoir with a bold statement: “Before I start telling you about my life, though, I should share with you a secret: I don’t remember most of it.” He admitted to our class that it was a line he wasn’t sure if he should keep in the memoir, but decide that there is an important, distinguished relationship between memory and life writing. “Everyone remembers differently,” Prahlad said.

Dr. Wilhite started off the class by having us read one of Prahlad’s poems, “Grind,” from his collection of poetry, As Good As Mango. The poem, written with extensive enjambment and impressionism, narrates an observer watching young black boys skateboarding in Harlem. Students discussed some of their observations from the poem, including Prahlad’s use of bright and positive imagery with darkness. Prahlad listened to student’s comments, then explained his own intentions with the poem, specifically how it was meant to capture a sense of percussive choreography. It was a great opportunity to hear an author speak about his own work. 

The class then transitioned into talking about the selected passages from Prahlad’s memoir. Students were able to ask Prahlad questions, and many of their inquiries centered around his writing style as someone diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. “My relationship to memory is kind of rooted in sensory experiences,” he explained. Prahlad shared an anecdote about a time he was asked to describe the autistic experience in order to best understand how to work with someone with autism. “Imagine everything is alive,” he said. “Everything is an aura. Everything is vibrating.”

Hearing Prahlad speak about his memoir and poetry was a valuable opportunity as an aspiring writer and an English major. I was unfortunately unable to attend his reading and Q&A due to a class conflict, but I was fortunate to have the chance to hear him discuss his own work. If you’re interested in learning more about Prahlad and his publications, you can check out his website at https://prahladauthor.com.

SoLA Symposium Highlights Faculty Research

This past Friday, I attended the School of Liberal Arts Faculty Research Symposium. Held in the Maloney Great Room, the first session of the symposium showcased the Modern Languages & Classics, Political Science, History, and English departments. The event featured professors who have recently returned from sabbatical, giving them a platform to share their work with faculty, students, and the Siena community. Each presenter spoke for 15-20 minutes with a PowerPoint, then took questions from the audience. 

Dr. Lisette Balabarca-Fataccioli of the Modern Languages & Classics department started off the symposium with her presentation, “The Female Other: Muslim Women in Early Modern Spain.” Her research extensively analyzes 16th century Spanish texts in which, in order to convert to a new religion, daughter characters break the bond with their fathers. Dr. Balabarca-Fataccioli provided historical context for her research project, explaining that in the 16th and 16th centuries, Muslims in Spain were forced to convert to Christianity. She also mentioned she will have an opportunity to present more of her research later this year at a symposium in Toronto

Dr. Laurie Naranch of the Political Science department shared her research on “The Power of Relational Narratives in Philosophy, Politics, and Practice.” She discussed some of the work she completed during her sabbatical, including working on book chapters, being published in a symposium, and revising an article, “The Narratable Self: Adriana Cavarero with Sojourner Truth.” As someone who hasn’t taken a political science class before at Siena, it was interesting to hear about her research.

Dr. Pojmann responds to audience questions

The next presenter, Dr. Wendy Pojmann of the History department, titled her presentation “Espresso: The Art & Soul of Italy.” Dr. Pojmann is currently in the process of publishing a book that she wrote while on sabbatical and read an excerpt from her work during the presentation. According to Dr. Pojmann, her book attempts to explain the historical groundings of espresso, specifically in relation to its unifying qualities, globalization, and monetization. If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Pojmann’s project and travels, check out her Instagram page at @wendysespressolife.

English professor Dr. Keith Wilhite delivered the final presentation of the symposium, “Recession-Era Suburbs: Race, History, and the Housing Crisis.” During his sabbatical, he developed two chapters from his new book, the manuscript of which is titled Contested Terrain: The Suburbs, U.S. Literature, and the Ends of Regionalism. Dr. Wilhite discussed the paradox of postwar suburban development, emphasizing the increased focus on privatism in suburbia. He also gave a brief overview of some of the texts he will be working with in his book, including Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. 

The event was a great opportunity to learn about the research professors conduct while away on sabbatical. As students, we rarely see all the work they do outside of the classroom. I have had both Dr. Pojmann and Dr. Wilhite as professors while at Siena, and it was interesting to hear about their research projects, as well as learn about Dr. Balabarca’s and Dr. Naranch’s areas of focus. There will be a second symposium session held on March 15, featuring the Sociology, English, Education, and Religious Studies departments. The second session will be held in room L26 of the Standish Library from 3:30-5:30pm.

Keep an eye out for extensive coverage of the first SoLA symposium by staff writer Madison Lemke in the 2/15 issue of The Promethean!

MLK Keynote Tim Wise Visits Siena

This past Wednesday Jan. 30, 2019, author and activist Tim Wise delivered a lecture at Siena as the speaker of the 32nd Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series on Race and Nonviolent Social Change. This year’s lecture was held in the MAC to accommodate the large audience. I’m terrible with numbers, but there were easily over 200 students, faculty, and people from the local community at the event.

Wise had a very commanding presence as a speaker, constantly keeping the attention on him and using his humor to connect with the audience. He commented at the beginning of his presentation that he has been delivering speeches nationwide for almost thirty years, and his impressive rhetorical abilities shone through. 

Wise spoke on how King’s memory has ultimately been sanitized and stripped of “revolutionary content” in America’s historical memory, explaining that people only remember the parts of King’s philosophy that make them comfortable. “See, everybody will tell you that they marched with Dr. King,” Wise said. “If everybody who says that they marched with Dr. King had actually marched with Dr. King, we wouldn’t be having to have this conversation about racism in 2019.”

The MLK keynote centered on the idea of a dangerous historical memory. Wise tied this notion to the 2016 election, immigration conflicts, and police brutality, honing in on the idea that past history is constantly repeating itself due to America’s faulty historical memory. “We keep trying to reinvent the wheel instead of understanding that we’re fighting the same dragons,” Wise explained, “the same monsters we’ve always been fighting.” He concluded his lecture optimistically and answered an hour of audience questions.

I will be covering Wise’s visit in the 2/15 issue of The Promethean, so if you’re interested in more extensive coverage of his time on campus and lecture, be sure to check it out.

Reflecting on Last Year’s MLK Keynote

This Wednesday, anti-racism activist and published author Tim Wise will take the stage in the MAC and deliver his talk, “Challenging the Culture of Cruelty: Understanding and Defeating Race and Class Inequity in America.” Wise will be the keynote speaker 32nd Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series on Race and Nonviolent Social Change. I strongly encourage everyone to attend Tim Wise’s lecture this Wednesday at 7pm in the MAC, and because these MLK keynotes usually draw in a large crowd of faculty, students, and members of the local community, I suggest getting there early to reserve a seat. 

As the event approaches, I am reminded of last year’s speaker, Luis Alberto Urrea, whose meditation on borders seems especially relevant in regards to the political climate today. I personally covered Urrea’s visit in The Promethean, which involved a lot of research, interviewing, editing…and re-editing. Out of all the articles I have written for the paper and events I have attended at Siena, Urrea’s keynote keeps coming back to me, maybe because his encouragement of unity is more important now than ever in the face of political division.

A self-proclaimed “border writer,” Urrea’s talk centered on issues surrounding the US-Mexico border, which is arguably a more politically charged topic now than when he delivered his keynote speech last year. He narrated his own experience as a Mexican-American, highlighting his struggles with racism, discrimination, and oppression, and acknowledged that many anti-immigrant sentiments are born out of ignorance. “People don’t understand the folks who seek solace and shelter here in this country,” Urrea said.

Despite the emotional, poignant nature of his talk, the author ended his keynote with a sense of optimism, encouraging the use of art and human connection in the face of division. “There’s got to be a better way,” Urrea addressed the audience. “Force doesn’t work, politics doesn’t work, co-optive religion’s not working. What’s going to work? Maybe only, right now, art and song and hope and each other. Maybe we can understand there’s no ‘them’ out there. There’s only ‘us’ out there. Maybe we can help each other.”

Looking Ahead to MLK Week

With the first week of classes drawing to a close and a massive snowstorm rolling in, everyone’s looking forward to having Monday off. A long weekend means sleeping in, catching up on Netflix, and getting a small break from work and school. It’s important, though, to remember that this Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day. MLK day is observed on the third Monday of January every year in celebration of MLK’s birthday. The holiday celebrates King’s life and legacy, as well as encourages a day of reflection.

“The holiday must be substantive as well as symbolic. It must be more than a day of celebration . . . Let this holiday be a day of reflection, a day of teaching nonviolent philosophy and strategy, a day of getting involved in nonviolent action for social and economic progress.” -Coretta Scott King

In recognition of King’s life and tremendous achievements, Siena will be hosting a weeklong series of events, including a mass, a gospel concert, and a day of service. The 2nd Annual MLK Week runs from January 23-20, 2019 and ends with the Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series of Race and Nonviolent Social Change. This year’s keynote speaker is Tim Wise, an anti-racism activist. He will be delivering his lecture, “Challenging the Culture of Cruelty: Understanding and Defeating Race and Class Inequity in America,” on Wednesday January 30 at 7pm in the MAC. 

I attended last year’s MLK keynote speaker, author and activist Luis Alberto Urrea, and was incredibly moved by his talk on immigration and acceptance. Before delivering his keynote lecture, Urrea even met with creative writing students in a hour-long lunch. Wise will be meeting with students on campus before his lecture as well and leading a workshop in Dr. Wilhite’s African American Literature class. I’m looking forward to attending Tim Wise’s upcoming talk and am hoping to see a successful turnout for the event. Last year’s speaker brought a full house, so if you’re hoping to find a seat during the lecture, be sure to arrive early!

Best wishes for a restful, reflective weekend.