A panel of three Lawrence University faculty members and a Sudanese student will lead a discussion of the award-winning documentary film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” Wednesday, Jan. 20 immediately following an 8 p.m. screening of the movie in the Warch Campus Center cinema. Both events are free and open to the public.
Claudena Skran, associate professor of government and Edwin and Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science, will moderate the discussion. Joining Skran on the panel will be Judith Sarnecki, professor of French, Alison Guenther Pal, post-doctoral fellow of German and film studies and sophomore Nidal Kram, who grew up in Sudan.
Produced by Abigail Disney, the film chronicles the inspirational story of the courageous women of Liberia, whose efforts played a critical role in bringing an end to a long and bloody civil war (1989-96) and restored peace to the country. The end of the war eventually led to the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Liberia’s president, the first democratically elected female head of state in Africa.
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” has collected more than 15 awards since its 2008 release, including the Best Documentary Award at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival and the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival.
Lawrence will recognize Disney with an honorary degree on Thursday, Jan. 28 in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Following the degree presentation, Disney will deliver the convocation “Peace is Loud.”
Lawrence University Associate Professor of French Judith Sarnecki was recently honored by Knox College as a distinguished graduate. Sarnecki was one of three recipients of Knox’s 2003 Alumni Achievement Award.
A member of the Lawrence faculty since 1985, Sarnecki graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Knox in 1966 with a bachelor of arts degree in French and psychology. She earned a master’s degree in teaching from Portland State University, a master’s degree in French from the University of Iowa and a doctorate in French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Sarnecki taught French at the junior and high school level for 17 years before joining the Lawrence French department, where her research interests focus on 20th-century French novels, plays and films.
In addition to teaching all levels of French language at Lawrence, Sarnecki is a member of the college’s gender studies department. She organized and founded Lawrence’s Francophone Seminar in Dakar, Senegal, and by working collaboratively with faculty and administration at Knox, made the program available to Knox students as well.
Her scholarly research has produced published articles on French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar and poet Aime Cesaire as well as on pedagogical topics.
Her most recent research interests include gender issues and the subject of tattoos with a focus on the history of women and tattoos, how tattoos function in literature and film and tattoos as a response to personal trauma. She has presented invited papers on her tattoo research at the International Narrative Conference at Dartmouth University and at two Midwest Modern Language Association meetings.