Chattanooga State's Chautauqua Lecture Series 5 Presents: The Haiti You Don’t Know

  • Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Humanities and Fine Arts Division of Chattanooga State Community College will host the fifth lecture of its 4th annual Chautauqua Lecture Series on Thursday, March 22.

"Named after the lake in upstate New York where the first of its kind was held in 1874, a Chautauqua brings members of the community together to enjoy inspirational performances and lectures. The gatherings aim to bring communities together in an environment of cultural enrichment and questioning," officials said.

The Humanities and Fine Arts Division invites the public to join in this tradition with its slate of presentations and performances for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Chattanooga State’s Chautauqua Series features the "informative and unique research" of five ChattState Humanities & Fine Arts faculty, as well as the series finale with Writers@Work 2018 visiting author George Singleton and special guest Clyde Edgerton. Assistant Professor Rachael Falu presented the most recent of these lectures, a talk on Zora Neale Hurston’s life and writing, in February.

The next Chautauqua lecture will take place on March 22 at 4 p.m. in the mobile classroom of the Augusta Kolwyck Library at Chattanooga State. Instructor of English Josh Johnson will present “The Haiti You Don’t Know,” a lecture meant to introduce Chattanoogans to the complex history of one of our nearest neighboring countries, that, despite its proximity, remains relatively unknown to many Americans.

Mr, Johnson’s lecture is based on a mixture of academic study and personal experience. Over years, Mr. Johnson has traveled to Haiti six times and has observed the growth and resilience of the island nation, seeing the country overcome natural disasters, like a major earthquake in 2010, cholera outbreaks, and hurricanes.

“After leaving Haiti for the first time, I started graduate school where I took a Post-Colonial literature course,” Mr. Johnson said. “The class and my visits to Haiti since have forced me to grapple with the difficulties that Haitians might face and my own understanding of the country. It’s important to realize that an outsider can understand a culture only so much. But I connect to the place. Other people feel a surrealness when they travel, but I’ve been to Haiti enough that I feel comfortable and at home there.”

Mr. Johnson’s lecture will attempt to provide attendees with an overview of the country’s rich history and nuanced present. The lecture will cover Haiti’s founding as a country and will explore its current culture, including art, religion and other facets of Haitian life. “The Haitian struggle is very noble,” Mr. Johnson said. “It started with the Haitian Revolution, which was quite complicated and involved two major world powers. But at its heart, the Revolution was a successful slave rebellion that founded a country—this is unheard of.  And of course, this country, Haiti, is still in existence today.”

Following Mr. Johnson’s March lecture, one additional lecture remains in the 2017-2018 Chautauqua Lecture season. The final installment in the series will be an event offered in partnership with the Humanities Department’s Writers@Work program, entitled “Writers@Work: Banter and Banjos.” This event on April 5 will feature authors George Singleton and Clyde Edgerton, as they discuss writing, read from their works, swap stories and, perhaps, play some music.

Each Chautauqua lecture lasts approximately 60 minutes and includes a Q&A period. All sessions are offered free of charge to interested members of the Chattanooga community, and each presentation will start at 4 p.m. in the mobile classroom of the Augusta Kolwyck Library on the main campus of Chattanooga State Community College, 4501 Amnicola Hwy. A complete schedule, including dates, times and additional information on each lecture, can be found on Facebook as “Chattanooga State’s Chautauqua Series”, Instagram as “chautauqua_series,” and Twitter as “@ChautauquaSeries.”

Contact Associate Professor Keri Lamb for more information at or 423-697-2546.

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