(Coming at you straight from Prof Marnie Brady. Enjoy!)

Special guests Athena Viscusi, LICSW, and Maria Dohers of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders gave students a view into global social work practice. The class discussed social work perspectives involving cultural humility, self-care, cross-NGO partnerships, and humanitarian intervention within the context of militarism, climate change, and refugee dislocation. Athena Viscusi, a clinical social worker with MSF, provides support to field workers before, after, and during deployment to crisis zones abroad. She shared about her own fieldwork as a psychosocial mental health worker with MSF in Liberia, Palestine, Central African Republic, Myanamar, and Haiti, among other countries. During the height of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Athena supported a program for survivors, immune to the disease, to act as mental health counselors to encourage and support those who were still afflicted. She was joined at MMC by a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, Marie Dohrs, who shared about her previous work supporting immigrants and refugees here and abroad. Marie explained the steps she took in her process of applying to graduate school.

MMC students & Prof. Brady express their deep appreciation for the important and urgent work of MSF in the world, and for the time the guests spent with us discussing their own professional career paths and the challenges in global social work.

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(Yay guest speakers! Thanks for reading, have a great weekend, spread kindness everywhere you go and be brave.)

BREAKING NEWS!

The History Major is back at MMC!

Some facts: History continues to be a popular major for high achievers, and has a traditionally been a go-to for those hoping to pursue law or public service. Our program will be super innovative, and uses a modular path of study that allows students to chart their own course and choose their own areas of focus. You’ll get all the traditional skills of a history scholar- critical thinking, evaluating evidence, oral and written argument construction- all while exploring different threads and webs that only you can imagine and navigate fully.

Here are some examples modular paths, with different color blocks showing different course subjects:

These first two show examples of more traditional paths, with one or two areas of focus.

The second two examples are more complex: on the left the student’s program is called Ancient History and Medieval History and Culture, and the right shows a path called History and Performance of Race and Gender. You see how courses from across the college can be pulled in to satisfy requirements for the major, so scholars can create a program that is tailored to their interests, while developing an understanding of history with depth and nuance. History at Marymount will go beyond a timeline, showing how culture, politics, art, media, and story all combine to create what we understand as our shared past.

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#drunkhistory #extracreditviewing

 

Look back, connect the dots, and get innovative to jump start your own future! Make History a part of your history at Marymount. #thanksforreading #bekind #happyhalloween

From esteemed Library Archivist Mary Brown:

New Research Resources from Marymount Manhattan College’s Archives

Marymount Manhattan College’s archives is digitizing William B. Harris’s performing-arts reviews, a gateway into his private collection of theatre memorabilia and into the downtown scene before gentrification.

“Billy” Harris was a freelance dance and theatre critic active from the 1970s until his unexpected death in July 2000. He saw much that was happening in the performing arts world in the last quarter of the last century and he saved much of it: newspaper clippings of other people’s reviews, the advertising that came his way, programs, and even some scripts. At the time of his death he had over five thousand files, arranged by playwright. A friend of Billy’s steered the family to depositing the collection at Marymount Manhattan College. Later, another friend deposited her collection of Harris’s reviews.

Currently, theatre students are the Harris Papers’ most frequent users. One of them was excited to spot a former MMC adjunct theatre professor and the author of a popular book on improv, Dan Diggles, in an early role.

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More seriously, students use the Harris Papers to research performances. When the Nobel Prize Committee announced Austrian playwright Peter Handke had won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, students went looking for performances of his plays. It turns out that Harris saw an early English-language performance, of Handke’s Self-Accusation, in 1978, and saved the program, a mimeograph that may now exist nowhere else in the world.

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Harris’s review and the mimeograph open up a world beyond that one night at the theatre. The documents indicate the Brooklyn Bridge Threatre Company produced the play. The Brooklyn Bridge Threatre Company has no Internet presence. Its history will have to be mined out of sources such as these. The venue for the performance was Saint Clement’s, which, the program indicates, is on Manhattan. It turns out Saint Clement’s does have an Internet presence (http://www.stclementsnyc.org/), and from its website we can pick up further clues. It is the third-oldest off-Broadway venue in New York. It is also an Episcopal Church in the theatre district. The way is now open for choose-your-own-adventure research. How long has St. Clement’s been an off-Broadway venue, and how did that develop? What’s the relationship between the Episcopal Church—or the Christian religion—and theatre?

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The archives is working toward putting together a research project of its own. All of Harris’s reviews note where he saw the performance. The first steps in research was to map those addresses on a modern map and to go see them as they are now. Consulting the Harris Papers indicates what Billy Harris saw when he was there. Other sources help fill in the narrative of how the building of the past became the one of the present. MMC’s library has a good collection of books on New York City, its ProQuest provides access to back issues of The New York Times, its Nexis Uni database provides access to back issues of other papers, and the New York City Department of Buildings and Department of Finance have much data on individual buildings. This process uncovered many intriguing individual stories, such as how the creators of Hedwig and the Angry Inch chose a nearly vacant hotel as a suitably grubby venue for their production. The building had started as a charity, a low-cost hospice for sailors; the decline of the shipping industry reduced the numbers of sailors needing such service. Hedwig raised interest in the building, and led to new owners and a new life as the boutique Jane Hotel.

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Building by building, a story develops. In the 1970s cash-strapped performing artists and owners who could find nothing else to do with their buildings cut deals. Performers took spaces within buildings rather than whole buildings. They rented by the weekend rather than by the month or year. They made do with poorly maintained property. Their performances introduced the audience to a neighborhood where they might invest, open a business, or live. Today, emerging performing artists find themselves priced out of as former performance spaces become apartments, shops, and more established cultural attractions.

The archives is creating a unique Google map that will identify the places where William Harris saw a performance. Walkers will be able to open the map on their own devices, and can plot their own routes for getting from one to another. They can open documents that describe Harris’s experience in the theatre at that venue, and then how the venue has changed to the present day.

The digital copies of Harris’s reviews may very well spark other kinds of research. To get started researching William Harris’s reviews, go to https://www.mmm.edu/live/files/97-harrisguideaddendumpdf, the finding aid for the part of his collection that contains the reviews. There, you can scroll or use Control + F to search for particular dates, playwrights, plays, and venue names. You can email the archivist, Mary Brown, at mbrown1@mmm.edu, and she can email a review back to you. Still not digitized, though, is Harris’s massive file of clippings, programs, advertisements, and theatre memorabilia. Again email Mary to set up an appointment, and get yourself some unique primary sources for your research.

Thanks to Mary Brown for this info and ongoing project! Thanks for reading, keep being kind, have a safe Halloween weekend.

Today’s spotlight is on an option meant for the most intrepid solo artists among us: the independent study. From the course bulletin:

Independent Study encourages the experienced student with high academic standing to design an individual project with a faculty mentor. Such projects typically may not duplicate existing courses in the curriculum. Independent Study projects range from independent reading, guided fieldwork, clinical practica, and creative endeavors.

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As she approaches graduation (and excels in her duties as #humsoc’s own work study student), Madison W. embarks on an independent study with Prof. Hernandez. She shares about this week’s reading assignment:

For the past several weeks, I have been studying a doughnut. No, not the Homer Simpson pink-with-sprinkles kind of doughnut, but rather a circular diagram that lays out some of the most important economic, social, and ecological goals of our world. Some of the goals mentioned in the doughnut include climate change, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, gender equality, and education. In chapter two of Doughnut Economics, author Kate Rowarth speaks about the doughnut saying that it provides us with a “twenty-first-century compass.” She emphasizes the need to make visual diagrams that lay out how certain goals and aspirations will be met. Visual tools reach a part of the human mind that words cannot stimulate. By laying out priorities in this way, we more easily make decisions about where funding and resource allocation should go. Rowarth’s doughnut diagram was used to make important decisions at the United Nations that are impacting millions worldwide.

Professor Hernandez is himself a fan of Independent Studies, commenting that “[they]  are a great option for self-motivated students who want to take the time to dive deeply into area of interest – or even better, an area of passion. The time and space of this format allows students to investigate, and even savor, a realm of knowledge.” And he speaks from personal experience:

In my own undergraduate studies, a parting of waters occurred when I did an independent study on ecopsychology my junior year. Suddenly, I found myself in ecstasy in the University of Washington library. I had no idea so many interesting folks were out there thinking on these topics (this was pre-internet, lots of card catalogs)!

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Madison herself is enjoying her project and excited about how it’s adding to her overall educational experience at MMC.

Taking an Independent Study was a great way to explore some of my favorite topics with more depth than I would in a traditional classroom. I have the ability to direct the course where my curiosity is sparked, revealing concepts and avenues of research that get me really excited. After all, education isn’t about filling buckets, it’s about lighting fires. …This course is fueling my passions and generating a new level of expertise in my field. I’m having a lot of fun and feel more prepared to speak in job interviews next year.

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Prof Hernandez matches Madison’s enthusiasm:

Madison’s project is perfect for her. She is examining the economic dimensions of sustainability. Whereas she has developed extensive knowledge and practice in other areas of sustainability, she felt weaker here. She is spending the semester reading various takes on environment and economics from Marxist, Green and other perspectives. I am confident these will make her an even stronger and more creative social and environmental justice actor.

Hooray!

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If you are interested in designing an independent study you must have a declared major, completed at least 30 credits, and have an overall 3.0 GPA or above. You must have a sponsoring faculty advisor, and complete a proposal. Check the bulletin for further details, and start thinking outside of the class offerings box! Be creative, be kind, and as always thanks for reading.

 

Prof M Sledge is teaching EWL 424: Studies in a Single Author, and has chosen Maxine Hong Kingston for this semester’s exploration. Hong Kingston is a Chinese-American writer, and Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. She’s received several national and prestigious awards including the National Book Award and the National Medal of Arts. Since graduating from Berkeley she’s written several acclaimed texts, essays, and collections of poetry, and continues to write from her home state of California.

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When asked why she chose this author at this moment, Prof Sledge first stated how much she personally likes Hong Kingston’s work. “I enjoy the themes that she plays with… and while those themes get explored in other classes this class makes them more direct.” She also noted that Hong Kingston isn’t often studied beyond her most famous text, The Woman Warrior.

In Tuesday’s class the students compared two of the author’s texts, The Woman Warrior and China Men, which the author thought of as companions. Students used visual representations such as timelines, family trees, and geographical maps to see how the texts overlap in time, space and theme. #checkitout

Prof Sledge noted that the themes of feminism, peace activism and writing as activism are all extremely relevant, making Hong Kinston a very timely choice for this moment. “Other authors can work in these themes successfully, but she is often over looked.” She especially noted how Hong Kingston fuses genres, melding myth, non-fiction and fiction, to write texts that aren’t quite novels or memoirs or fairy tales, but something overlapping.

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That’s all from the land of book lovers, activists and deep thinkers here at the 255. Enjoy the autumn chill in the air, or cling to summer, whichever floats your boat. Whatever vibe you’re choosing here in #libraseason and #officiallyautumn, be kind to yourself and all those you encounter on your journey.

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(Dear readers,

It’s your faithful narrator here, saying I’m gonna get the heck out of the way and let you enjoy this fantastical post submitted by our newest faculty member here in #humsoc and #PHR, Marnie Brady. As you’ll soon know, she’s an all star. Get on the #engagingwiththepastpresently train and enjoy this delightful romp!)

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— with Marnie!

This week, Polly Holladay (aka PHR Assistant Prof. Marnie Brady) posed this question while hosting an exuberant salon in her East Village café (aka Introduction to Social Work) involving some of the most eccentric, reform-minded, if not revolutionary, path-blazers of social welfare during the so-called Progressive Era: was the Progressive Era actually progressive?

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W.E.B. Dubois made an appearance, alongside Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, Jane Addams, and Ida B. Wells, among other notables (aka student presenters). Margaret Sanger donned her ubiquitous pearls and, despite the threat of exile, forcefully argued for women’s right to birth control. Some café visitors were not entirely convinced that her reproductive choice agenda was truly for the liberation and autonomy of the poor. Everyone, however, fell silent when Ms. Barnett Wells described the white terror of lynching, including her investigative journalism into the murder of three Black shopkeepers in Memphis. When café patrons appeared, to Polly’s astonishment, from the 21st century they asked questions of lessons and strategy. For example, how would this group of intellectuals and social welfare change agents address the problem of mass incarceration in 2019? Florence Kelley and Jane Addams reminded everyone of their work at Hull House in Chicago to create a court system for juvenile reform. Perhaps more than anyone else, however, Ida B. Wells spoke to the need for radical change led by strategies of Black women to address the relationship of race and criminalization from long before the early 20th century and into the 21st.

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Students taking on the voice and perspectives of influential social welfare figures in this class will participate in two additional salons, one to be held in 1962 at the headquarters of Mobilization for Youth during the Harlem rent strikes, and another in 2019 at Make the Road New York in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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(How cool was that?! Thanks for reading, and remember to be nice to yourself today)

Today in Dr Peter Naccarato’s (#departmentchair) class, EWL 215, there will be a student presentation on the assigned chapter from Anthony Trollope’s book Australia, a first person narrative documenting colonial exploits in Australia.

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The account is rife with racist tropes and justifications that were common at the time. In today’s chapter the narrator speaks about the “problem” of the aborigines (the indigenous people of Australia) and the British colonists’ “duty” to civilize them as much as possible (acknowledging the “natural” limits on how much a black man can be civilized). Students encounter firsthand the racist discourse that informed and was used to justify Britain’s colonial ambitions.

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P Nac explains: “The overall goal of the course is to see how literature was used to both promote and challenge the ideology of Empire. Today’s readings show how British writers promoted ideas that supported/justified the colonial project, like those reflected in Trollope’s racist arguments in support of oppressing the indigenous people of Australia.”

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We often think of writers and artists as rebels, creating and speaking out against the status quo. It’s important to remember that there are always ways that art, literature and news are co-opted by those in power, to undermine the masses and uphold their own status. And those who write or direct or dance/sculpt/paint are not immune to the ideologies of their time. Some don’t seek justice before beauty or profit, and some don’t think beyond what they were taught about how the world works. Nowadays we can sometimes take for granted that #thepersonalispolitical, but this hasn’t historically always been the case. Hell, it isn’t always the case currently #yikes. Question all sources, observe all points of privilege, and read carefully. #eyesup

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Readings listed below. Have a great day in class today, and remember to be kind to yourself and be kind to strangers #bekindrewind

Today’s readings:

·   George Otto Tevelyan, “An Indian Railway” and “The Gulf Between Us” from The Competition Wallah (3-15)

·   John Ruskin, “Conclusion to Inaugural Address” (16-20)

·   Anthony Trollope, “Aboriginals” (20-32)