Holocaust Series Kicks Off with ‘Shoah: a Turning Point’

September 10, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Kellyn Curtis

The introduction to the fall series, Holocaust Legacies: Shoah as Turning Point, featured four mini-lectures that touched on different historical aspects of the Shoah, which is the Hebrew term for Holocaust. The panel included scholars Rick Halperin, Elliot Dlin, Christopher Anderson and Janis Bergman-Carton.

Rick Halperin, director of the SMU Human Rights Program, started off the night by giving a brief overview of how the Holocaust has become a prominent topic of study in recent years. About 20 years ago, a plethora of information emerged that has allowed scholars to delve deep into the causes of the largest mass murder in history – it’s generally accepted that between 5 and 6 million Jews perished during the war.

“The Holocaust didn’t just happen,” Halperin said. “It was an intentional, genocidal event.”

Halperin emphasized that a multitude of historical accounts from the period have helped scholars piece things together, but there are some things we will most likely never know.

“When we speak of the unspeakable, I would argue that the documents cannot come close to telling the story of what happened between 1933 and 1945,” Halperin said.

Following Halperin was Elliot Dlin, executive director of the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Dlin bridged the gap between the silence of Holocaust survivors directly following the war, to where we are now with countless stories and experiences from the period.

“There are so many areas of our lives in which the Shoah is a turning point,” Dlin said. “The world is a different place now than in was before the war.”

Christopher Anderson, Associate Professor of Sacred Music at the Perkins School of Theology, described the music in Hitler’s Germany through the reception of Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn’s music. He explained that the Nazi music policies were subject to a controlled ideology.

Chair of Art History at Meadows School of the Arts, Janis Bergman-Carton wrapped up the program with a discussion on the impact of art looting during the war. She said that the Nazi’s systematic theft resulted in 600,000 missing works or art.

Through the two-month series, Halperin hopes to give students a better understanding how the Holocaust happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.

Halperin has also taken students on a winter trip to the Holocaust sites in Europe. Check out the 2008 student-narrated footage of the trip.

For a full schedule of the 2009 program series, visit www.smu.edu/humanrights.

Arts Beat: Brown Bag Shows Serious Talent

October 2, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Johnny Brackett

As a junior at SMU I have been hearing about the Brown Bag Fall Dance Series for the past two years. Unfortunately, like many other students, the word of Brown Bag passing through campus went in one ear and out the other. This year changed that year. I decided it was time to check it out. I refuse to be the type of student who misses everything because I don’t want to take 50 minutes out of my day to see what my SMU? colleagues? have put together. Although what constitutes the difference between ballet and jazz is a mystery to me, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the elegance and talent that the SMU dancers displayed at Brown Bag.?

As a inexperienced dance critic, I saw 13 dances. All of which were amazing to me. There was not a single dance performed at Brown Bag that I could say was horrible. Some were a little more tedious than others, but all of them displayed serious talent.

Out of these dances, I was most impressed by “Work” choreographed by Ken Bell. Bell and his team of dancers performed an? exhilarating? fast-paced routine that included leaps, lifts, jumps and twists. While Bell’s piece was being performed, I took a moment to glance around the audience. Everyone from SMU students and parents to visiting high school students had a smile on their face. I could see the energy of the dancers reflected in the viewers’ eyes. It was not only fun to watch, but the contagious energy of Bell and his dancers made me feel like I was up there strutting my stuff. The end of the dance brought no surprise: roaring applause from the audience.?

The moral of the story here is don’t let your ignorance of certain aspects on SMU campus keep you from experiencing them. Constantly, I hear people saying “I don’t want to go to that, I’m not a dancer. I won’t know what’s going on.” Well people, my question is: how will you ever rise above your ignorance if you don’t open up to new experiences? I feel a tiny bit more educated about dance now because of what I saw and experienced. I am all for learning new things. So the question is: are you??

John Zogby: Will Check Out His Book

October 1, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Christy Vutam

I wish I had been more awake during John Zogby’s lecture Wednesday night. He had interesting ideas about what he perceives as the changing American Dream and gave examples of when the American people’s ideals changed. As a “first global,” I never realized that American ideals have ever been different from what they are today – more on that later. When he ran out of time, I was sad the lecture had ended.

Let me back up to the beginning: I was fuming when I got to my seat for the 2008 Exxonmobil Lecture Series. I had barely gotten in because the ticket office couldn’t spell my name right, and there wasn’t a ticket being held under Vutam. I wasn’t the only one whose ticket was lost; several people were in the same situation as me, and I hope they were all able to make it inside the “sold out” Caruth Auditorium (the tickets were free). I doubt everyone was able to attend. Next time, I’m asking the ticket person if I can look at how they spelled my name.

The lecture starts. I’m cranky and it’s been a long day. During the first 10 minutes of Zogby’s lecture, he’s using big words and talking about abstract ideas. I’m dozing a little.

22 minutes into the lecture (I even looked at my digital recorder to mark the time), he gets me, and I’m wide awake. He’s talking about when he took car rides to the country; he remembers when people threw garbage bags our of their cars. Miming the action of rolling down a car window, Zogby says, “And then they rolled” and then he looks at a student in the front row. He continues, “You have no idea what that’s all about.” The audience laughs.

I’m laughing hardest of all. You probably had to be there. For whatever reason, that joke kills me. It’s probably because I’m driving a car whose windows need to be manually rolled down, but whatever the reason, he has me. I sit up in my seat and listen to the man.

John Zogby is one of the “hottest pollster in the United States today,” according to the program handout, which basically means, he has a finger on what America is thinking. His polling company is that good.

Zogby’s using the garbage/car window anecdote to illustrate a behavioral change in America over the last few decades. Back then, people didn’t think recycling would take off in America. People would just throw entire garbage bags out their car windows. But, thanks to leadership, institutional changes and fines, the American people recycle now. Period.

I’m going to go back and listen to his lecture again, but I actually woke up at a good time. Shortly after the car quip, he talks about my generation. He coins us the “first globals.” The man’s at a college campus after all (although I think most of the audience were older folks). Basically, we’re kind of awesome. For example, we need to know the context of a situation before we pass judgment; nothing’s just black and white. We’re the most accepting and the most multicultural generation. Who doesn’t want to hear about how great they are?

And then he finishes his lecture with election coverage and the themes of the November elections. He says Katrina had more of an impact than 9/11 did and that Americans want someone who’ll be a problem-solver.

I’m eating it all up. Of course, he’s right – he made me laugh! Unfortunately, I don’t have enough money to buy his book, “The Way We’ll Be,” but I’m checking it out of the library the first chance I get. Because that’s how my awesome generation works.

Dance Students’ Works
Featured in Brown Bag

September 30, 2008 by · Comments Off 

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