MARCH 20, 2015 | BY CHRISTINA STEUBE
The keynote address is set for 1:15 p.m. Friday (March 27) at the Lafayette County Courthouse. The Isom Student Gender Conference runs March 25-27.
Simon began his career as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun and turned his experience of shadowing the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide unit into his first nonfiction book, “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.” The book then led to the television series “Homicide: Life on the Streets.”
He is known more recently for the creation of the HBO series “The Wire,” a show that explores street life and government corruption. The critically acclaimed series has been described as “literary television.” He is also creator of HBO’s “Treme,” which explores the city of New Orleans beyond the tourism.
“In his creation of the television show ‘The Wire,’ Simon depicts a culture that usually gets only self-righteous buzzwords on the nightly news, a world populated by characters full of rage, buffeted by injustice, often exploding in frightening violence, but characters who were nevertheless brave, funny, resourceful and deeply invested in a code of conduct that was invisible to the mainstream but meaningful to members of the community,” said Jaime Harker, Isom Center interim director.
“‘The Wire’ insisted on the flawed yet glorious humanity of all its urban dwellers: drug dealers, crackheads, corrupt cops, sleazy politicians and snitches. Though much of its terminology continues to inform my own speech – ‘juking the stats,’ for example, remains a depressingly relevant concept no matter what one’s station of life – it is ‘The Wire’s’ embrace of people usually dismissed in pejoratives that still resonates.”
Theresa Starkey, the center’s assistant director and instructor of gender studies, contacted Simon in the summer of 2014 to invite him to the conference, which showcases students’ research at undergraduate and graduate levels.
“We told Mr. Simon we wanted to challenge our students creatively, intellectually and academically when it comes to thinking about complex issues such as space and place in our everyday lives and to encourage them to consider how race, gender, class and sexuality function as intersections in community life,” Starkey said. “Mr. Simon’s geographically and socially informed body of work as TV writer, producer and investigative journalist fit so well with our conference theme.”
This event is presented in partnership with the Oxford Conference for the Book.