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Faculty and Staff, are you considering using this year’s Go Big Read book “I Am Malala” in your spring course? To arrange free books for your students, fill out the web form here.
Malala Yousafzai made history this fall when she became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala’s activism and rousing speeches are a source of inspiration to students across campus. Malala’s book has sparked deep and engaging conversations across campus about religion, education, and culture. Examples include the event, “Breaking Stereotypes: Women in Islam” hosted by the Muslim Students Association and the event “Embattled Ideologies: I Am Malala and the Question of Women’s Education in Islam” hosted by the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions. You won’t want to miss the chance to include your students in these important conversations. 

November 11th Lubar Institute Symposium: 
Embattled Ideologies: I Am Malala and the
Question of Women’s Education in South Asia

The Go Big Read program has been fielding requests from the reading community for a venue that allows for deeper conversation of the themes presented in “I Am Malala”, as well as an event that features UW faculty and experts in the region of study.

UW Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions is holding a
free, public symposium on November 11th entitled:  Embattled Ideologies: I Am Malala and the
Question of Women’s Education in South Asia

Event Description: Beyond the dramatic story of Malala
Yousafzai’s life and struggle for women’s education as recounted
in I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was
Shot by the Taliban
—UW-Madison’s Go Big Read book
selection for 2014—lie profound and complex questions: 

 –What are the larger and deeper
ideological forces that underpin the political and
humanitarian forefront of the “Malala” story? How do we make
sense of the perspective of the emancipators even as we want
to unravel the fury of the extremists?
Why are some people staunchly opposed
to extremism but also suspicious of the extraordinary
limelight that Yousafzai has received? And how have certain
claims made in the book offended many Pakistanis, so that
they question the extent of Yousafzai’s authorship? 

How and why do the politics and ethics
of international development aid sometimes backfire? Why are
universal concepts such as “womanhood,” “human rights,” or
even “education” often problematic?

    This symposium brings together scholars
    whose joint expertise cuts across the challenges of women’s
    education in tribal Pakistan, the historical encounter of Islam
    and modernity, and the cultural problematics of international
    aid. The goal of the program is to highlight how in South Asia
    and elsewhere debates about educational reform and women’s
    education in particular do not occur in a vacuum but are highly
    inflected by historically embedded ideologies, and culturally
    and politically vexed notions about human identity, education
    and development.
    Nancy Kendall is Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies,
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, who specializes in ethnographic
    studies of comparative, international, and global education policy. She
    is affiliated with the UW African Studies Program, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Development Studies Program, and Global Health Institute.
    Her research has examined children’s sense-making and
    experiences with gender and education, political
    democratization, sexuality and HIV/AIDS education, and
    orphan-focused international programming.

    Omar Qureshi is currently the principal of the Islamic Foundation School (Villa
    Park, Illinois) with considerable experience of teaching at
    public and private schools in Saudi Arabia and the United States. He
    has studied the Islamic religious sciences with a number of traditional
    scholars in Syria and Saudi Arabia and holds specialization in Islamic
    law and theology. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University–Chicago. His dissertation explores the conception of the highest good in Islamic Education.

    Sidra Rind is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies
    at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She received the Virginia Horne
    Henry Award for her research on female students in the tribal parts of
    Pakistan. She studies how in the province of Balochistan competing
    pressures from the state, the separatists, and the Taliban have shaped
    the educational experience of Pakistani schoolgirls.

    Tayyab Zaidi is a doctoral student in Educational Policy Studies,
    UW–Madison, working toward a dissertation on models of Islamic
    education in America. His research interests cut across the educational
    applications of multimodal and systemic-functional analysis,
    postcolonial studies, and the impact of Muslim organizations. He is a
    recipient of the Fulbright Award and the Higher Education Commission
    Pakistan scholarship. Tayyab holds masters degrees in English as well
    as Applied Linguistics from the University of Karachi, Pakistan, and in
    Educational Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

    Capitol Lakes participates in Go Big Read

    the third consecutive year, the readers who live downtown in the Capitol Lakes
    Retirement Community were engaged in the Go Big Read program in a variety of
    ways.  Three dozen men and women met to talk about Radioactive during one of three
    scheduled small group discussions. The film Silkwood was viewed and discussed one
    afternoon by a small group.  An organized
    group from Capitol Lakes attended Lauren Redniss’ talk at Union South on
    October 15.  Capitol Lakes also provided
    a venue for two guest speakers from the faculty. People from the campus and the
    general public were welcome to attend these talks.
    Robin Valenza, speaking at Capitol Lakes
    On October 11, Robin Valenza (UW-Madison Assistant Professor
    in the English Department) provided a history of highly illustrated narratives in
    her lecture “How the Comic Book Grew Up.” Valenza
    discussed the evolution of comics into a respected literary form, especially with
    the publications of graphic literature such as Art Speigelman’s Maus, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the works of Will Eisner,
    and the Batman graphic novel, The Dark
    Knight Returns

    Cathy Middlecamp (Associate Professor of Environmental Studies,
    Howe Bascom Professor of Integrated Liberal Studies and Nelson Institute for
    Environmental Studies faculty) spoke at Capitol Lakes on October 23. Her very
    informative lecture “Uranium and U” featured a wide range of opportunities for
    audience participation, as well as safe, hands-on examinations of several forms
    of radium. Middlecamp played an intriguing excerpt from a recorded interview
    with one of the surviving “radium girls” who had once painted clock faces using
    brushes dipped in radium. Middlecamp’s audience that day included a veteran
    whose military service had required him to be on a tug in the Pacific during
    the A-bomb tests. He affirmed Middlecamp’s assertions about the half-life of
    Capitol Lakes’ Go Big Read volunteer resident coordinator Ginny
    Moore Kruse worked closely on plans with resident June Weisberger Blanchard.
    (Each has UW-Madison Emerita status.) Ginny remarked that there was intense
    interest in Radioactive due to its
    format, its dual subjects: the Curies and the continuing impacts of their
    discoveries. “One person referred to Radioactive
    as a ‘feast for the eyes.’” What was a visual challenge for some became for
    others an exciting exploration of a new type of bookmaking. A few readers want
    to find out about graphic literature. Many were stunned by new information
    about the Curies. Lauren Redniss’s career has generated curiosity and several
    people have expressed an interest in borrowing my personal copy of her book Century Girl.”
    Ginny expressed appreciation for the support of Capitol
    Lakes Community Development Director Mary Hanson and the campus Go Big Read committee
    chair Sarah McDaniel (UW Libraries). According to Ginny, “The Capitol Lakes
    staff was behind it, and so were campus representatives who became involved. Due
    to our substantial experiences with The Immortal
    Life of Henrietta Lacks
    and Enrique’s
    , early last summer people began to ask me about when we would
    discuss Radioactive. Midst all the
    concerts, lectures, art exhibits, films and other intellectual and aesthetic
    opportunities at Capitol Lakes each month, it’s no surprise to me that people already
    look forward to the next Go Big Read!”  
    Carrie Kruse, Director College Library

    Upcoming book discussions

    The Radioactive author event might have come and gone, but you haven’t missed your chance to hear (and participate in!) a fantastic discussion of the book!  Go Big Read and the Madison Public Library have partnered to bring you a whole slew of Radioactive events over the next couple of weeks.

    Starting on Tuesday in Stoughton, various branches of the Madison Public Library across the city will be hosting their own book discussions, some of which will be led by students at the UW’s very own School of Library and Information Studies.  The Stoughton event is on Tuesday, November 13th, at 7:00pm.  On Thursday the 15th, the Monroe Street branch opens its doors at 6:00pm, and on Saturday, November 17th, you can head over to the Goodman South branch at 1:30pm.

    If art and design is more your thing, you should make your way to the Meadowridge branch of MPL on Wednesday, November 14th at 6:30pm.  The library is hosting a discussion on “the aesthetics of Radioactive,” which is sure to be fascinating.

    You can find more information about these and other upcoming events on the Go Big Read event calendar, as well as the Campus Events Calendar and the Madison Public Library’s own Go Big Read page.

    Brooke Williams, GBR graduate student

    Telling Science Stories

    What happens when non-scientists tell science stories?  What does science look like from a humanities perspective?  If you’re curious, head to the fourth floor of Helen C. White today (October 25) at 4pm.  Go Big Read and the Holz Center are co-sponsoring a panel that will answer these questions and more!  More information is available here.  See you at 4:00!

    Brooke Williams, GBR graduate student

    “Uranium and U”: Capitol Lakes talk

    Interested in learning more about some of the science behind radium and radioactivity?  Tomorrow, Capitol Lakes is hosting a talk by Cathy Middlecamp, associate professor of environmental studies at the Nelson Institute.  Below, find Cathy’s description of the talk:

    Any search for radioactive substances will quickly lead you to uranium and its radioactive decay products, one of which is radium.  Over the centuries, humans have done some amazing things with uranium.  Why has uranium been mined  What happened when it was?  And how does that connect to your own life?  This presentation will take you on a lively romp across the planet.  It will pass through your backyard, through other peoples’ backyards as well, and even though some of the bead shops that might be in your neighborhood.

    The event is free and open to the public, and will begin at 10:00 am on Tuesday, October 23rd.  Capitol Lakes is located at 333 W. Main Street.  For more information (including parking info), check out the campus calendar.

    Cyanotype Workshop at MPL

    Two of the wonderful librarians (and graduates of the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies) at the Library as Incubator Project helped document a public library cyanotype workshop last weekend.  They were over at the Madison Public Library’s Sequoya branch, where artist Aliza Rand led a cyanotype workshop.  You can read the full post about their experience on the Incubator, but below, check out a few samples of the beautiful work that was produced.  Click to enlarge.

    Cyanotype project from Madison Public Library workshop, October 2012. Photo by Erinn Batykefer.

    Cyanotype project from Madison Public Library workshop, October 2012. Photo by Erinn Batykefer.

    Cyanotype project from Madison Public Library workshop, October 2012. Photo by Erinn Batykefer.

    If you’d like to try your hand at cyanotype, don’t worry!  You have not missed your chance!  Aliza Rand will be hosting another cyanotype workshop this Sunday, October 21st, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.  The event is free and open to the public, and runs from 1pm until 3pm.  Click here for more info.

    Brooke, GBR grad student

    Lauren Redniss at Varsity Hall

    Radioactive author Lauren Redniss with Chancellor Encore David Ward and a sign language interpreter.

    When Lauren Redniss took the stage on Monday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Not that my expectations were low; I just wasn’t sure how, exactly, an hour-long talk could incorporate all of the interesting things about Radioactive.  Unlike many other authors, Redniss was charged with the task of discussing not only the process of researching and writing, but also the process of creating the unique artwork and aesthetic that is as integral to the book as the narrative. Redniss explained that she wanted Radioactive to be a “complete object, with every aspect carefully considered.”  Nothing about the book, she said, is “set on a default setting.”  She even put in the work of designing her own typeface, in addition to experimenting with a new method of artistic printing, arranging the text to fit the moods and shapes of each individual page, and, of course, actually writing the whole thing.  Now she just had to tell us how she did all of it.

    It’s not often that an author giving a lecture is faced with such a tall order, but Redniss carried it off with aplomb.  She began by giving a short summary of the book, and then took us back into the work’s very beginnings: her drawings for the New York Times and her first book, Century Girl.  From there, she moved into Radioactive itself, beginning with the research and writing and following it up with a discussion of the book’s visual elements: not only the cyanotype process itself, but the various sketches and inspirations that eventually found their way into the pages, as well as those that didn’t.

    Redniss signs a book for a fan.

    If you’ve been following us on Twitter, you’ll have seen that I live-tweeted a few of my favorite lines during the event itself (as often as I could without bugging the people around me!).  But there is one line that particularly stood out to me, which I live-tweeted in paraphrase but want to bring up here in its entirety.

    There is a kind of cliche about writing, a kind of mantra that’s repeated to aspiring writers: write what you know.  I’m sure you’ve heard this. I think about that. I think it could be fine advice, as long as it’s not interpreted as, “Don’t bother writing anything new, just write about whatever you happen to know already.”  So I think maybe another way that that advice could be interpreted is, “Go out, pursue what interests you, learn about it, be absorbed in it and immersed in it, and then come back and then write about what you now know.”

    This, I think, is such a refreshing and useful way to look at writing.  Certainly, as Redniss herself pointed out, a great deal of the work that went into Radioactive was learning: being no scientist herself, Redniss had a lot of reading and exploring and thinking to do as she chronicled the life of one of the world’s greatest scientists.  And I also think that this quote speaks particularly well to the University’s Year of Innovation.  That’s what we’re all here for, isn’t it?–to innovate, to go out and learn things and immerse ourselves in learning.  That was what the Curies did, and it was what Lauren Redniss did, as well.  And we should all follow in those footsteps.

    Redniss signs books and meets with members of the community.

    The wonderful photos above were taken by Micaela Sullivan-Fowler, one of our campus librarians.  If you would like to view her full gallery of photos from the event, click here.

    If you weren’t able to make it to the talk, you can watch a video on our homepage
    (the link is under “Features”).  Unfortunately, the video is not yet
    captioned, but a captioned version should be available soon.  A
    transcript of the event is also on its way, so please let us know if you
    are interested in receiving a copy.

    For those of you who did come: we hope you enjoyed it, and we’d love to hear your reactions to Redniss’s discussion!  Let us know what you thought on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below.

    Brooke, Go Big Read grad student

    Lauren Redniss takes the stage on Monday!

    With this year’s Go Big Read author event coming up fast, now is a great time to take a look at some recent Radioactive news items that have come across my desk.

    Lauren Redniss seems to have been pretty active around Madison over the past week or so (especially for someone who’s not even in town yet!): she’s spoken with the Badger Herald and 77 Square, and even the university’s news page is talking about her.  If you’re looking for a sneak preview of her Monday lecture, look no further

    And, of course, I’m going to set out the details of Monday night for you right now.  If you follow us on Twitter (@GoBigRead) or have liked us on Facebook, you’re probably going to be bombarded with this info over the next few days–and it’s in the campus calendar and a few local calendars, as well.  But isn’t it nice to have it all laid out in one place?  So here you go:

    Date: Monday, October 17
    Time: 7pm
    Place: Varsity Hall, on the second floor of Union South (1308 W. Dayton Street)
    Who: Lauren Redniss, author of Radioactive, the Go Big Read book selected for the 2012-2013 academic year
    Why should I go?: Because it will be amazing! Radioactive is a fascinating book: a blend of art, science, biography, history and romance, with an incredibly unique and very beautiful aesthetic. Wouldn’t it be cool to find out how all those things came together?
    Other things to know: The event is free and open to the public; you don’t need to get a ticket or reserve a seat.

    If you can’t make it to the event in person, well, we’ll miss you!  But you don’t have to miss a minute: we’re live streaming the whole thing, starting about 15 minutes before the talk actually begins.  To get in on that, just go to our home page and look for the link that says “Live stream of the event” (it’s under “Features” on the right side of the page).

    If you have any further questions about the event, feel free to email us:  You can also find us on Twitter or Facebook with the links above.  Otherwise, we’ll see you on Monday!

    Brooke, GBR graduate student

    October 11: How the Comic Book Grew Up

    We’re going to take a brief digression from Radioactive today, although it’s not too far off the beaten path (after all, the New York Times review described Radioactive as a “graphic novel” back in 2010), to bring you news about an upcoming talk.  The speaker is UW-Madison Associate Professor Robin Valenza, and she’ll be discussing “How the Comic Book Grew Up.”

    Place: Grand Hall, Capitol Lakes (333 W. Main Street)
    Date: Thursday, October 11
    Time: 3:15 pm

    This description from Robin:
    “In the English-language tradition, comic books have spent most
    of their lives as entertainment aimed at children and teenagers,
    although nobody has ever pretended that adults did not read

    This talk considers how the books we call comics evolved
    over the past few centuries, and how they made the transition
    between being something disposable (whose disposibility was
    paradoxically connected to their collectability) for young
    people towards being a respected literary form that now earns
    pride of place in bookstores under the category  “graphic

    Along the way, the talk will discuss the following: 
    early forms of sequential comic art including oil paintings
    meant to be viewed in succession for humorous effect, the power
    of the single-panel cartoon, the appearance of comic strips in
    newspapers, the voluntary and involuntary censorship that
    affected the publication and sale of comics, and the annus
    mirabilis —
    the miracle year 1986 — in which books
    previously called comics could then be called “graphic novels”
    with a straight face and appear without irony on lists of the
    100 best books of the twentieth century.  The way stations of
    this talk are many images and texts that lie at the heart of
    comics as an art form, image-text combinations that may evoke
    nostalgia or provoke laughter, tears, or wonder.”

    Robin Valenza is beginning her fourth year as associate
    professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 
    She came to Madison from the University of Chicago, after
    finishing her PhD in English literature at Stanford University. 
    Before she became a literary scholar, she was a computer
    scientist and electrical engineer who worked on automatic
    textual transcription of audio documents.  She currently manages
    an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant that brings together the
    two sides of her background:  her research group is working on
    how a person can comprehend a million or more books by combining
    traditional reading practices — turning pages and reading
    sentences one word at a time — and visualization techniques
    that allow readers to see commonalities among books through the
    use of color and pattern.  Reading at large scales that is —
    1000s to millions of books at once, plays into her interest in
    comic books and graphic novels because she has a longstanding
    interest in how our perceptual systems can use color and pattern
    to glean information, which is a part of our perceptual system
    that comics use in great measure but that black and white print
    in a conventional books do not.