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‘World Upside Down’ at UC Merced

“In and Out of Shadows,” a musical by Chicano writer and Valley native Gary Soto, seen here at Winton Middle School in 2010, will be performed Saturday evening at UC Merced.
“In and Out of Shadows,” a musical by Chicano writer and Valley native Gary Soto, seen here at Winton Middle School in 2010, will be performed Saturday evening at UC Merced. Sun-Star file

UC Merced will host a two-day conference beginning Friday, with panels, a musical and a keynote speaker all based on the theme “The World Upside Down.”

The free Center for the Humanities conference kicks off at 9 a.m. in the 5200 N. Lake Road campus’s California Room, inside the library.

A number of panels are planned, but the highlight will be an address by Marjorie Agosin, a Spanish professor from Wellesley College. Her speech is titled “The Inverted Imagination: A Poetics of Remembrance.”

Agosin, who is originally from Chile, has won the U.N. Leadership Award for Human Rights, the Gabriela Mistral Medal of Honor from the Chilean government and the Latino Literature Prize, to name a few awards.

Susan Amussen, director of the center, said the conference theme is a metaphor that has been used across cultures to describe the inversion, overturning or disruption of social, political or psychological order. That makes it ripe for interpretation.

“What we want to do is have a theme that’s big enough to bring together people from across the humanities, so that you can look at it from all angles,” she said.

The conference is held at UC Merced every other year, and serves as a culmination for the center’s research theme. Over the next two years, the center will focus on a water theme.

Panels this year will cover discussions from different parts of the world and will touch on satire, comedy, revolution, bodily changes, migration and other topics. The wide array of themes allows for different perspectives.

“Each of the panels will have four visiting speakers,” said Christina Lux, assistant director of the humanities center.

She said the conference is not only for the campus community, but also welcomes the general public. Lux encouraged anyone interested to register at the web page, http://crha.ucmerced.edu/ node/124.

Saturday’s events begin at 8 a.m. at UC Merced. They will culminate with “In and Out of Shadows,” a musical by Chicano writer and Fresno native Gary Soto, who will not be at the performance.

Performed by the San Francisco Youth Theatre DREAM ensemble, the musical will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Merced Theatre, 301 W. Main St. Tickets are $5 at the door.

A limited number of free tickets for the musical are available at Building Healthy Communities, 658 W. Main St., Merced. For information, call Isaí Palma at (209) 383-4242.

For a complete schedule of events go to http://crha. ucmerced.edu/node/124. For more on the conference, send an email to humanities@ ucmerced.edu.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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