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3/17/14

By John Kelly, The Washington Post.

About 30 years ago, an Italian friend of ours visited. After a few days doing the tourist thing, he exclaimed: “I love Washington! It’s like a Rome where everything works.”

I don’t know what Adriano would think of D.C. today, when Metro breaks down routinely and Congress seems proud of its dysfunction. But I understood his point: With its classically inspired public architecture, Washington is reminiscent of the Eternal City.

Many Americans might not make the connection. The classics department at the University of Maryland hopes to rectify that. Last month, it beat out two dozen U.S. and Italian universities and landed a $500,000 grant from the National Italian American Foundation to study the Roman influence on American identity.

“If we can call people’s attention to the way in which, particularly during the founding era, the nation, particularly Washington, looked to Rome as a model, I think that would be valuable,” said Greg Staley, professor of classics and director of honors humanities at Maryland.

To read more, click here.

3/5/14

By Umberto Mucci, We the Italians.

This week our interview tells a story of beauty. Four different beautiful things, actually. The first beauty is the donation of 500,000 $ by the late Italian American Ernest L. Pellegri, one of NIAF's donors. Mr. Pellegri passed away in April 2012 at age 83. He wanted to give back, and – as many other Italian Americans did and do – chose NIAF to be the channel of his generosity. The second beauty is NIAF: which since day one has been effective and proficient in delivering programs, scholarships, grants to help and promote in several different ways Italy and the Italians in the US. The third beauty is made by the numerous programs organized by many American Universities (represented this time by the University of Maryland), that have been describing and teaching for a long time to thousands of American students the magnificent heritage of Italian art, culture, studies. The fourth beauty, these days more than ever we can call it The Great Beauty, is Italian patrimony of splendor: a pride for every Italian, all over the world.

We asked Mrs. Anita Bevacqua McBride, NIAF Chair of the Education and Scholarship Committee, to talk with us about these beauties. It is also, for those here in Italy who will want to learn from it, an extraordinary description of how wonderfully works in America the model of private involvement in the education system. As lovers of Italy, the United States and their special relationship, we are grateful to each of the subjects involved in this fantastic project.

Read the full interview in English or Italian.

by Karen Shih '09, Between The Columns

From writing to directing to acting, women are underrepresented in every area of theater production. A new initiative from the Big Ten Theatre Chairs aims to change that by commissioning, producing and publicizing up to five new women-written plays over the next five years.

“This is a very unique initiative. It’s about raising consciousness in order to represent the student population as well as the audience, both of which are mostly female,” says Leigh Wilson Smiley, director of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and a new member of the theatre chairs group. “We need to start to get the female voice 
out there.” 

The plays will not only be written by women but also feature substantial female roles. Naomi Iizuka of the University of San Diego, known for works reflecting her multicultural background, has been commissioned to write the first one. It will be ready for the 2014–15 season, and each Big Ten university will have the opportunity to perform it on a 
main stage or do a staged reading. It’s one way Maryland’s Big Ten membership is helping 
areas beyond athletics.

 “I’ll have partners across the country,” Smiley says. “This is a chance to influence the national conversation.”   

12/1/13

by James Chute, The San Diego Union-Tribune

We’re always moving. But most of the time, we’re not even aware of it.

On a recent Saturday in the Old Globe Theatre’s rehearsal hall in Balboa Park, dancer Karen Bradley asked a group of innovators to pay special attention.

She took them through a series of exercises, from being still and feeling the subtle movement in their bodies, to using overt movements to express an idea.

“The point I was trying to make is that movement — when we behave — it’s actually data; it’s information for us,” said Bradley, director of graduate studies at the University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies and one of the faculty members for Balboa Park’s Art of Science Learning project.

“When we move creatively, we generate choices, which perhaps we wouldn’t think of in our (brain’s) frontal lobe right away, but stuff bubbles up from the back as we notice what we’re doing.”

So what does this have to do with addressing a significant, real-life challenge, which is the goal of this group created by the Art of Science Learning?

“If you are trying to solve a problem, and you want to see many different possible outcomes, sometimes moving it offers you an array of possibilities,” Bradley said. “Some of them are silly, and goofy, and you go, ‘OK, that’s not working.’ And some of them are like, ‘Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of that otherwise.’ ”

The San Diego Incubator for Innovation — where the arts are integrated with science, technology, engineering and math (also known as STEM) — is now in session.

To read more, please click here.

11/27/13

by Virginia Terhune, The Gazette

Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian, 73, will soon be flying in from Paris to attend an artist’s reception in his honor on Wednesday at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In 2000, Gao was the first Chinese-born writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature for his plays, poetry, short stories and novels. But Gao is also globally known as an artist and avant-garde filmmaker. His brush-and-ink paintings and films are on display at The Art Gallery in UMD’s Art-Sociology Building through Dec. 20.

The exhibit of 27 paintings and three films, called “The Inner Landscape: The Paintings and Films of Gao Xingjian” is curated by Jason C. Kuo, a professor in the Department of Art History.

“There’s a lot of interest in his work around the world because he’s multi-faceted,” said Kuo. “He writes novels, short stories, essay and art theory.”

Gao and Kuo will give an informal talk and host a Q&A during the Wednesday reception. On hand will be translators fluent in Chinese and French who will interpret for Gao, who does not speak English.

On the afternoon of Dec. 5, Gao and Kuo will attend a stage reading and discussion of Gao’s plays at the Cafritz Foundation Theatre at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts on campus. The readings will be performed in English by students in the Globalization and Theatre class.

To read more, please click here.

11/20/13

by Brett Zongker, Daily Journal

WASHINGTON — An arts management training program at the Kennedy Center that's funded by one of the center's largest donations will move to the University of Maryland next year, along with the center's outgoing chief executive, the two institutions announced Wednesday.

Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser tells The Associated Press he plans to join the university as a professor and will leave the arts center four months earlier than his contract was set to end. Kaiser will lead the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at Maryland's flagship university in College Park, and he hopes to launch a master's degree program in arts management.

Kaiser had planned to step down as Kennedy Center president at the end of 2014 and remain at the center to lead the arts management program through 2017.

"It became clear to us ... that we really wanted to grow this institute faster," Kaiser said. "There were certain resources we would need — for example the access to the kinds of faculty you would have at a university."

To read more, please click here.

11/19/13

by Shannon Gallagher, The Diamondback

John Lithgow’s experiences range from acting in the popular Showtime drama Dexter and voicing Shrek’s Lord Farquaad, to writing children’s books and winning a Tony for his performance on Broadway.

Last night, Lithgow, introduced by arts and humanities college Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill as a “master of storytelling,” spoke about his time in the entertainment world to an audience of students, faculty and staff at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center as part of the Arts & Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series.

Growing up, Lithgow said, he served as his younger sister’s “go-to babysitter and her chief source of entertainment,” a role that instilled the power of entertainment in him very early.

“Just like children, adults want to be transported, to be taken on a voyage of exploration far beyond the boundaries of the world they know,” he said. “They are hungry for the heart-swelling suspension of disbelief that comes so easily to children.”

An actor of remarkable versatility, Lithgow has since taken on a wide range of roles in comedy, tragedy and horror — both on the stage and in films — in works including NBC sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun, Broadway musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and 1984 movie Footloose.

To read more, please click here
 
 

by Monette A. Bailey, Terp Magazine

If you don’t think the liberal arts involve hands-on work in the real world, think again. A new fund in the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) is encouraging innovative classes that will tackle problems like poverty, racism and gender equality.

A $150,000 gift from NFL Players Association President Domonique Foxworth ’04 and wife Ashley (Manning) ’06, provides seed money for faculty to plan the courses in which students design community outreach programs.

The Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative will complement existing efforts to apply arts and humanities skills—reading, writing, critical thinking and communication along with deep knowledge of culture, language and history—to real challenges. Among them are projects helping recent immigrants find their voice through poetry or using ancient Greek literature about war to help veterans discuss and make sense of their experience.

 A committee is reviewing ideas for courses; three will be introduced in Spring 2014.

“The root of many social problems is faulty thinking. The arts and humanities teach you to think both critically and empathetically,” says Michelle Rowley, associate professor of women’s studies and the project’s point person.

As an American studies major, Domonique took a social activism course that stimulated his interest in nonprofit work. After a stellar career on the Terps football team, he played cornerback for the Broncos, Falcons and Ravens, and retired with an injury in 2011. This fall he’s attending Harvard Business School.

Ashley, an English major who later graduated from Harvard Law School, also values a grassroots approach. Their initiative stemmed from conversations the couple had with ARHU Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill on how to nurture students to be more civically engaged citizens.

“We hope that students are going to be interested in helping others long after they leave school,” says Ashley.

by Liam Farrell, Terp Magazine 

It was a story conceived in one of the most primal ways possible, inspired amidst rainy nights, vivid dreams and shared ghost stories. By this fall, technology will allow people around the world to see how Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” grew from a teenager’s vision on the shores of Lake Geneva to a centerpiece of 19th-century British literature.

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is a partner with the Bodleian Library at Oxford, England, and the New York Public Library in creating the digital Shelley-Godwin Archive, which has received a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. When completed, it will have images of major works and correspondence from Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and other writers in their circle.

Documents encompassing “Frankenstein” will be available in time for Halloween. With a longstanding debate surrounding how much of the story was written by Mary or husband Percy, students and scholars will be able to see original notebook pages in her handwriting and revisions he made.

“This allows people to understand the life of a literary work,” says Neil Fraistat, an English professor, director of MITH and Shelley scholar leading the project at Maryland.

Broader goals are to get students involved in curating online material by looking for transcription mistakes, encoding source material online and getting a critical appreciation for the documents. Then, people around the world can view original manuscripts and transcriptions side-by-side while annotating and sharing their own findings. “This is ultimately about the public and making them part of the humanities,” Fraistat says. “It allows us not just to project out what we do but to bring the public in to what we do.”

Perhaps the inspiration for the next great monster tale won’t come sitting around a campfire but in front of a computer screen

See the archive at shelleygodwinarchive.org.

10/16/13

by Nick DiMarco, abc2news

Location, location, location.

Once the maxim of picking prime real estate, location is becoming recognized as the most important feature shaping the future of social and mobile media.

Emerging social media applications focused on location recognition are trying to change the way we see the world. These tools are being used increasingly to mine data from consumers, provide real-time updates of important happenings, take us to events we want to see and in some cases to keep us safe.

Apple iPhone users, for example, may have noticed the emphasis on location technology during the upgrade to iOS7. Thousands of App Store applications were required to request permission of the user’s location before publicly publishing posts. 

It's most prevalent in navigation apps, however social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram rely on location tagging to connect users to each other and to nearby places. 

“The most pervasive digital technology on the planet is a mobile device,” said Jason Farman, a University of Maryland professor and social/mobile media researcher.

To read more, please click here.

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