Showing posts from May, 2010

W(hat) W(ould) W(ertham) D(o)? The emergence of Comic Institutions

For those who grew up middle of the 20th century, Wertham is a name for some that sends cold chills down their spines in a way that the horror tales never could.  While zombies, vampires, and ghouls excited young imaginations; Wertham looked to censor such ideas.  He played a pivotal role in the demise of comic sales in the 1950s (as did television; but so the story goes, Wertham seemed to be a harbinger of a different sort).  Two good examinations of these events are covered in the documentary Tales from the Crypt Volume 1 and David Hadju’s The Ten-Cent Plague and since this is the internet age, even accessing the transcript to the Senate Subcommittee hearings with Gaines, Wertham and the whole lot can be accessed.   To see the length of his publications, this site offers up a good deal and for those interested in a copy of Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, contact me.    The summation of who Wertham is and what he did can also be found here for those who haven’t read the afo

Destruction, Death, and Mayhem, Has Never Been This Social

I find this particular post at quite amusing and impressive.  It's one of those jokes that also has some great insight and reveals ways of delivering information in unique and different formats.  I imagine that this kind of work would actually make it easier for students of the "Facebook" generation to visualize (and eventually conceptualize) the events and the stakes of World War II.  Now that may sound silly; how could it invoke the stakes of World War II; after all, one is considered the most significant event of the last hundred years and the other is World War II.  Ooops, I mean, the other is Facebook.  But in truth, Facebook does have a much more clear and central role in people's lives in the early 21st century than WWII does.  And before the eyes rolls and people start saying "Well, that says a lot about the people of the early 21st century," realize that we are compelled by things that are dynamic and can be engaged with;  World Wa

Beyond the Class; Or What I Hope They Take From My Course

Regardless of the topic, there's much I wish for my students to take from my course and it's in reflecting through my own instructors that I realized where these urges originate.  I have had a great deal of fantastic instructors, mentors, and colleagues (some of whom were instructors and mentors at one point) that have taught me so many things beyond the specific content of their course and so many of those lessons I hope in some way to instill with my students in whatever way I can (and preferably relevant to course material).  Here are some of those that come to mind. Be active; not passive with life    It's the "Carpe Diem" approach that remains so present in my mind from my sophomore year of high school when Mr. Marshall showed us Dead Poet's Society.  Life moves quickly and there is so much one can do with it.  Don't waste it.  Like I say in a great deal of my courses; if you have made it to the college, you have surpassed the education and opportu

El Fin De Semester

There are some things that come bittersweet; no matter how many times you experience them.  For me, that is the end of the semester.  Each semester, we start off in a slow shuffle as students and instructor figure out the rhythms of each other and decide if to stick it through and finish this dance or part ways somewhere along the way (sometimes willingly and sometimes reluctantly).  But somewhere after midterms (and in particular in the Spring, after Spring Break), we shift gears are find ourselves hurtling towards the end of the semester; want it to "be over with" and finally have time to breath.  Instructors feel it too.  Remember that when your semester ends by taking or passing in that final; the instructor switches from wrapping up the class into an overdrive marathon of grading finals and calculating grades with often very short turnover to submit grades.  It's a flustering time and many instructors like myself run through their minds to figure out if they've

Behind the Mike: Barbara Rosenblat

LJ audio reviewer Lance Eaton, who has previously interviewed narrators Alan Sklar (LJ 3/1/09) and Scott Brick (LJ 10/15/09), talks to the multiple Audie Award winner By Lance Eaton -- Library Journal, 5/1/2010 Actress/singer Barbara Rosenblat, described by one audio reviewer as "a boundless vocal changeling" ( LJ  2/15/06), is an enthusiastic narrator whose performances continue to impress listeners. She's won six Audie Awards to date—more than any other female narrator—and was nominated for several more this year. Her reading of Miep Gies's  Anne Frank Remembered  (Springwater: Oasis Audio) was an  LJ  Best Audio of 2009. Among her latest recordings are Muriel Barbery's  The Elegance of the Hedgehog  (HighBridge Audio, Mar.) and Elizabeth Peters's  A River in the Sky  (Recorded Bks./HarperAudio, Apr.). You've recorded over 400 audiobooks. What appeals to you about the medium? It's the most wonderful, intimate, primal medium out there, which is

Letter to the Editor in Salem News

 Letter: Don't blame school for kids' misbehavior Letter to the editor published in the Salem News on May 10, 2010 . To the editor: Regarding the Friday, May 7, letter headlined "Crackdown needed at Higgins Middle School": John Haight's concern about cyberbullying is well felt, but his blame seems misdirected. While the school represents the focus and source for cyberbullying to take place; a good deal of it takes place at home or really anywhere with cell phones. Removing cell phones from school may be an option, but it's a Band-Aid solution. Also, schools have no grounds for forbidding online profiles; that's a parent's concern and rightly so. It's clear Haight is troubled by the lack of communication — though it's often hard to decide what is a clear matter of cyberbulling and, more importantly, since these are minors, who gets told what. Publishing their names as far as I know is illegal, since they are minors. Click through to

Playing to The Story

Humans by and large love to play.  We have a fondness to play with those things that interest us, particularly from narratives that grab our attention.  So much of my childhood was spent playing away with large epic battles among my G. I. Joes (which at one point were numerous enough, especially with the different vehicles) to fill a standard laundry basket).  We enjoy playing an active part in our story making but also just to gain access to “more” of our stories and characters.  Thus, we’re quick to see the movie of the comic we love or the book we’ve read faster than anything assigned in school.  It gives a deep sense of enjoyment with our particular interest.  And let’s not forget as Spaceballs reminds us, that from the producer’s end, there’s something to be had from capitalizing on this desire: But Spaceballs also show us there’s something more than just merchandizing to be had.  Or rather it provides keen insight as to what merchandizing allows its consumers to do:

Buzzing for Appeasement

Well, the French have reminded us that Miligram’s test still holds true even today.  In some ways, it’s not entirely surprising; in other ways, it makes us deeply uncomfortable with “human nature.” So what’s the break down here?  We as a human species seem to be in large part (though not entirely) easily given over to authority, so much so, that we’re willing to put to death other people when told to by authorities or motivated by self-interested outcomes (winning the game show).   In this case; the mixture of prize (read: resources) and authority (read:  acceptance from higher powers) wield dubious results for what we generally deem “humanity.”   That shouldn’t come as any surprise to people who look at the ways in which our evolutionary instinct still influences us today in a variety of ways.  Take food (though not mine; I’d have to shock you!).  Humans have a natural tendency towards fatty, sugary, salty foods.  In our evolutionary history, these are rare, comparatively, but the

The Green Doors of the Library: The One-Stop Entertainment Spot

Forget the video store; never mind the gigantic box bookstore, and thank you, but I like my music not surrounded by a thousand trinkets and distractions telling me in order to be hip, I need to buy this cool inane object.  There’s really only one thing I need to get fully enthralled with my entertainment and popular culture:  that bastion of democracy (as Ben Franklin himself believed), the library. This is more than the repeated call of so many in this economic depression saying, “it saves money; it’s a public resource, etc.”   By now, many of us should know, besides having the latest books that come out, your local library can get you access to the latest movies DVDs (Twilight: New Moon, Mad Men: Season 3), music (Rihanna, Black Eyed Peas), and an array of other great resources such as audiobooks, language programs, archives, eBooks, and more.  But there’s a bigger and better reason to get hooked into the library.  Want to check out a local museum?  Your library probably has discon

Manufactured Free Will?

Humans are finicky creatures.  We’re finicky because we quickly change our minds about the same idea in different contexts.  For instance, take the idea of the individual, and in particular, the theme of individual responsibility so deeply ingrained in areas such as politics, literature, education, etc.  The view behind individual responsibility follows as such: 1. We’re independent free-thinking beings with full control of all our actions, emotions, beliefs, thoughts, and other elements that compose the mysterious concept that we call the “self.” 2. It follows then that if we don’t do something (lose weight; stop smoking, earn enough money to afford basic needs), it is a reflection of the self; not the person’s social network, communal network, or general society in which the person has been created. We tell ourselves that constantly and it enables a great many chances to blame the victim.  This is strange, because we know the influence and power of the world outside any indivi