Bringing a World of Research to the Cafe

mariana past

Associate Professor of Spanish Mariana Past. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Spring FaculTeas celebrate language and culture from two continents

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

From the language and imagery of revolutionary Haiti to the flavors of the Jewish-American deli, the spring 2016 FaculTeas bring a world of new faculty work to the Waidner-Spahr Library.

Offered throughout the academic year, FaculTeas invite students, faculty and staff from across campus to pull up a seat in the Biblio Café and learn, informally, about the broad spectrum of recent and ongoing faculty projects. The 2015-16 series kicked off Oct. 7 with a reading by Associate Professor of English Adrienne Su, who published her fourth book of poems this year. Associate Professor of Computer Science John MacCormick followed, with an October presentation on passwords, and Associate Professor of History Jeremy Ball rounded out the year with a December discussion on the role monuments play in a nation’s myths and historical perspectives.

The first presenter of the spring semester, Associate Professor of Spanish Mariana Past, delivered a lively talk March 2 about the enduring legacy of Toussaint Louverture, a leader of the Haitian revolution (1791-1804), in today’s Haiti, Caribbean and Cuba.

Past recently co-edited a book of Spanish-language essays on that topic, along with Natalie Leger of the City University of New York, Queens College, after presenting with her at the Festival del Caribe in July in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of Santiago de Cuba. Their book, Rethinking an Icon: Toussaint Louverture and Caribbean Cultural Production, was published last fall by Santiago de Cuba; during their March 2 presentation, Past and Leger made that scholarship accessible to a wide audience, including non-Spanish speakers, shining light on why Toussaint remains an important intellectual and creative figure and a central, yet contested, symbol of the revolutionary impulse in contemporary debates.

The final FaculTea of the semester, slated for April 6, brings Asbell Center Director Ted Merwin center stage to discuss his book on the role of the New York Jewish deli and traditional deli foods in the Jewish-American experience. Published last fall by NYU Press, Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, is the first comprehensive book on that delectable subject.

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Published March 7, 2016