Birth, Death and the End of the World Explored in VIU's Fall Colloquium Series

VIU Music Professor Greg Bush (centre) and students Xander Mann, left, Rachel Skeeles, Kirst Bradshaw and Dan Sim are excited to perform during the first presentation in The Arts & Humanities Colloquium Series on Friday, September 29.

September 25, 2017 - 11:30am

Free public lecture series hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities starts Friday, September 29

From a birthday party, to the apocalypse, to what happens after death, community members can explore a range of themes and timely issues during The Arts & Humanities Colloquium Series fall lineup.

Every year, Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Arts and Humanities Faculty members share their research and open up dialogue on timely issues with a wider audience through the Colloquium presentations, which take place throughout the fall and spring semesters.

“From birth to potential death to the afterlife, the fall presentations include many topics that are relevant and timely to real-world events,” says Katharine Rollwagen, a VIU History professor and Chair of The Arts & Humanities Colloquium Committee. “The audience is really diverse – each presentation attracts different people. We have a strong contingent of community members that attend regularly, as well as a number of current and retired faculty, and students from many different programs.”

The series kicks off with A Jazz Birthday Party: 100 Years on Record, during which Music Professor Greg Bush will share some details about the first jazz recording in history in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jass Band which included the song Darktown Strutters Ball, composed by Canadian Shelton Brooks.

“They made that record and it opened the doors, brought jazz to the masses,” says Bush. “I love events like this – I love talking about music and jazz. But I think the key is engaging students to participate as well.”

Bush is bringing several students with him to perform Darktown Strutters Ball for the audience. As they perform the song, he will put the lyrics on a screen so audience members can sing along.

On October 20, as Halloween approaches, English Professor Dr. Anna Atkinson will talk about the end of the world as a persistent theme in literature, using The Epic of Gilgamesh to draw comparisons to modern sentiments.

“Buried in every epic are the seeds of the destruction of the civilization whose beginnings the epic wants to recount,” she says. “It’s something that has obvious connections to contemporary concerns of ecological collapse. The first epic ever recorded tells us everything we need to know about what’s wrong with our culture.”

The Fall Series wraps up November 24 with an exploration of the will-making practices of 16th century Scottish women. VIU History Professor Dr. Cathryn Spence, who recently won the 2017 Women’s History Network Book Prize for her first book – Women, Credit, and Debt in Early Modern Scotland – will explore how these women chose to divide up their worldly goods after death.

Spence will read out parts of wills – some of which include a few unexpected things – to show what these documents reveal about the society of the day.

“There is an assumption that Scottish women were the same as English women and had very little freedom when it came to making wills and dividing up property, but in fact they had quite a lot of freedom and they weren’t afraid to use it,” she says. “These wills and testaments end up being stories about people’s lives, what they cared about. It all ties into thinking about the documentation we are leaving behind today.”

The Spring Colloquium presentations start up again on January 26. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months! 

The presentations all take place in the Malaspina Theatre (Building 310) from 10 – 11:30 am, and are followed by a discussion period during which audience members are encouraged to ask questions.

Complimentary parking is available in lot 5D off Fifth Street, and if people wish to drive right up to the Theatre to drop someone off, they can email Rollwagen at by September 27 and she will ensure the gate is open on the morning of the presentation.

For more information about the Colloquium Series, visit the event homepage.



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Teaching and Learning

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