Spotlight on “New York Utopias: Past, Present and Future”

The festival opens with Jennifer H. Dorsey (Professor of History, Siena College) and Victoria W. Wolcott (Professor of History, University at Buffalo) presenting in the Design Studio on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 1:15pm.

Father Divine, image from

Historians Jennifer H. Dorsey and Victoria W. Wolcott will share the legacies of utopian movements in New York State including the “burned over district” a reference to the religious fervor that was described as setting this region “on fire” during the Second Awakening and the Father Divine movement in central and downstate New York. What is the legacy of past cooperatives and how can they inform the present? The future?

Spotlight on “The Power of Fiction”

Join UB Humanities Institute director David Castillo and executive director Christina Milletti in conversation with Dimitri Anastasopoulos and Laura Marris on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 3:45pm under the Willow Trellis.

Join our panelists—a translator, two fiction writers, and a scholar—for a conversation on the utopian possibilities of fiction at a moment when fiction has begun to intersect, more than ever before, with socio-political domains. We will speculate on how a form of writing that relies on the imagination exerts influence over the real world. In these times when fraudulent narratives increasingly exert magnetism over public discourse, our panelists will speculate on the power of fiction to find paths of resistance over “spin,” propaganda, alternative facts, imposture, and double speak. Our hope is that our conversation is just a starting point for what we hope will be an engaging conversation with the Festival audience.

Spotlight on “The Search for (N)Everland: Migration, Utopia/Dystopia”

Canisius College’s Anita Butera (Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice), Secil Ertorer (Associate Professor of Sociology), and Richard D. Reitsma (Associate Professor of Spanish) will present in the Design Studio on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 2:30pm.

This panel will reflect on the experiences of migrants and their perceptions of the utopic/dystopic host society based on the work of interdisciplinary researchers who study migration in a multinational context (Turkey, Italy, Mexico/Central America, Canada, and US). The panelists will discuss the utopian/dystopian push/pull factors of migration and the disillusionments of migrants, including those denied or deported back. We will explore personal stories, and the researchers’ work “on the ground” with local agencies. Finally, the panel will discuss the pedagogy of utopia/dystopia: the process of educating students and our community about migration and crafting more nuanced perspectives on Buffalo, the US, and the migration experience. Following brief remarks, we hope to engage the audience in conversation arising from audience questions.