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Themester 2019 explores ‘Remembering and Forgetting’

For Immediate Release Sep 5, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The College of Arts and Sciences’ 11th annual Themester explores the theme “Remembering and Forgetting,” complementing the 2019-20 celebration of Indiana University’s 200th anniversary.

“If the past is a ‘foreign country,’ the occasion of the IU Bicentennial and Themester will offer a diverse set of travel adventures to these landscapes,” said Edward Linenthal, professor of history and co-chair of the 2019 Themester Committee. “Lectures, discussions, films and museum exhibitions will, we hope, help us appreciate how the difficult work of remembering and forgetting creates meanings of the past in the present.”

Highlights from the fall Themester calendar include:

Lectures and talks

Tim O'Brien
National Book Award-winning author Tim O’Brien will speak on Oct. 29.
  • National Book Award-winning author Tim O’Brien will speak on Oct. 29. He will read from and discuss the themes of remembering and forgetting that permeate his work, including a new memoir, “Dad’s Maybe Book,” which will be released in October. O’Brien received the 1979 National Book Award for “Going After Cacciato” and authored “The Things They Carried” and “In the Lake of the Woods,” winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. The talk will be followed by a book signing, with books available for purchase.
  • On Sept. 16, the challenges of commemoration will be discussed in “Through the Lens of Memory: Creating the 9/11 Memorial Museum.” Alice M. Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, will discuss the various considerations and sensitive issues that arose in the creation of the memorial museum.
  • On Sept. 23, “Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War” author Susan Southard will discuss the enduring impact of nuclear war as she discusses the stories of survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan.
  • Charles Cobb, a former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee freedom fighter, will give a talk Nov. 20 on efforts to memorialize the black freedom movement of the 1960s. Cobb will examine how memories of the fight for democracy in our past shape the ongoing battle for racial and social justice today.


A still from the film
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is one of a series of free films offered by Themester in partnership with IU Cinema and IU Moving Image Archive.

Themester will partner with IU Cinema and the IU Moving Image Archive Screening Room at the Herman B Wells Library to present a series of free films. The series begins Sept. 9 with Roberta Grossman’s 2018 documentary, “Who Will Write Our History,” at IU Cinema. The documentary is based on a book of the same title by Samuel D. Kassow, published by IU Press. Books will be available for purchase at the screening.

Other films include “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” an Academy Award-winning science fiction comedy directed by Michel Gondry; “After Life,” a film that invites viewers to survey their lives and ask what memories they cherish most, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda; and “Freedom on My Mind,” a documentary that examines how the Mississippi voter registration struggles of the early 1960s are remembered by those who lived through those turbulent years, directed by Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford.


“Remembering the Ephemeral: the Ritual Architecture of Sukkot in Contemporary Life” at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures explores the contemporary practice of the ancient Jewish holiday that annually commemorates the Israelites’ Biblical journey through the Sinai Desert to the Promised Land. During this weeklong autumn festival, observant Jews traditionally build and inhabit temporary outdoor ritual structures, often called sukkot. The Mathers Museum will also present a curator’s talk. The exhibit runs through the fall semester.

Theater productions

Actors in Cardinal Stage's production of The Great Gatsby
Themester is once again partnering with Cardinal Stage Company to present an adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.”
  • IU Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance will present Marina Carr’s “By the Bog of Cats.” Loosely based on Euripides’ tragedy “Medea,” “By the Bog of Cats” is the prophetic tale of Hester Swane, an Irish traveler who attempts to come to terms with a lifetime of abandonment. The show runs Sept. 27 through Oct. 5 and is a ticketed event.
  • Themester is once again partnering with Cardinal Stage Company to present an American classic. The Bloomington-based professional theater will stage an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby.” The show runs Sept. 5 through 22, and ticketing information is available on the Cardinal Stage website.

For a complete list of Themester 2019: Remembering and Forgetting events and details, visit Themester News + Events. Most events are free and open to the public; however, some require admission fees, registration or tickets.

Themester 2019 events and programs complement College of Arts and Sciences courses. Course topics include human memory and cognition as well as the theme of memory in science-fiction. To view a list of courses approved for inclusion in this year’s Themester, and for more information, visit Themester Courses.

Themester is an initiative of the Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

Media Contact

College of Arts and Sciences

Tracy Bee

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