Orcas Crossroads Lecture Series and CrossCurrents Seminar Series
The Crossroads Lecture Series brings distinguished speakers to Orcas Island to share their expertise on timely and important issues. Topics and speakers are carefully selected with input from the Crossroads Associates and other members of the community. Important goals of the series are to provide the essential background for understanding different sides of complex issues and to encourage a lively exchange of ideas. (More about people and history on our About Us page.)
All lectures this spring are at the Orcas Center. Please note the Friday, 7:30 start time for the first lecture and Sunday, 4:00 p.m. start time for the others.
• Prof. Ayanna Thompson “Othello in the 21st Century: To Perform or Not To Perform?” Friday, March 21, 2014, 7:30 pm, Orcas Center
Co-sponsored with the Chamber of Commerce Orcas Shakespeare Festival.
Othello is the best-known black character in Shakespeare’s plays, a traditional role of dignity for black actors. But racial stereotypes of the 17th century create some discomfort among 21st century audiences. This lecture, co-sponsored with the Shakespeare Festival, will explore historical and contemporary performances of the play in light of this discomfort.
Ayanna Thompson is Professor of English at George Washington University. She specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race as/in performance. She is the author of Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008), and she is the editor of Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) (co-edited with Scott Newstok) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). Professor Thompson is a Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America.
• Paul Gronke “Is Congress a “Broken Branch” or is America a “Broken Polity”?” Sunday April 13, 2014, 4:00 pm, Orcas Center
Is Congress a “broken branch” in need of institutional reform? Or is the real dysfunction in the broader American political system? Prof. Gronke’s talk will reflect on Congress and the electorate, drawing on his thirty years as an observer of both, uncovering warts but also suggesting tough but effective medicine for the American political system.
Paul Gronke is Professor of Political Science at Reed College. He studies American politics and empirical political theory, with specialities in the U.S. Congress, elections and electoral behavior, and public opinion.
Gronke is the founder and Director of the Early Voting Information Center, where he and his team conduct research on early voting and election reform, predominantly in the United States.
He has published a book, The Electorate, The Campaign, and the Vote (Michigan University Press, 2000), as well as articles in many prestigious journals and edited volumes. At Reed, Gronke teaches courses on political behavior, political institutions, and social science research methods. He served as the chair of the Political Science Department from 2001 – 2009 (with a few breaks for leave).
• Dr. Chris McKay “The Search for Life in Other Worlds, with an Update from the Mars Curiosity Rover” Sunday, May 18, 2014, 4:00 pm, Orcas Center
Do organic molecules exist on Mars? If so, are they of biological origin? Chris McKay, a Planetary Scientist with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames Research Center, will discuss the ongoing efforts to determine local habitability and share the latest reports from the Curiosity Rover, which has been operating on Mars since August 2012. Other Solar System worlds of keen interest include Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Dr.McKay received a Ph.D. in AstroGeophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982. His research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human exploration, and has been involved with polar and desert research, traveling to the Antarctic Dry Valleys, the Atacama Desert, the Arctic, and the Namib Desert to conduct research in these Mars-like environments. He has served as co-investigator on the 2005 Huygens probe to Titan, the 2008 Mars Phoenix Lander, and the current Mars Science Laboratory.