FARMINGTON — Once again, the University of Maine at Farmington will be bringing a selection of engaging events on extraordinary topics to kick off the 2021 New Commons season.

The UMF New Commons program provides a rich offering of free events including expert talks, discussions, films and more, many online, for the education and enjoyment of people in Maine and beyond. Nominated by individuals throughout Maine, the selection of New Commons works have the common thread of representing many of the principles and cultural values that inspire and fascinate Maine residents.

The first topic will feature George Orwell’s classic science fiction novel, “1984.” Published in 1949, it is still considered a must-read and in 2019 was listed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as one of the “100 most influential novels.”

The story is set in an imagined dystopian world, where war, government surveillance and propaganda are commonplace. Big Brother, the leader of the ruling party, and the superstate they control employ the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking. Orwell’s novel examines the role of truth and facts within politics and the ways in which they are manipulated.

The UMF New Commons events featuring George Orwell’s “1984” will run between Feb. 3 and Feb. 6:

“Nobody is Always Watching You: From Big Brother to Big Data”

Online Video Keynote by Eryk Salvaggio 

George Orwell’s novel 1984 imagined a future where language was severely constrained and all technology was oriented to state surveillance. In this recorded online discussion, Orwell’s book is used to explore historic relationships between truth, surveillance and artificial intelligence technology today.  Artist, researcher and writer, Salvaggio’s work focuses on insights that emerge at the intersections of science, art, research and technology. His work has been covered in The New York Times and NBC News and has been exhibited at Brown University’s 9/11+1, CalArts International Fluxus Group Show, and the University of Maine’s Code + Creativity 2.0. 

Prerecorded video available between Wednesday, Feb. 3 and Wednesday, Feb. 10 at http://www.vimeo.com/newcommonsproject.

Online Live Discussion of 1984 Eryk Salvaggio

Join Eryk Salvaggio for a live online discussion of George Orwell’s 1984 and modern surveillance technology hosted on Zoom by the New Commons Project. Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m. (open to public at http://http://maine.zoom.us/j/82502683737)

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


To learn more about the New Commons Project, and to view many of the events for the first 12 topics, visit the website at https://newcommonsproject.org/.