Tucson Humanities Festival to spotlight style

September 26th, 2023

Style is at the center of human cultures, found in the essence of everything from personal expression to artistic movements.

For 2023, the Tucson Humanities Festival will take on style in a variety of forms, examining how trends captivate, how individuals stand out, and how style defines and influences self-image and identity.  

"Style is something that exists universally across human cultures, while being unique down to the individual level in how it's expressed," said Alain-Philippe Durand, Dorrance Dean of the UArizona College of Humanities. "Style is everywhere around us, and through the humanities we can explore just how much style influences, guides and enriches our lives. We hope the community will join us for this engaging series."

The October festival will feature talks from Emmy Award-winning television personality and fashion icon Tim Gunn, author and music executive Nabil Ayers and interdisciplinary artist Favianna Rodriguez. A screening of the film "In the Mood for Love" will include a presentation about filmmaking style and influence. And a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop will feature faculty from the Department of Africana Studies, which in 2013 created the nation's first minor in hip-hop, and elsewhere across the college, curating a playlist of hip-hop tracks from around the world.

Coinciding with National Arts & Humanities Month, the Tucson Humanities Festival began in 2009 as Humanities Week and has grown into a monthlong series of guest speakers and special events.

"In the variety of themes we've explored over the years, the College of Humanities has been proud to bring thought-provoking discussions from both distinguished guests and world-class faculty," Durand said. "Style is a fascinating lens to use in exploring the vitality of human cultures and the richness of human experience."

Festival schedule

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.
In the Mood for Love: Film Screening & Discussion
The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

The acclaimed film, a co-production between Hong Kong and France, explores the themes of fleeting youth, beauty, love, betrayal and memory. Released in 2000, director Wong Kar-wai's visually stunning film has been a major stylistic influence on the past two decades of cinema. Gorgeous, romantic and unforgettable, "In the Mood for Love" was named the second greatest film of the 21st century in a poll of BBC film critics. Dian Li, professor of East Asian Studies, will provide an opening commentary.
Free tickets available at noon on Oct. 3 at The Loft Cinema box office. First come, first served.

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
Tim Gunn: The Poetry of Fashion
Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

Taking inspiration from poetry selections, UArizona students will stage an interactive fashion show, followed by a conversation about creativity, purpose and the power of meaning with style icon Tim Gunn. An Emmy Award-winning television personality and bestselling author, Gunn became a household name as co-host and mentor for 16 seasons of "Project Runway" alongside Heidi Klum. After the opening fashion presentation, Gunn will take to the stage to share his impressions and valuable lessons for "making it work" in business, relationships and life.
Tickets are available online: $20 for general admission, $5 for students.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, noon
Hip-Hop at 50: Global Culture, Global Voices
UArizona Mall

Join the College of Humanities in celebrating hip-hop's first 50 years! Listen in as faculty DJs play hip-hop tracks from around the world, showcasing how the music has spread across countries, continents and cultures. The song selections will demonstrate both the internationalization of hip-hop and how hip-hop has blended with and incorporated various traditions, both musical and cultural, as it has conquered the world.

Tuesday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
My Life in the Sunshine: Intersections of Family, Music & Race
Helen S. Schaefer Building, 1508 E. Helen St.
Livestream available

In writing for the New York Times, Pitchfork, GQ, Rolling Stone and more, author and music executive Nabil Ayers has explored the complex and overlapping topics of race and music. His acclaimed memoir, "My Life in the Sunshine," details his struggle to connect with his father, Roy Ayers, the famed vibraphonist and funk, soul and jazz musician. The book chronicles his experiences as a biracial child with a single mother, touring in rock bands, owning a record store and becoming president of the U.K.-based record company Beggars Group, which represents Adele, The National, Radiohead and others.

Tuesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.
Desert Symphony: Mobilizing Creativity and Stories for Social Change
UA Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen St.
Livestream available

Catalyzing cultural power and creative expression is vital for building more sustainable futures. Interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist and entrepreneur Favianna Rodriguez will discuss the themes of justice and joy in her work, which leverages the power of style and storytelling to challenge dominant myths. She will also unveil her new on-campus installation "Desert Symphony," which reflects on the intersections of climate change and migration in Tucson's unique ecological and cultural home in the borderlands.