Campus News

Breathitt Lecture to Explore Palestinian Identity


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 18, 2011) — Jessica L. Anderson, a University of Kentucky international studies junior from Monclova, Ohio, has been selected to give the 17th annual Edward T. Breathitt Undergraduate Lectureship in the Humanities. Anderson's lecture will explore Palestinian identity as portrayed in the Elia Suleiman film "Divine Intervention." The Breathitt Lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in the William T. Young Library Auditorium.
The Breathitt Lectureship is named in honor of an outstanding UK alumnus with an exceptional interest in higher education and the humanities, Gov. Edward T. Breathitt. The lectureship is awarded to an undergraduate who has eloquently expressed the qualities of mind and spirit, including one or more of the basic concerns of the humanities: form, value and memory. Each year all undergraduate students are invited to apply for the lectureship.
Anderson's lecture, "Occupied Minds: An Exploration of Palestinian Identity through 'Divine Intervention'," explores the topic of Palestinian identity through Suleiman's portrayal of life in the occupied territories. The Palestinian writer-director's film opens with a series of surreal vignettes that are interwoven to reveal the reality of the Palestine-Israeli situation in
the West Bank and Nazareth. Suleiman appears 30 minutes in as filmmaker E.S. The plot then turns to a budding romance between E.S. and a beautiful woman, which unfolds at a military checkpoint between the West Bank cities of Jerusalem and Ramallah. The relationship is further complicated by social and political divisions in the region, and the filmmaker's sick father. Using the film as a guide, Anderson's lecture will look at the dreams and struggles of people caught in conflict and discuss the film's depiction of Palestinian visibility and invisibility.

"My goal as a Breathitt Lecturer is to contribute to UK's ongoing attempts to sustain a conversation about peace and conflict resolution in the Middle East," said Anderson.

Anderson picked Suleiman's film for its unique approach to its depiction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I was drawn to Suleiman's work because I found it surprising," notes the Gaines Fellow. "The film doesn't present the audience with the images they might expect to see when they sit down to watch a film about conflict between Israel and Palestine."

A free public screening of "Divine Intervention: A Chronicle of Love and Pain," the film examined in the Breathitt Lecture, will proceed Anderson's talk at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in the Young Auditorium. 

To view a trailer for the film, play the video from YouTube below: 

This year's Breathitt Lectureship is made possible with support from Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs.

Named after the late Gov. Breathitt, the Breathitt Lectureship is an annual undergraduate award presented by the Gaines Center for the Humanities that provides a student the opportunity to write and deliver a humanities-oriented public lecture on the topic of their choosing. The student speaker is chosen through an application process that includes a lecture proposal submitted by the student to an independent committee of readers.
In recognition of her selection to deliver the Breathitt Lectureship, Anderson will receive a commemorative award and a $500 honorarium.
Anderson, the daughter of Claudia and Kevin Anderson, is a 2008 graduate of Anthony Wayne High School. At UK, she is a Gaines Fellow and an active member of the Arabic Club and the Model Arab League.

Upon completing her bachelor's degree in international studies, Anderson hopes to teach English abroad and later pursue a graduate degree in diplomacy.