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Cooper Series

Swarthmore College

cooper series

Department Overview

The William J. Cooper Foundation provides a varied program of lectures, performances and exhibitions which enriches the academic work of Swarthmore College. The Foundation was established by William J. Cooper to bring to campus leaders in a broad range of fields and disciplines, including education, politics, the arts and sciences, and business for the benefit of faculty, students, staff, and the College community. Planning for next season is currently underway.

Current Season

Below is the list of upcoming Cooper Series events for 2018-2019.

Piece Together: The Quilts of Mary Lee Bendolph

The extraordinary quilts of Gee’s Bend, Ala.—including those made by Mary Lee Bendolph—have been compared to the literature of Toni Morrison, jazz classics, and masterworks of modern art. Recognized with a 2015 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, Bendolph has been profiled in a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay and served as the focus of the documentary While I Yet Live.

Piece Together: The Quilts of Mary Lee Bendolph

Renee Elise Goldsberry

Renée Elise Goldsberry, winner of a Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk Award, and Lucille Lortel Award for her performance in the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton, presents an afternoon discussion and an evening performance.

Renee Elise Goldsberry

Lenny Seidman: ARC

Drum and dance traditions from all over the globe combine this Fall in the premiere of ARC, a multidisciplinary performance suite conceptualized by tabla artist, composer, and artistic director, Lenny Seidman. This original work melds North Indian tabla, Japanese taiko, and a hybrid of contemporary Western, Asian Pacific, and African Diasporic movement into one evening-length performance.

To bring the work of ARC to life, Seidman enlisted the talents of eight highly-distinguished co-creators: tabla artists Daniel Ando Scholnick and Jonathan Marmor; taiko artists Joe Small, Kristy Oshiro, and Isaku Kageyama; and movement artists Laurel Jenkins, Orlando Hunter, and Ani Gavino. Together, the artists created ARC over the course of a three week residency at Swarthmore College, living and working together to build the piece from Seidman’s early sketches. What resulted from their residency is an intimate, electrifying, and cross-cultural performance that convenes an array of forms, styles, and disciplines.

Lenny Seidman: ARC

An Evening of Traditional East Asian Vocal Arts

East Asian civilizations have cultivated three branches of vocal arts that have no equivalent anywhere else in the world—Kunqu opera (China), Noh (Japan), and P’Ansori (Korea). Among the great achievements of the East Asian performing arts, they have been designated as national cultural treasures in their home countries and as the world’s “intangible heritages” by UNESCO.

An Evening of Traditional East Asian Vocal Arts

Robin Mandel ’97: Chorus and Hold Still

Robin Mandel ’97’s artistic practice combines sculpture, video projections, and collaborations with musicians. Harmonizing traditional craftsmanship with innovative technology, Mandel challenges conventional notions about time, light, sound, and motion. Swarthmore College is pleased to present both Chorus, a five-day series of sound and video projections designed for north campus, and Hold Still, a List Gallery exhibition featuring a selection of multimedia sculptures and projections.

Robin Mandel ’97: Chorus and Hold Still

Lars Jan ’00 and Early Morning Opera: The Institute of Memory (TIMe)

Director and visual artist Lars Jan ’00 is the founder of the innovative Los Angeles performance group Early Morning Opera. A combination of autobiography, investigative journalism, and detective story, The Institute of Memory confronts the contemporary American audience with urgent questions about the larger spiritual and philosophical consequences of political terror, trauma, and privacy in the digital age—and the temptation of simply ignoring them. 

Lars Jan ’00 and Early Morning Opera: The Institute of Memory (TIMe)

Critical Conversations: An Interactive Symposium on W. E. B. Du Bois and 21st Century Color Lines

William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois was born in 1868 and became the nation’s leading social scientist on race, social inequality, African-American life and culture, and the ideology of white supremacy. He famously predicted that “the problem of the twentieth century [would be] the problem of the color line”—a prescient observation that rings truer than ever today, on the 150th anniversary of Du Bois’s birth. With this symposium, Swarthmore College attempts to serve the greater good of Du Bois’s vision via deep listening and democratic voices offered in mutual exchange and respect.

Critical Conversations: An Interactive Symposium on W. E. B. Du Bois and 21st Century Color Lines

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion

An all-star team from the worlds of dance and music comes together to present an ambitious new project about survival, renewal, and the hidden connections that keep our world together. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion, both known for work that is forward-looking and intensely personal, will be joined by a creative team including choreographers Emma Portner, Lil Buck, and Jon Boogz, as well as composer Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange), for this new evening-length work. This project represents a rare opportunity to explore something epic in scope but particularly relevant to the moment, and to create at the intersection of science, expression, and politics.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Third Coast Percussion

Charms, Riddles, and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands

In this world-premiere performance, Benjamin Bagby and Sequentia will chant and sing a number of poetic songs from the medieval northlands (eighth–11th centuries) in Old English, Old High German, and Old Icelandic. Using medieval instruments including Germanic harps and wooden and bone flutes, the sounds will include charms, riddles, elegies, songs of magic and healing, laments over the loss of loved ones, and the pain of exile in a foreign land.

Charms, Riddles, and Elegies of the Medieval Northlands

Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary

Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary is a two-year project that connects the arts to historic and contemporary stories of refuge. Local Syrians and Iraqis work with commissioned artists to make handmade books that explore connections between history and experience, displacement and refuge, empathy and belonging.

Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary