Fall series intended to guide attendees through election

“A Young Person’s Guide to the Fall Election” is the title of Maryville College’s Fall Community Conversations Series, which will bring several guests to campus for four separate events.

One seasoned political journalist, one documentary, three young alumni with experience in the political process and a satiric duo all will offer insights on the election.

“This series will present a discussion of politics that focuses on the American political process rather than a partisan back-and-forth on particular issues,” explained Dr. Will Phillips, associate professor of English and chairperson of the College’s Community Conversations Committee. “The role of money and advertising behind the scenes, the nuts and bolts of balloting on a local level, and the real experiences of Maryville College graduates in different parts of the political system will offer our community a different perspective on this election, and even to see that engagement in politics might be fun.”

Kicking off the presentations will be Brooks Jackson, the director of the Annenburg Political Fact Check. He will speak at 7 p.m., Sept. 9 in Fayerweather Hall’s Lawson Auditorium.

Jackson’s lecture at the College is entitled “Debunking the 2008 Presidential Election.” He hopes to discuss the inaccuracies and deceptions of the most recent presidential campaign and at the same time empower individuals to recognize political “bunk” and find reliable news.

For 34 years, Jackson has covered Washington and national politics as a journalist for the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and CNN. Winning many awards for his journalism and reporting, he has sought to “debunk” misleading political news and statements.

In 1988, Jackson published Honest Graft: Big Money and the American Political Process, and his book Broken Promise: Why the Federal Election Commission Failed hit the shelves in 1990. Last year, he coauthored, with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation.

The documentary “Election Day” will be screened at the College at 7 p.m., Sept. 23 in Lawson Auditorium.

The film documents U.S. democracy on a fascinating, personal level by following 11 different polling sites during the Nov. 2, 2004, election. Directed by Katy Chevigny, the film has been honored as the Official Selection of the 2007 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and the 2007 SXSW Film Festival, among others.

Three Maryville College alumni, Mark Libell, Christopher Hixon and Kevin Rowland, continue the “Guide to the Fall Election” series on Oct. 7 with a discussion panel, which will highlight their political insights.

Libell (MC Class of 2003) is the legislative assistant for Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN). Before working for Gordon, Libell served for several years with various other members of Congress. Hixon (also a 2003 graduate) works for the Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Rowland (MC Class of 1997) has run for office as a Libertarian and works for various Libertarian causes in East Tennessee.

Closing the series on Oct. 28 are Travis Harmon of Murfreesboro and Jonathan Shockley of Huntland, also known as “Jackie and Dunlap.” Their “Red State Update” presentation will be held at 7 p.m. in Bartlett Hall’s Isaac’s Café.

As “Jackie and Dunlap,” these two comedians form a duo of political satire, poking fun at all parts of the political process. “Red State Update” is intended to conclude the semester’s series on a lighter note.

Community Conversations is conducted to facilitate conversations and discussions between members of the entire Maryville College community, citizens of Blount County and surrounding areas, College alumni and prospective students.

All events are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Will Phillips, chairperson of the Community Conversations Committee and professor of English, at 865-981-8239 or will.phillips@maryvillecollege.edu.

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