The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will continue its new Collegiate Series featuring a performance by West Virginia University’s (WVU) Children’s Puppet Theater on March 11, at 7:30 p.m., and a lecture on the phenomenon of contemporary manifestations of the medieval by WVU Professor Patrick W. Conner on March 12 at 7 p.m. The Collegiate Series is held in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The series consists of performances and lectures by students and faculty from WVU and Marshall University. First Lady Gayle Manchin is the host of the program. The Collegiate Series is free and open to the public.
The Tuesday, March 11 program features WVU’s Division of Theatre and Dance Puppetry/Theatre for Youth Program production of Wee View Review directed by Joann Spencer Siegrist. The performance is presented by the Great Mountaini the Magician and contains scenes from some of WVU’s popular children’s theatre productions and a showcase of puppetry styles from around the world that feature shadow, hand, and black light puppets, as well as classic marionettes.
Siegrist is a professor of theater at WVU, teaching a variety of courses in children’s theater, puppetry and creative dramatics. While there, she has directed more than 40 children’s theater productions and numerous puppetry productions for both youth and adults. She is known throughout the region as the director of the WVU Puppet Mobile. Siegrist also is the president of UNIMA-USA (International Puppetry) which fosters puppetry abroad.
Siegrist has conducted numerous workshops statewide, regionally and nationally on creative drama and puppetry production. She has developed educational puppet videos and worked as a consultant for national groups such as Very Special Arts; The Learning Channel; the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation in Washington, D.C.; and the PBS/WQED Pittsburgh Children’s TV Pilot Frank’s Garage.
The Wednesday, March 12 program will feature WVU Professor Patrick Conner with his lecture Getting Medieval: How Relics of Medieval Culture Function in Modern Life. Conner says, “We today have strong emotional bonds with the Middle Ages, proof of which partly lies in our frequent denial of them, the way sons traditionally rebel against their fathers.” He will explore several areas in which medieval content can be recognized in contemporary culture ranging from architecture to literary tastes. Conner feels that content from the Middle Ages was particularly useful in the United States as a means of forging a unified national identity, first as a means of representing a common European experience for a wide variety of European immigrants and later as an ideal of unity and national purpose.
Conner teaches courses in Medieval English literature, British literature, linguistics, research methods and issues in humanities computing for both graduate and undergraduate students. Since 1999, he has been the director of the West Virginia University Press. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1975 and considers Anglo-Saxon culture, culture from 450 - 1100, to be his research speciality. In 1993, he was named Outstanding Teacher of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. In 1995, he was named Centennial Professor in Humanities, one of Eberly College’s highest honors and designed to commemorate the centennary of the school. He was named Phi Beta Kappa Founders’ Day Speaker in 2000 and in 2004, he was awarded the James and Arthur Gabriel/Gabriel Brothers Faculty Award.
Author of Anglo-Saxon Exeter, a study of the Exeter Book manuscript of Old English poetry and of the institutions and cultures which produced it, Conner has also written numerous articles on both Old English and computing subjects. His most recent work has centered on Old English religious poetry and the development of social and cultural literary spaces in Anglo-Saxon England.
For more information about the puppet theater program or the medieval culture lecture, call (304) 558-0162.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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