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Denise Hill

Does Art Matter?

January 21, 2015
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robert-stewartNew Letters Editor Robert Stewart asks "Does art do much good?"

In his Editor's Note, "Making What Matters," Stewart shares, "In my home city recently, a 10-year-old girl named Machole and a 6-year-old girl named Angel, in separate events, were shot dead by gunfire. Machole was in her own living room when someone in a car shot several times into her house; Angel was walking out the door of a convenience store with her father. Other children continue to suffer abuse and violence, yes, but these two events, nine days apart, have caused many people here to examine the kind of landscape—city and country—we have shaped for our children."

Go to the National Art Education Association News page on any given day, and you'll see comment after comment from leaders across the nation proclaiming the importance of the arts in education, of turning and keeping the A in STEM for STEAM. It's not a new struggle among cultures, among communiites, as Stewart notes the Trappist monk Thomas Merton "in a 1962 letter, where he confessed to being disheartened by evil in the world, despite his own writings and art. 'Tell me,' Merton wrote to his friend, "am I wasting my time?'"

It's a question and concern that pervades and surfaces, resurfaces, confronts and confounds wirters, artists, educators, politician and policy makers. While Stewart answers the question in his commentary, an answer found through reading the works of authors in the journal and concluding on the worth and value of their efforts. A worth and value we need to retain and remind others of every chance we get.
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black-history-monthPlan your events now! The Black Caucus of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and NCTE are hosting The National African American Read-In, February 1-28, 2015. There goal is to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by asking groups and organizations, schools, churches, etc. to host an African American Read-In. Their website has lots of information about how to be recognized as a host, suggested readings and activities, and downloads for giveaways like bookmarks. It's free to participate.
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This cover of the newest issue of Image (#83) features performance photography by Zhang Huan from his series Breath, 1999, in Miami, Florida. More of his performance and series work can be found on his website.
It must just be the time of year, with snow storms and wind chill temperatures in the negative double digits, that makes me appreciate the brightly colored covers. Sugar House Review #10 celebrates their five-year annivesary with this special double issue packed with poetry. I believe credit goes to Natalie Young, editor and graphic designer.
And then, after the talk of bright colors, I pick this one? For good reason. I love 6x6 for their design. Ugly Duckly Press has been putting this magazine out - six pages of poetry by six different poets - since 2000, using offset printing with lovely inks and tactile papers, and each folded and bound with a sturdy, color coordinated rubber band. It's a production value that merits special appreciation in our digital age.

Some Literary Links

January 16, 2015
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If one of your New Year's resolutions is to be a nicer person who is more sensitive and aware of other people's feelings, read more novels. Really. (Psychology Today)

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Movies and Books: "While it's hardly novel to suggest that Hollywood is out of ideas, 2014 hasn't done much to prove otherwise. Of the top 10 grossing films released last year, every single one was inspired by a pre-existing media property like a novel, a comic book, or—in two cases—a line of toys." (The Atlantic)

"The man hired to smuggle Ulysses into New York City was sweating. . . The smuggler was following very specific instructions. He'd obtained the text, just like he'd been told. He stuffed the book into his suitcase. Then he boarded the luxurious Aquitania in Europe, with orders to disembark at this very port. But as he waited in line eying the customs officials, things weren't going to plan. In fact, it looked like the officer was just going to wave him through. This was not what the smuggler was being paid to do; he was under strict orders to get caught!" The Worst (And Most Important) Smuggling Job in the History of Literature. (Mental Floss)

Don't like your personality? Try reading a novel. Reasearchers "propose that there are specific ways in which fiction can engage readers in ways that enhance important personality qualities.. . . all other things being equal, people who read more fiction are also better at reading other people's emotions. It's not just that empathic people read more, but that reading promotes empathy." (Psychology Today)

Satre told the Nobel Committee he would say no, only they didn't get the memo. History shows he was true to his (late-arriving) word. (The Guardian)
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The Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW) was established to promote the study of American women writers through research, teaching, and publication. It is the goal of the Society to strengthen relations among persons and institutions in this country and internationally who are devoted to such studies, and to broaden knowledge among the general public about American women writers. The Society is committed to diversity in the study of American women writers — racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual orientation, region, and era — as well as of scholars participating in the Society.

The SSAWW 2015 Conference in Philadelphia takes place November. 4 – 8, 2015; Ana Castillo is the keynote speaker. The conference organizers welcome proposals on any topic related to the study of American women writers, broadly conceived, including those on this year's theme: "Liminal Spaces, Hybrid Lives." Due date for all proposals: Friday, February 13, 2015.
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Notes on Teaching English (NOTE), the journal of Georgia and Carolinas affiliate of the College English Association, is a digital publication hosted by Georgia Gwinnett College. NOTE offers pedagogically-focused scholarship on all topics relevant to teaching college-level English, in a multimodal online format.

Current content includes: Heather Fox – "Teaching a Writing Strategy for Short Essay Response Assessment"; Dr. Tonya Ritola – "Rethinking Students' Exposure to English Studies"; Sarah Roussin, Brian Le – "Composition and Copyright in a Digital Environment"; Dr. Chris Ritter – "No Success Like Failure"; Dr. Daniel Vollaro – "Neoliberalizing the Humanities"; Dr. Laura Beadling – "Screenplay Writing in the Film (and Literature) Classroom."

Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis; the editors are looking for four types of contributions:

Feature – Scholarly articles related to a wide variety of topics within the English field, with a pedagogical focus (up to 6000 words).

Opinion – Shorter reflective or opinion pieces (500 word maximum).

Classroom Tips – Short how-to pieces (500-1,000 words).

Assignments/instructional materials for a peer-reviewed assignment database.

See the publication website for more specific information regarding submissions.

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nerve-laternNerve Lantern: Axon of Performance Literature is a truly unique publication. Published by Pyriform Press and edited by Ellen Redbird, Nerve Lantern is "a journal of experimental performance texts and texts about performance, supporting a range of forms, including poets' theatre and page-as-stage." Some examples from Winter 2014 Issue 7: "Un/Conventional Chorus: A Spoken Choral Work for Ten Voices" by Mary Burger & Yedda Morrison; "A Song about the Moon in the Middle of the Night" by Hannah Rodabaugh; "Xylene Radiator Anxiety Mask: Experimental Sonnet Map for Five Voices" by Gary Sloboda; "Pig of Angels of the Americlypse: An anti-masque for four players" by Rodrigo Toscano.

Submissions for the publication are open, but the editorial advice is to understand why you want to be a part of the Nerve Lantern community and what you feel "akin" to or what "new" you will add to it before submitting. The community can be better understood not just by reading past issues of the publication, but viewing one of the many performance videos shot during the publication's performance venue: "An Afternoon of Sparking Poetry." The most recent of these have been hosted by the Medicine Show Theatre in New York.

Redbird offers further "Thoughts to Nerve Lantern Newcomers" on the submissions page, asking questions to have writers consider the performance aspects of their work, not only how it might be performed "on stage" but also on the page. A helpful guide for readers and writers alike to help in our understanding and appreciation for this literary form.

Kudos to Ellen Redbird and contributors to Nerve Lantern for providing, not just a place for this genre, but a community in which it can be fostered.
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There is just something I can appreciate from such an austre image on the front of a magazine - the kind that draws me in, though I can't quite say why, and makes it hard to look away. This image on the cover of Brick #94 is a photograph of East Jerusalem street scene by Teju Cole. Though it looks black and white, it is in full color.

green-mountains-reviewI selected this cover image on Green Mountains Review (v27 n2) because the artist, Nancy Dwyer, is featured within the publication as well with a portfolio entitled, "Words are the Furniture of the Mind." Eight full-color images are featured in addition to this cover.

molitov-cocktailIt was both the image and the opening editorial lines that drew me to this issue of The Molotov Cocktail: "Issue 5.17 will drag you to Hell." Okay, I'm game. Self-defined as "A Projectile for Incendiary Flash Fiction," the publication is produced by Josh Goller.
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american-short-fictionThe Fall 2014 issue of American Short Fiction features Scott Gloden's "What Is Louder," the winning entry of the American Short Fiction Contest. His same story had been awarded second place in the Glimmer Train March 2014 Family Matters Contest.

Gloden's story is about a man who works in a post office and his brother who is soldier in Pakistan. Contest judge Amy Hempel praised the story for its new territory, commenting, "the ending is unnerving, very unsettling, and continues the story in a reader's imagination."

An excerpt: "My brother tells me that the bombs don't look like they did on television when we were young: they're not bowling balls with wick spouts that fire out like a sparkler. Instead, they're clock radios; they're wads of Silly Putty with electromagnetic current running through sparse wires; they're ramshackle, he even said—so much so, a bomb looks more like something you store in the garage, which you don't need every day but keep around in case of emergencies."

Winners of the American Short Fiction prize receive $1000 and publication.


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From The Virtual Education Project: One of the most effective ways of learning is to immerse ourselves in the cultures we study; yet, we often encounter problems when these cultures are separated from us by constraints such as geography or time. When studying various people, places, events, and works, students and teachers rarely have the resources to visit each (if any) historical landmarks pertaining to their subject matter, restricting both research and teaching to textbooks and/or an amalgam of materials from various resources. The Virtual Education Project (VEP) is a large-scale pedagogical undertaking directed at providing both students and teachers with visual introductions to historical and contemporary landmarks (worldwide) relevant to the study of the humanities. Thus, the purpose of the VEP is twofold: 1) to provide educators with a central resource that facilitates both teaching and research, and 2) to encourage independent inquiry amongst students, regardless of their locale.

The Virtual Education Project is currently seeking submissions for photo (or video—email for details) tours of domestic and international sites relevant to the study of the humanities. We are interested in tour submissions that explore local museums, author/artist homes, memorials, public artworks, and any significant cultural or community sites that will aid in the study and/or teaching of the humanities.

We welcome proposals for virtual tours related to the study of the arts, humanities, and sciences, including literature, theatre and/or performance, history, philosophy, rhetoric, and the STEM fields (e.g., the Nikola Tesla Museums in Brograd, Serbia, and Shoreham, NY). The list of examples for this initial Call for Contributions is a starting point, and we encourage you to submit a proposal for a site near you.

Potential tours topics might include (but are in no way limited to):
The Old Manse (Concord, MA)
Emily Dickinson House & Museum: The Homestead & The Evergreens (Amherst, MA)
W.E.B. Du Bois’s National Historic Site (Great Barrington, MA)
Walt Whitman House (Camden, NJ)
William Carlos Williams House (Rutherford, NJ)
Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, VA)
Thomas Wolfe House (Asheville, NC)
Mark Twain House (Hartford, CT)
Harriet Beecher Stowe House (Hartford, CT)
Ida B. Wells-Barnett House (Chicago, IL)
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (Chicago, IL)
The House of Happy Walls Museum, Jack London (Glen Ellen, CA)
The Wolf House Ruins, Jack London (Glen Ellen, CA)
John Steinbeck House (Salinas, CA)
Andalusia, Home of Flannery O'Connor (Milledgeville, GA)
Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield (Kennesaw, GA)
Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (Key West, FL)
Lamb House, Henry James (Rye, East Sussex, England)
Monk’s House, Virginia Woolf (Lewes, East Sussex, England)
Thomas Hardy’s Cottage (Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England)
Capela dos Capuchos (Sintra, Lisbon, Portugal)
The Houses of Pablo Neruda (Chile)
Vladimir Nabokov House Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Borobudur Temple Compounds (Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia)
Nelson Mandela's Capture Site (Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa); Prison Site (Robben Island, Wescape, South Africa); and The Mandela House (Orlando, Soweto, South Africa)
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