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Does Anybody Else Out There in the ‘Blogosphere’ Feel Uneasy After Reading These Two Quotes from The New York Times About Books and Reading? – By Neil Baldwin

Some start-ups choose an ambitious approach to the notion that books require too much time to read. Working in collaboration with an author, editors at the New York start-up Citia take a nonfiction book and reorganize its ideas onto “digital cards” that can be read on different devices and sent through social networks…”The ability to commit 10 or 15 hours to a book is going to be an increasingly fraught decision,” said Peter Meyers, author of Breaking the Page and Citia’s VP for editorial and content innovation, “so we need ways to liberate the ideas trapped inside them.” — “Out of Print, Maybe, but Not Out of Mind.” The New York Times, 12/1/13.

Technology is starting to give authors data that is more precise and thus potentially more helpful: “If you write as a business, you have to sell books,” said Quinn Loftis, a successful self-published writer for teenagers. “To do that, you have to cater to the market. I don’t want to write a novel because I want to write it. I want to write it because people will enjoy it.”    – “Tailoring Their Books to Readers.” The New York Times, 1/6/14.

As followers of The Creative Research Center know, we are all about giving over this platform to colleagues in academia and the arts here at Montclair State University and around the world, students, like-minded friends. I  have not “blogged” as much as I thought I would when I launched this site nearly four years ago because I’ve so enjoyed soliciting and publishing the ideas of others.

That said, as a lifelong biographer and nonfiction author [www.neilbaldwinbooks.com and on Facebook at Neil Baldwin Books] I woke up this morning with the intense need to post these two brief excerpts that I clipped from The New York Times in the past six weeks.

One inner voice is saying: “Get with the program, NB. All media have changed and will continue to change — and to atomize. Stop clinging to your old literary ethos. As long as people keep reading, what difference does it make how, why, or when?”

Then the other contrarian readerly voice says in response to Mr. Meyers:  ”But isn’t part of the joy of reading to enter into a sustained world where you are not so much ‘forced’ as induced to slow down and avert distraction, to pick up a narrative because it is continuous, to follow a story made up of words set down in a certain order for thousands of certain reasons?”

Further, the stubborn authorial voice says to Mr. Loftis: “Certainly I want my books to sell! However, if that were the leading edge of my motivation, I know myself well enough to realize that the writing will suffer. I have learned the hard way (there is no other way) that when I let my voice come forth in a structure and form that are constructed over a span of months and years the result is a book I can stand by and that stands for me.”

Like I said…it took me awhile to decide to add to the multitude of discourse flying around the Web about the matter of — or the matter with — literacy in our fragmented world.

What do you think? Where do we go from here — as writers and readers?

Please let me and others know — click on the response icon at the top of the page.

 

The “selfie” – an aesthetic of realism – by Hugh Curnutt

THE Oxford Dictionary recently named selfie, the practice of taking and distributing a self-authored photograph of oneself using a smartphone, its word of the year for 2013. Invariably, the commentary that typically accompanies such a proclamation has bubbled up in order to assess, and in some cases decry, yet another media phenomenon brought about by a purportedly narcissistic culture awash with front-facing camera phones and obsessed with celebrity and self-promotion.

 

Fans of Kim Kardashian surround the reality celebrity as they shoot selfies of themselves and the star.

AP Photo / Mal Fairclough
Fans of Kim Kardashian surround the reality celebrity as they shoot selfies of themselves and the star.

 

Although I am sure some of this commentary has its merits, I think far too often public discourse about social media, and digital culture more broadly, is inclined to focus on the novelty of new forms of communication instead of considering the extent to which these innovations are actually a continuation of already existing media practices.

Which is to say, from my point of view, it is worth thinking about how something like selfies actually functions to reinforce as well as disrupt the norms associated with self-authored media content.

At its most elemental, taking selfies is photographing oneself in order to share those images with other people. This inclination, of course, is not new. From a psychoanalytic perspective, for instance, one could argue that such an activity is just another manifestation of an enduring propensity to represent what we imagine our identity to be to others.

At the same time, selfies embody a form of representation that is, like so much social media, increasingly abundant and highly dependent on immediacy. For example, many of us share images throughout the day using handy mobile devices in order to capture a happening, however banal, in real time (I am quite fond of texting photos of food).

In this scenario, the value associated with something like selfies not only comes from immediacy, it is also derived from the way that selfies use the author’s face to code an image with a personalized and, therefore, intimate quality.

Authenticity

From the perspective of media studies scholars such as myself, this intimacy is one of the most interesting aspects of a phenomenon like selfies because it connects the practice to a more pervasive interest in media that uses amateur performers — whether they are on reality TV, YouTube or webcams — to affect an aesthetic of realism and authenticity.

Thought about in this context, the contours defining our media landscape are reflected in the various ways in which selfies are now coming to exist in our daily lives. As already mentioned, selfies are very similar to other kinds of social media practices that encourage us to curate and regularly tend to online personas.

They are also another instance in which ubiquitous digital technology provides a seemingly egalitarian form of self-promotion. Because so many of us have smartphones and accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we all have the ability to publicize ourselves.

Paying attention

The question to be asked, then, is who — besides the NSA and Google, of course — is really paying attention? Who wants to see a self-portrait of you while you wait for a friend in a parking lot? Unless you are famous, the answer is most likely, very few. If you are famous, however, that same image could be easily monetized in the hands of a good publicist.

And this is how I suspect the cultural logic driving the selfie phenomenon connects more broadly to other types of social media: individuals who are already public figures (actors, athletes, musicians, politicians) will increasingly snap “spontaneous” selfies in order to garner publicity while lesser known members of the digital ecosystem transmit similar types of images, but to much smaller audiences and, in most cases, to different ends.

Today, for instance, we are said to live in era that is increasingly inundated with different kinds of celebrity. At the same time, however, our relationship with celebrity has not changed all that much. The pleasure to be had in seeing a selfie of Alec Baldwin while he waits in a dentist’s office is not that dissimilar from the enjoyment found in looking at tabloid photos of celebrities walking their dogs or getting parking tickets.

In such images we are given evidence of what celebrities are like at their most ordinary, which celebrities and their handlers have always used to cultivate marketable private personas.

Conversely, non-celebrities taking selfies appears to follow a similar, albeit inverse, logic that informs social media more generally: We busy ourselves creating and maintaining online personas as if we were in some sense already famous in the hopes of appearing somehow less ordinary in order to make friends, attract lovers, secure jobs and so on.

[This essay first appeared in The Record/NorthJersey.com on December 1, 2013.]

Hugh Curnutt, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. He works in the areas of critical media and cultural studies.  His research is broadly concerned with evolving communication technologies and the shifting intersection of media producers and consumers. His main project explores the changing televisual landscape, especially the ongoing reconfiguration of television’s institutions and performers in a post-network era.  His work also examines the cultural impact of mobile technologies and self-authored media content on contemporary celebrity.  He is currently preparing a study of frontier reality programming and discourses of masculinity and neoliberalism.

WiredJersey.com – A Dynamic Brand-New Student-Run News Site – by Steve McCarthy and Martin Halo

October 18 2013

Dear Neil: Thank you so much for asking me to give The Creative Research Center a peek into the back-story and an update on WiredJersey.com, a media collective of journalists, film-makers and tastemakers focused upon music, the arts, sports and culture in the Garden State that has flourished thanks to the hard work of our students and the faithful idealism and support of the visionary Director of our School, Merrill Brown, and many other colleagues in the MSU School of Communication and Media.

When I first came up with the idea last spring, I knew that I wanted this website to be youth oriented, funky and hip. At the same time, we would follow NBC News Standards and Practices in reporting and presenting content in video, text, photo and audio. Such is indeed the case, I am pleased to report.

The site is managed by students and faculty from the School of Communication and Media and features contributions from students in SCM and throughout the University – as well as from projects developed in conjunction with the MSU Center for Cooperative Media.

The site covers campus issues as well as events and news from all over the state. If a big national or international story hits, we seek the local angle and get something up on the site as soon as possible. The site covers all MSU sporting teams, club activities, campus art events and shows, as well as noteworthy news events. We also feature selections from larger projects such as films produced by the MSU Film Studies students and the TV and Digital Media students. The site  highlights the activities of the SCM such as lectures, discussions and projects by students and faculty members.

Our goal for this news and information site is that it be frequently updated, Monday to Friday. Eventually we envision the operation being run from our newsroom in the new SCM building now under construction. Launching the project now — in 2013 — enables the SCM to develop curriculum around WiredJersey production activities and to recruit to the SCM those interested in participating in the ongoing and challenging work of a five-day, frequently updated site.

My Electronic Journalism class here at Montclair State, which already produces the news feature program “Inside MSU,” has morphed into a class to develop and maintain the new WiredJersey site. We call this class “News Production Lab.” The focus is on editorial meetings and lessons on web design and production. A student assigned as site editor each week is responsible for updating the site during that week.  We collectively set guidelines for just how much updating will be required.

Students will gather, produce, aggregate – whatever content they can get their hands on — and pitch those stories at our daily editorial meetings.  Our brilliant consultant, Martin Halo, and the rotating student editor craft this content – video, still photos, text, cartoons – onto a page that shows and links the work.

The class also occasionally puts together a video including one or two students sitting in front of one or two cameras telling what’s happening on the site in just a few dynamic minutes. The “hosts” actually point to the place ‘outside their box’ where content is sitting, and talk about it – maybe show a picture, roll some video – get people interested in checking out that piece of content.

The setting for these presentations is located stylistically somewhere between Scott Pelley’s CBS Evening News and Wayne’s World –  students design the look and feel.

Each 3-credit student in the class will eventually be assigned a reportage ‘beat.’ The beats will be as varied as campus news, NJ News, National and International News, Sports, and Entertainment. Other students will be assigned to check in with our SCM Media Partners to share what they are working on for their organizations.

As the site grows and other classes are brought in, we  are going to divide and expand the headings of the site. Eventually we hope to encompass Campus News, NJ News, World News, MSU Sports, World Sports, Campus Entertainment, World Entertainment, and so on.

During this semester, we are featuring special headings to cover the New Jersey Governor’s race, the upcoming Super Bowl, and other huge events.

Once the class gets going, I see us increasing it to two, three, four and finally five days a week. By that time, a “shelf” will be established and each class will share content. And I might add that content created by any other classes in the school will be welcome.

Once we move into our fantastic new building, we can have two classes a day working on updating the site – it will flow all day and into the evening with frequent updates.

As you and the CRC readers can see by clicking here, the WiredJersey.com website is off and running. The students of TVDM 455 are managing the site and have created content on everything from an immigration series to the recent and spectacular Homecoming Weekend. The class right now consists of ten highly-motivated students as varied as our population at MSU all working together and putting out a terrific looking site.

And as I had hoped, other students in the TVDM program taking courses with Debra Galant and David Cummings are likewise contributing articles on subjects ranging from a late night disturbance outside a dorm to the latest MSU sports game. We have even had alumni create content: recent graduates Ken Spooner and Mike Mee went down to the tragic boardwalk fire in Seaside Heights to file a report about a pizza shop owner who lost his store in the blaze.

From our newly-improvised and lively production home on the second floor of Finley South the class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays to shoot, write, plans, edit and create. There’s an incredible energy to the class that often reminds me of my days working in the newsroom at CBS News.

Next step: To examine our process and outreach and try to organize production into a more streamlined flow. The site will take a while to develop and find itself — but we already have a tone and style that appeals to our students.

My “Co-Conspirator” Marty Halo is one reason for the quick success. He possesses an unusual combination of skills as a developer, programmer and journalist. He’s always available and on call to get content up on the site and has a great rapport with the students.  I took this opportunity to ask Marty to provide a “P.S.” to my letter, and here it is…

…In March 2013, Steve McCarthy contacted me in the hopes of developing a publishing mechanism for Montclair State University students to produce journalistic content as part of a class project.  The idea of working with a University was very attractive to me –  something I’d always wanted to do.

After graduating from MonmouthUniversity in 2006, I embarked upon a journalism push of my own in American music.  I was searching for freedom and the classic fantasies of rock n’ roll, as I think most young adults in their early 20s dream about.  As I began to weave through the artistic layers of American pop culture, I crossed paths with the bedrock of American rock n’ roll and the artists who, to this very day, capture the imagination in the hearts of the young.

The first publication I began writing feature interviews for was the Aquarian Weekly in New Jersey.  That relationship was the perfect situation.  Nobody there at the time was really tracking down all the musicians that were left to the sands of time: The Allman Brothers Band, Patti Smith, Bob Weir, Richie Havens, Buddy Guy, Jack White, Yoko Ono, The Marley Family, Little Feat, The Black Crowes… and a plethora of others.  Working for the Aquarian, as well as freelance contributions to an industry niche San Francisco based publication, I began to lay the framework for my own journalistic brainchild.  To keep my overhead down I decided I was going to forge a publishing endeavor online.

When you decide to start your own company, you are basically condemning yourself to compete with organizations smarter than you and larger than you that have been around for many years longer than you.  Want to compete? Well, you are forced to adapt and learn while at the same time your own organization is looking to you for all the answers.  It is quite the sensation to work in such an environment.  My mentor at the time was author Dennis McNally whom I had met when I was working with the Grateful Dead camp.   I always used to moan to him how I felt I was running in quicksand at that time in my life.  It was a lot of work, and sometimes the results were not immediate.  The best advice Dennis ever gave me was that the blood, sweat, tears and struggles of my mid 20s would be the things that would lead to opportunities in my 30s.  The man could not have turned out to be more right!

Well…here we are.  I turn 30 in January.  I had just started a web development and production boutique shop in Soho when Steve asked me to interview with the School of Media and Communication at Montclair State University for a position yet to be defined.

Steve was looking for someone who, in a just a few short months, could set up the technology and publishing infrastructure for a journalism endeavor expressly so that the work of his students would have equal opportunities to reach audiences in the same manner as already established publications.

Thus, we “birthed” Wired Jersey, and, as a project, I couldn’t be more excited to create something from thin air and watch it grow up and mature. The opportunities presented to the students in our class are opportunities I wish I had when I was in college.

The technology is tested, the publication is primed… let’s make some noise!

 

An Undergraduate Theatre Major Reports from the Field: Montclair State’s Dave Osmundsen @ The Kennedy Center New Play Dramaturgy Intensive

Hailing from New Jersey, Dave Osmundsen is a senior at Montclair State University pursuing a BA in Theatre Studies and a Minor in Creative Writing. His MSU credits include assistant directing the department production of Stage Door in the fall of 2011, directing staged readings of The Last Sunday in June and Proof, acting in the new work Crush, and dramaturging a reading of Six Characters in Search of an Author and a production of The Handbook. In the spring of 2014 he will be dramaturging The Big Meal. After he leaves college, Dave hopes to hit the following four careers in his life, in no particular order: Playwright, Literary Manager, Dramatrug, and Artistic Director.
From July 27th—August 4th 2013, Dave participated in the New Play Dramaturgy Intensive at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, in association with the MFA Playwriting Workshop produced in association with the National New Play Network. For one week, dramaturgs, directors, playwrights and actors came together to develop, present and view new work from emerging playwrights. The dramaturgy intensive was an eight day program consisting of lunch meetings with artistic directors, literary managers and dramaturgs from across the country, sessions with the through-line mentor Mark Bly, and rehearsals for presentations of new work.  Dave served as the assistant dramaturg to Janice Paran on Michael Yates Crowley’s new play The Tourists, directed by Freddie Ashley. At the end of the week, playwrights in programs such as the Yale School of Drama and Julliard had the opportunity to present new work to artistic directors and literary managers from a variety of regional theatres.
The following is Dave’s journal chronicling his thoughts and experiences throughout the week.

July 26th, 2013

I don’t leave for DC for another day. I have three and a half hours of leisure time before I drive to Corrado’s to complete a four-to-close shift. Only five and a half hours or so. Everyone there is excited for me to go. At least I think they are. My boss, Pat, hasn’t really said much. Last weekend he asked me what I was going to DC for. He wondered if I was going on vacation. I told him I was attending the New Plays Dramaturgy Intensive at the Kennedy Center. He asked if I was going to see any of the sights. I said I didn’t know. I told him I had gone to DC a few times before. He retorted with, “But you didn’t appreciate it”.

And he was right—I didn’t. I admired the monuments, but took little to no interest in the museums my family took me to see. I remember once, we went to the Museum of American History. My sole purpose was to see the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz”. But the ruby slippers literally danced around me as my mom dragged me from exhibition to exhibition, displaying mechanisms that would break and blister under today’s advanced technology. When I finally saw the ruby slippers, I was satisfied. They weren’t the only pair of shoes Ms. Garland had worn, apparently. They were the ones she used for her dance sequences. There are three other pairs somewhere around the world. The whereabouts of two pairs aren’t even known. At least I don’t think so.

There was an episode of “Arthur” once where the Read family visited DC for a family vacation. In it, Arthur is enthralled by the historic sites while DW, his little sister, would rather watch Pony’s gallivanting. During a tour of the White House, she diverges from the group to examine the paintings of horses. There was one in particular she greatly admired, I think George Washington was in it too. A man approached DW and said that was his favorite painting too. He kindly escorted her back to her family, where it was revealed that he is the President of the United States of America. What do you know?

I’m nervous. Not because of the new people I’ll meet down there—that’s nothing I can’t handle. But rather the getting down there. For all I know, a meteor could crash onto earth causing the traffic jam of my life on the way to Newark Station, and I would wind up missing the Bolt bus down there. Or I could get released from the wrap up meeting with not nearly enough time to get to Union Station for the Bolt bus home. I’m worrying too much, as I usually do.

But what about the Intensive itself? I’m intrigued. Gregg Henry doesn’t even know what our assignment’s needs will be, and I’m intrigued to discover what the needs for my project, “The Tourists” will be. I read the script over a few nights ago. It’s basically Enchanted April meets Lord of the Flies. Terry and Carla are cousins traveling to Europe with Terry’s moody daughter, Bethany. They expect all the trappings of a luxurious and convenient vacation—oversexed backpackers, internet cafés and friendly locals. But a ferry strike prevents them from getting off the island they’re visiting, and they’re forced to stay in a hostel with a homosexual named Joe, who’s trying to get over a recent break up, and a one-eyed dog, whose backstory keeps changing. THAT’S a dramaturgical question I want to explore—why does the dog’s story keep changing? Why does he change it himself? It can’t just be to prevent dramatic repetition. There’s got to be another reason.

The whole point of the play is to respect other cultures. As tourists, we are technically invaders, but only briefly to take part in the culture and learn something new about the world and ourselves—one character states, “You visit Europe and expect it to be just like America. Why?” Why do some people have a more difficult time breaking out of their comfort zones? Is it societal mores? Our primal nature which we always seem to be afraid of? I’m interested to hear the playwright talk about this work, and for the actors in it to offer their perspectives.

This all probably sounds bland, but I’m not trying to create the great American blog here. I’m just trying to capture this moment. I have a difficult enough time living in the moment that I don’t need people criticizing me when I actually do. At least I’m writing something and being productive. Right?

July 27th

I have arrived safe and sound. I had no issues getting to the bus stop at Newark, I had no problem finding the metro (although it’s really nice when someone who knows the area better than you do just so happens to be going the same way), and while there was an unfortunate downpour on my walk to Thurston Hall, I was able to find it without issue. The subways are spacious and clean—nothing like the cramped, dirty and uncomfortable New York City ones.

I have two roommates. One is Kyle, who is a fellow dramaturg. The other is named Ben, who is doing the directing intensive.. He reminds me a lot of Mike McQuade, the other student from MSU who is here with me. I told him he should talk to Mike—I think they’d get along very well.

When seven o’clock came, we gathered in the lobby of Thurston to be escorted to the Kennedy Center. Kyle and I had already joked that hearts would be mended, lives would be broken, and connections would be made (or shattered). We ventured off to the Kennedy Center for our welcome dinner. There was a giant “The Book of Mormon” poster hanging on the façade of the theatre. We entered the Hall of Nations, where flags from all over the world were lined up along the hallway. We walked to a small corridor with an elevator, and rode up to the café where we were to eat.

During and after dinner, I met most of the people I’m supposed to know. I say most because the playwright AND the dramaturg of my project aren’t going to be here until Monday morning. Michael Yates Crowley, the playwright, is finishing up a stint at the O’Neill. Janice Paran, my mentor dramaturg, is just finishing up at Sundance. However, I met the people with whom I’ve been exchanging e-mails back and forth for the last few months—Gregg Henry, Mark Bly and Matt McGeachy. They all seem like great people, and I hope I manage to do some sort of networking with them for the rest of the week.

I didn’t realize I was in heaven until I was talking with everyone at dinner. This, I realize, is where I want to be—surrounded by intelligent people who are willing to teach both themselves and each other. Everyone is eager to be here, everyone wants to be here, and everyone’s ready to work and have a good time. I was afraid I would come across as too loose, or too stuffy, but I find that, like everyone else, I am a perfect balance of intelligence and quirkiness.

I met a lovely woman named Suzanne, who is also from the East Coast. She’s working on “In Love and Warcraft”, which she told me she had to discuss with her sons in order to get all the references. In fact, it doesn’t seem like a lot of us are really “suited” for the plays that were selected for us. But I feel that part of this intensive is expanding our horizons. That’s something we’re all learning as artists—to expand our worlds so that they are able to encompass more art.

The compliment of the night goes to Cara Beth. All of us dramaturgs were waiting for our orientation meeting with Mark Bly, and she said, “This is the dramaturgs meeting”. I said, “I know! I’m a dramaturg!” She quickly realized her error—she thought I was one of the playwrights. I was flattered—I was glad to have been recognized as a playwright, even if it was a mistake.

Cara Beth and I were also exchanging concepts and ideas for plays we’ve written—she’s written a play about human trafficking, I’ve written a play involving teen prostitution. We get along really well.

Mark Bly mentioned “The Dramaturgical Impulse,” which we’re going to talk about more this week. He also mentioned “dramaturging the week”, which is pretty much  EXACTLY what I’m doing with this “blog.”

July 28

The morning commenced with an orientation session with Mark Bly. Mark clearly knows what he’s talking about—he talked more about the “dramaturgical impulse”, which is knowing when to ask, Why? As Dramaturgs, we are required to do much more than simple background research into a play—we’re supposed to be asking questions that will help shape the acting, design and social values of a production. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic—in order to have these questions, we need to listen until our ears bleed. If we listen hard enough, the questions will come, and when we present these questions, that’s when we’re bound to get answers.

We’re Questioning spirits. Keyword: Spirits. Not critics, not audiences, not whiners. Spirits.

Perhaps the most fundamental question is “What was the spark? What was the ignition behind this piece? Were you angry, sad, calm, collected, what?” I know when I began writing my play “Distance” it came from an angry place—anger that guys I’ve liked would choose their work over me. But to add salt to the wound, their work would take them all around the world, which would leave me alienated and trapped in my own little bubble. Mark Bly told us that he wrote his lecture “Bristling with Multiple Possibilities” from a very angry place as well, coming from years of people denouncing the role of the dramaturg. He said that the best writing comes from anger. I would expand upon this and say that the best writing comes from passion, emotion, feeling. Not necessarily anger, although anger is perhaps the most accessible feeling and the easiest to articulate.

Other questions to ask: What does this mean? How does it matter? Why does it matter? How is it different? What are positive traces we can bring out of this? Mark Bly said “anyone can do research”. Being a dramaturg is about going beyond the obvious—what are the questions that will lead to the deeper meaning or vision of a piece of art?

I did a lot of sightseeing today. We walked around the National Mall and saw the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building, and the World War II Memorial. I bought my sister a postcard of the Vietnam Memorial. Taylor and I said that every American should have a birthright to go to Washington DC, just like Jewish people have the birthright to go to Israel. We need to learn about our history, and be able to say that we’ve seen these incredible and extremely important and indispensable monuments.

Tonight, I had dinner with Freddie, the director, and the assistant directors of my piece. Freddie has had experience as a literary manager and a dramaturg, and I asked him some things he looks for when reading plays. He said that something he looks for in plays when being a literary manager is whether the world needs to see a play or not—does it say something at least mildly uplifting or insightful about the human condition? Or, does its sturm und drang compel so much that we’re able to recognize the purpose of sitting through it all?

Freddie talked about his experiences at the Alliance Theater and Actors Express in Atlanta. It reminded me of something a former writing professor told me: “I really think you should go to Chicago. There’s a great theatre scene out there, and you also have more time to hone your craft, whereas in New York you’re hustling and struggling so much to get your work performed that it defects the work.” I asked him if there was any real difference, and he said it didn’t really matter where you go to school—you can succeed anywhere, although if you didn’t attend a top tier school, you’ll have a difficult time making it in NYC, unfortunately. I could go on a rant about how unfair and classist and elitist this is. But listening to Freddie made me realize that there’s so much more theatre to this country than just in NYC. There are communities all over the country that are dedicated to showing all types of theatre. I don’t have to restrict myself to NYC, although it’s the most convenient option for me, since I live right by there. But maybe I’ll be in a completely different city for the entirety of my career?

One final thing: It feels like all my thoughts are being articulated by others down here, and I don’t feel so alone. Kyle told me that there are times he’s asked if he has any questions during a dramaturgical session, and he can’t say anything other than, “No, you explained it pretty well to me”. I often feel that way too—that everything is neatly explained, no questions are necessary, I have all the information I need. But when something is unclear, I will inquire in order to clear the air. But sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough questions. Hopefully the floodgates will open and I’ll have questions for the rest of the world?

July 30th—August 1st

We had a meeting with Celise Kalke, who is considered one of the leading dramaturgs in the nation and is also the Director of New Projects at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. She said that being a literary manager meant more than just reading scripts—season planning is involved, marketing is involved (which I actually have some experience in), liaisons with the director, artistic director and the playwright are involved… Like all theatre arts, literary managing is about collaboration.

I have this potent, fierce need and urge to participate. That’s probably why I’m not a very good listener—I just want to jump into a conversation and have the final word, be right once and for all. But Mark Bly has told us to “listen until our ears bleed”. However, there have been times in my rehearsals when I haven’t been listening—when I go off into my own mental tangents about changes I need to make to my own play, how I’m going to figure out my August schedule, etc. I need to remind myself, and I do, that I am not here in service for myself as much as I am in service of the play and the playwright.

Rehearsals for “The Tourists” are going very well. I’m starting to gain a sense of what it means to really “develop” a play, and it’s very similar to when I did “Their Own Good” at MSU. I encountered very similar dramaturgical challenges when mounting that play as I did with the other plays that are being work-shopped here. I would love for one of my plays to get a workshop with a group of professionals and dedicated performers. Something that annoys me is actors who nitpick and question the script. True, there are generally some logistical things that need to be changed and altered in order to clarify the character’s relationship and the story. However, when an actor goes “Why would she do that? I would never do that!” I just want to stand up and scream, “This is not YOU. This is the CHARACTER. YOU are not the CHARACTER. YOU are trying to BE the CHARACTER, but you don’t have to be IDENTICAL to the character in REAL LIFE”. My advice to these people is to pipe down, let the director do their job, and figure it out yourself.

One of my fellow dramaturgs said that one of her stage managers had a great metaphor for it: It’s like visiting your grandma’s new house, being in the kitchen, and trying to find the plates. You can either call your mom for help, or you can open a few cabinets and find plates (and other utensils) yourself.

My mentor dramaturg is very good at fixing the script and communicating with the playwright and director. One project I’ve been working on is compiling a timeline of the Eurozone Crisis and the impact it’s had on European society. We think we have it so bad over here, their unemployment rate is 27%. If there was ever a case to prove that dramaturgy could be sobering and edifying, it’s this one. But the research isn’t what’s the most important in this play—it’s about finding a shape for the play, and clarifying the character’s story arcs. Clearly, this is a different method of dramaturgy than I am used to. Perhaps I should just go with it then? Of course.

One night, we had a meeting with everyone involved in the intensive, and one of the directing mentors had a great quote: “If I do my job right, the best idea in the room isn’t mine”. I find this incredibly humble and humanist of him. While it’s important for directors and dramaturgs to have questions, it’s stage-hogging to keep all the great questions to yourself. You need to use your questions to push your actors and creative team to think “beyond the obvious” and ask the questions that cut to the heart and arteries of the piece. This relates to one of my theatre mottos of generosity. Being onstage is nice—letting others have the spotlight shows you’re a great collaborator.

Then,  we got together with our assistant directors and discussed how we would collaborate on an abstract piece called “Which Witch Hwich”. We were asked “How would you make a production that would be significant for an audience?” My assistant directors and I agreed that the piece is about living life in a routine manner—not taking advantage of the years you have, but rather sacrificing them with a mundane job until there’s no way out. Our vision would be “don’t fall into a godless routine!”

I feel that this is exactly what we need — harsh yet nimble discussion about plays and the visions we have for them. We also need to learn about the art of collaboration first hand. Prompts such as these will help us learn these aspects of the business, and will help us to improve our collaborative skills.

I told Mark Bly about my tendency for my mind to go off on tangents during rehearsals. I asked him if that made me a bad dramaturg. “Oh God no! No no no!” He shook his head profusely. “That doesn’t make you a bad dramaturg at all! It’s completely understandable, since the dramaturg has a lot of down time in the rehearsal room anyway. It’s just knowing when your input is necessary that counts.”

Thank God for that.

August 2

Today we had a meeting with Anne Morgan, the literary manager at the O’Neill Center. She told us about how she approaches a play—with the same enthusiasm as she would one of her favorite novels (at least, that’s how I interpreted it). Falling in love with a play is like falling in love with a person—you can fall in love with a play’s mind, body, or heart. In an ideal play, all three would be combined for a sensual and thrilling encounter.

Tonight, we began the reading process. First up was “An Almanac for Farmers and Lovers in Mexico”. It was a whimsical story filled with magic realism and a profound sense of humanity. The story was of a soon to be bride whose fiancée turned into a bird. The hurdles she has to go through in order to get her husband back to human form—and the revealing love triangle among her friends—make up the dramatic arc. Its use of magic realism was incredible—this wouldn’t work on film for fear of being too unbelievable and potentially pretentious.

A lot of the characters said “This isn’t my play”, and then the play would go on tangents about those characters, so it wasn’t just one story. I never felt that this derived from the main plot—perhaps because the piece had such an ensemble feel anyway. The only deviation I felt was detrimental was the farmer who had lost his land. For one thing, I wasn’t sure if he was protesting or homeless—he was handing out pamphlets, but for all I knew he could’ve been spreading information rather than protesting. He was trying to find his wife who ran away from him, after all. Also, what was he protesting? Government takeover of land?

The most beautiful part of the play was the monologue that compared corn to a tomato. Heirloom tomatoes, to be specific. Corn is something that become useful in many other practices, but it’s still manufactured. Heirloom tomatoes remain natural throughout their “natural”  lives. The question the play asked is, “Are you a corn, or a tomato?” Which being are you—manufactured or human?

Some questions I wanted to ask were about the symbolism of the piece—why a hummingbird, for example? Also, what inspired her to write about the apocalypse that wasn’t worried that the world was going to end? Had she been to Mexico, and how did that influence the play? Did she look into any other pieces with magic realism in them (a la “Like Water for Chocolate,” or anything that Garcia Lorca has written)?

 August 3rd

And it’s the final night I’m here.

So much to type about. We had three presentations today: (a love story) by Kelly Lusk, Flesh and Blood by Tatiana Suarez-Pico, and The Tourists by Michael Yates Crowley.

First, (a love story).

I had many emotions during this play. It’s the type of theatrical experience that takes its audience on an emotional journey—it begins at the beginning of a relationship, which is a very good place to start, carries us through the tempestuous waters of love, and finally, violent heartbreak. I found myself engaged for 95% of the play. There was only one point where I felt it deviated from its plot, but since it’s still a work in progress, it can be fixed.

The play tells of three couples, two young and one old, who are experiencing love for either the first or second time. The chorus throughout are three sprouts, who are tendered by the otherwise violent bully Richard. They also double as ants and twigs throughout, adding to the whimsical feel of the piece.

Admittedly, there were a few points where I felt the dialogue sounded very mature and poetic coming out of the mouths of… well, actually, we don’t know the age of these characters. I assumed they were in high school, others assumed they were in middle school, I feel it will depend on the director. Also, a few of the plot contrivances (a delayed tryst, for example) could have been solved by the use of cell phones. The playwright establishes that in this world, there are phones. Maybe there are only phones in the kid’s rooms and aren’t cellular phones—wait, the mother of one of the characters makes a call from her car, which we can assume is a cell phone. So cell phones DO exist in this world. Ah, I’m thinking too much into this—if we bring reality into the alternate world of plays, we wouldn’t have theatre. We’d just have real life, and quite frankly, that’s not what most of us really go to the theatre for.

At one point in (a love story), an ant told the aforementioned sprouts about how Richard’s spit caused a Noah’s Ark-like flood in his community, killing his wife and children. This brought the sprouts the news that their caretaker may be betraying them. But I wonder if they could realize it in a different fashion—maybe have them recognize a wound that isn’t his father’s? (His father beats him, by the way). But the ant was only in the first act, never to be seen again in the second act. He had such a detailed story—if the story was going to go into that much depth, I would’ve enjoyed to see it carried even further.

The first act ended with a climactic tempest of dreams, where the characters had nightmares involving one another. There was debate that this should’ve been cut. While I feel this made the play reach its climax perhaps a bit too soon, I don’t think it should’ve been cut solely due to the foreshadowing and theatricality of it all.

Next up was “Flesh and Blood” by Tatiana Suarez-Pico. This was a much more didactic play, but nonetheless packed an emotional punch. The first act of the play felt very stilted —however, the play is still in its early stages, so this can be forgiven. It was also easy to follow, and wasn’t the slightest bit pretentious, but there were parts I feel would’ve worked better as a film.

The story was about a group of Hispanics who are forced to confront the dangerous working conditions of the factory they work at after tragedy strikes. Kalla (Carla?) is engaged to a recently divorced tortilla factory owner who, shocker, oppresses his workers in greed (even though he says it’s to support Kalla’s destitute family). Kalla also carries on an affair with fellow factory worker Everisto, who is in turn married to Avril. Don’t worry, the story turns out too politically to be a soap opera. There is a man named Jim, a former drug addict who is trying to organize a union for the factory workers to stand up against their conditions. Some whined about the white savior, but puh-lease, the workers probably wouldn’t have a clue about their rights if this person didn’t inform them about their rights. They’re very set in their culture of honor and respect for the higher ups. They wouldn’t ask for more if it wasn’t provoked.

The characters felt like mouth pieces throughout the first act. It was when the bloody first act finale came that they began feeling like “flesh and blood” to me. From that point through the second act, I was completely involved with their story. The ending felt very abrupt, but it was a smart decision—the central character, Kalla (Carla? I wasn’t sure) decides to march against her husband. She could be deported, or go to jail, or lose all financial backing.

It’s a story that needs to be told, for sure. However, one man questioned what the audience for the play was—the type of people this play is about wouldn’t be able to afford the ticket prices, and it probably won’t land among the wealthy people who would pay the big bucks to see it with much impact. I feel it would make a better film.

Then “The Tourists” went up. It wasn’t until this reading that I realized the arc that Michael realized with the play—it felt like a roller coaster going upwards and upwards until it made its first dip into high-speed velocity. However, aspects of the play didn’t work for certain people—the incestuous, borderline molestation between two cousins in the play bothered some with its treatment—it’s not portrayed as terrible or harmful in the conventional sense, but there’s more of a sense of abandonment.

I fielded a lot of questions about the play from my fellow dramaturgs, which was gratifying because I got to explain and discuss the play to them. And that’s what this week—discussing, debating and examining theatre with a group of intelligent people who are just as driven to succeed as I am.

It’s wonderful, but at the same time I’ve never felt lonelier in my life. I feel I know what tools I need to be a good dramaturg. Now I need to figure out how to get them. How to have a mind that constantly questions and wonders, to spend my life preparing for God knows what.

I had my final meeting with my mentor dramaturg and director. They asked what I learned. I said I developed a new definition of dramaturgy—initially, it was just taking a play or production and putting it into context. But now, when working on new works, I said that dramaturgy was about developing the world of the play, its rules, its characters, its flow, and how it works. My director told me that what I described was more the playwright’s responsibility—the dramaturgy was there to help them. So does that mean I have the mentality of a playwright? I don’t know. But I now know that as a dramaturg, it’s not about me. It’s about the playwright, and serving his work and vision. I have nothing to give except myself.

We also had our final meeting with Mark Bly today. Something he said that stuck out to me was, “You’ll spend your whole life preparing for something if you’re a dramaturg. So acquaint yourself with everything—high culture, low culture, any culture. Go out, see stuff, do stuff. You can never know too much if you’re a dramaturg.”

Amen.

August 4th

We had three more readings today: “The Claire Play” by Reina Hardy, “Lingua Ignota” by Johnna Adams, and “The Memory Tax” by Chad Eschman.

“The Claire Play” was an intellectual, but nonetheless whimsical look at a life that lacked closure, sustained grief, and infinite possibilities. The first act was a two character play between Claire and Devin, a childhood love who died very young. It’s hinted that he died due to his allergies to candy (Snickers, to be specific). The timeline alternated between an encounter they had, and Claire’s future career as a poet and professor. The second act, in which Devin whisks her up to the Heavens, brings in historic characters, Aristophanes among them.

The play brings in mythology, which is a term we’ve played around with a lot this week, something I’ll have to think about. I don’t know as much about mythology as I should. I own a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Greek Mythology, but I haven’t read it yet. I define mythology as a story that details the human condition in very specific circumstances, usually through elevated storytelling or larger than life characters. The scope of mythology is wide—family, friendship, love, war, and peace. We derive our mythology from the Greek and the Romans. Where else will be derive our mythology in the future? Maybe Claire knows?

I was unclear about the last twenty minutes—Claire falls into a hole that she’s warned not to look into so as to avoid heartbreak. She does, and meets a boy named M—is this M, an entirely different entity, or Devin? It turns out to be Devin, but I was still very confused by this. I’m sure this will be resolved in rewrites.

The playwright, Raina Hardy, said something interesting—she wrote “The Claire Play” in an attempt to improve upon another play she had already written. An assignment she was given was to write an alternate beginning to her play, which resulted in Claire’s first monologue being churned out.

“Lingua Ignota”, or the English translation as “Unknown Language”, told the story of two artists, a photographer and a novelist, who are forced to face their pasts and futures. The photographer has two daughters, one of whom wants to write an epic, complex series of novels, or make it a TV show, or a film. The other one (Delphine) is an artless real estate agent.

Not much happened during the story of “Lingua”. In fact, a good portion of it was the characters describing or reading aloud stories they’ve written. Naturally, this leads way for a revelation or two. The revelations never felt forced, though. One of them was that Delphine is pregnant with the child of a man whom her sister dislikes. The other was that the mother was going blind, which is not good for a photographer.

Towards the end, a figure named the “Wild Woman Doll” entered and danced. I was confused at the meaning of this figure. When I discussed it with the dramaturg after the performance, I was told that it represented inspiration, “the must” who finally came to the characters after lack of artistic fulfillment. This made sense to me.  However, I wonder if, it were a full production, I would’ve understood the intention behind it.

“The Memory Tax” was the most disturbing of the readings today. It told the story of Jason, who, against his mother’s wishes, takes a job at a “Memory Tax”, where people’s memories are stored away so that he can gain some sort of understanding as to why his father left them. There, he meets a girl whom he falls in love with.

One of the questions the playwright asked was, How did Jason’s behavior change from the time he began working at the Memory Tax? I would say that he became much more passive—during the play, he gets his girlfriend pregnant, and when she takes actions to abort the baby, he doesn’t really bother to stop her.

His dreams are also haunted by the “Hat Man”, played by the same actor who plays his father.

There was a lot in this play that didn’t make sense—what were the “check-ups” about? Were they his job trying to render him less sympathetic? Were they trying to take his memories too? I felt this wasn’t sufficiently explained. I may try to see this in NYC, just to see what I pick up on a second viewing.

I feel so fortunate to have been invited to the Kennedy Center. It was an edifying experience to work with incredible artists from all over the country, not just New York. I asked the lady who was a part of the National New Play Network if they had a home base in NYC. She said that they purposefully didn’t, which I found interesting—it proves that New York isn’t always the center for new work.  However, she said there was a home base in Madison and the New Jersey Repertory Theatre, and she encouraged me to knock on their door, introduce myself, and see what comes of it. If I learned anything from this experience, it’s that I don’t have to restrain myself to NYC for good theatre—some of the readings I’ve seen this week were superior to some of the theatre I’ve seen in NYC, both Broadway and off-Broadway.

Something we were encouraged to do was “listen until our ears bleed”.  I now know what that means. After the reading of “The Memory Tax” ended, I wasn’t sure what to make of it—my opinion of the piece was still up in the air. However, I decided to listen to people’s reactions to see what they thought it was about. One of the plot points involved Jason murdering his father. One of the questions the dramaturg and playwright asked was whether it was necessary. A few of us, myself included, were unsure what it meant, or if it was even necessary.

I added my own interpretation that it was assisted suicide—if his father had no memories of his son, how could he face his grandchildren if he had any? I felt that the father was asking his son to murder him, and the son was an accomplice in it.

However, I realized that I felt my ears bleeding with words that needed to be said. And they mattered. And they weren’t forced or unnecessary. They contributed to the conversation. So now I know what it means to listen.

 

Highly Recommended: CRC Staff Picks from This Month’s “Virtual Mailbag”

[Our hardworking staff  continues to curate and build their list of new things worth reading on the Web -- as well as in the analogue world. - Ed.]

 

Naomi S. Baron. Redefining Reading: The Impact of Digital Communication Media. PMLA, 128.1, January 2013.

 

Robert Darnton. The National Digital Public Library is Launched! The New York Review of Books, April 2013.

 

Julia Floberg and Alan S. Brown.  Engaging College Students in the Performing Arts: Case Studies in Good Practice. Research Commissioned by the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College. May 2013 [Montclair State University's ACP-RAUL "Creative Campus" project is featured; see  study no.4]

 

Kenneth Goldsmith. UbuWeb. ["Archiving is the new folk art...Our relationship to the cultural artifact has shifted in this age of insane abundance."]

 

David Greene. Invitation to a Dialogue: The Art of Teaching. The New York Times, April 30, 2013.

 

The Journal of Emerging Learning Design. Issue 1. April, 2013. [Montclair State University]

 

Eric R. Kandel. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain. New York: Random House, 2012.

 

Elka Krajewska. Salvage Art Institute.  ["...a term borrowed from the art insurance lexicon, refers to work removed from art circulation due to accidental damage."]

 

Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light at The Museum of Modern Art. [On view through June 24 - a must-see.]

 

Timothy Van Laar and Leonard Diepeveen. Artworld Prestige: Arguing Cultural Value. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

 

 

Three New Approaches to Pedagogy: AJ Kelton on Disruptive Learning Design & Kirk McDermid on The Helix as a Model for Learning & Cigdem Talgar on The Uses of Emerging Technology in the Classroom

[Over the past several months, the CRC has been in stimulating correspondence and informal communication with three thought-leaders at Montclair State University: AJ Kelton, Director of Emerging and Instructional Technology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Cigdem Talgar, Acting Director of The Research Academy for University Learning and Editor-in-Chief of MSU's first virtual scholarly journal, ELDJ; and Kirk McDermid, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy and incoming Chair of the General Education Committee. Herewith their recent projects & thoughts. -- NB]

AJ Kelton on Emerging/Disruptive Learning Design & the 2013 Conference @ MSU

Dear Neil:  I enjoyed our recent meeting and am thrilled you “get” our vision for the upcoming 3rd Annual ELD Conference at MSU on June 7th.  In that regard, I must say that the info you gave me on Joseph Schumpeter and his theory of “creative disruption” is relevant and fascinating to me.  I think this is a process that anything goes through when it experiences dramatic change – the phoenix rising from the ashes, so to speak.  You and I also talked about  Cognitive Load Theory.  If you want a kind of thick, but research intensive book on this, I recommend the work of Jan Plass. He is one of the faculty members in my PhD program and one of the leading experts on the topic. The other topic of interest we touched upon in our chat was Allan Paivio’s dual-coding theory. 

The mission of the Emerging Learning Design Conference is to showcase best practices in design and implementation by bringing together those interested in engaging in vibrant and dynamic discourse regarding pedagogy; and how technology can better enhance it.  The theme for this year’s event is LEARNING AS DISRUPTION. ”How learning occurs” has become the disruptive force that influences an educator’s decision process in all that occurs in the classroom, including pedagogy, curriculum design, and incorporation of technology into a course. Since Clayton Christensen’s 2008 book Disrupting Class began to influence the national (and global) conversation, learning as a disruptive force has been a hot topic in professional development, on campuses, and at conferences. When learning becomes the focus of education, the students’ experiences become relevant and motivating factors that drive what occurs in the learning experience, in or out of a classroom.  As Judi Apte points out in her 2003 article Facilitating Transformative Learning, “learning is about transformation, it’s about change, it’s about seeing yourself in relation to the world differently” (p. 168).  
 
The 2013 ELD Conference Theme “Learning As Disruption” is designed to help presenters and attendees alike address this important issue.
 
The philosophy of the ELD conference is to provide an atmosphere for learning and networking where what goes on between sessions is of value to the material presented during sessions.  In only its third year, the ELD has attracted attendees and presenters from dozens of institutions both locally and across the United States.  The combination of concurrent sessions, workshops, and our exciting Ignite! & Engage! sessions are designed to provide as broad a range of “takeaways” as possible.
 
The ELD conference is employing a rolling peer-review process for submissions.  As part of this process I am happy to tell you that we have already secured some great presentations, such as:
  • *Christopher Donoghue will show how to increase the frequency and quality of instructor-student interaction in distance education using Qualtrics, in “Virtual Instructor-Student Interaction in an Asynchronous Learning Network”.
  • *Michael Kolitsky will show how to enable different modes of learning, on-demand, with “Where Does 3D Printing Fit Into Your Pedagogical Thinking?”
  • *John T Oliver will make a case for the pedagogical value of open, collaborative knowledge construction in “Making Student Wikipedians: Encouraging disruptive scholarly communication”
  • *Sophie Idromenos will demonstrate game design using Scratch in a hands-on workshop called “The Scratch Disruption: Video Game Design with Scratch.
The conference organizers have just announced that select proceedings from the conference will be published in the new Journal of Emerging Learning Design (ELDJ).  [See Cigdem Talgar essay below] 

The papers for the select proceedings are not due at the time of submission for the call for proposals.  Presentations at the ELD13 conference will be reviewed by the Journal of Emerging Learning Design Editorial Board and invitations to appear in the proceedings will be issued not long afterward.  Papers for accepted invitations would be due late summer/early fall 2013 and the proceedings issue of the ELDJ to be published in early 2014. For questions or details please email eldj@mail.montclair.edu.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: As if to underscore AJ's message herewith, Tom Friedman's New York Times  Op-Ed piece on MOOCs and disruptive learning landed on our desk this morning, and   The Harvard Business Review just arrived in the CRC mailbox with its cover story by Clayton Christensen and Maxwell Wessel on Surviving Disruption.]

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Kirk McDermid on The Helix as a Model for Learning

Dear Neil:  As the new-ish Chair of the General Education Committee (charged with overseeing the General Education Program at Montclair State, a 41-credit blended content distribution and skill development ‘menu’ of courses) – we have a large and diverse program to manage.  And improve.  And ‘sell’ to students.  The problems we face are exacerbated because our Program is not a unified, small set of ‘core’ courses, but a wide variety from almost every discipline.  The Program is charged with exposing students to that wide range of disciplines, while also helping them develop a set of key competencies or Learning Goals such as critical thinking that cross disciplinary lines.The helix is a fruitful image for me to use in order to make sense of this task.  No single course can accomplish the goals of our Gen Ed; no single discipline can, either – by definition in the case of the content requirements, but also in the case of the skills/Goals.  I took it as fundamental to the original vision of our Gen Ed that the learning and thinking competencies our students would acquire were to be understood as inherently interdisciplinary – critical thinking may have originated in philosophy and may even be exemplified in its “purest form” therein (a philosopher may argue), but surely we want critical thinkers across academia and outside it as well.  As you and I agreed, real intellectual skill is not confined within disciplinary boundaries; if it is, I would call it “technical proficiency” instead.  Students will only appreciate this if they can see such skills and abilities transcending disciplinary boundaries, and become self-aware of the interdisciplinarity of their learning.

helix learning[1]

The helix image “trajectory” shows a student’s growth as dependent upon repeated exposures to distinct but related content/disciplines, and skills/competencies, in different combinations.  As they gain such exposures, they will build upon their previous achievements to reach for more complex expressions or skill-sets – and we as their teachers & mentors would urge and demand that, as well.  We know from psychological studies of learning that single exposures to material rarely result in learning; students need repeated exposure, in a diversity of environments and situations, to learn.  The helix model represents this in the rotation of the trajectory, as students return to the ‘same’ material repeatedly.  Of course, it’s not the same: it’s different, as the students are somewhat changed from their previous exposure to that Goal or skill, as well as the other distinct but related ones.  They are also more aware of the diversity of disciplines in which those skills could be deployed.  Perhaps the helix’s radius should expand as it rises, to capture this growth in application; what starts as a skill ‘locked’ in a specific discipline becomes more flexibly employed across disciplines, as the student gains experience in seeing it deployed in new contexts.

The helix also represents the importance of apparently unrelated learning in different disciplines or skills: part of the ascension is due to the unpredictable connections the student constructs, or the inspirations they can draw from previous learning experiences.  As almost every student’s learning trajectory is unique at MSU — apart from the very beginning courses, students have flexibility to sequence their Gen Ed in various ways — we cannot tell what their previous learning experiences might do to shape their understanding of their present courses.  That’s a bad thing as it makes our jobs as teachers more difficult, not being able to take student preparation for granted, but also a good thing as it makes our jobs more interesting, and – if we are willing to work at it – better for all students who can see student models of achievement to strive after, in their own classrooms.

The helix is also very optimistic; the only thing we can control is the circulation around the perimeter.  The student’s progression upwards – the incline of the helix – is not under our control directly.  This points to the pessimistic possibility that students may not in fact “be helical” in their learning, but instead “circular” – i.e., cycling, but not progressing.  I would hope, though, that if this were the case, the repeated exposure to the same concepts, in diverse contexts, would trigger some substantial learning.  At the least, one would also expect that instructors and advisors would be able to detect with suitable assessments or feedback the ‘slope’ of any student’s helix, and design interventions or instructional aids to steepen that trajectory.

Ideally, we would have courses or learning experiences ‘calibrated’ for the student, such that they matched the students’ ascending trajectory, instead of being jarringly too far above or below the students’ present capabilities.  Don’t ask me how to manage that; we’re just beginning with this concept.

**********

Cigdem Talgar on The Uses of Emerging Technology in the Classroom

Dear Neil: Thank you for inviting me to share my informal thoughts with the CRC readership on the volatile, ever-changing field of emerging technology in the higher education classroom, where it offers an excellent ‘toolbox’ for demonstrating creativity.   For example, using ‘virtual worlds’ brings students in language classes to new and far-flung places where they can experience the cultures accompanying those languages.  In biology, students of anatomy utilize augmented reality to delve into the human body multiple times.  Students of psychology can network with students in various departments (i.e., physics) through social media to “invent” things that are possible via cross-disciplinary, peer-to-peer collaboration.

The availability of such technology is a testament to the creativity of the individuals who made it possible; however, it is a common misunderstanding that technology makes the professor creative.  Technology does, indeed, offer opportunities; but what these opportunities are — and how they are utilized — is a function of the creative nature of the professor and the needs that he or she possesses to bring the material to light.  The thought that infusing your classroom with technology will thereby lead your students to learn effectively is inherently flawed and, unfortunately,  all-too-common.

Rather, I believe, the creation — or disruption — of so-called “deep learning” environments depends upon factors such as student engagement, motivation, attention and cognitive load; these are not mutually exclusive but rather continuously interact.  The successful use of technology in the classroom is linked to the success with which it promotes these factors.

Emerging learning designs offer students opportunities to express their creativity.  Once again, they have to be given the opportunity or the problem or the limitation which requires them to go beyond their customary and comfortable use of the technology.   This thought of creating limits — or “blockages,” as my colleague, Iain Kerr, instructor of the Creative Thinking course at MSU says — forces the students to think “sideways” about technology and other tools.  Students can use this sideways thinking to utilize technology that they usually use ‘one way’ to come up with creative solutions to problems posed by their instructors.

The June 7th Emerging Learning Design Conference and the new Journal of Emerging Learning Design (ELDJ) offer a forum for discussion  and debate of these issues from the perspective of instructors as well as students.

The ELDJ,  Montclair State University’s first open access, Web-based peer-reviewed journal,  provides a platform for higher education practitioners to explore emerging learning design theories, concepts, and issues, and their implications at national and international levels.  An outgrowth of the annual Emerging Learning Design Conference, which as you know makes its home at Montclair State University, the ELDJ invites scholarly communications in the field and will present best practices in design and implementation by offering articles that propose or review engaging and dynamic approaches to pedagogy and how it can be enhanced through technology.

The inaugural issue of ELDJ will be published on March 22nd, 2013.  It will feature invited articles from Joshua Danish, Jonathan Richter and Sarah Smith-Robbins, presenters of keynote addresses at the past two ELD conferences.  The second issue, due in early 2014, will feature an invited article by Christopher Hoadley, keynote speaker for ELD13, as well as selected proceedings from the ELD13 conference.

 

 

Montclair State University Hosts The Second International Health Humanities Conference: Music, Health, and Humanity – by Brian Abrams, Conference Chair

From August 9th-11th, 2012, through a collaboration among the Colleges of the Arts, the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Education and Human Services, Montclair State University hosted the Second International Health Humanities Conference.

The Health Humanities, a relatively new area, applies humanities disciplines (arts, literature, languages, law, history, philosophy, religion, etc.) to discourse about the promotion and enactment of  human health and wellbeing.

The MSU Conference was only the second of its kind in the world; the first was held in Nottingham,UK, during the summer of 2010.

In attendance at the three-day event at the Montclair State Conference Center were professionals and graduate students from various disciplines: medicine, psychology, literature, arts, music, and music therapy; and from universities and health care agencies and other human services organizations hailing from the USA, Canada, the UK, Norway, and Japan. Participants’ interests included research in behavioral health, the arts, narrative inquiry, and sociocultural processes; as well as applied work in medical care, psychiatry, arts, and music therapy.

Key topics of presentation ranged richly and widely, including metaphor, inter-subjectivity, archetypes, the developmental lifespan, cultures, communities, creativity, literacy/fiction, fantasy, suicide, grief, wellness and self-care, education, supervision, interdisciplinarity, and technology.

Plans are underway to produce a peer-reviewed volume of publications based upon conference presentations.

On day one, the conference opened with words of welcome from Daniel Gurskis, Dean of the MSU College of the Arts, Marietta Morrissey, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Robert Cart, Director of the John J. Cali School of Music. Conference attendees and invited guests then enjoyed a special appearance by guest celebrity Kate Pierson of the revered American rock band, The B-52s. She shared inspirational words underscoring the vital role of music in the health and well-being of individuals and society.  She also shared her music, including the public premiere of an original song. Following the performance, Paul Crawford, Professor of Health Humanities, University of Nottingham (UK), served as the conference’s first Keynote speaker.

On day two, the Keynote presentation featured the life and work of Pulitzer-nominated and Grammy-winning contemporary composer Joel Thome, as well as the work of music therapist Benedikte Scheiby, who worked with Thome following his stroke.  Thome’s arduous journey —including his stroke, recovery, and new compositional style based upon the trans-cultural, circular “mandala” — is featured in the recent documentary by filmmaker Chris Pepino, “Inside the Perfect Circle: The Odyssey of Joel Thome.” All three shared their perspectives and experiences during the Keynote presentation held in the Jed Leshowitz Recital Hall at the John J. Cali School of Music, featuring a mandala-based composition by Thome performed by two of his former composition students. A plenary presentation by UK psychologist and scholar Victoria Tischler followed.

On day three, the conference concluded with a Keynote presentation by Brian Brown of DeMontfort University (UK), as well as a co-presentation by Music Education scholars David Elliott (New York University) and Marissa Silverman (Montclair State University), who helped illuminate praxial understanding of the value of music as a resource for personal and cultural wellbeing.

The Third International Health Humanities Conference will be held under the auspices of the Arts and Humanities in Healthcare Program at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, in August, 2014. The theme will be Envisioning the Health Humanities: Film, Media, and the Visual Arts.

For more information on the summer 2014 conference, contact Therese (Tess) Jones, PhD, at therese.jones@ucdenver.edu, or 303.724.3995.

Significant support for these conferences is provided by the International Health Humanities Network (IHHN), providing a global platform for innovative humanities scholars, medical, health and social care professionals, voluntary sector workers and creative practitioners to join forces with informal and family service-users and the wider self-caring public in order to explore, celebrate and develop new approaches in advancing health and wellbeing through the arts and humanities in hospitals, residential and community settings.

Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this initiative launches a new era in developing ways that arts and humanities knowledge and practice will enhance health and wellbeing. On the AHRC website, informal careers, service users and the self-caring public are invited to share their ideas of how arts and humanities have benefited them and may help others experiencing challenges to their health and wellbeing.

Nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, psychologists, dentists, physiotherapists, social workers, childcare and school workers, alternative and complimentary therapists, as well as those who have traditionally drawn on the arts and humanities such as music therapists, dance and drama therapists, poetry therapists, art therapists, bibliotherapists and sports therapists, are invited to join and report on successful, innovative projects and events in this field.

The International Health Humanities Network has partnered with many other institutions in its endeavors to “bring the human back into health,” including the OppNet division of the National Institutes of Health. For more information on the Health Humanities, visit the International Health Humanities Network, at www.healthhumanities.org.

 Brian Abrams, Ph.D., MT-BC, LPC, LCAT, Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery, serves as Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Therapy in the John J. Cali School of Music, College of the Arts, Montclair State University. He has been a music therapist since 1995, with clinical experience involving a wide range of populations. He has published and presented internationally on topics such as music therapy in cancer care, music psychotherapy, and humanistic dimensions of music therapy. His current interests include contributing to the development of the global, interdisciplinary area of Health Humanities.

 

Dance & the Human Spirit – Danceaturgs Reflect on the 2011-12 Repertory – by Marissa Aucoin, Elaine Gutierrez, Morgan Kelly & Colleen Lynch, with Ballet & Modern Studio Photography by Jessie Whelan

Breath was choreographed in 2011 by Fredrick Earl Mosley and set on dancers from Montclair State University’s Dance Department. Although the piece is fairly new compared to other pieces such as Opus 51, D-Man in the Waters and There is a Time, which also were performed in this year’s Works-A-Foot and DanceWorks, Breath has found its own way to connect with the repertory theme of “Dance and the Human Spirit”. The piece illustrates people’s reliance and trust in God (or a higher being) after traumatic experiences and how people turn to faith to help them cope. The title is very fitting. In the first moments after the lights come up, two dancers are seen onstage, one of whom is breathing deeply and slowly. This breathing motif is carried throughout the duration of the piece, and can be seen in the multiple high releases (lifting the sternum with the head tilted upwards), which emulate breathing. During the course of the piece, a series of solos, duets and quartets, as well as large groups are seen. This highlights and mirrors how every person deals with their faith in different ways, depending upon their background, upbringing, etc., in their daily lives or times of need. The gospel song “Pass Me Not” by Eddie James accompanies the choreography. The lyrics, “Pass me not O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry…” call out and ask for help. Breath connects to this year’s theme of Dance and the Human Spirit because it illustrates how people turn to faith after trauma and also how people from diverse walks of life connect with their own spirituality and lift and support one another in times of need. — Elaine Gutierrez

There is a Time. In the book of Ecclesiastes, placed between the two other iconic phrases “the sun also rises,” and “[there is] nothing new under the sun,” we find the simple statement “There is a time for everything, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Words that teach a lesson, instill a sense a purpose, and express the delicate balance of give and take that our own human spirit experiences in life.  Not immune to this balance, we find choreographer José Limón taking this phrase and finding an inspiration to create one of his greatest works, “There is a Time. (1956)” The piece embodies the entire passage from chapter three of Ecclesiastes as it goes on to lay the framework for the human experience...

“There is a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, 

a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.” 

Separated into sections, There is a Time communicates all of these concepts through choreography and musicality, a variation on a theme. “Limón used as his theme a large circle, which, at the opening of the work, fills the stage and moves majestically as if to evoke the perpetual passage of time. This circle is seen repeatedly in many guises, rhythms and dramatic shapes, always making allusion to the text from Ecclesiastes and its evocation of the human experience.” [Jose Limon, www.limon.org] A circle, also symbolic of a womb, bears life and introduces humans as characters into their own stories.  It is within these different stories that the characters endure a plethora of emotions and events, all related to the human experience. And it is within“There is a Time,” that Limón uses the dancers to assume the roles the text provides.  A male soloist born into the piece experiences his own death minutes later; a trio of women collectively mourn their loss with heavy movement and even heavier hearts.  A duet of a man and a woman, one desperate to be heard, the other longing for quiet and commonality, struggle with their differences; a girl bursting into laughter alone on stage, brings light to everyone watching.  A group of people at war and in turmoil are pacified by the promise of peace, given by a lighthearted offering from a female soloist.  At the conclusion, the group comes together with familiar movement to express one last message,  “There is a time for love”. Each section, unique in its own way, shows how the classic fundamentals of José Limón technique can take an idea, or in this case a passage from Ecclesiastes, and create a piece that is relatable while still becoming larger than life, larger than all of us.  Collectively, each section expresses an emotion or event that is part of the human experience, endured by all.  “There is a Time” is the physical portrayal of the raw emotions that the human spirit experiences and that is embodied in every other piece in the Montclair State University dance department repertory for 2011-12. — Morgan Kelly

Opus 51.  The version of Charles Weidman’s Opus 51 presented at the MSU Alexander Kasser Theater April 11 – 15 is the Opening Dance from what was originally a six-section work. The Opus 51 that Weidman presented at Bennington College in 1938 was comprised of: Opening Dance, March, Commedia, Solo, Duet, and Spectacle. Performers included nine members from the Weidman Company, including Weidman himself, and seven students from the student workshop group at the Bennington School of Dance. The piece in its entirety was 22 minutes long, as opposed to the approximately seven minutes that the MSU students performed. The music for this work was composed by Vivian Fine. The title for this specific work of Weidman’s came from the simple fact that this was Weidman’s 51st dance work.  Unlike many of the dances being performed in Dance Works, the “Opening Dance” does not possess a particularly strong story or narrative. It portrays movement among a synchronized community of dancers. This driving sense of community allows the dancers to accept new members into the space and work as a single cohesive unit. It is this sense of community that embodies this year’s repertory theme of “Dance and the Human Spirit”.  We survive and thrive through our relationships and connections with others. The same can be said for the “Opening Dance” of Opus 51. With such a small cast of dancers moving in unison, it becomes necessary to be extremely aware of and invested in the group you are dancing with. Once all the dancers have entered and we begin to work in unison, there comes a sense of oppositional energies not only within the movement of each individual dancer, but among the group as a whole. By drawing from the ‘pull’ of these opposing energies we are able to form a community of dancers deeply connected both physically and spiritually, allowing us to execute the piece in perfect harmony.  –  Marissa Aucoin

D-man in the Waters was created by Bill T. Jones in 1989, during a time when company member Damien Acquavella was dying of AIDS (D-man referring to Damien), and following the death of Bill’s partner Arnie Zane. In our intimate rehearsal with Bill on March 24th, he nevertheless verified that “D-man is not a piece about AIDS.” Rather, in reinforcement of our repertory theme this year, ‘Dance and the Human Spirit,’ D-Man is a piece about community. Bill defined community as people coming together around an idea. The idea we are coming together for, expressed in D-man and in Dance Works this year, is the celebration of the human spirit — coming together as a community to help one another rise above times of struggle and to celebrate life and survival. Bill explained to us that D-Man is a piece full of ghosts. The cast is ultimately emulating people who were very important to Bill when he created the piece. We could tell from the rehearsal with him that the memory of these people is imperative to him and it was necessary for him to bring those people back to life in rehearsal with stories and different movement qualities. Bill was inspiring and stimulating to work with. His energy permeated into all of our souls as he ran and jumped around the room, yelling at us to “feel the movement for ourselves.” He made it clear that movement isn’t about having a pointed back leg or a high extension; it is about the goal: Where is the movement going? Why are we moving? The choreography and music of D-man is enriched with Bill’s spirit. The movement phrases suggest the metaphor of water. And we are reminded by doing this piece that sometimes we swim against the current and sometimes we swim with it. Bill reminded us with his raw emotion that Arnie Zane died this very week in March, 24 years ago, in 1988. It will be important to think of Arnie during the Informance this week. –   Colleen Lynch

Mind-dancing. It is an entirely new world for a photographer taking pictures of dance when the photographer herself is a dancer. This is the case for myself and the photographs that I have taken. As a dancer photographing dance, I know specifically what elements to look for and experiment with when photographing, such as when to snap a shot when the dancers are jumping. I can also visualize where I might want to be in the room after finding out what the type of movement is going to be. It’s a bit of a mind dance you have to do with yourself in order to capture the best moments in photographs. What I mean by mind-dance is that I imagine in my own mind that I am dancing the steps that the students participating in class are dancing. I imagine and feel in my mind’s eye how I would attack the movement, which helps me in looking for these elements in the dancers. And dancing the movement in my own mind helps me to take better photographs of the motion; because if I were literally dancing the movement, I would not be thinking about what I am doing, but rather what I am going to do next. I take this idea, and rather than physicalizing it, I keep it in my mind and capture these upcoming moments on other dancers with my camera. Being a dancer who is musically inclined also helps me. When taking the photographs of ballet and modern classes, I listened closely to the combination and musical instructions, and imaged myself doing the movement. I memorized the sequences, and danced along to the music in my mind so that I would know opportune times to snap a photograph. When capturing student-teacher interaction I often took continuous photographs because I know that a memorable candid moment can come at any point in this special interaction. – Jessie Whelan

 

 

Poetry is Dead. Long Live Poetry! Some Thoughts on Poetry in the American Public Sphere – by Susan B.A. Somers-Willett

Everybody knows that poetry is dead. We have a vision of its pine box, nailed shut. We may not have heard the funeral dirge or witness a dove marking the sky over its grave, but we know that it’s moldering down there somewhere, six feet under. Our collective American voice says poetry is some long-lost ancestor, replaced by newer, fresher generations of novels, blogs, reality television, and memoirs.

How do we know that poetry “has passed on,” “has ceased to be,” “has joined the choir invisible?” Because when we browse our ailing bookstores for signs of poetry on the shelf, or we look to our high school curricula for its evidence, or we peruse book reviews in major newspapers and magazines, poetry is relatively absent. These signs relegate poetry to a novelty, pure artifact—certainly not essential part of anyone’s reading diet. When teachers assign poetry on their syllabi, students conjure a vision of dusty texts akin to the Dead Sea Scrolls. In a post which shares the title of this essay, one witty journalist, writing articles for a tongue-in-cheek “musepaper” on the Poetry Foundation blog in 2009, likened poets’ careers to stints in debtor’s prison and sightings of their verses as fabled as those of UFOs over Roswell.

The discourse of poetry’s death is nothing new. It was nearly twenty-five years ago when poet and critic Dana Gioia most famously declared poetry dead to the general reader in his 1991 essay “Can Poetry Matter?” published in The Atlantic and later collected in an eponymously-titled book. He claims that Americans lived at that time in a “divided literary culture”—that of academics who read and practiced poetry and general readers who did not—leading to “the superabundance of poetry within a small class and the impoverishment outside it. One might even say that outside the classroom—where society demands that the two groups interact—poets and the common reader are no longer on speaking terms.” Poetry was only to be resurrected, he argued, by bringing it outside of isolated academic practice, taking it beyond the small presses and anthologies in which poets publish other poets for means of tenure and promotion and actively court a public audience. “It is time to experiment, time to leave the well-ordered but stuffy classroom,” he concluded. “Let’s build a funeral pyre out of the desiccated conventions piled around us and watch the ancient, spangle-feathered, unkillable phoenix rise from the ashes.”

Gioia received an overwhelming response to his essay—in the way of both messages of support for his argument and scornful criticism from some in academic creative writing programs. For all of the timely vinegar his argument produced, American poets and critics have actually been lamenting poetry’s death for at least the last century, as noted by Executive Director of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs D.W. Fenza in his essay “Who Keeps Killing Poetry?”  Gioia’s essay fell quick on the heels of (and was first drafted as a response to) Joseph Epstein’s 1988 editorial in Commentary, “Who Killed Poetry?” Epstein’s essay echoes some of the same arguments of critic Edmund Wilson, who in 1928 asked, “Is Verse a Dying Technique?” All of these critics recall the granddaddy of American poetry Walt Whitman who mused in 1892, “To have great poets, there must be great audiences too.” So when we look to our bookstores, our Kindles, and our newspapers for evidence of poetry, we are not alone in thinking it is dead. The experts have already said as much.

But perhaps they—and we—are not checking in the right places for the vital signs.

In the midst of this handwringing over poetry’s relationship with the public, poetry did indeed have a healthy practice outside of the academy.  In 1986, a Chicago construction worker-turned-poet Marc Smith was experimenting with performing poetry in white, working-class Chicago bars, mixing cabaret and vaudeville traditions with verse. One night when he ran out of material for a set, he decided to hold a mock competition, asking the audience to judge the poems performed on stage with boos and applause. The model proved so popular that he repeated it, eventually adding a nod to the Olympics by asking the audience to rate each poem from 0.0 to 10.0. Thus, the poetry slam was born—the competitive practice of performance poetry that now includes three national tournaments, the largest of which draws over 75 ensemble teams from the U.S., Canada, and a few nations abroad to represent their home turf.

Even before that, in the mid-seventies, rap laid its claim to poetic territory as emcees like Kool DJ Herc rhymed over disco tunes at South Bronx block parties, in step with the Caribbean traditions of toasting and dub music. The resulting hip-hop culture that emerged is now global and ubiquitous—but it also is evidence of the popular practice of poetry. Rap is poetry with a difference, poetry with music behind it, poetry that mugs for the camera, but it is poetry nonetheless. The intricate methods emcees use to lay their lyrics on top of and against the beat of 4/4 music—which is the very same strong-stress tetrameter line we know from Beowulf, as hip-hop scholar Adam Bradley notes in Book Of Rhymes—is I think the most innovative formalist poetry being practiced today. At least once before I die, I want to replace a Norton Anthology of Poetry on my syllabus with Yale’s The Anthology of Rap. I bet students reading the latter will be more practiced in prosody, if not more enthusiastic about understanding and employing this essential tool of poetic craft. Considering the rhetoric of death surrounding poetry, old school Philly DJ Lady B’s closing lyrics of “To the Beat, Y’all” ring prophetic: “I’m saying when I die, bury me deep / Plant two turntables at my feet / Put a mixer near my head / So when you close the casket I can rock the dead.”

Both the poetry slam and hip-hop are grand examples making a larger statement: poetry is, indeed, all around us in the public sphere—it’s just not necessarily reaching us through a book. Think of a group gathered to hear a conference paper on the blank verse of Shakespeare and Milton (masters though they are), and then think of a multitude of youth bobbing their heads to Nas or Missy Elliot. In each case, I marvel at the sparkling use of metaphor, the slant of the rhyme (what Eminem called “bending the word”), the intricate craft of working with and against the beat of the line/measure. Perhaps even more importantly, these more recent modes of verse attract younger audiences, and in many cases, they convene critical communities who have deep commitments to lyrical practice. This poetry is popular, so why not acknowledge its reach? Dana Gioia, to his credit, does so in his 2003 essay “Disappearing Ink,” in which he calls the popular emergence of poetry slams, hip-hop, and other communities where poetry is practiced in extraliterary ways “without a doubt the most surprising and significant development in recent American poetry.”

Of course, the argument of quality is quick to be employed when considering such examples, which often gets confused in the critical sphere with the definitional aspect of verse. Harold Bloom, for instance, famously deemed poetry slams in the Spring 2000 issue of The Paris Review “the death of art.” This new poetry isn’t as masterful, such critics imply, or Because it doesn’t work on the page, it can’t be real poetry. Both are utter canards. Just because such verse may reach us through different media, through performance or video or Internet streaming, doesn’t make it less of a poem, or less of a good poem. The artists who operate through media other than print have to be even more savvy about their craft, knowing what can or cannot work with a live audience, how gesture and tone can influence and audiences, or how to visually and orally represent their work in multimedia venues. Such practices certainly produce poetry that succeeds or fails in ways different than its text-only counterparts, but it still is poetry that can succeed on its own terms. I think this difference is something to be celebrated, not condemned.  

Let’s not forget that print has not always been the standard medium of poetry, or even the most revered model. When anyone laments to me the sorry state of poetry’s readership, I am quick to note that Homer’s Iliad wasn’t a fixed text for nearly two centuries, and during that time it was distributed by any number of nameless poet-performers, adding their own improvisations and sense of craft. Add to that the traditions of the bard, the griot, and the troubadour; even Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales—a text that pre-dates widespread literacy in Western culture—is presented as the reported speech of a cast of characters performing their histories in verse. In many ways, our literary culture still works by word of mouth, by deed of body, by vow of image and beat. As a scholar of poetry in performance, I send praises to YouTube for being my Alexandrian Library that will not burn (even as I smolder in the five-second purgatory of advertisements).  A more concerted effort to collect such ephemeral work is the Performance Poetry Preservation Project (P4), which, once it finds an institutional home, is poised to become the most comprehensive multimedia archive of performance poetry in the world. Other efforts include From the Fishouse, which  focuses on sound recordings by emerging poets, and Charles Bernstein’s initiatives the  Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY Buffalo and Penn Sound, both of which explore avant-garde sound and digital poetries.

In the wake of recent debates over poetry’s death, a number of initiatives have emerged to both highlight and improve poetry’s standing in the public sphere. In 1992, The Poetry Society of America initiated Poetry in Motion, which brought short poems to bus and subway passengers in metropolitan cities, printed on their subway tickets and posted in the spaces where advertisements usually appear. (The program, most famous in New York City, was on hiatus for four years in the Big Apple, but it returns this April.) In 1996, The Academy of American Poets launched National Poetry Month, celebrated every April since with posters, a series of events, publicity, and practical resources to encourage the public’s engagement with poetry year-round. In 1997, U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky used his office to initiate the Favorite Poem Project, which asked people across America to submit videos in which they recited poems meaningful to them. The project resulted in a two anthologies, a textbook and curriculum guide, a DVD, and an interactive website where public audiences could watch and discuss the poems being read by everyday citizens. Riffing on poetry’s celebration during the cruelest month, poet Maureen Thorson established National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) in 2003, during which writers pledge to write a poem a day throughout the month of April.

Alongside the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Society of America, another one of today’s powerhouses in public outreach for poetry is the Chicago-based organization The Poetry Foundation. Affiliated with Harriet Monroe’s venerable Poetry magazine (now celebrating its centenary), the Foundation was established in 2003 after receiving a 200 million-dollar gift from philanthropist Ruth Lilly. The Foundation’s multifarious projects—which include poetry events and readings, digital programming like mobile apps and podcasts, a website with searchable text and audio archives of poetry, publicity initiatives, animated poetry videos, and awards to American poets—all aim to maintain “a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture” and “discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.” One of those initiatives, the Poetry Out Loud competition, established an annual national poetry recitation contest in 2006 for high school students. In June 2011, the Poetry Foundation opened the doors to a new public building in the heart of downtown Chicago, which houses a 30,000 volume poetry library, a performance space for readings, and permanent administrative offices for Poetry magazine. In establishing a physical space for poetry, the Foundation echoes the Poets House in New York City, which houses a 50,000 volume library of poetry and hosts readings and events throughout the year in its relocated home in Battery Park.

Such a dizzying array of programs and organizations, paired with an understanding that popular forms of poetry are indeed all around us, are more than enough evidence that poetry never really died. And yet I think we still need more of them because, as former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall put it, “Our trouble is not with poetry but with the public perception of poetry.” When I asked my students to write about poetry’s place in the public sphere this semester, all but one of them described poetry as dead or at least in serious need of life support. Yet when we discussed the meters and metaphors of hip-hop music, almost every one of them could recite their favorite rhymes by heart.

One place where poetry’s public image is particularly laced with cobwebs is actually in the academy, especially in K-12 institutions.  Suffering under standardized curricular restrictions of No Child Left Behind and our own prose-centric culture, students are commonly left with the impression that poetry is something “to figure out,” written in inscrutable code that only those with a rare intuition can decipher. Of course, poetry is something to figure out—its compressed diction and associative language requires a good deal of attention and different kind of reading. However, its contemplative nature also invites us to wonder, to discover new possibilities and connections with the world.  In this, reading or listening to poetry is a real-time critical act that challenges us to become better thinkers and stewards of literature. At the same time, our students need to know that although a poem may challenge them, a poem is not a test.

Still, it’s not just the genre, educators, academics, poets, or critics who perpetuate the myth of poetry’s death when it is very much alive. We as readers and listeners have a responsibility to poetry as well—to explore it in its abundance and variety, to discover the voices that turn us on and turn us out. I believe poetry’s public image suffers when we define it too narrowly. In that vein, I invite you this April to explore poetry in a new fashion. If you are a reader of poetry, check out a local reading series or poetry slam. Rent a film about a poet, or check out a poetry trailer.  If you read newspapers, log in to Verse Daily or Poetry Daily for a moment before checking the morning headlines.  If you are a fan of poetry readings or performances, explore one of the recent books published in the National Poetry Series or the Everyman’s Library. If you enjoy traditional narrative verse or received forms, check out work in a more avant-garde or experimental vein (Ahsahta Press and Omnidawn Publishing are both great places to start). Surveying verse outside of one’s comfort zone is not terribly big commitment, and perhaps a new understanding of poetry’s breadth and presence can emerge if we expand our own ideas about what poetry is and does.

Beyond this initial exploration, I also entreat you to share your findings with others, whether through Facebook, blogging, or the simple art of conversation. I think one source of poetry’s public image problem stems from the fact that we often define its reach through the single, solitary act of reading—which it undoubtedly is, sometimes—but that doesn’t mean that poetry shouldn’t inspire discussion, debate, and a vociferous public around its reception. Poetry has and deserves a concrete community of readers and listeners. Imagine what a polis we could create if the next book winning the Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award in poetry got as much Twitter buzz as The Hunger Games.

On the theme of exploring new texts and authors, I am proud to feature at the Montclair State University Creative Research Center / Virtual Student Center nineteen poems written by present and former students at Montclair State University, all of whom have passed through the ranks of our creative writing concentration or newly-established creative writing minor. Their voices represent the range and depth of poetry being practiced today, ranging from quietly interior to in-your-face, from metered sonnets to free narrative poems, from comedic verse to poems documenting the Occupy Wall Street movement. For many of these students, writing these lines marks the beginning of their entry into the world of poetry, and their practice is proof that poetry can be both timeless and timely, but never expired. In its contemporary reception, poetry can be the child that outlives us. To use the words of one of the poets featured here, Glenn A. Patterson, who writes of a fruit fly’s fatal encounter with a library book: “How tragically perfect, to die in an instant, crushed upon the face of a poem.”

– Susan B.A. Somers-Willett is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Quiver and Roam, and a book of criticism, The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry. Her writing has been featured by several journals including The Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker’s Book Bench. Her collaborative documentary poetry series “Women of Troy” aired on PRI and BBC radio affiliates and received a 2010 Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media.  She is an Assistant Professor of creative writing and poetry at Montclair State University.

 

A Global Video Documentary Project – As Real as Today’s Headlines – Cosmopolis: 49 Waltzes for the World – by Roberta Friedman

Last November, I participated in an exhibition celebrating the 2012 centenary of the birth of American experimental composer John Cage. “Things Not Seen Before: A Tribute to John Cage” was organized by independent curator Jade Dellinger, who told me that the title of the show was inspired by a line from a letter he once received from the late, great composer referencing the work of Marcel Duchamp, in which Cage noted: “I am not interested in the names of movements but rather in seeing and making things not seen before.”

This powerful notion aptly applies to my most recent collaborative work, a series of sound/videoscape installations called Cosmopolis: 49 Waltzes for the World documenting cities in transition around the world.  My collaborator Daniel Loewenthal, and I have shot in Beijing, Graz and Cairo, and we have targeted the key cities of Istanbul, Havana and Los Angeles as next on our list.

Cosmopolis was inspired by Cage’s graphic music score 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs and his expanded definition of “music” to include the sounds that surround us at all times, encouraging the listener to become aware of the “music” of a city and to listen to the environmental sounds of various locations.   Through chance means, 49 triangles were superimposed on the map of New York City’s five boroughs, and the listener was instructed to go to the apex of each angle and, simply … to listen.

Cage’s music publisher, the legendary Don Gillespie of Peters Press, asked me to work with him and his colleague, Gene Caprioglio, to create a visual realization of Cage’s unique work by videotaping the happenings at each of these corners.   As a native New Yorker myself, I was amazed – we shot over four seasons – listening to the sound of shoveling snow in Staten Island, and the bounce of a basketball and boys shouting in Queens.  We overheard a couple arguing over their groceries in Brooklyn, and will never forget the look and sound of 42nd Street lined with X- Rated movie theatres.  It was an eye-opening (and ear-opening) experience for all three of us.

49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs was successfully presented as part of the Cage retrospective show ROLYWHOLYOVER A CIRCUS and was shown at random times in the Media Space of the SoHo Guggenheim Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among other venues.  It was released on DVD by Mode Records in December 2008 and is now available in music stores as well as on Amazon.com.

Encouraged by the widespread critical response to this piece, a brainstorming session with LA artist Barry Markowitz, and taking Cage’s suggestion that his work could be “performed” in other cities, I invited Dan Loewenthal to come with me to repeat and expand the process in Beijing, sister city to New York.  We chose Beijing in July 2007, at the time it was undergoing rapid and irreversible changes in preparation for hosting the 2008 Olympic Games.  (The fact that my brother was the Minister of Commerce at the American Embassy in Beijing  and spoke fluent Chinese didn’t hurt.) 49 Waltzes for the Gated City premiered at the Montclair Art Museum in April 2010. The installation was sponsored in part by a grant from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

Graz, Austria, has been the “sister city” to Montclair for sixty years. In order to commemorate the anniversary of our cross-cultural exchange, I selected Graz as the next 49 Waltzes location.  Funded in part by a grant from Global Education Center of Montclair State University, where I teach, and in-kind support from the city of Graz, Dan and I meticulously followed Cage’s random site selection instructions for 49 Watzes for Graz but added a documentary component: interviews with residents, i.e., the mayor, a mother, a librarian, a teacher, some college students, and an architect; these anecdotal sketches underscore the city’s uniqueness.  The commentaries on life in Graz come up randomly, as surprises for the viewer.

In the fall of 2006, Dan got a job on the production of an Arabic language television series in Cairo.  He was originally slated for a six-week stint but the job expanded to eight months. He returned with a deep appreciation for the people and culture of Cairo, dozens of beautiful photos and video of a city in the throes of change.  I was reluctant to include Cairo in our series, where I felt it would be unsafe to visit, let alone shoot video on the streets.  As an American, I had deep concerns about Arab terrorism. Dan argued for pursuing the project, saying that the eyes of the world were on Cairo as the most populated and arguably the most influential city in the Arab-speaking world.  Its streets echo Pharoanic, colonial and royal histories and it is a place of inherent contradictions, a clash of styles and centuries — friendly and suspicious, careless and reticent, tending forward and held back.

We plan to include a deeper and broader documentary component to this piece in progress. After all, Cairo is another sister city to New York City – and thus was born 49 Waltzes for Al-Qahira.

Having shot in New York, Beijing, and Graz, we now found ourselves becoming obsessed with Cairo’s narrative of streets and avenues as living, breathing musical entities filled with tranquility, traffic, trains, polyglot arguments, laughter and prayer calls.  Because locations were selected randomly, we shot in places no tourist dared to go or would have wanted to.  We incorporated things not often or ever seen, or heard, before.  We captured urban environments slated for oblivion by urbanization.

Along the way, we have become disturbingly aware of the homogenization of worldwide cities, and the acceleration of the loss of meaningful architecture and urban sites and landmarks.  We hope to continue to address these issues by creating a visual as well as musical portrait of the city of Cairo, an art piece with a documentary element that offers a window into neighborhoods that only its locals know, revealing unnoticed and overlooked corners. 

At its heart, the comprehensive goal of Cosmopolis is to promote an intimate understanding of people and places, bridging the gap between the movement toward a monolithic global culture and a nagging historical antagonism between countries and their cultures. 

I have always admired the work of John Cage.

Although these waltz pieces set out to strictly follow Cage’s instructions and be purely sound works,  with a visual reference, they evolved into something more.  I  don’t think Cage would have minded.

Roberta Friedman has had a wide and varied media career, with work spanning a vast assortment of film and video productions shown extensively in the United States and Europe. Her projects have ranged from the commercial, such as her work for George Lucas on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, to the esoteric, with experimental work – such as her interactive video in collaboration with Grahame Weinbren, The Erl King, acquired by the Guggenheim Museum for its permanent collection.  As an independent filmmaker, she has produced and directed many short films, receiving grant funding (including NYSCA, NEA, a BFI Filmmaking Grant, Australian Film Commission grant) and winning awards at various festivals (including Athens International Festival, Sinking Creek Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, and FILMEX).  She had a two-evening retrospective of her work in December 2009 at the Millennium Film Workshop; Kandinsky: A Close Look, a film she produced with Weinbren, was shown weekly from September 2009 through January 2010 as part of the artist’s major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. Her film, Bertha’s Children, was screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2008.  Her experimental films are housed in the collection of the Australian National Film Library and have been selected to be preserved and housed by the Academy of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.

 

 

Inspiring Interdisciplinary Art Historical Inquiry Throughout the Augustana College Community – by Catherine Carter Goebel, Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts; Professor and Chair of Art History; and Director, Centre for Whistler Criticism

Engaging students with original artwork is one of the joys of teaching art history.  However, orchestrating faculty, administrators, staff, and community — along with students — in collaborating through a vast pedagogical art history collection is a truly unique undertaking.  Following my appointment as the Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts, I pursued Paul’s dream, and mine, of building an art history teaching collection that would be embraced by our entire campus.  For the past fifteen years, I have negotiated purchases and gifts across the span of history and culture.  Through creative networking with donors and dealers, an effective and wide-ranging teaching collection has been developed.

Eight years ago, I had the opportunity to test the campus-wide potential for this collection.  Augustana College (Rock Island, Illinois) launched a new first-year curriculum focused upon the birth of modern times and I curated a complementary art exhibition.  The museum became a classroom, and, even more importantly, the classroom became a forum for works of art.  First-year students researched artwork along with students taking nineteenth and twentieth-century art history courses. As the project gained momentum, contributors also included faculty and administrators—our President, a former law school dean, discussed Bruegel’s Justicia. Our dean, an economics professor, addressed Mughal paintings related to her geographic specializationI edited the essays and wrote an introduction to tie it all together. 

In 2005, the Origins of Modernity catalogue accompanied the exhibitionThrough faculty consensus, the project continued to expand, and I adjusted parameters to curricular shifts through four subsequent books: Liberal Arts through the AGES (AGES—an acronym for Augustana General Education Studies).  The current volume, our fifth in seven years, encompasses ancient through contemporary art across six continents, and features 210 essays—approximately half of them by faculty in disciplines from astronomy through zoology, and the others by students and alumni with diverse majors, from the classes of 1987-2014.  The collection evolved as we accessioned further pieces to correlate to curricular goals, and several dealers became donors, one gifting a work in my name.   

Envision my position, asking faculty members to write essays during summer break!  (Imagine, as well, that they did!)  By the time I organized this fifth book, with assistance from colleagues in art history and the art museum, I invited additional faculty to contribute—several sought me out while others offered to contribute essays on more than one piece.  And what a great experience—so many faculty working toward the greater good—freely collaborating, some within their field of expertise, others creatively stepping outside their ‘comfort zone’ and thereby modelling the importance of collaborative connections for our students.  

It was exciting, for instance, when a mathematician instinctively surmised that Fine’s cubist drawing relates to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Or when a chemist suggested that Impressionists like Boudin could not have created such landscapes without chemists inventing new formulae and portable paints that facilitated plein air painting.  One biologist noted Constable’s parallel nineteenth-century interests in art and science and another investigated Audubon’s Whippoorwill, reinforcing his passion for this species and field study.  Perspectives on gender regarding new roles for modern women artists were discerned, as well as shifting issues of women as artistic subjects.  The director for women’s and gender studies examined male acculturation to such change.  

A psychology professor explored Goya’s breaking the barrier from the rational world to the imagination.  Soon after, technology provided new media, as a mathematician demonstrated in The Railway Stationand an English professor showed us through newspaper illustrations.   Others regretted sweeping changes that technology enabled.  Whistler suggested, in contrast to the Impressionists: “The imitator is a poor kind of creature.  If the man who paints only the tree, or flower, or other surface he sees before him were an artist, the king of artists would be the photographer.”  

Responding through art began to appear as if by second nature for many disciplines in our college community.  A Classicist constructed a new theory for Raphael’s School of Athens while a Shakespeare professor discussed Hamlet, framed within years of analysis of this play.  A French professor illuminated Girodet’s Burial of Atala through literary insights gained from teaching Chateaubriand’s novella, Atala.  A sociologist investigated Hine’s photograph of a girl working in a factory while journalistic nuances were revealed by a communications studies specialist on twentieth-century propaganda.  A student investigated Nampeyo’s pottery while, in parallel, an anthropologist contextualized The Potter, Curtis’ anachronistic photograph of Nampeyo, considered at the time as a vanishing breed.  Religion professors discussed a Russian icon and Qajar imagery and texts—indeed, what great links interdisciplinary collaboration can achieve! 

The AGES project offers access to primary ‘texts’—original artworks—dating from periods, cultures and disciplines across the history of civilization.  We have developed our collection as a pedagogical resource to enhance and complement the liberal arts curriculum.  Historically, working as we do with one of the most visually adept college generations, capable of quickly assessing images as they input and access data, we college professors of the 21st century must convince our ‘net-gen’ students not to settle for the immediate satisfaction of the ‘quick read’.  Rather, they must carefully examine primary texts, consult secondary sources, discuss their interpretations with other students and with their professors, and look for larger patterns.  

Interactions between conceptual and perceptual viewpoints, historical revivals and rejections, as well as innovations and cultural influences occur throughout the AGES book.  One might discern renewed sources from the past, such as the beautiful patina of the ancient Roman glass bowl, an accident of nature’s chemical process over time, scientifically replicated in Tiffany’s inkwell.  Equestrians morph from auspicious Chinese tomb effigies to American scientific instruments through sequential photography.  Western artists culturally assimilated Japonisme via ukiyo-e prints.  Although Lautrec’s imagery may be viewed as the beginning of commercial mass media advertising, his bold, colorful blend of the visual and written word is reminiscent of one-of-a-kind illuminated manuscripts, painted centuries earlier by monks in order to spread the word of God. 

Exploring the past through such juxtapositions enables students to recognize significant links that deepen their understanding of history, culture and the human condition. The AGES project at Augustana College has thus evolved into a vast and multi-layered pedagogical resource for teaching critical thinking, comparative analysis and chronological developments.  Yet in an age dominated by I’sI-Pods, I-Tunes, I-Ms, I-Phones and I-Pads—with communications swiftly disseminated, and just as quickly eliminated, what archaeological records will I or you inspire students to leave for future generations to examine?  Many, I hope—because liberal arts education aims to provide the tools we need to prepare students to critically examine the texts of others and to thoughtfully create their own—and art history provides an effective bridge.  

Framing art within the liberal arts, we enrich faculty and students as well as their communities, and in so doing, year in and year out, the pedagogical role of the art museum and its expanding collection is continually validated. 

[Professor Goebel welcomes responses to her essay, either via comments through the CRC site, or directly: catherinegoebel@augustana.edu. The CRC would also like to thank Megan MacCall, Director of Digital Archives, Department of Art History, Augustana College, for her logistical and editorial assistance.]

Imagination in the Post-9/11 World: How Have We Changed? Diverse Voices & Visions from the Creative Research Center Symposium & An In-Depth Interview with Neil Baldwin Looking Back at the Symposium and Its Significance

[We are pleased to post a vibrant and eloquent video of the post-9/11 symposiuma video interview with CRC Director Neil Baldwin reflecting about the October 12, 2011 Symposium convened in Memorial Auditorium on the Montclair State University campus, photojournalism major Haylee Lenkey's online article in the Montclarion, selected links [see below] to related media around the event; as well as transcripts of the  provocative and insightful talks by Profs. Harry Haines, Lori KatterhenryScott Kight and Ofelia Rodriguez-Srednicki; and a link to Mike Peters’ multimedia visual essay, The Dream.]

NB: I will start with a quick confession – in addition to all the biographies of people I have already written in my life, I have always wanted to write a biography of the imagination. I still might do it. I am fascinated – obsessed by – the creative and intellectual potential of the mind in all  shapes, forms and media. And that, in a nutshell, is one of the ways in which this unique day came to be. It was two years ago that the historian part of my imagination realized that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was coming up. I respected the extreme importance of commemoration on the actual day – the solemnity of remembrance, the emotional whirlwind of the families, the trauma, and the need for recovery. There needed to be a respectful pause after the memorializing of the event, and the reverence, and the sadness. I wanted to create a separate cultural moment that combined reflection, introspection and projection into the future  – where have we come from, and where are we going? The Creative Research Center decided – in accordance with our mission to spotlight the imaginative works of others, to share the spotlight –  to ask six members of our university community to respond to the concept and the question of the imagination in the post-9/11 world – how have we changed? And – this is very important – we would offer them the chance to speak, each in their own way, in their own style, through their own “lens” and personality, chosen form, discipline, and life’s work.  You also need to know that the event  about to unfold is a hugely collective effort –it would not be possible without the massive support we have received – visible and invisible – like right now – the crew, stage management, complex administrative planning, and on and on – indeed, the most important thing I have learned since joining the Department of Theatre and Dance four years ago – is that teamwork & collaboration – really and truly is at the root of everything we do. Because we all come from different “disciplines,” colleges, deptartments, buildings, majors (declared and undeclared). We travel through the university in very tight groups. On occasion, it is important to get out and get to know each other. The people on this stage represent a mere fraction of the dozens and hundreds of people I have met – faculty and students alike – who have alot to say to each other. In just a moment I will introduce our distinguished panelists, who have been waiting patiently here – in the order in which they will be speaking – and each one will come to the podium in succession and deliver their five minutes’ response to the overarching concept/question of the day. The final presenter will be Mike Peters with his multimedia art work. And then, for the second phase of the program, we will bring up the house lights and, just as it says on your programs, we will conduct a lively Q&A session with the panel. Then for the conclusion of the event, I will introduce Lori Katterhenry, and she will introduce a very special  dance presentation – Jose Limon’s evocative, elegaic There is a Time. Here are our panelists in order of speaking: Dr. Ofelia Rodrguez-Srednicki – Psychology Dept; Prof. Norma C. Connolly – Chair – Justice Studies Dept [Note: Transcript of remarks to come]; Dr. Harry W. Haines – Chair – Communication Studies Dept; Prof. Lori Katterhenry, Director, Dance Program; Dr. Scott Kight, Molecular Biology Department; and Mr. Mike Peters, University Photographer.

HH: I need to begin by telling you that I was teaching in San Antonio, Texas when the attacks came against our people on 9/11. I must tell you how profoundly moved we were by the suffering and heroism that we saw unfold on our televisions on that day and afterwards. It needs saying that people throughout the country were of one mind on 9/11 and that our hearts were with the people closest to the horror. Young people, especially, who were children on that day need to understand how the horror rippled across our country and, in fact, around the world. I am honored to be invited to participate in this event. I’m very grateful to Neil Baldwin for his imaginative approach to developing theCreativeResearchCenter. For thirty years, my research has focused on how the arts—and my field uses the anthropological term “cultural forms” to describe what my colleagues call the arts—have given meaning to the Vietnam War in the aftermath of that horror. That’s what the creative imagination does following any great crisis. The creative imagination, which operates within many cultural forms, is compelled to make sense of the crisis and bring the meaning of the crisis into the on-going national narrative. The creative imagination has no other option. Remember that we are members of a peculiar species compelled to make sense of things. We’re wired for communication. We constantly seek and produce meaning. Social drama theory implies that the creative imagination is crucial to our survival following the crises that beset us. For me, the postwar sense making ofVietnamwas especially important, as I tried to give meaning to my own experience as a soldier in the war zone and the experience of my buddies and, indeed, of my generation. We are forever marked by that war. The experience determined what kind of men and women we would become. It haunts our politics. It took about ten years for cultural forms to start making sense of the American experience inVietnam, as ifVietnamleft the country speechless for a decade. So much had been said during the war itself—often at high decibel—that cultural forms pretty much closed down in the immediate aftermath. I call that period “the decade of strategic amnesia.” The creative imagination everywhere simply pretended thatVietnamdidn’t happen. This avoidance, of course, had profound impact on Vietnam veterans and our families, who were left with the job of picking our way through the debris with little societal support. In fact, many of us had to purge Vietnam from our resumes just to find work. And the avoidance put-off for ten years or more the toughest job of all: The recognition of combat death and what that human sacrifice meant to the continuing American national story. This ten-year lag in sense making was stopped short by Maya Lin’s startling design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.  The Wall changed more than the physical landscape on the Washington Mall. It changed the creative landscape of all cultural forms, opening the way for a flood of creative sense making in literature, cinema, documentary film, all of the traditional visual arts, music, memoirs, and poetry— and even military parades. The Wall made it possible—necessary, really—for the creative imagination to at last go to work on the tough job of making sense of the Vietnam War experience. And the Wall focused precisely on the hardest part of the sense making: What meaning to give the sacrifice of the soldiers whose names appeared in black, reflecting our own images as we stood before them. It happens that way, sometimes. The creative imagination breaks through like a giant exclamation mark. And so ten years after the 9/11 attacks, the creative imagination seems now to be addressing the meaning of that horror and loss. Like Maya Lin’s design, the recently unveiled 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan recognizes our losses on that day. It invites—perhaps demands—other cultural forms to address the meaning of 9/11. The completion of the magnificent tower at the site will encourage similar creative responses— responses yet unknown and predictable only to the extent that we can be sure they will happen. The creative imagination is clearly searching for meaning in the aftermath of 9/11. One good sign is Mayor Bloomberg’s recent insistence that we stop calling the site “Ground Zero.” I think it’s a good idea. We are moving—and we must move—beyond the horror of that day, and labels count. I accept the argument made by political scientists that our current wars really began back in 1990 with Kuwait, what we call the Gulf War. From this perspective, we’ve been at war in that part of the world for over twenty years. I see no end in sight. And from this perspective, I want to recommend a few examples of how the creative imagination is processing the meaning of our involvement in that part of the world. I select these examples based on how they imagine the experience of our soldiers in the war zone. First, I recommend the 1999 film Three Kings, staring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube. It’s a very important film in the combat genre. Three American soldiers do the right thing for embattled civilians in Kuwait, a major turnaround from much of the Vietnam combat films. Second, I recommend a fine television series, Over There, produced by Steve Bocho in 2005. The series lasted only one season, and there are only thirteen episodes. The series is set in Iraq, and each episode focuses on a significant challenge to American military personnel as they traverse a reality that is morally murky and often filled with bad choices. Third, I recommend a few PBS Frontline documentaries that report important aspects of the on-going war. The Soldier’s Heart and The Wounded Platoon imagine the challenges experienced by American combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The News War is a sophisticated analysis of how news media, especially television, are co-opted for purposes of propaganda. Fourth, I recommend a BBC documentary, Why We Fight, produced in 2005 and seen by very few Americans. The documentary takes its title from the famous series of short training films produced by legendary film director Frank Capra and targeted at U.S. soldiers during World War Two. The similarity ends with the title. The BBC documentary provides an overview of what President Eisenhower identified as “the military-industrial complex.” I have to admit that the British perspective sometimes rubs me the wrong way, but at least this documentary examines the military-industrial complex and its impact on our democratic institutions. There is no meaningful discussion of this topic in the United States, despite the fact that we’ve been at war in the Middle East since 1999. And fifth, I very strongly recommend reporter David Finkel’s extraordinary book, The Good Soldiers, a title that operates on many levels. Finkel stays with an American unit in Iraq for several months during the surge. I conclude with a couple of wishes. First, I would like us to re-imagine our role in the world, with particular attention to the impact of our imperialism on democratic values and institutions at home. What are the limits to our ability to project military power globally and indefinitely? We need a serious discussion of this matter, similar to the discussion that took place inBritainfollowing World War Two pertaining toBritain’s postwar role.  Second, I would like us to re-imagine what obligations we share, with particular attention to military service and other forms of national service that might be appropriate to a truly democratic people. This re-imagining would be challenging. It would require us first to recognize how unfairly we have treated our service personnel and their families since 1990.

LK: Imagination…. In the post 9/11 world … how have we changed?… Those are three big ideas…Albert Einstein said, “The imagination is more important than knowledge.” That seems to be a good starting point for this conversation…Imagination implies whimsy, childlike curiosity and playfulness leading to creation or a manifesting into form. Making stuff… Children, first and foremost, come to mind… but also Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Martha Graham, the Beatles, Thomas Edison … all madhatters of invention…. Then there is the middle part of the  question….9/11….   it is a demarcation in time, like BC and AD…a shorthand for a defining moment in our history when our national sense of  security was toppled, and not by a natural disaster like Hurricane Irene, which was totally devastating but bore us no malice… No, this destruction, this taking OUT of form, was imagined by those who still plot every day to bring us down…. And then, the last part of the question… How have we changed? Is this asking how has our imagination changed? Is it asking if it is possible to have a healthy imagination when we are anxious about the possibility of another 9/11? Can we be playful and on guard at the same time? Because that is the ultimate in multi-tasking…We have only to look at the news in the last few weeks for evidence that the American imagination is indomitable and that we are still fearless, cheeky, wild- eyed optimists in spite of what happened on 9/11. Or maybe even because of it. The 9/11 Day of Remembrance showed us so much about our national imagination and what makes us different from the rest of world. The three-hour parade of people who read off the names of the victims reminded us of our greatest strength.. Our diversity… We don’t look like anybody else… we look like everybody because we are from everywhere….a nation of mutts with a spicy and complex gene pool that has produced every conceivable color of skin, eyes, and hair…Because we are  hybrids we have been emotionally and philosophically advantaged to thrive in the toughest of conditions. It is our shared belief in freedom and endless possibilities that unites us. No one personified this can-do “Think Different” spirit more than Steve Jobs. Ipods,  ipads,  imacs, and iphones…… he literally changed the world.. but it wasn’t just function… they were beautiful and fun looking… like cupcakes or life savers. The candy colored tools gave us the ability to become musical composers, movie- makers, writers, publishers… we could communicate, research, find our way, find love… He made everything easier by making it possible to be everywhere without ever leaving home. Sort of a Wizard of Oz in reverse. He helped to shrink time and distance… But his inventions weren’t just child’s play… They even helped to bring down dictatorships and fuel the Occupy Wall Street movement which has spread like fiberoptic wildfire across the country. Einstein also said, “Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.” I don’t think everything is happening at once but I do think that time has become overlapping and dense and much faster….I’m not sure what 4g is, but I know it is a jaguar compared to the 3-toed sloths of just a few years ago. Here’s the thing about imagination… it can’t be hurried. A child can’t be made to play quickly… laying on one’s back and looking at the clouds can’t be done in a rush. In fact, imagination is best nurtured when clock time is not a factor at all. Imagination is the incubator for inspiration.. the “aha” moments. In dance we call this period “improvisation”… focused play… A kind of movement “free association.” After imagination comes the application of knowledge and craftsmanship…     I am not going to lie to you… Making dance is still 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration but without the 1%,  the rest of it is just so much flailing around, however nicely costumed.Steve Jobs, who never graduated from college, gave a memorable Commencement Address atStanfordUniversity in 2005. His final words address today’s topic completely.  “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”

SK: Most people have a personal story about where he or she was at and what he or she was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I will briefly share mine because it bears on how the events of that day intersected with my professional life as a biology professor. My academic department had only the year before occupied the newest building on the MontclairStateUniversitycampus. I was helping a student in my office when a colleague arrived for work and mentioned that he had just heard on the radio that an airplane crashed into one of the trade center towers. One unusual thing about biology professors is that some of us have binoculars in our offices. I suspect that my colleague and I may have been the only people on the MSU campus that day to get such a close up look at what happened. My colleague, who would normally use his binoculars to study birds, watched as the second plane struck. It was then that our understanding of what was happening shifted from accident to attack. I witnessed the attacks from the rooftop of my science building, a place where I teach courses and conduct research. We could not have known it at the time, but the way we used that building, the kinds of activities we conducted within it, even the ideas we would study, were to be changed by the events of that morning. In the year that followed, caution and fear began to influence the decisions people and those in charge of people made. New threats and attacks seemed to be on the news every week. Among these were dangers far subtler than aircraft: biological weapons of terror were on the minds of most people. The media reminded us of them every day. It therefore should not have come as a surprise when the Men in Black showed up at Science Hall one day to ask about the security of our facility. It was not lost on government agencies that terrorist cells might be cooking up anthrax or smallpox in microbiology teaching laboratories at public universities. Among the questions the agents had for our department chair were: “Do you have incubators and equipment for culturing microorganisms?”Yes.“ Do you know unauthorized people can access these at night?” We don’t think so. Maybe? How are the laboratories secured?” With locks. “Can you account for everyone who has a key or could make copies of a key?” Uhh .. no. Could strangers be cooking dangerous microbes without your awareness? We don’t think so. Probably not. Maybe not? Our absolute lack of security and knowledge of our facilities may seem ridiculous ten years later, but before the world changed our facility was open and accessible to our students. Students have research projects to conduct. They use incubators and Petri dishes and nutrient media to culture bacteria – harmless bacteria that grow from a few cells into billions in only a few days. The labs were often unlocked, even at night, because many students have jobs during the day and can only do their class projects at night. The world had changed and the Men in Black had come to educate us about the way things had to be now. We needed electronic locks with access cards that could identify exactly who entered the room and when they did. We needed to secure our teaching laboratories at night. We needed to be careful that the kinds of tools that might be used for biological weapons were not left lying around and unaccounted for.  It was not only the workplace that changed in my profession. The very questions that we, as biologists, asked also changed. Research is expensive and the kinds of questions that get asked often depend on the willingness of a funding agency to pay for the research. Suddenly federal funding agencies were interested in bioterrorism. They wanted to fund projects that helped us understand dangerous weapons-grade microorganisms. In an era that had seen computer hardware and software improve by leaps and bounds, there was even more intense interest about information technology that might apply to intelligence gathering and monitoring communication networks. There was also sadly a need for understanding the health impacts of the collapse of the two largest buildings inManhattan on the human population and rescue workers who were exposed to it. A professor in my department, Dr. Ann Marie DiLorenzo, recently published a study on the effects of World Trade Center dust on the growth of cells in culture. She and her students found that the dust negatively affected cell biology. As my time at the podium draws to a close, I would like to leave the audience with a few questions to ponder about how imagination for a biologist might have changed since the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps we can discuss some of them during the question and answer session that will follow Mr. Peter’s photographic essay. Is knowledge still free and open when you have to lock the doors? Is discovery constrained or channeled when it is motivated by fear or defense? At least one of the 9/11 terrorists was in our country on a student visa. How does this affect the way we teach at universities? How have international collaborations among scientists been affected? It was once taboo to collaborate with scientists from the Soviet Union, but today I have colleagues from former Soviet states in my department atMontclairStateUniversity. How have collaborations with scientists in countries that have been classified as state sponsors of terrorism been affected? All of these questions are about the ways scientists use imagination. None of them are easy to answer.

ORS: The impact of 9/11 significantly tapped all of my identities. My perspective and my reaction to these events were complex. I worked in downtown New York City during the first attack on the WorldTradeCenterin 1993, and personally experienced those events. I vividly remember the multitude of people who had been evacuated from the towers, and how their coats and faces were marred by the grey tint of smoke. I recall the sense of confusion and distress at not being able to communicate with my loved ones and the hours it took to arrive to my home.  The roads were blocked and there were emergency vehicles all over the city. It was the first time that I questioned if we, as a country, were safe. And part of my idealization of America being “safe” was shattered. However, within days things were normalized…and my desire to believe that I was living in a free and safe country was restored. How naïve to not think that 1993 was a precursor of things to come! If 8 years later, I had been at that same position, I would have in the midst of the most horrible man made disasters our country has experienced. Terrorism’s goal is to provoke fear, and fear is an emotion that I confronted throughout my childhood far more than I would have preferred. Having grown up in Cuba, in a tyrannical and oppressive government, we were controlled by fear: fear of speaking, fear of praying, fear of wanting, fear of being, fear of playing, fear of being killed or incarcerated for self-expression. This type of fear is very personal to me, having suffered through my father’s imprisonment. The magnitude of the events of 9/11 triggered this deep repressed childhood state of worry and hyper-awareness. It reminded me of the horrifying possibility that I could realistically loose loved ones at the hands of an enemy. September 11th is a marker event. It is the type of event in which we can remember where we were, and where the people who were important to us were, when we heard the news. On that day, as a mother, I experienced a sense of anxiety regarding my sons’ safety. One son was in New York City and the other in middle school. I brought home the one I was able to hold, and worried about the other one, until I heard his voice. As a wife, I shared my husband’s sadness, who as school principal, had to comfort his students and attempt to address their unanswerable questions. Some of those children had parents working in New York City and close relatives in the World Trade Center. As a professor, I dealt with my sense of fear, pain, rage and shock in various ways. I read about terrorism, I engaged my students in processing this marker event and in my supervision class, I assisted my graduate students who were in the field working with children, to understand the symptoms of stress that the children were exhibiting. I also conducted research and did presentations on the topic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ten years later, with the distance of time I, along with Professor Connolly, used our creativity to deal with this traumatic marker by developing a team-taught interdisciplinary course on Terrorism. In developing this course, we have been able to see each other’s development since the terroristic attack occurred. As a psychologist, I had the opportunity to help patients who were directly and indirectly affected by events inNew York City andWashington,DC. I was able to be compassionate in a personal way, since I, too, had experienced the attack. I saw the impact which a country held hostage had on my patients: many felt increased anxiety, depression and anger. Some were mourning the loss of loved ones. Others felt a stronger commitment to become involved in peace efforts and volunteering. I saw the interpersonal dynamics of a country whose president had said, “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists” that all or nothing thinking engendered by terrorism had an impact at the macro and micro level.  It is very clear to me that a person’s response to trauma is defined by the lifetime of experience which they bring to the event. It is also very clear that our awareness and vulnerability have been altered. Anniversaries such as the one that just passed revive the emotions of a marker event and allow us to see what lessons we have learned and what types of commitments we want to make for our future. 

MP: The Dream on Vimeo

***Media and related coverage of The Imagination in the Post-9/11 World: How Have We Changed? The Newark Star-Ledger, Baristanet, The Montclarion, Montclair State University Magazine, and Montclair State University News***

A 9/11 Bibliography – Media and Print in the Collections of the Harry A. Sprague Library, Montclair State University – Compiled for the CRC by Dr. Judith L. Hunt, Dean, and the Library Collections and Acquisitions Staff

9/11                                                                      DVD NO.3558

9/11 through Saudi Eyes                             VIDEOTAPE NO.6283

September 11                                                     DVD NO.47

Building on Ground Zero                              DVD NO.1893

Charlie Rose. Show #3028                          VIDEOTAPE NO.5926

Charlie Rose. Show #3029                          VIDEOTAPE NO.5927

Charlie Rose. Show #3064                          VIDEOTAPE NO.5928

Charlie Rose. Show #3093                           VIDEOTAPE NO.5929

Farenheit 9/11                                                   DVD NO.463

First Response                                                   VIDEOTAPE NO.5883

Hijacking catastrophe: 9/11, fear, & the selling of American empire 

DVD NO.1065

In Memorium:New York City9/11/01           DVD NO.77

Inside the Terror Network                                  VIDEOTAPE NO.5917

Loose Change                                                            DVD NO.1285

Noam Chomsky: Rebel without a pause         DVD NO.779

Objects and Memory                                              DVD NO.2667

Reign Over Me                                                           DVD NO.2355

The Al-Qaeda files                                                    DVD NO.2188

The Dark Side                                                             DVD NO.1651

The Guys                                                                      DVD NO.1006

The Pentagon                                                            VIDEOTAPE NO.5885

TwinTowers                                                               DVD NO.565

Under Ground Zero                                               DVD NO.109

United 93                                                                   DVD NO.1499

Vito After                                                                  DVD NO.2812

Why the Towers Fell                                             VIDEOTAPE NO.5976

WorldTradeCenter                                                VIDEOTAPE NO.5882

WTC: the first 24 hours, 9.11.2001″               DVD NO.53

* * * * * * * * * *

Allende, Isabel.  Philosophy in a time of terror: dialogues with Jűrgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. 

PQ8098.1.L54 Z46713 2003.  

Alternative Comics.  9-11 emergency relief: a comic book to benefit the American Red Cross. Gainesville,FL: Alternative Comics, 2002. 

PN6727.A12 N49 2002.  

Altongy, Janine.  Stepping through the ashes. New York: Aperture, 2002. 

HV6432.7.A48 2002. 

Amis, Martin.  The second plane: September 11: terror and boredom. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2008. 

HV6432.7.A3836 2008. 

Baer, Ulrich.  110 stories:New Yorkwrites after September 11. New York:New YorkUniversityPress, 2002. 

PS549.N5 A13 2002.  

Bannon, Peter L. America’s heroes: inspiring stories of courage, sacrifice and patriotism. Champaign,IL: SP, LLC, 2001. 

E903.2 .A44 2001. 

 Baxter, Jenny.  The BBC reports: onAmerica, its allies and enemies, and the counterattack on terrorism. Woodstock,New York: Overlook Press, 2002. HV6432 .B39 2002.  

Bedad, Kathryn.  Compassion and courage in the aftermath of traumatic loss: stones in my heart forever . New York:HaworthPress, 2006. 

HV6432.7 .B413 2006.  

Beigbeder, Frederic.  Windows on the World: A Novel. New York: Miramax Books, 2004. 

PQ5662.E43 W5613 2004.  

Bernstein, Richard.  Out of the blue: the story of September 11, 2001, from Jihad to Ground Zero. New York: Times Books, 2002. 

HV6432 .B47 2002.  

Blais, Allison. A Placeof Remembrance: official book of the national September 11 Memorial. Washington,DC: National Geographic, 2011. 

HV6432.7 .B529 2011.  

Brill, Steven.  After: howAmericaconfronted the September 12 era. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. 

HV6432.7 .B75 2003.  

Brisard, Jean-Charles.  Forbidden truth: U.S.-Taliban secret oil diplomacy and the failed hunt for Bin Laden. New York: Thundermouth Press, 2002. 

E183.8.A3 B74 2002.  

Bull, Chris.  At ground zero: young reporters who were there tell their stories. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002. 

HV6432 .A8 2002.  

By the reporters, writers, and editors of Der Spiegel magazine; translated from the German by Paul De Angelis and Elisabeth Kaestner; with contributions from Margo Dembo and Christopher Sultan.  Inside 9-11: what really happened. New York:St. Martin’s Press, 2002. 

HV6432 .I54 2002. 

 Bainker, Louise.  Homeland insecurity: the Arab American and Muslim American experience after 9/11. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 2009. 

E184.A65 C35 2009.  

Calhoun, Craig J.  Understanding September 11.  New York: New Press, 2002. 

HV6432 .U5 2002.  

Chesler, Phyllis.  The new anti-semitism: the current crisis and what we must do about it. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003. 

DS145 .C5 2003.  

Chollet, Derek H. Americabetween the wars: from 11/9 to 9/11: the misunderstood years between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of the War on Terror. New York: BBS Public Affairs, 2008.  839.5 .C475 2008. 

 Chomsky, Noam.  9-11. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2001. 

HV6432 .C44 2001.  

Clarke, Richard A.  Against all enemies: insideAmerica’s war on terror. New York: Free Press, 2004. 

HV6432 .C53 2004.  

DeLillo, Don.  Falling  man: A novel. New York: Scribner, 2007. 

PS3554.E4425 F36 2007.  

DePalma, Anthony.  City of dust: illness, arrogance and 9/11. Upper Saddle River,NJ: FT Press, 2011. 

RA566  .D47 2011.  

Dower, John W.  Cultures of war: Pearl Harbor,Hiroshima, 9-11,Iraq. New York: New Press.  2010. 

E745 .D69 2010.  

Dudley, William.  Terrorism. Farmington Hills,MI: Greenhaven Press, 2003. 

HV6432 .T443 2003.  

Dudley, William.  The attack onAmerica, September 11, 2001. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2002. 

HV6432 .T474 2002. 

Duffy, John.  Triumph over tragedy: September 11 and the rebirth of a business. Hoboken,NJ: Wiley, 2002. 

HD38.2 .D84 2002.  

Dwyer, Jim.  102 minutes: the untold story of the fight to survive inside theTwinTowers. New York: Times Books, 2005. 

HV6432.7 .D89 2005. 

Faludi, Susan.  The terror dream: fear and fantasy in post-9/11America. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007. 

E169.Z83 F35 2007.  

Farmer, John J.  The ground truth: the untold story ofAmericaunder attack on 9/11. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009. 

HV6432.7 .F37 2009.  

Fire Engineering      Fallen heroes: a tribute from Fire Engineering, September 11, 2001. Tulsa,Okla: Pennwell, 2001. 

HV6432 .F354 2001. 

Foer, Jonathan Safran.  Extremely loud and incredibly close. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 

PS3606.O38 E97 2005.  

Friend, David.  Watching the world change: the stories behind the images of 9/11. New York: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2006. 

HV6432.7 .F75 2006.  

George, Alice Rose.  Here isNew York: a democracy of photographs. Zurich:New York: Dap, Art Publishers, 2002. 

HV6432 .H47 2002.  

Gilbert, Allison.  Covering catastrophe: broadcast journalists report September 11. Chicago: Bonus Books, 2002. 

PN4784.T45 C68 2002. 

Glass, Julia.  The whole world over: A Novel. New York: Pantheon Books, 2006. 

PS3607.L37 P54 2006. 

Goldberg, Alfred.  Pentagon 9/11. Washington,DC: Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of the Press, 2007. 

D 1.2:P 38/3 WEB, HV6432.7 .P43 2007.  

Gonz lez Juan.  Fallout: the environmental consequences of theWorldTradeCentercollapse . New York: New Press, 2002. 

RA566 .G57 2002.  

Goodman, Robin F.  The day our world changed: children’s art of 9/11. New York:London: Harry N Abrams, 2002. 

HV6432 .G66 2002. 

Grolnick, Maureen.  Forever after:New York Cityteachers on 9/11 . New York: Teachers College Press,ColumbiaUniversity, 2006. 

HV6432.7 .F667 2006. 

Habermas, Jürgen.  Philosophy in a time of terror: dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress, 2003. 

HV6432.7 .H32 2003. 

 Halaby, Laila.  Once in a promised land: A novel. Boston: Beacon Press, 2007. 

PS3608.A5455 O63 2007.  

Halberstam, David.  Firehouse. New York: Hyperion, 2002. 

HV6432 .H353 2002.  

Halberstam, David. New York September 11. New York: Powerhouse Books, 2001. 

HV6432 .N49 2001.  

Halliday, Fred.  Two hours that shook the world: September 11, 2001: causes and consequences . London: Saqi, 2002. 

HV6432 .H35 2002.  

Hammond, Andrew.  What the Arabs think ofAmerica. Oxford;Western CT:GreenwoodWorld Pub, 2007. 

DS63.2.U5 H357 2007.  

Hanson, Victor Davis.  An autumn of war: whatAmericalearned from September 11 and the war on terrorism. New York: Anchor Books, 2002. 

HV6432 .H377 2002.  

Hendra, Tony.  Brotherhood. New York: American Express Corp, 2001. 

HV6432 .B76 2001.  

Hershberg, Eric.  Critical views of September 11: analyses from around the world . New York: New Press, 2002. 

HV6432 .C75 2002.  

Hirrel, Leo P.  Response to terrorism:U.S.Joint Forces Command and the attacks of 11 September 2001. Norfolk,VA: Office of the Command Historian,USJoint Forces Command, 2003. 

HV6432.7 .H57 2003.  

Hoge, James F.  How did this happen?: Terrorism and the new war. New York: PublicAffairs, 2001. 

HV6432 .H69 2001.  

Hutchinson, Robert.  Sometime lofty towers: a photographic memorial of theWorldTradeCenter. San Francisco: Browntrout Publishers, 2001. 

NA6233.N5 W679 2001.  

Jacobson, Sidney.  The 9/11 report: a graphic adaptation. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. 

HV6432.7 .J33 2006.  

Jensen, Robert.  Citizens of the empire: the struggle to claim our humanity. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2004. 

E902 .J45 2004.  

Johnson, Dennis Loy.  Poetry after 9/11: an anthology ofNew Yorkpoets. Hoboken,NJ: Melville House Pub, 2002. 

PS549.N5 P63 2002.  

Kim, H. C. (Heerak Christian).  Korean-American youth identity and 9/11: an examination of Korean-American ethnic identity in post-9/11America. Highland Park,NJ:HermitKingdomPress, 2008. 

E184.K6 K45 2008.  

Kuntzel, Matthias.  Jihad and Jew-hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the roots of 9/11. New York: Telos Press, 2009. 

HV6431 .K85513 2009.  

Langewiesche, William..  American ground, unbuilding theWorldTradeCenter. New York: North Point Press, 2002. 

HV6432 .L364 2002.  

Lifton, Robert Jay.  Superpower syndrome:America’s apocalyptic confrontation with the world. New York: Thunder Mouth Press/ Nation Books, 2003. 

E902 .L54 2003.  

Lincoln, Bruce.  Holy terrors: thinking about religion after September 11 . Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress, 2003. 

BL65.T47 L56 2003.  

Lioy, Paul J.  Dust: the inside story of its role in the September 11th aftermath. Lanham,MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. 

TD884.5 .L568 2010.  

Lippman, Thomas W.  Inside the mirage:America’s fragile partnership withSaudi Arabia. Boulder,CO: Westview Press, 2004. 

E183.8.S25 L57 2004.  

Lutnick, Howard.  On top of the world: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11: a story of loss and renewal. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. 

HG4928.5 .L886 2003.  

Mayer, Jane.  The dark side: the inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals. New York: Doubleday, 2008. 

HV6432 .M383 2008. 

McDermott, Terry.  Perfect soldiers: the hijackers: who they were, why they did it. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 

HV6431 .M394 2005.  

McInerney, Jay.  The good life. New York: Knopf, 2006. 

PS3563.C3694 G66 2006. 

McPhee, Martha.  L’America. Orlando,Fla: Harcourt, 2006. 

PS3563.C3888 A84 2006.  

McWhinney, Edward.  The September 11 terrorist attacks and the invasion ofIraqin contemporary international law: opinions on the emerging new world order system. Leiden,Boston: Nijhoff, 2004. 

KZ6795.I73 M39 2004. 

Meyerowitz, Joel.  Aftermath. New York: Phaidon Press, 2006. 

OVERSIZE HV6432.7 .M47 2006. 

Miller, John.  The cell: inside the 9/11 plot and why the FBI and CIA failed to stop it. New York: Hyperion, 2002. 

HV6432 .M54 2002. 

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon theUnited States..  The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon theUnited States. New York: Norton, 2004. 

HV6432.7 .N39 2004.  C

Nelson, Anne.  The guys: A play. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002. 

PS3614.E445 G89 2002.  

New Jersey. Legislature. General Assembly. Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee..  Committee meeting of Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee: Assembly bill nos. 1912 and 2233 (exempts from New Jersey gross income tax the victims who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States): testimony from waterfront community mayors as well as business and community representatives on the security of the Hudson River waterfront: [September 26, 2002, Jersey City, New Jersey]. Trenton,NJ: The Unit, 2002. 

KFN1811.4 .H534 2002.  H 

Peek, Lori A.  Behind the backlash: Muslim Americans after 9/11. Philadelphia:TempleUniversityPress, 2011. 

E184.M88  P44 2011.  

Picciotto, Richard.  Last man down: a firefighter’s story of survival and escape from theWorldTradeCenter. New York: Barkley Books, 2002. 

HV6432 .P5 2002.  

Pointer Inst for Media Studies.  September 11, 2001: a collection of newspaper front pages. Kansas City,MO: Andrews McMeel, 2001. 

HV6432 .S458 2001.  

Posner, Gerald L.  WhyAmericaslept: the failure to prevent 9/11. New York: Random House, 2003. 

HV6432.7 .P685 2003.  

Prashad, Vijay.  War against the planet: the fifth Afghan war, imperialism, and other assorted fundamentalisms. New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2002. 

E895 .P73 2002.  

Price, Reynolds.  The good priest’s son. New York: Scribner, 2005. 

PS3566.R54 G66 2005.  

Prince, Stephen.  Firestorm: American film in the age of terrorism. New York:ColumbiaUniversityPress, 2009. 

PN1993.5.U6 P745 2009.  

Pyszczynski, Thomas A.  In the wake of 9/11: The psychology of terror. WashingtonDC: American Psychological Association, 2003. 

HV6432 .P97 2003.  

Raban, Jonathan.  My holy war: dispatches from the home front. New York:New YorkReview of Books, 2006. 

E902 .R33 2006.  

Reuters Ltd   September 11: a testimony . New York: Pearson Education;Upper Saddle River,NJ: Prentice Hall PTR, 2002. 

HV6432 .S47 2002.  

Rich, Frank.  The greatest story ever sold: the decline and fall of truth from 9/11 to Katrina. New York: Penguin Press, 2006. 

E902 .R53 2006.  

Ridgeway, James.  The 5 unanswered questions about 9/11: what the 9/11 Commission report failed to tell us. New York: Seven Stories, 2005. 

HV6432.7 .R54 2005.  

Roberts, Alasdair.  The collapse of fortress Bush: the crisis of authority in American government. New York:New YorkUniversityPress, 2008. 

E902 .R625 2008.  

Roleff, Tamara L.  TheWorldTradeCenterattack. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. 

HV6432.7 .W67 2003.  

Rozan, S. J..  Absent friends. New York: Delacorte Press, 2004. 

PS3568.O99 A64 2004.  

Seeley, Karen M.  Therapy after terror: 9/11, psychotherapists, and mental health. New York:CambridgeUniversityPress, 2008. 

RC552.P67 S394 2008.  

Sheehy, Gail.  Middletown,America: one town’s passage from trauma to hope. New York: Random House, 2003. 

HV6432 .S52 2003. 

 Sheridan, Kerry.  Bagpipe brothers: the FDNY Band’s true story of tragedy, mourning, and recovery. New Brunswick,NJ:RutgersUniversityPress, 2004.  ML421.F39 S54 2004. 

Sinkler, Adrian. Saudi Arabia. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. 

E183.8.S25 S28 2003. 

Smith, Dennis.  Report from ground zero. New York: Viking, 2002. 

HV6432 .S64 2002.  

Smith, Jane I.  Islam inAmerica. New York,NY:ColumbiaUniversityPress, 2010. 

BP67.U6 S6 2010.  

Sorkin, Michael.  After theWorldTradeCenter: rethinkingNew York City. New York: Routledge, 2002. 

NA9127.N5 A25 2002.  

Spiegelman, Art.  In the shadow of no towers. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004. 

OVERSIZE PN6727.S6 I5 2004.  

Sturken, Marita.  Tourists of history: memory, kitsch, and consumerism fromOklahoma Cityto Ground Zero. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007. 

E169.12 .S8495 2007.  

Taibbi, Matt.  The great derangement: a terrifying true story of war, politics, and religion at the twilight of the American empire. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2008. 

E902 .T345 2008. 

 Talbott, Strobe.  The age of terror:Americaand the world after September 11. New York: Basic Books, 2001. 

HV6432 .A43 2001.  

Trost, Cathy.  Running toward danger: stories behind the breaking news of 9/11. Lanham,MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. 

HV6432 .T76 2002.  

United States. Defense Protective Service.        9-11 Special Edition. WashingtonDC: Defense Protective Service, 2002. 

D 1.2:P 94/18 

US Office of Justice Programs      Policing in Arab-American communities after September 11. Washington,DC: Dept of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Inst of Justice, 2008. 

J 28.38:P 75/5 WEB

 Waldman, Amy.  The submission. New York: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2011. 

PS3623.A35675 S83 2011.  

Weil, Gordan Lee. Americaanswers a sneak attack: Alcan and Al Qaeda . Los Angeles:America’s Group, 2005. 

E806 .W447 2005.  

Williams, Mary E.  The terrorist attack onAmerica. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003. 

HV6432 .T4735 2003.  

Woodward, Bob.  Bush at war. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. 

E903.3 .W66 2002.  

Wright, Lawrence.  The looming tower: Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11. New York: Knopf, 2006. 

HV6432.7 .W75 2006.  

Zelizer, Barbie.  Journalism after September 11. New York: Routledge, 2002. 

PN4853 .J59 2002.  

Zižek, Slavoj.  First as tragedy, then as farce. London: Verso, 2009. 

HB501 .Z59 2009.  

_______________________________

 

America: Out of the ashes. Tulsa,OK: Honor Books, 2001.

BV6432 .A44 2001. 

Do not be sad: a chronicle of healing: children’s letters and artwork sent after 9/11 from acrossAmericato Engine 24 Ladder 5 FDNY. New York: Welcome Books, 2002.  JUV HV6432 .D62 2002.  

In the line of duty: a tribute toNew York’s finest and bravest. New York: aegan Books, HarperCollins Publishers, 2001. 

HV6432 .I5 2001.  

One nation:Americaremembers September 11, 2001. Boston: Little Brown & Co, 2001. 

HV6432 .O54 2001.  

Portraits 9/11/01: the collected portraits of grief from The New York Times. New York: Times Books/ Henry Holt and Company, 2002. 

HV6432 .P67 2002.

Living in a Terrestrial Culture – Harry Haines on the post-9/11 world, new media, and the challenges facing today’s college students and their teachers

[Dr. Harry W. Haines is Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University, and serves as the head of a task force charged with developing the new CART School of Communication and Media Arts.  As of this writing, a formal proposal to establish the new School has been submitted and is pending. The plan is to phase in the new curriculum for the School and, in the fall of 2012, to start the first round of new classes. Dr. Haines received his PhD in Communication from the University of Utah. Before coming to MSU in 2008, he taught at Trinity University in San Antonio; the University of Memphis; and California State University at Sacramento.  His general scholarly interests and expertise include cultural studies and political economy. At MSU, Dr. Haines teaches introduction to communication studies; the Vietnam war; queer theory; and news and public affairs. He served in Vietnam from 1970-71 in a medical unit stationed at Cam Ranh Bay.

Last week, we sat down to talk with Dr. Haines about the themes of the October 12th Creative Research Center Symposium on The Uses of the Imagination in the Post-9/11 World and a multitude of pedagogical challenges related to the (so-called) Millennial generation.]

CRC  Let me start by asking you point-blank what the “post-9/11 world” concept means to “us” historically.

HH  These were terrible attacks — heinous and criminal. They have been decontextualized by the media. The American media do an especially poor job of placing events into an historical context. When something dreadful occurs, like the 9/11 attacks, it is as if they happened out of the blue – all of a sudden – without precedent. They give rise to irresponsible rhetoric, i.e., “they hate us because of our freedom…because we are rich,” and so on. These kinds of rationales, to me, are nonsensical. And yet, this mentality seems to be sticking, and to have removed any constructive traction for sensemaking. Irresponsible media organizations and pundits even went so far as to smear University professors, including the top U.S. researchers on the Middle East, when they recommended soon after 9/11 that Americans examine the motivations behind these vicious, barbaric acts.

Think about it. Al Qaeda is a truly dangerous and determined enemy, with an ideology and game plan as hateful as anything we’ve encountered since World War Two. And here are so-called news organizations and various media, basically, telling us that we should avoid the hard work of figuring out what makes these terrorists think and act. It’s an act of willful ignorance to insist that we not analyze this deadly enemy and figure out his mindset, and how our own policies may have helped produce that mindset, as crazy as it is. That kind of ignorance betrays the trust of our soldiers.

One of the biggest problems is our apparent inability to go back and objectively assess where we were as a great power following the end of the Cold War, during which time this country did a lot of damage to a lot of people. We ought to have an informed discussion about the Cold War as a starting-point for talking about 9/11.

We desperately require a sense of history. We need to commit to struggling to place this terrible event into an historical context.  And when we do this, we should not be subjected to such accusations as “You are anti-American;  or “You hate this country.”  We need a serious evaluation of “where we are” in the world as a society. Again, not from the perspective that we are going to be somehow “overtaken” – the US is not going anywhere. We should be confident in our ability to withstand the challenge of terrorism and to ultimately subvert it. But we can’t afford to be ignorant of the historical and cultural context of this struggle. It will be very difficult for our leaders to develop the necessary political consensus that we’ll need to win this struggle if we fail to be as knowledgeable as our soldiers are courageous.

As a Vietnam vet, I feel very strongly about this. My generation suffered in a war that was begun in ignorance. The current struggle is far more challenging than Vietnam, it’s more nuanced, more complex, even harder to understand. I suspect that’s one of the reasons why artistic reactions to the struggle have so far been relatively limited. The culture seems to be trying to figure out how to deal with 9/11, how to understand it. The introduction of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Washington Mall really opened the door for Vietnam War literature, plays, and so forth. I suspect that something similar will happen as a result of the magnificent memorial at Ground Zero. Nevertheless, we are witnessing a diminution of our power relative to other declining economies in this increasingly interlocking world, and we need to face up to that fact.

CRC   As the young people keep on coming, you are confronted as a teacher by the challenge of how to present “history” to them in all the ramifications of that term, not just by subject, but by perspective.  The past is, indeed, a foreign country. How do you accomplish this goal pedagogically?

 HH   Our young people need to understand that they already exist in a global culture. I call it a truly terrestrial culture.  Traditional, national cultures and nation-states as you and I have known them are declining in viability; they are blending and overlapping.  When you travel the world nowadays, you don’t experience the same kinds of cultural differences as a generation or two ago. Young people have to understand the magnitude of the world as a globe – this realization is at once frightening and stimulating…and, of course, intertwined with the media, because the media now operate globally. Clearly what is emerging is a communication grid that connects all of the people, all of the time.  When I talk to my classes about this issue, the reaction to that is often along the lines of, “Hey, professor, tell us something we don’t already know!” Yes, they “get” the grid, they understand and were born into it. These kids are thoroughly networked, constantly plugged in to one device or another. If you ask them — as I used to do, as an experiment — to try to withdraw from media from a week, they just cannot do it anymore.

CRC  We need to define our terms, so let’s contrast and compare the teachers’ and students’ generational orientation toward “media,” and the implications of that.

HH   When someone says media to me, I immediately think environment. We are supersaturated with multiple channels.  I have long been in agreement with Marshall McLuhan’s dictum that media are “extensions of the organism.” This is still very appealing to me. I no longer think of internet, TV and radio as “coming at us.” That is dynamically inaccurate;  rather, they are extensions of us, outward.

When I was a kid in college, it was actually possible to ignore the economic problems of other countries. Today, those problems are automatically our problem.  If we do not encourage young people to think about their place within the global economy, we are being irresponsible as teachers, and we will pay the price.  As much as I see the students’ sophistication as far as using the cool gadgets and tools available to them, what the younger generation do not know are the nuances and implications of their wiredness.  More and more, the professional class, the so-called creative class, have more in common with their opposite numbers.  And this includes students who aspire to this social class, who aspire to be professionals or to be creative.  The young people nowadays, as opposed to in our day, have more in common with their opposite numbers throughout the world. We are witnessing the rise of a new global social class, and our kids are going to have to be part of this huge scale. They do not have a choice. This is where we as committed teachers come in; it is our job to prepare them for that.

This process of intense globalization is reconfiguring the economy worldwide, and our young people also need to understand that this economic restructuring is going to be a permanent characteristic of their future lives on this planet. This awareness and condition have profound implications for higher education.

CRC  How can we encourage the importance of a social conscience in a media-saturated world?

HH  I am resolutely pragmatic when it comes to higher education today. I am positive that a pragmatic disposition and intellectual affinities can and should exist together.  I value a grounded sensibility in American intellectuals; this is a great native tradition of which we should be proud, and which we can, and should, promulgate among our students.

I would like to see this synthesized, homegrown American intellectual style become one of the characteristics of the new global culture. The rest of the world will benefit.

Social conscience and media-saturation are not mutually exclusive. To carry-through on the “saturation” metaphor, there is no doubt in my mind that among the many variations of media, social networking is number one and pre-eminent among the kids.  Biology enters in here.  These social networks will have a huge impact on the physiological evolution of human beings.  No — they are already doing so!  Think about how the modern human organism perceives and organizes reality! When you and I were young, it was the advent of TV.  Now, it is the internet – it is a Web. That tells you a lot about the direction of socialization.  

CRC  We live in such a utilitarian environment today, and the University is not exempt from this pressure.  The point and the purpose of subject matter is often questioned. Students ask, What is this topic good for? How is this class going to help me…? So how will the Post-9/11 Symposium, for that matter, relate to them?

HH  The generation we are teaching now – and I say this with the most affection – they are inexplicable in many ways; even though, ironically, I have been trying throughout this conversation to explain them. It is increasingly difficult and challenging to understand how they think. And that is not their “fault” or their problem. It is our problem. We have not been talking here today about the actual content of media as far as the students’ interests are concerned; rather, we are talking about the experience of dealing with technology itself, and it is quite damaging to remove it from their hands.

For example, when we include Web sites as part of the Bibliography for a course, I think students see that as de rigueur – nothing special.  They feel that they have enormous power and autonomy with their handheld devices; they obsess about their communication devices the way we cosmopolitan adults talk about food.

Given the current complex and rapidly-mutating political situation, it is so important for us in the academy to make it clear that we are obligated to provide a critical vision at any given time, to help  students construct a coherent vision.  And when it comes to “critical vision” with respect to the 9/11 attacks, that’s where we as teachers have to step to the fore, because nobody in this country seems to be encouraging the American  people to think in a broader context as a matter of principle. That is one of the major assets of our forthcoming Symposium, because we will have different professors from widely different disciplines addressing a common problem. This will be so instructive for the students to bear witness.  

CRC  The intention in using this loaded term, “the imagination,” was to take a creative view of our present and future – redemptive, positive, forward-looking, inventive. This is usually the assumed province of “the Arts” but it is of course not exclusive to the Arts.  Hence, as you point out, the diversity of the Symposium panel.

HH  When I apply my own imagination in this context, I am an idealist; I want to imagine a world where such an event as 9/11 will be unthinkable, a world in which this kind of criminal offense would not even be thought of. And I would like to believe that given their enhanced and natural communication skills, our current students will be able to make some contributions to, and really enact, that ideal.

As we were saying earlier, radio and television was my professional orientation. I was originally drawn to those formative media as a young man because I believed that TV and radio could facilitate a “better deal” for people.  And I wanted to participate in making use of those media to bring about a better world.  I still have great faith in that ideal for the new media as we conceive of them today. The impetus of American journalism is still very much to identify problems and to solve those problems.  I say this to my students all the time. I believe in the social responsibility of media. That asset has not changed, no matter how the media themselves change.

CRC This is one of the issues we will be discussing in our panel in Memorial Auditorium on the afternoon of 10/12. What can we, as creative and imaginative teachers in our varied and respective disciplines, do to help our students “face the future”?  The years ahead will continue to be conditioned by the repercussions and implications  of 9/11 and other cataclysmic and pervasive events. We as teachers are in positions of power to interpret these events with our students.

HH  Yes, indeed, and looking more deeply into my imagined ideal future, I see the encouragement of democratic values. This is a real legacy that we can hand off from generation to generation.

The best way to for us to exercise the power, as you call it, that we have as teachers is to inculcate these values, to invite our students into the conversation, and prepare them to participate in the critical analysis of whatever the object of study might be. Hence, when there is an opportunity to talk about 9/11, we should seize it. The proper role of the teacher is not just to replicate his or her perspective. We need to invite and prepare students today to participate in this ongoing democratic dialogue, a bold and critical assessment of whatever we might be as a society. This kind of inquisitive pursuit can take place in a chemistry or biology or philosophy or psychology class just as easily as it can in a media course.

The new media are facilitating the single most import communicative event on this planet since the invention of the printing press. We are living through an unprecedented phase of human experience, and we must be aware of that, and pass that awareness along to our students so they can face the post-9/11 world properly equipped.

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The Uses of the Imagination in the Post-9/11 World. Continue the conversation on Wednesday, October 12, from 2:30-4:00 pm in Memorial Auditorium on the Montclair State University campus, when Prof. Haines will be joined by Profs. Norma Connolly (Justice Studies), Scott Kight (Biology), Lori Katterhenry (Dance), and Ofelia Rodriguez (Psychology); and Mike Peters, University Photographer.  There will also be a special commemorative performance by BFA Dance students of excerpts from the classic There is a Time, by Jose Limon.  Moderated by Prof. Neil Baldwin, Director of the Creative Research Center, the Panel Discussion is co-sponsored with the College of the Arts Office of Education and Community Outreach; the Office of Equity and Diversity; and the Center for Advising and Student Transitions. Admission is free.

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Montclair State Remembers 9/11 – a Webcast – examined the political, cultural and artistic fallout from the attacks; it featured interviews with students, alumni, faculty, eyewitnesses and prominent journalists, and contained news footage of the event and the aftermath given to MSU by CBS News. The program was a production of  ”Carpe Diem” and “The Montclarion” in association with The College of the Arts.  Also contributing – the Dumont TV Center, Information Technology, University Communications, the Broadcasting Department, the Communication Studies Department, The Art&Design Department, The Cali School of Music, The Theatre and Dance Department, The Muslim Student Association, The Veteran’s Association and CBS News. Guests included Bloomberg Columnist Jonathan Alter, NPR Marketplace Correspondent David Brancaccio, WCBS Radio Reporter Tom Kaminski, Dr. Neil Baldwin, Dr. Larry Londino, Dr. Suzanne Trauth, and Professor Beverly Petersen. The webcast was hosted by Professor Marc Rosenweig and Montclarion Editors Katherine Milsop and Tanja Rekhi.