Friday, October 7, 2016

REFUGE: A Symposium (October 28)

From Patience Agbabi, "The Refugee Tales Walk"
October 28 2016


a symposium

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Room [Gelman Library 702]  
3 PM

A wide-ranging conversation on global migration, refugees, crisis, pedagogy, performance, and home -- medieval to early modern to contemporary. Featuring:

‘I thought I forget in this life but I never forget’
Modeled on The Canterbury TalesThe Refugee Tales (Comma Press, 2016) is an anthology of poems and stories based on recorded interviews with refugees, asylum seekers and those who support them. Patience Agbabi is celebrated for her own retelling of Chaucer’s original, Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014). She will read ‘The Refugee’s Tale’, in which a woman is forced to leave her native Sudan to forge a new life in the UK. Agbabi views her work as a collaboration, a crown of sonnets incorporating many phrases from the original interview, privileging the voice of the refugee.

Pamela L. Troyer
At What Cost? -- Contemporary Analogues to a Medieval Tale
Non-medievalists do not always understand how relevant medieval studies is to immigrant and refugee students working to get a college education. They assume that this period is perversely arcane to students who are not of European descent and who do not have English as a first language. To test this assumption, I have introduced Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale to a number of unexpected and unsuspecting readers. So far I have found that the experiences of the displaced and marginalized in my community are directly analogous to the traumas that affected people in the Middle Ages. Refugee and immigrant students find Custance's peripatetic suffering plausible and accessible. Professionals find analogies to Custance's story in the Immigration and Nationality Act, Pulitzer-prize-winning journalism, and immigration art. Nonetheless, when I submitted an article on the project to a journal, one blind reviewer wrote that these reader experiences are "counter-educational" and "all about getting people to talk -- whatever the cost." I'm not sure what the cost is. And to whom or to what?

Motion Sickness
Movement disorients bodies. When shaken, bodies seek stable refuge – whether the bodies in question comprise shipwrecked sailors, strife-torn nations, dislocated asylum-seekers, or confused students. Three experimental revisions of classical literature – Caroline Bergvall’s Drift (2014), which mashes up “The Seafarer” with the Left-to-Die boat of Algerian refugees; David Hadbawnik’s new translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (2015); and Stephen Collis’s “The Lawyer’s Tale” (2016) revision of Chaucer – show stories responding to unsettling movement. Motion sickness results from the conflict between a body’s need for refuge and the sea’s disorienting flux.

Jonathan Hsy
Storytelling Ethics: The Refugee Crisis in Words and Images
How are academics activists, and how are activists academic? This talk explores how academic and para-academic communities use art to respond to the global refugee crisis. How do artists, academics, and activists come together to tell migration stories and to build empathy with people whose life experiences seem entirely alien? I consider the collaborative, mobile Refugee Tales Project (based in the UK), JE SUIS AVEC EUX / I AM WITH THEM (a “photo manifesto for refugees” by Paris-based photographer Anne A-R), and online podcasts associated with the historical database "England’s Immigrants 1330-1550.”