Arts Unplugged

Poster for Nabokov, Naturally event

The College of Arts & Sciences’ Arts Unplugged series brings research and creative works into the public sphere for discussion and inspiration. These outreach events invite a broad audience to explore the work of scholars and faculty from all disciplines, all backgrounds and all time periods and to celebrate the impact that work continues to have on our daily lives.

Nabokov, Naturally

Butterfly specimens in the Cornell entomology collection

Nabokov, Naturally: An exploration of Vladimir Nabokov as writer and “butterfly man”

Friday, March 15, 2024, 1-4 p.m.

Mann Library

Vladimir Nabokov's legacy at Cornell is not limited to the world-famous literary works he produced here. The university's natural and built environments also provided powerful material for his lifelong pursuit of butterflies within their geo- and biodiverse ecosystems.

Our one-day event will offer hands-on ways to discover Nabokov through his butterfly collection, his writing and other relics of his time at Cornell contained in the university’s Rare and Manuscript Collection and the Cornell University Insect Collection. We’ll discuss his scientific, literary and artistic pursuits.

This event is a collaboration between the College of Arts & Sciences (A&S), the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences the Environment and Sustainability Program, the Cornell University Insect Collection, the Cornell University Library Rare and Manuscript Collection, Mann Library and the Department of Comparative Literature.

During the event, you can:

  • Take a close look at Nabokov’s butterfly collection;
  • Watch a video exploring the many ways that Nabokov’s legacy is alive today, both on campus and throughout the country, through such policies as the Endangered Species Act;
  • Visit a new Mann Library exhibit on Nabokov;
  • Discover new information about Nabokov the professor, uncovered by Cornell students involved in the “Nabokov, Naturally” class;
  • See Nabokov manuscripts and poems;
  • Talk with faculty, students and Nabokov experts from across the country;
  • Stretch your creative wings by contributing to a giant multimedia art piece. Create your own butterfly with the help of entomologist/artist Annika Salzberg using both traditional and non-traditional materials.
  • Visit a new exhibit in the Mann Lobby, No Mere Curios, featuring images from historical butterfly books from Mann Library’s special collections, which were also part of Nabokov's childhood library.


  • 1-2 p.m.: Student Project Exhibit and bio-art workshop in CALS Zone next to Mann Library entrance
  • 2-3:30 p.m.: Panel, discussion, and public dialogue in Mann 102
  • 1-4 p.m.: Book sale and signing in Mann Lobby/ CALS Zone
  • All day: Mann Library 2nd floor exhibit, “From Nabokov’s Net,”  and lobby exhibit, "The Lepidopterist's Library," open for viewing
  • All day: eCornell film "Nabokov, Naturally" showing in CALS Zone

News about Arts Unplugged

Past Events

Past Events

Laurie Anderson

Building an Ark: A Conversation with Pioneering Artist Laurie Anderson on Innovation and Storytelling

The College of Arts & Sciences was thrilled to host multimedia artist Laurie Anderson for our fall Arts Unplugged event, which brings research and creative works into the public sphere for discussion and inspiration.

Our Sept. 26 event featured a conversation between Anderson and Music Professor Judith Peraino. The pair explored the arc of Anderson's creative career, discussed the intersection of technological and artistic innovation, and offered some glimpses into Anderson’s next project.

Click here to view the event recording.

Poster for "From the Big Red to the Red Carpet" event

From the Big Red to the Red Carpet: A two-day visit with alumni filmmakers Scott Ferguson ‘82 and Michael Kantor ‘83

Cornell alums Scott Ferguson and Michael Kantor reflected on their award-winning careers in film and television production. The pair — Cornell classmates — discussed their parallel paths in narrative and documentary filmmaking from their student days at Cornell to their current roles as executive producers of HBO’s “Succession” and the PBS series “American Masters,” respectively. 

Read more about From the Big Red to the Red Carpet here

Arts Unplugged, Aftershocks, geopolitics since the Ukraine invasion, image of world with warplanes and ripples

Aftershocks: Geopolitics Since the Ukraine Invasion 

Watch the event recording!

As the war in Ukraine raged on, we hosted a panel of leading journalists and scholars covering Russia, Europe, China and the global political landscape, who discussed how international relations, security, trade and economics are shifting in ways not seen since World War II.

Read more about Aftershocks here.

Arts Unplugged: Science of the Very, Very Small

Science of the Very, Very Small 

Watch the event recording! 

The “science of the very, very small” offered possible solutions for everything from the energy crisis to disease. Ideas that once existed only in science fiction are becoming reality and Cornell scientists are leading the way in nanoscale and quantum materials research. In this virtual Arts Unplugged, we explored some of these exciting innovations – and their ramifications for human society. 

Read more about Science of the Very, Very Small here

Arts Unplugged: Policy, Politics & Ethics of the Coming AI Revolution

Policy, Politics and Ethics of the Coming AI Revolution

Watch the event recording!

This interactive discussion with leading experts focused on the enormous changes and considerations of how we can enact policy that supports democracy and an ethical society as AI technology continues to expand

Wynton Marsalis holding a trumpet

An Evening with A.D. White Professor at Large Wynton Marsalis and the Cornell Wind Symphony

Cornell welcomed Pulitzer and Grammy-winning artist Wynton Marsalis as A.D. White Professor-at-Large for a concert with the Cornell Wind Symphony on Nov. 6, 2021.  The concert at Bailey Hall was conducted by Barbara & Richard T. Silver '50, MD '53 Assistant Professor of Music James Spinazzola, along with Marsalis and his rhythm section. They performed a wide-ranging program including ragtime, blues, and jazz. Marsalis also offered a talk, "The University’s Place in Promoting American Democracy in the Disciplines."

Read more about Marsalis's visit here

Cornell According to Sound event poster

Cornell According to Sound

Our third event in the series featured a sonic look at campus, brought to us by Chris Hoff ’02 and Sam Harnett, creators of The World According to Sound. The duo spent the fall semester finding and recording sounds across the university – from fish and frogs, to Latin speakers and dirt. Along with four performances at the Schwartz Center, listeners were able to visit five pop-up listening stations across campus to help them become more aware about the role and impact of sound in their lives.

Read more about Cornell According to Sound

Illustration of Toni Morrison

Cornell Celebrates Toni Morrison

The College hosted a yearlong series honoring our beloved alumna and literary icon on the 50th anniversary of her first book, "The Bluest Eye." Events included a “Toni Morrison at 90” colloquium to honor Morrison’s 90th birthday, a reading of “The Bluest Eye,” which included authors Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tayari Jones and Edwidge Danticat, activist Angela Davis, poets Sonia Sanchez and Kevin Young, as well as U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Other events virtual screening of “The Pieces I Am,” a documentary of Morrison’s life at Ithaca’s Cinemapolis theatre, an exhibit at Cornell University Libraries and a quilting project.

Read more about Cornell Celebrates Toni Morrison

Poster for N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

Words from a Bear

Cornell’s newest film professor, Jeff Palmer, shared advice for creating a Sundance documentary and screened his latest feature film during our second Arts Unplugged event at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. “Words from a Bear,” Palmer’s first feature film, explores the creative works of N. Scott Momaday. Our event also included a talk by Gus Palmer, professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, and one of the narrators of the film.

Read more about Words from a Bear

Poster for 'Odyssey in Ithaca' event

Odyssey in Ithaca

From tales of sinking ships to murderous fights to bedroom shenanigans, a cast of 75 readers told the story of Homer’s “Odyssey” during a daylong event in Klarman Hall, our inaugural Arts Unplugged event. The reading, spearheaded by Athena Kirk, assistant professor of classics, featured speakers from the community and local colleges, state and local representatives, as well as special audio segments from Annie Lewandowski, senior lecturer in music.

Read more about The Odyssey in Ithaca