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The Syllabus: The academic year is mostly online, and so are the campus speakers
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The Syllabus: The academic year is mostly online, and so are the campus speakers

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(I've updated this blog post below.)

A long-standing tradition here at The Syllabus was the publication of a couple of monthly roundups of upcoming speakers at area college campuses. I suppose I could just leave those notices in the good hands of the editorial assistant who compiles the N&R's calendar listings. But colleges and universities supply a good deal of the intellectual life of the communities around these parts, and those blog posts were a way to remind y'all of that fact.

But like much of higher ed these days, COVID-19 has done a number on lectures, films, panel discussions and other such events. The spring slate was wiped clean when colleges and universities shut down campus and hustled their students back home. I had low hopes for the fall semester because much of it would be virtual.

But speakers, like students, have returned for the fall semester. There aren't enough upcoming events to justify a monthly roundup like I did back in the pre-pandemic days. But I've knocked out a few here's-who-speaking briefs over the past month or so that I figure it might be nice to have it all in one place.

Let's get to it:

Thursday: The Guilford College Bryan Series starts its 2020-21 season virtually with political pollster and Guilford grad Harrison Hickman (7:30 p.m.; click here for season ticket info). The next two Bryan Series events will be held virtually: scholar and author Dr. Peniel Joseph (Oct. 20) and CNN political analyst John Avlon and "Firing Line" host Margaret Hoover (Nov. 12). Five in-person events are scheduled for the Tanger Center in downtown Greensboro in 2021: political scientist Ian Bremmer (Jan. 14), actress Sally Field (Feb. 2), conservation photographer Paul Nicklen (Feb. 16), former British prime minster Theresa May (March 18) and author Colson Whitehead (April 12).

Sept. 21: The next event on Elon University's fall cultural calendar is a lecture by historian and author ("How to be an Antiracist") Ibram X. Kendi (7:30 p.m.; watch it live here). Other upcoming events are a talk by historian Douglas Brinkley (Sept. 29) and a reading by poet Nikki Giovanni* (Oct. 21).

Sept. 23: The Chancellor's Speaker Series at N.C. A&T will bring actress, podcaster, comedian and media personality Amanda Seales to your computer. Seales — host of NBC’s comedy competition series, “Bring the Funny”— will talk online starting at 6 p.m. Seales also stars in HBO's "Insecure" and published a book ("Small Doses," which is also the name of her podcast) a year ago. A&T alum Kelly Mayfield, a senior sales exec at music streaming service Pandora, will moderate. Tickets are free; register at

Sept. 24: The Anna Julia Cooper Center, formerly affiliated with Wake Forest University, is back up and running and back in the speaker game. The center kicks off a five-event virtual fall lecture series entitled "Disaster, Race and American Politics" at 6 p.m. Sept. 24. The first two speakers are Jonathan Metzl, the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University; and Melissa Harris-Perry, the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair and Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest and the AJC Center's founder and president. The event is free; click here to register. And click here for dates and details for the other four fall events.

Oct. 20: Wake Forest University kicks off its new Face to Face Speaker Forum with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnists Peggy Noonan and Eugene Robinson virtually at 7:30 p.m. The event is free for Wake Forest students and employees. It's also free for faculty and students at other colleges and universities in the Winston-Salem area. For everyone else, it's $10. Click here to register, and click here to buy tickets. The rest of the lineup: journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell (Jan. 26), former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell (March 18) and cellist Yo-Yo Ma (May 1).

Fall 2021: The 2020-21 UNCG Concert and Lecture Series season has moved to the following academic year. Actress Geena Davis (Aug. 28, 2021) and author Margaret Atwood (Sept. 24, 2021) will lead things off. Click here for the rest of the 2021-22 schedule.

Update, 10:30 a.m. Wednesday: Elon says it moved the Nikki Giovanni date to Oct. 21. Her reading will start at 7:30 p.m.

Staff writer John Newsom covers higher education for the News & Record of Greensboro and the Winston-Salem Journal.

Have something to say about this blog post? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter at @JohnNewsomNR.

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