2023 Global Georgia events series continues through April 26

The Willson Center’s 2023 Global Georgia series of public events began in February and continues throughout the spring. Its calendar includes authors and filmmakers; digital humanities innovators and environmental humanists; academics and poets; an indie rock veteran and a soprano diva; and the directors of both the Modern Language Association and the National Gallery of Art.

The series calendar is below.

The Global Georgia public event series brings world class thinkers to Georgia. It presents global problems in local context by addressing pressing contemporary questions, including the economy, society, and the environment, with a focus on how the arts and humanities can intervene. Global Georgia combines the best in contemporary thinking and practice in the arts and humanities with related advances in the sciences and other areas. The series is made possible by the support of private individuals and the Willson Center Board of Friends.


Global Georgia 2023


Nabil AyersFeb 20 • 4pm • Orkin Hall, Room D007

Nabil Ayers in Conversation with David Barbe

Writer and music executive Nabil Ayers will join David Barbe, director of the Music Business Program in the Terry College of Business, for a conversation about Ayers’s recent memoir and his life in the music industry.

Ayers has written about race and music for The New York Times, NPR, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and GQ. His memoir My Life in the Sunshine was published in 2022 via Viking/Penguin. He is the president of Beggars Group US, where he has run campaigns for The National, Big Thief, Grimes, Future Islands, and St. Vincent, as well as reissue campaigns including Pixies’ album Doolittle, which was certified Platinum in 2019.

At age 25, Ayers and his business partner opened Seattle’s Sonic Boom Records store, which they sold to a longtime customer in 2016. As a drummer Ayers has performed in several bands including The Long Winters and Tommy Stinson. On his own record label, The Control Group/Valley of Search, Ayers has released music by Cate Le Bon, Lykke Li, The Killers, PJ Harvey, Patricia Brennan, and his uncle, the jazz musician Alan Braufman.

This event is presented by the Music Business Program in partnership with the Willson Center.


Angela BrownFeb 23 • 7:30 pm • Edge Recital Hall

Delta Visiting Chair: Angela Brown – “Opera… from a Sistah’s Point of View”

The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts will welcome Angela Brown, a renowned operatic soprano who leads a nonprofit organization that provides cultural enrichment opportunities to underserved communities, to the University of Georgia February 20-24 as the annual Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding. Brown’s week in residence will include learning sessions with students in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and Clarke Central High School, and public events in the Hodgson School and the Delta Innovation Hub.

Brown’s visit is presented by the Willson Center in partnership with the Hodgson School, the Institute for African American Studies, the Music Business Program, and the Innovation Gateway.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, Brown will perform her signature show “Opera… from a Sistah’s Point of View” in the Hodgson School’s Edge Recital Hall. The program showcases the soprano’s formidable singing while making the material accessible to audiences with little or no exposure to opera or classical music. Through wry, candid explanations of opera plots that provide a context to the performances that is contemporary and colloquial, Brown invites young and untrained audiences to engage with an artistic medium to which they may never have felt connected.


Turing AI graphicMar 15 • 4 pm • Special Collections Auditorium

David Beavan: “Beyond Digital Humanities: Weaving Humanities, Research Software Engineering and AI”

David Beavan is lead research software engineer in the Research Engineering Group (REG) at The Alan Turing Institute, and a research affiliate at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture & Society (CDCS).

Beavan has been Research Engineering‘s lead for Accelerating AI in the Arts and Humanities. He has led the Research Engineering Group’s work on Data-centric Engineering projects such as AI for Control Problems, Vehicle Grid Integration and the development of the Data Safe Haven Classification Web App. He is an organizer of the award-winning Turing Data Stories, an open community creating and curating data stories.

He is vice president and trustee of the Society of Research Software Engineering, and is a member of the UKRI Peer Review College, reviewing for both AHRC and ESRC. Beavan has served the digital humanities community as an elected member of the European Association for Digital Humanities (EADH), and was a former co-organizer of the Humanities and Data Science Turing Interest Group.

Prior to joining the Turing Institute, he was associate director for research at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH) and research manager for the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities. He has worked on large-scale projects of international and national importance, such as the Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech and its sibling projects, including the Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, while at the University of Glasgow.

This event is presented by the Willson Center Digital Humanities Lab (DigiLab), the UGA Libraries, and by the UGA Humanities Council as part of the UGA Humanities Festival.


Jack Davis The Bald Eagle book coverMar 16 • 5 pm • Jackson St. Building, Room 125

Jack Davis: Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture – “The Bald Eagle: The History of a Symbol and Species”

Jack Davis is Rothman Family Chair in the Humanities at the University of Florida. He specializes in environmental history and sustainability studies, and is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea (2017). His latest book, The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird (Liveright/W. W. Norton, 2022) was named a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, one of the five best nonfiction books of 2022 by the LA Times, an Amazon Best Book of 2022, and an Apple Best Book of 2022.

Davis was one of the recipients of the 2019 Andrew Carnegie fellowship award. His previous books include Race Against Time: Culture and Separation in Natchez Since 1930 (2001), winner of the Charles S. Sydnor Prize for the best book in southern history, and An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century (2009), which received a gold medal from the Florida Book Awards.

This event is presented by the Willson Center, the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program, the College of Environment + Design, and by the UGA Humanities Council as part of the UGA Humanities Festival.


Paula KrebsMar 17 • 4 pm • Delta Innovation Hub

Paula Krebs: “The Humanities at Work”

Paula M. Krebs became executive director of the Modern Language Association in August 2017. She administers the programs, governance, and business affairs of the association and is general editor of the association’s publishing and research programs, as well as editor of two association publications.

Krebs previously served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University. Before arriving at Bridgewater State, she was special assistant to the president for external relations at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the president’s office of the University of Massachusetts, and a professor and department chair at Wheaton. She has also been a regular contributor to higher education publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Vitae.

A member of the MLA Executive Council from 2013 to January 2017, Krebs also served on the executive committee of the MLA’s Association of Departments of English (2003–05). She served on the Massachusetts ACE Women’s Network Board of Directors and was a member of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015.

Krebs earned a PhD in English from Indiana University, where she specialized in Victorian literature and culture, and a BA from La Salle College (now La Salle University).

This event is presented by the Willson Center and by the UGA Humanities Council as part of the UGA Humanities Festival.


Young PlatoMar 20 • 7 pm • Ciné

Screening and Conversation: Young Plato

The documentary Young Plato tells the story of Kevin McArevey, the headmaster of an all-boys primary school in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and his novel approach to addressing issues of poverty, inner-city decay, and the legacy of sectarian violence that are deeply embedded in his students’ lives: through the teaching and application of Classical philosophy. By encouraging the students to identify and examine fundamental questions about themselves, each other, and the society into which they were born, McArevey is determined to change their outlook on life, and the future of their community.

The screening will be followed by a conversation and Q&A with Ian Altman, faculty in English and language arts at Clarke Central High School; Aaron Meskin, professor and head of the UGA department of philosophy; and philosophy teaching assistant Rissa Willis.

This event is presented by the Willson Center, the department of philosophy, and by the UGA Humanities Council as part of the UGA Humanities Festival.


Kaywin FeldmanMar 21 • 5:30 pm (reception) / 6:30 pm (lecture) • Georgia Museum of Art

Kaywin Feldman “Building a National Collection in a Changing Nation”

This lecture by Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., will honor museum director William U. Eiland on the occasion of his retirement.

Feldman previously led the Minneapolis Institute of Art as its Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President from 2008 to 2019, and directed the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art from 1999 to 2007. She is a member of the board of directors of the Terra Foundation for American Art and a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the White House Historical Association, and the Chipstone Foundation. She is a past president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and past chair of the American Alliance of Museums.

Feldman lectures and publishes widely on many aspects of museums in the 21st century. In 2021 Forbes magazine listed Feldman as one of the “50 Over 50” most visionary women making an impact on society.

This program is presented by the Georgia Museum of Art and the Willson Center, and by the UGA Humanities Council as part of the UGA Humanities Festival. It is also part of the UGA Signature Lectures series.


Phillis WheatleyApr 3 • 4:30 pm • Online event

Vincent Carretta: “Recovering the Life of Phillis Wheatley Peters, ‘A WONDER of the Age Indeed!’”

Vincent Carretta is professor emeritus of English at the University of Maryland. He is the author or editor of more than ten books, including scholarly editions of the writings of Olaudah Equiano, Phillis Wheatley Peters, Ignatius Sancho, and Ottobah Cugoano. His books include Phillis Wheatley Peters: Biography of a Genius in Bondage; Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man; and The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque, the First African Anglican Missionary, coedited with Ty M. Reese.

This event is part of The Genius of Phillis Wheatley Peters: A Poet and Her Legacies, a year-long partnership project by the University of Georgia and TCU on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the 1773 publication of Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. The event will be conducted online as a Zoom webinar. Registration is free, open to the public, and available here.



Peter O'ConnorApr 18 • 6 pm • Ciné

Peter O’Connor: “Slow Wonder Lights the Slow Fuse of Possibility”

There are double edged words used by education researchers and bureaucrats that strip the art and beauty from teaching. They include evidence based practice, learning intentions, individual achievement, and effective teaching. What if we talked instead of seeking classrooms full of beauty, of slow wonder, of day dreaming teachers and students?  What if we abandoned lesson planning and embraced surprise and serendipity? What if we were brave enough for schooling to light the slow fuse of possibility to disrupt the madness of current living?

Peter O’Connor is Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for Arts and Social Transformation at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.  He has made and researched theatre in schools, prisons psychiatric institutions, and disaster zones, which he says share many commonalities.  He is currently the senior academic leading the rewrite of the New Zealand Arts Curriculum.  He is co-author with Claudia Rozas Gomez of Slow Wonder: Letters on imagination and Education with Cambridge University Press.

This event is presented as part of the Torrance Festival of Ideas, a free, global, online and in person event where renowned experts from across disciplines present their innovative ideas to the public. Professor O’Connor’s lecture is sponsored by the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development and by the Willson Center.

A reception will follow Professor O’Connor’s talk.


Joel Robbins book coverApr 20 • 4:30 pm • Peabody Hall, Room 115

Joel Robbins: “The Present and the Future in the Present: Religion, Values, and Climate Change”

Joel Robbins is Sigrid Rausing Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. His work focuses on the anthropology of religion and the study of values, ethics, and anthropological theory more broadly. He has for two decades been centrally involved in the development of that anthropological study of Christianity. He is author of the books Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society and of Theology and the Anthropology of Christian Life. His most recent book is the co-edited volume Where is the Good in the World: Ethical Life between Social Theory and Philosophy.

This event is presented by the Willson Center, the Center for Theologically Engaged Anthropology, and the department of religion.


Seán Hewitt, Louise Kennedy, and Martin DoyleApr 26 • 7 pm • Morton Theatre

Betty Jean Craige Readings and Conversation: Seán Hewitt, Louise Kennedy, and Martin Doyle

This event will bring together writers Seán Hewitt, Louise Kennedy, and Martin Doyle for a group reading and conversation with Nicholas Allen, Baldwin Professor in Humanities and director of the Willson Center. The event is presented by the annual Betty Jean Craige Lectureship in the department of comparative literature and intercultural studies, and by the Willson Center. Peter O’Neill, associate professor of comparative literature and chair of the department’s annual lectures, conferences and events committee, will give an introduction.

Booksellers from Avid Bookshop will be on hand to offer books for sale and signing following the event.

Seán Hewitt was born in 1990. He is the author of the memoir All Down Darkness Wide, for which he was awarded the 2022 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. His earlier works include J. M. Synge: Nature, Politics, Modernism and the poetry collection Tongues of Fire, which was awarded the Laurel Prize and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, and a Dalkey Literary Award. He is the recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award, the Resurgence Prize and an Eric Gregory Award. Hewitt is a book critic for the Irish Times and teaches modern British and Irish literature at Trinity College Dublin.

Louise Kennedy grew up near Belfast. Her first novel, Trespasses (2022) was called “Brilliant, beautiful, (and) heartbreaking” by the New York Times Book Review, and was named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post. Kennedy is also the author of a collection of short stories, The End of the World Is a Cul de Sac. She has written for the Guardian, the Irish Times, and BBC Radio 4.

Martin Doyle is the books editor of the Irish Times. His upcoming book Dirty Linen, which builds on two essays published in the Irish Times, reflects on the Troubles’ impact on his own life and that of his community as they struggled to live normal lives. It is due to be published by Merrion Press in October 2023.

The annual Betty Jean Craige lecture honors Craige, University Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and a former director of the Willson Center.