Cartoonist, author Alison Bechdel to visit West campus

September 5, 2013

Alison Bechdel, whose groundbreaking graphic memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” was named Best Book of 2006 by Time Magazine, will speak at ASU’s West campus on Sept. 17. The 7 p.m. event in the La Sala Ballroom is free and open to the public; visitor parking on campus at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road costs $2 per hour.

After speaking, Bechdel will take questions from the audience and sign copies of her books. Alison Bechdel Download Full Image

Bechdel also is the author of “Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama” and the comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.”

“Dykes” was described as “one of the preeminent oeuvres in the comics genre, period,” by Ms. Magazine. It ran regularly in more than 50 LGBT publications in North America and the United Kingdom. Many award-winning collections of “Dykes” were published in book form by an independent feminist press, and were translated into several languages.

Bechdel gained wider recognition for her work with the publication in 2006 of “Fun Home.” It was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in addition to its recognition by Time Magazine. Time called the tightly architected investigation into her closeted bisexual father’s suicide “a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.”

After setting aside “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 2008, Bechdel began devoting herself full-time to autobiographical work. Her second graphic memoir, “Are You My Mother,” was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012.

In her work, Bechdel is preoccupied with the overlap of the political and the personal spheres. “Dykes to Watch Out For” was an explicitly community-based and politically engaged project. But in her deeply intimate memoirs about her father’s life before the gay rights movement and her mother’s life before the women’s movement, she turns a microscopic lens on the internal mechanisms of oppression and liberation.

Bechdel edited “Best American Comics 2011.” She has drawn comics for Slate, McSweeney’s, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times Book Review and Granta. Her work is widely anthologized and translated.

Bechdel also is the recipient of a 2012-13 Guggenheim Fellowship.

“Alison is extremely engaging both as a writer and a speaker, and we are pleased to offer Valley residents the opportunity to meet her in person,” said Jeff Kennedy, artistic director for ASU’s West campus and a faculty member in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus.

Details about this and other upcoming events at ASU’s West campus may be found online at, on Facebook @ asuwestevents or by calling the Arts Information line at (602) 543-2787.

Bechdel’s visit also is part of Project Humanities “Humor…Seriously!” Fall 2013 Kickoff Week, with events being held on all four Phoenix-area campuses of ASU. The schedule of events may be found at Project Humanities’ Facebook page is @ projecthumanities.

New event series reveals the arts, humanities of sustainability

September 5, 2013

Do you know why you believe what you believe about your relationship to the natural world? Do you know why some cultures in the past have sustained themselves longer than others? Have you ever pondered how you’ve shaped the physical world around you? Is the world you see a sustainable one?

These questions and more are explored in a new event series titled “Arts and Humanities in Sustainability.” Download Full Image

“The goal of this new series is to demonstrate the impact the arts and humanities have on sustainability,” says Ann Kinzig, a series co-creator, senior sustainability scientist in Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and professor in the School of Life Sciences. “Many sustainability challenges have no easy solutions. We need to integrate different kinds of knowledge to understand both what the problems are and where solutions might lie. This means we have to go well beyond science to understand how people see the world, relate to it and imagine what it could be.”

The Global Institute of Sustainability partners with the Institute of Humanities Research, ASU Art Museum and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to sponsor the series that examines sustainability concepts through a diverse range of ideas, emotions, actions and contexts.

Although the humanities and arts may seem very different from the sciences, they explore similar topics, albeit through different lenses. For example, humanists and artists tend to put the “human” back in sustainability research, as in interpreting and understanding the role of human values, beliefs, experiences and cultures in shaping our relationship to the natural world. They explore the hidden values affecting scientific research and the way people think about the human relationship to nature. After all, if we can’t envision our appropriate place in this world, how will we sustain it for future generations?

“This series will help people identify their beliefs about their place in the natural community and integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines to inform development toward a more sustainable future,” says Kathy Holladay, assistant director of the Institute for Humanities Research.

To kick off the series, an exhibit titled “Río Canción” displays photographs and world models created by the hands and minds of Honduran youth during Julie Anand’s summer workshop at Guaruma, a Honduran-based nonprofit that provides after-school programs on photography and computer sciences. Anand is an associate professor in the School of Art and a senior sustainability scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability.

Additional artists, filmmakers, scholars, graphic designers and authors from across the world will travel to ASU to bring their unique perspectives on pressing sustainability concerns.

“Creating collaborations between scientists, engineers, scholars, humanists and artists will allow the university and the community to explore the many complicated dimensions of the world's sustainability challenges,” Kinzig says.

Speakers include Alan Weisman, author of "The World Without Us"; Lindsay Kinkade, founder and creative director of Design RePublic; and documentary filmmakers Thomas Weiwandt (“Desert Dreams”) and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee (“Elemental”).

“Our hope is that the series will allow audiences to gain a better overall understanding of the humanities and the arts,” says Sally Kitch, director of the Institute for Humanities Research; “…how the humanities and arts serve as sites for vital research and material projects that make a difference in the world by assessing and interpreting the role of human values, beliefs, emotions and cultural inclinations in shaping humanity’s impact on the planet.”

Members of the ASU community and general public are welcome to attend the series. See a full list of events.