A variety of in-person and virtual events will be offered this fall as Missouri Southern State University celebrates the Caribbean Semester.

“The theme semester is a Missouri Southern tradition and has been in existence since 1997,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies. “The Caribbean Semester will be our 24th.”

Events will celebrate the history and culture of 13 independent countries – Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica.

Stebbins said the COVID-19 presented some unique challenges when it came to programming events for this semester. But it also meant the opportunity to reach a wider audience.

“The public can come to Corley Auditorium to see the speakers we’re bringing to campus, watch live on their computer through Zoom, or watch a recording of it that’s posted online within 24 hours,” he said.

Offerings will include films, musical performances and lectures that touch on topics such as the Haitian Revolution, Caribbean rum, the real pirates of the Caribbean and voodoo. And it wouldn’t be a celebration of Caribbean culture without a little Bob Marley thrown in for good measure.

For more information about this semester’s activities and Zoom details, visit www.mssu.edu/themed-semester.

Caribbean Semester events

Tuesday, Sept. 1

“The Many Natalias Bolivar: Art, Utopia and Religion” – 9:30 a.m., Phelps Theatre, Billingsly Student Center. This 2018 documentary features the many social and cultural roles lived by Natalia Bolívar, a direct descendant of the Cuban Simon Bolívar family.

“The Magical World of Mendive” – 1 p.m., Phelps Theatre. The film offers a unique perspective into the personal and artistic world of Manuel Mendive, the leading contemporary Cuban artist.

Cuban Dinner Party – 5 p.m., Bookhouse Cinema, 715 E. Broadway. Students from the MSSU Spanish Club and Sigma Delta Pi will prepare food. Indoor and patio seating available.

“Diago, a Maroon  Artist”/“ Rogelio Martinez Furé: A Cuban Griot” – 7 p.m., Bookhouse Cinema. The films will be shown simultaneously and then repeated to promote social distancing.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

“On an Island” – Spiva Gallery. The exhibit features photographs by Nadia Huggins, a visual artist from the Caribbean. A Zoom talk with Huggins is planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Corley Auditorium, followed by a gallery reception. The exhibit will remain on display through Oct. 15.

“Imbibing Freedom: Rum, Slavery and the Making of the Modern Caribbean” – Noon, Corley Auditorium, Webster Hall. The Zoom presentation will feature Frederick H. Smith, assistant professor and coordinator of the global studies program in the department of liberal studies at North Carolina A&T State University.

Wednesday, Sept. 9

“Pirate of the Caribbean in the Golden Age of Piracy” – 11 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Dr. Arad Gigi, an expert on Caribbean history, will dispel some of the myths around the pirates of the Caribbean and highlight their importance to Caribbean history.

“Building an Empire: Slaves, Servants, Soldiers and the Fortification of the French Caribbean, 1661-1776” – 1 p.m., Corley Auditorium. Dr. Arad Gigi builds on the recent “unfreedom” trend in the history of the colonial Americas to break away from dichotomizations of free-unfree, black-white, to highlight the malleability of the varied labor categories, the complexity of notions of race, and the impact the state played in shaping these.

Wednesday, Sept. 16

“The Good, the Bad and the In-between: Studying Cuba from 90 Miles Away” – Noon, Corley Auditorium. The Zoom presentation by Elzbieta Sklodowska, a Randolph Family Professor of Spanish at Washington University in Saint Louis, will focus on the ever-evolving relationship between the United States and Cuba as its most significant “other.”

Monday, Sept. 21

“Lights on the Sea: Caribbean Book Club” – 5:30 p.m., Spiva Library, first floor. The book club will read “Claire of the Sea Light,” by internationally best-selling and award-winning author Edwidge Danticat, and “Wide Sargasso Sea,” by Jean Rhys. The club will meet again on Oct. 5 and Nov. 9.

Thursday, Sept. 24

“The Haitian Revolution and the Making of the Modern World,” 9:30 a.m., Corley Auditorium. The Zoom presentation by Dr. Robert Taber, assistant professor of history at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, will share some of the captivating life stories, complex politics, stunning achievements, and desperate characterizations of the revolution that created Haiti and helped usher in the modern age.

Friday, Oct. 2

“Beyond Baseball: Cuban Sports and International Contests” – 9 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Michael T. Wood, who teaches sport studies at the University of Alabama, will expand the scope of Cuban sport history beyond the baseball diamond to include the football gridiron, the boxing ring, and on the fields, gymnasiums, and natatoriums in international competitions.

“The Cuban National Pastime: A Brief History of Cuban Baseball” – 11 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Wood will explore how this American game became a key part of Cuban culture.

U.S.-Cuba Relations: Close and Complicated” – Noon, Corley Auditorium. Wood will trace the relations between the two countries from the 19th century to the present.

Friday, Oct. 9

“Hoodoo vs. Vodou: What Are They? Are They the Same? Where Does Catholicism Fit in with it All?” – 10 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Mambo Amanda (Amanda L. Keith) is a priestess in Haitian Vodou. She will explore the world and culture of the deep South, Africa and Haiti, the truth behind each practice and how Hollywood fantasy has misled us.

Monday, Oct. 19

“A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat” – 5 p.m., Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall. Danticat is the author of the Caribbean Semester Book Club selection “Claire of the Sea Light.”

Wednesday, Oct. 21

“Struggle to Preserve ‘Cultural Identity’” – 11 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Jean (Rudy) Perrault, director of orchestras and a professor of music at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, will introduce emerging Caribbean composers and highlight some of the barriers they face.

Thursday, Oct. 22

“Voodoo: Cult or Religion?” – 1 p.m., Cornell Auditorium. Jean (Rudy) Perrault will focus on the misconceptions and the realities of Vodou.

Friday, Oct. 23

“Caribbean Adventures” – 7:30 p.m., Central Christian Center, 410 S. Virginia Ave. The Southern Symphony Orchestra will showcase works by composers from the Caribbean region.

Wednesday, Oct. 28

“Leaving Slavery: The Story of the Haitian Revolution and the Coming of the U.S. Civil War” – Noon, Corley auditorium. Dr. Robert Taber, an assistant professor of history at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, will discuss the major events, themes, and personalities of the revolution in order to highlight the struggles and joys of liberation and reconstruction and the ways the Haitian Revolution influenced the coming of the U.S. Civil War.

“Foreign Aid: Who is it Good For?” – 1 p.m., Corley Auditorium. Taber will examine the recent history of Haiti as the “Republic of NGOs” and some of the challenges of aid programs run by governments, nonprofits and religious groups.

Thursday, Nov. 5

“The World of Islands”: Readings from the Caribbean – 7 p.m., Cornell Auditorium. Students from the MSSU English Department and Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, will read stories and poetry from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and more.

Wednesday, Nov. 11

“Bob Marley and the Resurgence of Pan Africanism” – 11 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Dr. Canès Nicolas, an assistant professor of music at MSSU and director of the Southern Symphony Orchestra, will look at Bob Marley’s fight for equality, social justice and human rights through his music, lyrics and culture.

Thursday, Nov. 12

“Why Export to the Caribbean?” – 9:30 a.m., location TBA. Natascha Lord, a trade specialist for the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Americas’ region, will examine the opportunities and assistance available for trade between the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Friday, Nov. 20

“Exploring Music and Identity: The Steelband Movement of Trinidad and Tobago” – 10 a.m., Corley Auditorium. Dr. Greg Haynes, a Connecticut-based percussionist, composer and educator, will explore the beginnings of the steel pan in Trinidad, the pan’s role in unifying communities, the interface between steel pan and calypso, and the emergence of the pan in other nations and cultures.

Monday, Nov. 23

“Caribbean Rhapsody in Brass and Steel” – 5 p.m., Corley Auditorium. The three-song arrangement was custom-written for the MSSU steel band and trombone quartet.