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Laura C. Harris Series

selected reading for visiting lecturers

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo
An Evening with Joy Harjo: Women’s Empowerment, Indigenous Poetry, and Native Literature
February 7 (Tuesday), 7:00 PM
Sharon Martin Hall, Eisner Center for the Performing Arts 
A Collaboration with the Beck Series

Campus visit: Feb 7-8 (Tues & Wed), 2023


Joy Harjo is the first Native American United States Poet Laureate and the second to hold this position for three terms (2019-2022). Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is an internationally known award-winning poet, writer, performer, and saxophone player of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is the author of nine books of poetry and a memoir. Her many writing awards include the 2019 Jackson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Harjo’s poetry collections include An American Sunrise (W.W. Norton, 2019); Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015)—shortlisted for the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize and added to ALA’s 2016 Notable Books List; How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems; and She Had Some Horses. Her memoir Crazy Brave (W.W. Norton, 2012) won several awards including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the American Book Award. It was called “The best kind of memoir, an unself-conscious mix of autobiography, spiritual rumination, cultural evaluation, history and political analysis told in simple but authoritative and deeply poetic prose” by Ms Magazine. Harjo just published a Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (2020), and her memoir, Poet Warrior (2021).  

Harjo is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Rasmuson United States Artist Fellowship. In 2014 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame.

Joy Harjo will read from her work, including her recent memoir, Poet Warrior, inviting us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. She will read poems and share stories from her life, including what she has learned during her time as the 23rd United States Poet Laureate.

Judy Batalion

Judy Batalion 
Book Discussion of “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos”

February 22 (Wednesday), 7:00 PM
Herrick Hall


Photo of Judy Batalion

Denison University’s Laura C. Harris Series welcomes Judy Batalion.

Batalion will talk about her book, “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos” (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2021). A New York Times bestseller and winner of a National Jewish Book Award and a Canadian Jewish Literary Award, the book is adapted into an award-winning children’s book, will be translated into 21 languages, and was optioned by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, for whom Judy is co-writing the screenplay.

Born and raised in Montreal, Batalion grew up speaking English, French, Yiddish and Hebrew. She studied the history of science at Harvard then moved to London to pursue a Ph.D. in art history. In 2007, when Batalion was doing research on strong Jewish women at the British Library, she happened to come across a dusty old Yiddish book, Freuen in di Ghettos (Women in the Ghettos). This Yiddish thriller about “ghetto girls” who hid revolvers in teddy bears, bribed Nazis with whiskey and pastry, and blew up German supply trains became the inspiration for “The Light of Days.”

One of the most important stories of World War II, “The Light of Days” is a spectacular, searing history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who became resistance fighters—a group of unknown heroes whose exploits have never been chronicled in full, until now. As propulsive and thrilling as “Hidden Figures,” “In the Garden of Beasts,” “Band of Brothers,” and “A Train in Winter,” “The Light of Days” tells the true story of these incredible women whose courageous yet little-known feats have been eclipsed by time. Batalion—the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors—takes us back to 1939 and introduces us to Renia Kukielka, a weapons smuggler and messenger who risked death traveling across occupied Poland on foot and by train. Joining Renia are other women who served as couriers, armed fighters, intelligence agents, and saboteurs, all who put their lives in mortal danger to carry out their missions. Batalion follows these women through the savage destruction of the ghettos, arrest and internment in Gestapo prisons and concentration camps, and for a lucky few—like Renia, who orchestrated her own audacious escape from a brutal Nazi jail—into the late 20th century and beyond.

Zahra Ali

Zahra Ali
'Iraq 20 years after the US invasion: انتِ-فاضة / Uprising and the Political Imagination'

March 23 (Thursday), 11:30am-12:30pm
Click HERE to register for this virtual event in advance

Portrait of Zahra Ali

The Laura C. Harris Series welcomes Zahra Ali, sociologist and assistant professor at Rutgers University-Newark, presenting a lecture, “Iraq 20 years after the US invasion: انتِ-فاضة / Uprising and the Political Imagination.”

Twenty years after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, this talk takes the October 2019 uprising as a framework to understand contemporary politics of protests and social movements. It centers the mobilizations of women, youth and ordinary people and looks at issues of urban space, gender and sexuality, affects, and ‘politics of life and death’. It argues that centering Iraqi protesters’ subjectivities, trajectories and experiences can expand the theoretical and political imagination on empire, feminism and emancipation.

Ali’s research explores dynamics of women and gender, social and political movements, in relation to Islam(s), the Middle East, and contexts of war and conflict with a focus on contemporary Iraq. She is interested in empire, (racial) capitalism, (post)coloniality, decolonial and transnational feminisms as well as critical knowledge production and epistemologies. Ali is the author of “Women and Gender in Iraq” and co-author of “Decolonial Pluriversalism.” 

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer
“We the People”: Expanding the Circle of Citizenship for Public Lands 
March 28 (Tuesday), 7:00 PM
Herrick Hall Auditorium

Campus visit: March 28 (Tues), 2023



Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants (2015), which has earned Kimmerer wide acclaim. Her first book, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses (2003), was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding nature writing and her other work has appeared in Orion, Whole Terrain, and numerous scientific journals. She tours widely and has been featured on NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett and in 2015 addressed the general assembly of the United Nations on the topic of “Healing Our Relationship with Nature.” Kimmerer lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability.

As a writer and a scientist, her interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She holds a BS in Botany from SUNY ESF, an MS and PhD in Botany from the University of Wisconsin and is the author of numerous scientific papers on plant ecology, bryophyte ecology, traditional knowledge and restoration ecology.


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