Athenaeum’s Salons Cover Preservation, Business, Proust + More

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


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From the role of gay men in historic preservation to sex, lust, abortion and murder in 19th century Rhode Island, there is something for everyone at the Providence Athenaeum this season.

From the role of gay men in historic preservation to business innovation, from Proust to sex and lust in 19th century Rhode Island, the Providence Athenaeum's fall schedule may be its greatest yet. Don't miss this incredible line-up of salons that are open to the public. All events take place at the Providence Athenaeum on Benefit Street.

10/12: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture

SALON: Co-presented with the Providence Preservation Society, author Will Fellows on his book A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture, part of the 2012 PPS Symposium, “Not Always Pretty: Behind the Façade of Historic Preservation in Providence.” Friday, October 12, 5-7pm.

The important role of gay men in the Historic Preservation movement has long been an open secret. Assuming the more acceptable guises of eccentric antiquarians, urban pioneers, collectors, or bachelor decorators, they have frequently been at the forefront of saving, interpreting, and advocating for our material and architectural heritage. Join us for a discussion of this little known but essential part of the history of preservation in America. Books available for sale and signing thanks to the Brown Bookstore. More:

10/19: "Ulysses" and Art

SALON: Artist Jessica Deane Rosner in conversation with poet/translator Stuart Blazer about her “Ulysses Glove Project.” Friday, October 19, 5-7pm.

Rosner’s father’s read Joyce’s Ulysses obsessively, and while she grew up surrounded by copies, she had never read it - then after his death she embarked on a multi-year project to transcribe by hand the entire text of the novel onto yellow rubber gloves. Motivations included her need to make visual art combined with her deep engagement with reading and writing, her memories of her father, considerations of censorship, the dailiness of the practice of art and the rituals of cleaning, and the idea of epic undertakings. Rosner and Blazer will explore the meanings made manifest in her work. More:

10/26: Saul Kaplan on innovation

SALON: “Collaborate to Innovate,” with Saul Kaplan, Business Innovation Factory (BIF) founder, author of The Business Model Innovation Factory: How to Stay Relevant when the World Is Changing. Friday, October 26, 5-7pm.

As former Director of the RI Economic Development Corporation, Kaplan knew the challenges facing RI businesses; in response he created BIF as a real-world laboratory for innovators to test new business models and solutions in such areas of high social importance as health care, education, entrepreneurship, and energy independence. BIF’s annual Summit (9/19-20) brings together innovators across industries to spark inspiration and ideas. Join Kaplan for more on BIF and this year’s Summit stories. More: . Books available for sale and signing thanks to the Brown Bookstore.

(Part 2 of a 4-part series, “The Innovation Way of Life: Stories about Community, Culture, and Commerce,” looking at how RI can cultivate an sustainable ecology of innovation, curated by Kipp Bradford, Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer, School of Engineering, Brown University.)

11/2: The history of conversation

SALON: “Be Here Now: A Consideration of Conversation,” Thomas Augst, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English, New York University, and Daniel Harkett, Assistant Professor, Department of the History of Art + Visual Culture, RI School of Design, in conversation with Athenaeum Director of Programs and Public Engagement Christina Bevilacqua. Friday, November 2, 5-7pm.

Face-to-face interaction, once the default mode of communication, has been eclipsed by technologies that convey ideas across gaps in time and distance, and reproduce and disseminate them in perpetuity. What value, then, if any, does real-time, transitory face-to-face interaction still have? We’ll look at two traditions that have fostered conversation, the salon and the library, and examine their shared values and strategies for creating spaces where ideas were formed, introduced, and debated; civility and civic engagement modeled; and learning prized. Do we still cultivate those ideals today? If so, how and in what settings? Augst is the author of The Clerk’s Tale: Young Men and Moral Life in Nineteenth-Century America, and the coeditor of Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States and Cultural Agencies and American Libraries. Harkett is writing a book on the visual culture of sociability in post-revolutionary France.

11/13: Proust and fashion

SALON: Proustfest part 1: Bard Graduate Center Assistant Professor of Clothing and Textiles Michele Majer on “Dress and the Dandy in Proust.” Tuesday, November 13, 5-7pm.

“Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.” This Baudelairean manifesto found nuanced expression in the work of Proust, for whom the evocative, multivalent aspect of clothing—its ambiguity in being intimately connected to but not of the body, its transformative ability to reveal, conceal, or disguise the body and the inner self, and our deeply personal, psychological relationship to what we and others wear—made it a serious object of study. Characters like the aristocratic dandy the Baron de Charlus, the cultured aesthete Charles Swann, and the supremely elegant Princesse de Guermantes are each associated with their highly distinctive styles. Majer will examine fashion’s fin de siècle moment and the ways that Proust used dress as a manifestation of his characters’ personalities and to deconstruct the meanings of their sartorial choices.

11/16: Proust and style

SALON: Proustfest part 2: Columbia University Associate Professor of French Caroline Weber on “Proust’s Duchesse: The Making and Unmaking of a Society Style Icon.” Friday, November 16, 5-7pm.

Weber examines Proust’s friendship with the three leading salon hostesses and taste-makers upon whom he based his novel’s iconic anti-heroine, the Duchesse de Guermantes, and the complex relationship between this fictional muse and her real-life counterparts. The importance of fashion and style in the Belle Epoque, including the rise of such couturiers as Fortuny, and the evolution in the nature of celebrity and social prestige at that moment, emerge as particularly important elements of the Duchesse’s – and her models’ – personae. Weber’s 2006 book Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution was widely praised for its rigor, originality, and style.

11/23: Lust, sex, abortion and murder in 19th century Rhode Island

SALON: Historians Erik Chaput and Raymond Lavertue on “’The Instigation of the Devil’: Sex, Lust, Abortion, and Murder in 19th Century RI.” Friday, November 23, 5-7pm.

The March 11, 1833 Providence Journal featured two sensational murder cases: examination of the witnesses “in the case of Mr. David Gibbs, accused of murder in Coventry,” and indictment of married minister Ephraim Avery for the Tiverton murder of pregnant factory worker Sarah Cornell. Avery’s case is well documented, but the murder of pregnant, working class Sally Burdick by the well-heeled Gibbs and Frances Leach was forgotten, despite the presence of RI’s most prominent attorneys on both sides of the case. These included reformer Thomas Wilson Dorr, whom Chaput and Lavertue were researching when they uncovered the case file at the RI Historical Society

11/30: More to community gardens than food

SALON: Margaret DeVos, new Executive Director of Southside Community Land Trust, on how community gardens grow more than just food. Friday, November 30, 5-7pm.

DeVos arrived from Detroit in July to head SCLT, whose mission she says “fits perfectly with my commitment to develop thriving, economically and environmentally just urban communities.” Her experience includes non-profit real estate development; sustainable building technologies; helping to increase the number of grocery stores in low-income areas and change food assistance benefits distribution to improve access to fresh, healthy food; and comprehensive community development in Detroit’s hardest hit neighborhoods. Join us to learn about her vision for SCLT’s continued growth. More:

12/4: Election in review

Co-presented with Common Cause RI: “A Time to Campaign and a Time to Govern.” Tuesday, December 4, 5:30/6pm.

Brown University Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy Wendy Schiller moderates a conversation with Ian Donnis, political reporter for RI Public Radio; Ed Fitzpatrick, political columnist for the Providence Journal; and Ted Nesi, political and economic reporter for Join us for a review of the local and national 2012 elections and a look ahead at the 2013 legislative session.

12/7: Crime and Punishment

SALON: Trinity Repertory Company Artistic Director Curt Columbus on the art of translation as well as the experience of translating Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment - into English, into a play, and into the 21st century. Friday, December 7, 5-7pm.

Crime and Punishment is on stage at Trinity Rep January 17 through February 24, 2013. The art of a good translator will most often be invisible to an audience, because they will receive the translation with the full force of the original work of literature without ever having to learn another language! Columbus maintains that good translations and adaptations require a Zen-like acceptance of that invisibility on the part of the artist, in order to allow the audience to feel the voice of the original author, as well as her/his intent. His work, with Marilyn Campbell, as translator/adaptor turning Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment into a taut theatrical thriller has been called by the New York Times “a feat that rivals the construction of the Hoover Dam….” Columbus will discuss the challenging task of bringing Russian authors to life in a contemporary, American vernacular, as well the anti-theatrical nature of 19th century philosophical novels... and how to theatricalize them anyway.

All programs take place at The Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit St, Providence, 401-421-6970.


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