Inside Scoop Events

Free lunch and fantastic guests: Inside Scoop events bring University of Illinois undergraduates from any major into close conversation about humanities and arts-related topics with distinguished Illinois faculty and visiting scholars.

Enjoy lunch on us in an informal setting where scholars and artists share the great moments of discovery, creativity, and excitement that fuel their research and creative work, helping us to understand what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world.

Fall 2023  

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Wednesday, November 1 at Noon

Location: Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center (1212 W Nevada St., Urbana, IL 61801)

Professional photo of Alexis Pauline Gumbs

At this edition of Food for the Soul/Inside Scoop, enjoy lunch and conversation with Alexis Pauline Gumbs, award-winning writer, independent scholar, and activist. For UIUC undergraduate students of all majors!

About the Speaker

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist and an aspirational cousin to all sentient beings. Her work in this lifetime is to facilitate infinite, unstoppable ancestral love in practice. Her poetic work in response to the needs of her cherished communities have held space for multitudes in mourning and movement. Alexis’s co-edited volume of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016) has shifted the conversation on mothering, parenting and queer transformation. Alexis has transformed the scope of intellectual, creative and oracular writing with her triptych of experimental works published by Duke University Press (Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity in 2016, M Archive: After the End of the World in 2018 and Dub: Finding Ceremony forthcoming in 2020.) Unlike most academic texts, Alexis’s work has inspired artists across form to create dance works, installation work, paintings, processionals, divination practices, operas, quilts and more. Read more about Dr. Gumbs and this event.

And be sure to make plans to attend her interactive lecture—Kinship Aspirations: An Interspecies Middle Passage— Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m.! A book signing will follow.

Hosted and Cosponsored by the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, as part of their Food for the Soul series.

Past Inside Scoop Events

Nikky Finney

About the Speaker

Headshot of NIkky Finney

Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. She is the author of On Wings Made of Gauze; Rice; The World Is Round; and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. Her new collection of poems, Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry, was released from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press in 2020.

Hosted and Cosponsored by the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, as part of their Food for the Soul series.

Dr. Lerone A. Martin

About the Speaker

Professional photo of Lerone Martin

Lerone A. Martin is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Chair and Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. Previously, he was a member of the faculty in the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics and Director of American Culture Studies at Washington University in Saint Louis.

Martin is the author of the award-winning Preaching on Wax: The Phonograph and the Making of Modern African American Religion (New York University Press, 2014). 

Tracy K. Smith

About the Speaker

Headshot of Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate in 2017. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and four books of poetry, including her most recent Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018). Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014 the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. She is Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Part of A Year of Creative Writers at Illinois. Supported by the Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities.


Dr. Kirsten Ostherr

About the Speaker

Kirsten Ostherr headshot

Kirsten Ostherr, PhD, MPH, is the Gladys Louise Fox Professor of English at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she is a media scholar, health researcher, and technology analyst. She is also the founder and director of the Medical Humanities program at Rice.

Her research on trust and privacy in digital health ecosystems has been featured in Slate, The Washington Post, Big Data & Society, and Catalyst. She has recently published research on medical humanities and artificial intelligence in The Journal of Medical Humanities, and her writing on COVID-19 has been featured in Inside Higher Ed and in American Literature.

She is currently leading a multidisciplinary project called "Translational Humanities for Public Health" that will identify humanities-based (and humanities-inspired) responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, to document and help others build upon these creative efforts.

This event is part of the Medical Humanities Residency, made possible by a gift from Dr. Dan Shin ('91).