RIT Symposium Honors Work of Swedish ‘Renaissance Man’ August Strindberg, March 23

Daylong event features lectures, panel discussions and a staged reading




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Johan August Strindberg (1849-1912), often referred to as the “father” of modern Swedish literature, was known for creating masterful pieces based on intensely emotional personal experiences. As part of a series of international events marking Strindberg’s influence on the arts, Rochester Institute of Technology will honor the centennial of his death with the Strindberg Symposium, 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m. March 23 in the Bamboo Room, Campus Center. A staged Strindberg reading of Playing with Fire, directed by David Munnell and performed by RIT alumni members of the Exact Theatre Ensemble, will take place 3:154:15 p.m. in Fireside Lounge, Student Alumni Union, followed by a reception. The symposium is free and open to the community.

Strindberg, a playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, natural historian, linguist, social critic and artist, wrote more than 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction. His collected works total 72 volumes and his extant letters amount to approximately 10,000. The Red Room (1879) has been described as the first modern Swedish novel. He is also known for writing the plays Master Olof (1872), The Father (1887), Miss Julie (1888), Creditors (1889) and A Dream Play (1902). Strindberg was also a renowned artist known for his landscape paintings, photographs, sculpture and drawings. He was closely associated with such renowned artists as Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin.

“This event is an opportunity to explore the diverse nature of Strindberg's creative production, from groundbreaking playwright to influential innovator as author and visual artist,“ says RIT Visiting Assistant Professor Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm.

The daylong RIT event begins with a book exhibit and continues with the keynote address delivered by Anna Westerståhl Stenport, visiting associate professor at Stanford University and associate professor at University of Illinois, who will present, “The International Strindberg and European Prose Modernism.”

Other talks include:

• “From Kitchen Sink to Dream Landscape: How August Strindberg Changed the Shape of Theatre,” Eszter Szalczer, University of Albany

• “Strindberg and the Pictorial Urge,” Jonathan Schroeder, RIT William A. Kern Professor in Communications

• “Strindberg: The Complex Relationship to the Image,” Clarence Sheffield Jr., RIT foundations department

• “Strindberg’s Stage Women,” Peter Ferran, RIT fine arts department

• “Digital Strindberg,” Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm, RIT English department

“A prolific writer and thinker who defies easy categorization, a polymath and polyglot, Strindberg’s almost encyclopedic interests spanned art, science, mysticism and the occult,” says Sheffield. “His complex and controversial life intersected with some of the most fascinating figures of the modern era. He played a key role in defining it by constantly questioning its foundations as well as his own sense of self.”

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Swedish Institute in Stockholm, RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, Department of English, fine arts department, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences and foundations department.

For more information and a detailed schedule, go to bit.ly/strindberg2012 or call 585-475-7327.

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Anna Westerståhl Stenport