HomeSymposium ~ October 12, 2016

Symposium ~ October 12, 2016

Robert E. Cormier Symposium: An Interdisciplinary Forum on Hate, Bullying, and Terrorism

The October 12, 2016 symposium celebrates the release of the digital archive exhibit and will include three panel discussions focused on the broader topics of violence each featured novel represents: gang violence and peer pressure in We All Fall Down, extremist terrorism in After the First Death, and bullying and abuse in Tunes for Bears to Dance To respectively. Panelists come from a wide range of disciplines so as to open interdisciplinary conversations on the important topics of bullying, terrorism, intimidation, suffering, choice, healing, and empathy.

In addition to our theme-based panels, the program features keynote speaker, Elizabeth Englander, founder and Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University and Professor of Psychology. Finally, a student-led discussion on Robert Cormier’s Tunes for Bear to Dance To and R. J. Palacio’s Wonder.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #rcormiersympo and on Instagram at @rcormiersympo. Full program as PDF is available here.


Featured Speakers and Panelists:

KEYNOTE: Elizabeth Englander

"The Extraordinary Damage of Ordinary Violence" (11:15 EST/10:15 CST)

This address will review the impact of the dramatization of extreme physical violence on how we perceive more typical violence that occurs.  Is psychological violence just as traumatic?  Are digital forms of violence impactful in the same way?  What are the characteristics of digital and "real life" violence between children and teens that lead to extreme outcomes, such as homicide, suicide, depression, and other serious problems?

Abuse, Bullying, and Cultures of Violence (12:20 EST/11:20 CST)

Panelists present perspectives on abuse, bullying, and race/hate crime from a range of disciplines. Victim and perpetrator relationships and identity politics of both roles ground this panel. Panelists will address a number of topics and issues; including – (Laura Garofoli) the unintentional bullying of children with food allergies and other dietary restrictions as perpetrated by educational institutions, (Philip McCormack) racial disparities and biases in the criminal justice system as it relates to domestic violence, and (Sindie Kennedy) rape culture and cyberbullying.

  • Laura Garofoli
  • Philip McCormack
  • Sindie Kennedy

Pressures of a Group: Gang Violence, Discrimination, and Harassment (1:10 EST/ 12:10 CST)

Panelists share insights on gang violence, peer pressure, and intimidation from a range of disciplines. A foundational concept to this panel is the conflict between group and individual identity. Panelists will address a number of topics and issues; including – (Marcel Beausoleil) theories as to why youths join gangs and the police community response, (Frank Dykes) differences that incite discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and disability issues in schools, and (Heather Urbanski) the complexities of online abuse and harassment via social media in communities.

  • Marcel Beausoleil
  • Frank Dykes
  • Heather Urbanski

Student-led discussion on Tunes for Bears to Dance To and Wonder (2:00 EST/1:00CST)

This student-led panel discussion will address conference themes including control, loss, cruelty, hate, bullying, and abuse through the lens of two related novels – Robert Cormier’s Tunes for Bear to Dance To and R. J. Palacio’s Wonder.  In conjunction with these readings, students will review, discuss, and share primary source materials discovered in the Cormier archives.  Synthesizing the texts from both academic and pedagogic perspectives, the students will engage in a round-table conversation reflecting on their experiences as readers, researchers, writers, and future teachers.

  • Kaitlyn Banks
  • Corey Hennessey
  • Courtney Jensen
  • Kristina Osborne
  • Kylie Seymour
  • Nicole Sylvester
  • Kaylee Sylvestre
  • Anaida Ovalles

Understanding Extremism: Terrorism, Intimidation, and Hate (2:35 EST/1:35 CST)

Panelists discuss terrorism and extremism from a range of disciplines. Core to this panel is the role of perspective and space in defining a terrorist and the dangers and benefits possible from extremism. In their presentation and discussion, panelists address a number of topics and issues including – (Eric Budd) global terrorism in the 21st century, (Sue Rosa) aggression and intimidation in the classroom environment, (Rob Carr) our paradigmatic conception of the terrorist-victim relationship, then and now, and (Joseph Moser) mid-century American films representing race and hate.

  • Eric Budd
  • Robert Carr
  • Joseph Moser
  • Susan Rosa

Remote Attendance at the Symposium:

The Robert R. Muntz Library at The University of Texas at Tyler will be hosting a real-time virtual viewing of the symposium. Remote attendance is free but only a limited number of seats are available and prefer will be given to classrooms or groups. Seats can be reserved by contacting Prof. Anna Consalvo at