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.
Murphy 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).
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.
Moffitt 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, 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.
Following 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.
In 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
Last 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.
As part of the Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition project, several American studies and media and communication studies students produced a radio series about two Baltimore neighborhoods in transition: Greektown and Station North. Baltimore Traces is an interdisciplinary project and collaborative teaching innovation that produces audio and video oral histories focused on Baltimore residents and neighborhoods.
On Friday, May 22, the radio series aired on WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show. Bill Shewbridge, professor of the practice of media and communication studies, worked with students in Michelle Stefano’s class, a visiting assistant professor of American studies, to produce an audio journey through the East Baltimore neighborhood of Greektown. The project brought students into the neighborhood where they conducted interviews with local residents and workers to explore the identity, history, and complexity of the community.
Businesses on Eastern Avenue in Greektown. Photo by Marouane Hail.
Students in Nicole King’s class, an associate professor of American studies, produced a three-part series on Station North. The students conducted several interviews to get a sense of a neighborhood that has been undergoing a great deal of transition. In one of the segments, a student captured audio at Red Emma’s Coffeehouse as workers fed school children and provided a safe place for the community the day after the Monday, April 27 unrest in Baltimore.
To listen to the complete audio segments, click below:
UMBC Students Present Baltimore Traces: Greektown in Transition
UMBC Students Present Baltimore Traces: Station North in Transition
The Baltimore Traces project is ongoing and expanded in the spring 2015 as part of a Hrabowski Innovation Grant, “Baltimore Stories: Emerging Media Across the Curriculum.” Previous collaborations as part of the project include Mill Stories (Michelle Stefano and Bill Shewbridge) and Mapping Baybrook (Nicole King and Steve Bradley). There is a public event scheduled for June 2 focusing on Brooklyn-Curtis Bay and Sparrows Point that will feature members of the two communities who will discuss the challenges they face and possible futures. For more information, click here.