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Defining Detroit is a series of Detroit-focused lectures, readings, presentations, discussions, exhibits, and performances sponsored by the Institute for Detroit Studies, a Legacy Program of Marygrove Conservancy Arts and Culture.

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Defining Detroit Events: 2000-2022

Punching the Clock
A public reading by poet Jim Daniels, Carnegie Mellon University
October 6, 2000, 8 p.m.




Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit
A public lecture
by cultural historian Suzanne E. Smith, George Mason University October 11, 2000, 8 p.m. 




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Ecclesia Semper Reformanda: John Cardinal Dearden and the Papal Encyclical on

Birth Control, 1968
A public lecture by historian, Leslie Woodcock Tentler, The Catholic University of America
January 18, 2001, 8 p.m.


"Unimaginable Apart from Detroit"
A public reading by National Book Award Winner
Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton University
January 25, 2001, 8 p.m.





To Do Justice: Reinhold Niebuhr's Detroit Years
A public lecture by Dr. Ralph Cushing
February 11. 2001, 8 p.m.


Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit
A public lecture by historian
Thomas J. Sugrue, The University of Pennsylvania

(now New York University)

February 15, 2001, 8 p.m.,



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The Poetry of Lawrence Joseph, The Art of Nancy van Goethem
Gallery exhibit by figurative artist
Nancy van Goethem and

poetry reading by Lawrence Joseph, St. John's University
March 18, 2001, 3:30 p.m.



"I Wish to Make Your Acquaintance" Madame Cadillac and the French Historical Dance Tradition
A public workshop and demonstration by dancer and dance historian
Harriet J. Berg and the Madame Cadillac Dance Theatre
March 30, 2001, 8 p.m.


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“Sister Said”: Women's Religious Orders and Catholic Education in the

Archdiocese of Detroit
A public lecture by historian
JoEllen McNergney Vinyard, Eastern Michigan University

April 8, 2001, 3 p.m.


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Detroiter
A public reading by poet
Toi Derricotte, The University of Pittsburgh
April 27, 2001, 8 p.m.



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Our Village: Detroit's Old West Side
A gallery and exhibit of photographs and artifacts presented by the

Opening reception
September 9, 2001, 3 p.m.


Made in Detroit
A public reading by Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet
Philip Levine
September 28, 2001, 8 p.m.



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The Polish Presence in Detroit
A public lecture by
Dr. Thaddeus Radzilowski, St. Mary's College
October 14, 2001, 3 p.m.


Living for the City
A public reading by poets
Alvin Aubert, Wayne State University and
Terry Blackhawk, Inside-Out

October 25, 2001, 7:30 p.m.



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Inspired: Detroit Choral History
A reminiscence and public music presentation by
Brazeal W. Dennard and the Brazeal Dennard Chorale
October 28, 2001, 4 p.m.




Poetry in Motion: The Social Dances of the Motor City Plus Motown Choreography and Broadside Poets
A lecture-demonstration by
Penny Godboldo, Marygrove College, and choreographer Cholly Atkins, with poetry by Ron Allen,

Al Ward, and Leslie Knight-Reese
November 5, 2001, 6 p.m.


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Before Motown: Jazz in Detroit 

A presentation by jazz historians Lars Bjorn, The University of Michigan Dearborn, and broadcaster and jazz expert Jim Gallert
February 24, 2002 7:30 p.m.


A City of Women: Detroit in the 1920's
A panel discussion with
JoEllen Vinyard, Eastern Michigan University; Victoria Wolcott, University of Rochester; and Jane Morris-Crowther, Madonna University

October 10, 2002, 7:30 p.m.


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Detroit Politics in the Sixties and Seventies: Tumultuous Past, Contested Legacy
A public lecture by historian
Heather Ann Thompson, University of Michigan  

February 13, 2003, 7:30 p.m.


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Detroit Trials and Tribulations: The Courtroom Art of Jerry Lemenu
Gallery exhibit and presentation
January 18, 2004, 1:30 p.m.


"Wrestling with the Muse"
A public reading and presentation by poet and Dudley Randall Biographer
Melba Joyce Boyd, Wayne State University
February 5, 2004, 7:30 p.m.


Urban Sprawl and Regional Justice
A panel discussion with
Jim Dulzo, the Michigan Land Use Institute;

Rev. Kevin Turman, Pastor, Second Baptist Church and President

of MOSES; and Douglas Kelbaugh, the University of Michigan
March 18, 2004, 7:30 p.m.


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Arc of Justice: The Sweet Case (1925-26) and the Course of Civil Rights
A lecture by historian
Kevin Boyle, The Ohio State University (now Northwestern University)
September 23, 2004, 7:30 p.m.



What Went Wrong with the Detroit Public Schools? What Can be Done to Fix Them?   

A lecture by educational historian Jeffery Mirel, University of Michigan
November 10, 2004, 7:30 p.m.


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"Connected Islands": An Evening with Detroit's Poet Laureate, Naomi Long Madgett

A public reading of new and selected poems

February 24, 2005, 7:30 p.m.


"So Many Selves": The Poetry of Lawrence Joseph, St. John’s University 

A public reading of new and selected poems
October 20, 2005, 7:30 p.m.


Detroit Factory Elegies: The Fiction of Lolita Hernandez

A public reading of recent short fiction

November 17, 2005, 7:30 p.m.


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Historic Preservation in Detroit: Aesthetics and Sustainability

Presentations and panel discussion featuring Royce A. Yeater, AIA, Midwest Regional Director, National Trust for Historic Preservation; Francis Grunow, Executive Director, Preservation Wayne; and James A. Turner, Michigan Advisor, National Trust for Historic Preservation
February 23, 2006, 7:30 p.m.


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“All Swirl and Hubbub”: Jeffrey Eugenides and Detroit
A reading by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex

October 29, 2006, 4:00 p.m.


“True vs. False Religion”: How Faith Mattered in Detroit’s Radical History
A lecture by historian
Angela D. Dillard, University of Michigan,
April 12, 2007, 7:30 p.m.



Stranded at the Corner: The Battle to Save Historic Tiger Stadium

A documentary film produced by Gary Glaser

January 17, 2008, 7:30 p.m.


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Black Bottom and Paradise Valley: The Forgotten Legacy 

A documentary film produced by Sharon Sexton
February 7, 2008, 7:30 p.m.


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Development, Planning and Race in Detroit: Past Struggles, Future Challenges
A public lecture by professor of urban and regional planning,

June Manning Thomas, University of Michigan
March 27, 2008, 7:30 p.m.


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Legacy in Bronze: The Sculpture of Sergio DeGuisti 

A documentary film produced by John Prusak and Kathryn Vander,

Digital Arts Film & Television (DAFT)
February 15, 2009, 2:00 p.m.


An Evening of Recent Detroit Fiction
A public reading by
Peter Markus, Susan Messer, and Michael Zadoorian
March 18, 2010, 7:00 p.m.




Brothers in Law: Ernie Goodman & George Crocket in Dark Times
A public lecture by historian and labor educator Steve Babson
March 20, 2011, 2:00 p.m. 


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Marketing the "Free Market": Public Policy and Racial Segregation in Metropolitan Detroit
A public lecture by historian
David M.P. Freund, University of Maryland, College Park
October 7, 2011, 7:00 p.m.


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Henry Ford and the Rise of Protest Politics in Black Detroit

public lecture by Beth Tompkins Bates, Wayne State University

October 17, 2012, 7:30 p.m.


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Out of Paradise Valley: The Poetry and Friendship of Robert Hayden

and Dudley Randall                        

A public presentation by Melba Joyce Boyd, Wayne State University and 

Frank D. Rashid, Marygrove College

October 10, 2013, 7:30 p.m.


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“We're Not Gonna' Leave, We're Gonna' Fight'': 

Interrogating the Housing Crisis in Detroit 

A public panel discussion with housing activist Jerry Cullors

attorney Robert Day; and attorney Ted Phillips, Executive Director, and

Mia Jones, Property Foreclosure Specialist, United Community Housing Coalition 

February 20, 2015, 7:30 p.m.


The Roots of Institutional Racism in 1920s and 1930s Detroit  

A public lecture by Karen R. Miller, LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York
October 21, 2015, 7:00 p.m. 


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Creative Vitality = Healthy Neighborhood?  

A panel discussion on the arts and urban life 

Rose E. DeSloover, Marygrove College; Dan Pitera, Detroit Collaborative Design Center, University of Detroit Mercy; Michael Stone-Richards, College for Creative Studies and Co-founder of Detroit Research; Jamii Tata, Director of Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition and Lead Organizer with Create Northeast Detroit

March 9, 2016, 7:00 p.m.


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Rowing Inland: An Evening with Jim Daniels, Carnegie Mellon University

A public reading of new and selected poems                                                      

February 24, 2017, 7:00 p.m.  


A Community Collecting: Art from Northwest Detroit         

A gallery exhibition featuring works of Felle, Asia Hamilton, Monica Brown, Chazz Miller, Darryl Smith, Megan White, and Donna Jackson                         March 10-April 15, 2019


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An Evening with Desiree Cooper                    

A public reading of recent fiction                                               March 20, 2019, 7:00 p.m.


Disruption in Detroit: Challenging the 1950s Prosperity Myth                           

A public lecture by Daniel J. Clark, Oakland University

May 14, 2019, 7:00 p.m.


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Restoring Homeownership in Detroit: Challenges and Solutions       

A panel presentation and discussion featuring Ted Phillips and

Kim Stroud of the United Community Housing Coalition and

Tonya Phillips of Michigan Legal Services                                 

November 21, 2019, 7:00 p.m.


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Conversations along a Postal Route                                             

A documentary film and discussion with producer Pam Sporn

January 16, 2020, 7 p.m.




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Detroit: 20  Minutes Apart

A performance by Common Chords: Rev. Robert Jones and Matt Watroba

February 20, 2020, 7 p.m.



Black Bottom Saints Who Promoted Health and Wellness and The Women of Black Bottom Saints

Two virtual presentations with novelist Alice Randall

in partnership with ASalon

February 27, 2022, 2:30 p.m.

March 27, 2022, 2:30 p.m.


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Updated February 2022

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