Ursinus Is Talking About: A Broader Look at Books, Art, Music, Film

Ursinus is Talking About… an extracurricular program that invites the campus community to engage with a text and take a broader look at it, whether it is a work of art – music, book, film or photography — has announced its focus for the 2011-2012 academic year: the series Battlestar Galactica, and Edmund White’s book, A Boy’s Own Story.

A Boy’s Own Story follows one boy’s sexual awakening and coming of age in 1950s America, and the struggle to form a positive gay identity in an intolerant society. The recent television show Battlestar Galactica is an examination of the aftermath of genocide, heavily influenced by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A remake of an earlier show, this version eschews gender stereotypes.

This spring semester UITA focused on the photography of Robert Frank,  which was exhibited in the Berman Museum of Art, and the events and cultural icons of the time which inspired him.

UITA presented a performance talk by National Book Award winner Patti Smith. In 1970, Smith, who is a friend of photographer Robert Frank, wrote in her notebook: “I keep trying to figure out what it means to be American. When I look in myself I see Abyssinia, nineteenth-century France, but I can’t recognize what makes me American. I think about Robert Frank’s photographs – broke down jukeboxes in Gallup, New Mexico, swaying hips and spurs, ponytails and syphilitic cowpokes, hash slingers, the glowing black tarp of U.S. 285 and the Hoboken stars and stripes.”

Smith is the winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Just Kids. While on campus, she visited the Berman Museum of Art exhibition, Spaces, Places and Identity: Robert Frank “Portraits,” on view until April 17. Frank directed the video for Smith’s “Summer Cannibals.”

For the inaugural year, campus participants read Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in the fall, and Diaz’s visited in October. One semester is based on a book and the other semester on a form of expression. The campus votes on the texts.