Visions&Voices Spring 2019


Flowering Tree

Theme Guides to selected programs from the Spring 2019 Visions & Voices program were created in partnership with USC Libraries faculty and staff.
Look for recommended books and readings on the people, performances and topics covered by these events.
Visit the current season of: USC Visions and Voices

Photo: Danielle Mihram from California, USA, "Flowering Tree", CC BY 2.0

Bunraku Ningyo Awakenings: A Performance by Kanroku and Mokugu-sha (Theme Guide PDF)

Experience traditional Japanese puppet theatre in a rare performance outside of Japan by renowned bunraku ningyo performer Kanroku and his company, Mokugu-sha. Taking inspiration from antique bunraku puppets from the USC Libraries’ East Asian Library, Kanroku and Mokugu-sha will create a special piece for the USC community. The performance will explore the tension between social obligations and personal desire—a conflict at the heart of the bunraku repertoire—and highlight the expressive possibilities for storytelling with non-human puppets and creative experimentation by bunraku ningyo practitioners past, present, and future.

Additional topics in guide:    USC Libraries contributor: Rebecca Corbett

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R.A.P. Lessons: Bridging Race, Arts, and Placemaking (Theme Guide PDF)

Join us for the opening night of R.A.P. Lessons: Bridging Race, Arts, and Placemaking, a six-week video exhibition throughout the Wallis Annenberg Building at USC, with performative and curricular interventions between schools and with community partners. Artists Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas will explore the links between art, pedagogy, and social change with Annenberg Associate Professor Taj Frazier

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Christal Young

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Addiction in Dreamland: A Conversation with Sam Quinones (Theme Guide PDF)

The misuse of and addiction to opioids is a national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. Why is the opioid epidemic so widespread and so fatal, and what is the antidote? How have technology, social media, and the pressures of 21st-century society contributed to the skyrocketing rates of addiction across the United States? And what has happened to the “American Dream”? Is there more pain and loneliness than ever before in America? Explore these topics and more in a conversation with former L.A. Times reporter Sam Quinones, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award–winning Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. The conversation will be moderated by Melissa Durham, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at USC.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Amy Chatfield

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The Power and Pleasure of Podcasting (Theme Guide PDF)

Podcasters are reinventing the personal essay, the talk-radio show, investigative journalism, and the historical documentary, and revitalizing the long-latent art of radio drama and comedy. Every week, dozens of new podcasts are launched in a grassroots and democratic revival of the art of storytelling, made possible by new technology. A two-day event explores this rapidly evolving format, which especially resonates with audiences underserved by traditional media. Evening performances with a diverse group of influential podcast producers will be followed by a series of hands-on workshops offering practical tips and tools on the production and business of podcasting.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Bree Russell

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Survivors Rise: Roxane Gay and Amanda Nguyen in Conversation (Theme Guide PDF)

In the aftermath of #MeToo, the voices of sexual-assault survivors are resounding in all sectors of society. But survival is a process, not a moment. What happens after an assault? And then after the silence is broken? Join us for a very special evening with best-selling author Roxane Gay, whose book Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body deals head-on with life after sexual assault, and Amanda Nguyen, a young activist and survivor of sexual violence who is leading an international movement to enact Survivors Bills of Rights through the organization she founded, Rise. USC cinematic arts professor Tara McPherson will join these two profoundly honest and visionary thinkers for a conversation about power, survival, and the many different ways we can work to create a world free of violence.   

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Tiffaney Valenzuela

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That was then. This is now: PostNatural Nature (Theme Guide PDF)

Alcoholic rats, ribless mice, and genetically modified mosquitoes are among the specimens being presented by artist Richard Pell and the Center for PostNatural History in the upcoming exhibition That was then. This is now at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park. Explore 10,000 years of human-guided evolution in a fascinating view of items from the collections of the Natural History Museum and the Center for PostNatural History. Each object in That was then. This is now is simultaneously a piece of natural history and a post-natural artifact of human culture that embodies human desire, hunger, power, and fear.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Bree Russell

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Readymade Bodhisattvas: South Korean Sci-Fi and Transnational Technocultures (Theme Guide PDF)

Neo-Seoul looms in the futuristic sky of Hollywood science fiction films, teeming with glitzy superheroes and cyborgs. But do South Koreans also dream of electric sheep? In conjunction with the publication of Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction, this event brings together the legendary American writer Ted Chiang and three prominent figures of the South Korean SF world—writer Soyeon Jeong, writer Gord Sellar, and the director of the Seoul SF Archive, Sang-Joon Park—for an evening of SF storytelling. USC professor Sunyoung Park will moderate a discussion about culture and technology, the transnational migration of a global genre, and South Korea’s experiments with sci-fi during its rapid rise from being one of the poorest countries in the world to becoming a global economic and cultural powerhouse renowned for its cutting-edge cyberculture.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Rebecca Michelson

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Enchanting Aging: Inspiring Awe and Meaning in Late Life (Theme Guide PDF)

Award-winning theatre artist and educator Anne Basting is working toward a moment when the arts are integral to the entire life cycle. For over fifteen years, she has developed and researched methods for embedding the arts into long-term care, with a focus on people with cognitive disabilities like dementia. Through the nonprofit TimeSlips Creative Storytelling and books including Forget Memory: Creating Better Lives for People with Dementia, The Stages of Age: Performing Age in Contemporary American Culture, and The Penelope Project: An Arts-Based Odyssey to Change Elder Care, Basting has put forth an alternative concept of aging, one that focuses on its possibilities as well as its challenges, and that understands art and emotional connection as critical to our well-being as we age. Join us for an enchanting evening with Anne Basting, who will inspire us to age—and think about aging—in a new way.

Named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, Basting has written and/or produced nearly a dozen plays and public performances, including Slightly Bigger Women and Finding Penelope, a play inspired by a year of intergenerational conversations about the myth of Penelope from Homer’s Odyssey, and professionally staged at a long-term-care facility.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Kelsey Vukic

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Bryce Dessner's Triptych (Eyes of One on Another) (Theme Guide PDF)

Thirty years after the death of Robert Mapplethorpe, we still cannot turn away from what his photos reveal. Composer Bryce Dessner, librettist Korde Arrington Tuttle, and director Kaneza Schaal, in collaboration with Roomful of Teeth and a musical ensemble of 12 players, explore the ways Mapplethorpe’s works compel an audience’s complicity and characterizes them in the act of attention. Through music, projection of Mapplethorpe’s images, and the poetry of Tuttle, Essex Hemphill, and Patti Smith, the work puts the audience inside the artist’s view finder, inside his beautiful, bold, voracious view of how nature and humans look, touch, feel, hurt and love one another.

This special event was produced in cooperation with The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Melissa Miller

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An Evening with Michael Ondaatje (Theme Guide PDF)

Internationally celebrated author Michael Ondaatje has influenced an entire generation of writers and readers with his aesthetic and artistry. In addition to winning the British Commonwealth’s highest literary honor, the Man Booker Prize, for his novel The English Patient, he has been awarded The Irish Times International Prize for Fiction, the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, the Prix Médicis, the Governor General’s Award, and the Giller Prize.

In the inaugural reading of the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation Distinguished Speaker Series, Ondaatje will read from his most recent novel, Warlight, a dramatic story of unexpected characters set in the decade after World War II. Its narrative is as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself—shadowed and luminous at once. A discussion with USC’s renowned writer-in-residence, Geoff Dyer, and book signing will follow.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Zofia Lesinska

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Black Super Hero Magic Mama by Inda Craig-Galvan (Theme Guide PDF)

When Sabrina’s fourteen-year-old son dies in a police shooting, it prompts a flurry of media attention and calls for racial justice. Crippled by grief, Sabrina retreats into the fantasy world of superheroes and archvillains that inhabit the comic book created by her son before his death. Assuming the role of Massai Angel rather than the expected part of grieving mother, Sabrina battles her enemies along the way to peace. Both heartbreaking and highly imaginative, this stunning world premiere marks the professional debut of Los Angeles–based playwright (and USC MFA playwriting alumnus) Inda Craig-Galván and signals the arrival of an exciting and distinctive new voice in American theatre.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Anthony Anderson

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Headspace: Celebrating Music and Mindfulness (Theme Guide PDF)

Witness and experience music-driven mindfulness in a concert of meditative music performed by the USC Thornton Percussion Group. The concert will open with a group meditation led by Mark Miller of Mindful USC. This transcendent event will encourage mindful listening and living, and will be followed by a discussion and Q&A on meditation, music, sound, and being present to the world around us. In the week leading up to the concert, a series of pop-up performances around campus will feature Thornton musicians performing a musical walking meditation by USC composer Veronika Krausas. The musicians will play and move within individual pods, like floating sculptural sound objects. Short mindful statements written by Molly Bendall’s poetry writing class will be offered to the public as the musicians pass by. The pods originally conceived and designed by Florian Idenburg of SO-IL architects and artist Ana Prvački for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be refabricated by Matthew Gilpin and students Peter Eusebio, Chentao Yu, and Alexander Candelaria-Fouse from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. 

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Andrew Justice

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Re-animated (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s immortal gothic horror novel and feminist text, Alumni Park in front of Doheny Library will come alive with a multimedia interactive and live performance extravaganza. At sundown, the music starts and an immersive exploration of spine-tingling sights, sounds, and smells begins! Digital projection mapping will transform the library’s exterior into a vibrant, electronic palette for re-telling the original story of Frankenstein. Under the direction of digital artists Akiko Yamashita, Yo-Yo Lin, and numerous USC faculty, dozens of USC students working in animation, interactive media, music, theatre, dance, art and design, and architecture have re-animated Mary Shelley’s enduring classic in stunning fashion. The event will alter your mind about our traditional notions of life, death, and monsters.

Additional Links:
YouTube Trailer for April 4th, 2019 "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Re-animated" at USC

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Marje Schuetze-Coburn

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The Radical Redesign of Healthcare: Changing the Balance of Power (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Donald Berwick, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, will share his simple yet radical vision of how we can shift the balance of power in the patient-physician relationship and fundamentally redesign healthcare to achieve better care and better health at a cost we can afford. An acclaimed innovator who is committed to approaching the daunting problems in the healthcare system with optimism grounded in rigorous science, Berwick served as administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama and for more than 30 years has led efforts to transform healthcare into a system without errors, waste, delay, and unsustainable costs. While many commentators have described the ways our current hospital-centric healthcare system neither meets our needs nor maximizes health, Dr. Berwick is one of very few who have shown the concrete steps we can take to create something better. Blending clinical science, systems theory, psychology, statistics, and memorable stories from decades of work in the field, Berwick faces the problems of healthcare today and asks: What are our responsibilities to become active agents of change in redesigning healthcare? And how can we create a patient-centered, team-based system focused on value, efficiency, and equity?

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Alvaro Quezada and Frances Lezcano

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Alice Smith: The Sound of Freedom (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

In honor of the generations of women who have fought for humanity, equity, and justice, join us for an intimate performance by GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter Alice Smith. Held in honor of the 80th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Smith’s performance will take you on a journey through sound and history that centers the creativity, experimentation, brilliance, and interventions of women artists and musicians. Raised between Washington, D.C., and Augusta, Georgia, Smith grew up on a steady diet of gospel, pop, soul, and go-go. With commanding presence and a scale-defying voice, she blends styles to create a “rock-star update on girl-group pop and ’70s soul” (InStyle). And she uses her music as a platform to generate awareness around social issues, building on the legacy of Marian Anderson and others who have lent their voices to struggles to end systemic oppression and uplift the freedom of all people.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Anthony Anderson

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Lackawanna Blues (Theme Guide PDF)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A magical, musical, and deeply personal work written and performed by Tony Award–winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues is a reminiscence of his 1950s childhood in a small town on the banks of Lake Erie. Santiago-Hudson takes on more than 20 colorful characters—from would-be philosophers and petty hustlers to lost souls and abandoned lovers—in a brilliant celebration of the eccentric boardinghouse he grew up in. Santiago-Hudson returns to his roots in this tour de force performance with live blues music performed by composer Bill Sims Jr.

Additional topics in guide:     USC Libraries contributor: Bryn Ziegler

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