Creative Matters Lecture Series

The Creative Matters lecture series seeks to demonstrate that creativity is not only at the core of all research and discovery, but also central to our human experience. The exciting lineup of invited speakers includes artists, thinkers, builders, and doers who challenge conventional thinking about creativity, science, and artistic expression, and borrow from a range of influences and disciplines in their work.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

Nicole Hodges Persley

Nicole Hodges Persley, actor and director


Thursday, September 30, 2021
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDT


“Limitless Fun: Cultivating World Changing Creativity”

This interactive talk will explore how acts of fun and play can be read as radical acts of empathy that can inspire communities of care in scholarly, artistic, and workplace environments.  Dr. Hodges Persley will discuss how we can cultivate fun and play as ciphers of creativity that help us improvise, refine, and perform strategies of resistance that protect limitless environments of fun.

This talk seeks to inspire us to use acts of fun and play as curated modes of being that help us think critically about how we can address structures of power and inequity as roadblocks to social change.

Nicole Hodges Persley is an Associate Professor of African American Theater and performance in the Department of American Studies and African and African American Studies at The University of Kansas. An artist-scholar, Hodges Persley creates intentional bridges between the entertainment industry and academia. She is the Artistic Director of the KC Melting Pot Theatre, the premier African American theater company in Kansas City.

Thomas DeFrantz

Thomas DeFrantz, scholar


Friday, October 22, 2021
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM CDT
Virtual Event


“Dancing Toward the World, We Must”

This talk will explore how dance crafts unexpected worlds of embodied fabulation, make-believe, and physical imagination to allow us to know something else about the worlds we share. Why does dance persevere?  What sorts of insights does dance offer in our age of reckoning with social justice?  Examples of African American dance practices that imagine a world we must move towards; one that allows us to emerge alongside one another. Thomas F. DeFrantz  specializes in African diaspora aesthetics, dance historiography, and the intersections of dance and technology.

DeFrantz received the 2017 Outstanding Research in Dance award from the Dance Studies Association. DeFrantz acted as a consultant for the Smithsonian Museum of African American Life and Culture, contributing concept and a voice-over for a permanent installation on Black Social Dance that opened with the museum in 2016. DeFrantz directs SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology, a group that explores emerging technology in live performance applications, and believes in our shared capacity to do better and engage creative spirit for a collective good that is anti-racist, proto-feminist, and queer affirming.