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Cornell University

Cornell Contexts

The Department of Performance and Media Arts

Page to Stage: Dramatizing The Life Before Us

Sunday 8/19, 3:30 PM, Kiplinger Theater, Center for the Performing Arts
Rehearsal Photos
Event video

  • In the Kiplinger Theatre of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, members of the Department of Performing and Media Arts bring characters from Romain Gary’s novel to theatrical life through the selection and adaptation of dialogue and narration from The Life Before Us.  This session will explore the adaptation process and how directors, writers and actors bring a novel to the stage or screen.Our team includes Professor Bruce Levitt, who will serve as our stage director; Assistant Professor Austin Bunn, our writer/adaptor; and Visiting Senior Lecturer Carolyn Goelzer, actor.  Additionally, Aoise Stratford, a graduate student in our department, will contribute as a dramaturg and discussion facilitator.  Our hope is to include one or two students to participate as actors in our presentation as well.

The Johnson Museum

Crossing Borders

Sunday 8/19, 3:30 PM, Johnson Museum of Art
Event video

  • The New Student Reading Project event at the Johnson Museum, Crossing Borders, will explore a diverse array of the themes encountered in The Life Before Us. Students will be issued “Art Passports” at the event and then travel to five sites throughout the Museum to study artworks that span time, geography, and cultures, engaging in visual analysis and discussion of specific works. A special exhibition, on view from August 6 to September 2 in the study gallery on Floor 2L, will showcase photographs and prints from the Museum’s permanent collection that bring to life Paris in the 1940s and many of the themes found in the novel.


Cornell Cinema

A World of Difference on Screen: Madame Rosa and Other Cinematic Representations of Cultural Difference

Sunday 8/19, 3:30 PM, Cornell Cinema, Uris Hall Auditorium
Event video

  • At Cornell Cinema in Willard Straight Theatre (Uris Hall Auditorium) on central campus, join film faculty for a presentation about cinematic representations of cultural difference. The presentation will include clips from several films, including Madame Rosa, the Academy Award winning film adaptation of Romain Gary’s novel. Among other topics, the presentation will consider the ways international cinema can provide a window into global cultures.



Medicine and Healing: Navigating Life and Death

Sunday 8/19, 3:30 PM, Statler Hall Auditorium
Lecture Video

  • Stacey Langwick
    Associate Professor of Anthropology
    Department of Anthropology
    College of Arts and Sciences
    This lecture will take its lead from the way that the characters in The Life Before Us think about and use diverse kinds of medicine. We will consider what “health” means in different healing traditions, how people understand those things that threaten life, how they make meaning of sickness and misfortune, and the ways that they care for each other. The hopes and fears experienced by Momo and Madame Rosa in relation to hospitals, doctors, healers, and medicines will draw our discussion into the intimacies of life and death.


The Jew, the Arab, the Arab-Jew

Sunday 8/19, 3:30 PM, Bailey Hall Auditorium
Lecture Video

  • Ross Brann
    M.R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies
    Department of Near Eastern Studies
    College of Arts and Sciences
    The modern political conflict between Jewish and Arab nationalist movements in the land west of the Jordan River has made it all too common to think of Jews and Arabs as historically opposed. Such thinking represents something of a historical aberration especially in light of their dynamic linguistic and socio-cultural interaction. This talk will also offer critical reflections on The Life Before Us and challenge the conventional idea that “Jew” and “Arab” are inviolate and opposed categories.


Alternate Views of Deviant Human Behavior

Sunday 8/19, 3:30 PM, Kennedy Hall, Call Auditorium
Lecture Video

  • Steve Ceci
    Helen R. Carr Professor
    Department of Human Development
    College of Human Ecology
  • Michael Macy
    Goldwin Smith Professor
    Department of Sociology
    College of Arts and Sciences
    Many of the principal characters in The Life Before Usare outside the cultural mainstream. Sociologists suggest that deviance is in the eye of the beholder, while psychologists point to evidence of psycho-pathology. We will examine how these views overlap and what they overlook as we explore some intriguing puzzles of human behavior:

    • Is deviance socially constructed, or is there a pathological component that is independent of social definitions of “normality”?
    • What are the long term developmental consequences of deviant upbringings — and are successful outcomes “in spite of” or “because of”?
    • How and why do behaviors go from being widely regarded as deviant to becoming widely accepted and even celebrated — and vice versa? For example, why do the “unpopular” kids in high school often find themselves suddenly “cool” when they get to college?
    • Why do adolescents sometimes pressure each other to engage in self-destructive behaviors?