Penn State Altoona to host University Laureate John Champagne

John Champagne
Credit: Penn State

ALTOONA, PA – The 2018-19 Penn State Laureate, John Champagne, will speak on campus October 10, 2018, from 12:15 – 1:30 p.m. in the Edith Davis Eve Chapel.

In his lecture, “Art and Politics: The Case of Corrado Cagli,” Champagne explores the problematic and contradictory relationship between the art of Italian painter, sculptor, and muralist Corrado Cagli and the fascist government that supported him. Champagne uses Cagli’s career as a starting point for engaging his audience in a discussion of art and the contemporary resurgence of fascism at home and abroad. “Do artists have a responsibility to politics,” he asks. “What is our obligation to art of the past, and what does history suggest to us about the role art plays in world politics today?”

Champagne is a professor of English and chair of the Global Languages and Cultures program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Born in Milwaukee, he wrote his first novel, The Blue Lady’s Hands, while an undergraduate at Hunter College in New York City. His second novel, When the Parrot Boy Sings, was published two years later.

After completing a master’s degree in film studies at New York University in 1988, Champagne earned his doctoral degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993. That same year, he began working at Penn State Behrend, where he teaches courses in literature, film, philosophy, composition, and Italian culture. He also has taught ethnic American literature and media theory at the University of La Manouba in Tunisia as a Fulbright Scholar.

Champagne is the author of three nonfiction books: The Ethics of Marginality, A New Approach to Gay Studies; Aesthetic Modernism and Masculinity in Fascist Italy; and Italian Masculinity as Queer Melodrama.

Champagne’s laureate presentation is an expansion of his research for his sixth book, an examination of artistic culture of the Italian fascist years of 1922-45 and the relationship of artistic works to the fascist regime.

An annual honor established in 2008, the University Laureate is a full-time faculty member assigned to serve in the position for one academic year. During that time, the individual appears regularly at events at University Park, on the Commonwealth Campuses, and throughout the state.  The laureate brings an enhanced level of social, cultural, artistic, and human perspective and awareness to a broad array of audiences.

The event is free and open to the public.