Arts and Literature | Wilson Center

Arts and Literature

Celebrating James Billington, The Librarian of Congress Emeritus: A Lifetime of Advancing Knowledge in the Public Service

Photo by Flickr user m01229 under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

The Wilson Center is proud to host a distinguished panel of commentators who will discuss the many contributions of James Billington—professor, author, Director of the Wilson Center and co-founder of the Kennan Institute, founder of the Open World Leadership Center, and recently retired Librarian of Congress.

Building Community Through Theater; Lessons From the Setagaya Theater

How Naples Became Europe’s Great Musical Machine

Ulysses, if Homer is to be believed, was the first mariner to escape the temptations of the Bay of Naples. According to The Odyssey, Ulysses had heard of the bay’s infamous sirens — part women, part bird or nymph-like creatures — that lured sailors to their death by singing so beautifully that no one could sail on without succumbing. Thus, when returning from the Trojan War via the bay, Ulysses plugged the ears of his crew with beeswax and bound himself to the mast until they had sailed safely out of range of the sirens’ audible temptation.

“Solzhenitsyn: The Untranslated Oeuvre”

This event is part of Russian Literature Week in New York City organized by Read Russia. For further details on the full week’s program, please click here.

“So Who Is Felix? An Exploration of the Illusion of Nostalgia for Empire”

Join us for a discussion with Ukrainian author and translator Sophia Andrukhovych, centering on her book Felix Austria (2014). In this novel, Andrukhovych introduces the reader to the history of her hometown of Ivano-Frankivsk and uses the example of one rather bizarre family to explore the Ukrainian myth of “Austrian happiness.”

Reception to follow. 

Hometown D.C.: America’s Secret Music City

In his memoir Music Is My Mistress, Duke Ellington fondly recalled whiling away the days of his youth at Holliday’s poolroom in Washington, DC.

The Link Between Culture & Extremism: An Integrated Model to Combating Art Trafficking

Cultural cleansing is described as the deliberate destruction and eradication of any evidence of religious and historical presence of the original population in a war-torn region. Tasoula Hadjitofi argues that recent developments in the Middle East have shown, once again, that cultural cleansing can no longer be a secondary priority in areas of conflict but must be seen as a much more serious crime. Ms. Hadjitofi will draw on European history and examples from around the globe – including Greece, Italy, Guatemala, Mali, Canada, and others – to discuss this phenomenon.

Discovering the Power of Community in Unexpected Places

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about supporting “community” as a way to address pressing urban challenges, such as rising crime, entrenched poverty, and substandard education systems.  The concept of “community” – especially those deemed to be “sustainable” and “resilient” – has come to be a currency of the realm in discussions about cities, development, and rebounding from disaster. Any understanding of “community” loses texture and vitality as it becomes a term of art spoken too often in policy debates without much thought. 

Sarajevo Roses, Tahrir Protests & Djerbahood: Injustice, Youth & Resilience

Within the past quarter century, two tectonic shifts have shaken international affairs: the end of the Cold War in 1991 and the uprisings across the Arab world in 2011. These groundbreaking changes were accompanied by violence and conflict, exemplified by the wars in the former Yugoslavia and state repression across several Arab countries. Dealing with post-conflict and post-authoritarian injustice in these contexts poses a number of challenges.

Just the Facts: What is “Fact Checking” and Why is it Growing?

Journalism, at its best, is a search for truth. And identifying the truth involves getting the facts correct. But a movement known as “Fact Checking” is growing globally and takes what some consider standard journalism practice to new heights. Following the release of a new report on fact checking, we spoke with Jane Elizabeth from the American Press Institute about the findings and to learn more about the practice. She provides an overview in this edition of CONTEXT