Recently closed, the Sparrows Point Steel Mill in Baltimore, Maryland helped to shape the lives of hundreds of thousands of steelworkers and associated personnel for over 125 years. Mill Stories: Remembering Sparrows Point presents a collection of personal stories based on ethnographic interviews collected at the time on the mill’s final closing. The film seeks to amplify the voices of former workers as a means of helping to safeguard and promote the living heritage of the recently closed mill and its surrounding areas.
In a recent article published in The Conversation and The Washington Post, American Studies Lecturer Clifford Murphy wrote about his research documenting New England’s country music history and traditions in order to understand how the region once home to a robust country music culture merely sixty years ago now has a much different country music scene.
“In short, the arrival of television compromised the profit margins of radio, replacing live musicians with disc jockeys. Meanwhile, the country music industry consolidated in Nashville, where country format radio was born,” Murphy wrote. He discussed the culture shift away from “the people” to more centralized commercial broadcasts and how the concept has extended into other spheres of regional American life.
Murphy, who is Program Director of Folk & Traditional Arts at the Maryland State Arts Council, turned his research into a new book titled Yankee Twang, which was published this month by University of Illinois Press. For more information, click here. To read Murphy’s full article titled “Country pop is having a moment in the Northeast. But its soaring popularity is threatening to kill regional music,” click here.
On October 8, WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show hosted a segment discussing the challenges, complexities and joys of raising and educating boys. Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, was a guest on the program and discussed her experience as a founding parent and trustee of Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys – a charter school opening in Baltimore City next year to serve boys in grades 4 through 12.
In a discussion about improving high school graduation rates among boys, Moffitt said: “This is a movement that is happening from the ground up.” Adding, “it’s about folks in the community who recognize something that’s happening with our children and want to do something about it instead of waiting for someone else within the federal government, or higher ups, or individuals who have their philanthropic ability to contribute. This is now very much about folks who are part of the community who see something real that needs to change because this is an epidemic for our boys and we want to see a shift in change.”
Moffitt appeared on the program with Jack Pannell, founder of Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, and David Banks, President and CEO of the Eagle Academy Foundation and founding principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx. To listen to the full segment, click here.
Moffitt also recently returned from Vienna, Austria where she gave two presentations based on her research. The University of Vienna and the American Embassy hosted “Transgressive Television: Politics, Crime, and Citizenship in 21st Century American TV Series,” where Moffitt gave a presentation on “Black Motherhood as Victimhood in The Wire.” Also, at the University of Graz (Austria), Department of American Studies “When I Talk about American Studies, I Talk about… Lecture,” Moffitt presented a talk entitled, “(In)visibility in Black and White: The Case of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.”
Actor, writer, and social activist Ian Ruskin has released a new two-hour documentary on the life of Barbara Dane. Titled, “A Wild Woman Sings the Blues: the Life and Music of Barbara Dane,” the documentary includes interviews with several musicians and others who know Dane well.
Theo Gonzalves, Associate Professor and Chair of American Studies, was interviewed for the project and appears in the documentary. Gonzalves is a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, working with the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. His project, “Singing Truth to Power: The Story of Paredon Records,” traces the cultural history of a record label whose output of recorded music and speeches documented revolutionary movements throughout the globe. Dane founded Paredon Records in 1970 and produced 50 albums that Gonzalves is studying as part of his project.
Other interviews in the documentary include Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Irwin Silber, Holly Near, James Early, and many more. For more information on the documentary, click here. To read a UMBC Magazine story about Gonzalves’s project, click here.
Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, joined The Marc Steiner Show on Monday, September 29 to discuss police brutality, societal perceptions of Black children and recent attacks on the Obamas. Other panelists in the roundtable included Marshall Bell, host of Midday Magazine with Marshall Bell and author of Baltimore Blues: Harm City, and Ray Winbush, Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University.
In the conversation about attacks on Michelle Obama, Moffitt related it to her research on body politics. “Oftentimes we look at the black body as being this space that occupies a position of being revered and reviled, all at the same time. And so, when you look at someone like Michelle Obama, she occupies that space constantly,” she said.
To hear the full segment on The Marc Steiner Show, click here.
On Wednesday, September 17 at 4:30 p.m. on the seventh floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, Dr. Rogers Smith, H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, will present the Social Sciences Forum, “The U.S. Constitution and the Battle Over Racial Equality Today.”
The author of seven books on citizenship and equality in the United States, including one that was a finalist for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History, Dr. Smith, H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, will address why America’s political leaders avoid discussing racial policies, even as many forms of racial inequality persist and deepen. Smith argues that the United States is profoundly divided between two rival conceptions of civic equality–but that common ground may be found in the bold views of the Constitution’s purposes advanced by Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
This is a Constitution and Citizenship Day Lecture, co-sponsored with the Departments of Political Science, Africana Studies, American Studies, Philosophy and Public Policy, and the Office of Student Life. For more information, click here.
On Wednesday, August 13, Kimberly Moffit, associate professor of American studies, guest hosted The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM. Filling in for Steiner, Moffitt led discussions on mental health in the African-American community and the Positive Social Change Theater Program, among other topics.
Moffitt interacted with guests such as Dr. Grady Dale, clinical psychologist and co-founder of the American Institute for Urban Psychological Services, Mothyna James-Brightful, Visionary Director for Heal A Woman To Heal A Nation, and Koli Tengella, 2010 Open Society Institute Community Fellow and Executive Director of the Kulichagulia Project.
You can listen to the complete program that aired on Wednesday by clicking below:
Mental Health in the African-American Community (The Marc Steiner Show)
Positive Social Change Theater Program (The Marc Steiner Show)
This Week in City Paper (The Marc Steiner Show)