Spring 2017 Speaker Biographies

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity, the African/African American Studies Program, the Department of Anthropology, Sociology & Social Work, the Department of English & Theatre, the Appalcahian Studies Program, the Department of Languages, Cultures & Humanities, and the Honors Program.

Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem Fellow, Bianca Lynne Spriggs, is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from Lexington, Kentucky. Currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Kentucky, she holds degrees from Transylvania University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Named as one of the Top 30 Performance Poets in the country by The Root, Bianca is the recipient of the 2016 Sallie Bingham Award, a 2013 Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry, Artist Enrichment and Arts Meets Activism grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and a Pushcart Prize Nominee.

Bianca is the author of Kaffir Lily (Wind Publications, 2010), How Swallowtails Become Dragons (Accents Publishing, 2011), Call Her By Her Name (Northwestern University Press, 2016), and, The Galaxy Is a Dance Floor (Argos Books, 2016), as well as the co-editor for Circe's Lament: An Anthology of Wild Women (Accents Publishing, 2016) and the forthcoming Undead: Ghouls, Ghosts, and More (Apex Publications, 2017). Her work may be found in numerous journals and anthologies, including, Oxford American, Drunken Boat,  New Growth: Recent Kentucky Writings (Jesse Stuart Foundation), America! What's My Name?! (Wind Publications) Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Literature (Sarabande), Fan Phenomena: Star Trek  (Intellect Books), The Louisville Review, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion Union Station Magazine, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Tidal Basin Review, Muzzle, Caduceus, Alehouse, Reverie, Appalachian Heritage Magazine, Still: The Journal, Duende, Obsidian, Osedax Press, ​and others. Bianca is the Literary Arts Liaison for the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, creator and program director for The SwallowTale Project: Creative Writing for Incarcerated Women, as well as the managing editor for pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Art & Culture and poetry editor for Apex Magazine.

from: http://www.biancaspriggs.com/


Ted Gioia

Sponsored by the Department of Music, and the Honors Program.

Ted Gioia is a musician and author who has published ten non-fiction books, most recently the acclaimed How to Listen to Jazz (Basic Books). "Mr Gioia could not have done a better job." writes The Economist. "Through him, jazz might even find new devotees." This book "fills an important and obvious gap by offering a sensible and jargon-free introduction," according to
the Washington Post, and "deserves a place alongside....classic works of jazz criticism."

Gioia has been called "one of the outstanding music historians in America" by the Dallas Morning News.  He has served on the faculty of Stanford University, and published in many of the leading newspapers, periodicals and websites, including the New York TimesLos Angeles Times, Wall Street JournalThe American ScholarMusic QuarterlyBookforum, SalonDallas Morning NewsSan Francisco ChroniclePopular Music, Los Angeles Review of Books, The MillionsThe Atlantic Monthly, City Journal, The Threepenny Review, PopMatters, and The Hudson Review. He is currently columnist for The Daily Beast.

Gioia's previous book, Love Songs: The Hidden History (Oxford University Press) has been one of the most influential music history books of recent years. This path-breaking book represents the first complete survey of 5,000 years of the music of romance, courtship and sexuality. "Gioia’s book covers a tremendous amount of ground and gives you something to remember on almost every page," declares The New Yorker. "He invites the critic’s cliché  'wonderfully erudite', and earns it, not to mention the even cheaper critical term 'provocative', though he earns that, too." The Atlantic Monthly calls Love Songs "a mind-expanding, deep-focus piece of scholarship... Gioia’s book achieves intellectual liftoff, high learning combining with high imagination."
Gioia is perhaps best known as the author of The History of Jazz, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and ranks as the bestselling survey of jazz published during the last quarter century. The History of Jazz was selected as one of the twenty best books of the year by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post, and was chosen as a notable book of the year in the New York Times. In 2012, Gioia released the bestselling The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, published by Oxford University Press. The book received early praise from Dave Brubeck and Sonny Rollins, and was lauded by the Wall Street Journal as "the first general-interest, wide-ranging and authoritative guide to the basic contemporary jazz canon."   

From 2007 until 2010, Gioia served as founding president, editor and resident blogger for www.jazz.com, a popular web music media portal. In 2006, Gioia published two books simultaneously, Work Songs and Healing Songs, the result of more a decade of research into traditional music, and both works were honored with a special ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. Gioia’s 2008 book, Delta Blues, published by W.W. Norton, was also selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 most notable of the year, and was picked as one of the best books of
the year by The Economist.  Gioia has also written extensively on popular culture, most notably in his 2009 book, The Birth (and the Death) of Cool, a work of cultural criticism and a historical survey of hipness—his concept of post-cool, outlined in this work, was highlighted as one of the "ideas of the year" by Adbusters.  "The prose is so strong, simple and evocative that it brings the reader almost to tears with longing," The Washington Post has written of this book. "It will force you to think about making connections you haven't made before.”

Gioia was raised in a Sicilian-Mexican household in Hawthorne, California, a working class neighborhood in the South-Central area of Los Angeles. Gioia was valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar at Hawthorne High School, and attended Stanford University. There he received a degree in English (graduating with honors and distinction), served as editor of Stanford’s literary magazine, Sequoia, and wrote regularly for the Stanford Daily.  He was a member of Stanford’s College Bowl team, which was featured on television, and defeated Yale in the
national finals. Gioia also worked extensively as a jazz pianist during this period, and designed and taught a class on jazz at Stanford while still an undergraduate.

After graduation, Gioia received a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University, where he graduated with first class honors. He then received an MBA from Stanford University.  

Gioia has enjoyed successes in the worlds of music, writing and business. In the business world, Gioia has consulted to Fortune 500 companies while working for McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group.  He helped Sola International complete an LBO and IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in the 1990s.  He has undertaken business projects in 25 countries on five continents, and has managed large businesses (up to $200 million in revenues).

But Gioia is best known for his activities in the jazz world.  He worked with Stanford's Department of Music in the 1980s to establish a formal jazz studies program, and served on the faculty alongside artist-in-residence Stan Getz, for several years. Around this time, Gioia's first book was published by Oxford University Press, The Imperfect Art, which was awarded the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award and was named a “Jazz Book of the Century” by Jazz Educators Journal.  Gioia released his first recording as a jazz pianist a few months later -- The End of the
Open Road, a trio recording with Eddie Moore and Larry Grenadier – and received airplay on more than 500 radio stations in the US. Gioia also produced a series of recordings featuring other West Coast jazz musicians. Gioia has since recorded two more CDs, Tango Cool and The City is a Chinese Vase.

Gioia’s follow-up book for Oxford University Press, West Coast Jazz, is frequently acknowledged as one of the classics of the jazz literature. West Coast Jazz was re-issued in an expanded edition by University of California Press in 1998 and remains the definitive work on the subject.   

Gioia's current interests cover a wide range of areas. He is composing a series of solo piano pieces that draw both from jazz and classical music traditions. He also reviews contemporary fiction for various periodicals and his writing on books can be found at his web sites www.greatbooksguide.com, www.fractiousfiction.com, www.thenewcanon.com, www.postmodernmystery.com and www.conceptualfiction.com.


Lisa Day

Sponsored by the Women & Gender Studies Program, the Office of Diversity, and the Honors Program

Lisa Day is the Director of Women & Gender Studies and Associate Professor of English at EKU. Dr. Day joined the EKU faculty in 2001 and specializes in 19th and 20th century American literature, African-Caribbean literature, trauma studies, and gender theory. In the summer of 2016, Dr. Day taught an EKU Education Abroad course in Florence, Italy, exploring Feminism and Beauty in Italian Renaissance art, an experience which serves as the inspiration for her Women’s History Month keynote address.

In addition to directing WGS, being a certified instructor and a past director of Green Dot @ EKU, Dr. Day serves as EKU's Survivors' Advocate, as the co-chair of the University Diversity Committee, and as a Faculty Innovator for the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. Dr. Day is also an organizer of the EKU Annual Herstory Conference now entering its 12th year.

A native of Mammoth Cave, Lisa Day earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Western Kentucky University and her doctoral degree in American and Multi-Ethnic Literature from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. In 2009, Dr. Day co-edited Journeys Home: An Anthology of Contemporary African Diasporic Experience with EKU colleague Dr. Salome Nnoromele. She also co-edited a collection of essays on gender and the American short story cycle with Julie Hensley. In 2011, Day was honored by EKU’s International Alumni Association with an Excellence in Teaching Award, one of the university’s highest honors for faculty. At the alumni awards banquet, Day was praised for her ability to relate to students on a personal level and motivate them to always give their best. In addition, in 2014-15 Dr. Day was a nominee for EKU Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year.

As Director of WGS, Dr. Day manages a multidisciplinary program that offers both a minor and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. The program acquaints students with the growing research on women and gender studies, its courses addressing the intersections of gender, race, class, sexualities and abilities and promoting active learning and social engagement. Students are encouraged to analyze competing perspectives and to integrate knowledge across traditional academic boundaries. In addition, they learn to identify and analyze gender-based assumptions and biases and to recognize their consequences on individual, social and cultural levels.


Steve BakerSponsored by the Animal Studies Program, the Department of Psychology, the Department of Art & Design, and the Honors Program

Steve Baker is Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Central Lancashire in England, where he remains affiliated to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and is a trustee of the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society. A seminal figure in the field of Animal Studies, Baker is the author, most recently, of ARTIST|ANIMAL (Minnesota UP, 2013),  in addition to previous books including The Postmodern Animal (Reaktion Books), Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity, and Representation (Illinois UP), and, with the Animal Studies Group, Killing Animals (Illinois UP).  Chapters from his books have been reprinted in Routledge’s Animals and Society: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences, and in Berg’s The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings.  Selected publications have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Italian, Polish and Spanish. Dr. Baker is a prolific researcher and speaker who has published many dozens of scholarly articles and given scores of public talks in since 2000 alone.

ARTIST|ANIMAL, published in 2013 in the University of Minnesota’s “Posthumanities” Series, explores contemporary art’s engagement with questions of animal life through detailed case studies of individual artists’ practices.  The prominent American artist Mark Dion praised Baker for his “rigorous ethnographer's eye” and his “deep understanding of the nuance, intricacy, and contradictions in how artists work today.” 

Since 2008, in spite of ‘retirement’ status as an Emeritus Professor, Baker has continued his work in animal studies, contributing chapters to major edited collections in the field and delivering public lectures and conference keynotes in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia.  He is an Advisory Board member of the Penn State UP book series, “Animalibus,” and a member of the editorial boards of numerous animal studies journals internationally.  Since 2010 his artwork has been shown in two European museums and in group exhibitions in the UK, USA and Australia, and it has been reproduced and discussed in several academic journals. 

 In 2014, Baker gave the closing plenary address at the conference “Animals and their People: The Fall of the Anthropocentric Paradigm?” in Warsaw, and a public lecture at the symposium “Sensibilities: Animals, Plants and Artists” at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York.  Work from his Scapeland series was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Orońsko, Poland, as part of the exhibition “Ecce Animalia.”  His essay “Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead,” was published in The Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies.  In 2013 Baker’s work was included several group exhibitions in the United Kingdom.  He gave a series of public lectures in Norwich and Glasgow to launch ARTIST|ANIMAL, and spoke at the University of Central Lancashire symposium on “Posthumanism and the Viewing Subject.” In 2015, Baker’s artwork was shown in exhibitions in Germany, the United States, and the UK.

Steve Baker earned his Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Art from the University of Kent at Canterbury.


Lisa Randall

Sponsored by the Office of Graduate Education & Research, the College of Science, and the Honors Program

Lisa Randall is a world-renowned theoretical physicist, best-selling author, and the Frank J. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, where she researches and teaches theoretical particle physics and cosmology. Her most recent book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe (2015) received critical praise from far and wide, continuing a string of bestselling science books of the highest caliber. One esteemed fellow physicist hailed the book as “a masterpiece of science writing: a detective story that illuminates the nature of scientific research while explaining how our very existence may be connected to unexpected properties of the dark matter that fills the universe.”

Dr. Randall’s research connects theoretical insights to puzzles in our current understanding of the properties and interactions of matter. She has developed and studied a wide variety of models to address these questions, the most prominent involving extra dimensions of space. Her work has involved improving our under-standing of the Standard Model of particle physics, supersymmetry, baryogenesis, cosmological inflation, and dark matter. Randall’s research also explores ways to experimentally test and verify ideas and her current research focuses in large part on the Large Hadron Collider and dark matter searches and models.

Lisa Randall has also had a public presence through her writing, lectures, and radio and TV appearances. Randall’s books, Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World were both on the New York Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of the Year. Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space was released as a Kindle Single in the summer of 2012 as an update with recent particle physics developments.

Randall’s studies have made her among the most cited and influential theoretical physicists and she has received numerous awards and honors for her scientific endeavors. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and is a past winner of an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award, and the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Randall is an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the British Institute of Physics. In 2003, she received the Premio Caterina Tomassoni e Felice Pietro Chisesi Award, from the University of Rome, La Sapienza. In 2006, she received the Klopsteg Award from the American Society of Physics Teachers (AAPT) for her lectures and in 2007 she received the Julius Lilienfeld Prize from the American Physical Society for her work on elementary particle physics and cosmology and for communicating this work to the public.

Randall has also pursued art-science connections, writing a libretto for Hypermusic: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes that premiered in the Pompidou Center in Paris and co-curating an art exhibit for the Los Angeles Arts Association, Measure for Measure, which was presented in Gallery 825 in Los Angeles, at the Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University, and at Harvard’s Carpenter Center. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Andrew Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics, which is given annually for significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics.

Professor Randall was on the list of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" of 2007 and was one of 40 people featured in The Rolling Stone 40th Anniversary issue that year. Prof. Randall was featured in Newsweek's "Who's Next in 2006" as "one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation" and in Seed Magazine's "2005 Year in Science Icons". In 2008, Prof. Randall was among Esquire Magazine's “75 Most Influential People.”

Professor Randall earned her PhD from Harvard University and held professorships at MIT and Princeton University before returning to Harvard in 2001. She is also the recipient of honorary degrees from Brown University, Duke University, Bard College, and the University of Antwerp.


John InazuSponsored by the Department of Communication, the Department of Government & Economics, the African/African American Studies Program, and the Honors Program

John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He teaches courses in criminal law, law and religion, and the First Amendment. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related issues of political and legal theory.

Inazu’s new book, Confident Pluralism, which provides the basis for his Chautauqua First Amendment Keynote Address, has been described as “an original and provocative look at an important constitutional freedom that today is largely forgotten: the right of assembly” that lays “at the heart of some of the most important social movements in American history,” including abolitionism, women's suffrage, the labor and civil rights movements.

In Confident Pluralism, Inazu argues that we can and must live together peaceably in spite of deep and sometimes irresolvable differences over politics, religion, sexuality, and other important matters. We can do so in two important ways – by insisting on constitutional commitments that honor and protect difference and by embodying tolerance, humility, and patience in our speech, our collective action (protests, strikes, and boycotts), and our relationships across difference. All of which is a test of patience and civic commitment. For as one critic wrote, “Confident Pluralism reminds us that disagreeing with others, even passionately disagreeing with others, without rhetorically vaporizing them is actually part of what it means to live as citizens in a republic” (Peter Wehner, Commentary Magazine). Confident Pluralism suggests that it is often better to tolerate than to protest, better to project humility than defensiveness, and better to wait patiently for the fruits of persuasion than to force the consequences of coercion. Confident Pluralismmay not give us the American Dream, but it might help avoid an American Nightmare.

John Inazu’s first book, Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly, was published by Yale University Press in 2012. He has written broadly for mainstream audiences and his essays and commentaries appear regularly in many national publications including USA Today, CNNThe Hedgehog ReviewThe Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.