Tucson Humanities Festival to Celebrate Storytelling

2021 Tucson Humanities Festival

"Once upon a time…"

Children know to recognize a story by that classic phrase, which captures attention and opens up whole new worlds.

The 12th annual Tucson Humanities Festival, presented by the University of Arizona College of Humanities, will focus on the theme of storytelling, hearkening back to the exhilaration and anticipation those four words can bring. The series of events will span National Arts & Humanities Month in October.

"Stories define the human experience," said Alain-Philippe Durand, Dorrance Dean of the College of Humanities. "Across cultures and across time, there are stories of creation, love, adventure, betrayal, hardship and triumph, each echoing universal truths. As humans, we crave stories and the experiences of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Storytelling is how we unlock our imaginations and connect with one another."

Headlining the festival will be best-selling author Walter Isaacson, who will appear live at Centennial Hall on Oct. 8, during the university's Family Weekend. Additional special guests at the festival include acclaimed Mexican-American author Luis Alberto Urrea and filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña of the award-winning PBS docuseries "Asian Americans." The festival also will feature events held in partnership with the American Literary Translators Association and faculty panels centered on religious healing, stories of transformation and scary stories. 

After the success of last year's entirely virtually Tucson Humanities Festival, this year's event will be offered in a hybrid format, with most events offered in person and live online.

"The College of Humanities has grown this series over time, and we're committed to making our thought-provoking series as widely available as possible," Durand said. "We are so pleased this year that our distinguished guests and world-class faculty can share with the community the impact of the humanities on our lives."


Thursday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m.
German-English Translation Slam: One Text, Two Translators, and No Wrong Answers
Presented in Collaboration with the American Literary Translators Association
Live on Zoom

Monday, Oct. 4, 5:30 p.m.
A Life in Stories: Visions & Journeys in the Land of Mystery*
Featuring Cherokee Storyteller Writingbear and Mike Lindsey, UArizona Center for English as a Second Language
Location: University of Arizona Poetry Center, Dorothy Rubel Room, 1508 E. Helen St. 

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 4 p.m.
Inflection Points: A Gallery Talk on Poetry in Translation
Featuring Poetry Translators Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Alex Braslavsky, Jein Han and Farid Matuk
Live on Zoom

Friday, Oct. 8, 6 p.m.
The Innovators: An Evening with Walter Isaacson*
Location: Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 6 p.m.
Border Medicine: Origins of Mexican American Religious Healing*
Featuring Brett Hendrickson of Lafayette College and a UArizona Faculty Panel
Location: Health Sciences Innovation Building, 1670 E. Drachman St.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m.
Angels & Devils: An Evening with Luis Alberto Urrea*
Location: Health Sciences Innovation Building

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.
Asian Americans: A History of Identity, Contributions & Challenges*
Featuring Filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña
Location: Health Sciences Innovation Building

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.
Transformation: Story, Character & Meaning Across Time & Space*
College of Humanities Faculty Panel
Location: Poetry Center, Dorothy Rubel Room

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.
Sequins & Stories: Drag Queens & Kids Learning From Each Other*
Featuring Drag Performer Lil Miss Hot Mess
Location: Poetry Center, Dorothy Rubel Room

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m.
In Search of Fright: Tales of Monsters, Ghosts & the Undead*
College of Humanities Faculty Panel
Location: Poetry Center, Dorothy Rubel Room

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.
"A Fantastic Woman": Film Screening and Discussion
Location: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

Friday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m.
Luci, Telecamera, Azione: An Acting Life From Broadway to Milan*
Featuring Actress and UArizona Alumna Jessica Polsky
Location: Poetry Center, Dorothy Rubel Room

*Livestream available

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