Inaugural Cleveland Humanities Festival to Take Place in April

Loosely modeled after the Chicago Humanities Festival, the inaugural Cleveland Humanities Festival, a partnership of 20 Northeast Ohio institutions slated to take place from April 1 to 10, will explore a very specific theme, namely “the impact of war on societies and cultures.”

“The idea is simple: bring together the strength of our world-class humanities organizations around a topic that has affected all of our lives in profound ways, large and small,” says Peter Knox, director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University, in a press release. “We hope people think about this topic in new and challenging ways—with the humanities as our gateway.”

Most of the lectures, movies and shows are free and open to the public; some require registration.

Organizers hope the festival will become an annual event. They plan to create with a new theme each year that engages the public by addressing "meaningful issues and pressing concerns.” Immigration will be the theme of the 2017 festival.

“With an election year rich with implications for our military, recent anniversaries of a number of our country’s major wars and our ongoing campaigns in the Middle East, war is simultaneously present, past and likely to be a part of our future,” says Knox, who joined Case Western Reserve in early 2015 and holds the university’s Eric and Jane Nord Family Professorship.

Highlights include an appearance by Russian/Ukrainian Jewish music prodigy Zhanna Arshanskaya, who performed music for Nazis during World War II to avoid execution, survived and became a concert pianist and music professor. She will join a discussion about a documentary about her life. A recital will follow the talk.

MacArthur “genius grant” winner Jonathan Shay will speak about how to treat combat veterans with severe psychological injuries by using narrative and other literary devices, and John Grabowski will revisit the response by Case Western Reserve students to the May 4 Kent State shootings.

In a performance by the Warrior Chorus from the Aquila Theatre Company in New York City, military veterans trained in dance and other forms of expression will present pieces that focus on "critical social issues," including "war, conflict, comradeship, home and family," and Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie will explore why armies destroy art and cultural artifacts during times of war.

Other events include a discussion of the Armenian Genocide and its continuing ramifications and the influence of World War II and the Cold War on artists working in the mid-20th century. The Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra will perform the piece “Remembering War." The concert takes place in CIM’s Kulas Hall, and WCLV 104.9 will provide a live broadcast.

A full list of events, venues, dates and times is available at
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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