UMBC Students Collaborate to Produce Audio Documentary About Station North’s Hour Haus on WYPR

Hour Haus

Photo by INDS major Dan Goodrich

On July 30, a longtime music and arts space in Station North closed its doors permanently. The Hour Haus served as a music practice facility and performance venue for 25 years. American studies student Adam Droneburg produced an hour-long audio documentary which recently aired on WYPR’s The Signal. Dan Goodrich, an interdisciplinary studies major, collaborated with Droneburg on the project and provided photography.

The two students took an American studies course in the spring, “Community in America,” which focused on oral history/audio/mapping work in Station North. The class was funded by a Hrabowski Innovation Grant. Droneburg and Goodrich continued working in Station North over the summer after the class ended. Below is a description on WYPR’s website about the documentary:

“At midnight on Thursday, July 30th, 2015, the final amps and drum kits were reluctantly lugged out of Station North’s longtime music rehearsal space, The Hour Haus. After 25 years as a music practice facility and performance venue, the building is being converted to office space. Audio producer Adam Droneburg and photographer Dan Goodrich spent the past few months chronicling the end of the Hour Haus era, collecting interviews and portraits of the building’s final musical residents.  Today, with a stroke of the clock and the change of a lock, their documentary work has become instant history.”

Listen to “The Last Days of the Hour Haus” on WYPR’s The Signal.

Clifford Murphy, American Studies, Selected for National Arts Director Position

Clifford Murphy, an adjunct lecturer of American studies, has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to be its new director of folk and traditional arts. Murphy, an adjunct lecturer of American studies, will manage NEA grantmaking in folk and traditional arts, oversee the NEA National Heritage Fellowship program, and represent the agency in the field as part of the new role.

Clifford MurphyMurphy is currently director of Maryland Traditions, the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) and last year helped bring MSAC’s 40 years of folklife archives into UMBC’s library system, making the collection available to the public.

“Working as a state folklorist in Maryland has brought me into close collaboration with remarkable artists, communities, and innovative organizations” said Murphy in a press release announcing the new position. “I’m incredibly excited about joining the NEA and being of service to folk and traditional artists, advocates, and programs nationwide.”

“Clifford has an impressive range of experience in the folk and traditional arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The NEA will surely benefit from his skills as an administrator, a university professor, a field folklorist, and his time as a touring musician.”

Murphy was featured in UMBC Magazine earlier this year for his research on country and western music in his home region of New England. The New Hampshire native and ethnomusicologist recently published his findings in a new book: Yankee Twang: Country and Western Music in New England (University of Illinois, 2014).

UMBC Awarded Maryland Humanities Council Grant for “Mapping Dialogues” Project

As part of its latest major grant cycle, the Maryland Humanities Council awarded UMBC a $10,000 grant for “Mapping Dialogues,” a project that focuses on the history and culture of the Baybrook and Sparrows Point communities.

Working with industrial neighborhoods in Baltimore, the project uses maps as starting points for discussions on the past, present, and future of industrial space. The project centers on two historically interrelated yet geographically separate areas: Baybrook in the southern tip of Baltimore and the Sparrows Point Steel Mill communities situated just across the southwestern city border in Baltimore County.

46-Mill-Stories-640x425Dialogues will be held with residents in both local communities and then brought to the general public at the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI). People will interact with large maps to engage in conversation and share their stories and memories, including their experiences of how neighborhoods change when industry declines and leaves.

“Grant categories and criteria encourage free public programming in many forms, using the humanities as the central tools to explore and understand the complexity of our human experience. Grant awards aim to engage diverse audiences and serve Maryland communities that are not currently served by other MHC programs,” a press release announcing the grant stated.

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on Midday with Dan Rodricks and WBAL-TV

Following the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina last week, Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, was a guest on WYPR’s Midday with Dan Rodricks to share her thoughts and perspective.

Kimberly MoffittMoffitt said that she is largely focusing her energy on what she is teaching in her classes: “I try to talk to my students and educate them on what the power structures are that exist in American society that are implicitly embedded in ways where we carry out certain actions in life that impact other groups of people in very negative ways,” she said.

“We can talk about housing policies, public education, a wide range of issues…the legal and judicial system and how that inadvertently or negatively affects people of color in this country. Those are the issues that I think students in particular who are young need to have access to and to see in order to understand how problematic the actual structure is.”

The following day on WYPR, Moffitt covered Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement that he has advanced non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other local and national news topics. Earlier in the week, Moffitt appeared on WBAL-TV to discuss Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school opening in the fall in which she is a co-founder. To listen to and watch all of the segments, click below:

Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys (WBAL-TV)
Talking about Charleston (Midday with Dan Rodricks)
Midday Politics (Midday with Dan Rodricks)

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, Responds to Rachel Dolezal Story on ABC 2 Baltimore

Kimberly MoffittKimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, was interviewed by ABC 2 Baltimore for a segment that explored the fixed nature of race in society following up on the Rachel Dolezal story. “We’re so comfortable to fixate people into boxes to say this is where you belong because of skin hue because of the activities you do,” Moffitt said.

Commenting on race as a social construction, she added: “I also think that it proves to us that as much as we as individuals would want to embody or claim our own racial categories, the reality is society dictates that to us and we don’t have control over that.”

“For members of the black community it’s a major struggle because we are used to people appropriating blackness, but we’re not used to people trying to embody blackness and actually assume it by phenotypically changing aspects of who they are in order to be seen as something that they aren’t,” said Moffitt. “For those of us who live and breathe this every day, it’s not something that we can put on and then take off.”

To watch the full segment, which originally aired on WMAR-TV’s 11 p.m. newscast on June 16, click here.

On Thursday, June 18, Prof. Moffitt was again interviewed for a live segment on ABC 2’s 6 p.m. newscast about the Charleston church shooting. Check back here for video of the segment to be posted soon.

Kate Drabinski, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on The Marc Steiner Show

Kate DrabinskiFollowing a series of stories in City Paper about The Wire, WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show held a panel discussion on June 9 to examine the television show and its representation of Baltimore. Kate Drabinski, lecturer of gender and women’s studies, was a guest on the program and discussed the importance of watching the show with a critical mind.

“Part of me worries that The Wire is so good in terms of drama that people think watching the show means that they understand the depth of what’s happening in Baltimore and the complexities of the histories here and the complexity of the lives that are lived here,” Drabinski said.

Kimberly MoffittIn a separate program on June 4, Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, was a guest host for a segment on budget cuts and restructuring at Baltimore City Schools in response to the announcement that 159 staff positions were eliminated. Moffitt facilitated a discussion with Dr. Roni Ellington, associate professor of mathematics education at Morgan State University; Bobbi Macdonald, executive director of the City Neighbors Foundation; and Jimmy Gittings, president of Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association (PSASA), AFSA Local 25, who began his career with BCPS in 1971.

On June 16, Moffitt was co-host for an in-depth, two-hour segment on education in Baltimore including discussions about layoffs, the school budget, community schools, and alternatives to the current school system.

To listen to the segments in their entirety, click below:
Wrestling with the Wire
Baltimore City Schools: What Will be the Impact of Budget Cuts and Restructuring at North Avenue?
Education in Baltimore: Two-Hour Special

Clifford Murphy, American studies, Examines Country Music’s Misogyny and Centralization in The Conversation

Clifford MurphyLast week, country radio promoter Keith Hill made a controversial comment about female singers that many decried as an example of country music’s misogynistic politics. In an article for The Conversation, Clifford Murphy, an ethnomusicologist and adjunct lecturer of American studies, provides a broader context, writing that the comments show how the centralization of country music has helped create a misogynistic environment.

Murphy describes how women have had a long history in country music, but often have a difficult with the country music industry when they go against expectations of female country stars. “The popularity of female country stars threatens Nashville’s obsession with defining…what is country music, and what country music is,” he writes.

Murphy also points to the centralization of country music as contributing to the problem of misogyny as it gives a few industry insiders the power to silence outspoken artists. He gives the example of the backlash against the Dixie Chicks when they criticized then President George W. Bush. “Popular, powerful women in country music voiced a political opinion that may have resounded with many of their loyal fans, but ran counter to the conservative politics of country music’s brand. Their resulting disappearance from country radio was nothing short of political censorship,” he notes.

Click here to read “Keith Hill’s comments about women in country music cut far deeper than misogyny” in The Conversation.