Gray Matter Series looks at UB’s political activism,
scholarly innovations in the 1970s
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo Humanities
Institute will begin its third annual Gray Matter Series on May 2
with “The Humanities on Main Street,” a retrospective
on UB’s energetic campus life in the 1970s.
This event will take place at 6:30 p.m. in UB’s Anderson
Galley, One Martha Jackson Place, off Englewood Avenue between
Kenmore Avenue and Main Street, Buffalo.
It is free and open to the public.
The Gray Matter events are intended to familiarize the Buffalo
community with humanities’ scholarship, research and
The evening will feature discussions, demonstrations and
presentations that illustrate the political action and avant-garde
art, music, writing and intellectual innovation that marked UB in
the 1970s and had a long lasting impact on the campus and the
In addition to illuminating UB’s exceptional academic star
power at the time, presentations will focus on the synergy between
the South Campus Buffalo cultural institutions—established
ones like the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Albright-Knox
Art Gallery—as well as independent, forward-looking newcomers
like Artpark, Hallwalls and the CEPA Gallery.
Scheduled presentations and discussions that evening will
6:30 p.m. Panel discussion featuring three
speakers familiar with UB during that era—Mark Shechner,
emeritus professor of English, who will speak to the local poetry
scene that produced—among other things—the
“little magazines” of the ‘70s and a healthy
serving of experimental literature; Mike Frisch, professor and
senior research scholar in American studies, who will discuss the
campus politics of the time and Renee Levine, managing director of
the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at UB from 1965
to1978, and author of “This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New
Music in Buffalo,” who will address the UB Department of
Music and its avant-garde legacy.
8:15 p.m. Break-out sessions (visitors are invited
to participate) — with Levine and Michael Basinski, curator
of the UB Poetry and Rare Books Collection, who will present and
discuss a sample of the “little magazines” that Buffalo
writers produced in the seventies, many of which are held in the
Poetry Collection’s 9,000-title Little Magazine Collection,
which comprises publications dating from the mid-19th century.
Also available will be audio and visual selections representing
- An exhibition of slide images of the UB campus during
the 1970s, taken from personal and university collections
- Audio selections featuring the pioneering work of
composer Terry Riley, a former creative associate of the UB Center
for Creative and Performing Arts, and the late UB professor and
distinguished composer Morton Feldman. Both were pioneers of
minimalist music whose work continues to have an important impact
on that field.
- Recordings of songs specific to UB’s spring 1970
campus protests, including “Hayes Hall Blues” by
Vizzy Goth and the Vicious Vandals is available at: http://catalog.lib.buffalo.edu/vufind/Record/002348418.
The song, by the late UB ethnomusicologist Charlie Keil (Vandal)
and UB historian Michael Frisch (Vizzy), are among those that
documented the infamous “UB riots” that rocked the
campus early that year. The uproar, which was sparked by student
activism related to the Vietnam War, as well as the debate over
open admissions and Defense Department research at UB, was marked
by strikes, violence, tear gas, a pig roasting, injuries among
students and police and the arrest of 45 protesting UB faculty