University of Rochester

Alumni Lecture Series Honors Reni Celeste, VCS Program Graduate

October 27, 2005

Darby English, assistant professor of art history at the University of Chicago, will deliver the inaugural Reni Celeste Memorial Alumni Lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, to honor the late scholar who received her doctoral degree from the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Gamble Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester's River Campus.

English, a classmate of Reni Celeste in the VCS Program, is the author of the forthcoming How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness from MIT Press in 2006, and the editor of Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress (MIT Press, 2003). His lecture is titled "The Aesthetics of Dispossession: William Pope.L's Actions."

He graduated from the VCS Program in 2002, and his dissertation focused on African-American contemporary artists Kara Walker, Glen Ligon, and Fred Wilson.

Born Renee Celeste Noriega, she earned her bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of California at Santa Cruz and entered the VCS Program in 1997. In 2000-01, Celeste held the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship from the National Research Council, and was Lecturer in the Humanities Core Program at the University of Chicago.

After completing her dissertation, "The Tragic Screen: Cinema at the Limits of Philosophy" in 2003, Celeste taught courses at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., and at Connecticut College. She also was a postdoctoral research scholar and teaching fellow in film studies at Yale University, and was in the process of completing a book.

Celeste had been diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after coming to Rochester. She died from complications following surgery in 2004, and is survived by her husband, Michael Forstrom, and their two children.

The lecture series in her memory has been established by her peers and professors in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies. This first lecture is co-sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies as part of a yearlong theme of Visual Culture & the African Diaspora, which will encompass a number of University and communitywide events that showcase the work of internationally renowned artists and scholars.

For more information, contact the Frederick Douglass Institute at (585) 275-7235.