Anna Deavere Smith

Playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith, who uses her singular brand of theater to highlight issues of community, character, and diversity in America, will present “Notes from the Field” at Boston College’s Robsham Theater on Apr. 11 at 7 p.m.* “Notes from the Field” is Smith’s one-woman show about America’s school-to-prison pipeline, which funnels underprivileged, minority youth out of the classroom and into incarceration. Based on interviews with some 250 people, “Notes from the Field” has been adapted into a film, starring Smith and airing on HBO. Smith has been honored with the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and a National Humanities Medal. In 2016, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for theatre arts. Smith’s plays include “Fires in the Mirror” and the Tony-nominated “Twilight: Los Angeles.” Her acting credits include roles in film and television, most notably “The West Wing,” “Black-ish,” and “Nurse Jackie.” *There will be a limited number of first-come, first-served tickets available on the evening of April 11 for the Boston College community and the public. If you would like to attend the event, please queue at the Robsham Theater Box Office the evening of April 11. Tickets will be handed out beginning at 6:30 p.m. until no tickets remain. The doors will close at 6:50 p.m. Sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series.

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Rescue and Jessica

In their new children’s picture book, Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship (Candlewick, 2018), authors Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes (a Boston College alumnus) share an inspiring story of a girl and her service dog. Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. The book is based on the real-life partnership between Kensky and her service dog, Rescue. Kensky and Downes, who were both injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, say that they hope the book not only demystifies disabilities but speaks to important issues such as tolerance, kindness, appreciating differences, overcoming obstacles, and not being afraid of difficult moments. The book’s illustrator is Scott Magoon. Downes and Kensky talk about the book in this video. | Publishers Weekly interview | Boston Globe article | CBS Boston story | WCVB Boston story | Fox Boston story | WGBH “Greater Boston”

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New book from Erin Dionne

Hester Greene, an 8th grader and budding filmmaker, stars in the new middle-grade novel by Boston College alumna Erin Dionne. In Lights, Camera, Disaster (Levine/Scholastic, 2018), readers meet Hess, whose executive function disorder (think extreme ADHD plus anxiety) makes life hard. But when she is making films, she can focus, make decisions, and have the control she lacks in life. In Lights, Camera, Disaster, Hess faces challenges trying to juggle her grades, a project for the middle school talent show and other commitments, but finds support in teachers and a new friend. Dionne’s book is a Junior Library Guild selection, and has been dubbed “thoughtful” by Kirkus Review, “[with a] a flawed, lovable sympathetic character…readers will root for.” Dionne is the author of several books, including Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking and Notes from an Accidental Band Geek.

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The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic 

Sam Quinones is the author of three acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction, including his most recent, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, which he will discuss at Boston College on April 4 at 7 p.m. in Gasson Hall, room 100. A journalist whose career has spanned nearly three decades, Quinones covered immigration, drug trafficking, neighborhood stories, and gangs for the Los Angeles Times. He also freelanced for such publications as National Geographic  and The New York Times. In the National Book Critics Circle Award winner  Dreamland, Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. Sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series.

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My Old Faithful

Through 10 interconnected short stories, which take place in China and the United States over a 30-year period, Boston College alumna Yang Huang introduces readers to a close-knit Chinese family. Her new book, My Old Faithful (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018), presents a nuanced portrait of family life, full of pain, surprises, and subtle acts of courage, played out against the backdrop of China’s social and economic change. It was awarded the Juniper Prize for Fiction by the publisher. Huang grew up in China’s Jiangsu province and participated in the 1989 student uprisings. Her debut novel, Living Treasures, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal in fiction. Huang earned a master’s degree in English from BC. | Q&A with Yang Huang.

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Hollywood, China and creative freedom

Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences faculty member Martha Bayles writes on the rocky romance between Hollywood and Xi Jinping’s China for the Claremont Review of Books. Bayles is a film and TV critic for the Claremont Review and the author of Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America’s Image Abroad and Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music. 

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Coercion in the 21st century

The nature and conduct of international politics has changed dramatically since the Cold War. Yet much of the literature on deterrence and compellence has not kept pace. In their new book, Coercion: The Power to Hurt in International Politics (Oxford University Press, 2018), co-editors Peter Krause of Boston College and Kelly M. Greenhill of Tufts University seek to expand the understanding of coercion for conflict in the 21st century. Contributing authors address tools (terrorism, sanctions, drones, cyber warfare, intelligence, and forced migration), actors (insurgents, social movements, and NGOs) and mechanisms (trilateral coercion, diplomatic and economic isolation, foreign-imposed regime change, coercion of nuclear proliferators, and two-level games) that have become more prominent in recent years. Krause, an associate professor in the Political Science Department, contributed a chapter on “Coercion by Movement: How Power Drove the Success of the Eritrean Insurgency, 1960-1993” and Political Science Department colleague Timothy Crawford contributed the chapter “The Strategy of Coercive Isolation.” Krause is also the author of Rebel Power: Why National Movements Compete, Fight and Win.

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