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Feinstein College of Arts & Sciences

Students’ Free Speech Campaign Reaches Around the World

February 5, 2015

BRISTOL. R.I. – The energetic bustle of a group of students snapping photos drew Josh Avila’s gaze as he climbed the steps to the Dining Commons one day last December. Holding up a sign upon which was written “#Free2Think about our constitutional rights,” the student struck a contemplative pose for the picture, then wiped the slate clean and handed it to the next student.

This was different from how students typically use the landing in the Commons – stumping for club membership or bringing attention to a cause – and Avila was intrigued. Recognizing the sign-maker as his friend Ashley Barton, Avila asked what they were doing.

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Her Journey from Student to Writer: A Few Words with Alumna Maria Flook

February 24, 2015

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in “Connections @ The RWU Learning Commons,” the University Library’s e-newsletter. Author Abby DeVeuve, a “Connections” intern, interviewed alumna Maria Flook – a graduate of the creative writing program and author of several novels, nonfiction books, and collections of poetry and short stories – prior to Flook’s visit to RWU on Tuesday, February 24, as guest lecturer in the Talking in the Library Series.

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Free Will, Anger and Murder: Examining "Native Son" 75 Years Later

February 23, 2015

BRISTOL, R.I. – A gripping novel about murder and the limits upon African Americans in determining their own fate in racially segregated America, Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) explored a previously untold side of segregation and disenfranchisement.

This month, the 15th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture Series at Roger Williams University celebrates the 75th anniversary of the book, which raised questions that continue to resonate even today, three quarters of a century after its publication. Selected for its enduring literary and cultural significance, the novel is timeless, yet also a timely commentary on racial profiling within the criminal justice system, says James Tackach, professor of English and Birss Series organizer.

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Common Reading: "From 'The Circle' to 'The Glass Cage': The Intersection of Technology & Humanity"

Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains was a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist and a New York Times bestseller. His latest work, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, challenges our conceptions of technology and demands that we rethink how computerization and digitization work to benefit us all.

Both The Shallows and The Glass Cage address themes identified in this year's Common Reading selection — The Circle by Dave Eggers.

Called an "exceedingly lucid" speaker and one of the "100 Most Influential People in IT," he speaks across the world on information technology, the culture of innovation and business strategy.

A book signing will follow the event.

Attendance is required for first-year students. The event is open to the entire RWU community, with limited seats available tot he greater community. Depending on attendance, some attendees may be seated in an overflow location.

How to Talk About Race Without Starting a Riot: David Wilson Returns to RWU

February 9, 2015

BRISTOL, R.I. – Drawing on history, current events and his own experience as a young black man growing up in Newark, N.J., journalist and filmmaker David A. Wilson has emerged as a leading voice in encouraging an open dialogue and national conversation on race relations in America.

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, Wilson will make his second visit to Roger Williams University as part of the President’s Distinguished Speakers Series for an event titled “How to Talk About Race Without Starting a Riot.” Wilson’s groundbreaking documentary, “Meeting David Wilson,” will be screened in its entirety, and a question and answer session will follow.

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President's Distinguished Speakers Series: David A. Wilson

Drawing on history, current events and his own personal experience, journalist and documentary filmmaker David A. Wilson has emerged as a leading voice in encouraging an open dialogue and national conversation on race relations in America.

In Wilson’s second visit to Roger Williams University, his groundbreaking film – “Meeting David Wilson” – will be screened in its entirety, and a Q&A session with the acclaimed filmmaker will follow.

The event is part of a yearlong series at RWU titled 150 Years Later: The 13th Amendment & Race in America, which calls upon us to both celebrate the monumental legislation to abolish slavery, but also to reflect critically on the current state of race relations in the U.S.

This event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. For more information, call 401-254-3166.

Birss Memorial Lecture Series: "Violence, Stigmatization and the Ongoing Relevance of 'Native Son'"

The 15th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture Series celebrates the 75th anniversary of Richard Wright's Native Son, one of the first major works of literature by an African-American writer about African-Americans. As part of the lecture series, a keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Jennifer Jensen Wallach, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Texas. Her lecture — "Life had made the plot over and over again: Violence, Stigmatization and the Ongoing Relevance of Richard Wright's Native Son" — is free and open to the public.  

Birss Memorial Lecture Series: Book Discussion of "Native Son"

As part of the annual Birss Memorial Lecture Series, Dr. James Tackach, Professor of English, and Abigail DeVeuve, a student in the RWU Honors Program, will moderate a group discussion of Native Son. Co-sponsored by the University Honors Program and the RWU Library. Free and open to the public.

President's Distinguished Speakers Series: Lawrence Lessig

In a conversation titled "Equal Citizens," preeminent scholar, attorney and activist Lawrence Lessig will explore the issue of political funding and its effect on equality in America.  

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. He is an expert on intellectual property and Internet policy, and a watchdog on government corruption. He’s also an acclaimed free thinker and visionary, and one of the more captivating voices in America today.

In this presentation, Professor Lessig will discuss how political campaign funding has fundamentally distorted the commitment to equality instilled by our framers more than two centuries ago.

A book signing will immediately follow the event.

This event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. For more information, call 401-254-3166.

RWU students will receive a 1/3 merit lottery point for attending this event.

Photo credit: Yanai Yechiel

Birss Memorial Lecture Series: Reading "Native Son" in the 21st Century

The 15th Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture Series celebrates the 75th anniversary of Richard Wright's Native Son (1940), one of the first major works of literature by an African-American writer about African-Americans.