2017 Cleveland Humanities Festival Events

Immigration written over a picture of passport stamps

March - April 2017

Institutions participating in the 2017 Cleveland Humanities Festival on the theme of “Immigration” offered public programming on the challenges and opportunities caused by the movement of people. Exile, immigration, deportation, migration—in the history of every nation demographic shifts have been a part of the fabric of civic and cultural life. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of our own country.   The forced deportations of the Middle Passage, the wholesale immigration of eastern Europeans in the nineteenth century, the recent relocation of refugees from Middle Eastern conflict, are only a few of the movements that have left their mark on American communities. The Cleveland Humanities Festival  explored from a humanistic perspective the impact of immigration across time and within our own time through a series of coordinated events, including lecture, exhibits, theatrical performances, academic symposia, tours, and films.

Poetry Reading with Sinead Morrissey

March 15, 2017
Rodman A, John Carroll University
Sinéad Morrissey was born in Portadown in 1972. She grew up in Belfast, and became the youngest ever winner of The Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1990. At the time of this interview in September 2002, she had published two collections with Carcanet Press, There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996) and Between Here and There (2002). She was at work on her third collection, The State of the Prisons, which was published in 2005. She has since published a further two collections with Carcanet: Through The Square Window (2009) and Parallax (2013), which was awarded the TS Eliot Prize in January 2014. Sinéad was appointed as the inaugural Belfast Poet Laureate in 2013. She teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast.

This event was sponsored by John Carroll University.

Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives

March 18 and 19, 2017
Student Center Ballroom, Cleveland State University
This event will be staged reading featuring original work by Cleveland writers on the theme of immigration.

This event was co-sponsored by Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Science, and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

An Irish-Appalachian Journey

March 19, 2017
Music Box Supper Club
An Irish-Appalachian Journey, Highlights from Sugarloaf Mountain.  Amanda Powell & Ross Hauck, vocals; Tina Bergmann, hammered dulcimer; Susanna Gilmore, fiddle; Jeannette Sorrell, harpsichord; Kathie Stewart, wooden flutes; Brian Kay, lute, guitar, banjo & long-neck dulcimer; René Schiffer, cello

This event was sponsored by Apollo’s Fire,

Curator Talk: Photography and Immigration

March 23, 2017
Art Study Room, Cleveland Museum of Art
In this lunchtime talk, explore selected works by photographers Leonard Freed, Céline van Balen, and others who have depicted immigrants and immigration with Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

This event was sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Art.


March 23, 2017
Maltz Performing Arts Center, Case Western Reserve University
Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s presents the F. Joseph Callahan Distinguished Lecture, which is also the keynote address for the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities’ contributions to the Cleveland Humanities Festival. Gates is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. A literary critic and filmmaker, he also sits as jury chair of Cleveland’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. He has authored or co-authored 21 books and created 16 documentary films, the latest of which is Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise. Known for his commitment to African-American representation in literature and film and his fight for the recognition of that history, Gates has received more than 55 honorary degrees as well as numerous academic and social action awards.

This event was co-sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Think Forum Lecture Series.

Imagination and Diaspora in Peter Balakian’s Poetry and Prose

March 24, 2017
Tinkham Veale Univerisity Center, Case Western Reserve University
Peter Balakian, Pulitzer-prize winning Armenian American poet and writer and the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of Humanities at Colgate University, will discuss the impact of the post genocide Armenian diaspora in his poetry and his memoir Black Dog of Fate.  He will explore how the impact of the history of exile and uprooting can inflect and shape literary imagination and in doing so help create a wider understanding of the legacy of traumatic history.

This event was co-sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Armenian Cultural Organization.

A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade

March 24, 2017
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
In her talk, author and anthropologist Barbara Rylko-Bauer will use her mother’s story to talk about broader issues of immigration, examining the echoes from the past that are appearing today.  Her mother’s story is the focus of her book, A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade, which weaves personal family narrative with twentieth-century history to present a daughter’s account of her Polish Catholic mother’s World War II experiences as a prisoner-doctor in Jewish slave labor camps in Nazi Germany and the challenges of “surviving survival” – rebuilding a new life, first as a refugee doctor in Germany and later as an immigrant in the United States.

This event was co-sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

A Tale of Two Americas

March 25, 2017
Cleveland Public Library
Anand Giridharadas will be addressing some of society’s challenging issues and pressing concerns – A Tale of Two Americas TED Talk. A short Q&A will follow.

This event was sponsored by the Cleveland Public Library.

Pelle the Conqueror

March 26, 2017
Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque
Denmark/Sweden, 1987, Bille August
Max von Sydow stars in this epic film that won the 1989 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film as well as the top prize at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival. Set during the late 1850s, the film follows an older widower and his young son as they emigrate from their native Sweden to Denmark in search of a better life. Cleveland revival premiere. Subtitles.

This event was sponsored by the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque.

Muslim in America: A Conversatio with Ayad Akhtar

March 27, 2017
Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom, Case Western Reserve University
Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Ayad Akhtar discusses the Muslim experience in America with Justine Howe, Assistant Professor in the CWRU Department of Religious Studies and Robert Barry Fleming, Associate Artistic Director at the Cleveland Play House. Akhtar is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. His stage play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within.

This event was co-sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Cleveland Play House.

2017 State of Downtown Cleveland, The Economic Success of Migration and Immigration

March 28, 2017
The City Club of Cleveland
In the 1920’s, Cleveland prospered, in part, because of its significant foreign-born population who provided the labor and entrepreneurial skills needed for the city’s changing economy. Today, Ohio’s foreign-born immigrants number 480, 868 – just 4 percent of the population. The national average is 13 percent. The city’s continued economic success is dependent on its ability to embrace technology and innovation, and compete in a highly skilled global economy. Join us for a conversation on how immigration and international residents can create jobs and influence a vibrant 24/7 Downtown community.  Moderated by Darrell Snipes, Reporter and Producer, WVIZ PBS Ideastream. Panel Includes: John J. Kiru, Executive Director, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas; Joseph Marinucci, President & CEO, Downtown Cleveland Alliance; Humberto Choi, M.D., Pulmonologist, Cleveland Clinic and Downtown Cleveland Resident; and Joe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland.

This event was sponsored by The Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Internal Immigration and Return: Jewish Renaissance in Sicily and Sardinia

March 28, 2017
Clark Hall Room 206, Case Western Reserve University
The infamous 1492 Edict of Expulsion of the Jews forced close to 500,000 people into exile. Many had to leave their home-country where they lived for centuries, but still many, with nowhere to go, were pressured into conversion and into what became their “internal immigration.” Travel with Irene Shaland to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia that present a fascinating chapter in both, the history of immigration and the history of Jewish Diaspora. Discover a world of little-known Jewish narrative: centuries marked by fear and secrets, decades filled with the search for one’s identity, and courage to defy conventions by reinventing oneself.

This event was sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU.

From Here to There – Immigrant Investigation

March 28, 2017
Cleveland History Center for the Western Reserve Historical Society
Unfold the story of a migrant or refugee family’s journey to Northeast Ohio from overseas or from another US region. Investigate a family through primary documents to discover when and from where they came, why they left, and what their hopes are for a future in Cleveland. Stories range from the 1840s to 1980s, and include European, Asian, Hispanic, African American, and Appalachian groups.

This event was sponsored by the Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

From Refugee to Neighbor

March 28, 2017
North Olmsted Branch, Cuyahoga County Public Library
Through the showing of several, short documentary-style films, this presentation opens a community conversation about Cleveland’s changing diversity in culture and population, thanks to the arrival of refugees to our community. Members of the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland will address myths about these newcomers, and offer stories and data to spark added discussion about future opportunities for Cleveland.

This event was sponsored by Cuyahoga County Public Library. 

Whose Country Is This? Undocumented Migrant Children and Youth in the United States after the 2016 Presidential Election

March 28, 2017
Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom, Case Western Reserve University
Following the 2014 surge of Central American and Mexican children across the U.S.-Mexican border and the 2016 election of a president committed to ending illegal immigration, Susan Terri, Professor of Anthropology and French Studies at Georgetown University, charts the ongoing legal, political and social challenges they face after apprehension by immigration authorities and release into U.S. communities.

This event was sponsored by the Schubert Center for Child Studies, CWRU.

Who Should Enter the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy in Historical Perspective

March 29, 2017
Thwing Center Ballroom, Case Western Reserve University
The current debate about immigration often neglects or misinterprets past “policies” that have related to immigration and citizenship in the United States. In his talk John Grabowski, CWRU’s Krieger-Mueller Joint Professor in History and Historian and Senior Vice President for Research and Publications at the Western Reserve Historical Society, provides a broad historical perspective on not only the creation (or, indeed, the absence) of policy relating to immigration to the United States but on the manner in which citizens and policymakers chose to see immigrants and immigration in relation to economic, social, and political issues over time.

This event was sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU.

Making Cleveland Home: Immigration Stories

March 29, 2017
Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
What does it mean to be home? How do stories of our experiences – separately and collectively – shape what we come to think of as our community? Join us for a panel presentation and discussion with immigrants to the Cleveland community.  The panel will be hosted by Peter Haas, Abba Hillel Silver Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University.

This event was co-sponsored by Books@Work and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Frode Haltli and Emilia Amper

March 29, 2017
Gartner Auditorium, Cleveland Museum of Art
Norwegian composer, and accordionist Frode Haltli teams up with Swedish nyckelharpa virtuoso Emilia Amper for an evening of Scandinavian folk-inspired music. Haltli’s concert-length work The Border Woods is scored for accordion, two percussion and the nyckelharpa, or “keyed fiddle.” Haltli works across folk, improvisation and contemporary classical genres, and creates a modern identity for his instrument. Blending the accordion with the richly resonant sounds of the Swedish nyckelharpa, The Border Woods picks up resonances and overtones from Nordic folk music and traces their connections with Indian and Arabic scales.

This event was sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Art.

 I Learn America: One High School, One School Year, Five New Americans

March 29, 2017
Tinkham Veale Univerisity Center, Case Western Reserve University
In America, nearly one student in four is a child of immigration. How America fares in welcoming immigrants will determine our identity for the years to come. This film follows five immigrant teenagers over the course of one year at the International High School at Lafayette, a public high school in Brooklyn, NY dedicated to newly arrived immigrants from all over the world. By walking in the shoes of five complex (and in some ways, typical) teenagers who encounter everything from learning a new language, adapting to families they haven’t seen in years, to social pressure and visa uncertainties while coming of age in a new land — schools, communities, and their leaders have come to understand how these children– and the millions like them throughout the USA – are an integral part of America today. A discussion about how we welcome today’s immigrants in this country, facilitated by Facing History and Ourselves staff, will immediately follow the film screening.

This event was co-sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

Famine, Migration, and God: Ireland 1845-1850

March 29, 2017
Rodman A, John Carroll University
Oliver P. Rafferty is a Jesuit priest and native of Belfast, N. Ireland. He graduated with a master’s degree and doctorate from Oxford University, where he was also senior tutor at Campion Hall. He is Professor of Modern Irish and Ecclesiastical History at Boston College. His latest book is Violence, Politics and Catholicism in Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2016).

This event was sponsored by Cleveland State University.

Fresh Start: Refugees in America, Past and Present

March 30, 2017
Drinko Recital Hall, Cleveland State University,
A panel of scholars will discuss a history of refugees in America to help us understand and frame current debates and issues. Discussion will follow the presentation of a documentary film, Fresh Start, about a Somali-Bantu refugees living in New Hampshire. Film by Cigdem Slankard, School of Communication, CSU; Panel: Stephanie Hinnershitz, moderator, Dept of History, CSU; Melissa Borja, Department of History, CUNY-College of Staten Island; Eric Tang, African and African Diaspora Department, University of Texas- Austin.

This event was sponsored by Cleveland State University.

Lady Mary’s Legacy: Vaccine Advocacy from The Turkish Embassy Letters to Video Games

March 30, 2017
Dittrick Medical History Museum
On April 1, 1717, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote her famous “Letter to a Friend” from the Turkish Embassy, describing the process of smallpox inoculation. With that letter, she became one of the earliest vaccination advocates, joined over the next three hundred years by celebrities and scientists, pop culture icons and heads of state, patients and game developers. In her talk Lisa Rosner, Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies; Director, Honors Program; Stockton University, will mark the 300th anniversary of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s famous letter promoting smallpox inoculation (the disease was being spread by travel, immigration, etc.) She will also update us on progress on her project, The Pox Hunter, a 3D digital game presenting a key issue in the history of medicine: the interaction of disease entity, patient, and healer in the introduction of vaccination as a public health technology.

This event was co-sponsored by the Dittrick Medical History Museum, CWRU and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU.

Symbols of Passage, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

March 31, 2017
Cleveland History Center for the Western Reserve Historical Society
This presentation examines the way in which Americans and others have “chosen” to see two of the most potent symbols of their multicultural past. Today the Statue of Liberty is a totem to immigration and freedom and Ellis Island is the foremost museum of the American immigrant experience. Yet, both began as something different — the Statue was more about French liberalism than it was a monument to immigration and, when opened in 1892, Ellis Island was a processing station for an immigrant labor force coming to America. Not fondly remembered, it is now a monument to and celebration of immigration. How and why did these changes come about?

This event was sponsored by the Cleveland History Center for the Western Reserve Historical Society.

When Away Becomes Home: The Refugee Crisis and Opportunities for Welcome in Northeast Ohio

March 31, 2017
MOCA Cleveland
The world is in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Several organizations in Northeast Ohio are actively engaged in resettling individuals and families who have fled from their homelands. What are the stories of these people? And “how are they successfully integrating into our communities, bringing their skills and perspectives to a region poised for growth, but needing some additional resources? That is is the subject of the conversation moderated by Wendy Pearlman, the Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor at Northwestern University. Prof. Pearlman’s book, We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria (HarperCollins, June 2017), explores the lived experience of the Syrian uprising, war, and refugee crisis. She will be joined on the podium by Justine Howe, Assistant Professor in the CWRU Department of Religious Studies, Joe Cimperman, President of Global Cleveland and Bishnu Sunnar, a refugee from Bhutan who now works as an employment counselor for the International Institute of Akron.

This event was co-sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU, Global Cleveland, the International Institute of Akron and MOCA Cleveland.

Walking and Trolley Tour: Italian Immigrants who Built Lake View Cemetery

April 1, 2017
Lake View Cemetery
Pamela Dorazio Dean, Curator of Italian American History at the Cleveland History Center, and Michael N. and Monica Johns with the Johns Carabelli Co., Ltd. will spotlight Northeast Ohio Italian Americans who helped build Lake View Cemetery. Many were involved with building the Wade Chapel and the James A. Garfield Memorial. Reservations required. $35 per person. Package includes tour followed by wine and appetizers at Daffodil Hall. The tour is conducted on Lolly the Trolley, with some walking involved.

This event was co-sponsored by Lake View Cemetery Foundation, the Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society and The John Carabelli Co.

Field Trip to Ethnic Markets in Cleveland

April 1, 2017
Trolley departed from Cleveland Museum of Natural History
This trip offers the opportunity to visit many of the fantastic ethnic shops and markets in Cleveland.  Featured will be visits to the West Side Market, and Asian, German and Italian stores, plus a few more too. Cost is $25 per person.

This event was co-sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU.

Building Bridges: Fixing the Immigration Issue and Strengthening U.S.-Mexico Relations

April 3, 2017
Tinkham Veale Univerisity Center, Case Western Reserve University
Immigration reform has long been a priority for President Vicente Fox, who, during his time in office, worked with then-President George W. Bush to negotiate immigration policy. Since leaving office, President Fox continues to emphasize the importance of immigration reform with the goal of building bridges and why America must establish sensible pathways for citizenship for undocumented immigrants. In his speech, President Fox will addresse why immigration reform is crucial not just for America and Mexico, but for the global community at large: “Mexico and other nations consider U.S. immigration reform important because we know our citizens will continue to migrate in search of job opportunities and a better quality of life, with freedom and respect for human rights.”

This event was sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU.

The Immigrant Role in the Creation of an American Islam

April 4, 2017
Clark Hall Room 206, Case Western Reserve University
Between 1965 and 2000, the number of American mosques increased from six to 1209. The creation of these institutions reflects not only the manifold population spike of the presence of Muslims, but also of the importance of religious practice in the process of assimilation. This talk describes the role of late 20th-century immigrants in the creation of an organic American Islam. Maysan Haydar is a PhD student in the Department of History at the Ohio State University, in modern American history, Islamic history, and military history. Her dissertation research chronicles the development of the American Muslim community in the mid-to-late 20th century.

This events was sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU. 

Immigrants in Ohio

April 5, 2017
Cuyahoga County Public Library, Solon Branch
Global Cleveland a nonprofit focused on population growth and regional economic development will share five things about newcomers in northeastern Ohio that are engines to our community’s revitalization and greatness.

This is event was sponsored by Cuyahoga County Public Library.

The Art of Nidhi Chanani

April 5, 2017
Recital Hall, Cleveland Museum of Art
Artist Nidhi Chanani is currently working on her debut graphic novel, Pashmina, to be published by First Second Books in 2017, about Priyanka Das, an Indian-American teenage girl. Born in Calcutta and raised in suburban southern California, Chanani’s own experiences inspired Priyanka’s story.

This event was sponsored by Cleveland Musem of Art

Concert: Zakir Hussain and Rahul Sharma

April 12, 2017
Gartner Auditorium, Cleveland Museum of Art
The pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of the time and Grammy-award winner Zakir Hussain is appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world as an international phenomenon. Santoor player Rahul Sharma has carved a niche for himself in the world of Indian classical and fusion world music with over 60 released albums over 15 years.

This event was sponsored by Cleveland Museum of Art.

Poetry Reading and Reception

April 13, 2017
Bud and Susie Rogers Garden, Akron Art Museum
This event will feature the first public poetry reading from children and adult participants of the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas: Writing Across Borders project and a ribbon cutting for two outdoor, interactive poetry kiosks.

This event was co-sponsored by the Wick Poetry Center, Kent State University, and the Akron Art Museum.

Aliens with Extraordinary Skills

April 14,15,16, 21,22 23, 2017
Eldred Theater, Case Western Reserve University
Eldred Theater presents Aliens with Extraordinary Skills by Savanna Stanescu. The play is directed by Erik Andrews.A clown from the “unhappiest country in the world” has emigrated to America to find a place that will appreciate her skills. As she settles in New York and tries to fulfill her dreams, Nadia finds that not everything is as perfect as she had hoped.

This event was sponsored by the Department of Theater, CWRU.

From Portadown to Princeton: A Poetry Reading

April 24, 2017
Donohue Auditorium, John Carroll University
Paul Muldoon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, He was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in literature in 1996. Other awards are the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, and the 2004 Shakespeare Prize. He is the current Poetry Editor of the New Yorker Magazine.

This event was sponsored by John Carroll University.