Recapping the 2019 Clifford Symposium

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The ocean—what is it? Featuring distinguished speakers from all over the world, this year’s Clifford Symposium will address this crucial question through a set of lectures and screenings throughout the weekend. 

Thursday – 9/19

12:30-1:20PM: “The Ocean is a Controlled Hallucination” 

Professor Kendrick Krazee, who hails from the annals of the New York City subway system, arrives to Middlebury College to perform his interpretive movement sequence, detailing his provocative thesis. Combining aquatic symphony with audience participation, students can expect to both engage with and dissociate from our modern conception of what “under the sea” truly means. 

7PM: “Reflections of an Ocean Plastics Scientist” 

Dr. Carmella Koontz, renowned ocean plastic sturgeon, will take students on an interactive, interdisciplinary journey through the experience of giving breast augmentations to the local fish populations of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Her unique mission can be summarized with the following quote from her website: “The reef is dying because the fish aren’t aroused enough to reproduce, and studies show that if lady fish have bigger tits, they will attract more mates, thus reinvigorating the health of the ecosystem as a whole.”

Friday – 9/20

12:30PM: “Deep Throat: Inside the Watergate Scandal’s Hydropolitical Landscape”

Students and political scientists alike will be surprised to learn of Richard Nixon’s sordid history with the ocean and its influence on his tumultuous presidency in this new documentary. According to the film’s director, Joao Ricky-Velasquez, Nixon was in a decades-long correspondence with a deep water-residing humanoid known in popular culture as “Deep Throat,” who later would serve as an informant to the famous Washington Post investigation that would take down the presidency. Snacks will be provided, and the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ricky-Velasquez himself. 

7PM: “Invisible Labor: Meet the Men and Women that Are Melting Glaciers in Antarctica”

This panel discussion features five glacer melters that have been contracted by ExxonMobil to diligently chip away at the pesky glaciers that are taking up space in our stupid oceans. Using just their stale breath, these men and women have managed to increase the sea level by six inches. Students can ask the undervalued and overworked team themselves just how they did it and how they will continue to drain the world of all its cold, and how they’re brave enough to take practical steps towards abolishing ice. 

8PM: “The Turtle: The Use of Shield Shells in Ancient Roman Tactical Warfare”

This interactive presentation with Classics Professor Dr. Nero McOhannigan will get students on their feet to practice the ancient Roman military tactic known as “The Turtle”. Together students will lock shields with one another and walk in step formation to the nearest town where they can colonize their forest and count it towards Middlebury’s carbon-neutrality. 

Saturday – 9/21

9:30AM: “Keynote Address: Octopus”

This octopus has a lot to say, but we are not sure what it will say exactly, or in what language. Students should arrive to McCardell Bicentennial Hall with open hearts and ABSOLUTELY NO RED-COLORED CLOTHING to experience this volatile yet passionate speaker discuss their lived experience as an octopus in rural Vermont. Octopi have historically been denied a platform, and at Middlebury College, we are excited to be the forefront of controversial, meaningful conversation. 

Students are reminded that the use of appropriative language such as Whale Sounds will not be tolerated.

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