University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Literature Committee is hosting free community events this spring, centered around this year’s Reading Across Campus selection, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel.
Bechdel’s graphic memoir explores LGBTQIA+ issues, identity and family trauma, as she revisits her relationship with her father.
Events flowing out of “Fun Home” include two virtual talks by university staff members:
- “‘Fun Home’: Character Analysis Using LGBTQIA+ Development Theories,” with the Qube Program Coordinator Nicole Eastman: 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10, on Zoom.
- “The Power of Personal and Community Connections: Exploring UW-Stout LGBTQIA+ Oral Histories in Connection to Themes from Alison Bechdel's ‘Fun Home’,” with University Archivist Rebecca Kuske: 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6, on Zoom.
“‘Fun Home’ is an important representation of the LGBTQIA+ community and the different challenges each generation faces,” Eastman said. “What stood out to me was Alison’s relationship with her father growing up and their attempts to connect with each other.”
Eastman’s talk will examine the characters’ identities using LGBTQIA+ development models and how they come to accept or reject their sexualities. Attendees will also learn several identity development models and how to support those in the coming out process.
The Qube connects LGBTQIA+ students and allies in the community through social, cultural and academic programs and events.
Kuske’s talk will connect the themes of “Fun Home” directly to the UW-Stout community as she shares pieces of oral histories, experiences and involvement in the LGBTQIA+ community.
The oral histories were conducted by students in the Introduction to Queer Studies course, part of the women, gender and sexuality studies curriculum.
“My hope is that this talk creates an opportunity for attendees to recognize any of their own personal connections to this book as well as show how prevalent the topics discussed are on our own campus,” Kuske said.
Comic exhibit, movie and writing memoirs
Other upcoming Reading Across Campus community events are a student comic exhibit, a film screening and a presentation on writing memoirs by local author and UW-Eau Claire Associate Professor of English BJ Hollars. All events are free and open to the public.
- “Inside the Box: Memoir Comics by Stout Students” student exhibit: Friday, March 11, to Friday, May 6, second floor of the University Library.
- “Persepolis” film screening: 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, Harvey Hall Theatre.
- “The Story of Your Life: Writing Your Forgotten Past,” with Hollars: 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, Harvey Hall Theatre.
“Inside the Box: Memoir Comics by Stout Students” will feature comic art in all styles and mediums that incorporate the theme of personal memoir and identity.
The call for artists is open to UW-Stout students. Organized by comics Lecturer Mary Climes, the exhibition is juried by various university representees: Cory Mitchell, collection development librarian; Literature Committee member Kevin Drzakowski, interim associate dean of the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences; Brianna Copra, graduate student and children’s book illustrator; Erik Evensen, comic artist and associate professor of digital narrative; and Nicole Eastman, LGBTQIA+ program coordinator. A closing reception will be on Friday, April 29.
The screening of “Persepolis” was chosen by the Literature Committee and the University Library to coincide with the reading of “Fun Home” because “it touches on issues of women's identities in a transnational context which seemed appropriate to women's history month,” said Lopa Basu, co-chair of the Literature Committee.
The adult animated film, produced in 2007, is based on Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name. Published in 2000, it is Satrapi’s autobiographical account of her childhood and teenage years in Iran and Austria during and after the Islamic Revolution.
Hollars’ presentation, “The Story of Your Life: Writing Your Forgotten Past,” will share techniques and writing prompts to help writers conjure long-forgotten stories and recall vanished details to bring their past to the present and write their life story.
Hollars is the author of several books, including “Go West Young Man: A Father and Son Rediscover America on the Oregon Trail.” His work has been featured in the Washington Post and National Public Radio. He is the recipient of the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Nonfiction.
Diversity Week community event
Diversity Week at UW-Stout is Monday, Feb. 21, to Friday, Feb. 25. The community is invited to listen to their neighbors at the International Mother Language Day event.
The hybrid event will feature 14 presenters speaking 13 languages and will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 in the Memorial Student Center, Great Hall and virtually on Zoom.
“Language is a big part of culture. And around the world, languages are being lost. This is a small way to share and appreciate the languages and cultures present in Menomonie,” said University Librarian Ann Vogl, who helped coordinate the event in collaboration with Menomonie Public Library.
“I think the event is a way to bring us all together and create some positive proximity. We are all part of the same community, and it is a wonderful way to meet each other,” Vogl added. “It’s nice to listen to the sound of different languages even though you don’t know what is said.”
Other upcoming community literary events include Roosevelt Montas’ presentation on his book “Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation.” Co-sponsored by the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, the event is at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, in the Memorial Student Center, Northwoods Room.
Reading Across Campus is a collaboration between the English and philosophy department, the University Library and Menard Center. It is made possible from a grant by the Chancellor’s Office and Provost’s Office.