Piotr Gwiazda, English, Participates in Ars Cameralis Festival, Poland

Piotr GwiazdaIn November, Piotr Gwiazda, Associate Professor of English, participated in the 23rd Ars Cameralis Festival in Katowice, one of Poland’s most prestigious arts and literary festivals. On November 15, he gave a reading from his poetry in Polish translation at Kinoteatr Rialto. On November 17, he presented a lecture “Dreams of a Common Language: On Contemporary U.S. Poetry” at the English Language Institute of the University of Silesia in Sosnowiec.

In a video interview (interview in Polish), Gwiazda described his critical and creative projects. He also commented on the Ars Cameralis Festival.

Anne Rubin, History, on Journal of American History Podcast

Through the Heart of DixieThe Journal of American History (JAH) produces a monthly podcast interview with an author of a JAH article or author of a book on a historical topic. Anne Rubin, an associate professor of history and author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014), was the guest on JAH’s November podcast. She was interviewed about her book and discussed how she first became interested in researching Sherman’s March in graduate school.

“The endurance of it is the power of Sherman’s March as a metaphor,” Rubin said. “In the South, people feel it very viscerally obviously in Georgia and the Carolinas. But elsewhere it has come to be this symbol of devastation, and destruction, and fire.”

Rubin’s book analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time. She analyzes stories from travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers to highlight the metaphorical importance of Sherman’s March in American memory.

To listen to the complete podcast interview conducted by JAH editor Edward Linenthal, click here.

UMBC Humanities Faculty Discuss Serial in The Guardian

Serial, a spin-off show from NPR’s “This American Life,” is a podcast in which reporter Sarah Koenig reinvestigates the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a Baltimore County high school student. In the series, Koenig, a former Baltimore Sun staff writer, conducts numerous interviews and delves deeply into figuring out what led to the conviction of Adnan Syed, Hae’s ex-boyfriend, for her murder. An article published December 8 in The Guardian looks into why the podcast has drawn so much interest.

Nicole King

Nicole King

Nicole King, an associate professor of American studies, is quoted in the article and comments on the narrative style of the podcast when looking at it in the context of Baltimore.

“People are so caught up with ‘whodunnit’,” she tells [Nicky Woolf, the article’s writer]. “The Hollywood ending.” For people here, she says, there will need to be some sort of a payoff – a denouement – which real life rarely, if ever, provides.

Steph Ceraso

Steph Ceraso

In addition, Steph Ceraso, an assistant professor of English, and Tanya Olson, a lecturer of English, are both referenced in the article as having started to use the podcast as a teaching tool in the classroom.

Tanya Olson

Tanya Olson

“The podcast raises all kinds of interesting questions about storytelling, memory, ethics and the research process,” Ceraso said. She discovered that some students in her class knew the families involved in the case and it sparked a heated discussion about ethics and storytelling.

To read the complete article “In Baltimore, Serial’s murder mystery is not just a whodunnit-it’s real life,” click here.

Kate Brown, History, Named to Physics World 2014 Books of the Year List

History Professor Kate Brown has been named to the Physics World 2014 Books of the Year list for her book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013). Physics World is a publication issued by the United Kingdom’s Institute of Physics. Below is an excerpt describing the process for selecting the ten best books of the year:

plutopia

“As in previous years, the entries on our ‘Book of the Year’ shortlist are all well written, novel and scientifically interesting for a physics audience. They represent the best of the 57 books that Physics World reviewed in 2014, being highly commended by external experts (the diverse group of professional physicists and freelance science writers who review books for the magazine) and by members of our own editorial staff, who helped winnow the field down to a shortlist of 10.”

In a blog post announcing the finalists, Physics World provided the following description for Brown’s book:

“This hard-hitting look at life in the ‘atomic cities’ that produced plutonium for the US and Soviet nuclear arsenals during the Cold War will make compelling reading for many physicists. Those who have a professional interest in radiation safety or the nuclear industry will have special reason to be outraged by the long list of environmental crimes described in Kate Brown’s important book, which also featured in a Physics World podcast earlier this year.”

The winner of the physics book of the year will be announced in a podcast on December 16. For more information, click here. The honor was the latest in a series of awards that Brown has received for Plutopia.

Lia Purpura, English, in The New Yorker, Orion Magazine

English Writer in Residence Lia Purpura is featured in the November 24 edition of The New Yorker. The magazine published her poem “Study with Melon.” You can read the poem in The New Yorker by clicking here. The full text of the poem is below:

Lia Purpura

Study with Melon

The stem end of a melon
is weblike, form
finding a pattern
that’s thinking itself
a density
a concentration
beginning a line
then casting it out
and moving on from,
an order established,
a gesture complete.
Completion: how
someone at a distance
might see it.

In addition, Purpura’s essay “In The Despoiled and Radiant Now” appears in the November/December issue of Orion Magazine.

Bill Shewbridge, Media and Communication Studies, and Michelle Stefano, American Studies, to Present “Mill Stories” at SVA Film Festival

UMBC professors Bill Shewbridge (Media and Communication Studies) and Michelle Stefano (American Studies) are screening their film Mill Stories at the Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) film festival. The screening will take place at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 6 at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. Below is a description of the film from the SVA Film Festival website:

46-Mill-Stories-640x425

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.

To read more about the Mill Stories project, click here. For more information on the SVA film festival, click here.

Anne Rubin, History, on WYPR’s Humanities Connection, Receives Wall Street Journal Book Review

On Thursday, November 20, History Associate Professor Anne Rubin appeared on WYPR’s Humanities Connection to discuss her research and digital humanities project, “Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea.” The project uses digital storytelling to explore Sherman’s historic 1864 March to the Sea during the Civil War. On December 2, Rubin will further discuss her research with Visual Arts Associate Professor Kelley Bell at the Humanities Forum at UMBC.

Through the Heart of Dixie

Earlier this year, Rubin published, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014). In the book, Rubin analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time.

On November 14, the Wall Street Journal published a review of Rubin’s book. Written by author Fergus M. Bordewich, he states: “Anne Sarah Rubin…offers an engrossing exploration of the ways in which the march has been recounted and understood over the years. She notes that it ‘has come to stand for devastation and destruction, fire and brimstone, war against civilians, and for the Civil War in microcosm.'”

He later adds: “Ms. Rubin is more interested in the often contradictory ways in which white and black Southerners, and Union veterans, remembered the march…In essence, there is no single story of Sherman’s March but thousands, and though the Union forces wreaked havoc on the towns in Sherman’s path, their actions do not add up to the apocalyptic barbarism that plays such a role in Lost Cause mythology. That mythology, Ms. Rubin makes clear, was crafted by the Jim Crow politics and resurgent Southern chauvinism of the post-Reconstruction period.”

To read the complete review titled, “The Path to Power,” click here (subscription required).