Campus Theme: American Myth/American Reality
We are continually bombarded with narratives telling us who we are. Many such stories have reverberated for generations — passed by word of mouth, sung in songs, enacted in rituals and traditions, institutionalized in laws, reified in textbooks, memorialized in popular culture, literature, art and architecture, and amplified in political discourse. These deeply embedded narratives permeate our culture and profoundly influence our self-understanding, but how accurately do they reflect the lived experiences of Americans past and present? Whose best interests do they help and whose do they hinder? When might we embrace a cultural myth as solid ground, and when should we jettison that truth for a different truth? The speakers and artists in this year’s Creative Intelligence series will help us interrogate “American Myth and American Reality.”
– Greg Partain, Director of Creative Intelligence
Creative Intelligence Events
Additional speakers will be added as they are confirmed. Specific details regarding attendance at the events — whether they are in person or virtual, or any specific health protocols — will be included as they become available.
Sept. 8: Jill Stratton ’91
Happiness is so ingrained in our society that the mere notion of being temporarily unhappy seems counter to living the American dream. The pursuit of happiness is even proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence as an unalienable right. Are we supposed to be happy all the time? Is happiness the ultimate life goal? What happens when we are not happy? Jill Stratton ’91, assistant provost at Vanderbilt University, will explore the idea of happiness in her talk “Don’t Worry, Be Happy: American Myth or Musical Hit?” Known by students as the Dean of Joy, she will include research on happiness in the discussion and answer the question: Does the Dean of Joy ever get sad?
- Creative Intelligence series kickoff and public talk — Thursday, Sept. 8, 4 p.m., Haggin Auditorium
Sept. 22: Jade Jones
Delcamp Visiting Musician
American singer, rapper and actor Jade Jones caused a sensation when they starred as Belle in Olney Theatre’s acclaimed production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” A self-described queer, plus-sized black woman, their performance shattered stereotypes. Jones will reflect on their on- and off-stage role in “redefining beauty” in American culture and will help us examine “what it means to know your worth and own it.” They will also perform selections from the show.
- Creative Intelligence Speaker, Delcamp Visiting Musician — Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 p.m., Carrick Theater
Nov. 2: Les Johnson
In his day job, physicist Les Johnson ’84 serves as principal investigator of NASA’s first two interplanetary solar sail space missions and leads research on other advanced space propulsion technologies. In his spare time, he has published popular science and science fiction books, including “The Traveler’s Guide to the Stars.” A Transylvania graduate, Johnson is excited to return to his alma mater to visit classes and present a talk titled “You Don’t Have to be Neil Armstrong or “Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper to Work at NASA.”
- Public talk followed by book signing — Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m., Carrick Theater
Nov. 3: Conversations with young adult literature authors David Arnold, Heather Henson, Kaitlyn Hill ’16 and Mariama J. Lockington
Creative Intelligence and Transylvania’s education program present four successful authors of young adult fiction from our region who will explore themes related to today’s youth culture. The “Stories and Myths of American Youth” discussion topics will include the craft and career of storytelling and fiction writing and how the arts and humanities offer powerful, necessary tools for living a good life.
- Author panel and book signing (open to the public) — Thursday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m., Campus Center Pioneer Rooms
- Afternoon small-group meetings with the Transylvania community and Fayette County students. Contact Greg Partain or Amy Maupin for more information.
Nov. 10: Ada Limón
Delcamp Visiting Writer
U.S Poet Laureate Ada Limón, who lives here in Lexington, will give a poetry reading followed by a Q&A and book signing at Transylvania. The event is part of Transylvania’s Delcamp Visiting Writer series and sponsored by other campus programs including Creative Intelligence, Crucial Terrain and the Hazelrigg-Humanities Endowment. Limón, whose poetry collection “The Carrying” won a National Book Critics Circle Award, began her term as the nation’s 24th poet laureate Sept. 1.
- Poetry Reading and Q&A — Thursday, Nov. 10, 5:30 p.m., Haggin Auditorium
- The event is free, but you must reserve tickets. (It will be livestreamed as well.)
Jan. 25: Anton Treuer
Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe at Minnesota’s Bemidji State University, has authored 19 books about indigenous culture and history, including “Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask” and “The Indian Wars: Battles, Bloodshed, and the Fight for Freedom on the American Frontier.” A frequent guest speaker and clinician, his equity, education and cultural work has put him on a path of service around the region, nation and world. Treuer comes to Transylvania through the joint efforts of Creative Intelligence, Cultural Terrain and the Hazelrigg Lecture Series for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Watch his TED Talk.
- Public Talk: “Reconciliation Begins with Truth” — Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m., Carrick Theater.
- Class visits on Jan. 25 and 26.