2022 Humanities Festival Schedule

Wednesday, February 16

5:30 p.m.

Thomas Empey Studio Theater

Watch the film, Casper Freedom Trail, a film produced by ServeWyoming, prior to the discussion led by the Elaine Monterastelli, member of the Casper College Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Tuesday, February 22

9:30 a.m.

Living Library

Goodstein Foundation Library

Living Libraries, Human Libraries, or Living Book Libraries are all names for similar projects — libraries where instead of checking out a traditional book and reading its story, you borrow a person and have a conversation about “their” story. The purpose of the Living Library is to promote conversation, encourage understanding, and foster a culture of inclusivity. Participants should expect to encounter perspectives they have never considered, viewpoints different from their own, and life experiences that may challenge their own ways of thinking, all within a safe and positive atmosphere at the Goodstein Foundation Library. The event includes short sessions with presenters and time for questions.


Demorest Keynote, Dr. Dena Bravata

“Healthcare and the Workplace: Managing Change in the Face of Pandemics, Parenthood, and Poverty”

Wheeler Concert Hall or watch virtually here

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the U.S. workplace from how we work safely together to how we work productively at home. Accordingly, employers have been changing health benefits provided to their workforces, including modifications to insurance benefits, expanded telehealth benefits, and novel benefits for workers who are also parents/caregivers. Unfortunately, the pandemic has exacerbated disparities in access to healthcare services and associated outcomes for vulnerable populations such as those living in poverty or provider deserts, including rural areas, even among those with employer-sponsored health insurance. In this talk, we can explore the changing role of employers in managing the well-being, health, safety, privacy, and disparities of their workforces.

1 p.m.

“Invisible Wyoming”

Filmmaker Patricia McInroy

Wheeler Concert Hall or watch virtually here

Patricia McInroy will introduce the film before a screening and offer a question-and-answer dialogue with attendees after the film. View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6SEpkxw7bg.

2 p.m.

“Casper Freedom Trail”

Introduction by Allison Maluchnik

Wheeler Concert Hall or watch virtually here

The “Casper Freedom Trail” is a virtual tour of historic sites supported by oral accounts of Casper’s black history. It focuses on the roles of Black churches, businesses, and the people who have participated in the civil rights movement. This project was created as a virtual celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021 as COVID restrictions did not allow for the traditional community celebration. ServeWyoming’s MLK/Equality Day Committee hosted Casper’s community-supported project, collaborated by researching sites of historical importance, collecting oral histories, filming, and editing the “Casper Freedom Trail” video and virtual map. The success of this project has led the MLK/Equality Day Committee to expand the “Casper Freedom Trail” for 2022 with additional stories, businesses and insights.

5 p.m.

Evening Book Club “Democracy Under Construction”

Facilitated by the Natrona County Library

Moderated by Alaina Stedillie

“Democracy Under Construction” is a collection of materials and reflections that examine the connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. The book sections are short but invoke thought, insight, and concern. Some of the state’s most well-known historians and thinkers have lent their words of wisdom on the subject, providing authentic knowledge and insight. If the trends of these corrosive behaviors go unchecked, what will the outcome be? Complimentary copies of the book were partially funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative and are available at the Natrona County Library or the Casper College Goodstein Foundation Library on a first-come, first-serve basis. Democracy Under Construction was developed and published by Wyoming Humanities.

Click here for Zoom instructions for this virtual event.

Wednesday, February 23, Wheeler Concert Hall, Music Building
or watch virtually here

9 a.m.

“An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States”

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

The history of the United States is a history of settler colonialism. The objective of settler colonialism is to terminate and replace the presence of Indigenous peoples as people. By the time of the war of independence that created the United States, British settlers as armed white citizen militias had 170 years of experience in ethnically cleansing and dominating the land of the 13 original colonies. Employing this intergenerationally practiced unlimited war against civilians and their resources, the government and settlers intensified and accelerated those practices in the invasion and conquest first of the Ohio country, then marched across the continent in a 100-years’ war, including the invasion and annexation of half of Mexico. Dunbar-Ortiz will discuss the possible process of decolonization that is, restoration of full political sovereignty to Native nations who seek it. In this session, the speaker will join attendees remotely.

10 a.m.

“Adapting ‘Cowboys and East Indians’ for the Stage”

Nina McConigley and Dr. Matthew Spangler

Nina McConigley’s award-winning story collection “Cowboys and East Indians,” winner of the Pen Open Book Award, depicts South Asian immigrant experiences in Wyoming. Matthew Spangler is an award-winning playwright — London West End, New York off-Broadway — who specializes in adapting literature for the stage. He will present a treatment for an adaptation of “Cowboys and East Indians” — what he would take out, insert, or change in turning these stories into a stage play — with the author hearing these ideas for the first time. The playwright and author will then discuss the merits of the adaptation. The idea for a new stage play could be born right here.

11 a.m.

The Black 14

The Black 14 set the foundation for political activism and sports decades ago in Wyoming. At the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in solidarity with oppressed Blacks. Forty-eight years later, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem protesting police brutality and racism. The Black 14 have been featured for their courage and call to action displays against discrimination by CBS Sports, CNN, ESPN, Public Broadcasting Service, Sports Center, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Washington Post, and many more. In 2017, Spike Lee executive produced a Black 14 documentary. In this session, the speakers will join attendees remotely.

Noon-1:45 p.m.

“Familial Crossroads: Race, Rejection, and Reunion in Post-WWII Germany”

Demorest Keynote: Professor Tracey Owens Patton, Ph.D.

There is a sense that WWII represented a seminal moment in racial thought and that the realization of the Holocaust was transformative in the role of race-thinking by state agencies and popular institutions, particularly in the U.S. Patton’s research challenges this assumption, particularly since Black American soldiers went back to a country that held steadfastly to Jim Crow, including anti-miscegenation laws. While many biracial German children remained in Germany, the U.S. and German governments collaborated and destroyed families by forbidding interracial coupling and encouraging white German women to put up their mixed-raced children for international adoption in an effort to keep Germany white. Patton’s grandmother used this racism as a convenient way to have her own German children adopted. Using her own family’s history as an exemplar, this research explores issues of race, gender, place, and nation as it relates to this largely erased history.

Please note that this session contains sensitive content, including mentions of lynching and sexual assault and racist/antiquated language.

 2 p.m.

La Radio Montañesa: Voz de la Gente

Connie Coca, MSW, retired

La Radio Montañesa: Voz de la Gente, better known as KOCA 93.5, is the only nonprofit, bilingual radio station in Wyoming. KOCA has been operating for 20 years. Initiated in 1998 to serve a growing Spanish-speaking population in Albany County, La Radio was formed to serve as an educational, musical, and artistic programming venue. Diverse programming geared toward promoting an understanding of different ethnic groups soon added multilingual programming. Granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2000, La Radio was awarded an operating license from the Federal Communications Commission in 2001 and began broadcasting its first test transmission on Christmas Eve 2002.

Thursday, February 24, Wheeler Concert Hall, Music Building
or watch virtually here
(9:30 am – 4:30 pm events)

 9:30 a.m.

“The Greatest Negro Cattle Rancher in all the West”

Todd Guenther

Two nicknames commonly define our Wyoming identity: The Cowboy State and, The Equality State. At the crossroads where those concepts meet and overlap, a little-known segment of frontier society contributed to the creation of Wyoming. Pioneering African American women and men claimed homesteads and became ranchers at diverse locations across our basins and ranges. Their story began during the Oregon-California Trail migrations. One woman was among the most prominent of the Black Hills gold-rushers during the 1870s. Most left for greener pastures as a result of the intensive Wyoming lynchings and subsequent agricultural economic collapse of the early 1900s. One of the longest-lived black homesteaders was christened “The Greatest Negro Cattle Rancher in all the West” by Ebony Magazine. This presentation provides an overview of some of their lives and experiences, and their historical significance, during the early days of community building in Wyoming.

10:30 a.m.

“Stealing Culture: The Intersection of Criminal Law and Museums”

Nicole Crawford and Darrell Jackson

When we visit a museum, we rarely think about the role of the law regarding the objects and artworks we view. But perhaps we should. What happens when a museum finds artifacts in its collection that may result from theft or looting? This question can be approached from a legal angle: Who from the acquiring museum, if anyone, should be held accountable and potentially criminally charged? Or it could be approached from a cultural angle: How does society place a value on these cultural objects, and how does that value change when the object is placed within a museum? Join Jackson and Crawford as they wrestle with questions of law, ethics, and culture relevant to museum collections.


“Somewhere Under One Sky”

Jennifer Pepple, Demorest Keynote, RedStone Art Gallery and Recital Series

Jenn Pepple will display a collection of photographs, drawings, and other travel-inspired works from both domestic and international journeys. Her corresponding talk will examine the parallels, intersections, and crossing paths between travel and art. Through personal experiences, Pepple will share how travel encourages individual growth through the soul of a destination while art captures the spirit of a place. Both create memories of a lifetime. The session will also look at challenges the industry has been facing, including hot-topic issues like over-tourism, animal tourism, and environmental impacts. Ideas will be offered to encourage sustainable future travels, which will aid in the preservation of these beautiful places across the globe.

1 p.m.

Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion Recital

The duo from Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion, with guitarist Miguel Espinoza and cellist Dianne Betkowski, will perform original music that exemplifies the confluence of myriad musical and cultural influences. Miguel Espinoza Flamenco Fusion’s musical backbone is flamenco, intertwined with Latin jazz, classical Indian and European, Moroccan, African, Brazilian, jazz, and salsa, among other flavors. Their music is described as “colorful and vibrant,” “emotional,” “a stunning combination of flamenco, jazz, and subtle world music,” and is rhythmically complex and harmonically rich.

2 p.m.

“Conservation at a Crossroads: Protecting the Future of Life on Earth”

Michelle Nijhuis

Over the past century and a half, the modern conservation movement has grown from an effort to protect individual, highly endangered species like the plains bison to an international campaign to preserve relationships among species, between species and their habitats, and between humans and other species. As climate change and other global threats intensify, what can the conservation movement learn from its history, and where can — and should — it go next? Journalist Michelle Nijhuis, the author of the book “Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction,” will discuss the history and future of the movement, focusing on conservation in the Intermountain West. In this session, the speaker will join attendees remotely.

5 p.m.

Crossroads” Museums on Main Street exhibition is a Smithsonian exhibition and the loan was facilitated and sponsored by Wyoming Humanities

The Nicolaysen Art Museum Reception

An overview of the exhibition:
Many Americans assume that rural communities are endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from outmigration, ailing schools, and overused land. But that perception is far from true in many areas. Many rural Americans work hard to sustain their communities. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? All Americans benefit from rural America’s successes. We can learn great things from listening to those stories. There is much more to the story of rural America!

Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

Despite the massive economic and demographic impacts brought on by these changes, America’s small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. Economic innovation and a focus on the cultural facets that make small towns unique, comfortable, and desirable have helped many communities create their own renaissance. The future is bright for much of rural America as small towns embrace the notion that their citizens and their cultural uniqueness are important assets.


7:30 p.m.

Shadowed Winds and Ghost Roads”

Presented by the Casper College Department of Theatre and Dance, Mick and Susie McMurry Mainstage, tickets required

“Shadowed Winds and Ghost Roads” is an original evening-length dance theater production conceptualized, directed, and choreographed by Aaron M. Wood. Inspired by Wyoming’s whispering ghost towns and arterial state roads, “Shadowed Winds and Ghost Roads” seeks to ask how our contemporary selves connect to deserted communities of the past. Through the spoken word of a narrator and the intertwining of dance, theater, and multimedia elements, the performers will guide audiences through the intersectionality of place and time. Buy tickets.

 Friday, February 25, Wheeler Hall, Music Building

 6:30-7:30 p.m.

“Sign Fest with Heath Goodall”

Heath Goodall is an American Sign Language (ASL) Lecturer from Indiana University in Bloomington. Heath is a master storyteller, performer, actor and ASL poet. Come share in an evening of visual tales presented in American Sign Language.