Crisis, Turning Points, Renewals

​Recent months and years have seen unusual activity in what might be called the apocalyptic space of public and private discourse. Political, social, cultural, and environmental developments in the United States and beyond have inspired commentary, analysis, and even a little prophecy — not just from the usual quarters but also from sources not ordinarily prone to predictions of paradise or doom. These developments have a history, of course, including important precedents in religion, politics, literature, and science, but they also have a future.

These are a few of the reasons why the Critical Engagements theme for 2018–2019 is The End of the World: Crisis, Turning Points, Renewals. Our events, courses, and discussions bring critical analysis and constructive dialogue to bear on issues ranging from changing political norms to the environment, from apocalyptic thinking in the strict sense to the end of the “end of history.”

Featured Courses, 2018–2019

A list of courses that addressed the 2018-19 theme are available on our dedicated courses page.

Notable Events, 2018–2019

Escape from 'Station Eleven'

March 29-31, April 5-7 & April 27-28
Anspach 312A

Students and faculty from several colleges have collaborated to develop an escape room--a physical adventure game where participants are locked inside a room and need to finish tasks, find clues, and solves riddles to escape the room. Jonathan Truitt, history faculty member and director of CMU's Center for Learning through Games and Simulations, led an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students to create a post-apocalyptic escape room — the perfect place to solve a mystery based on Emily St. John Mandel's award-winning novel Station Eleven. To make the escape room experience completely immersive for participants, junior computer science student Anthony Escalante worked alongside music professor Mark Cox to develop a soundscape in line with the room's theme.

The escape room is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Critical Engagements initiative, which brings together students and faculty from across the campus to consider pressing issues and challenging topics such as this year's theme: the end of the world.

The Michigan PBB Oral History Project: A Showcase and Panel Discussion

Thursday, April 25
12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Bovee U.C., Lake St. Clair Room

History faculty member Brittany Fremion and her students will present a showcase and panel discussion about their oral history project on PBB contamination in Michigan, one of the largest episodes of environmental and food contamination in our nation's history. Fremion and her students are conducting interviews to create a permanent record documenting individual experiences with the PBB livestock feed mix-up. The interview materials will be preserved in a special research collection at CMU's Museum of Cultural and Natural History for future use by educators, researchers, and community members.

In 1973 a chemical plant in St. Louis, Michigan, accidentally shipped fire retardant (polybrominated biphenyl or PBB) in place of a livestock-feed additive (magnesium oxide) to state feed mills. Over the course of a year, farm animals ingested the toxic chemical, leading to the contamination of beef, milk, chicken, eggs, pork, and other farm products. The episode nearly destroyed farm industries in the state, as well as the livelihoods of thousands of Michigan residents. In addition, it is estimated that nearly 8 million people living in the lower peninsula ingested food containing PBB. The investigation of long-term health effects, initiated by the state in 1976 and transferred to Emory University in 2011, is the longest running public health study related to chemical contamination in U.S. history. The former plant site is connected to three Superfund projects in Gratiot County that, combined, rank among the costliest cleanup efforts in the Environmental Protection Agency’s history.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP through our online registration form. Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Critical Engagements initiative, which brings together students and faculty from across the campus to consider pressing issues and challenging topics such as this year's theme: the end of the world. For more information, contact Brittany Fremion at 989-774-1094 or fremi1b@cmich.edu. Support for the Michigan PBB Oral History Project is provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and is a collaborative endeavor with community members, the research team at Emory University (The PBB Registry), and partners at the University of Michigan. Learn more from Michigan Radio about the PPB tragedy in Michigan.


Violence Against Women's Resistance Under Pinochet's Dictatorship

Presented by Claudia Montero Miranda
Wednesday, April 24
7:00 p.m. 
Park Library Auditorium

Image of Claudia Montero Miranda

Historian Claudia Montero Miranda from Universidad de Valparaíso will speak about violence against women under the Pinochet dictatorship. She is an associate professor at the Institute of History and Social Studies at the University of Valparaíso and visiting professor at the University of Essex (United Kingdom). She holds a Ph.D. and master's degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Chile. She has an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Santiago de Chile.

Sponsored by the Dr. Harold Abel Endowed Lecture Series in the Study of Dictatorship, Democracy and Genocide within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Central Michigan University. This event is also part of the Critical Engagements initiative "The End of the World: Crisis, Turning Points, Renewals." For more information, contact the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at 989-774-3341 or class@cmich.edu.


Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company to Perform Shakespeare and Station Eleven

Wednesday, March 27
12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Moore Hall, Townsend Kiva

The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company makes its first visit to Central Michigan University with a performance of Shakespeare and Station Eleven. The performance is free and open to the public with general admission seating. Tickets are not required.

Emily St. John Mandel's novel Station Eleven follows a group of Shakespearean actors who travel through the Great Lakes region after a flu epidemic has wiped out a majority of the population. Pigeon Creek, a touring company based in Grand Haven, Michigan, will perform a program of scenes from multiple Shakespeare plays with a narration that connects those plays to Mandel's novel.

This performance is sponsored by the Critical Engagements initiative within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Department of English Language and Literature, the Department of History, and the Department of Communication and Dramatic Arts. Critical Engagements features guest speakers, panel discussions, special events and a selection of featured courses in several academic areas that explore an annual theme. The theme for 2018-19 is "The End of the World: Crisis, Turning Points, Renewals." 

For more information, contact English faculty member Nate Smith at 989-774-3115 or smith2nb@cmich.edu.


Dystopian Landscapes - presented by Lori Nix & Kathleen Gerber

Wednesday, March 27
6:00 p.m.
Park Library, Sarah & Daniel Opperman Auditorium
Open event flier

Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber have been making art collaboratively for over sixteen years. Originally from the American Midwest, now based in Brooklyn, they construct meticulously detailed model environments and photograph the results. For the last decade they have found inspiration in their urban surroundings, imagining a future mysteriously devoid of mankind. Their miniature fake landscapes and interiors reflect a love of science fiction and dystopian entertainment (think “Blade Runner,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Logan’s Run”), an appreciation for great architecture, and an affinity with the Sublime painters of the Hudson River School.
Their images of faux landscapes and gritty urban interiors have gained wide acclaim in both the U.S. and Europe, and Nix is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow in photography. Sponsored by the Stephen L. Barstow Art & Design Lecture Series within the College of the Arts and Media.


Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company to Perform Richard III

Wednesday, March 27
7:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Moore Hall, Townsend Kiva

The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company makes its first visit to Central Michigan University with a performance of William Shakespeare's Richard III. Richard plots his way to the throne in this exciting history play with hints of dark comedy. The performance is free and open to the public with general admission seating. Tickets are not required.

The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company is a touring company based in Grand Haven, Michigan. Richard III is a dramatization of English history, taking place after the devastating Wars of the Roses, a series of civil wars which have left England in disarray. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, aspires to the throne, and is ruthless in eliminating those who stand in his way. Despite his villainous actions, Shakespeare makes Richard a charismatic and engaging character who includes the audience in his plots, making the spectators into co-conspirators.

This performance is sponsored by the Critical Engagements initiative within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Department of English Language and Literature, the Department of History, and the Department of Communication and Dramatic Arts. Critical Engagements features guest speakers, panel discussions, special events and a selection of featured courses in several academic areas that explore an annual theme. The theme for 2018-19 is "The End of the World: Crisis, Turning Points, Renewals."

For more information, contact English faculty member Nate Smith at 989-774-3115 or smith2nb@cmich.edu.


Student Lunch with Martin Dionne

Tuesday, March 26
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Pearce Hall, World Languages & Cultures Lounge (3rd floor)

Martin Dionne, Public & Governmental Affairs Officer from the Québec Delegation at Chicago, will host a lunch with Central Michigan University Students. Sponsored by the French program within the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the Critical Engagements initiative​ within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Central Michigan University. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Amy Ransom at 989-774-3786 or ranso1aj@cmich.edu


Film Screening & Discussion with Martin Dionne

Tuesday, March 26
7:00 p.m.
Park Library Auditorium

Martin Dionne, Public & Governmental Affairs Officer from the Québec Delegation at Chicago, will host a free screening of the Canadian historical drama Hochelaga, Land of Souls (2017). The film interposes a story from contemporary Montreal involving a history professor of Mohawk origin (played by franco-Algonquin rapper Samian) and historical sequences from several centuries of Quebec history. The film was written and directed by François Girard of the internationally acclaimed The Red Violin. Mr. Dionne will introduce the film and host a Q&A following the screening. 

Sponsored by the French program within the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the Critical Engagements initiative​ within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Central Michigan University. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Amy Ransom at 989-774-3786 or ranso1aj@cmich.edu

 


Richard Primus - Monday, March 18

Richard Primus is the Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. He teaches the law, theory, and history of the U.S. Constitution and is the author of the paper "The Republic in Long-term Perspective." His presentation will take place 7 p.m. Monday, March 18 in Pearce 127.

LaDonna Allard - Tuesday, March 12

​LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is the historian and genealogist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In April 2016, Allard opened a Dakota Access Pipeline opposition camp, known as the Sacred Stone Camp, on her property to serve as a center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the pipeline. Protests at the pipeline site in North Dakota near the Standing Rock Reservation grew to be the largest gathering of indigenous nations in modern history. Her presentation will take place 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 in the Powers Hall Ballroom. Sponsored by the Olga J. and G. Roland Denison Visiting Professorship of Native American Studies and the Critical Engagements initiative​ within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Central Michigan University.

Parliamentary Inquiries: Control of the Executive in the USA and the Netherlands - Friday, November 30

Dr. Dirk Jan Wolffram, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, will discuss Parliamentary Inquiries: Control of the Executive in the USA and the Netherlands 3 p.m. Friday, November 30th in the Park Library Auditorium. Sponsored by the Department of History and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Critical Engagements Initiative.

Ty Defoe presents Gifts for the River - Thursday, November 8

Denison Visiting Scholar of Native American Studies and interdisciplinary artist Ty Defoe hosted an engaging panel discussion on “Gifts For The River,” a celebration of the Chippewa River and the communities that live along it. Gifts For The River is an online living notebook of artistic, musical, cinematic, and environmental contributions.

Holocaust Survivor Martin Lowenberg - Wednesday, November 7

Holocaust survivor Martin Lowenberg spent his teenage years forcibly separated from his family and sent to five different concentration camps during World War II. He would never see his parents and younger twin brothers again. Lowenberg will shared his story as the keynote speaker for the Dr. Harold Abel Endowed Lecture Series in the Study of Dictatorship, Democracy and Genocide within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Central Michigan University.

Kyle Harper on Climate Change, Epidemics, and the Fall of Rome - Thursday, October 25

Image of Kyle Harper

What happens when the world falls apart, and what did people do in the face of unthinkable disaster? Could they have done something about it? Can we? Dr. Kyle Harper, historian and provost of the University of Oklahoma, will deliver the Critical Engagements keynote address for fall 2018 on October 25, 2018, at 7:30pm in the Powers Ballroom. His most recent book, The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, is the first to examine the catastrophic role that climate change and infectious diseases played in the collapse of Rome’s power—a story of nature’s triumph over human ambition. It helps to explain the end of a world that once seemed eternal, sounding themes that echo with ominous resonance in the twenty-first century: epidemics and the environment, apocalyptic obsessions and the splintering of social and political norms. 
Open event flier


Frankenstein Screening and Discussion (October 24)

Image of Frankenstein movie poster.

CMU‘s Park Library and the Department of English Language, Literature, and Writing are sponsoring a screening of James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). After the screening, film professor Ken Jurkiewicz and English professors JoEllen DeLucia and Jeffrey Weinstock will lead a brief discussion of the film and Mary Shelley’s novel. Open to the public and campus community. There will be a reception after the film.


Halloween at the End of the World - Tuesday, October 23

Image of Halloween at the End of the World announcement.

The department of Philosophy and Religion will hold its annual Halloween event on October 23 at 7:00pm in the Park Library Auditorium. “Halloween at the End of the World” features the following talks and presentations:

  • “Hell House: Scaring the Devil Out of You Since 1995” (Dr. Sara Moslener)
  • “Shared Death Experiences: Glimpses of an Afterlife?” (Dr. Michael Kinsella)
  • “Buddhist Apocalyptic Prophecy” (Dr. Guy Newland)
  • “The Dead Shall Be Raised” (Dr. Kelly Murphy)


Jamie Ford - Thursday, September 27

Image of Jamie Ford

Author Jamie Ford
Thursday, September 27
6:30 p.m.
Pearce Hall 127
Open event website

Jamie Ford presented "The Japanese Internment and the Lies We Tell Ourselves." His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, is a historical fiction novel set during the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. The novel spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list, won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, the Pacific Northwest Book Award, and the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction. Hotel was named the #1 Book Club pick in 2010 by the American Bookseller Association and is now read widely in schools all across the country.