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INTO THE MYSTIC: USAO to host festival celebrating mysteries and mysticism

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USAO's forum "Mysteries & Mysticism," at the Festival of Arts & Ideas, will address the Beatles album covers mysteries and more.
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CHICKASHA, Okla. — Dr. Quan Tran has had a love of mysteries ever since he was a kid. A mathematician by trade, he admits he was a “curious child” that always enjoyed logic puzzles and riddles, as well as binging on episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. So, when he joined the staff of the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and they asked him to head up the annual Festival of Arts and Ideas—with this year’s theme being “Mysteries and Mysticism”—he jumped at the chance.

“I’ve always wanted to know about new things and unknown things; the topic intrigues me to no end and it aligns with what I’m about, which is interdisciplinary thinking,” Dr. Tran said. “I just grew up loving all subjects; I teach math, but I love art, history, science…I felt that it meshed well with what I was about so I was onboard. I love anything that inspires curiosity and makes people ask “what’s this all about?”

The 13th Annual Festival of Arts and Ideas is a free one-night- only event that will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18th in the USAO Ballroom, 1727 W. Alabama Ave in Chickasha. A unique interdisciplinary conference featuring performances, lectures, discussions and exhibits that “reflect and exemplify the liberal arts mission of the university,” the goal of the festival is to “celebrate the distinctive learning environment at USAO by presenting scholarly and creative work from the faculty, students, staff and alumni.”

“This year’s festival features such a broad range of presentations that everyone will find something that interests them,” Dr. Tran said. “This event helps enrich the cultural landscape of our campus and community, increasing the quality of student life, involving audiences in a delightful education experience, and drawing inspiration throughout history and across broad cultural and physical geographies.”

Presentations will include Layne Thrift, associate professor of art, breaking down various Beatles myths and legends via so-called hidden clues in their album covers, while professor of history Dr. Kevin Crow will focus on how an official understanding of magic developed in the Roman World and continued until their fall.

To close the event, Dr. Jeannette Loutsch, Dr. Rachel Jones and Dr. Leah Oxenford will present “Unravelling the Mystery and Mysticism of Naturopathy and Medicine,” a presentation based around the debate on herbal remedies, using scientific evidence for and against.

“People will be surprised to see just how these things play and work together to create a role in our society,” Dr. Tran added. “Mysteries and Mysticism is a fun topic that everyone loves and still thinks about. It’s a topic that comes from our natural curiosity and our knowledge that there’s still so much more about this world that there’s left to learn about.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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