Dr. Kanykei Kalieva will be at St. Bonaventure University for two days in April to discuss how poetry and music have impacted female identity in her home country of Kyrgyzstan as part of this year’s Women’s History Month celebration.
Kalieva is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and a senior lecturer in English language and literature at Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian country located to the west of China and south of Kazakhstan with a rich nomadic history. From 1936 to 1991, the country was a Soviet republic, achieving independence with the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
Kalieva’s will present St. Bonaventure’s 2015 Mary Devereux Lecture, titled “How Poetry and Music Impact Female Identity in the Post-Soviet Kyrgyz Republic,” from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, in the William F. Walsh Science Center Auditorium. This lecture will explore the importance of poetry and music to the Kyrgyz people and the ways in which it gives insight to the changes in the role of women in Kyrgyz society over time.
The identity of the modern Kyrgyz woman, Kalieva says, is linked to three historical periods: before, during, and after Soviet rule. Even in the pre-Soviet era, when women were illiterate and treated as personal property, they developed rich oral poetry and folk music that captured the philosophy of a nomadic nation. The rise of the Soviet Union saw women becoming literate and beginning to publish their poetry. After the end of the Soviet era, Kyrgyzstan saw its first female president, Roza Otunbayeva (2010-2011), elevating the status of Kyrgyz women and bringing more attention to such issues as domestic violence, forced marriages, and employment discrimination.
Her lecture will also touch on the works of Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov, the most celebrated representative of Kyrgyz national identity. A major theme in Aitmatov’s stories concerns inequality among male and female members of traditional Central Asian society. Aitmatov’s works have been translated into more than 170 languages and, according to UNESCO, he is among the world’s most-read contemporary authors.
Kalieva will be a guest lecturer in several classes April 9 and 10, and meet with students in the women’s studies program.
She will also present at the April 10 Friday Forum for faculty and staff. The 11:30 a.m. program, “Kyrgyz Culture Through the Eyes of Women Poets,” will be held in the University Club.
“As we continue celebrating Women’s History Month at St. Bonaventure University and honor women around the world, Dr. Kalieva will bring a new cross-cultural and feminist perspective in promoting the status of female identity through the arts in today’s Kyrgyzstan society,” said Dr. Alva Cellini, director of the women’s studies program at St. Bonaventure.
“We are very fortunate to have a scholar like Dr. Kalieva at our campus honoring women and sharing her scholarship with us. Her lectures will highlight women’s issues, culture and traditions interlaced in language, poetry and music with the hope to inspire new generations of women to have an active role in modern society.”
Kalieva’s research interests range from literature and literary theory to American studies, cross-cultural communication and conflict management, gender studies, and folklore. She has written and presented extensively on both Kyrgyz and English literature, focusing often on the women’s poetry of both cultures and on the changes Kyrgyz poetry undergoes when translated to English. She is deeply interested in the ways in which a country’s culture shapes the art and expression of its women.
Joining Kalieva on her visit to St. Bonaventure will be her daughter, Lira Janbolot Kyzy. A medical student, model and pianist, Kyzy will perform a piano recital at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 9, in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on campus. The program is free and open to the public.
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