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Nell Irvin Painter wraps up fall forum

Will Schoenfeld

Staff Writer

This Tuesday, Wooster enjoyed a visit from noted historian and author Nell Irvin Painter. Dr. Painter presented a lecture on the origins of American identity, closing what has proven to be a very enlightening and informative Forum series.

Nell Irvin Painter finished off the 2011 Wooster Forum series with a very informative talk on the origins and development of American identity. Painter has authored several books, including “Standing at Armageddon,” a text that many historians consider to be one of the authoritative histories of Gilded Age America. In addition to being an accomplished author, Painter teaches history at Princeton University, and has received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Fine Art.

The Wooster Forum series is an annual event that brings speakers from different disciplines to campus. The presenters give lectures and performances, all focused around a particular area, movement, or moment in time. Last year’s lectures focused on the global importance of South Asia.

For 2011, the Wooster Forum series was titled “The Americas: Contacts and Consequences.” Much like the title suggests, the series examined the economic, cultural, political and ecologic connections between America and other parts of the world.

The Forum kicked off on Sept. 20 with a lecture from Charles Mann, the author of “1491: New Revelations of the America’s Before Columbus.” In his lecture, Mann discussed the history of pre-Columbian America, focusing on the Native Americans who came into contact with Western explorers.

The next speaker, Edwige Danticat, is a critically-acclaimed author whose book “Brother I’m Dying,” a story of her family’s experience in Haiti and in New York City, was selected as the First-Year summer reading for the class of 2015. Danticat, who studied creative writing at Brown University, discussed her book and took questions from students.

The third forum saw John Wingfield, a professor from the University of California-Davis, give a lecture on American birds and wildlife. Wingfield discussed the impact that climate change is having on American wildlife, and the relationship between climate shifts and endocrine disruption in wild animal populations.

The fourth event in the series was a concert event that brought together a few of the campus’ musical groups to present a selection of music from different American cultures. The Wooster Symphony Orchestra, The  College of Wooster Jazz Ensemble, several choral groups and other performers shared the stage in McGaw Chapel. The Forum also included an exhibit in Ebert Art Gallery and other single-day events around campus.

Painter’s lecture closed a very informative and engaging Forum series, demonstrating once again that Wooster students can look forward to a little extra enlightenment every year as the leaves begin to change.

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