Current VPA News

Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, art video faculty members in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Department of Transmedia, will present the Syracuse premiere of their experimental film “You Were an Amazement on the Day You Were Born” on Wednesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in Watson Theater, Watson Hall, as part of the Burton Blatt Institute’s (BBI)’s new series (Dis)courses: Interdisciplinary Disability Dialogues.

“You Were an Amazement on the Day You Were Born” tells the story of a woman with mental and emotional disabilities. The screening will be followed by a discussion and reception. 

Duke and Battersby have collaborated since 1994 in print, installation, new media, curation and criticism and art video. Their work has been shown at the Whitney Museum, the New York Film Festival, the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, and elsewhere. In 2011, they were Featured Filmmakers at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and in 2016 they were Spotlight Artists at the Images Festival in Toronto. 

BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach is presenting the (Dis)courses series in collaboration with VPA. It showcases disability literature, media, and the arts, focusing on contemporary critical reflection, teaching and research.

“Disability is at the heart of human experience," says University Professor Stephen Kuusisto, Director of BBI’s Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach initiative. "We’re seeking a broad understanding of embodiments and imagination across academic disciplines. Syracuse University, with its history of disability research, scholarship and activism, is the perfect place for these vital conversations.”

The (Dis)courses series will kick off on Thursday, March 7, with Professor Taylor Brorby of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who will present a prose reading, discussion and book signing at 7:45 p.m. in Watson Theater. Brorby is an award-winning essayist and a poet whose work has been featured in North American Review, Orion and the Huffington Post. He is the author of “Crude: Poems, Coming Alive: Action and Civil Disobedience” and co-editor of “Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America.”

On Monday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m., Professor Jillian Weise of Clemson University will give a poetry reading in Room 001 of the Life Sciences Building as part of the (Dis)courses series followed by a discussion and book signing. 

Weise is a poet, performance artist, and disability rights activist. “The Book of Goodbyes” won the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her speculative novel, “The Colony,” features the characters of Charles Darwin, Peter Singer and James Watson. Her first book, “The Amputee’s Guide to Sex,” was re-issued in 2017 with a new preface. Weise has written about being a cyborg for Granta and the New York Times, and her next book, “Cyborg Detective,” is forthcoming. “Tips for Writers by Tipsy Tullivan,” Weise's web series, "parrots and deranges literary ableism." Playing the character of Tipsy across social media, this performance has been cited by Inside Higher Ed, Electric Literature and BOMB. 

Events in the Spring 2019 (Dis)courses series are free and open to the public. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) will be provided during the readings and discussions. The March 27 film screening will be captioned and presented with descriptive audio. ASL interpretation will be provided during the reception following the film screening. For other accommodations requests, or if you have any questions, please contact BBI at least one week before a scheduled event.

Parking is complimentary, on a first-come, first-served basis. On March 7 and 27, the Marion Lot will be available, with the Q5 lot designated for accessible parking. On April 15, the Q4 lot will be available, with the Q2 lot designated for accessible parking. Parking locations can be found on the campus parking map. Questions about parking can be directed to Dee Bailey at or 315.443.5319.