Harry and Jane Willson made a fortune in the pecan business in south Georgia and used part of it to supplement UGA’s support of the Willson Center for the Humanities and the Arts. The Center takes a broad approach to its purview: “The humanities encompass philosophical, historical, social, ethical, legal, aesthetic, religious, linguistic and ideological investigations of our world. Humanistic research includes many kinds of scholarship, such as history, criticism, theory, interpretation, and translation. The arts may be understood as the expression of human experience in various modes, such as literature, theater, music, dance, film, painting, printmaking, sculpture and design.”
In carrying out its mission to enhance these areas, the Willson Center “supports faculty through research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars, visiting artists, collaborative instruction, public conferences, exhibitions and performances.”
Imagine such an institution woven into the fabric of a major university, and you can see that the Willson Center is a happening place, able to reach across disciplines and enrich the academic environment from within while stimulating it with influxes of energy from without.
One of the Center’s programs that brings in voices from beyond the campus is its Global Georgia Initiative, featuring speakers from various disciplines demonstrating the interconnectedness between our campus and state and the wider world.
I may as well go on and admit that I’m one of those Global Georgia speakers and that I’ll be pontificating on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. in the UGA Chapel on the topic, “Death, Kudzu and the Unexamined Life: the Stuff of Journalism.” Professor James C. Cobb is introducing me, and he’s familiar to Flagpole readers, if not for his international reach as an eminent scholar of the American South, then for the broadsides contained in his occasional column, “Cobbloviate,” which we’re privileged to publish. To complete the backscratching here, let’s throw in that the Willson Center’s public relations specialist is no other than local troubadour Dave Marr, who used to be Flagpole’s city editor. The Willson Center Director, the truly global Dr. Nicholas Allen, is scratching his head, wondering what’s going on, especially since the first time he heard of me, I was introducing Jim Cobb at one of last year’s Global Georgia talks. Come on over to the Chapel next week and see whether all these good-old-boy connections are too much for globalization.
Meanwhile, though, you get to hear some real heavyweights, beginning Thursday, Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. in the Chapel with composer, conductor and educator Tania León, Distinguished Professor at City University of New York. Her talk, presented in partnership with the Music Business Program of the Terry College of Business, is entitled “Border Crossings: Cultural Thresholds in the Syncretic Evolution of Music.” [Editor's Note: Tania León's talk has been canceled because of weather-related travel difficulties. The Center hopes to reschedule it at a later date.]
Keep your eye on this whole Global Georgia Initiative. On Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at Ciné, you can hear poet, playwright, editor, theater and film writer/director/producer Nathalie Handal, introduced by UGA English professor Ed Pavlić. On Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. in the Chapel, author, historian, educator Paul Pressly discusses “Colonial Georgia: Caribbean Influences and the British Atlantic World,” introduced by Lisa Bayer, Director of the UGA Press; and on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Ciné, author and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo screens her film UFO in Her Eyes, with discussion afterward with Associate Professor of Theater and Film Studies Antie Ascheid and Associate Professor of English Andrew Zawacki. The next day, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. in Room 148 of the Miller Learning Center, Xiaolu Guo lectures on “Beyond Chinamerica.”
So, there’s a lot coming up fast. Keep your eyes on the Flagpole calendar for reminders of these important events that will more than make up for the director’s lapse in attention that landed him in the kudzu.