Clifford Murphy, American Studies, in The Conversation

In February, Smithsonian Folkways released Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, a box set and book dedicated to Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter – an influential country musician in the early twentieth century. Clifford Murphy, an ethnomusicologist and adjunct lecturer of American studies, published an article in The Conversation which examined Lead Belly’s legacy and lasting cultural impact.

Clifford Murphy

“But beyond his influence on (mainly white) musical artists, the collection is significant because it shows how Lead Belly defied the racial categories of blues and country (as black music and white music, respectively) – stereotypes established by the burgeoning record industry of the Jim Crow era that persist today,” Murphy wrote.

In the article, Murphy honored Lead Belly’s influential musical legacy an analyzed the cultural context in which he performed.

“Thankfully, Lead Belly’s Smithsonian Folkways Collection defies those cultural reductionists who would suggest that firm racial categories of blues and country ever truly existed, and that “traditional” singers were uninterested in – or, worse, corrupted by – popular music. The set’s 108 tracks may be a small sampling (Lead Belly claimed to be able to sing 500 songs without repeating one – and he likely knew far more). But a bi-cultural reality glimmers within the set’s five CDs,” Murphy added.

To read the full article titled “Lead Belly’s music defied racial categorization,” click here.

Rebecca Adelman, Media and Communication Studies, in The Conversation

Rebecca AdelmanIn the wake of Brian Williams’ six-month suspension from NBC News, Rebecca Adelman offered a fresh perspective on the story and argued that Williams’ actions were more complex than their first appearance on the surface.

Adelman, an assistant professor of media and communication studies, wrote an article for The Conversation in which she examined public reactions to Williams’ false claims about his experience reporting in Iraq and how they spoke to the way military service is valued in American culture: “…I’d suggest instead that Williams inadvertently revealed something about the profoundly contradictory place military service occupies in American culture,” Adelman wrote.

In her article, Adelman discussed how the automatic nature of public gratitude for military service in the United States makes it easy to mistake its origins.

“The Williams story revealed how readily, and convincingly, such attachments can be fabricated. Indeed, he explained his wrongdoings in terms of bewildered appreciation. It all started, he said in his apology, ‘in an effort to honor and thank’ the man who had protected him. This turned, he admitted, into a ‘bungled attempt … to thank one special veteran’ of the many who have his ‘greatest respect.'”

She added: “The public anger at Williams, in other words, may be rooted in something more than his deceitfulness. What may be upsetting us is his very visible failure to perform what many see as the purest expression of good citizenship – thanking the military.”

To read the full article titled “Brian Williams, the military and American culture, click here.

Baltimore Dance Project (2/5 – 2/7)

bdp3000

On February 5, 6 and 7, Baltimore Dance Project returns to UMBC for its 31st year, featuring choreography by Dance faculty Carol Hess and Doug Hamby, and performances by Sandra Lacy and the company, with guest artists Adrienne Clancy, Jessie Laurita-Spanglet, and Matthew Cumbie. All performances will be held at 8 pm in the Proscenium Theatre in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building.

Carol Hess presents a new evocative work for five women, and Lightfield, a multimedia event that fuses choreography with a mix of both live and recorded video manipulated by dancers interacting with an onstage Kinect camera.

Doug Hamby presents Red Wings of Desire, in which the dancers’ actions bend Ferdinand Maisel’s sound score using wearable sensors, and a new work for four men.

Time and destiny are contemplated in a humorous and quirky new duet by Adrienne Clancy and Sandra Lacy. Lacy will also perform the silky and mysterious solo Slip, a collaboration with former Trisha Brown dancer Mariah Maloney performed to an original score by Timothy Nohe (Visual Arts).

Guest artists Jessie Laurita-Spanglet and Matthew Cumbie investigate the role and power of ritual in Ritual Cycle #1. How do we deal with change now, and how have those before explored the same question?

$20 general admission, $10 students and seniors, $7 UMBC students. To order tickets in advance by credit card, purchase online through MissionTix. Patrons who prefer to pay cash or check at will call may make a reservation by calling x56240.

Complete information: http://bit.ly/1IhXPLF

Amadi Azikiwe, violin, and Mikael Darmanie, piano (2/5)

amadi_bigOn Thursday, February 5 at 8:00 p.m. in the Concert Hall, the Department of Music presents violinist Amadi Azikiwe in concert with pianist Mikael Darmanie. Their program will feature:

• The Stream Flows by Bright Sheng
• Romance in F minor, Op. 11 by Antonín Dvořak
• Deliver My Soul by David Baker
• Zigeunerweisen, Op. 20 by Pablo de Sarasate
• Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Amadi Azikiwe, violist, violinist and conductor, has been heard in recital in major cities throughout the United States, such as New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Houston, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., including an appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Azikiwe has also been a guest of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at the Alice Tully Hall in New York, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He has appeared in recital at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, the “Discovery” recital series in La Jolla, the International Viola Congress, and at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since then, he has performed throughout Israel, Canada, South America, Central America, Switzerland, India, Japan, Hong Kong, and throughout the Caribbean. Mr. Azikiwe’s performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” “St. Paul Sunday,” on WNYC in New York, WGBH in Boston, WFMT in Chicago, and the BBC, along with television appearances in South America. He is an adjunct instruction in UMBC’s Department of Music.

Pianist Mikael Darmanie has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean playing the role of soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral conductor. Festival appearances include Pianofest in the Hamptons, Art of Piano Festival, and L’Acadèmie de Musique de Sion (Switzerland). As a chamber musician, he won First Prize in the North Carolina MTNA Chamber Music Competition (with the Transverse Trio), has performed at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music as part of the Apple Hill Fellowship Trio, and, in 2010, he performed in programs of Brazilian and French music for violin and piano at Lincoln Center Institute’s Kenan Fellowship performance series. In 2012, he performed on the Taft Museum of Art Chamber Music Series (Cincinnati) with members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Since his debut as a conductor with the Carolina Chamber Symphony in 2008, he has gone on to perform throughout the United States, conducting various piano concerti from the keyboard and symphonic works by Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Haydn and Liszt.

$15 general admission
$10 seniors
$5 students
Advance tickets via credit card are available online at MissionTix and will also be available at the door (cash or check only).
Admission is free with a UMBC ID (tickets available at the door).

Complete information: http://bit.ly/1Cwmri4

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.