University Departments Join To Hold Interactive Series

Bethany Jopling, Reporter

The university is offering a new interactive series for the 2019-2020 year.

The Fine Arts Department and the Medical and Health Humanities Program is offering its new series, “Intersections: (Dis)Ability & the Arts.”  The word “intersections” indicates four different pathways for dialogue, which include those of intersection of discipline, intersection of communities, intersection of practices, and intersection of narratives.

This series is being sponsored by Soyka Fund for the Humanities, The Fine Arts Department, Medical and Health Humanities Program, and Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, which is a state grant.

Dr. Ryan Weber, associate professor and chair of the department of fine arts, is the organizer and director of this series.

“Critical disability studies is one of my research interests, something about which I am very passionate,” said Weber. “This series also fulfills some of the goals of the department of fine arts and the medical and health humanities department.”

The departments have three goals with this series, which are to be able to compare disciplinary approaches to labeling, diagnosing, treating and expressing disability; engaging the public in these conversations and raising awareness about the role that the arts play in shaping and understanding of disability; and how these ideas have changed over time.

The series consists of three programs. Program one, “Drawing on Disability: Graphic Medicine,” was scheduled to be held Monday, Nov. 18 and be presented by MK Czerwiec. This series had Czerwiec taking the audience through a visual experience to see how society and health communities view disability.

Program two, “Music and Mental Illness in Shakespeare” is being shown on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 and is being presented by Kendra Preston Leonard, Ph.D. This program will feature Preston discussing how music functions as a signifier of mental health in a variety of performances, including films and stage, of Shakespeare’s plays.

The last program, “Forthcoming” is on Wednesday, April 2020, and is being presented by Stefan Sunandan Honisch, Ph.D. Honish will talk to the audience about the complex musical legacy of Edward Baxter Perry and how we can apply key insights from Critical Disability Studies to more fully to understand a complex interplay.

“The audience is the broad community we serve, both specialists and non-specialists,” Weber said.

Lauryn Banyas, a sophomore medical imaging major, believes this series is going to be good for the university.

“I think that these programs will be a good series for the university to host, as they cover a variety of topics that will be both informative and interesting to all kind of people,” she said.

Banyas sees the programs in this series as also being beneficial to audience members because they may be able to give people a different perspective on disabilities and mental illnesses.

“Personally, I think that these topics are very interesting, as I am interested in different aspects of healthcare, so I believe that what these programs are going to cover would definitely be something that I would be interesting in checking out,” she added.

Dr. Weber said the departments may make this an annual series.

“I love that we get to bring renowned thinkers to campus to engage in contemporary debates,” he said.

All in the community are invited to come to be a part of this interactive series.

Anyone with questions may contact Dr. Weber at [email protected]