For Immediate Release
All Zones
March 28, 2000
For More Information Contact:
Roxane M. Geraci at (219) 980-6686
Indiana University Northwest
Office of Marketingand Communications
Midwest Student Sociology Conference Comes to IU Northwest
Political Activist and Writer Howard Zinn to LeadDiscussion on His Play Marx in Soho
Marx in Soho Production By the Valparaiso CommunityTheatre Guild 

For the first time in its 20-year history, the Midwest Student SociologyConference (MSSC) will be hosted at IndianaUniversity Northwest on April 7 and 8. The conference offers opportunitiesfor sociology students in the Midwest to present their research and networkwith other budding sociologists, as well as faculty. Associate professorof sociology,
Charles Gallmeier, who is very active with theMSSC, is on the steering committee that oversees the conference and organizedthe event on campus.

As part of the conference, a free community event on April 7 at 7 p.m.will bring internationally known political activist and writer HowardZinn to discuss his play Marxin Soho following its production by the Valparaiso Community Theatre.The play and discussion will be in the university’s new AcademicActivities Building Auditorium. In the play, Marx successfully argueswith the authorities of the afterlife for a chance to clear his name onearth. However, through a bureaucratic error, Marx is sent to Soho in NewYork, rather than to his old stomping grounds in London, to make his case. 

Zinn is professor emeritus at Boston University,and is also author of the classic, A People’s History of the UnitedStates, which is currently being produced by Fox Television. He isalso author of The Zinn Reader; You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Trainand the play, Emma.  He grew up in Brooklyn and workedin the shipyards before serving as an Air Force bombardier in World WarII. Prior to taking a position at Boston University, Zinn served as thechair of the history department at SpelmanCollege where he actively participated in the civil rights movement.He recently received the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for Nonfictionand the Eugene V. Deba Award for his writing and political activism.

“We were so pleased to have the opportunity to hear Howard Zinn lectureon campus – and to see his new play,” says StephanieShanks-Meile, associate professor and chair of the sociology department.“He has become internationally known since the publication of A People’sHistory of the United States and confronted many myths that we weretaught in school. Fox Television is planning to produce vignettes fromthe book since Zinn’s ideas strike a chord among youth who often feel alienatedand disenchanted."

The Valparaiso Community Theatre Guild has volunteered to produce theplay with co-directors Jonni Pera and Traci Brant, and actor, Don Closs.According to Shanks-Meile, after reading Marx in Soho last summer she approachedJonni Pera and asked if she would direct the production for IU Northwestin order to kick off the MSSC.  Pera agreed.
“Working on this event with the Community Theatre Guild has been arewarding experience for everyone. The Guild is getting an opportunityto share their award-winning talents with Lake County, and in turn, wehave given them an opportunity to produce a different type of play thanthey would have normally staged in a community theatre setting,” says Shanks-Meile.“I think it is crucial that all of us on campus reach out to communitiesin our region in order to contribute to the social fabric of our regionand link those organizations and groups to our institution of higher learning.”   

The MSSC and associated events are hosted by different institutionsin the Midwest each year and is overseen by faculty members of participatinginstitutions. Host institutions have included the Universityof Notre Dame, the University ofDayton, Wittenberg University, Bethel Coll ege, GoshenCollege and IUEast. The conference provides an opportunity for students to gain experiencein presenting their ideas to their peers and faculty members.

The two-day conference will also include keynote speakers Peter Adler,professor of sociology at the University ofDenver, and Patti Adler, professor of sociology at the Universityof Colorado. They will give The Stan Saxton Memorial Keynoteaddress. The Adlers are two of the leading “ethnographers” in sociologyand their work has not only received international recognition in the disciplineof sociology, but they have also been interviewed by CNN,ABC News, ABC’s 20/20 and other news organizations.

The MSSC and community events are sponsored by the IU Addision LockeRoache Memorial Lecture Fund, the Sociology Club, the Academic CeremoniesCommittee, the department of history and the Student Activities Fund. Formore information on the MSSC event, contact the IU Northwest departmentof sociology at ProfessorStephanie Shanks-Meile at 219-980-6787 or ProfessorCharles Gallmeier at 219-981-4236.

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