Iraq & Syria: Arts and Revolutions – Fall 2017

Course number: AMES 222S

Course attributes: CCI, ALP, CZ

Course description:

The course introduces the political and cultural background of the conflict and uprising in Iraq and Syria. Focusing on culture, arts, and literature especially after the Arab Spring 2011 this course uses movies, books, and guest speakers to broaden the understanding of the current war against terrorism and dictatorships.

Professor biography:

Abdul Sattar Jawad (known also as ‘Al-Mamouri’) is an Iraqi-born Professor of Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. He received a Ph.D in English Literature and Journalism, London’s City University (UK). He has been a Barksdale Fellow at the University of Mississippi Honors College; a Visiting Professor at the Department of English and American Language and Literature, Harvard University; and a scholar at the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies at Duke University. Before coming to Duke, he was Dean of College of Arts Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and edited the Baghdad Mirror. Apart from teaching Arabic and English Literature, he is an expert on the works of T. S. Eliot and those of William Shakespeare. He has translated Eliot’s “Waste Land” into Arabic. He is also an expert on Iraqi media and academia. Jawad has written 14 books on literature and media, and has edited several literary magazines and newspapers in English and Arabic.



Mexican Printmaker to Visit Duke, Durham to Celebrate Day of the Dead

by Jennifer Prather

Sergio Sánchez Santamaría, one of Mexico’s foremost printmakers, will visit Duke and the Durham community Oct. 21-29 to celebrate the Day of the Dead in North Carolina.

Sánchez Santamaría is a muralist, illustrator and printmaker who has taught and exhibited in the United States, Europe and Russia. The Frederic Jameson Gallery in the Friedl Building will display an exhibit of his works, “Printing Realities,” from Oct. 27-Dec. 9. An opening reception is 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, in the gallery, and is free and open to the public.

Sánchez Santamaría will teach at Duke, the Durham School of the Arts and Durham Technical Community College, and will make a limited edition linocut print for Supergraphic, a printmaking studio located in Durham’s Golden Belt complex. He will also create an original mural for the Mural Durham Festival at the Duke Arts Annex, from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.

read more:


Poetic Cinema

Course numbers: AMES 311S, VMS 354S, AMI 266S, ICS 311S
Course codes: CCI, ALP, CZ
Course description:

Poetic Cinema will inquire into sources of “resonance” in international cinema with emphasis on films from Asia and the Middle East. The object of the course is to describe aspects of film construction which conduce to intense experience for viewers. Readings in delve into indigenous aesthetics.

Instructor: Professor Satti Khanna

Professor Khanna interprets the lives and works of contemporary Indian writers to an international audience through a series of documentary films and translations. His recent work includes a translation of Vinod Kumar Shukla’s Naukar ki Kameez (The Servant’s Shirt, Penguin India, 1999), an anthology of short fiction, His Daily Bread (Har Anand, 2000) and the series Literary Postcard on the Doordarshan national network in India.

Fazil Say visits Duke

In February 2016, Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say visited Duke University as part of the Duke Performances’ artist-in-residence program. During his stay, Say preformed a sold out show, led a student chamber music intensive, met with the Turkish student association, and spoke on a public panel about music and culture in Turkey.

Erdağ Göknar, the director of the Middle East Studies Center, sat down with Say to discuss how Say’s work acts as a bridge between traditional Anatolian folk music and today’s modern Turkish compositions. Göknar and Say also discuss the idea of music as resistance.

Say’s residency was made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with support from Duke University Middle East Studies Center and the American-Turkish Association of North Carolina (ATA-NC).

More about the artist:

Fazil Say’s Website

Fazil Say’s Facebook


Leonor Leal’s Contemporary Flamenco

On March 23rd, Leonor Leal gave a casual performance during a lecture on “The Art of Contemporary Flamenco” at the John Hope Franklin Center’s Wednesdays at the Center series. Leal was accompanied by guitarist, Jose Lois Rodriguez and vocalist/cajón player, Francisco “Yiyi” Orozco. All three of the artist have training in classical Flamenco, but now perform with more modern interpretation of the movement and music.

During the presentation, Leal touched on the international aspects of Flamenco which borrows motifs from Arab, African, and South American cultures. Leal playfully unpacked traditional Flamenco movements for the audience at the Franklin Center explaining the difference in postures from Tango and Flamenco.

Leal’s visit to Duke University was part of a 3-day residency supported by the Duke Dance Program, Spanish Studies, and the Program in Women’s Studies. Aside from her lecture at the Franklin Center, Leal also gave a public demonstration and held a master class in the Ark Dance Studio during the residency.

One Rwanda: Portraits of Contemporary Life

Bill Bamberger, Sewing class in the children's village of Kigarama

Bill Bamberger, Sewing class in the children’s village of Kigarama

Exhibiting:  March 7, 2016 – August 5, 2016

Exhibition Statement

On the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, photographer Bill Bamberger traveled throughout the country to photograph the daily lives of the Rwandese people.

Like most documentarians visiting Rwanda at this historic time, Bamberger went there with plans to undertake a post-genocide project: to photograph children who had grown up parentless as a result of the genocide and were now raising families of their own.

But as Bamberger began to get to know the country and people, the focus of his project shifted. Over the course of three months, he journeyed by bus around Rwanda, meeting with Rwandese and international volunteers. During this time, he visited health clinics in Kigali’s poorest neighborhoods, schools in remote mountain villages, an orphanage on the banks of Lake Kivu, tea fields in the south, sugar cane fields in the north, national parks on the borders of the country and tennis clubs in Kigali’s most affluent neighborhoods.

Struck by the warmth, humanity, and collective resilience of the people as they sought to forge a new national identity, Bamberger stopped thinking about the Rwandese primarily as Hutus or Tutsis, or as perpetrators or survivors, as the international media most often portrayed them.

Instead, his photographs explore how the people of Rwanda are finding their way while faced with modern-day issues like healthcare, education and housing. We get a glimpse of how people are living side-by-side in ‘one Rwanda’, the government’s catchphrase for a country trying to put itself back together, 20 years after the genocide.

In the tradition of German photographer August Sander—whose landmark publication Face of Our Time depicted a diverse cross-section of society during the Weimer Republic—Bamberger’s portraits reveal the modern-day face of Rwanda and include: farmers, shopkeepers, taxi drivers, security guards, country club members, construction workers and orphaned children.




Bill Bamberger’s work explores large social issues of our time: the demise of the American factory, housing in America, and adolescents coming of age in an inner-city high school.  His first book, Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory won the Mayflower Prize in Non-Fiction and was a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.  His photographs have appeared in Aperture, Doubletake, Harper’s and the New York Times Magazine.  He has had one-person exhibitions at the Yale University Art Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, the North Carolina Museum of Art and the National Building Museum.  A trademark of Bamberger’s photography is that it is first shown in the neighborhood where it was created, prior to its museum exhibition.

Supported by the Power – Lonnie Holley

Exhibiting in the John Hope Franklin Gallery from December 15, 2015 – February 26, 2016.


Lonnie Holley is the artist working today who can best eliminate the barrier between taught and untaught art. This collapse of dividers, not unlike racial ones, represents a declassification or deconstruction of a deeply troubling history in order to create a more communitarian future.

Holley is a peerless artist who we best label contemporary, not folk. His sense of contemporary is more closely aligned with current social and political events than most contemporary artists who seem to have only evolved their use of materials.

In Lonnie Holley: Supported by the Power, sculptures emerge from Alabama yards and Atlanta corners. Holley’s themes in his art and music run concurrent to contemporary actualities: post-Jim Crow race pathologies or a recycling of consumer goods towards a more sustainable future.   His story is a southern tale. The history of the South conjures the most American of stories: a story of oppression from tilled fields and small yards to urban corners of southern and northern cities.

Holley, when compared to an exemplary artist like Robert Rauschenberg, creates works which are more zen-like, less neurotic and contradictory and more future-predictive in terms of 1/ connecting to tradition 2/ a recycling of materials to make a more sustainable art 3/ creating works with fewer conservation problems as they are already time-rendered 4/ its connection to music 5/ creating a language of liberation 6/ the connection to nature and local specificities.

On the main wall we see four totemic, cruciform-like works which convey the African-American exigency of forced labor, suffering and the genesis of religious sanctuary.   On the end wall, Never to be Opened Again, made by Holley in post-Katrina New Orleans, depicts a local history in ruins, a result of the baneful mix of a corrupted nature and politics.   In the two remaining works, Supported by the Power and The Catholic Ladies’ Picture, Holley creates a personal history (auto-portraiture as empowerment) and a conceptual nod to art history (art objects as carriers of power). Supported by the Power, consisting solely of 7 sculptures, we can still grasp the sum power of Lonnie Holley’s work.

Special thanks are due to: the artist, Matt and William Arnett, Bradford Cox, Rodney and Nancy Gould, MA, Joan and Michael Salke, MA, Jason Doty, Giovanni Zanalda and Lauren Feilich.


Family, Land, and Deafness

An exhibition by Joanna Welborn

Curated by Kathy Hudson

Special thanks to Jason Doty and the John Hope Franklin Center.


School for the Deaf

My Deaf father and hearing mother met at the NC School for the Deaf in Morganton in 1968. My mom was a 22-year-old student teacher and my dad was working as a supervisor in the high school boys dorm. They spent their careers working at the school until they retired a few years ago, which meant that my sister and I kind of grew up on the campus. We made hideouts under the basketball bleachers, did our homework after school in our mom’s English classroom, had birthday parties in the Scout cabin, and learned to drive in the empty parking lots on weekends.

I came back to the school last year as an adult to experience Deaf spaces more fully and to get an idea of what it would be like to be a student who lived at the school, immersed in Deaf culture and signing ASL (American Sign Language). I spent time with three high school students – Vincent, Haley, and Cheyenne – in their classes, their dorms, hanging out after school in the library or on the track field, and at their prom. Before I started the project I told people I wanted to make photographs to show that these Deaf students were no different than any other high school student anywhere in the U.S. And that turned out to be mostly true. They gossiped in the hallways, worked on homework, passed bored hours watching Youtube videos, spent way too much time on their phones, and got frustrated when their basketball game wasn’t on point.

What I did see that’s different: hearing aids and cochlear implants tucked behind ears; video phones mounted in common spaces; flashing lights in the hallways and classrooms to signal class changes; English class taught as a foreign, or second, language; hearing teachers and staff who sign at all times to ensure language access for the students and Deaf staff, and a prom that featured a Deaf DJ who turned up the bass for more vibration.

Being in the school made me appreciate the shift the school has made to embracing Deaf culture and supporting students in an environment that affirms their language, their community, and their independence.

Special thanks to Archie and Mary Jo Johnson for their assistance with this project. Video translation by Danette Bridges, Haley Futral, Jana Lollis, Adaie Young, and Mary Jo Johnson.


Windy Gap Rd

Windy Gap Road winds straight up Little Brushy mountain, dense forest on all sides until you crest the top of the little mountain and feel like you’re driving right into the sky. Follow the road a short ways until it crosses Cling Johnson Road, named for my great-grandfather, and you’ll hit the Johnson homestead: a medium-sized ranch house built in 1973 when the small two-story clapboard house my grandfather built burned to the ground in an electrical fire. My grandmother, Evelyn, lives alone here, but not alone, with my uncle Harold, aunt Melba, cousin Bryan and his wife Pamela up the gravel road in two side-by-side trailers on the hill. Still, there’s a lonesome-ness, a quiet. My grandmother, Bryan, and Pamela are hearing but Harold and Melba are Deaf. So is my dad, who lives an hour away. They communicate using a family sign language, which they jokingly call “Johnson Family Sign,” though everyone but my grandma knows American Sign Language too.
Harold comes down in the mornings to light Grandma’s wood stove. Those are the sounds you hear: the spit and crackle of the fire being poked, the clang of the metal stove door closing, slippers shuffling on the kitchen linoleum, fork against bowl beating an egg, whispered half-speech alongside the signing, a quick stomping of the foot to draw attention.

It wasn’t always this quiet. There were more houses dotting the fields. There were cows, mules, pigs, chickens, rabbits, ducks, and guinea hens. There were brothers, sisters, parents, in-laws, kids roaming. About half were Deaf, half weren’t. But they all knew how to sign the family sign language so there wasn’t an us and them. It was just family. There were more bodies, so there was more sound, more movement: fields plowed, animals tended, gardens planted, roads trudged up and down. There were corn-husking parties and afternoon breaks at the swimming hole and porch sitting in the twilight. There was drinking, too, and still-watching, out deep in the woods. That’s a part of my family history– moonshining, just like everyone else in Wilkes County at that time, the only way a small farmer could bring in any money at all.

Now, though, it’s just the five of them holding down the top of the mountain. It’s still and a little lonely. It’s like a place missing itself from a long time ago, the people and the animals and the way it used to be.