About The Encounters Series
The Encounters Series, a program dedicated to fostering unexpected conversations around divisive issues and obscure knowledge, began in Spring 2017 with the sponsorship of the Humility & Conviction in Public Life project, the Hartford Public Library (Hartford History Center), and the Wadsworth Atheneum (The Amistad Center for Art & Culture).
Encounters dives deeply into the subjects that are of interest to the Greater Hartford community through facilitated, small-group dialogues followed by a "question and answer"-style conversation with UConn faculty and community partners. Readings are provided beforehand to better encourage informed and informal dialogue within conversations that often prove to be polarizing, and thus unproductive.
The Fall 2018 Dialogues will focus on public encounters around the relationship and dis/connection individuals have with disasters, home, and reality. Discussions will center on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, the continued effects of The Treaty of Hartford on state history, and relationship between Surrealism and War. This semester, we also welcome our new partners: Connecticut’s Old State House and the Akomawt Educational Initiative.
The Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 Dialogues focused on public encounters that dealt with the communal ties that separate and bind us to one another. Special attention was also paid to the role of faith, knowledge, and art in these situations. To that end, dialogues were run on The 1%, the Voting Rights Act, Intrafaith Conflict, Alchemy & Science, The American Gothic, and Citizen. Encounters also partnered with the University on the Day of Metanoia, “Togetherness: Confronting Racism,” to present Encounters: Confronting Racism Through Dialogue.
The Spring 2017 Dialogues focused on public encounters with foundational documents that influence civic identity and politics within the United States, including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. The theme of the semester was “Rethinking Freedom.”
Encounters Series Events 2018-2019
Encounters: One Year After Maria:
When: Saturday, September 22, 10-12 with lunch following
Where: Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library
What: On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. The surrounding destruction and displacement, along with Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated territory, has led some scholars, such as Yomaira Figueroa, to call the event a “natural colonial disaster.” Join us a year after Hurricane Maria for small group discussions on the historical and contemporary issues still plaguing Puerto Rico and federal responses to the crisis.
Encounters: Treaty of Hartford:
When: Saturday, September 29, 10-12 with lunch following
Where: Courtroom, Old State House
What: The dynamics that led to the Treaty of Hartford, a turning point in American history, are not dead, but live on in our national culture today. In 1638, during the aftermath of a massacre of over 500 Pequot men, women, children, and elders, at Mystic, CT, this document set a precedent for Indigenous and settler relations for generations after. Join us as we discuss how historic documents can reflect our past and shape our present day understanding of land, colonialism, and our future together. To register, please email email@example.com. For readings, click here
Encounters: Surrealism and War:
When: Saturday, October 20, 10-12 with lunch following
Where: Hartford Courant Room, Wadsworth Atheneum
What: In the midst of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and World War II (1939-45), European and American artists found themselves confronting the atrocities brought on by war. What was once thought mere fantasy became a devastating reality for those who would become part of the Surrealist Movement. Join us for small group discussions on the historic relationship between surrealism and war and how this understanding can impact how we think of art and war today. This Encounter will take place in conjunction with the Wadsworth's Fall Community Day, an all-ages celebration of the new exhibition, Monsters & Myths. Explore myths and stories from the past, use imagination to design a monster for today, and participate in a spectacular Surrealist Parade around the museum. Museum admission is free all day.
When: Friday November 16 and Saturday November 17
Where: Specific locations in downtown Hartford TBD
What: The Encounters Series is a structured-dialogue model that allows participants to come face-to-face and converse about the issues that matter in their community. Encounters: The Conference will bring together students, faculty, community members, and public institutions to experience the power of this unique dialogue model and learn how to run Encounters anywhere and everywhere.
Encounters Series Events 2017-2018
- When: Saturday, October 28, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Where: Hartford History Center of the Hartford Public Library
- What: This small group discussion will take place in conjunction with the alchemy programming at the Wadsworth and focus on the hidden and surprising connections between science and alchemy. “Alchemy” is frequently used to define seemingly miraculous transformations in the social, economic, and political spheres. However, the term has its origins in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to designate a secretive practice pursued to transform base metals into precious gold, and ultimately to control the natural world. Join us for an exciting investigation of period texts about alchemy to learn about early forms of chemical experimentation, commerce, counterfeit, and the quest for natural resources.
Encountering “The 1%”
- When: Saturday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Where: Hartford Public Library, branch TBA
- What: This small group discussion will take place in the context of the exhibition on JP Morgan at the Wadsworth - Morgan: Mind of the Collector - and focus on the relationship between private wealth and the public good.
- When: Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Where: The Amistad Center for Art & Culture
- What: This small group discussion will focus on the meaning and various processes of gaining or losing citizenship in the United States.
Encountering The Gothic
- When: Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Where: Wadsworth Atheneum
- What: This small group discussion will take place in the Edward Gorey exhibition and will focus on our fascination and (dis)comfort with fear, suspense and death.
Encountering Intrafaith Dialogue
- When: Saturday, April 21, 10 – 1 p.m.
- Where: Hartford History Center of the Hartford Public Library.
- What: This small group discussion will focus on the dialogues faith-based groups have within their communities over the problems of dogma and conviction
(in conjunction with the Midpoint Forum). In particular, it considers the broader social and political implications of unresolved internecine disagreement.