Manil Suri, Mathematics, and Michele Osherow, English, Reflect on Experience Performing “The Mathematics of Being Human”

ManilSuriHeadShotIn an article in the March 6 edition of India Abroad magazine, Mathematics professor Manil Suri discussed the play he performed and co-wrote with English associate professor Michele Osherow, “The Mathematics of Being Human.” The play is an outgrowth of a seminar that the two professors jointly taught that bridged their areas of expertise. In the article, Suri participated in a Q&A about the play and his experience teaching with Osherow. To read the full article, click here.

Michele OsherowSuri and Osherow, both alumni of Carnegie Mellon University, were also interviewed for a recent news article on the university’s website about the play. In the story, they discussed the value of teaching a course that combined study of math and literature. “We’re trying to suggest that interdisciplinary teaching is extremely hard — there’s something to pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone,” Osherow said.

On March 8, the “Mathematics of Being Human” will make its New York City premiere at the National Museum of Mathematics. For more information, click here. In addition, Suri and Osherow will be performing an excerpt of the play on math and King Lear at the National Academy of Science’s DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) on March 19 in Washington, D.C. The performance will be held to celebrate the Man Ray exhibit “A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare” at the Phillips. For more information, click here

March 19 update: to read a Washington Post article about “The Mathematics of Being Human, click here.    

Christopher Corbett, English, in Baltimore Style

Christopher Corbett, English, recently penned an essay reflecting on the harsh winter months in Baltimore Style.

In the piece, Corbett decries January as the most unloved month, calling it the season of remorse. He writes, “January is really about winter, the bleak midwinter spoken of in the poem and hymn… I do not believe anyone enjoys January. We endure it.”

Click here to read “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

Lia Purpura, English, in The New Yorker

Lia PurpuraIn its January 19th issue, The New Yorker published a poem by English Writer in Residence Lia Purpura. The text of Purpura’s poem “Probability” is below. An audio recording of Purpura reading her poem can be found here. A link to previous poems by Purpura published in The New Yorker can be found here.

Probability

Most coincidents are not
miraculous, but way more
common than we think—
it’s the shiver
of noticing being
central in a sequence
of events
that makes so much
seem wild and rare—
because what if it wasn’t?
Astonishment’s nothing
without your consent.

Piotr Gwiazda, English, Publishes New Book

Piotr Gwiazda, English, has published a new book US Poetry in the Age of Empire, 1979-2012 (Palgrave Macmillan).

Examining poetry by Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, and Amiri Baraka, among others, this book shows that leading US poets since 1979 have performed the role of public intellectuals through their poetic rhetoric.

Piotr Gwiazda’s argument aims to revitalize the art of poetry and reaffirm its social value in an era of global politics and culture.

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.

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.

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.