Visiting Artist Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar
Poetry Reading

May 3, 2018
4:00 p.m.

Kirby Hall of Civil Rights
Room 104
Sullivan Road
College Hill, Easton, PA

Kaveh Akbar‘s poems appear recently in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, The Nation, and elsewhere. His first book, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, is just out with Alice James in the US and Penguin in the UK. He is also the author of the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and teaches in the MFA program at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College.

Read some of his poems online:

“Despite My Efforts Even My Prayers Have Turned Into Threats”
“River of Milk”
“Against Dying”

Playwright Ayad Akhtar

Playwright Ayad Akhtar

March 28, 2018
7:00 p.m.

Colton Chapel
College Hill, Easton, PA

“From Islam to Capitalism: A Conversation with Pulitzer Prize Winner Ayad Akhtar on the Soul of America” will cover a range of timely and relevant issues that define America today — from the place of Muslims in America to the ways Wall Street has shaped our perceptions of money, and to the enduring role of theater in American culture.

Akhtar’s play, Disgraced, won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, and was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. Disgraced is one of a seven-work cycle on the Muslim-American experience, and part of the Lafayette Department of Theater’s 2017–18 season.

Akhtar’s latest play is Junk: The Golden Age of Debt. Set in the eighties, it puts a corporate takeover on stage. Junk premiered on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, produced by Lincoln Center Theater.

Admission is free.

Presented by the departments of Religious Studies, Economics, Theater, English, and Anthropology & Sociology, and the Provost’s Office, the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life, and Intercultural Development; with generous support from the Staubi Family Theater Fund.


Visiting Artist Laila Lalami


March 21, 2018
7 p.m.

Colton Chapel
College Hill, Easton, PA

Join us for an evening with Laila Lalami, author of this year’s Community Reading Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits. Dr. Lalami will present a keynote speech at 7 p.m. followed by a book signing.

Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco, a place whose past and present permeate her writing. A novelist, short story writer, and essayist, Lalami is a unique and confident voice in the conversations about race and immigration that increasingly occupy our national attention. Lalami is a regular contributor to publications including The NationThe Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times Magazine, weighing in on contemporary issues in the Arab world and North Africa. With what Junot Díaz calls “spare elegant prose” and Paul Yamazaki terms “carefully-wrought characters,” Lalami’s fiction confronts the same questions of race, displacement, and national identity that she addresses so eloquently in her essays and criticism.

Her first book, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, was inspired by a brief article buried deep within a French newspaper’s website. It mentioned, in just a few lines, that fifteen Moroccan would-be immigrants had drowned crossing the Straits of Gibraltar. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits is a collection of short stories about a group of immigrants attempting to escape Morocco for a better life in Europe. Lalami explores the intriguing, sometimes uncomfortable closeness between her own experiences and the lives of these fictional immigrants, while offering up a lens through which to view our own immigration issues.

Lalami speaks on immigration, the Middle East and North Africa, Islam, Muslim women, and Arab uprisings. She also discusses race in America, especially forgotten histories, exploration, and cross-cultural encounters.

For more information on Laila Lalami, please visit

Photographer Lalla Essaydi

Photographer Lalla Essaydi

February 28, 2018
4:10 p.m.

Oechsle Hall
Room 224
College Hill, Easton, PA

Lalla Essaydi will give an artist’s talk about her photographs on view this semester in the Williams Center Gallery. Her sumptuous explorations of the image of women in Islamic society address the complex reality of Arab female identity from the unique perspective of personal experience. As Essaydi puts it, “In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses—as artist, as Moroccan, as traditionalist, as liberal, as Muslim. In short, I invite viewers to resist stereotypes.”

The talk in Oechsle Hall will be followed by a reception for the artist across the street in the Williams Center lobby (317 Hamilton Street at High Street).

Ping Chong & Amir Khafagy

Director Ping Chong
Moderated Discussion

February 6, 2018

Skillman Library
Gendebien Room
College Hill, Easton, PA

American theater artist Ping Chong is renowned for addressing important cultural and civic issues of our time. In Beyond Sacred, Chong uncovers the diverse experiences of young Muslim New Yorkers who share the common reality of coming of age in a post-9/11 world. In this interview-based production, the “actors” are real people—“Arab Rican” Amir Khafagy among them—who reflect a wide range of Muslim identities, and share their personal, complex stories at a time of increasing Islamophobia. Chong and Khafagy join Professor of Theater Suzanne Westfall for a lunchtime discussion.

Admission is free. Lunch will be provided while supplies last.

This talk accompanies the performance of Beyond Sacred at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 9 at the Williams Center for the Arts.