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Events are free and open to the public and take place on the University at Albany’s Uptown Campus, unless otherwise noted.

Books are available in advance of events and at the events, from the following bookstores:
The University Bookstore at the University at Albany and The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Alison Lurie

Alison Lurie, New York State Author
September 18 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Alison Lurie, novelist and current New York State Author (2012-2014), is widely regarded as the Jane Austen of contemporary American letters for her modern “comedies of manners,” including Truth and Consequences (2005) and the Pulitzer-winning Foreign Affairs (1984). Her new nonfiction book is The Language of Houses (2014), an exploration of the expressive power of everyday architecture. Author Edmund White said “[Lurie] has culled the best ideas from a vast literature and passed it all through the sieve of her brilliant mind.”

Edith Grossman

Edith Grossman, celebrated translator of Spanish literature
September 23 (Tuesday)
Seminar on translation — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Edith Grossman is one of the world’s most celebrated translators of Spanish literature into English. Her newest work is Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (2014), a collection of poems by 17th century nun, poet, and feminist, Sister Juana, known to posterity as the “Phoenix of Mexico” and the “Tenth Muse.” Grossman’s acclaimed translations include several novels by Latin American Nobel Prize winners, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Her 2003 translation of Don Quixote is widely hailed as a masterpiece.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Kirsten Gillibrand
Special Event hosted by The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
Reading and Book Signing by Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Senator and author

Saturday, September 27 | 4:00 p.m., University at Albany, Campus Center Ballroom

Tickets: $27 (A copy of Kirsten Gillibrand’s new book, Off the Sidelines, is included in the price of a ticket.)
Tickets may be purchased in advance from The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza (518-489-4761), or Market Block Books, Troy (518-328-0045), or at the door.

Kirsten Gillibrand, junior United States Senator from New York, is the author of the new book, Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World (2014), “a playbook for women who want to step up, whether in Congress or the boardroom or the local PTA.” In advance praise, Gloria Steinem calls it, “one of the most helpful, readable, down-to-earth, and truly democratic books ever to come out of the halls of power.” Students with a valid ID are welcome without a ticket as space allows.

John Lahr
Photo: Paul Davis

John Lahr, theatre critic and biographer
October 1 (Wednesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

John Lahr, former senior drama critic for the New Yorker, is the author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (2014), a new biography of the brilliant and troubled playwright. The New Republic called it, “A splendid book, one of the finest critical biographies of a playwright extant.” Notes on a Cowardly Lion (1969), Lahr’s biography of his father, actor-comedian Bert Lahr, was republished in 2000 with a new preface by the author.

Cosponsored by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment

David Finkel
Photo: Lucian Perkins


David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and nonfiction author
October 9 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

David Finkel,
staff writer for the Washington Post, is the author of the bestselling 2009 book, The Good Soldiers, which recounts the seven months he spent as an embedded reporter with U.S. troops in Iraq. The sequel to that book, Thank You For Your Service (2013), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, follows these same soldiers as they attempt to adapt to life after the war. The Booklist reviewer said, “Finkel’s deeply personal brand of narrative journalism is both heartbreaking and gut-wrenching in its unflinching honesty.”

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Journalism Program

Much Ado about Nothing
Photo: Michael Bailey

American Shakespeare Center’s Much Ado About Nothing
October 15 (Wednesday)
Performance — 7:30 p.m., Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center

Live pre-performance music beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Advance Tickets: $15 general public / $10 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
Day of Show Tickets: $20 general public / $15 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
Box Office: (518) 442-3997; [email protected].

In this powerful comedy full of sparkling wit, the Bard gives us the joy of love won and the ache of love lost. He makes us laugh and breaks our hearts, then magically puts them back together again.

Presented by UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center with support from University Auxilliary Services and the
Holiday Inn Express

Jacinda Townsend
Photo: Hebbah Vidali

Tiphanie Yanique
Photo: Debbie


Jacinda Townsend and Tiphanie Yanique, fiction writers
October 16 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Campus Center Room 375
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Jacinda Townsend is the author of a first novel, Saint Monkey (2014), the tale of two best friends raised in hardship in rural Kentucky whose lives take different paths. In a starred Booklist review, Donna Seamon said, “This is a breathtakingly insightful, suspenseful, and gorgeously realized novel of cruelty and sorrow, anger and forgiveness, improvisation and survival, and the transcendent beauty of nature and art.” A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Townsend is currently at work on a second novel set partially in Morocco about the emotionally complicated world of international adoption.

Tiphanie Yanique is the author of a first novel, Land of Love and Drowning (2014), a family saga set in the Virgin Islands. Spanning sixty years from 1916 to the 1970s, the novel follows three generations of the Bradshaw family as they experience love and death, wealth and ruin, hurricanes, racism, and a rapacious tourist industry. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, “Yanique offers an affecting narrative… that pulses with life, vitality, and a haunting evocation of place.” Born and raised on St. Thomas, Yanique is the author of the story collection, How to Escape from a Leper Colony (2010), winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award.

Edward Hirsch
Photo: Julie

Kimiko Hahn
Photo: Harold

Marie Howe
Photo: Brad Fowler

Poets in Conversation: Edward Hirsch, Kimiko Hahn, and Marie Howe
October 21 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Edward Hirsch is the author most recently of A Poet’s Glossary (2014), a monumental reference work about poetry’s devices, forms, and techniques. Booklist called it, “a vibrant, polyglot, world-circling, century-spanning, mind-expanding work of profound scholarship and literary art.” Winner of a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Critics Circle Award (for the 1986 collection, Wild Gratitude), Hirsch is also the author of the 1999 surprise bestseller, How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry.

Kimiko Hahn is the author most recently of Brain Fever: Poems (2014), a collection that explores the poet’s experiences as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, and artist in the light of her personal fascination with neuroscience and the latest findings of cognitive research. Celebrated for work rooted in Japanese and Chinese aesthetics, Hahn received the American Book Award for her 1995 collection, The Unbearable Heart. Her other collections include Toxic Flora (2010), and The Narrow Road to the Interior (2006).

Marie Howe, current New York State Poet (2012-2014), was the creator of “Poetry in Motion Springfest,” a 2014 partnership with New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Poetry Society of America. A celebration of National Poetry Month, the event featured a weekend of poetry and music inside Grand Central Terminal. This year, Howe also helped organize the first New York State “Poetry Unites – My Favorite Poem” contest. Howe is the author of the collections, The Good Thief (1988), which was selected for the National Poetry Series, What the Living Do (1997), and The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2008).

Lemon Anderson












Michael Angel Viera
Michael Angel Viera as Lemon Anderen
Photo: Manauvaskar

UAF logoThe University at Albany Foundation presents

In conjunction with the Writers Institute, Performing Arts Center, and University Art Museum

This series of events focuses on the life and work of Lemon Andersen, writer, performance artist, screen actor, and Tony Award-winning poet. Lemon is also a three-time felon who grew up in Brooklyn, the child of a Puerto Rican mother and Norwegian American father, both heroin addicts who died of AIDS before he was fifteen. Left to fend for himself, he dropped out of high school and spent years in jail and on probation. His attempts at rehabilitation faltered until he attended a poetry reading and discovered he had a gift for expressing himself through words. This series celebrates Lemon’s journey to transform his life through art.

October 24 (Friday): Film screening, 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus
November 1 (Saturday): Film screening, 9:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Directed by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison
This intricately crafted documentary follows Lemon’s struggle to free his family from poverty and pain by embarking on a daunting journey to bring his life story to the stage. The movie features the music of hip-hop phenoms Kanye West, Mos Def, and Talib Kwel.

November 6 (Thursday): An Evening with Lemon Andersen
Presentation — 7:00 p.m., University Art Museum, Fine Arts Building

In an intimate setting, Lemon discusses his life and work, focusing on what nurtures him as an artist and how that has been the salvation in his life. An original cast member of the Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway (2002-2003), Lemon shared the 2003 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. Lemon is the author of two poetry collections, Ready Made Real (2004) and County of Kings (2009), which earned the Grand Prize at the 2010 New York Book Festival. Also an actor, Lemon has appeared in the Spike Lee films Miracle at St. Anna (2008), Inside Man (2006), She Hate Me (2004), and Sucker Free City (2004).

November 13 (Thursday): County of Kings by Lemon Andersen
Performance — 7:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m.
Advance Tickets: $15 general public / $10 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
Day of Show Tickets: $20 general public / $15 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
Box Office: (518) 442-3997; [email protected].

Originally developed and directed by Elise Thoron, American Place Theatre took Lemon’s life story and adapted it into a solo play now performed by Michael Angel Viera. Weaving hard-edged drama with urban poetry and gritty prose, the work follows Lemon’s coming-of-age memoir in an astonishing journey toward self-discovery. County of Kings is a Literature to Life stage presentation of Young Audiences New York.

Funding for this project is provided by The University at Albany Foundation; University Auxiliary Services at Albany; UAlbany’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Intercultural Student Success, and Alumni Association; and the Holiday Inn Express. Promotional assistance provided by the Campus Programming Board.

Cas logoArt


Univeristy Auxiliary Services at albany logoOffice of Intercultural SuccessAlumni Association LogoHoiliday Inn Express logoCampus Programming Board


Najla Said
Photo: Brigitte


Najla Said, memoirist, actress, and playwright
October 28 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Najla Said is the author of the new memoir Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family (2013). The daughter of major Palestinian-American intellectual and political activist Edward Said, Najla spent her formative years in the largely Jewish milieu of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A witty exploration of post-modern, hyphenated American identity, the book opens with the playful statement, “I am a Palestinian-Lebanese-American Christian woman, but I grew up as a Jew in New York City.” Kirkus Reviews called it, “an enlightening, warm, timely coming-of-age story.” Said also wrote and starred in the hit Off-Broadway play, Palestine (2009).

Sean Singer


THE CONVERSATION, 40th Anniversary film screening and discussion with prize-winning poet and scholar of jazz music, Sean Singer

NOTE: Due to an unforeseen schedule conflict, David Shire regrets that he will be unable to attend the film screening

November 7 (Friday)
Film Screening and Discussion — 7:00 p.m. [note early start time], Page Hall,
135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola | United States, 1974, 113 minutes, color | Starring Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield

In this brilliant psychological thriller, a surveillance expert experiences a moral crisis when he comes to believe that the targets of his spying activities will be murdered. Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Composer David Shire’s score is widely celebrated as a deeply probing character study of protagonist Harry Caul. Francis Ford Coppola called Shire’s score, “one of the most effective, most successful film scores that I’ve had.”

Sean Singer will discuss the film and its music immediately following the screening. A prize-winning poet, Singer immerses himself in music in order to generate poetic language and imagery. His first collection of poems, Discography, received the 2001 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. He has also published two chapbooks, Passport and Keep Right On Playing Through the Mirror Over the Water. He is the recipient of a 2005 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and recently completed a Ph.D. in American Studies from Rutgers-Newark. He is also the author of “The Conversation: A Tape, A Plastic Wall, A Bug, A Saxophone,” a 2010 article in the scholarly journal, Rethinking History, which discusses the narrative function of the film’s jazz score.

Sponsored in conjunction with UAlbany’s School of Criminal Justice’s
Civility, Surveillance, and Public Spaces
Film Series

William Gibson
Photo: Michael O'Shea


William Gibson, science fiction author
November 9 (Sunday)
Reading — 7:00 p.m., EMPAC Concert Hall, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy

William Gibson is a visionary author of speculative fiction whose work explores the future implications of contemporary human technologies. His 1984 novel, Neuromancer, winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick awards, helped to define the popular culture of the Computer Age. His other major works include Pattern Recognition (2003), Virtual Light (1993), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). Regarding Zero History (2010), a novel about present-day consumer tracking technologies, the New York Times reviewer said, “To read Gibson is to read the present as if it were the future….” Gibson’s new novel is The Peripheral (2014), about drones, drugs, outsourcing, telepresence, trailer parks, kleptocracy, and 3D fabbing. In advance praise, Cory Doctorow called it, “Spectacular, a piece of trenchant, far-future speculation….”

Cosponsored by Rensselaer’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Union Speakers Forum; and Department of Communication and Media

Angela Pneuman
Photo: Alex Lauren

Amy Biancolli

Angela Pneuman, fiction writer, and Amy Biancolli, nonfiction writer
November 11 (Tuesday)

Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 7:30 p.m., Art Museum, Fine Arts Building

Angela Pneuman, former Ph.D. student and Presidential Fellow at UAlbany and Kentucky native, is widely hailed as an exciting new voice in Southern literature. Her first novel, Lay it on my Heart (2014), recounts the challenges that confront a Kentucky girl after her “prophet” father is committed to a psychiatric hospital. Rebecca Wells, author of the bestselling Ya-Ya Sisterhood novels, said, “I know the voices of Southern girls, and when they sing true, my heart expands. Angela Pneuman is a flute.” A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, Pneuman is also the author of the story collection, Home Remedies (2007).

Amy Biancolli is currently an arts writer and columnist for the Albany Times Union, where she previously worked from 1992-2000. From 2004-2012 she served as film critic for the Houston Chronicle, where her reviews, published around the country, won her the 2007 Comment and Criticism Award from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Association.

She is the author of three books: Figuring Shit Out: Love, Laughter, Suicide and SurvivalFritz Kreisler: Love's Sorrow, Love's Joy; and House of Holy Fools: A Family Portrait in Six Cracked Parts, which earned her Albany Author of the Year in 2004. She blogs regularly at

Cosponsored by the University Art Museum and UAlbany English Department

Susan Pinker
Photo: Susie Lowe

Susan Pinker, psychologist and author
November 18 (Tuesday)

Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library

Susan Pinker, developmental psychologist and bestselling science writer, is the author of the new book, The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter (2014). Grounded in the new field of social neuroscience, The Village Effect presents convincing evidence that electronic communication can never replace the fundamentally human need for direct interaction. Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga called the book, “Brilliant and compelling,” and said, “Pinker shows us crucial personal interactions are essential to true human feelings.” Pinker is also the author of the international bestseller, The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap (2008), winner of the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association.

Richard Norton Smith
Photo: Dole Institute

Richard Norton Smith, historian and biographer
November 20 (Thursday)
A Conversation with Richard Norton Smith — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Keynote Lecture, “On His Own Terms” — 7:30 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Richard Norton Smith, eminent historian of the American presidency, will deliver the keynote lecture for the Researching New York 2014 conference on his new book, On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller (2014). Fourteen years in the writing, the book is being hailed as the definitive biography of the New York governor and U.S. vice president. Historian Douglas Brinkley described the book as, “one of the greatest cradle-to-grave biographies written in the past fifty years.”

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Department of History and the NYS Archives Partnership Trust in conjunction with the
Researching New York 2014 conference. For additional information on all conference events go to:

Ian MacNiven
Photo: Virginia Schendler

Peter Glassgold

The New York State Writers Institute will celebrate the life and poetry of James Laughlin
with Ian S. MacNiven and Peter Glassgold

November 25 (Tuesday)
Presentation — 4:00 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library

The New York State Writers Institute will celebrate the life and poetry of James Laughlin, legendary founder of New Directions press and revolutionary publisher who brought to the attention of the American public the work of such writers as Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Jorge Luis Borges and Herman Hesse. Guests will include biographer Ian S. MacNiven, author of “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin (2014), and Peter Glassgold, scholar, translator and editor of The Collected Poems of James Laughlin (2014).

Joseph O'Neill
Photo: Courtesy of
the author
Joseph O’Neill, novelist
December 2 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Assembly Hall, Campus Center

Joseph O’Neill received the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for his bestselling novel, Netherland (2008), the story of a multiracial group of immigrant cricket players living in New York City. O’Neill’s new novel, The Dog (2014), longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014, is the story of a luckless middle-aged man who flees New York City after a traumatic break-up with his long-term girlfriend in order to take a job as the household manager of a rich and capricious family in Dubai. Calling it, “funny, smart, and sad,” Publishers Weekly reviewer Jonathan Segura said, “I’ve liked a few books this year, but this is the first one I’ve loved.”

Betty Medsger
Photo: Joyce Ravid

Gabriel Rhodes

1971: THE FILM
December 5 (Friday)
Film screening and discussion with film editor Gabriel Rhodes and author Betty Medsger — 7:00 p.m. [note early start time], Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Johanna Hamilton | United States, 2014, 79 minutes, color
Based on the nonfiction book, The Burglary (2014) by Betty Medsger

On March 8, 1971, eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and obtained files that revealed the existence of COINTELPRO, a secret and illegal program of spying on American citizens. Those responsible have never revealed their identities—until now. 1971: THE FILM was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

Betty Medsger was a young reporter at the Washington Post in 1971 when she received from anonymous sources copies of stolen FBI files that revealed the existence of COINTELPRO. She recounts the story, revealing the burglars and their motives, in her new book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI (2014). The New York Times Book Review called it, “Impeccably researched, elegantly presented, engaging....”

Gabriel Rhodes is both an editor and a filmmaker. His work has premiered at Sundance and Cannes and has been broadcast on Sundance Channel, A&E, Animal Planet, CNN, PBS, and on the NPR radio show “This American Life.”  His theatrical documentary credits include 1971: THE FILM (2014), Without Shepherds (2012), The Tillman Story (2009), and Control Room (2004). Three of his edited films, The Tillman Story, Quest for Honor (2008), and MY BLIND BROTHER (2003) were shortlisted for the Academy Awards. His commercial clients include Conde Nast, Google, Virgin America, YouTube, Harper Collins and Revlon. He received his Master’s Degree in Documentary Film from Stanford University in 2000.

Seminar: Gabriel Rhodes and Betty Medsger will hold an informal seminar on
Friday, December 5 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Library Room 340, on the UAlbany Uptown Campus.

Sponsored in conjunction with UAlbany’s School of Criminal Justice’s
Civility, Surveillance, and Public Spaces Film Series

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Science Library, SL 320, University at Albany, NY 12222 | Phone 518-442-5620, Fax 518-442-5621, email [email protected]