newsId: 259BEE66-5056-AF26-BEFB2026381B43C6
Title: Representation to Performance: American University Museum Summer Shows
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Abstract: AU Museum summer shows feature paintings by Val Lewton and Frederic Kellogg; photographs of Cuba and North Korea; and performance, installation, and fugitive public art.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 06/12/2017
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Summer shows at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center are open June 17 through Aug. 13.

STATES OF MIND: PHOTOGRAPHS OF CUBA AND NORTH KOREA BY CARL DE KEYZER
Panel Discussion: June 17, 5-6 pm

An exhibition of prints by Belgian photographer Carl De Keyzer of scenes in North Korea and Cuba consists of 60 large-scale photos on display on the museum's third floor. The Cuba photos, grouped together under the series title, Cuba, la lucha, were taken shortly after former President Barack Obama's 2014 speech inviting the relaxation of the Communist island's 56-year embargo.

De Keyzer's North Korean prints, on display in a museum for the first time, also were shot in 2015. The British-run Koryo Group, which organizes travel tours in North Korea, arranged for De Keyzer to spend more than 40 nights in North Korea, during which time he took pictures for Koryo's travel website and his own portfolio. Alongside local Korean guides, De Keyzer, a globally renowned photographer with Magnum Photos, an international photographic collective, traveled to every single one of the country's provinces. No other photographer has had this kind of access in North Korea, said Jack Rasmussen, curator of AU Museum. 

Part of American University Museum's mission is to showcase art with political and social relevance. Last summer, the museum exhibited Contemporary North Korean Art: The Evolution of Socialist Realism, the first exhibit of its kind in the United States. The exhibit explored North Korean artistic experimentation, and the nation's particular evolution of Socialist Realism within its own culturally homogeneous context, through Chosonhwa, the country's predominant painting medium.

VAL LEWTON: FROM HOLLYWOOD TO BREEZEWOOD
Gallery Talk: July 13, 5:30-6:30pm 

A retrospective exhibition of paintings by Val Lewton traces work from the artist's origins in Hollywood, Calif., through his career as an exhibition designer for the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. Lewton's paintings use artifacts of traffic and everyday objects and scenes—cars, trucks, roads, semi-demolished buildings, suburban neighborhoods, and paint cans—to create improbably beautiful and personal compositions. 

Lewton's father was famed Hollywood movie producer Val Lewton, who created such 1940s horror classics including "Cat People," "Curse of the Cat People," and "I Walked With a Zombie." Aspects of Lewton's paintings may have been informed by his early experience with Hollywood sets and lighting, and later with his career in exhibition design.

FREDERIC KELLOGG: WORKS IN OIL AND WATERCOLOR
Painting Demonstration: June 24, 2-4 pm

As a young man, Frederic Kellogg wanted to be an artist, but the spirit of social activism in the 1960s drew him to the law. In 1973 he moved from Boston to D.C. to serve as Assistant U.S. Attorney under Elliot L. Richardson right before Richard Nixon's infamous Saturday Night Massacre. Kellogg resigned along with Richardson. He became admired locally for representing artists including Yuri Schwebler and Carroll Sockwell, and Nesta Dorrance, owner of the Jefferson Place Gallery. Kellogg became Legal Counsel to the National Endowment for the Arts in 1986, and by 1992 he was a full-time painter. 

E.A. Carmean Jr., former curator of 20th-century art at Washington's National Gallery of Art, describes in the exhibition catalog that Kellogg's art lies within the great American tradition of Realism, but his style fluctuates between the more precise work of Andrew Wyeth and Richard Estes, and the looser approach of Fairfield Porter. 

ALPER INITIATIVE FOR WASHINGTON ART: PERFORMING THE BORDER
Salon-style Discussion: July 27, 5:30-7pm

"Performing the Border" features art by young regional artists, including two American University alumni, who test the arbitrary categories dividing art and performance. The four artists and one collaborative group selected by curator Megan Rook-Koepsel (artists and group are Clay Dunklin, Amy Lin, Susana Raab, Jenny Wu, and Street Light Circus) explore boundary formation and dissolution. Included are works of mixed-media, photography, performance, installation and video art. Artists in Street Light Circus will perform during the opening reception for the summer shows, on June 17 from 6-9 pm.

ON VIEW THROUGH AUGUST 13: FOON SHAM: ESCAPE

To be within one of Foon Sham's wood sculptures is to experience the palpable space of a woodland creature's habitat, or the place of concealment. At the American University Museum, Sham has built one horizontal tunnel measuring 62 feet long and one vertical tunnel towering 36 feet high.  

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Title: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at AU Celebrates 35th Anniversary
Author: Patty Housman
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Abstract: The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at AU celebrated its 35th anniversary with a luncheon for more than 200 guests, including AU President Emeritus Neil Kerwin and guest speaker Diane Rehm, the former host of NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 06/02/2017
Content:

For 35 years, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at American University has offered lectures, classes, and educational events for older adults across the Washington area. OLLI recently celebrated this milestone with a luncheon for more than 200 guests, including American University President Emeritus Neil Kerwin and guest speaker Diane Rehm, the former host of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.

In his opening remarks at the luncheon, Kerwin discussed the long partnership between American University and OLLI and how the organization has grown since its founding in 1982 with less than 100 members. OLLI at AU now offers more than 90 courses to 1,200 members. "That's the size of a small college, and you will continue to grow because the quality of your program is so strong," Kerwin said. "It's been a delight for me personally to be involved in it. I hope that I'm invited back at some point to lecture again. I would be more than happy to do that."

Where Curiosity Never Retires

OLLI is an independent, nonprofit organization and part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute National Network, which includes 119 institutes across the country. In its partnership with AU, OLLI leases space at the university's new education building on Massachusetts Ave and draws on the expertise of the university's faculty members. Its members also use AU's facilities, including the university library and computers.

OLLI was founded on the principle of learning as a lifelong process, as a place "where curiosity never retires." The organization operates like a small liberal arts college, offering lectures and courses led by its members and AU faculty.

Members can also participate in study groups, either by leading them or attending them. There are no tests and no grades; members participate purely for the joy of learning. They can choose from far-ranging topics including Peace in the Middle East, The Poems of Billy Collins, Neuroscience and Visual Arts, Mindful Meditation, and many more.

The OLLI Community

OLLI AU's founder (and AU alumna) Tina Fried Heller believes that an energized, intellectually vigorous older population involved in learning adds to the health of any community. "We know that engaged, active members attending classes and lectures and making new friends, find much to offset the ennui of retirement," said Fried Heller. "As we have grown to more than 1,000 enthusiastic and committed members, we are confident in the success of OLLI as a real asset to the community and to individual lives."

AU Music Program Chair and Professorial Lecturer Nancy Jo Snider agrees. She has taught several music courses to OLLI members. "OLLI members are the ideal students; they want to be there and are eager to learn," she says. "They are vastly intelligent, extremely accomplished, and about the nicest people one would ever want to share a class with. It is always a sincere pleasure to work with the terrific OLLI leadership, staff, and members on realizing their very positive mission."

At the Beginning

When Fried Heller first began thinking about forming a lifelong learning program in 1980, she quickly realized that nothing like it existed in the DC area. In fact, she could only find three in the nation. Yet Fried Heller was convinced that many people in DC were eager to continue learning during their retirement years. She worked with Carolyn Alper (AU alumna and founder of AU's Alper Initiative of Art), and Jack Blum (AU OLLI's first chair) to pull together a proposal and organizational outline for funding a volunteer, membership organization with intellectually stimulating peer-led study groups.

"This all began 35 years ago, and look at us now," she said. "Society has changed in these past decades. No notions of rocking chairs or fishing poles are attached to the term retired. We know how vital and energetic a group we are. Happy birthday to us."

What's Next

Fried Heller looks forward to continued growth in the AU-OLLI partnership. "It is AU that welcomed us 35 years ago with our fledgling ideas of creating a lifelong learning membership organization," she said. "The ensuing relationship has strengthened as we have grown and interactions with faculty and campus leaders have increased. We look forward to continuing this partnership far into the future."

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Title: Q & A WITH SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT MELODY TOOTOONCHI
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Abstract: The Jean M. Sartwell Fund in the College of Arts and Sciences was established in 2014.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/22/2017
Content:

The Jean M. Sartwell Fund in the College of Arts and Sciences was established in 2014. Income from the fund will be awarded annually in accord with the university's financial aid policies to provide need-based scholarships to degree-seeking students at American University. In reviewing the pool of qualified applicants, whenever feasible, the funds will be awarded with preference for female students enrolled in the master of fine arts, creative writing program.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, a small town with a great sense of community. My parents immigrated to the United States from Iran, so even though I grew up in a small town they made sure I was aware of just how big the world is. They emphasized education and instilled a love of learning in me that I will always be grateful for. School was definitely a priority in our house! Without the influence, love, and support of my parents, I never would have had the confidence and drive to pursue my MFA degree.

Why did you choose American University?
I chose to attend American University because it was the best fit for me without a doubt. The MFA program in creative writing lets participants explore writing in different genres, not just the one that they feel most comfortable with, which I think can only benefit our writing. Also, the university's location was definitely ideal because DC is a city that I have loved to visit since I was little. It's not too far from home, which means that my family and I can visit each other easily. Once I finally came to the campus and saw it with my own two eyes, I was completely sold. I knew that AU was the university for me.

In what student organizations do you participate?
I've only just finished my first year here at AU, so I'm not involved with any student organizations just yet. I wanted to completely focus on my academics first. Now that I'm about to begin my second year, though, I'm excited to explore the different organizations and participate!

Where would you eventually like to end up, personally and/or professionally?
My dream is to be able to write full time as a successful, published author of young adult novels. However, as anyone in the writing world knows, it's rare to be able to write full time. In the meantime, I would love to explore the world of publishing and see if that's something that could be a good fit for me. I think I would be happy doing anything that utilizes my passion for reading and writing.

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Title: CAS Roundup: Top Stories of 2016-17
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Subtitle: Big Year for the College of Arts and Sciences
Abstract: Top ten stories for AU's College of Arts and Sciences in the 2016-17 academic year.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 05/17/2017
Content:

At the College of Arts and Sciences, the 2015-16 academic year was filled with new faces, new construction, a surprising political prediction, and a myriad of awards and honors. Read ahead for a roundup of some of the College's biggest stories of the year.

 

Dr. Lonnie Bunch with students. Alumnus Lonnie Bunch
Founding Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

 

Dr. Ibrim X. Kendi Ibram X. Kendi Joins Faculty
Renowned historian will join AU as a professor and will create a new anti-racism center.

 

Dr. Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy. Leveling the Playing Field
Cheryl Holcomb McCoy joins AU as the Dean of the School of Education.

 

Dr. Nicole Caporino. New Faces of CAS
CAS welcomed a diverse, accomplished group of new faculty in fall 2016.

 

Dr. Alan Lichtman. AU History Professor Correctly Predicts Trump Win
Allan Lichtman goes against the grain and correctly predicts that Donald Trump will win the presidency, based on his "13 Keys."

 

Stock photo of a microscope. Cutting Edge Science, Cutting Edge Facilities
AU is committed to growing the sciences—and opening two new buildings to house its growing scientific scholarship.

 

Six people in business casual stand on or around a larger-than-life statue of Albert Einstein. AU Team Wins Prize from National Academy of Medicine
A team of AU public health students won the Harrison C. Spencer Interprofessional Prize in the annual National Academy of Medicine's DC Public Health Case Challenge.

 

Three students sit in front of a blue drapery near an American flag and a statue of an eagle. eSports at the White House
AU Game Lab students attend Competitive Gaming Event at the White House.

 

Group photo of about twenty people in dressy clothes, some carrying brass instruments. Wynton Marsalis & Igor Butman Perform for Carmel Institute
Renowned jazz musicians Igor Butman and Wynton Marsalis took center stage to celebrate the fifth anniversary of AU's Carmel Institute.

 

Film still from the movie Hidden Figures. Three women dance in a 1960s-era kitchen. Being Counted
Professor talks Hidden Figures and minority women in math.

 

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Title: The Road to Broadway
Author: Alix Mammina
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Abstract: AU Alum Vishal Vaidya takes on role in hit musical Groundhog Day.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 05/01/2017
Content:

When Vishal Vaidya auditioned for his first role—a spot in his 7th grade school play—he had no way of knowing he would one day land a performance in Broadway's newest hit show Groundhog Day. A lot has changed for the AU alum since then, but one thing has stayed the same—his love for musical theater.

Vaidya didn't waste a moment of his time at American University. In between taking classes for his double major in musical theatre and international relations, Vaidya performed in plays both on and off campus, studied theater abroad at the American University in Cairo, and even sang the national anthem at former President Barack Obama's 2010 speech on AU's campus. After graduating, Vaidya performed on some of DC's most well-known stages, including the Kennedy Center and Ford's Theatre, before moving to New York City in 2012.

Vaidya auditioned for hundreds of shows over the past few years, but Groundhog Day stood out for him. Much of the creative team behind the musical—including director Matthew Warchus and composer and lyricist Tim Minchin—previously worked together on Matilda: The Musical.

"When I saw Matilda, I was floored by how quick-paced and witty and honest and evocative it was," Vaidya said. "So I really wanted to get seen at the Groundhog Day audition."

Groundhog Day is based on the 1993 movie of the same name, and follows weatherman Phil Connors as he covers the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania—and gets stuck living the same day over and over again. Vaidya landed an ensemble role as Phil Connors' cameraman, Larry.

For Vaidya, the best part of the show has been getting to work with the cast and crew. "The cast and the people on the other side—the music director, the director, the stage management team—are all good-hearted, smart, and work really hard," Vaidya said. "The show itself is good, the music is incredible, it's funny— but it also comes from a real place of honesty and heart. I think the people are the most rewarding part of the show. That's why I love theater so much."

According to Vaidya, his professors at AU provided him with the training necessary to take on his role in Groundhog Day. "I was lucky to have an incredible voice teacher in the Department of Performing Arts, Doug Bowles, who really guided me and set my voice free," Vaidya said.

He also credits AU Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Cara Gabriel with inspiring him to take risks as an actor. "Theater is a vulnerable thing. You're put on the spot, and you have to be honest and open, and that's difficult," Vaidya said. "But [Gabriel] does a great job of getting people to do that without it seeming like it's an overwhelming or hard or scary thing. When I was at AU, I did four different shows with her, and each time I learned something about myself and about my form. She shaped how I view performing and how I approach every show."

For AU students considering a future on Broadway, Vaidya notes that while theater is a tough industry, it's also rewarding. "I would encourage musical theater students to keep studying—the studying never really ends, so keep learning, figure out what inspires you, and keep nourishing that," he said. "Be good to your peers, your colleagues, the people you work with, and lead with love."

Tags: Alumni,College of Arts and Sciences,Connections Newsletter,Performing Arts,Theatre and Music Theatre
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Title: Study Up!
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Abstract: College of Arts and Sciences Courses with a twist.
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 04/28/2017
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Each semester at the College of Arts and Sciences, students can choose from hundreds of classes across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Often, these choices are life-changing—students discover an unexpected intellectual passion, develop a different world view, or find the inspiration to pursue a new academic path.

And sometimes, students experience learning in a completely unexpected way, from mastering the basics of chemistry through cooking experiments, to understanding anatomy through dance. Here is a sampling of some of the inventive and even interdisciplinary ways students are learning across the College.

ENVS-230 Parks
National parks are one of our greatest treasures. Examine the history of parks, conflicts over the role of parks, and the importance of science and scientists in parks.



The White House

AMST-330 Politics, TV Series, and Ethics
Explore politics and ethics using the political dramas The West Wing, House of Cards, and Scandal as case studies. Learn about government corruption, media bias, and the influence of TV on American culture.



A copper pot boiling.

CHEM-150 Chemistry of Cooking
Master basic chemical topics, from acid/base chemistry to reaction energetics—and then test your knowledge at the end of the semester by competing in the chemistry department's very own version of Chopped.



Nighttime photo of the State Museum in Moscow.

HIST-445 The Cold War and The Spy Novel
Explore the history of the Cold War through documents, spy novels, and films, and analyze the relationship between history, ideology, literature, and film. This class deconstructs the Cold War's most important ingredients—smokescreens and stereotypes.



Concert poster titled Krishna Consciousness Comes West.

LIT-121 Rethinking Literature: Angelheaded Hipsters and The Absurd
Survey the work of the Beats and other experimental writers of the 1950s and 60s, including Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Frank O'Hara, within the postwar context of anti-Communism, consumerism, homophobia, sexism, and racism.



Microbe

PUBH-115 Why Aren't We Dead Yet
Infectious and chronic diseases kill millions of people around the world every year. In the classroom and in the lab, learn how microbes and lifestyle choices can make individuals sick, and how the field of public health helps keep communities healthy.



Ballerina in a red tutu faces a mirror in semi-darkness.

PERF-307 Principles of Movement
Physics meets dance: Develop movement observation and analysis skills as applied to the structure and function of the dancing body. Explore anatomy, kinesiology, and somatics in relation to dance technique, conditioning, and injury prevention.



Two video game controllers face each other on a red background.

GAME-605 Games and Society
Join the Game Lab and explore how play, games, and society intersect. Then gain a foundation for designing and developing games used for social impact, education, and other purpose-driven goals.



Drawing of three hands spelling out ASL in sign language.

EDU-212 Intro to Sign Language
Learn the basics of American Sign Language and more—deaf culture, history, folklore, anthropology, and sociology.


Tags: American Studies Dept,Audio Technology,Audio Technology Dept,CAS Connections,Chemistry,Chemistry Dept,College of Arts and Sciences,Education,Environmental Science,Environmental Studies,Faculty,Gamelab,History,History Dept,Literature,Literature Dept,Performing Arts,Performing Arts Dept,Public Health,Students
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Title: Multimedia Storytelling in the Delta
Author: Mirchaye Sahlu
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Abstract: Newly full professor of film and media arts at American University School of Communication, took two students to the Mississippi Delta for a two-week multimedia immersion workshop.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 04/27/2017
Content:

Recently Leena Jayaswal, who recently became a full professor of film and media arts at American University School of Communication (AU SOC), took two students to the Mississippi Delta for a two-week multimedia immersion workshop designed for those interested in having a career in documentary filmmaking and photography.

Professor Jayaswal was invited to go to the Mississippi Delta Workshop by Alysia Burton Steele, an assistant professor of multiple platform Journalism at the University of Mississippi, who visited AU last year and spoke in Jayaswal’s History of Photography class.

While on campus, she also juried a student-run contest involving students from area colleges. The competition featured work inspired by her own style.  

“She and I connected over the two days she was here, we realized we had very similar philosophies,” Jayaswal said, “And when she was doing this, she really wanted to include me.”

Once she had been invited to the Delta workshop, Jayaswal had the opportunity to extend invitations of her own. She wanted to make sure she picked one undergraduate and one graduate student, and also wanted to make sure that there was gender balance and racial disparity.  Ultimately, she tapped Murugi Thande, a Film and Media Arts Major and  French Minor, and Anthony Brunner, an MFA student in Film/Electronic Media.

“They are excellent students and I thought they could represent American University well,” Jayaswal said.

Thande Photo of Pottery

Photo by Murugi Thande

Thande Photo of Delta's Workshop

Photo by Murugi Thande

Brunner, now in the third year of his program, said that he had a great experience at the workshop and he was left inspired.

“As a student, it's not often that I get to visit an unfamiliar part of the country and produce a story alongside students from other schools,” he said, “I feel like my abilities as a storyteller have improved as a result.”

Thande, a graduating senior, said that the Delta workshop allowed her to produce a film that she is very proud of. “I really can’t believe I was able to make something this good in a matter of four days. The program pushed me to work faster, harder and ultimately produce better work,” she said.

As the director of the photography program, Jayaswal works with many students, including Thande and Brummer. “Both Murugi and Anthony volunteer for us and that’s another reason why I wanted to give them this opportunity for the Delta trip,” Jayaswal said, “to pay them back a little for all the time and effort they put into working with us.”

Photography is one of the few programs at AU where students can volunteer as Teaching Assistants while still undergraduates.

“Every year we turn people away because we have a lot of people who want to work for us, which is a great problem to have,” Jayaswal laughed.

Among students, Jayaswal is known for providing the tools necessary for her students to succeed in the classroom and beyond.  

“Taking Professor Jayaswal's photography course was one of the best experiences I've had here at AU.  Leena is an amazing professor who makes sure her students develop the skills they need to create high quality work, as well as truly understand the importance and power of an image,” Brunner said.  

“Leena inspires me to work harder as a student and as a photographer,” Thande said.  

Jayaswal said that she is proud of the photography community, which she considers dedicated and strong. “A lot of times people say that they didn’t feel like they had a home until they found photography, which just makes me so pleased and happy,” she said.

You can see more photos of the workshop from Murugi Thande here.

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Title: AU Historians Weigh in on the First 100 Days, Past and Present
Author:
Subtitle: From Lincoln to Trump, historians share their opinions on first 100 days
Abstract: As President Donald J. Trump hits the hundred-day mark, we asked historians in the College of Arts and Sciences to weigh in on what they believe past presidents actually accomplished (or didn’t accomplish) during this period.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 04/24/2017
Content:

The first 100 days of a White House administration are often considered a yardstick to measure a new administration's effectiveness in fulfilling its campaign promises. They are also considered a bellwether of a president's success or failure over the next four years. This measurement of a chief executive's accomplishments goes back to the first term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who entered office during the Great Depression. 


As President Donald J. Trump hits the hundred-day mark, we asked historians in the College of Arts and Sciences to weigh in on what they believe past presidents actually accomplished (or didn't accomplish) during this period. Here, Professor Max Paul Friedman discusses FDR's whirlwind first 100 days; Professor Alan Kraut explains how Abraham Lincoln's plans were nearly subsumed by one of our greatest national crises; and Professor Peter Kuznick analyzes Harry Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Finally, Professor Allan Lichtman shares his views on Donald J. Trump in the context of his newly released book The Case for Impeachment. (Opinions expressed are those of the writers.)

 

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
By Professor of History Max Paul Friedman

All US presidents since 1945 have been measured against the arbitrary benchmark set by Franklin D. Roosevelt's whirlwind efforts in his first 100 days in office to tackle the Great Depression. Shepherding 15 major pieces of legislation through Congress, the Roosevelt administration saved the banking system through federally-supervised reorganization, regulated the stock market, and spent tax dollars to support the devastated farm sector.

Faced with unemployment estimated at 25 percent, FDR did not order a freeze on federal hiring, but instead did the opposite. A quarter-million young people employed in the Civilian Conservation Corps built some of the national park infrastructure still in use today. Larger public works programs hired yet more Americans to build roads, bridges, schools, and airports, or to bring electrification and irrigation to impoverished states in the South. Roosevelt saw the federal government as a powerful tool to address the nation's problems, which was proven over the next decade, as yet more ambitious New Deal programs cut the unemployment rate in half, and massive federal spending on World War II—a New Deal on steroids—created full employment.

Upon assuming office, FDR surrounded himself with the most talented public servants available, while reassuring Americans that they had nothing to fear from one another "but fear itself." That calm and confident voice against prejudice and conspiratorial thinking was the most important service President Roosevelt provided immediately after his inauguration. 

 

Abraham Lincoln
By Professor of History Alan Kraut

During their first 100 days, many presidents find their own plans subsumed by national events. President Abraham Lincoln, an adroit Whig politician from Illinois, had his eye on westward expansion as key to American prosperity. He favored a role for the federal government in the nation's economic development and opposed slavery's reaching into states being carved from western territories.

The crisis of the union caused by disputes over slavery and states rights immediately demanded Lincoln's attention. Still, his response was consistent with his opposition to slavery, his veneration of the Union, and his belief in an activist government, including the use of executive power in time of crisis.

Lincoln's crisis began a month after his November 1860 election, when South Carolina seceded from the Union. Six more followed before his March inauguration, four after. On April 12, 1861, Fort Sumter fell to the South Carolina state militia. Lincoln requested that Congress convene, but also used executive authority to quell the insurrection.

He called for 75,000 volunteers for 90 days. He proclaimed a blockade on all Southern ports from Virginia to Texas. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus in states along the railroad line from Philadelphia to Washington. He acted to prevent the secession of border states, including Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. As commander in chief, he ordered the supply and preparation of the military, vainly hoping to prevent further chaos as the nation tumbled into Civil War. 

Perhaps ironically, Lincoln exercised broad executive privilege not to circumvent Congress or to ram through his own agenda, but because he was desperate to save the Union. He feared secession would destroy the world's only democracy and prove that government by the people was not viable. Also ironically, though Lincoln didn't live to see it, the defeat of the South in the Civil War made possible westward expansion as he had envisioned. 

 

Harry Truman
By Professor of History Peter Kuznick

Harry Truman left office with approval ratings so low that only George W. Bush has come close since. But he is now, strangely, remembered as a near-great president. That judgment is bipartisan. In 1999, Condoleezza Rice named him "Man of the Century" for Time magazine.

I profoundly disagree with that judgment. In fact, Truman would be near the bottom of my list. But his first 120 days were certainly momentous.

Truman had been a party functionary—a loyal member of the corrupt Pendergast Machine that ran Kansas City—prior to running for the Senate.  When a reporter asked boss Tom Pendergast why he had chosen Truman to run, Pendergast replied, "I wanted to demonstrate that a well-oiled machine could send an office boy to the senate." Democratic Party bosses gave about as much thought to Truman's qualifications when they chose him to replace the progressive Henry Wallace as vice president on the 1944 ticket. On the eve of the party convention, Gallup asked potential Democratic voters who they wanted as vice president. Sixty-five percent chose Wallace. Two percent preferred Truman. But the bosses controlled the convention and put Truman in over the far more qualified and popular Wallace.

Truman was only in office 82 days before Franklin Roosevelt died. During that time, Roosevelt had only spoken to him twice, about nothing of significance. Nor did anyone else in that administration hold Truman in high regard. In fact, amazingly, no one had even bothered to tell Truman that the US was building the atomic bomb until after he was sworn in.

Once in office, Truman told visitors that the whole thing was a mistake and that he wasn't qualified for the job. He was right. It would only take him 10 days before he had undermined Roosevelt and Wallace's vision for postwar collaboration with the Soviet Union. Roosevelt's last cable to Churchill had explicitly downplayed differences with Russia and urged continued friendship. Truman's meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov on April 23 was a disaster. Truman berated the Soviet diplomat and accused the Soviets of having broken their Yalta agreements. He then bragged to underlings how he had given Molotov "one-two to the jaw." Relations between the two countries would go pretty steadily downhill after that, despite the efforts of Wallace, Stimson, Davies, and others to right the ship and uphold Roosevelt's vision for postwar peace.

Equally calamitous, both morally and militarily, was Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on what his chief of staff Admiral William Leahy referred to as "an already thoroughly defeated Japan." Truman knew the Japanese were desperate to end the war and that the long-sought and now imminent Soviet intervention would do the trick. He also knew that he was beginning a process that could end life on the planet. Seven of America's eight five-star admirals and generals in 1945 have said that the atomic bombs were either morally reprehensible or militarily unnecessary or both.

Whatever good things Truman did as president will always be overshadowed by his role in precipitating the Cold War and his dropping of atomic bombs. The world needed a man of vision in 1945. The challenges were overwhelming. Had Roosevelt lived or Wallace gotten reelected and taken office, there would likely have been no atomic bombings and no Cold War. Instead, Harry Truman helped plunge us into a 70-plus-year nightmare from which we've yet to fully emerge.

 

Donald J. Trump
By Professor of History Allan Lichtman

In my book, The Case for Impeachment, I argue that Donald Trump entered the White House more vulnerable to impeachment than any other first-term president. The book explores eight potential grounds for Trump's impeachment. The Trump presidency can still move in a positive direction to avoid impeachment, but events of his first 100 days have only strengthened the case.

President Trump failed to divest himself of his business interests. He says his children are running the business and that they don't discuss it with him, but the reality is that he can still profit from every venture. And companies that do business with the Trump organization can profit directly and indirectly from ties to the president. His far-flung enterprises abroad may already have put him in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause, which specifies that a president cannot receive anything of value from foreign governments. For example, the president received nearly 40 potentially lucrative trademarks from China, shortly after he seemed to walk away from this possible two-China policy and failed to declare China a currency manipulator as he promised to do on day one of his presidency.

The administration's response to the investigations of possible collusion between his associates and Russia's attack on our democracy has the hallmarks of a Nixonian cover-up: conceal, deceive, deflect. The Trump administration, when confronted, has claimed that all contacts with Russians were innocuous—just as the Nixon administration insisted that Watergate was a "third-rate burglary." Trump has also mirrored Nixon by claiming absolute presidential power and attacking the courts in his defense of his first travel ban.

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Title: The Age of Consequences: Eye-Opening Documentary Screened at AU
Author: Alix Mammina
Subtitle: Focuses on how climate change will be predominant force shaping 21st century.
Abstract: The College of Arts and Sciences brought together the fields of environmentalism, international relations, and security studies with a screening of the groundbreaking new documentary The Age of Consequences on April 5.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/17/2017
Content:

The College of Arts and Sciences brought together the fields of environmentalism, international relations, and security studies with a screening of the groundbreaking new documentary The Age of Consequences on April 5.

Released in January 2017, The Age of Consequences explores climate change as a threat to national security. Through interviews with military experts and analysis of the impact of climate change on resource scarcity, mass migration, and global conflict, the film introduces a perspective rarely discussed in the realm of environmentalism.

Students, faculty, and staff members from across AU’s schools gathered for hors d'oeuvres and refreshments before the film. Following the screening, Hoover Institution Research Fellow Alice Hill moderated a panel discussion featuring School of International Service Professor Paul Wapner, Department of Environmental Science Professor Kiho Kim, and Francesco Femia, the president and co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security.

Topics covered during the discussion included the consequences of climate change, the difficulty of communicating environmental risks, and the future of climate issues under the Trump administration. Kim and Femia both noted the importance of seeking solutions from multiple sources, as well as the need to avoid relying too much on technological solutions.

“Climate change is too important to be left just to the environmentalists,” Femia explained. “Climate change is certainly an environmental issue at its core, but as the film describes, it touches on so many different issues that we can’t look to purely environmental solutions. We need to have a broader conversation.”

While the speakers expressed concerns about the future of climate change policies, Wapner and Kim agreed that they find hope in the optimism and determination of their students.

“There is a different kind of attitude that is alive right now, at least among students,” Wapner said. “When the Trump administration got voted in, we talked in class about when would be the most meaningful time to be an environmentalist. And, across the board, our students said now. Now is the moment.”

During the last half hour of the event, speakers answered questions from the audience. Students raised questions about water security, funding cuts to environmental NGOs, and the effect of nationalism on future responses to migration issues.

At the close of the event, Hill thanked audience members for their attendance and encouraged them to keep up the conversation about climate change.

“Until we get a collective voice that signals that this is important to us, and we care about it, and we want to leave a safer place for ourselves and our children, I think it’s going to be difficult to build the kind of clamor that we need to move forward,” Hill said.

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Title: Celebrate Jazz History Month at AU’s Jazz Concert Featuring Local Legends
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Subtitle: JAZZ: Concert and Conversation, April 22 at Katzen
Abstract: On Saturday, April 22, the College of Arts and Sciences hosts its annual spring concert featuring the American University Jazz Orchestra and special guest band, The Sax Summit, with Peter Fraize, Antonio Parker, and Elijah Jamal Balbed.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 04/17/2017
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On Saturday, April 22, the College of Arts and Sciences hosts its annual spring concert featuring the American University Jazz Orchestra and special guest band, The Sax Summit, with Peter Fraize, Antonio Parker, and Elijah Jamal Balbed.

“April is Jazz History Month—as good a time as any to present in a grand fashion an art form that is uniquely America's classical music,” said Joshua Bayer, AU musician in residence and director of the AU Jazz Orchestra. “This program will allow those in attendance to not only experience an exciting jazz performance, but to connect with jazz artists—perhaps we will be able to remove the mystery!”

Panel

The event begins at 6 p.m. at the American University Museum with a panel discussion moderated by Bayer. “This event follows AU's tradition in bringing people together on campus to experience, discuss, and participate,” Bayer says. Panelists will discuss the business of jazz, as well as jazz education and performance.

Panelists include Rusty Hassan, longtime jazz host at DC community radio station WPFW 89.3 FM; DeAndrey Howard, musician and director of the Jazz and Cultural Society; saxophonist and composer Elijah Jamal Balbed; and legendary performer and educator Antonio Parker.

The panel is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

JAZZ: The Concert

Following the panel is a reception at 7 p.m., and the jazz concert begins at 8 p.m. in the Abramson Family Recital Hall. The concert begins with a performance by The Sax Summit, a group of highly respected musicians and performers. Bayer will join in, playing the guitar. For the concert’s second half, Bayer will lead the AU Jazz Orchestra as it performs a variety of jazz works.

Concert tickets are $5-10 and can be purchased in advance.

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Title: Denise Saunders Thompson Awarded $500,000 Mellon Grant
Author: Alix Mammina
Subtitle:
Abstract: Professorial lecturer Denise Saunders Thompson awarded $500,000 Mellon Grant.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/11/2017
Content:

Denise Saunders Thompson has dedicated her life's work to supporting Black dancers and companies—and now, with the help of a $500,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, she's ready to create change on a grand scale.

Thompson balances her work as an AU arts management professorial lecturer with her role as president and CEO of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), which received a grant this year from the Mellon Foundation's recently established Comprehensive Organizational Health Initiative. This highly selective initiative seeks to help arts institutions flourish by enhancing their financial sustainability and capacity building.

Thompson hopes that the Mellon Foundation grant will help IABD address the financial inequities that have historically challenged the Black dance community. "For decades, Black dance companies have been marginalized by an arts funding paradigm that was not accessible," Thompson says. "The financial challenges these organizations have faced to keep their doors open continue to be significant, and now IABD is uniquely positioned to change the course of the tide."

Established in 1991, the IABD operates with the goal of preserving and promoting dance by people of African descent. Over the past 26 years, IABD has hosted annual conferences for Black dance professionals, created an emergency fund for IABD artists and companies, and launched a coalition for scholars of the African Diaspora. In addition to directly supporting the community, IABD establishes archives of Black dance history in museums across the country.

Denise Saunders ThompsonAfter serving as chairperson and executive director of IABD for seven years, Thompson was appointed as its president and CEO in January 2017. During her time at IABD, Thompson has spearheaded several initiatives designed to promote Black dancers, including a multi-company audition for ballerinas of color. The audition provided an opportunity to "diversify the landscape of the ballet world" and foster a collaborative relationship between dancers and artistic directors, Thompson told the New York Times in a 2016 interview.

"As an African American woman in the field of arts administration/management with a robust career in the performing arts and at an institution of higher education, I remain committed to promoting systemic change in post-secondary institutions and nonprofit arts organizations," Thompson said.

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Title: The Road to Glory: Hip-Hop Star Common Speaks at AU
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: The rapper, actor, and author offered pearls of wisdom in Bender Arena.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/07/2017
Content:

Among his many accomplishments, Common won an Oscar for “Glory,” a song co-recorded with John Legend for the movie Selma. “Every day women and men become legends/sins that go against our skin become blessings,” Common intoned on “Glory.” That idea—victory in the face of adversity, belief in the face of oppression—was a theme he returned to at American University’s Bender Arena on Wednesday, April 5.

The rapper, actor, and author struck an optimistic tone throughout the night, reflecting on his Chicago upbringing, his hip-hop career, and his dedication to social change. The student-run Kennedy Political Union and the College of Arts and Sciences co-presented the event. Michael Harvey, an AU professorial lecturer in audio technology, and Sean Glover of SoundExchange, moderated the question-and-answer session. Co-sponsors included the AU Alumni Association, the Office of Campus Life, the AU chapter of the NAACP, Black Student Alliance, the Kogod School of Business-Business and Entertainment Program, Men of Empowerment and Excellence, 94 Forever, Second District Records, and WVAU.

On Ali and Greatness

Common—real name, Lonnie Lynn—was here to speak and not perform. Well, almost. To the delight of the AU crowd, he broke into a freestyle with shout-outs to “coffee at the Dav,” “Mass Ave.,” and KPU Deputy Director Aaliyah Lambert.

He opened by talking about attending Muhammad Ali’s memorial service in 2016. “I started to think about, ‘Why did we call Muhammad Ali the greatest?’” he said. Common believes it was Ali’s humanity that drew people to him. He noted how Ali “spoke up against injustices, how he had sacrificed his career, at the height of his career, for something he believed in. How he greeted each and every individual with love, no matter what your background was. Or what you looked like. That’s why we called him the greatest.”

Common then thought about harnessing greatness within himself. “Find your path. Believe in your path. And live your path,” is his motto.

He recalled finding his path when he worked with his cousin on his first-ever rap song (which he briefly performed to the audience). “Little did I know that that path would take me to China, take me to Japan, take me to Africa. Little did I know that that path would take me to the White House, to visit our first black president and first lady,” he said.

On Believing in Yourself

Common described several pivotal moments in his life, including his breakup with singer Erykah Badu. At the time, he didn’t believe in himself. “I was dimming my light for others. You can’t dim your light for anyone,” he said. “Not if you want to contribute to this world in the highest way.”

He discussed his collaborations with Kanye West, who was a producer on Common’s critically-acclaimed 2005 album Be. The record got multiple Grammy nominations, and he told a funny anecdote about preparing potential acceptance speeches. Ludacris was announcing best rap album, and judging by the way he was talking, Common assumed he’d win. But the award went to Kanye himself, for Late Registration.

“Living your path is knowing that everything that you may desire, may have dreamed of, may have worked for, may not come exactly at the time,” he explained about losing at the Grammys. “The next morning, Kanye called me and said, ‘Let’s get back in [the studio] and do it.’ I said, ‘Let’s get back in and do it.’ I didn’t fall. I just took this as a challenge.”

Hip Hop, Activism, and Politics

Common expanded on his work on social issues, and he made a reference to the current political climate.

“People have asked me, ‘Man, we are in the worst times of our lives.’ And I actually believe we are in the best times. You know why? Because it’s bringing out the humanity in so many of us. It’s bringing out the love in so many of us. It’s bringing out the understanding in so many of us,” he said.

Just this year, he visited with inmates in several California state prisons. It was part of an effort to understand how prison affects incarcerated people and their families. “One of the greatest things I learned as I walked through those prison cell blocks was forgiveness,” he stated.

During the making of Selma, former UN Ambassador Andrew Young gave advice that resonated with him. “The first thing he said to us in our rehearsal was, ‘What are you willing to die for? Live for that,’” Common remembered.

He reiterated the same point to the AU audience. “Find that passion, find that purpose, and live for that—every day,” he said.

During the Q&A, he was asked about the role of hip hop in social activism. “One of the first gifts I learned from being a performer is when I looked out in the audience and I saw black people, white people, Latino people, Asian people, and—when I went to certain states—Native American people. And I was like, ‘Man this is incredible.’”

Common noted that nowadays, he’d like to see artists not only speaking out, but taking action. “If it’s a policy that I could be a part of changing, I need to do it.”

*Bonus Track! For the Q&A, someone submitted this gem of a question: If you could listen to one album again for the very first time, what would it be? Common’s answer: Michael Jackson’s 1979 classic Off the Wall.

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Title: Participatory Sculpture, Contemporary Cuban, A Teacher’s Legacy, Myths and Time at the AU Museum
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Abstract: Spring exhibits at the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open April 1. All close May 28 except ESCAPE: Foon Sham, which closes August 13.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 03/28/2017
Content: Spring exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center open April 1.

ESCAPE: Foon Sham, April 1 – August 13
Gallery Talk: 2 to 3 p.m., APRIL 23

Escape showcases Foon Sham's mastery of wood sculpture. To be within one of his vessel sculptures is to experience the palpable space of a woodland creature's habitat, or the place of concealment. At the American University Museum, Sham has built one horizontal tunnel measuring 62 feet long and one vertical tunnel towering 36 feet high. Escape is one of a series of participatory sculptures, begun in the 1990s, meant to be experienced with all the body's senses and to resonate socially. Dualism, as in the Taoist yin/yang dichotomy, is a consistent theme in Sham's work. Escape may be possible spiritually, if not physically.

The title 'Escape' signals that a political interpretation is valid. The outdoor sculpture's craggy ridgeline echoes the mountain ranges of the American West and traces the line of the U.S.-Mexican border. Without being politically prescriptive, the title and tunnel imagery evoke the hotly contested issues of immigration and the plight of the refugee that figured so heavily in both American and European recent elections. The journey for the viewer may be short and sensory, or may be evocative of bigger issues like the death-defying travails undertaken by Central American and Syrian refugees. Curated by Laura Roulet.

Green Machine: The Art of Carlos Luna, April 1 – May 28

Cuban artist Carlos Luna's exhibit at AU Museum features more than 65 works, with some created in new media the artist has been experimenting with during the past four years, including Jacquard tapestries, works on metal sheets with patina and aluminum leaf, and layers of natural materials rubbed into strong, thick, dense, smooth and un-sized French paper. Painting, sculpture and installation become one to portray Cuban stories and fables by one of Cuba's leading contemporary artists.

Summerford Legacy, Alper Initiative for Washington Art, April 1 – May 28
Gallery Talk: Salon-style "Free Parking" series, 5:30 to 7 p.m., APRIL 27, RSVP: www.tinyurl.com/AlperTickets

Ben L. Summerford (1924-2015) taught at American University's Department of Art from 1951-1987. All 14 of the artists in Summerford Legacy studied under Professor Summerford and took different aspects of his teaching to heart. Some stayed close to their artistic roots in AU's Department of Art, and some used those roots to support far-flung but personal explorations. All of the artists exhibit the artistic integrity embodied by their teacher, and approach their art as an act of discovery.

Sharon Wolpoff and Tammra Sigler: Geometry and Other Myths, April 1 – May 28
Gallery Talk: 5 to 6 p.m., APRIL 1

At first glance, the art of Sharon Wolpoff has little in common with the art of Tammra Sigler. Wolpoff is a figurative painter of carefully composed scenes from life, suffused with light and heightened color. Sigler is an expressionist artist who is known for improvisation and bravura brushwork. However, similarities and contrasts emerge in their work as they engage with three different paths to knowledge of the world: geometry, psychology, and spirituality. Sigler's work starts with geometry as a foundation and moves away from it towards the emotional, while Wolpoff's work begins with an emotional response and moves towards the underlying geometry or structure. Both artists have beautifully structured artwork, and their uses of structure have psychological and spiritual functions, as well.

Time Stands Still: Elzbieta Sikorska, April 1 – May 28
Gallery Talk: 2 to 3 p.m., APRIL 8

No matter how we reflect on time, it is a contemplative and complicated subject. Time affects everything: people, animals, woodlands, earth, stone, and artifacts. These are the elements that Elzbieta Sikorska uses in her large scale, multimedia drawings, conceived as loose pictorial narratives whose common thread is the continuity of being. Rather than offering definitive conclusions, these works are intended to lead us into a deeper and more intimate consideration of our own relationship to time – our constant companion. Curated by Aneta Georgievska-Shine.

Master's of Fine Arts Student Exhibitions, April 1 – April 19 AND April 29 – May 28 Gallery Talk/Opening Reception: 5 to 8 p.m., APRIL 29

AU's Department of Art presents the work of current first- and second-year MFA candidates in a two-part exhibition. The multidisciplinary Studio Art program showcases an exciting range of emerging artist's work in painting, sculpture, collage and material studies, photography, and new media.

In the Kreeger Lobby: Frida Larios: Maya Alphabet of Modern Times, April 1 – May 28

Frida Larios's logo-graphic designs are intended to re-invent the ancient Maya alphabet for modern use. The designs borrow directly from the logo-graphic language of the ancestral Maya scribes, but speak to and for the Indigenous Maya of today.

The American University Museum participates in STATIONS OF THE CROSS through APRIL 16, with a painting by Colombian figurative artist and sculptor Fernando Botero from his Abu Ghraib series. This unique exhibition—held in 14 religious and secular locations across Washington, D.C.—will use works of art to tell the story of the Passion of Christ in a new way for people of varying faiths. More information available at artstations.org.

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Title: Making Environmental Film that is Seriously Funny
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Abstract: This year's Eco-Comedy Video Competition was won by film and media arts graduate student Ashley Holmes. The theme was "Conservation and Environmental Protection."
Topic: Environment
Publication Date: 03/20/2017
Content:

About eight years ago, the Eco-Comedy Video Competition was introduced to the American University campus. Each year it represents a different theme and challenge to participants. This year, the theme was "Conservation and Environmental Protection," and participants were asked to produce a short and humorous video on any topic that relates to conservation and environmental protection. 

Chris Palmer, director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at AU and creator of the competition, said that his goal with this competition is to encourage filmmakers and producers of media to use humor to win over their audiences. 

"It always seemed to me that, for the most part, environmental filmmakers were far too dour and serious, and this was hurting their ability to reach people," he said. 

Palmer says that the main goal is for filmmakers to think more creatively and connect the dots between humor, environmental challenges and compelling communication. 

Film and media arts graduate student Ashley Holmes was selected as the winner for this year's competition. Holmes has a background in conservation and animal behavior, which is what she said lured her to the Center of Environmental Filmmaking. 

Holmes, both a Center Scholar and recipient of the Palmer Scholarship, said the process of applying to the competition was pretty straightforward and simple.

"I started with a lot of research about the planets and then took the most interesting facts of each and tried to figure out how they would come up in an interview process," she said. "After that, I just kept tweaking the script, had a craft night making giant planet cut-outs, and found two willing friends to help me film while I painted my face." 

Holmes's short film is titled Planet B and consists of outtakes of interviews with the planets of our solar system, who are all aiming for the role of our next home planet. We quickly see that there is no other plane cut out to replace Earth, so we'd better take care of the planet we have. 

 

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Title: Race in America: Past, Present, and Future
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle: Jelani Cobb Speaks at American University
Abstract: On February 23, students and faculty from American University and surrounding universities came together at AU’s Katzen Arts Center to hear Jelani Cobb speak
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 03/06/2017
Content:

On February 23, students and faculty from AU and surrounding universities came together at the Katzen Arts Center to hear Jelani Cobb speak about race, the history of the civil rights movement, and what he describes as a pattern in US history of racial progress followed by powerful backlash and countermovement.

Cobb is a nationally known author, contributor to The New Yorker, and Columbia University professor of journalism, who writes primarily about racial injustice, its roots in American history, and its continuing, powerful influence. His most recent book is The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress. He won the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism for his columns on race, politics, and injustice—including “The Anger in Ferguson,” “The Matter of Black Lives,” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Reparations.”

Cobb spoke at AU as part of the Bishop C. C. McCabe lecture series, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Cobb, On Race Today

Cobb began his discussion with the trial of Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, which he covered for The New Yorker. After the trial ended, Cobb flew across the country to San Francisco, hoping to take a break from the heartbreak and tragedy. But the very first person he met in California was a hotel bellman. This man told Cobb that he lost someone dear to him in the church shooting—his childhood librarian, Cynthia Hurd.

Cobb was shaken. “I flew almost as far as I could fly without leaving the intercontinental United States,” he explained. “And the first person I interacted with had been directly impacted by the situation that I had foolishly thought I could leave behind in Charleston, South Carolina. And so it reminds me yet again that our issue of race is not one that is geographic or local, or one that can be confined to a particular locale. It is one that contours to the borders of our nation, perfectly.”

We’ve Always Been Here

“How did we get here?” Cobb asked. “Well, in some ways, we’ve always been here.”

Though it may seem unbelievable to some people that an atrocity like this could occur in a nation that recently elected (and re-elected) its first African American president, it comes as no surprise to Cobb. Roof was not an aberration, Cobb said, and his actions did not happen in a bubble.

Racial progress in the United States has always been followed by waves of backlash, he said, fueled by a culture of paranoia and victimhood by people who feel threatened by it. We only have to look back to the lynchings in the south, he said, and the rise of the KKK during Reconstruction, or the housing segregation in northern cities during the Great Migration.

These reactions are not just a thing of the past, Cobb reminded the audience. He pointed to how Obama’s 2008 election was followed by the 2013 Supreme Court decision to strike down the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He also described the new populist political force rising in this country, based on what Cobb describes as “the contrary idea that White people are the most disadvantaged group in American society.”

Where Do We Go?

So what do we do now, Cobb asked, and how do we keep moving forward during these difficult times?

Cobb looks back at history for guidance. “I think there is cause for optimism, a kind of hard won optimism, when we look at the fact that each time when we have found ourselves in the depths of despair, it summons people of conscience and good will to the cause of reasserting democracy and freedom.”

After all, Cobb said, many heroes in American history were only able to do great things because of the size of the opposition against them. Against all evidence to the contrary, they believed that slavery should end, that women should have the right to vote, that our country can develop a humane immigration policy, that we can create protections for workers.

Cobb ended on a note of hope. “What I do believe in is the capacity of people with conscience to move the world forward,” he said. “Progress happens. It does take a long time, but it happens.”

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Title: Students' Reflections on the First International Mariinsky Far East Festival in Vladivostok
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Subtitle: Carmel Scholarship Recipients Experience the Arts in Russia's Far East
Abstract: Carmel Scholarship Recipients Experience the Arts in Russia's Far East
Topic: First Person
Publication Date: 03/02/2017
Content:

Harvey Hinman (Georgetown 2015) and Claudia Huang (Georgetown 2017) interned this past summer in Vladivostok, assisting organizers of the First International Mariinsky Far East Festival in Vladivostok with the artists. They went to Russia's Far East on Susan Carmel Lehrman scholarships. Here are their reflections:

Harvey Hinman

Over the course of the two-week Vladivostok International Far East Festival of the Mariinsky Theater, I experienced a Russia very different from that in Moscow or St. Petersburg. While the streets lined with a mixture of neoclassical, Soviet, and modern architecture could have been transplanted from Moscow, the laid-back crowds in tank tops and shorts that fill them seemed to belong in Barcelona. Even more than their clothing, however, the outlook of those in Vladivostok set them apart from their eastern compatriots. They were excited to compare their city to San Francisco or Vancouver and to tell of the latest news about Vladivostok with an optimism I never saw in Moscow. Many had spent time or had family in major cities in western North America, Japan, Korea, and China. Built upon this, I found that their ideas about international identity seemed to be anchored in personal relationships and their regional position, and not in Moscow politics.

Vladivostok extended its warm reception to many visiting soloists from around the world. Many artists remarked upon the enthusiasm of the local audience. One singer was particularly touched by the way the audience joined her character’s emotional journey. Members of the audience were touched too. A mother and daughter explained to me how excited they were to have such outstanding soloists in Vladivostok, when in the past they had to travel to Moscow to hear such music. Visiting audience members from Korea, Japan, and beyond, excited about the festival’s efforts to transform Vladivostok nto a regional music hub, also enjoyed the performances, food, and history the city offered. At the end of two weeks, we all felt lucky to have participated in such a unique event and look forward excitedly to the festival’s second iteration next year.

Harvey and Claudia stand outside with a young Russian boy

Claudia Huang

To be honest, I had never heard of Vladivostok, Russia, when I first received the opportunity to volunteer at the Mariinsky's I International Far East Festival. As I learned more about why the Mariinsky Theatre established its Primorsky Stage and this festival, I discovered how dynamic international relations are and how essential the arts and cultural exchange are to them. I am beyond grateful to Ms. Carmel Lehrman and the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture History for sponsoring my time at the festival.

I volunteered at the festival in the midst of conducting research on Western classical music, values, and identity in Taiwan and East Asia. Having focused on this topic, I recognize that the Mariinsky's Far East Festival is a significant investment for a Western art institution to have made in serving East Asian artists and audiences. By seeing performances by artists from all over the world and the enormous effects they had on audiences, it was hard to deny the power the arts have in bringing together disparate parties.

While I had a number of assigned tasks as a volunteer, my favorite by far were my principal duties: working with artists. I was able to meet some of the most established performers in the world, as well as some of the brightest rising young talents, many of whom were (amazingly) around my age. I am filled with gratitude that I had the opportunity to assist and get to know these performers. I was constantly surprised by the warmth and generosity these artists had to share—not just artistically, but also personally.

I will never forget the privilege of watching these artists transform each day. When I picked them up at the airport, they were often tired and reliant on festival staff and me to get them to where they needed to be. But then a day or even mere hours later, these same artists would hold thousands of people rapt as they performed. I would sit backstage, reeling from their performances and the magnitude of the audience's response.

In these moments, I knew I would remember some of these concerts for the rest of my life: Ana María Martínez as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with the Mariinsky Opera and Orchestra, Seung-Jin Cho playing Rachmaninoff with the Mariinsky Orchestra, and Yu-Chien Benny Tseng's recital with Sergei Redkin, amongst others. It took my breath away that these artists could capture audiences by sharing something beautiful. There was nothing more thrilling for me to have experienced this and to have helped enable it. I was constantly in awe of the strength of artists and audiences' respect for one another—some artists' relationships with their fans went back years, such as those who had first met when the artists had competed at the Tchaikovsky Competition. One time, American violinist Nigel Armstrong obliged when a fan ran into him in a theatre hallway and asked him to play a bit. It turned into a mini concert, as a small crowd gathered and Nigel played again and again for them.

Thank you to Ms. Carmel Lehrman and the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture History for sponsoring me at the Mariinsky's I International Far East Festival in Vladivostok. My experience there has motivated me all the more to pursue working in arts administration and policy, which I hope to do to advance music and the understanding it promotes. I have taken away an even greater appreciation for the arts, and Russia's invaluable contributions to them. As I grow more invested in the arts scene in East Asia, I am grateful for how the Far East Festival is developing Russian-East Asian relations and championing the arts scene as a whole. I am grateful and proud of having experienced and, in the limited ways I was able, contributed to this festival's success.

Claudia, Harvey, and four young Russians stand outdoors on a steep street

on a walkway overlooking the Sea of Japan, five brightly-colored flags advertise the arts festival

Several Russian children, Claudia, and Harvey stand outside looking happy

 

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Title: Where Are they Now? Matthew Barresi (MS health promotion management ’11)
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: We’ve asked alumni from across the College of Arts and Sciences to check in with us and let us know what they’re doing now. The first in the series is health promotion management graduate Matthew Barresi.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/27/2017
Content:

We’ve asked alumni from across the College of Arts and Sciences to check in with us and let us know what they’re doing now. The first in the series is health promotion management graduate Matthew Barresi.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I serve as the fitness and aquatics supervisor at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge (WCBR), a continuing care retirement community in Charlottesville, Va. Our 400-resident community is home to seniors from ages 65 to 102. They may live independently here, or in assisted living, or with nursing care, or in our memory care unit. In my role, I oversee the operations and staff of our 16,000-square-foot Fitness and Aquatics Center, where we host group exercise classes, personal training services, and wellness initiatives to help our residents of all ages, fitness levels, and living situations to maintain and improve their health as they get older.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is promoting, nudging, and encouraging health behavior change in a population whose behaviors and habits have been established for 60, 70, 80, 90, and even 100 years. I work with a population that did not grow up with access to the same research that we have available to us now about the importance of staying active and following a healthy diet for all ages. Nor did they grow up participating in structured exercise programs. That presents me and my team with the challenge of encouraging involvement in fitness programs for many people who have never taken part in structured, intentional physical activity—what we call exercise.

What is the most rewarding?

The most rewarding part of my job is being in a position where I can serve others. The residents at WCBR exercise so that they can live longer, healthier, more functional and independent lives. Even though they are retired, many of them still work and serve others in and around Charlottesville. In my role, I am blessed to get to help them be fit enough to continue contributing towards making WCBR and Charlottesville great communities.

How did AU help you get here?

AU helped me get to WCBR by encouraging me to put knowledge into practice. The Health Promotion Management Program presented me with so many opportunities to bring what I was learning in the classroom into real, professional situations. This was everything from teaching group exercise classes to designing, implementing, and analyzing health promotion programs. I was able to learn the skills to do these things by working with my professors and then being challenged to apply them successfully with real subjects and circumstances – often involving AU faculty, staff, and students from across the university.

Any words of advice for current students?

Find a way to serve others through whatever they are studying or wherever they find themselves working. In my role at WCBR, I am able to connect with people and truly have an impact on how they are going to feel and function each day, week, and even the last years of their lives. It is such a blessing and an honor to be in that position. My advice to students is to seek out the opportunities where they can experience these same joys.

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Title: Students Selected for Full Frame Fellow Program
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Abstract: The Film & Media Arts division, the Center for Media & Social Impact and the Public Communication division are all sponsoring seven students to participate as graduate fellows in the Full Frame Documentary Festival
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 02/23/2017
Content:

The Film & Media Arts division, the Center for Media & Social Impact and the Public Communication division are all sponsoring seven students to participate as graduate fellows in the Full Frame Documentary Festival set to occur April 6 – 9.

The Full Frame Fellow program aims to educate, motivate and nurture students interested in the documentary form. During the festival, participating students have the opportunity to view films fresh on the circuit, classics from years past, engage in panel discussions and gain access to the filmmaking community as a whole.

The seven students selected and their programs are listed below:

Film & Media Arts

  •  Megan King
  •  Destiny Owens
  •  Vinny Terlizzi
  •  Emily Crawford

Public Communication

  •  Chandler Green
  •  Katie Putnam

Center for Media & Social Impact

  • Samantha Dois

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Title: Students Visit New National Museum of African American History and Culture
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle: History and film students find inspiration at new museum and other DC sites.
Abstract: College of Arts and Sciences double-alum Lonnie Bunch (BA history ’74 and MA history ’76) is opening the doors of the Smithsonian’s newest and highly acclaimed museum to AU students.
Topic: Department Spotlight
Publication Date: 02/13/2017
Content:

College of Arts and Sciences double-alum Lonnie Bunch (BA history ’74 and MA history ’76) is opening the doors of the Smithsonian’s newest and highly acclaimed museum to AU students.

Students in this spring’s Producing the Historical Documentary class recently visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where Bunch is the founding director. Bunch greeted the students when they arrived, and then curators Mary Elliot and Rex Ellis led them on tours of the museum’s collections.

The Producing the Historical Documentary course challenges students to produce a five-minute historical documentary on a subject related to the African American experience. The visit to the NMAAHC gave students behind-the-scenes information and access to the museum’s world-class collections and scholarship.

“The visit was part of an informal collaboration between AU and the NMAAHC, designed to allow students to view objects and exhibits as inspiration and possibly content for their documentaries,” said CAS’s University Professor of History Alan Kraut, who co-teaches the class with School of Communication Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts Maggie Stogner. “It was developed as part of American University’s ongoing relationship with the museum and its founding director Lonnie Bunch, who is also an AU alum and a former student of mine in our Department of History.”

Historical Documentary students with curator Mary Elliot

Curator Mary Elliott with students.

Stogner said the students were warmly greeted at the museum by Bunch and museum curators. “It is the beginning of an excellent partnership. The curators are very enthusiastic about our students in the film and media arts and history departments creating short documentaries.”

Kraut praised Bunch and the museum staff for offering the country a rich contribution to the history of the United States and the African American experience. “I look forward to an ongoing collaboration between the NMAAHC and American University faculty and students," he said.

Historical Documentary students with curator Rex Ellis

Curator Rex Ellis and students.

Next Stop: Historical Sites in DC
The class doesn’t stop at the NMAAAC. Students also visited the Library of Congress, where they learned about all of the historical resources available to them. And later in the semester, they will tour important sites in African American history in the DC area, led by Edward Smith, assistant anthropology professor and founder and co-director of the American University Civil War Institute.

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Title: Bloodlust: AU’s Dracula Will Examine Sex, Gender, and Power
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: In the new AU production, gender roles are reversed.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 02/07/2017
Content:

“And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill,” observed Jonathan Harker, a character in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. Echoing Harker’s words, the Dracula story has a timeless quality that transcends culture and generation.

Yet since it’s been adapted countless times, making Dracula fresh and relevant can appear as intimidating as that blood sucking vampire’s Transylvania castle.

“It’s really hard, really scary, and really fun,” says Carl Menninger, an assistant professor in American University’s Department of Performing Arts.

Menninger—with help from fight director Robb Hunter—is directing the AU theatre team’s upcoming play Dracula, set to premiere on February 16. And AU is presenting Dracula with a modern-day twist, inventively forcing audiences to confront gender stereotypes.

The Dracula character will be played by a female actor, as all of the gender roles in the production are reversed. The hero-protagonist, Abraham Van Helsing, is now played by a woman, and two heroines in the original story, Mina and Lucy, will be played by men. Interestingly enough, the gender pronouns will remain the same. So even as a woman plays Dracula, the iconic count is still referred to as "he."

Gender Bending

If this sounds a little confusing, then it’s probably accomplishing its goal. Menninger wants the play to jostle audiences out of their comfort zones and provoke discussion.

Dracula is a play about sexual power. It’s about abuse, really,” says Menninger. “I felt like if you’re going to look at it, why not look at it through a different lens?”

During rehearsals, he’s noticed some unanticipated, powerful moments that might also surprise the audience. Those role changes, he says, could make people question the ways in which they view male and female gender differently. In one scene, Van Helsing learns that Lucy and Mina shared a bed together since they were young girls.

“When a woman says that, we don’t think twice of it. But when you see a man say that, we just think, ‘Now we’ve got something homoerotic here,’” he says.

The World is a Stage

AU junior Elizabeth Morton is the play’s dramaturge, a person who typically researches the theories and history surrounding the original text. Through that research, the dramaturge helps convey the director’s vision to the actors and production team. She talked about gender bending in theatre with the Dracula cast.

“One of the actors had a really great point about the kind of disposable nature of female actors in the theatre world, because there’s so few really meaty parts for women,” says Morton, a double major in theatre arts and public relations and strategic communication. “When you’re a woman working in theatre, you can feel really unneeded, or that you’re just there for that one little damsel-in-distress part.”

Historically, Morton says, women were often excluded from the entire process. Female Shakespearean characters were played by men. In Ancient Roman times, the only women on stage were usually prostitutes and not respected as artists.

She conducted research on professor Judith Butler’s gender performance theory, rooted in the idea that gender is not inherent to biology.

“It’s about how society trains women to act a certain way. How it’s a rehearsed performance to be a woman, and a rehearsed performance to be a man,” Morton explains.

Since this is pertinent to stage acting, she incorporated it into her work with the Dracula actors.

“That was a really good discussion to help all of the actors understand that they’re not really playing women. They’re playing someone socialized as a woman, or playing someone practiced and rehearsed to be a woman,” Morton says.

She also studied 19th century England, the setting of Stoker’s Dracula novel. The popularity of early vampire stories coincided with British colonial concerns about “the other,” she says, whether it be fears of the unknown, foreigners, or sins of flesh. Morton notes that Stoker worked in a theatre that specialized in “invasion literature stories” that glorified the British Empire.

“There have been interpretations of Dracula where he’s considered a symbol of homosexuality, or a symbol of sexual deviancy,” she says. “Dracula really represents the ‘other’ in that context, and it was really comforting to people that they could have those stories where this powerful other is defeated.”

Wolf, Monster, and Human

Still, AU’s production is unequivocal about Dracula’s ghastly crimes. For this play, Menninger chose William McNulty’s Dracula adaptation, partly because he depicts the title character in a harsh light. Menninger contemplated the evolution of Dracula and other vampires in popular culture.

“It’s been sort of camped up, and it’s been watered down. To some extent, when you make something campy, you make it comical. And I don’t know if that was the original intent,” he says. “We forget that what Dracula is actually doing is reprehensible, so we haven’t romanticized it here.”

AU’s Dracula play has plenty of physical challenges, too. With moveable Gothic gates and puppeteers, some of the special effects are in plain view for the audience, and they’ll deploy music, sound, and lighting to amplify the suspense.

Dracula can become a wolf, a monster, and a human. That last form—the human Dracula—could push the audience to reflect on the gender politics of today.

“What’s fun about this is I don’t know that I’m making a statement. I haven’t come to a conclusion,” says Menninger. “I am just presenting something and seeing what kinds of questions it raises.”

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Title: Modern Day Renaissance Hybrid Woman
Author: Ryan Jordan
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Abstract: Kaylah “Kami” Simmons is a senior interested in theatre arts, media and television, entertainment, political science, and policy-making. The Washington Semester Program gave her the chance to reflect on her career plans while exploring her interests.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 02/07/2017
Content:

Kaylah "Kami" Simmons is a senior at Kalamazoo College with a major in Theatre Arts, Media Studies, and Economics. She is interested in theatre arts, media and television, entertainment, political science, and policy-making. In the summer of 2015, Simmons ventured to DC in search of internship experience through the Washington Semester Program.

"I wanted a program that had internship opportunities for students interested in news and broadcasting with an emphasis on public policy," said Simmons. "I knew that through this program, I would be able to take a course at American University while participating in an internship that aligned with the course and my interests."

Simmons interned at the Voice of America as their English Division Social Media intern. Throughout her time at the Washington Semester Program, she questioned how policy-making relates to fashion, pop culture, and her many other interests. Simmons learned so much from the Washington Semester Program and her summer internship that she was encouraged to apply to the White House for the fall 2015 semester.

"It allowed me to take skills from the Washington Semester Program and continue them in my policy role at the White House," said Simmons about her amazing experience as a White House intern.

During her time in the White House, Simmons worked on the "Let Girls Learn" initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama's Leadership and Mentoring Program. Simmons was able to gain more knowledge on policy-making concerning women and girls while learning about the inner-workings of the White House. This internship experience also broadened her possible career paths, including some she had not considered before.

This past summer, Simmons interned as the Planning and Programming intern at HLN with CNN. The role gave her the opportunity to practice using a television teleprompter. She was also able to pitch story ideas and help produce and write scripts for various shows produced by the HLN network.

"I want to be a journalist who not only gives people a voice by telling their story, but I also want to challenge my viewer's thinking of the world around them," said Simmons about her future career endeavors. "I am a modern-day renaissance hybrid woman with many interests and interning at the Voice of America, the White House, and CNN has helped me to continue to think about how I want to connect all of those interests to create my own career path."

After graduating this spring, Simmons plans to attend graduate school for journalism. She hopes to join a television network as an on-air personality and correspondent. Ultimately, she wants to create her own television and media production company, which will allow her to create content, tell stories, inform, and inspire. The Washington Semester Program gave her the chance to reflect on her career plans while exploring her interests.

"I credit this program for giving me the opportunity to think broadly about how I want to continue to combine my interests of policy making and journalism to inform, inspire, and shake up the world while also challenging the beliefs of my future audience."  

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