Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CoLA Notes

 A just-published study of children’s literature co-authored by Chris Podeschi, assistant professor of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice at Bloomsburg University, is covered in today's USA Today. The examination of settings in children’s books finds that wilderness and nature are losing ground to man-made settings.  Podeschi and J. Allen Williams of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln discovered the trend while surveying the 296 Caldecott Award-winning children’s books written between 1938 to 2008.  Williams and Podeschi’s research is published in February’s Sociological Inquiry.


The American Library Association has named Michael C. Hickey's 2011 book, Competing Voices from the Russian Revolution, Fighting Words, as a RUSA Outstanding Reference Source for 2012.   The ALA RUSA (Reference and User Services Association) award is given to 10 books a year, from among all "reference" books published in all fields. Last year, Competing Voices from the Russian Revolution was given the Outstanding Academic Title designation by Choice, the ALA book review journal; Choice's reviewer described the book as "an amazing collection." Michael Hickey is a professor of History at BU. 


Lynda Michaels, Director of Alumni Affairs, provided this link to the announcement of the memorial service for James Walter Percey Jr., who retired from the Political Science department in 2002. A full obituary is included in the link. He is remembered by students and colleagues as a popular instructor.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Creative Writing / History Grad Makes Mark in Publishing

Hannah Karena Jones graduated in May 2011 with dual degrees in English-Creative Writing and History, and a minor in Professional Writing.

In July, she earned a Certificate in Publishing from New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, part of the university’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The six-week institute dedicated three weeks to the magazine industry, directed by Maryellen Gordon (former deputy editor of Glamour magazine) and three weeks to the book industry, directed by Libby Jordan (President of Musubu, Inc.). Digital publishing and discussions on the rise and importance of e-readers were emphasized throughout the program. 

Hannah (right) with author Meg Cabot (seated)
Students were divided into groups for hands-on projects; first they had to launch their own magazine--complete with a business plan and cover designs--and then they had to launch their own book publishing imprint. From beginning to end, the program offered daily lectures and panel discussions totaling in over 150 editors, publishers, content directors, web editors, marketers, publicity directors, art directors, literary agents, production managers, professional bloggers, booksellers, and authors, exposing students to the wide landscape of publishing and the various jobs within it, while at the same time offering the opportunity to forge invaluable professional contacts. Hannah found the program eye-opening; it gave her the opportunity to learn about publishing niches that she had never known existed and helped her figure out exactly what part of publishing she enjoyed most--editorial. To her surprise, she also learned that, despite the myth, publishing does exist--and flourishes--outside of NYC. Best of all, it introduced her to a huge community of passionate book-lovers. You can read more about the Institute here. 

Since graduation, her creative writing has been awarded 2nd place in The Baltimore Review’s Creative Non-Fiction Contest and Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Young Adult Fiction Competition. Additional stories have been accepted for publication atThe Susquehanna Review and Weave magazine. 
Hannah is now an Assistant Editor at Transaction Publishers, a publisher of record in international social sciences, and maintains a writing and publishing blog.

Thank you to Hannah Jones and Professor Jerry Wemple for providing this profile. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why We Fight

The title of this entry refers to a series of films--documentaries or propaganda, depending on one's point of view--produced during World War II to explain to American soldiers and the American public why involvement in the war was necessary. They were, in effect, a call to arms.

As education in general, and public higher education specifically, faces increasing budgetary challenges, eyes will naturally turn to the liberal arts. Aren't these disciplines luxuries that we can do without? 

No. I would submit that the humanities, the fine arts, and the social sciences are far from luxuries. They are in fact the ways of thinking and expression that best allow us to understand ourselves as human. At this moment in our culture as much as ever in the history of our world and our species, we need the analyses and insights that these disciplines provide. 

The metaphor of world war suggested in my title is clearly hyperbolic; but greater understanding of and support for the liberal arts is not going to happen by itself, not with so many cultural and economic forces arrayed against it. We--liberal arts faculty, students, administrators, alumni, and friends--must strive to promote these programs and curricula because we understand their value. 

Education is, of course, the best tool to promote the value of education--and that's a problem. We can, however, also talk about the "value" of a liberal education in terms of some very basic, tangible benefits: knowledge, skills, and abilities that not only make someone a "better person" (whatever that means) or a better Jeopardy contestant, but also make people more effective and ethical leaders, decision makers, parents, and citizens. 

That, as I see it, is the challenge we're all facing. I hope that this space will provide us the opportunity to share our successes--alumni, students, and faculty alike--and work together to promote the programs and courses that best prepare students to understand the complex and diverse world of today ... and tomorrow.

I also hope that every faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts, every student in our quality programs, every friend of the college, and every one of our thousands of successful alumni will take the time to view the video below. It's the December 2011 commencement address by Dr. Stephen Clickard, chairperson of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Bloomsburg University, and it very effectively addresses the issue of value in liberal education. Enjoy!

James S. Brown

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dead Man's Cell Phone

The Bloomsburg University Players, in cooperation with the Division of Theatre and Dance and sponsored by the Community Government Association, is in final rehearsals for Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, MacArthur “Genius” grant winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Associate Professor Ethan Krupp, lighting designer for the production, describes the premise:  “You’re in a cafĂ©.  Someone’s phone is ringing and ringing.  Do you answer it?  What happens when you do?  What sort of adventure can just answering someone else’s phone take you on? ”  That sets up a story that stage manager Rachel DelVecchio, a sophomore Theatre Arts major, says “combines the world we live in and an alternate place. It really gets people's minds going. It is abstract in its nature, and is going to be simply pleasing to the eye.”

According to members of the production team, the play asks important questions: “When does the technology stop being something used just to make a job easier/faster/better and take on a life of its own?” and “When do we stop and just look up at each other and communicate?”  And it asks those questions in a way that is both wacky and fun.  Director David Dannenfelser, Assistant Professor of Theatre, describes the play as “funny, relevant and beautiful.”

Dead Man’s Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl opens February 22 and plays for 5 performances though February 26.  Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 3:00pm.  All performances at the Alvina Krause Theatre, 226 Center St, Downtown Bloomsburg.  Adults $6, Seniors and Non-BU Students $4, BU Students Free with Student ID.  Tickets on sale at the Haas Center for the Arts Box Office.

Friday night is faculty/staff night – Faculty/staff and guest get in free at the door (Please bring your BU ID -- no advanced sale).  Saturday night is BTE subscriber night – BTE subscribers get in free at the door, dependent on available seating (no advanced sale).

Directed by David Dannenfelser, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre
Set design by Josh Curren (senior, Computer Science)
Costume design by Emma Scholl, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre
Lighting Design by Ethan Krupp, Associate Professor of Theatre
Stage Managed by Courtney Costello, (sophomore, Theatre Arts)

Student cast includes Gabriella Russo, senior, Theatre Arts; Robert Pellechio, senior, Theatre Arts & Mass Communications; Megan Young, sophomore, Theatre Arts; Jaryn Wilcox, junior, Theatre Arts; Ben Deivert, senior, Theatre Arts; Lauren Shover, Junior, Theatre Arts; Phil Czekner, junior, Theatre Arts; Donovan Krebs, junior, Theatre Arts; Sydney Hare, sophomore, Theatre Arts; Michelle Boyce, freshman, Theatre Arts.