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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

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Darnell Martin

Emily Bernard

Eyes on Zora: The Life and Legacy of Zora Neale Hurston
Film screening and discussion with film director Darnell Martin and literature scholar Emily Bernard
— 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time], Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Darnell Martin (United States, 2005, 113 minutes, color) Starring Halle Berry, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Michael Ealy

Based on Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel, adapted by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, this ABC-TV movie features Halle Berry as the free-spirited Janie, whose quest for love and a meaningful life challenges the morals of a small American town in the 1920s. 

Darnell Martin was the first Black American woman to write and direct a film for a major Hollywood studio—I LIKE IT LIKE THAT (1994). Her other credits include CADILLAC RECORDS (2008), starring Beyoncé Knowles.

Emily Bernard is an author, and professor and scholar of African American literature. She is the author of the New York Times Notable Book, Remember Me to Harlem (2001).

January 30 (Saturday):  The Folktales of Zora Neale Hurston
Hurston FolkloreChildren’s workshop on African American Folktales — 11:00 a.m., Albany Public Library, Washington Avenue Branch (518-427-4310), and 3:00 p.m., Albany Public Library, Howe Branch (518-472-9485)

The Folktales of Zora Neale Hurston is an interactive theatre program developed by Young Audiences New York. A family activity, the workshop features folktales collected in Hurston’s anthologies

January 31 (Sunday):  American Place Theatre performance of Zora!
Performance — 3:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Pre-performance discussion at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets:  general public $15 in advance, $20 day of; students/seniors/UA faculty & staff
$10 in advance, $15 day of
Box Office:  (518)442-3997; [email protected]

ZoraA theatrical biography performed by Cheryl Howard, Zora! originally premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Adapted and directed by Wynn Handman from Laurence Holder’s play, Zora! captures the extraordinary spirit of the “Queen of the Harlem Renaissance.” The play is rich with folklore, intimate portraits of Hurston’s contemporaries, and excerpts from her significant body of literary work.
(Cheryl Howard as Zora Neale Hurston, photo by Jennifer Barnette)

Cosponsored by UAlbany Performing Arts Center, Albany Public Library, Albany High School, with support from the University  at Albany’s Offices of Diversity and Inclusion, Intercultural Student Engagement, Alumni Association, Auxiliary Services, and The University at Albany Foundation.

Carlotta Walls LaNier Carlotta Walls LaNier, memoirist and civil rights advocate
February 1 (Monday)
Lecture and Public Reception, 7:00 p.m., Campus Center Ballroom

Civil Rights Advocate Carlotta Walls LaNier Visit Leads UAlbany MLK Celebration

Carlotta Walls LaNier will be the keynote speaker for the annual University at Albany Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. LaNier is the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who worked to integrate Little Rock High School over the objections of segregationist Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus-- a landmark event of the Civil Rights Movement. She is also the author (with Lisa Frazier Page) of A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School (2009). President Bill Clinton, who wrote the Foreword, called it a "wonderful book.... a story we all need to know."

Sponsored by Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Association, and University Auxiliary Services,
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs

Jennifer Verdolin

Jennifer Verdolin, animal behavior scientist
February 4 (Thursday)
Reading/discussion — 8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 375

Jennifer Verdolin, behavioral scientist, applies her knowledge of animal courtship and mating behaviors to human relationships. Her book on the subject, Wild Connection (2014), grows out of her same-titled blog for Psychology Today. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, The Smithsonian, and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Sponsored in conjunction with UAlbany’s Sexuality Week organized by the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program and University Counseling and Psychological Services. Cosponsored by the Student Association, University Auxiliary Services, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Women in Science and Health group.

New York State Author and Poet Awards and Reading
February 11 (Thursday)
Inauguration Ceremony and Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Edmund WhiteEdmund White, New York State Author 2016 – 2018
Edmund White
is America’s leading author on Gay life. He is best known for his trilogy of autobiographical novels: A Boy’s Own Story (1982), The Beautiful Room Is Empty (1988), and The Farewell Symphony (1997). Other novels include The Married Man (2000), Hotel de Dream (2007), and Jack Holmes and His Friends (2013). Dave Eggers praised White as “one of the three or four most virtuosic living writers of sentences in the English language.” White is a member of both the American Academies of Arts and Letters, and Arts and Sciences.

Yusef KomunyakaaYusef Komunyakaa, New York State Poet 2016 – 2018
Yusef Komunyakaa
is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including Dien Cai Dau (1988), about his experiences in Vietnam; and Neon Vernacular (1993), winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for “extraordinary lifetime accomplishments” in 2001 and the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award of the Academy of American Poets. Other works include Thieves of Paradise (1998), Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000), and The Chameleon Couch (2011), all finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Emperor of Water Clocks (2015). The Washington Post Book World said “He enlarges our idea of what poetry is….” (Photo: Tom Wallace)

Randall Horton

Jacqueline Jones LaMon

Randall Horton and Jacqueline Jones LaMon, poets
February 16 (Tuesday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 7:00 p.m., University Art Museum, Fine Arts Building

Randall Horton, author of the poetry collections Pitch Dark Anarchy (2013) and The Definition of Place (2006), is the recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award and the Bea González Poetry Prize. His memoir, Hook (2015), explores his downward spiral from student to drug addict, cocaine smuggler, and incarcerated felon. Upon release from prison Horton earned a Ph.D. in English at UAlbany.

Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of the poetry collections Last Seen (2011), winner of the Felix Pollak Poetry Prize, and Gravity, U.S.A. (2006), winner of the Quercus Review Poetry Series Award. She is the new president of Cave Canem, America’s leading Black poetry organization, committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets.

Sponsored in conjunction with the UAlbany Art Museum exhibition Race, Love, and Labor

Sherwin Bitsui
Photo: Valaune Yazzie
Sherwin Bitsui, poet
February 18 (Thursday)
Reading — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library

Sherwin Bitsui, a Diné (Navajo) from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona, is the author of the poetry collections Shapeshift (2003) and Flood Song (2009), described by Publishers Weekly as “a powerful collection from a promising poet.” Steeped in Navajo mythology and history, his work explores collisions between Native American culture and contemporary American life. His prizes include the Whiting Writers’ Award, American Book Award, PEN Open Book Award, and Lannan Literary Fellowship.

Jon Krakauer
Linda Moore
Jon Krakauer, journalist and mountaineer
February 23 (Tuesday) 
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Jon Krakauer, one of America’s biggest-selling authors of outdoor adventure nonfiction, is renowned for work that explores lives lived “on the edge.” His books include the bestsellers Into the Wild (1996); Into Thin Air (1997), a personal account of a fateful climb of Mt. Everest; and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (2009), about the NFL football player killed in the War in Afghanistan. Krakauer’s new book is Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (2015), about a series of rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. The Los Angeles Times said, “Krakauer’s investigation will succeed in altering the conversation around sexual violence.”

Cosponsored by the #JustAsk Campaign of UAlbany’s Office of the Title IX Coordinator

February 26 (Friday)
Film screening and commentary by film director David Shapiro — 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time], 
Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by David Shapiro (United States, 2015, 76 minutes, color)

MISSING PEOPLE is a nonfiction mystery about a woman who investigates her brother’s long unsolved murder. In the process she collects and researches the violent work and life of an artist from New Orleans. The film won the Best Documentary Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

David Shapiro, filmmaker, artist, and UAlbany graduate, directed the acclaimed 2000 documentary KEEP THE RIVER ON YOUR RIGHT: A MODERN CANNIBAL TALE, winner of many major film festival awards.

Seminar:  David Shapiro will hold an afternoon seminar on documentary filmmaking and art on Friday, February 26 at 4:15 p.m. in the University Art Museum, Fine Arts Building, on the UAlbany Uptown Campus.

Cosponsored by the UAlbany Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Race, Love, and Labor, and the School of Criminal Justice’s Crime, Justice, and Social Structure Film Series

Stephen Adly Guirgis
Photo: Monique Carboni


Stephen Adly Guirgis, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
March 3 (Thursday) CANCELLED
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Stephen Adly Guirgis,
a graduate of UAlbany’s Theatre Department, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play Between Riverside and Crazy. The Pulitzer Committee called it “a nuanced, beautifully written play… that uses dark comedy to confront questions of life and death.” His other plays include Jesus Hopped the A Train (2000), which received Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival Award, and Our Lady of 121st Street (2003), which Variety said “confirms Guirgis [as] an exciting talent with a gift for raw but rich dialogue and an entertaining ability to find the absurd humor in emotional extremis.” A member of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, Guirgis has worked with director and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman and playwright John Patrick Shanley.

Presented in conjunction with the department-wide reading project of UAlbany’s English Department

Robert M. Dowling
Photo: Larry St. Pierre


Robert M. Dowling, Eugene O’Neill scholar and biographer
March 10 (Thursday)
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Huxley Theatre, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

Robert M. Dowling is the author of the critically acclaimed biography Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts (2014), a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Pick” for Literary Biography. The Irish Times called it “Fast-paced, highly readable…a powerful narrative, with a fresh perspective.” The author of the two-volume Critical Companion to Eugene O’Neill (2009), Dowling also serves on the boards of The Eugene O’Neill Review and the Eugene O’Neill Society.

Sponsored by Friends of the New York State Library

Charles Duhigg
Photo:Elizabeth Alter


Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize-winning business writer
March 21 (Monday)

Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Charles Duhigg
is an award-winning investigative reporter for the New York Times and author of the bestselling book The Power of Habit (2012) about the science of habit formation in our lives, companies, and societies. Duhigg’s New York Times series on Apple’s manufacturing practices, “iEconomy,” won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2013. His new book is Smarter, Faster, Better (2016), which explores the science of productivity. Winner of the National Academies of Science, and the National Journalism awards, Duhigg is a frequent contributor to PBS News Hour, Dr. Oz, and NPR’s “This American Life.”

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s School of Business

David Gelernter David Gelernter, computer scientist and theorist, and author
March 31 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

David Gerlernter, a “rock star” (New York Times) in the computer world, is an expert in the fields of parallel computing, “mirror worlds,” artificial intelligence, and cognitive thinking. His new book is The Tides of Mind (2016), a revolutionary explanation of the phenomenon of human consciousness. Other books include The Muse in the Machine (1994), about teaching computers to experience emotion and write poetry, and Mirror Worlds (1991), a prophetic work that predicted the rise of the Internet. In 1993 Gelernter was a victim of a mail bomb sent by the “Unabomber,” an experience he recounts in Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber (1997).

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Evolution of a criminal
April 8 (Friday)
Film screening and discussion with director Darius Clark Monroe — 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time],
Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by Darius Clark Monroe (United States, 2014, 81 minutes, color)

Ten years after robbing a bank, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe takes a personal look at how his actions affected the lives of family, friends, and victims. Screened at over 100 international film festivals, the film received numerous awards including the IDA Emerging Filmmaker Award. The New Yorker said “its images, its shape, its tone, and its implications make it a terrific movie, as well as the birth of an artist.”

Darius Clark MonroeDarius Clark Monroe
was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and “10 Filmmakers to Watch” by The Independent.

Sponsored in conjunction with UAlbany’s School of Criminal Justice’s Crime, Justice, and Social Structure Film Series

Steven Millhauser
Photo: Michael Lionstar
Steven Millhauser, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer
April 13 (Wednesday)
Reading and McKinney Writing Contest Awards — 8:00 p.m., Biotech Auditorium, Biotechnology and  Interdisciplinary Studies Building, Rensselaer (RPI), Troy

Steven Millhauser, author of four novels and nine short fiction collections, received the Pulitzer Prize for his 1996 novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, about a young entrepreneur in turn-of-the-century New York City. Kirkus Review called the book “A fascinating and provocative portrayal of America that hums with energy and wit.” His new book is the story collection Voices in the Night (2015), which the Boston Globe called “Masterful . . . intriguing and disturbingly intoxicating.”

Sponsored in conjunction with RPI’s 75th Annual McKinney Writing Contest and Reading and the Vollmer Fries Lecture
For directions see:

Sheri Fink
Photo: Jen Dessinger
When Disaster Strikes: Ethics and Justice in Disaster Settings Symposium
April 15 (Friday)
Sheri Fink, Keynote Speaker — 12:30 p.m., Ballroom, Campus Center

Sheri Fink, award-winning journalist and New York Times correspondent, will deliver the keynote address at the University at Albany’s When Disaster Strikes: Ethics and Justice in Disaster Settings Symposium, on Friday, April 15, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. The title of Fink’s address is “Emergency Response Ethics and Leadership Abroad and at Home: Observations from a Practitioner-turned-reporter.” Fink’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Fink; Kevin Wisely, Director of NYS Office of Emergency Management; John Mutter, Scientist and Professor of Columbia University's Earth Institute; Eli Fresquez Attorney from NYC Emergency Management; and Michael Primeau, Director of the Office of Health Emergency Preparedness, NYS Department of Health.

A reception and book signing will follow at 2:15pm.
This event, which is free and open to the public is an initiative of UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity with co-sponsorship from the New York State Writers Institute, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, School of Criminal Justice, School of Public Health, School of Social Welfare, College of Arts and Sciences, Student Association, and Graduate Student Organization.

Pam MacKinnon The 20th Annual Burian Lecture
Funded by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment
Pam MacKinnon, Tony Award-winning theatre director
April 18 (Monday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
The Burian Lecture — 8:00 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Pam MacKinnon, theatre director, received the 2013 Tony Award for Best Direction for the 50th Anniversary Broadway revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Charles Isherwood of the New York Times praised it for “superlative staging” and “the exhilaration of a fresh encounter with a great work of theater revitalized anew.” Widely hailed as a leading interpreter of Edward Albee’s work, MacKinnon also helmed the Broadway revival of Albee’s A Delicate Balance (2014-15).

Cosponsored by the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment and UAlbany’s Theatre Department

Laura van den Berg
Photo: Paul Yoon
Laura van den Berg, short story writer and novelist 
April 21 (Thursday)
Seminar — 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Huxley Theatre, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

Laura van den Berg is the author of two story collections, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (2009), a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and The Isle of Youth (2013), which was named a “Best Book of 2013” by more than a dozen venues. Her debut novel is Find Me (2015), set in a post-apocalyptic America beset by a plague that erases memory. The Los Angeles Times praised the book for its “radiant prose.…," and said, "Laura van den Berg has invented something beautiful indeed.”

Cosponsored by Friends of the New York State Library

Colm Toibin
Photo: Brigitte
Colm Tóibín, Irish fiction and nonfiction writer and journalist
April 29 (Friday)
Reading — 4:15 p.m., Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Colm Tóibín is one of Ireland’s foremost living novelists and journalists. His novels include The Master (2004), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and The Blackwater Lightship (1999) and The Testament of Mary (2012), both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His newest novel is Nora Webster (2014), which Darin Strauss in the Los Angeles Times said “may actually be a perfect work of fiction…There is no pyrotechny in the writing – just compassion and shrewd insight…which is where Tóibín’s brilliance lies.”

BrooklynFilm screening of BROOKLYN with commentary by Colm Tóibín — 7:00 p.m. [Note early start time], Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Directed by John Crowley (Ireland/UK, 2015, 111 minutes, color) Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson

BROOKLYN, a hit independent film based on Colm Tóibín’s 2009 same-titled novel, tells the tale of a young Irish woman who emigrates to Brooklyn, where she must choose between two countries and her life in each. The Hollywood Reporter said, “Tóibín’s superior novel...has been turned into a beautiful and moving film.” The film stars Saoirse Ronan, whose performance in BROOKLYN earned her a 2016 Screen Actors Guild nomination for best female actor in a leading role.

Sponsored in association with Albany Pro Musica’s City of Immigrants Concert, a celebration of the rich cultural heritage of the Capital Region. See for additional information.

Richard Russo
Photo: Elena Seibert
Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
May 6 (Friday)
Reading — 8:00 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, Downtown Campus

Richard Russo, born in Johnstown and raised in Gloversville, is celebrated for work that fictionalizes small town life. Publishers Weekly has said “when it comes to evoking the cherished hopes and dreams of ordinary people, Russo is unsurpassed.” His novels include That Old Cape Magic (2009), Empire Falls (2001), which received the Pulitzer Prize, and Nobody’s Fool (1993), which was made into a 1994 film starring Paul Newman. His eighth novel, Everybody’s Fool, a sequel to Nobody's Fool, will be released in May 2016.

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