2008-2009 Foresman Funded Activities



Shizhe Chen – Chinese Photographer

The Foresman Fund helped enable Mr. Shizhe Chen, a well-known multi-award winner Chinese photographer, to visit Denison.

In recent years, Mr. Chen attracted much attention with his insightful rediscovery–through lenses–of Quanzhou, an ancient seaport touted as the “starting point of the Silk Road on sea.” Our guest is, however, not just someone who knows how to take nice pictures. He is also a professional violinist, a successful screenwriter, a vocalist, a painter, and, best of all, an engaging conversationalist and speaker.  During the two days that he spent on campus speaking with our students in and out of classes and with the community at large in public venues, many of us benefited immensely from the extended presence  of such an avatar of liberal-arts aspirations.

Marta Rodriguez – Latin American Documentarian

Marta Rodríguez, one of the most important Latin American documentarians of all times, recently received the Colombian National Award for her life work (http://www.mineducacion.gov.co/cvn/1665/article-163054.html).  Consequently we were delighted to have her stay on campus from November 5-7, interacting with our students in as Spanish 230, Spanish-325, Spanish-435, and LACS-201, where discussions dealt with her documentaries, renowned monument to the struggles for human rights in Colombia. They focus on the precarious conditions of brick makers (Chircales, 1966), the lives of internally displaced persons (Planas [1971], Never Again, [1991], A Defeated House [2003], Soraya Love Is Remembering [2006]), the effects of pesticides on women workers in the flower industry (Amor, mujeres y flores, 1984) and of illegal crops on the indigenous cultures (Amapola [1994], La hoja sagrada, [2001]).




Steppenwolf Theatre Production – Japanese Classes

On October 24th, 2008 30 Denison students from at least four countries and three continents drove to Chicago to see an adaptation of Murakami Haruki’s novel Kafka on the Shore performed at the Steppenwolf Theatre.  Afterwards they enjoyed a delicious meal at Kamehachi, a nearby Japanese restaurant in its 42nd year, and had a discussion the following morning at the Chicago Public Library that ranged from the previous evening’s play, through characteristics of Murakami’s works in general and all the way to Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law.”

The generosity of the Foresman Fund made this firsthand encounter with the arts, Japan and each other possible. It is worth noting that one good student, who was considering transferring, has decided to stay at Denison based on the experience and conversations he had during the weekend. 

Sponsorship of an entry in the recent Human Rights Film Festival

A contribution from the Foresman Fund made it possible for the Denison community to see Up the Yangtze on February 17.  A symbol of China’s economic prowess, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the world’s largest, and China’s biggest engineering feat since the Great Wall. It also represents the end to a way of life and livelihood for two million people along the Yangtze.  The film’s story-line focuses on those forced by the building of the dam to relocate.  Among them is the Yu family, which decides to send its oldest daughter Yu Shui to work on a cruise ship. Working for the same cruise line is Chen Bo Yu, the only son from a middle class family. Both struggle with the demands of a changing China, their jobs and the need to operate in a Western social environment.

Art – Student ETC Theatre Company Play

Thanks to the Foresman Fund the student theater group ETC was able to produce the play “Art” by the famous French writer Yasmina Reza.  One of the student directors requested financial support in the following terms:

I’m one of the artistic directors for the student theatre group ETC and we’re currently planning our productions for next semester.  Last semester, we were able to perform “The Maids” by Jean Genet with the kind sponsorship of the Foresman Fund, and we were wondering if the Fund couldn’t sponsor another play, “Art” by Yasmina Reza.  “Art” is a light comedy and is more contemporary, so we’re expecting it to draw a larger audience than “The Maids” did last year.  Since it’s a comedy that deals with three friends’ perceptions of art, we’re also hoping to work with the Art Department to have a professor lead a talk-back after each performance of the play.  We would like to stage three performances.

French Magazine Subscriptions
Because of the Fund our French students now have another reason to become more connected to the Modern Languages faculty and the Department’s environment, subscription to two popular magazines, ones that keep the pulse regularly on France and the Francophone world, L’Express and Paris-Match. 

French Film Festival 
Five students majoring in French are indebted to the Fund because it helped subsidize their attendance at Virginia Commonwealth University’s 17th French Film festival in Richmond from March 27th until March 29th. The Festival  has been coined “Cannes away from Cannes” and is the only festival in this country that presents so many French and Francophone movies not yet released in the United States (about 20 each year). Full-length features and shorts are equally represented, providing the public with the opportunity to see a variety of cinematographic works that will not necessarily be distributed in the US. The second wonderful aspect of this festival is the fact that film directors and main actors come to introduce their movies and to discuss them with viewers after each showing.  As a result of the comfort level of the discussions our students get to speak one on one with the actors and directors—and even have breakfast with them!




Larry La Fountain-Stokes – Puerto Rican Scholar
As another example of the Fund’s contribution to bringing distinguished representatives of new lines of art and thought in foreign cultures, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes came to campus in March. An Assistant Professor of American Cultures and Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, La Fountain-Stokes specializes in Latina/o studies and Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean studies. He is the author of two forthcoming books: one a critical volume, “Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora”, and the other a bilingual collection of short stories. While here he visited the cross-listed SPAN 425/ENGL 310 class, gave a public talk related to his current research, and read some of his stories at Denison’s Language and Culture House.  The approximate budget is as follows.

Sangre Flamenco En Gira at the Midland Theatre with Visiting Instructor Clara Ramona
In January Denison co-sponsored a flamenco performance at the Midland.  Thanks to the Foresman Fund the Spanish section not only took a large number of students to the show, but also organized a discussion-oriented reception between the performers and the students. 

Vokaldente in Columbus
Ten German students too owe a debt of gratitude to the Fund: it allowed them to attend a performance in Columbus by the internationally applauded a cappella group “Vokaldente.”   

LACS Speakers:

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program Invited several speakers to work with students. 


Kirsten Nigro’s interests are in Latin American and Mexican theatre, Border studies, performance theory, Latin American women writers and translation. She has edited six volumes on Latin American theatre and has published widely in journals such as Theatre Forum, Cuadernos Americanos, Latin American Theatre Review, Gestos and Modern International Drama, XXth Century Literature. She has book chapters and translations in volumes published by Routledge, Duke UP, U of Texas P and SUNY Press. She has sat on or presently sits on the editorial boards of Latin American Research Review, Latin American Theatre Review, Journal for Interdisciplinary Literary Studies and Theatre Forum. Dr. Nigro has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fideicomsio para la Cultura USA/Mexico and the Fulbright Commission. She was the Altman Distinguished Teaching Professor at Miami University of Ohio and has taught at the Universities of Cincinnati and Arizona, as well as Arizona State University. She is presently working on a cultural study of the city of Tijuana and on a translation project of Mexican and Border theatre.


Sebastain Arrau – Chilean director, Sebastian Arrau came to screen his new film “Muñeca”. After studying Theater he started a career as Theater Director and Playwriter. In 1999 started working as screen writer for canal 13 Television. After his most successfully shows Machos, Papi ricky and Cerro Alegre he writes and directs his first feature film “Muñeca”.



Jorge Ruffinelli – Jorge Ruffinelli is a Full Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Stanford.  He has published thirteen books of literary and cultural criticism and more than five hundred articles, critical notes and reviews in journals throughout the world. A recognized authority on Onetti, García Márquez, Juan Rulfo, and Latin American literary history, during the nineties his critical work has centered on Latin American cinema. In 1993 he filmed a documentary on Augusto Monterroso for which he interviewed major Mexican writers and critics. He is completing the first ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA, for which he has written around two thousand articles on feature films from and about Latin America. 

Cheryl Johnson