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McGill Reporter
March 24, 2005 - Volume 37 Number 13
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On campus

Talk like an Egyptian

Caption follows
An Egyptian sarcophagus at the Redpath Museum
Courtesy the Redpath Museum

Barbara Lawson, curator of Redpath Museum's recently renovated Ethnology Gallery, will tell the fascinating story of how McGill came to own the second-largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in Canada on Wednesday, April 6, at 6 pm at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). Her lecture is part of McGill's contribution to Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum, which runs from January 27 to May 23, 2005.

According to anthropology professor Bruce Trigger, Eternal Egypt contains the best pieces in the world of Egyptian art. Trigger, who helped choose the exhibit as a voluntary consultant to the MMFA, gave the lecture "Egyptian Kingship and the Cosmic Order" on February 28 at the museum. He was particularly impressed by the special way the MMFA was able to display each of the almost 155 objects so that each piece could be savoured.

Eternal Egypt contains world-famous works such as the sphinx-like Lion of Amenhotep III, which once guarded a Nubian temple, the spectacular golden Mummy Mask of Satdjehuty and pages of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Because of renovations being done at the British Museum, this is the only time these treasures will ever travel outside the UK. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for art lovers in Montreal to view this collection of antiquities without buying a plane ticket to London.

- Rena Okada

Tragedy strikes at McGill

Caption follows
Andra Roston and Susan Spratt in McGill's production of the Gothic tragedy Orra
Elsie Newman

All bets are off on the Gothic tragedy Orra ending happily with puppies and ice cream for everyone. Orra is the heiress of the House of Aldenburg and she refuses to marry, which has those around her in a major snit. A sinister plot ensues to exploit her fears, break her spirit and bend her to the will of her manipulators.

The Romantic era playwright, Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), was known for her sweet disposition and vigorous writing style, and made fans of Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott. She wrote poetry and plays, and aimed to portray the deepest and strongest passions of humans through both comedy and tragedy.

McGill's English department drama and theatre program is bringing this fiery tale to you, in a world premiere, directed by new faculty member Sean Carney, a specialist in Joanna Baillie.

Orra, 8 pm, March 29 to April 2, Moyse Hall, Arts Building. Students/seniors/groups: $5. Adults: $10. For more info, call 398-6559.

Good morning, Reagan!

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Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan is the subject of McGill political science professor Gil Troy's new book
Courtesy Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

An icon on the right, a favourite punching bag of the left, criticized as being intellectually not up to the demands of the White House and prone to invading countries unilaterally, proudly guided by religious convictions, promoter of expensive missile defense programs and showing a pronounced tendency to run massive deficits: surely we'll never see the see the likes of Ronald Reagan again.

For those with a hankering for '80s nostalgia, or those in search of we're-sure-inappropriate analogies to current political controversies, history professor Gil Troy has written a well-received - one reviewer called it "masterly" - book on America's 40th President, entitled Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980's.

One of Troy's central arguments is that Reagan, contrary to belief, was not a rigid ideologue, and that he worked with the spirit of the times, rather than trying to undo the reforms of the '60s.

Troy will speak about and sign copies of Morning in America on Wednesday, April 6, at 5 pm in the McGill Bookstore Café.

Zoot suit riot

Caption follows
Zoot suiter circa 1943
Courtesy Illinois State Museum

The zoot suit, a forgotten fashion trend of the '40s with a goofy name, seems an odd topic to dedicate a lecture to. But the flowing, capacious clothing was once seen as disrupting the social order in a way that was worth fighting over, especially during World War II, when the suits were seen as deliberately flouting cloth rationing regulations and as being anti-conscription.

Montreal, in 1944, was the scene of several riots between military personnel and jazz-loving, zoot suit-clad youth. When a serviceman and his wife were attacked on Dorchester Street by zoot suit-wearing youths, military men stationed in town plotted their revenge. On June 3, 1944, 100 soldiers and sailors went to the Verdun Dance Pavilion and confronted 60 zooters.

The local paper recorded that "the zoot-suiters barricaded themselves within the dance hall while the young sailors tore up concrete park benches, which they used as battering rams to clear a way into the building... They then proceeded to tear off the clothes of the luckless zoot-suiters, including the two young women who were caught in the naval net."

The Montreal History Group has invited Kathy Peiss, of the University of Pennsylvania, to deliver "Zoot Suit Revisited: Meditations on the Politics of Style." In the U.S., the zoot suit was tied up with racial politics as well, as the style was favoured by the Black community. Peiss is the author of Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture.

The Peiss talk marks the beginning of a new direction for the Montreal History Group.

"It's the first time we've done this kind of thing," said history professor Jarrett Rudy. "We're really expanding our activities and hope to have more public events."

The Montreal History Group and the McGill History Department present "Zoot Suit Revisited: Meditations on the Politics of Style." Kathy Peiss, University of Pennsylvania, 4 pm, March 31, 2005, Leacock Building, Rm 232.

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