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University Libraries Writers Series: Home

Featuring Stony Brook Faculty and Visiting Authors. Sponsored by Stony Brook University Libraries.

Fall 2016 - University Libraries Present: Writers Series

The University Libraries proudly announce its exciting Fall 2016 Writers Series.
Please register and join us for an hour of diverse, dynamic talks by our
esteemed Stony Brook faculty. 

bona Adrienne Munich Shirley Lim Charles Taber Carl Safina

Pictured left to right: Mary Jo Bona, Adrienne Munich, Shirley Lim, Charles Taber, Carl Safina.

Save the Dates and Register

Special Collections Seminar Room*
Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library (E-2340)
Stony Brook University (directions). 

*Please note: food and drink are not permitted in the seminar room.

About the University Libraries Presents: Writers Series

The series feature lectures and conversations with Stony Brook faculty and visiting authors.

  • Events are approximately one hour.
  • Free and open to the public. 
  • Events will be filmed. By attending, guests consent to be filmed. 
  • If you require special accommodations, please contact:

Kristen J. Nyitray
Head, Special Collections & University Archives
University Archivist
Associate Librarian 
(631) 632-7119

Series Organizers:
Kristen J. Nyitray and Sally Stieglitz

Tuesday, November 15 at 1pm: Carl Safina

Read about this event: Conservationist and Author Carl Safina Captivates at Writers Series

Carl Safina: "Beyond Words: How Elephants, Wolves, and Killer Whales Think and Feel"  

Carl Safina spent time working with researchers who’ve spent decades studying particular families of wild elephants, wolves, and killer whales. He got to know these free-living creatures as individuals, along with their children and grandchildren. In this talk he tells us of amazing strategies and judgment calls these actual wild creatures have made to ensure their families’ survival in times of crisis.

Safina will explore up-to-date brain studies showing astonishing new discoveries about the similarities in our consciousness, self-awareness, empathy, non-verbal communication, imitation, teaching, the roots of aesthetics including music, and a surprisingly capacity for grief widespread among elephants, wolves, whales, and even certain birds.

The main thing that Safina will show is that animals think and feel a lot like people do—because after all, people are animalsHe’ll show that many non-human beings know who their friends are. They know who their enemies are. They have ambitions for status, and their lives follow the arc of a career. Relationships define them, as relationships define us.

Carl Safina’s writing about the living world has won a MacArthur “genius” prize, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. His seabird studies earned a PhD in ecology from Rutgers; he then spent a decade working to ban high-seas drift nets and to overhaul U.S. fishing policy. Safina is now the first Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University, where he co-chairs the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and runs the not-for-profit Safina Center. He hosted the PBS series Saving the Ocean. His writing appears in The New York Times, TIME, Audubon, and on the Web at National Geographic News and Views, Huffington Post,, and elsewhere. He is author of the classic book, Song for the Blue Ocean. Carl’s seventh book is Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel. He lives on Long Island, New York with his wife Patricia and their dogs and feathered friends.

Tuesday, September 27 at 1pm: Mary Jo Bona & Adrienne Munich

Read about this event: Professors Bona and Munich "Dazzle" at Writers Series, 9/27/2016

Mary Jo Bona: "Women Writing Cloth: Migratory Fictions in the American Imaginary"
Women Writing Cloth: Migratory Fictions in the American Imaginary investigates the relationship between literary representations of cloth-work and migration, demonstrating how American authors innovate on pre-modern stories of weaving women in order to explore the intricate connections between handwork, resourcefulness, and mobility.  Bona argues that cloth-work serves as a textual signifier of mobility and preservation, constituting a revolt against a devaluation of cultural heritage and a distrust of the self.  Bona develops a new framework for examining analogies between weaving and storytelling, the flow of needlework across place and time, women’s labor and status, and the power of cloth-work as both means and metaphor for cultural reintegration across borders.

Mary Jo Bona is professor and Chair of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook University.  A specialist in the field of multiethnic American literary and feminist studies, her authored books include: Women Writing Cloth: Migratory Fictions in the American Imaginary, By the Breath of Their Mouths: Narratives of Resistance in Italian America, Claiming a Tradition: Italian American Women Writers, and a book of poetry, I Stop Waiting For You. Bona is also editor of The Voices We Carry: Recent Italian American Women’s Fiction; co-editor (with Irma Maini) of Multiethnic Literature and Canon Debates; and series editor of Multiethnic Literature for State University of New York Press. She is past president of the Italian American Studies Association and served for six years on the board of MELUS, the Association of Multiethnic Literature of the United States.  

Adrienne Munich: "Scramblers for Diamonds at the "Big Hole" in Kimberley, South Africa"
The 1867 discovery of a large diamond in what is now South Africa brought to Kimberley what one novelist called “mixed humanity” who together created the wonder of the largest hand-dug mine, eventually acquired by the DeBeers Company and suggestively titled “Big Hole.” Rare archival photos, letters, and a diary reveal those ordinary men who scrambled for diamonds at the mine. Photos document the hiring of African miners who came to afford a bride to reveal chilling images of the “civilizing mission.” A diary and letters from two ordinary Americans reveal the grinding daily quest of another ingredient of the mix. The archives show African and American alike risking their lives to acquire dazzling over-valued minerals.  Rather than look at the historically renowned figures, such as Cecil Rhodes, the archives uncover images and words of common men who became part of the imperially-named  “the scramble for Africa.”

Adrienne Munich is Professor of English at Stony Brook University with affiliated appointments in Art, Cultural Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. She is author of books and articles about Victorian literature and culture, among them Andromeda’s Chains and Queen Victoria’s Secrets, and articles about Victorian and modern symbolic economies. Recent books include two collections about the American modern poet, Amy Lowell, one about fashion in film, and articles about movies, early radio, and African diamonds.  Her most recent publications are about apocalypse in Robert Browning, written with Nicole Garret of Stony Brook, and cultural meanings of a famous Indian diamond, called the Koh-i-Noor. Her current book project concerns the changing meanings of Victorian diamonds. She co-edits the Cambridge University Press journal, Victorian Literature and Culture.

Tuesday, October 18 at 1pm: Shirley Lim & Charles Taber

Read about this event here.

Shirley Lim: "
Anna May Wong: Glamourizing Racial Modernity"
Chinese American actress Anna May Wong broke the codes of yellowface, the derogatory depiction of Asians by European Americans, in both American and European theater and cinema to become one of the major global actresses of Asian descent between the world wars. Born near Los Angeles’ Chinatown in 1905, Wong made close to sixty films that circulated around the world, headlined theater and vaudeville productions in locations ranging from Sydney to Paris to New York and, in 1951, had her own television show, The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong.

Shirley Jennifer Lim is Associate Professor of History and affiliate faculty in Women and Gender Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, and Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The author of A Feeling of Belonging: Asian American Women’s Public Culture, 1930-1960 (NYU 2006), she is currently working on a book-length manuscript entitled “Performing the Modern.”

Charles Taber: "The Rationalizing Voter"
Conventional models of voter decision making assume that citizens engage in a careful consideration of pros and cons, issues and traits, eventually casting their ballots for the candidates closest to them in issue space. By contrast, this talk will focus on unconscious political thinking and the subterranean forces that determine how citizens evaluate political leaders, groups, and issues. It is the culmination of a twenty-year collaboration to chart the stream of political information processing, which constructs political deliberation and behavior, and the impact of early, unnoticed feelings on this process. In a very real sense, the presidential election of 2016 is an illustration of The Rationalizing Voter.

Charles Taber has been on the faculty at Stony Brook University since 1989 and is Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, as well as a Professor of Political Science. Taber received his PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1991, and is a leading scholar in the fields of political psychology and computational modeling, with over 60 scholarly publications. He has been a pioneer in the use of computational modeling in political science, publishing the first article using this method in a major political science journal (American Political Science Review, 1992) as well as a widely-used text for computational modeling in the social sciences (Computational Modeling, Sage, 1996). Taber has made significant contributions to the growing literature on the psychological mechanisms that drive public opinion. In 2000, he received the Paul Lazersfeld outstanding paper award from the American Political Science Association for a paper on the causes of bias in political reasoning, published in the American Journal of Political Science. Along with Milton Lodge, Taber has developed an influential theory of unconscious thinking in political behavior. Their 2013 book, The Rationalizing Voter, from Cambridge University Press, won the Robert E. Lane Book Award and the Book of the Year Awards from the Experimental Politics and Migration and Citizenship Sections of the American Political Science Association. Taber’s research and career have been the subject of numerous profiles in the scientific and popular press, including in ScienceScientific American, and Mother Jones. He has received nine research grants from the National Science Foundation, has edited the journal Political Psychology, and serves on the editorial boards of several leading political science journals.