Rini Cobbey, associate professor of communication arts, contributed a short chapter to a new book entitled Film in the Middle East and North Africa: Creative Dissidence, published last month by the University of Texas Press. Rini’s chapter analyzes the Iranian film Under the Skin of the City, detailing how its individuals and families struggle to negotiate their social and political contexts.
The publisher describes the significance of this book as follows: “This is the first study to cover cinemas from Iran to Morocco. Nine essays present the region’s major national cinemas, devoting special attention to the work of directors who have given image and voice to dissent from political regimes, from patriarchal customs, from fundamentalist movements, and from the West. These country essays are complemented by in-depth discussions of eighteen films that have been selected for both their excellence and their critical engagement with pressing current issues. The introduction provides a comprehensive overview of filmmaking throughout the region, including important films produced outside the national cinemas. The long history of Iranian cinema, its international renown, and the politics of directors confronting the state, earns it a special place in this volume. The other major emphasis is on the Israel/Palestine conflict, featuring films by Palestinian directors, Israelis, and an Egyptian working in Syria.”
Jonathan Gerber, assistant professor of psychology, is curious about those places in popular culture where psychology intersects, specifically today’s music. In his music review that was published yesterday—on a site that claims over a million viewers a month— he writes of the music group Slint’s latest album:
“Slint’s Spiderland is possibly the least understood yet most influential album of the last 20 years. Every aspect of Spiderland, from its cover to its lyrics, from its timbre to its musical structures, suggests that the album is about sleep. In an uncanny way, Spiderland expresses our experience of sleep and musically contains all of its characteristics as noted by sleep researchers, moving from the uplifting and bizarre logic of dreams through to the possible psychosis that sleep resembles, while on the way touching on its sensory and restorative aspects.”
Click here to read the rest of Jonathan’s review in the column All Things Reconsidered.
The Gordon College Institute for Public History has launched a public lecture series in Salem’s Old Town Hall, a historic building dating back to the early 1800s. The series opened with a lecture from historian Richard Francis that was covered by CSPAN and continues on February 17 with a talk by K. David Goss, assistant professor of history, on Salem and the Civil War.
The College’s work on Old Town Hall–led by Goss, Cliff Hersey (dean of Global Education), and Kristina Stevick (director of the Institute for Public History)–represents its commitment to interdisciplinary ventures. In addition to the lecture series, the building houses performances of the original play Cry Innocent, commissioned by Norm Jones, associate professor of theatre arts, and written by Mark Stevick, associate professor of English. Currently, the College is working with the city of Salem to transform the first floor of the building into a museum of public history.
For more information on the lecture series, which also features a presentation by associate professor of history Tal Howard next month on his forthcoming book, visit oldtownhalllectures.com.
Tal Howard, professor of history and director of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum, has a book coming out next month from Oxford University Press. God and the Atlantic: America, Europe and the Religious Divide has already received favorable reviews; historian Mark Noll calls it, “a pathbreaking exploration.”
Here’s the description from the publisher: “Since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, the United States and Western Europe’s paths to modernity have diverged sharply with respect to religion. In short, Americans have maintained much friendlier ties with traditional forms of religion than their European counterparts. What explains this transatlantic religious divide?
Accessing the topic though nineteenth and early twentieth-century European commentary on the United States, Thomas Albert Howard argues that an ‘Atlantic gap’ in religious matters has deep and complex historical roots, and enduringly informs some strands of European disapprobation of the United States.”
Read more on Tal’s book here.
The Provost’s Film Series returns for the spring semester with a set of five films that explore the theme of “The Outsiders.” Since 1999, Provost Mark Sargent has partnered with faculty members to produce 4-5 film-and-discussion nights each semester. Mixing a variety of genres around a semester- or year-long theme, the series has now shown more than 100 films representing 29 different countries.
This semester’s iteration will focus on those who, for different reasons, live on the fringes of the world around them. Below is the lineup for the spring semester as well as an introduction to the first film, Spider-Man 2, after the jump.
February 1: Spider-Man 2
discussion led by Toddy Burton, assistant professor of communication arts
February 15: My Best Friend
discussion led by Emmanuelle Vanborre, assistant professor of French
March 8: The Ghost Writer
discussion led by Mark Sargent, provost
April 19: The Counterfeiters
discussion led by Daniel Johnson, associate professor of sociology
May 11: Blade Runner
discussion led by Ian DeWeese-Boyd, associate professor of philosophy
Read the rest of this entry »
This coming weekend, Gordon’s departments of music and theatre arts will produce one of their biggest shows in recent history, “Pirates of Penzance.” The cast alone includes over 45 students—all of whom came back early from Christmas break to rehearse—but the story of its production, from creating costumes to building the set in the chapel, has particularly inspired the show’s (acting) director, JEFFREY S. MILLER, professor and chair of theatre arts. Here are his thoughts:
“Since about January 10, a substantial number of backstage crewmembers have been laboring many many hours a day (often 10 to 12) to produce the significant scenic elements and massive numbers of costumes that the show require. I wish people could have seen this shop in action. It was akin to a summer stock factory! Senior Amy Laing has been the student coordinating the costume crew and her help must number somewhere around 8 to 12. These are students who voluntarily came back to school to build costumes for the show – large numbers of them. The women in the show each have two costumes, a dress and night dress. Many of the pirates double as police. So the total is well over 100 costumes.
And that doesn’t even take into account the people, under the supervision of student Nathaniel Punches (and our department technical leader, Dawn Sarrouf), who have been building and painting the set, the scenic drop and creating/gathering props. All of this must be built, moved over to the chapel, installed (no one has seen a design in that space that comes close to what staff member and Gordon alumna Amber Primm has created – it will surprise!), coordinated, run and then dismantled by next Sunday at 7 PM. Nor does it account for the dinners that needed to be planned (with a goodly amount of food special needs), prepared and served before the food service opened on Jan 18.
It has been a massive undertaking.
I know that I have never seen so many students work so hard for the love of learning and serving each other and their prospective audience in a creative artistic project, using their gifts joyfully and collaboratively, on our campus. It’s absolutely remarkable. And their example has moved me deeply. It builds my hope in for the future of the arts at Gordon.”
Aren’t athletics supposed to build character? The answer might be a bit more complex than most would assume. This past summer Valerie Gin, professor of recreation and leisure studies, presented her work on moral reasoning in sport at a conference hosted by Neumann University’s Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development. In line with other studies on the topic, Gin found that the moral reasoning of college athletes actually decreases over time, even at faith-based institutions. This decline may be due in part to the tension between sport world values and faith world values. At the conference, Gin presented her research on the positive effects of personal narratives and group discussions on the moral reasoning of college athletes. With a small pilot group, Gin had seen the value of storytelling as a means of reducing this moral tension, helping athletes to reflect upon the role and place of morality in their respective sports. Athletics can indeed build character, but without intentional measures to help athletes process and re-frame their experiences, the opposite is often true.
To join the dialogue on integrity in sports, visit Professor Gin’s website wired4sport.
The United Nations has adopted a resolution proclaiming 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). At the end of January, Irv Levy, professor of chemistry and computer science, will attend the International Launch of the IYC at UNESCO World Headquarters in Paris. This two day event will feature speakers from more than a dozen nations addressing the UN’s resolution, which calls for national and international efforts to emphasize the importance of chemistry for sustainable development in all aspects of human life. Among the program’s speakers are a Nobel laureate, directors of research corporations, governmental administrators, scientists, educators, historians, and the granddaughter of Marie Curie. Beginning with the International Launch, the IYC will focus upon four goals throughout 2011:
* Increasing public appreciation of chemistry in meeting world needs
* Encouraging an interest in chemistry among young people
* Generating enthusiasm for the creative future of Chemistry
* Celebrating the achievements of Marie Curie and the contributions of women to chemistry
David Lee, professor of physics and pre-engineering (pictured here with some of his students’ festive works), inspired much merriment before the holidays with the 4th Annual Geekiest Ornament contest.
Students in his Introduction to Engineering class demonstrated their ornaments by hanging them up (or not) and turning them on (if applicable). Criteria for the contest entries were that they must: Fit inside a 6 x 6-inch box; Weigh less than 1 kg.; If using a power source or projectile, must not be dangerous; Be actually hangable on a Christmas tree.
None met the criteria though the efforts were more than creative.
“While designing within stated limits is an engineering maxim, strict adherence to the rules wasn’t the point this time,” said Lee. “This was intended as a fun way for first year engineering students to mark the end of the semester and the beginning of Christmas break.”
Read more here.
Last Tuesday, December 14, Tanja Butler, professor of art and painting, took her 13 students from Painting 1 to Harrington Elementary school in Lynn. Their final ‘exam’? To see their work displayed in the foyer of the school. Six Pillars of Character were the result of ongoing collaborations with the school, Gordon in Lynn partnerships, and other Gordon professors and classes. Writes Butler on the process: “I’ve been working with Jean Sbarra-Jones, our adjunct design professor, and Tim Ferguson-Sauder, creative director at Gordon and adjunct professor, to create banners and paintings for the Harrington Elementary School entrance hall. The pieces are designed to reinforce the character-building themes built into the school curriculum, and to add color, warmth, and energy to the entrance area.
My painting students worked with Jean’s communication arts department design students to develop the painting subjects and designs. The designs were then painted by the Painting I students, critiqued for further design development by the comm design students, and were completed by the painting class (by God’s grace!). Tim Ferguson-Sauder provided text banners to identify the character traits and present the school slogan.
Along with Val Buchanan of Gordon In Lynn and Gordon’s Center for Community Engagement, we installed the paintings on Friday and had the official unveiling on Tuesday with our students and members of the Harrington community. We’re so grateful that the Harrington School has said, ‘our walls are open; use your gifts to invest in the next generation.’”