Common Read 2013-2014 - SUNY Cortland

Common Read 2013-2014


Calendar of Events

Spring 2016


February 18, 4:30 pm, Old Main Colloquium

Place as Voice David Franke

After moving to the Tully Valley north of Cortland, David Franke discovered that this ancient locale is inscribed with many competing stories of what place and nature might mean.  Making sense of these stories requires a language that can accommodate everything from geology to politics to dreams.  In this paper, he tries to reveal a place that speaks in a multiple, incommensurate voices.

February 25, 7 pm, Sperry 104

This Changes Everything

Film Screening

Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis

What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world? Directed by Avi Lewis, and inspired by Naomi Klein’s international non-fiction bestseller, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING presents seven powerful portraits of communities on the front lines, from Montana’s Powder River Basin to the Alberta Tar Sands, from the coast of South India to Beijing and beyond.

March 22, 7 pm, Memorial Library 2nd Floor

A Farm Girl - Billie: The Gillette Murder Case 110 Years After

Joseph Brownell

Joseph Brownell is a local author of Adirondack Tragedy: The Gillette Murder Case of 1906 and Cortland to the Adirondacks: A Fateful Journey in 1906. He will discuss the history of one of the most famous crimes in New York’s history; the murder of Cortland’s Grace Brown by Chester Gillette at Big Moose Lake. Made famous by a media frenzy fueled by the sensational newspaper reporting of 1906, this "crime of the century" seeped into the American culture. The story of Chester and Grace was the inspiration for Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy and the Hollywood movie A Place in the Sun. Brownell is a geographer, retired from SUNY Cortland.

March 24, 7pm, Jacobus Lounge

The Local Opt-Out Movement: Parents’ Responses to Standardized

Testing Requirements

Moderated by Anne Burns Thomas

This panel will feature several local parents who are active in the movement to take control of the testing requirements for students, by “opting out” of standardized tests put in place by New York state.  Parents from Cortland, Ithaca and Dryden will describe their motivation for refusing to allow the school to administer the tests to their children and the ways that this local activism has spread beyond an individual decision.  Following presentations by each of the parents, there will be time for questions and discussion.

March 29, 7 pm, Sperry Room 106

Our Town: Cortland Then & Now

A Multi-Media Presentation

Is the small town imagined by Thornton Wilder a past reality or a persistent fiction? Are there traces of Grovers Corners in the Cortland of a hundred years ago? Does any sense of that small town mythos remain in the 21st century, with a largely vacant Main St. and the looming vision of new Cortlanville highways and big box stores?

April 7, 7 pm, Jacobus Lounge

What Porter Ranch Can Teach Us About Seneca Lake

Joe Heath and Colleen Kattau

With a talk by Joe Heath and music from Colleen Kattau, this event will focus attention on the local politics of fracking and the fight against natural gas storage under Seneca Lake.

April 11, 4:30 pm, Sperry 104

Planning Communities as if People Eat

Samina Raja, University of Buffalo

Dr. Samina Raja will introduce her research program, which focuses on understanding the role of planning and policy in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities. She is the Principal Investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (the “Food Lab”) where much of her research unfolds with the engagement and collaboration of an outstanding research team. In partnership with collaborators nationwide, Dr. Raja is currently directing Growing Food Connections, a comprehensive five-year initiative funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to build capacity of local governments to strengthen food systems.  

April 18, 4:30 - 6:30 pm, Jacobus Lounge

Through My Eyes, Café Night

Students from H. W. Smith Elementary School

For this event, students and families of recent immigrants will tell their stories in a variety of formats.

April 25, 4:30 pm, Sperry 104

I Learn America

Film Screening

In ”I Learn America,” five resilient immigrant teenagers come together over a year at the International High School at Lafayette and struggle to learn their new land.

April 26, 7 pm. Jacobus Lounge

Welcoming the Stranger

Dylan Fresco

"Welcoming The Stranger" is a 30 minute solo performance weaving together true stories of refugees, family, and faith.  It was Commissioned by Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, and has been performed for theaters, youth groups, colleges, religious organizations, and employees of a mental health center.

Fall 2015

September 23, 2015, 4:30, Jacobus Lounge

Robert Spitzer, “Did Bob Get His Gun (Permit)? What Local Gun Laws Tell Us About the National Gun Debate”

America's love-hate relationship with guns has been framed in modern times as a zero sum struggle between gun laws and gun rights—that a gain for one side is a loss for the other, and that the two are incompatible. But is that true? My research on the history of gun laws concludes the reverse--that in most of our history, the two went hand in hand.


October 1, 2015, 7:00 pm, Brown Auditorium, Old Main

Cortland Old Timers Band Concert

Local community bands have a long history in the Untied States. The Cortland Old Timers Band can trace its origins to 1911.  This concert, under the direction of conductor Edward O’Rourke, will feature classic and contemporary band music related to the band’s long tradition. The event will be introduced by retired band conductor and SUNY Cortland Music Professor Emeritus, Dr. Samuel Forcucci.

October 8, 2015, 4:30, Jacobus Lounge

Martin Ogle, “Land Ethic and Gaia Paradigm; The co-evolution of two great ideas” 

Martin Ogle, a long-time champion of Gaia Theory, has been expanding the concept as the “Gaia Paradigm” – the confluence of our best scientific understandings of Earth as a living system with cultural understandings of human society as a seamless continuum of that life.  The Gaia Paradigm is gaining traction and is a most apt partner to Leopold’s Land Ethic. 

Join Mr. Ogle for a fascinating exploration of the synergy between the Land Ethic and the Gaia Paradigm and how they may both be necessary for us to successfully address the environmental and social challenges of our day.    

October 12 – December 18, 2015, Robert Sherrill, “Landmarks,” Dowd “Hallway” Gallery

October 13, 2015, 5:00 pm, Dowd Gallery

Robert Sherrill, “Artist’s Talk”

Robert Sherrill pairs photographs with drawings in his ongoing Landmarks project. After photographing a local landscape, he uses charcoal, chalk and graphite to transfer the image into a drawing. His interest lies in exploring the nature of spatial experience and the rhythms inherent in both the landscape and the process of making marks. These drawings are not a documentation of any specific place but rather are based on the dynamic of space and how it is experienced. Presented in this exhibition are eight studies for larger works.

October 15, 2015, 4:30 pm, Jacobus Lounge

Gerald Grant, “Hope and Despair in the American City”

Gerald Grant’s talk, “Hope and despair in the American City,” compares two cities - his hometown of Syracuse, New York, and Raleigh, North Carolina - in order to examine the causes and consequences of the nation’s ongoing educational inequities. He explores the central question of why education reform keeps failing, tracing the answer back to public policy decisions such as redlining and blockbusting in the wake of World War II and the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Milliken v. Bradley which hardened the lines of school segregation by preventing the state of Michigan from merging Detroit’s public schools with those in surrounding suburbs. In shining a light on some of the nation’s deepest educational challenges the discussion also points toward the potential for school reform that remains today.

October 20, 2015, 7:00-9:30 pm, 1890 House  “Local Tales of Terror”

Co-Sponsored by: The 1890 House and Hollenbeck Cider Mill

1265 NY-392, Cortland, NY 13045

Phone:(607) 835-6455 Opening day is 9/26/2015

Please join us one and all at Cortland’s fabled 1890 House for an evening of “Local Tales of Terror”, ghost stories and dramatic readings in the “Spirit” of the season.  

November 4, 2015, 7:00 pm, Jacobus Lounge

Get to Know Your Local Dirt:

A Community Roundtable on Local Agriculture and Nature Preserves
Main Street Farms
New York Agricultural Land Trust
Lime Hollow Nature Center
Whole Heart Café (The Local Food Market)
Moderators: Christa Chatfield and Scott Moranda

Description: Around the country, the local food movement is booming. In addition to concerns about factory farming’s environmental and food safety record, consumers want to support local farmers. By connecting with the local landscape, residents build relationships with each other and with nature. While many support this movement, some wonder how well it reaches out to lower-income families. Participants in this roundtable will share their experiences developing a culture that connects residents to locally grown food and nearby natural treasures. We will discuss the benefits of local agriculture as well as landscape and farmland preservation. At the same time, the discussion will highlight the possible challenges faced by this movement.

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 7 P.M., Exhibition Lounge, Corey Union

Poetry of Place

 Using Cortland as its locus, this program of readings will explore how some poets reveal who they are by looking at where they are, and in so doing, illustrate how important a sense of place is to larger human endeavors. As poet Maxine Kumin has written, ”In a poem one can use the sense of place as an anchor for larger concerns, as a link between narrow details and global realities. Location is where we start from.” 

Thursday, November 19, 7 pm, Corey Union Fireplace Lounge

Khuram Hussain, “From Charity to Solidarity: Rethinking Student Service in Urban Communities”

From tutoring kids to stocking food pantries “service to the community” is now a cornerstone of the college experience. Yet it is criticized for being little more than community charity. Moreover, in an era of economic dispossession, mass school closings and rising urban protest, college campuses and their surrounding communities need more from each other than charity. This talk explores the radical possibilities of service learning as: place-based, democratic and mutually empowering for students and community members. Specifically a yearlong urban education project titled Tools for Social Change is examined as a model of service that focuses on intergroup dialogue, collaborative learning, and community organizing to build transformative student-community alliances. Ultimately the talk outlines practical and ethical considerations for pre-professional students to use urban institutions to work in solidarity with urban communities.