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Sunday, April 21, 2024

News in Brief: The Grapes of Wrath Symposium presents lectures on poverty, novel itself

On March 7, the UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance will be hosting The Grapes of Wrath Symposium, honoring the 75th anniversary of the publication of the Steinbeck novel while also exploring the larger social, cultural and historical context surrounding the novel, both in the past and the present.

The symposium is free to the public and will be held in Lab A at Wright Hall, beginning at 10:30 a.m. and ending at 5:45 p.m.

Andrea Del Moral, a current Master of Fine Arts candidate in the UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance, contributed to the planning of the symposium, and chose the groupings of faculty that will be speaking together in their respective sessions. In an email interview, Del Moral also explained that the quality of the UC Davis faculty in both the agricultural sciences and the social sciences and humanities will present itself in these pairings, with the hope of allowing new connections to be made by students and faculty alike.

“The symposium is an opportunity to build context interactively, with people who can share a lot of background knowledge,” Del Moral said. “We’re an elite campus in terms of agricultural technology and research; we also have great historians, social scientists and humanities scholars with deep knowledge of the phenomena that weave through Grapes and also through our California farm communities and urban centers, where poverty is also on the rise.”

Del Moral explained that she hopes the symposium will help expose the United States’ current problem with rural poverty; the first topic of the symposium will feature Sasha Abramsky, author, journalist, University Writing Program lecturer and Center for Poverty Research affiliate, and Marianne Page, professor of economics and deputy director of the Center for Poverty Research, who have both researched and written extensively on the topic of rural poverty in America.

“I’m looking forward to hearing Sasha Abramsky and Marianne Page talk more about rural poverty at the symposium. My understanding is that rural poverty is increasing, compounded by droughts across the West that have farm owners planting fewer crops, and creating fewer jobs. Since I buy food, that affects me directly,” Del Moral said.

Del Moral explained that the study of theater and its surrounding context has a unique way of bridging together various aspects of academia, allowing for a clearer understanding of the human condition.

“One of theater’s strengths is that it can bridge academia’s silos by foregrounding human experiences that pervade all fields of specialization. Grapes of Wrath is a terrific show for that. I’m really happy that it resonates with so many people from so many parts of campus,” Del Moral said.

 

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