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The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a public research university in the U.S. state of Connecticut. UConn was founded in 1881 and is a Land Grant and Sea Grant college & member of the Space Grant Consortium. The university serves more than 30,000 students on its six campuses, including more than 8,000 graduate students in multiple programs.

“Walt Whitman and Lively Materiality” with Jane Bennett on 2/20 at 7 p.m. and “Colloquium with Jane Bennett” on 2/21 at 9 a.m.


For its first installment of the 2020 Spring Puppet Forum Series the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host Walt Whitman and Lively Materiality with Professor Jane Bennett on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs, followed by a Colloquium with Jane Bennett on Friday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m.

Dr. Bennett, of Johns Hopkins University, is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary political theorist and philosopher best known in the puppetry world for her work on “the material world in performance,” especially her influential bestseller Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Drawing from her forthcoming book Influx and Efflux: Writing Up with Walt Whitman, Professor Bennett will speak at the Thursday Puppet Forum about Whitman’s sense of “lively materiality” and the implications such ideas for puppetry studies and other subjects. Admission to this event is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. Come early, and experience our puppet exhibitions, as well as the video resources in our library nook. Forums will be broadcast via Facebook Live.

Dr. Bennett’s visit to the University of Connecticut will continue the following day with a Colloquium with Jane Bennett, Friday, Feb. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon at the UConn Humanities Institute on the 4th floor of UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library. The colloquium will include research presentations by UConn scholars including Associate Professor of English Kathleen Tonry, who will consider connections between Jane Bennett’s work and the 15th-century history of the book; Professor of Art History Elizabeth Athens, who will consider 18th-century naturalist William Bartram’s representations of nature; and Ballard Institute Director John Bell, who will examine Jane Bennett’s influence on contemporary puppetry studies. The presentations will also include short puppet responses to Walt Whitman poems by students in Dr. Matthew Cohen’s Hand Puppetry class. The colloquium offers an opportunity to engage in conversation about Walt Whitman and American poetry, political theory, puppetry studies, object-oriented ontology, and philosophy with Dr. Bennett. This event is free and open to the public. 

These Jane Bennett events at the University of Connecticut are co-sponsored by UConn’s departments of Philosophy, Political Science, and English, the UConn Humanities Institute, and UConn’s American Studies program. 

Jane Bennett is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Her recent essays have appeared in Grain/Vapor/Ray (on Kafka’s Odradek), Evental Aesthetics (special issue on Vital Materialism), and MLN (on mimesis). She is the author of Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (2010); The Enchantment of Modern Life (2001); Thoreau’s Nature (1994), and Unthinking Faith and Enlightenment, (1987). Her forthcoming book this spring is called Influx & Efflux: Writing up with Walt Whitman. 

For more information or if you require an accommodation to attend the forum, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or For more information or if you require an accommodation to attend the colloquium, please contact Dr. Matthew Cohen at



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