2024 Global Georgia events series continues through April

The Willson Center’s 2024 Global Georgia series of public events begins in February and continues throughout the spring. The series calendar is below. More events may be added as they are finalized.

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, as well as by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.


Global Georgia 2024


Robert AdamsFeb 1 • 5:30 pm • Ciné

Lecture and Conversation: Robert Adams – “Telling Stories Across the Water: The Challenge of Reconstructing Race and History at the Penn Center”

“Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”
W.E.B. DuBois

“Any historical narrative is a bundle of silences.”
Michel-Rolph Trouillot

The idea of African Americans as a “people without history” undergirded the legitimacy of slavery. Even after the demise of this peculiar institution, false narratives produced in the service of slavery sustain racism. Since their arrival on American shores, Black people asserted their humanity by challenging the historical silences that rendered them invisible as historical actors.

Black History Month, a celebration of African American historicity initiated by Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1926, offers a distinct opportunity to consider the roles and responsibilities of historical institutions like the Penn Center in creating anti-racist histories. Embracing Black history is central to realizing the principles of democracy in the United States. The radical act of illuminating what Trouillot deemed “unthinkable history” is an essential component for liberating American democracy from its traumatic past.

Bio: Robert Adams Jr. is the executive director of the Penn Center in St. Helena, South Carolina. Previously, he worked in philanthropy, academia, public policy, and corporate consulting. Robert earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Florida. A 2008 Fulbright Scholar at PUC-São Paulo in Brazil, he has published extensively on African American and Afro-Latin American culture and history.

This event is presented by the Willson Center and the Institute for African American Studies. It is also presented in connection with Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, a partnership program of the Willson Center and Penn Center funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.


Alexander CheeFeb 21 • 6 pm • Ciné

Betty Jean Craige Lecture: Alexander Chee – “On Productive Ambivalence”

This event is presented as the Department of Comparative Literature and Intercultural Studies’s annual Betty Jean Craige Lecture, co-sponsored by the Willson Center in partnership with the department of English, the Georgia Review, and the Creative Writing Program.

Alexander Chee is the bestselling author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, and the essay collection How To Write An Autobiographical Novel, all from Mariner Books. A contributing editor at The New Republic and an editor at large at VQR, his essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, The Sewanee Review, and the 2016 and 2019 Best American Essays. He was guest-editor for The Best American Essays of 2022.

He is a 2021 United States Artists Fellow, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, and the recipient of a Whiting Award, a NEA Fellowship, an MCCA Fellowship, the Randy Shilts Prize in gay nonfiction, the Paul Engle Prize, the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Leidig House, Civitella Ranieri and Amtrak.

Chee is a full professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and lives in Vermont.

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


Noa YedlinFeb 28 • 6 pm • Ciné

Noa Yedlin – “Crafting Unconventional Narratives: A Journey in Literature (and Television)”

Noa Yedlin is a bestselling Israeli author, recipient of the Sapir Prize (the Israeli Man Booker) and the Prime Minister’s Literature Award, and author of the novels Track Changes, House Arrest, People Like Us, The Wrong Book, and Stockholm, which was published in English by Harper Collins in 2023. Yedlin is also the creator of a prize-winning television series based on Stockholm, which in turn has been re-made for television in Germany and in Sweden. Another of her bestselling novels, People Like Us, is currently being developed for television, and her novel House Arrest was adapted for the stage and performed at Beit Lessin Theater in Tel Aviv, where she lives. Yedlin was named by Haaretz Magazine one of “66 Israeli Women You Should Know.”

This lecture is presented by the Department of Comparative Literature and Intercultural Studies and the Willson Center.


A.E. StallingsMar 12 • 6 pm • UGA Chapel

Reading and Conversation: A. E. Stallings

A. E. Stallings is an American poet who studied Classics at Oxford and as a Foundation Fellow at the University of Georgia. In October 2023 she began her four-year elected term as Oxford Professor of Poetry, one of the world’s most prestigious academic honors in the field of poetry.

She has published four collections of poetry, Archaic SmileHapax, Olives, and most recently, Like, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has published three verse translations, Lucretius’s The Nature of Things (in rhyming fourteeners!), Hesiod’s Works and Days, and an illustrated The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice. A selected poems edition, This Afterlife, has been published by FSG in the US and Carcanet in the UK.

Stallings has received a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from United States Artists, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She speaks and lectures widely on a variety of topics, and has been a faculty member at conferences such as the Sewanee Summer Writers’ Conference and Breadloaf.

This event is presented by the Department of Classics, the Felson Classics Endowment, the Willson Center, the Jere W. Morehead Honors College, the UGA at Oxford Program, the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, and by the UGA Humanities Council as part of the UGA Humanities Festival. It is also part of the Spring 2024 UGA Signature Lecture Series.

If you would like to inquire about accommodations for access to this in-person event, please contact Dave Marr at davemarr@uga.edu by March 5, 2024.


Mar 21 • 5:30 pm • Georgia Museum of Art

2023-24 Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding: Hua Hsu

The Willson Center welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hua Hsu to UGA March 21-22, 2024 as the annual Delta Visiting Chair for Global Understanding. This event, which will include a reading and conversation with Ed Pavlić, Distinguished Research Professor of English, African American studies, and creative writing, is part of the Willson Center’s Global Georgia public event series and the UGA Humanities Festival. Hsu’s visit is presented in partnership with the Institute for Asian Studies and the Georgia Review.

Hua Hsu is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific (2016) and the memoir Stay True (2022), which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Memoir or Autobiography and the 2022 National Book Critics Circle award in autobiography. He is currently working on an essay collection titled Impostor Syndrome. Hsu is professor of literature at Bard College.

Hsu is a contributor to CBS News’s Sunday Morning; serves on the governance board of Critical Minded, a collaboration between the Ford Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation; and serves as judge for various literary competitions and fellowships, including the PEN America Literary Awards, Rona Jaffe Fellowship, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2018 (New Yorker); was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Food Writing in 2013 (for “Wokking the Suburbs,” Lucky Peach); and his work has been anthologized in Best Music Writing (2010 and 2012) and Best African American Essays 2010.


Kellie Carter JacksonMar 26 • 4 pm • Special Collections Libraries, Room 271

Women’s History Month Keynote: Kellie Carter Jackson

Kellie Carter Jackson is the Michael and Denise Kellen ’68 Associate Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College. She studies the lived experiences of Black people with a focus on slavery, abolitionism, the Civil War, political violence, Black women’s history, and film. She is the author of the award-winning book, Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence which won the SHEAR James H. Broussard Best First Book Prize. Force and Freedom was also a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, a finalist for the Museum of African American History Stone Book Prize and listed among 13 books to read on African American History by the Washington Post.

Carter Jackson is also co-editor of Reconsidering Roots: Race, Politics, & Memory. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, and other outlets. She has also been interviewed for her expertise on Netflix, Apple TV, “Good Morning America,” “CBS Mornings,” MSNBC, PBS, Vox, CNN, the BBC, The History Channel, Al Jazeera, Slate, and in a host of documentaries.

Carter Jackson is a Historian-in-Residence for the Museum of African American History in Boston. She also serves as a commissioner for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, where she represents the Museum of African American History in BostonKrebs 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 talk is presented by the Institute for Women’s Studies as the Women’s History Month Keynote event, in partnership with the Willson Center.

Every March, the Institute for Women’s Studies coordinates and co-sponsors lectures, films, discussion panels, art exhibits, and more for Women’s History Month as well as publishes a poster highlighting those events. The keynote speech is the culminating event for the month, featuring a nationally recognized speaker on the theme of the year.


Mary ReynoldsApr 11 • 5:30 pm • Jackson Street Building, Room 123

Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture: Mary Reynolds

Mary Reynolds is a “reformed” internationally acclaimed landscape designer who launched her career at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002, the story of which was told in the 2016 film Dare to be Wild. She is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, occasional television presenter, and founder of “We Are the ARK,” an international practical movement intended to “shift the environmental game in nature’s favor.” The movement posits that “the time for gardens as canvases for our creative pleasure is over. Everything must change and if we are to save the planet, then we must start with our own patches of it. It’s time to re-imagine our work as gardeners, to become leaders in the race to save our beautiful planet, to save ourselves.”

The Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture is presented by the Willson Center, the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program, the College of Environment + Design, and the Office of Sustainability.


Tommy Kha (American, born 1988), The Small Guardian (The Isle of Misfit Toys), The Shoals, Alabama, 2018Apr 12 • 11 am • Lamar Dodd School of Art, Room S150

High Museum of Art Conversation: “Truth Told Slant”

A panel discussion with artists included in the High Museum exhibition “Truth Told Slant,” which features emerging photographers who take dynamic and innovative approaches to documentary photography that challenge the established principles of observing the contemporary world. The High Museum will host its own conversation event for the exhibition at the museum the following day.

Photographers Tommy Kha and Jill Frank will participate in the conversation, which will be moderated by Jon Feinstein.

This event is presented by the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the High Museum of Art, and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. [Photograph: Tommy Kha, The Small Guardian (The Isle of Misfit Toys), The Shoals, Alabama, 2018]


The Book of James coverApr 18 • 7 pm • Delta Innovation Hub

Conversation: The Book of James with Author Valerie Babb, Ed Pavlić, and Greg Taylor

Valerie Babb, Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities at Emory University, will join Ed Pavlić, Distinguished Research Professor of English and African American Studies, and Greg Taylor, executive director of the NBA Foundation, for a conversation around Babb’s new book The Book of James: The Power, Politics, and Passion of LeBron. This event is presented by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts as part of the center’s 2024 Global Georgia public Events series.

Valerie Babb holds a joint appointment in the departments of African American Studies and English at Emory. The Book Of James was published in November 2023 by Hachette Book Group. The New York Times called it “a wonderful companion to James’ legacy, and an outright clinic on how to write about basketball, race, culture and America itself.”

Among Babb’s other publications are A History of the African American Novel (2017) and Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature and Culture (1998), She co-authored the book Black Georgetown Remembered (1991), and developed and produced the video by the same name. From 2000-2010 she was editor of the Langston Hughes Review. She has been a Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and is the recipient of a W. M. Keck Foundation Fellowship in American Studies. She has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad and presented a Distinguished W. E. B. Du Bois Lecture at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany. Babb was co-PI for the $1 million Mellon Foundation grant that supports Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, a partnership project of the Willson Center and St. Helena, SC’s Penn Center.

Ed Pavlić’s 13 published books range across (and at times between) genres: poetry, non-fiction, critical studies, and a novel. He twice served as director of the Creative Writing PhD Program in English (2006-2011, 2015-2017).

His most recent books are Call It in the Air (2022), a book-length documentary poem; Outward: Adrienne Rich’s Expanding Solitudes (2021), a study of the poet’s career; Let It Be Broke (2020) a collection of poems focused upon racial dynamics in contemporary life; and Another Kind of Madness (2019), a novel set in Chicago and coastal Kenya and tuned to the sound and structure of soul music, especially the songs of Chaka Khan.

As Executive Director of the NBA Foundation, Greg Taylor is responsible for the strategic development, creation and implementation of programs and partnerships that advance the Foundation’s efforts to increase access and support for high school, college-aged, job-ready and mid-career Black men and women. Additionally, Taylor oversees the administration of grants to national and local organizations that provide skills training, mentorship, coaching and pipeline development. Taylor also guides the Foundation’s organizational goals, manages its operations and resources, and designs fundraising that yields long-term success. Working closely with the NBA Foundation Board of Directors, Program Officers, National Basketball Players Association and all 30 NBA teams, he forms impactful partnerships and oversees support for national and local organizations in NBA markets and communities across the United States and Canada. He also manages a team of program managers, administrators and interns.

In his previous post with the NBA, Taylor was Senior Vice President for Player Development, in which role he worked closely with players, from rookies to veterans, journeymen to superstars, helping them navigate the unique demands which arise in the lives and careers of NBA players in the 21st century.


Cassie Chantel and Julien BergerApr 25 • 7:30 pm • Ciné

“The Mask You Wear”: Cassie Chantel and Julien Berger in performance and conversation with Nkululeko Zungu

“The Mask You Wear” is a musical composition collaboratively created by composer Julien Berger and composer and lyricist Cassie Chantel. Supported by the Athens Hip Hop Harmonic, this work blends classical saxophone quartet music with multi-genre vocalist and recording artist Chantel’s riveting lyrics. This event will include a live performance of the piece, featuring saxophone quartet Mixed Media with Chantel, and a discussion with the composers and moderator Nkululeko Zungu.

Berger is an Athens, GA-based composer and saxophonist whose music is rooted in storytelling. Julien is influenced by contemporary wind ensemble music, saxophone chamber and solo music, and other contemporary styles, such as hip hop, jazz, and pop. His aim is to connect with audiences with his music across the boundaries of genre and style.

Leading with the story-telling element of classic hip hop while being as unorthodox as today’s rap/pop music, Chantel is an artist whose body of work cannot be categorized with generic labels. The tone of her voice defies gender and sexuality stereotypes with its ambiguous depth and transcends into her image. Known for embodying both feminine and masculine energy, Chantel gives a fresh perspective to the music industry.

Zungu will moderate a discussion with Julien and Cassie, discussing the creative and collaborative process behind this piece. Zungu is a South African-born Black composer whose passion for music started in Cape Town, South Africa where he was surrounded by many styles and genres of music. His own expression is influenced by soundscapes and introspective art that can be found in music exploring avant-pop, trip-hop, electronic music, and spiritual styles. He can be seen performing under the alias ‘Kuza.

This event is presented by the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, the Athens Hip Hop Harmonic, and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. It is part of the Willson Center’s Global Georgia public events series.