It’s common knowledge—at least at Duke—that as the semester ends, academic work picks up, and students move into isolation and try to hold out for a) Thanksgiving, that harbinger of ‘the end,’ and, in quick succession, b) winter break, that solidification of one semester’s end and a few weeks to pretend that the next one won’t begin. Spoiler: it does, eventually.
Working on the flip side—no longer as a student, but now as a staffer who works in oftentimes student-oriented university programming—it’s common knowledge that instead of trying to reform student behavior or their workload or both, we try to avoid planning too many large-scale events during the end of the semester. This past week, however, a few large-scale events presented in some form by Kenan drew admirably good-sized amounts of students and publics alike. It’s heartening to witness people attend events out of sheer interest, and even more so to witness people attend events out of an apparent interest in coming together against a backdrop of intense isolation. Because especially in these days of early darkness and chapped lips, coupled with the ambiguous sense of things ending and maybe? maybe not? beginning again, it’s easy to feel alone.
A recap of some events this past week that energized my late-fall blues:
Friday, November 14: Opening of the Nannerl O. Keohane and Frank Hawkins Kenan Gallery. Several students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for the opening reception and remarks. The gallery will house both a permanent collection—chock-full of outstanding visual art by local artists, including CDS faculty member and photographer M.J. Sharp, and past What is Good Art winners—and a rotating collection, now displaying Kenan’s Good Question series. You can see photos from the event here.
Saturday-Sunday, November 15-16: Hack Duke: Code for Good. Team Kenan co-sponsored the third-ever Hack Duke event, which brought together teams of students to huddle together over the course of two days—largely sans-sleep—and engineer projects exploring the connection between technology and social good. The teams organized around four tracks: Inequality, Energy and the Environment, Education, and Health and Wellness. See the students in action here, and learn more about the event and its teams on the Hack Duke website.
Tuesday, November 18: “The Sacredness of the Secular and the Secularity of the Sacred: Re-imagining the Role of Religions in Public Life.” Renowed philosopher Charles Taylor participated in a public interview with KIE Senior Fellow Luke Bretherton in the Goodson Chapel at the Divinity School. The Chapel—a formidable space fit for a formidable guest—was packed full, mostly with Divinity School students. Taylor and Bretherton talked about the changing nature of faith communities, the convergence of political issues and religion in the public sphere, and the line between beneficent and misanthropic action in modern institutions (among other topics). We sent some live-tweets out during the event (if you want to backtrack to this Tuesday’s Twitter timeline), and there will be a video of the talk available soon through Kenan’s website.
Wednesday-Thursday, November 19-20: “Appropriate? Or Appropriation?” fashion show and panel (11/19), and discussion (11/20) with Adrienne Keene on “Social Media, Activism, and Mascots.” The Forum for Scholars and Publics and Team Kenan teamed up to present a series exploring Native American fashion and identity. The fashion show and panel on Wednesday evening displayed apparel and jewelry from Native American designers and brought together Adrienne Keene, postdoctoral fellow at Brown and author of the blog Native Appropriations; Jessica Metcalfe, author of the Beyond Buckskin blog & boutique; Susan Scafidi, Fordham Law professor and and founder of the Fashion Law Institute; and Shayne Watson, fashion designer (Shayne Watson Designs). Keene returned the next day to the Forum for Scholars and Publics for an invigorating lunch discussion on recent mascot appropriation controversies. There were two excellent student-authored pieces reflecting and reporting on the series of events: one from Recess in the Duke Chronicle, and one from Duke Today.