Katarzyna Pieprzak to Lead Off Annual Faculty Lecture Series

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: Noelle.Lemoine@williams.edu

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., January 24, 2013— Katarzyna Pieprzak, associate professor of Francophone literature, French language, and comparative literature will present the first lecture in Williams College’s annual Faculty Lecture Series on Thursday, Feb. 7. The talk, titled “Participatory Memory and Casablanca’s Forgotten Neighborhoods: Interventions in the Representation of Terrorism and the Urban Poor at the Community Museum at Ben M’Sik,” will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, Thompson Chemistry. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in Schow atrium.

Pieprzak’s talk will focus on the tensions between the different types of memory projects in the city of Casablanca. Through literature and museology, Pieprzak will point out that there exists conflicting ways to approach the history and identity of the city’s poor. While the Moroccan state wishes to erase both the history and structure of Casablanca’s informal settlements, artists such as Moroccan painter and novelist Mahi Binebine, as well as the newly established museum of Ben M’Sik, strive to recuperate hidden or inaccessible voices of the urban poor through fiction, oral history, and community participation projects. In her lecture, Pieprzak will highlight the limitations of such approaches and pose further questions on museology and participatory memory. Can museological practices open up a productive discourse on voice and story collection? How do they challenge literary representations of poverty as an elite form that claims to speak for others?

Pieprzak’s areas of expertise include, among other subjects, contemporary literature and art from North Africa, postcolonial theory from the Francophone world, and museums in Africa and the Middle East. She arrived at Williams in 2003, after teaching briefly at Bronx Community College, City University of New York, and she received tenure in 2009.

In 2006 and 2011, Pieprzak was awarded Class of 1945 World Fellowships from Williams College, as well as a Getty Foundation Summer Institute Fellowship in 2006. Her recent works include Imagined Museums: Staging Art and Modernity in Morocco (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature: Remapping Uncertain Territories (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007). Pieprzak received her B.A. from Rice University in 1995 and her Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of Michigan.

This year’s Faculty Lecture Series will include five additional lectures, taking place in Wege Auditorium, Thompson Chemistry, at 4:15 p.m. over the next five consecutive Thursdays. The next speaker, associate professor of English Christian Thorne, will present a talk titled “The Sea Is Not a Place: Putting the World Back in World Literature.” Other speakers include William Wootters, Mérida Rúa, Brent Heeringa, and Lara Shore-Sheppard.

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