Monthly Archives: November 2016

Greetings from New Castle! One of the reasons why I love my field is that it relates to tourism & travel. This 30 pound trip (about 40 USD) included transportation, a tour of 4 main attractions in New Castle, 1 night in a hotel, breakfast, and dinner. How can you beat that?! But putting the amenities aside, the trip was designed to help with my next assignment in my Conventions course.  I have to write a report as an employee of a company about why either New Castle or Liverpool is the best city to have an annual conference.

During the trip I got to visit the New Castle United Football Stadium, New Castle Keep, the Civic Centre, and (my favorite) The Castle of New Castle. Day 2 we went to The Sage where many events, conferences, and business exhibitions take place. I learned New Castle has 7 bridges and the city is rising to be a stronger competitor in the tourism & conferences industry.

All in all, it was a great two days. I enjoyed the company of the Level 5 students and the lecturers. Everyone made me feel very comfortable & I felt like I belonged J I also really enjoyed the bus ride home because I got to see the North Sea & the English country side which is just so beautiful.

Well, now I have to sign off & get ready for my next trip… ITALY!

Signing off,
America in Liverpool

TEN QUESTIONS FOR: DEANNA SCOTTO, ’18

Italian major Deanna Scotto was recently selected for a prestigious internship with the U.S. headquarters of the National Organization of Italian American Women. Scotto has been working this semester in their Manhattan office, doing social media marketing for them, and her knowledge of Italian language was instrumental in her selection for this valuable experience. Erin Larkin, associate professor of Italian, says that Scotto “is the kind of student we would all like to have and would be an excellent representative for SCSU.”

We asked Scotto a series of questions about her internship, and her experiences as a student at Southern, and her career goals:

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Junior Italian major (B.A.) with a minor in Communication. My hometown is Meriden, CT, and I attended high school at Mercy in Middletown, CT. At Southern I’m a member of the Honors College, Newman Society, Italianissimi Italian Club and I’m a tour guide!

Tell us about your internship.

I am a digital marketing intern with the National Organization of Italian American Women. While the organization is represented across the country, I work out of the main office in Manhattan, NY. I take the train into the city two days a week.

I first discovered the organization and internship during an assignment for one of my Communication classes, and this semester everything worked out really well with my class schedule so I applied! The internship lasts the semester, with is perfect because I am going abroad for the spring. Most of my work involves keeping our many lanes of communication updated: the website, mailing lists, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

How do you balance school and your internship?

I am very fortunate that three out of my five classes only meet once a week, and that all of my classes meet in the beginning of the week. I do most of my homework on the train rides. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes each way, so I’ve got plenty of time to get things done.

What was it about this internship that made you want to apply for it?

I am of Italian descent, and I attended an all-girls high school, so I can really identify with the values of the  National Organization of Italian American. It also was a great way to bring together skills I’ve learned in my Italian major and in my Communication minor.

deanna-scotto-crop

What was your experience with social media before applying for the internship?

Being the former president of the Italian Club on campus, Italianissimi, probably prepared me the most for this internship. Many of the goals of the Club and Organization are the same (although scale is pretty different). Through the club I already had practice engaging our followers and members on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and OwlConnect.

What do you enjoy most about your academic experience at Southern?

The Honors College has really enriched my experience at Southern. My favorite professors have been Honors College faculty, and I really enjoy being part of a tight-knit group of students. I also lived in the Honors College Living Learning Community my freshman year, and it made the transition to college really special.

Have you done any other internships or had any other professional experiences during your time at Southern?

I haven’t had any other internships, but I would definitely be open to more opportunities later on. Right now, I’m focused on preparing to study abroad next semester, and beginning my thesis when I return.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your internship?

The most valuable thing I’ve learned through this internship is all of the resources focused on preserving Italian and Italian American culture. There are so many opportunities to connect with Italian heritage, particularly in the Northeast.  I also have really appreciated the overall professional experience and being the New York City environment.

How is doing social media professionally different from doing it in your personal accounts?

I’ve found that the primary difference is what type of response you’re trying to get. In my personal accounts, it’s more of a one-way communication. Professional accounts focus more on getting a response from followers and members and engaging them in comments, retweeting, etc. Your goal is to build a loyal community that with potential of becoming active members in the organization.

What is your ultimate career goal?

Ideally my dream job would be working for an Italian or Italian American cultural organization. I’m open to a lot of different things, maybe in the translation or tourism industries. At the end of the day, my passion is sharing my heritage and promoting Italian American culture.

Meesha Ann Daley

Meesha Ann Daley has always found joy in fashion.  “I was born into it,” says the Jamaican native who is enrolled in Southern’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. “My uncle is a tailor. Growing up, I was constantly in his sewing room, going through his scrap box for fabric to make doll clothes.”

Modeling and pageants held allure as well. A passageway in the family’s home became an impromptu runway for the young Daley, who practiced walking with books balanced on her head. She also spent hours happily watching pageants with her mother —  “a petite, gorgeous woman,” she says.

“The expectation was for me to be a contestant someday. Unfortunately, I was not the size you are ‘supposed to be’ in these competitions,” she says with a smile.

Growing up, Daley unsuccessfully tried a slew of diets.  “At home I was a social butterfly. I felt beautiful, loved and supported. At school I was the reserved child in the corner. I was teased constantly about my weight,” she says.

Shying away from social gatherings, Daley focused on her school work — and teachers gradually noticed the quiet girl in the back of the room who received top marks. “For some kids, it’s soccer. For me, it was school work. I had found my strength. Then came the revolution,” says Daley. She became a peer counselor and the prefect of her class, and went on to graduate valedictorian of Pembroke Hall High School in Kingston, completing her studies at the age of 15. After furthering her education at a second high school, she was accepted at the University of Technology (UTech) in Jamaica. “It’s famous in the U.S. for our athletes — Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell,” says Daley.

At UTech, she majored in accounting and minored in banking and financial services. For the first time, Daley also was free to choose her school clothes, a significant turning point for the fashion-focused young woman. “Jamaica has a very strict school system. We wore uniforms. My uncle made every single one, from the time I was 2 years old to 18.”

When Daley signed on to a program that permitted students to work in the U.S. during the summer, her uncle made her work clothes as well. Staying with extended family in New York City from May to August, she held a variety of jobs, often simultaneously. She worked as a junior auditor at a law firm, babysat, and took shifts at McDonald’s and Old Navy. Then it was back to UTech to finish up to eight classes a semester.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Daley moved to the U.S. permanently, with a five-year plan that included starting a business and earning a graduate degree. When an early attempt to run an online clothing store was unsuccessful, she put that dream on hold and decided to earn a master’s degree. Prompted by an advertisement, she came to Southern’s graduate student open house, and met Samuel K. Andoh, now dean of the School of Business.  “He helped me throughout the whole process, even though a person at his level could easily have passed me on to an assistant,” says Daley. “Others say the same. He really cares.”

A modeling career also has become a reality for Daley, who entered her first modeling competition — Full Figured Fierce — after being inspired by the organization’s message of “empowerment, self-love and positive body image.” She won the online competition and has gone on to additional modeling work, most recently gracing the cover of the September issue of Queen Size Magazine. The photo shoot, which focused on “clothes college students need in their closets,” took place on Southern’s campus. Daley suggested the site. After modeling for the publication several times, she was asked to serve as its fashion editor.

She says she’ll always be drawn to fashion and plans to revisit her dream of opening an online clothing store. But another issue has become a driving force as well. Working with classmate Asa Cort, Daley hopes to launch #trustfund, a seminar covering financial topics for young people and their families.  “This seminar not only will cover money management, but also the important role education plays in developing financial stability,” says Daley.

She notes that the goal of the project meshes closely with her work as a plus-size model — furthering her commitment to self-empowerment. “In my eyes, we need not associate the concept of beauty with a size, color or shape. That is the industry I want to help build . . . the industry I am moving toward.”

 

iGem 2016, Boston

A team of Southern science students recently earned a bronze medal at a prestigious international synthetic biology competition for its work to find a faster method to detect tuberculosis.

The nine students – hailing from a variety of disciplines within the sciences – participated in late October at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition in Boston. The event included nearly 300 teams of students – mostly undergraduates, but some graduate and high school students. It marked the first time Southern competed in the program, and SCSU was among only three teams from Connecticut to do so this year. Both Yale University and the University of Connecticut also earned bronze medals.

“This was a terrific opportunity for our students to showcase their talents and abilities, and the team is extremely proud to have earned a bronze medal,” said Nicholas Edgington, team advisor and SCSU associate professor of biology.

The teams competed against one another in various categories, as well as sought to attain a medal (gold, silver or bronze) in their own right by meeting a variety of criteria. Unlike the Olympics, every team can earn a medal. But not all do.

The team sought to develop a screening test for tuberculosis that is both accurate and speedy. The more accurate tests today require a wait that can take several weeks before learning the results.

“TB is one of the leading killers of human beings worldwide with a third of the world’s population infected by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis,” said Bryan Pasqualucci, student leader of the leader said. “Like so many diseases, early detection is important in treating TB. Unfortunately, some tests for TB require a wait of several weeks before learning the results, so we want to see if we can find a way to shorten the time needed for some of these tests.”

The SCSU team sought to use gases called Volatile Organic Compounds that a person infected with TB emits. One particular gas, 1-Methylnapthalene, has been shown to be a positive marker for TB.

While the project is incomplete, the information attained has been sent to the iGEM headquarters repository for future teams to advance. In addition, Thomas Hoang, a member of the team, has applied for an SCSU Undergraduate Research Grant to complete the project.

Most infected by the TB bacteria develop a latent state of the disease for many years, if not forever. But even those individuals face a 10-percent lifetime risk of developing an active form of the disease.

In addition to Pasqualucci and Hoang, members of the team are: Karalyn Farr, Patrick Flynn, Rye Howard-Stone, Christopher Wojtas, Hafssa Chbihi, Julio Badillo and Zachary Matto.

Thuan Vu, art professor, exhibit

As a Vietnamese-American whose family came to the United States as refugees when he was very young, Art Professor Thuan Vu knows what it means to be an outsider looking in. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Vu settled with his family in New Orleans, La., when he was just two years old, and the thematic core of his work as an artist has always been the exploration of his identity.

“As a Vietnamese refugee, I grew up in New Orleans wanting to be a model American citizen,” he says, adding that his “misplaced strategy” as a teenager was to absorb all things Western and American. “I was the surely the only 15 year old who was thrilled to learn about the art of Currier and Ives and Thomas Cole . . . and who could happily sing the Great American Songbook by 17 years of age,” he says. His interest in the American canon, he says, reveals a love for tradition and its development, and he grew into his Vietnamese-American identity “through the acquisition of cultural knowledge: adopt the tradition, adapt it to my life, and use it to grow.”

Vu’s latest body of work – a series of paintings called “The New World” — is now on display at the New Haven Lawn Club, 193 Whitney Avenue, New Haven. The opening artist’s reception took place at the Lawn Club on Tuesday, November 15. The exhibit is on display and open to the public through December 21.

The recipient of numerous awards and grants, Vu exhibits and lectures nationally. His research has taken him to Vietnam and Paris, where he studies Vietnamese communities worldwide.

“My drawings and paintings document how I grew into my Vietnamese-American identity,” Vu explains. “In my work, I reflect on themes of growth, integration, and reconciliation. These paintings combine Eastern and Western traditions of depicting nature to describe a space that is as much emotional as it is physical. These spaces, created through a combination of memories, photographic references, and my own imagination, mirrors the refugee experience of re-creating a sense of home.”

The New World (American Hymn 3), charcoal on paper, 18" diameter, 2016
The New World (American Hymn 3), charcoal on paper, 18″ diameter, 2016

“The New World” is a series of paintings that he began in 2011 and is the latest manifestation of his life as an individual, an American, and an artist.

Vu explains that over his career, his art has traced his process of growth and integration, especially in the exploration of his ethnic heritage since he visited Vietnam for the first time in 2002, 27 years after his family fled the country. In the various series of his work, he has used different visual languages to express the specific thematic content. “I use the languages of the many cultural traditions that I studied in order to express how I navigate my identity,” he says.

With The New World series, Vu says, he hopes to evoke the feelings involved in building a new life in a young and innocent America. “Contemplative and hopeful, these paintings share the emotive ethos of early 19th century American painters who went out to discover this new land. I correlate the American experience with that of my parents: Coming to America with seven of their eight children, I imagine their sense of awe, confusion, and hope. I feel their search for a ways to adopt, adapt, and grow. I can picture their appreciation for the opportunity that America represents.”

Visually, the work combines Eastern and Western traditions of depicting nature. Elements of Romanticism and abstraction are mixed with an Asian sensibility to create an image meant for Zen-like contemplation.

“In this series,” Vu says, “I chose to use nature as the universal constant, the one thing that affects all people, that can create a sense of awe, and that can inspire the mind to contemplation.”

The series’ name, “The New World,” echoes the Vietnamese term for “new world” – “doi moi” — a term coined to describe a Vietnamese age of optimism and open trading in the mid-1980s after the Vietnam War.

“The term recognizes a turbulent history yet optimistically accepts change,” Vu says. “In this series, I depict overlapping natural elements in ambiguous perspectives to create an unexpected space. This space — which is as much emotional as it is physical — can be at once thunderous, ethereal, and peaceful. It is the visual expression of the complicated, and often confusing task of building a new life faced by many refugees. Nature is used to mirror this journey and is depicted in numerous ways, from the sublime to the minute, from the literal to the abstract. In its variety, it expresses the non-linear task faced by us all in building a sincere sense of self and a true sense of home.”

Thuan Vu painting, The New World (Fall 2)
The New World (Fall 2), oil on canvas, 36″ x 48″, 2016

View an online gallery of Thuan Vu’s work

November fifth is a holiday in the UK, particularly England. It is known as either Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night, and it has been celebrated since 1606. It commemorates the failure of what is known as the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. This was an attempt by several conspirators to blow up the House of Lords, killing everyone inside including King James I. They wanted to reinstate a Catholic ruler to the throne of England and Scotland. The conspiracy was thwarted when authorities found Guy Fawkes in the basement of the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

Since then, November fifth has been a major holiday for the country. It was originally celebrated by sermons and ringing bells, but has since evolved into a patriotic holiday much like the fourth of July, marked with firework displays all over the country. In Liverpool, the display was set off from barges on the waterfront, and I joined tens of thousands of others on both sides of the river to watch them. The official display lasted for about a half hour, but unofficial fireworks were going off all over the city for hours. Anywhere I looked I could see fireworks going off in rapid succession. Children carried sparklers and flashing lights through the streets. Overall, the city was in a great mood that day, and several days after. They had come together to celebrate, and it was great to be a part of.

Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.
Crowds gathered to see fireworks over the Mersey.

Frank Harris, journalism

Perhaps the most controversial word in the American lexicon is a word many do not speak. The word commonly known as “the n-word” has a longer history in the United States than many people realize, but what is behind its taboo nature and its loaded meanings?

“Everyone has an n-word story,” says Journalism Professor Frank Harris III, and a couple of years ago, he set out on a journey across America to get to the bottom of the word’s meanings and place in American culture. The product of his research, the film “Journey to the Bottom of the n-Word,” combines interviews with diverse Americans, research through hundreds of newspaper archives, and surveys of today’s news media. In the film, Harris takes viewers on an informative, provocative journey that fosters discussion about “the word that persistently rattles the chain from our past to our present,” as he describes it.

On November 16, as part of Social Justice Week, Harris screened his film and led a discussion about it in the Adanti Student Center Theater.

Of his project, Harris says, “Frankly, I wasn’t sure what kind of response I would receive. After all, it’s not every day that a man with a camera walks up to people and asks them about the n-word and their first or most memorable experience with it.”

The film began with his research on the many racial names by which Americans of black African descent have been identified over the years. “My focus soon shifted toward the n-word and my desire to track its origins,” he says, “as well as the experiences that Americans of all backgrounds have had with this word.”

Harris says, “It is an interesting encounter when the interviewer and interviewee are of the same race. It becomes even more interesting when the two are of a different race. The stories told by the many people I interviewed, interspersed with the word’s usage in America’s news media, provided a compelling story that I wanted to share.”

The film examines the haunting, persistent link of the word and its variant forms with the words “kill” and “death” and violence against blacks. It includes painful stories from older black Americans about their experiences with the word, along with portrayals of the experiences of younger African Americans who use it as an acceptable and different term of endearment, never having felt its sting. Harris has also captured stories from whites, Asians, Hispanics and others in America about their experiences from parents who taught them the word or told them never to say it.

Among those who appear in the film are former Black Panther Party leader Ericka Huggins, discussing the n-word and the Panthers; journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, recalling her experience at the University of Georgia in the early 1960s; Yale child psychiatrist Dr. James Comer discussing the effects of the n-word; and Mississippi civil rights workers describing the physical pain of violence that often accompanied the word in their experiences.

In addition to interviews, Harris uses original newspaper clips in the film to illustrate the striking ways in which the word has been used. The clips dispel the myth that rappers and hip-hop artists created the variant form of the word that ends in “-a” rather than “-er.” The film shows that the word was in use freely during and after slavery in America and reveals that even then, blacks were referring to each other using the n-word. Among the discoveries Harris made in his research was that Abraham Lincoln used the word during his 1860 presidential campaign stop in Hartford, Conn.

The film has been an Official Selection in the 2016 Twin Cities Black Film Festival and the 2016 Baltimore International Black Film Festival. It will be screened at a festival in Texas in 2017. Harris says of the film’s reception, “It’s quite amazing, the impact it has had.”

In addition to teaching journalism at Southern, Harris is an award-winning Hartford Courant columnist.

Watch the trailer for “Journey to the Bottom of the n-Word”

Now that we all know the outcome of this remarkable election season, I want to recognize those faculty who ably represented Southern to our local/regional press. Your calm and thoughtful voices added a healthy dose of civility to an otherwise raucous and contentious debate. Thanks to all who helped us to better understand the complex and often confusing political world in which we now live.

As usual, Arts & Sciences has been very busy this fall semester. Many departments, programs, faculty, and students have continued to demonstrate the excellence that we have come to expect in the School. We have much to be proud of and much to celebrate!

RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Political Science recently hosted two events for Talented and Gifted Middle School Students (TAG) from New Haven Public Schools. On October 26th and November 2nd the Dean’s office was pleased to welcome these students to a two-hour Election Event that examined, socialization and political attitudes, campaign and media messages, and the electoral college and election mechanics. Members of the department, Tess Marchant Shapiro, Art Paulson, Jonathan Wharton, and Jennifer Hopper, presented material, facilitated discussion, and answered questions. The session concluded with a projection of the 2016 election results. Before leaving, political science majors, Corey Evans, Montrel Morrison, Michelle Rodriguez, Samantha Nelson, and Jamie Kelly, led the students on a tour of our university.

Kevin Buterbaugh, PSC Chair, reported that the teachers and students expressed appreciation for the efforts made by the PSC faculty and students and left with a positive impression of the university and its campus. The event was so well received that teachers of the TAG curriculum and PSC faculty are hoping to make this an annual event.

FIRST THURSDAYS

History was well represented at the first two fall semester contributions to First Thursdays. On October 6th at the Interdisciplinary Forum’s new venue, the Buley Art Gallery, Heather Vrana spoke about her research and forthcoming monograph, Don’t Mess with Us!: Guatemalan Students and the State, 1944-Present. More recently on November 3rd, Siobhan Carter-David presented her research on a side project related to her book manuscript on fashion and dress, but focused in particular on the Nation of Gods and Earths, “Supreme Style: Fashion, Aesthetics, and the Making of a Black Heterodox Islamic Tradition.” Faculty and students were treated to two enlightening discussions by these dynamic scholars.

Rounding out the fall semester Forum, First Thursdays will host another young scholar, Luke Eilderts (WLL), who will present his research, “Baring It for the Republic: The (Mis)Reading of a French Anti-Gay Marriage Movement.” Before France adopted its law allowing same-sex marriage in early 2013, the country was awash in debate and demonstrations. Opposing the law, a group known as HOMMEN defended “traditional” family values through public rallies and social media outlets. Their reception in French and English-language news media, however, uncovers compelling (mis)readings of contemporary French representations of masculinity. Faculty (and students) are always encouraged to attend these presentations to support the fascinating research on-going at Southern.

iGEM BEGINS IMPRESSIVELY

Nicholas Edgington (BIO) shared some exciting news. Our first ever SCSU iGEM team won a Bronze medal at this international competition. Unlike the Olympics where only three athletes or teams win medals, at iGEM many teams can achieve a medal award by demonstrating to the judges (based on the presentation, poster, and wiki website, genetic parts that were made, tested and submitted to iGEM repository etc.) that they have achieved various accomplishments, and the number of those accomplishments increase with each medal category. There are also the “Grand Prizes” for which the elite gold medal teams compete. Unlike kids soccer perhaps, not every team automatically gets a medal, so a bronze award is significant for us as a first effort.

It’s important to note that our iGEM team competed against institutions with far deeper pockets. Edgington reported, “We really had to scrape & struggle for everything, and thus are very proud that we managed to compete successfully.”  And compete they did as they shared the honor of a bronze medal with the likes of UConn, Northeastern, Yale, and Tufts.

STUDENT SUCCESS

At the National conference in New Orleans, Southern’s Campus Chapter for the Society of Professional Journalism won Region 1 Outstanding Campus Chapter Award for 2015-16. The Director of Region 1, Jane Primerano, presented the award “in recognition of outstanding programs and activities that enhance professionalism, thereby contributing service to the Society and to the profession.” Cindy Simoneau, JRN chair, said she was especially proud of the student chapter last year which offered a variety of campus programming and assisted with panel presentations and assisted the department with hosting the regional journalism conference on campus last April for professional and student journalists. The former president of the Campus Chapter, Monica Zielinski (JRN ’16) now works for a publication in Poland, Poland Today Magazine. See Southern’s webpage for an interview with Monica.

SPECIAL EVENTS

The Art Department hosted its initial exhibition and reception on October 27th in the Buley Art Gallery. Among those in attendance were President Joe Bertolino, Provost Ellen Durnin and Deans Steven Breese and Stephen Hegedus. This vibrant show featuring work from our outstanding Art Faculty is currently open to the public Monday-Thursday between 11am – 3pm until November 17th.

Journalism faculty and students were well represented once again at the 33rd Annual High School Journalism Day which attracted over 450 high school students and their teachers from across the state on Friday, Oct. 21. The total attendance was an increase of more than 100 from the previous year. After a welcome to Southern from President Joe Bertolino and discussion about the importance of the First Amendment in today’s society by Arts & Sciences Dean Steven Breese, keynote speaker Jenn Bernstein of Fox 61 discussed the multimedia aspects of her job covering politics in Connecticut. Journalism Department faculty offered 18 workshops throughout the morning for the students, and spotlighted the growing importance of drone photography with a demonstration by new assistant professor, Vern Williams.

FACULTY SHOUT-OUTS

Shafaeat Hossain (CSC) recently shared excellent news regarding his paper with undergraduate major, Mohamed Rilvan (BS, CSC ’18). Their work, “User Authentication and Identification on Smartphones by Incorporating Capacitive Touchscreen,” after a successful reviewer stage has been accepted in 35th IEEE — International Performance Computing and Communications Conference (IPCCC 2016). This acceptance is quite an honor as this premier CS conference has a challenging acceptance rate of 25.5% for this year’s meeting.

Under the auspices of the History Department, Byron Nakamura (HIS), our resident ancient historian, organized and hosted the recent Fall 2016 New England Ancient History Colloquium. On October 13th at Southern on the Green, leading ancient historians from the New England area attended talks on Athenian Economic history. Dr. Michael Leese from the University of New Hampshire was the keynote speaker and spoke on “The Intergenerational Transmission of Commercial and Financial Business Estates in Ancient Greece.” As the main commentator Professor Graham Oliver, from the department of Classics at Brown University, led a lively discussion including all of the scholars in attendance.

In our September Blog, we neglected to highlight the summer work of two physics majors, Richard J. Magnotti and Michael Schriefer, and their professor Evan Finch (PHY) whose CSU Research grant allowed them to visit Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.  They worked on part of the STAR (Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC) experiment at Brookhaven, a National Science Laboratory known for research in nuclear and particle physics. They join a prestigious group of physicists from around the world who travel to Brookhaven every year to use their Relativistic Heavy ion Collider. The purpose of RHIC heavy ion collisions is to recreate conditions that are believed to have existed in the first millionth of a second of the life of the universe. While the work was quite exhausting, the students found it extremely rewarding. And so much so, that they made three separate trips there – each visit, spending two to three days at a time.

Alan Brown (SOC), a new faculty member we coaxed away from Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2015, has had a chapter titled, “‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’: Sex Work, Marginalization and the Politics of Social Research,” accepted for the book, Studying Urban Crime, edited by Cognella by Robert Grantham.

The Daily Nutmeg New Haven recently ran a story on Southern’s MFA program, the only full-residency MFA program in the state. Tim Parrish (ENG/CRW) reflected on the benefits of such a program: “‘this sort of program ‘provides you a chance to have a community. You come in and you’re there with some seasoned writers. Then, after your first year, you get to be the seasoned writer.’” “SCSU attracts students with a greater range of ages and experiences. Many students already have careers, Parrish says. Age diversity is one of Rachel Furey’s favorite things about the program. Furey (ENG)—a new tenure-track faculty member—is also excited by SCSU’s unique Prose Class offering, where students can submit fiction and nonfiction in the same workshop.” Southern’s MFA program continues to produce active and creative writers. Liz Wager (MFA, CRW) developed a piece in Vivian Shipley’s graduate course (ENG 507) and recently had the poem, “Meeting a Stranger,” accepted for the winter issue of Able Muse.

Thanks to our membership in the LJMU International Society, we get the benefit of taking several free trips to locations throughout the UK. The first of these trips was to the northern city of York. Besides being the inspiration for “New York,” this city is full of history. Originally founded in the early first century, it is another reminder that English cities are much older than their United States counterparts.

York is just under two and a half hours away from Liverpool, to the Northeast. We travelled in a coach along with 40 other members of the International Society from all over the world. When the bus dropped us off, we were free to explore as we wished, and we had all day to do so. My flatmates and I set off on our own to discover what York had to offer.

As it turned out, York offered quite a bit. There was the architecture—gorgeous and intricate stone buildings from hundreds of years ago. In the center of the city towered the beautiful York Minster Cathedral, constructed between 1220 and 1472. Then there were “The Shambles,” a shopping district dating back to the 14th century. “The Shambles” resembled Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, with narrow streets and eclectic leaning buildings.

Aside from the historic architecture, there was also a good deal of natural beauty in York. In fact, one of the first sights we saw upon arriving was an exhibition showcasing many of the area’s native birds including owls and falcons. The city is home to two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, and the bridges over them provided a great vantage point from which to view the tree lined riverbanks and the numerous rowers paddling along. Another great spot from which we could take in the natural and architectural sights was the city wall.

York, like many other medieval cities, was defended by a mighty stone wall surrounding it. Much of the wall remains from the 14th century when it was renovated. In fact, it has more wall than any other city in England. To end our day in York, we walked along a few miles of the wall, taking in the view of the city and the surrounding land. Unfortunately, by this late in the day, my camera had run out of battery so I couldn’t get any pictures, but it was a great perspective to see from. I felt immersed in the history of York as I walked along the same stretch of wall and looking at the same buildings that people have been walking along and seeing for hundreds of years.

Siobhan Carter David

When you get dressed in the morning, are you thinking about how your clothing, or how you wear it, tells the world a story about you or your place in history?

Siobhan Carter-David, assistant professor of history, is a “reader” of clothing and fashion as historical texts and says, “We can learn a lot from studying fashion. It tells us so much about the cultural life of a particular group over time in different places.”

Currently teaching “Dress in Recent U.S. History: The Life and Times of 10 Iconic Fashions,” Carter-David  presented a talk on November 3, “Supreme Style: Fashion, Aesthetics, and the Making of a Black Heterodox Islamic Tradition.” Her talk was part of the interdisciplinary forum for faculty in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to present and discuss new scholarship, with special emphasis on emerging topics, methodologies, and areas of research in the 21st century.

In her “Dress in Recent U.S. History” course, Carter-David discusses the social and historical context and meanings of several post-World War II fashions. Blue jeans, the miniskirt, the dashiki, the studded leather jacket, evening gowns, the power suit, workout wear, the sneaker, and the hoodie all come under her lens in the course.

She plans to publish her dissertation, “Issuing the Black Wardrobe: Fashion and Anti-fashion in Post-Soul Publications,” in which she discusses what fashion and dress mean in “a post-civil-rights moment.”

Her November 3 talk, although focused on fashion and history, is a side project, she says. She became interested in the topic because, she says, “so little is done on the Five-Percent Nation,” which she explains is an offshoot of the Nation of Islam and is also called the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE). Founded in Harlem in 1964, NGE is a heterodox black Islamic faction that is intentionally flexible and individualized in its doctrine. Women members have used the NGE’s modest dress code to create an evolving aesthetic that has influenced and been influenced by many facets of post-civil rights urban life.

Carter-David says she finds the NGE interesting because of its flexible doctrine. “Everything is negotiable,” she says. “People are affiliated with it, but not members.”

This flexibility comes into play in the clothing worn by Five Percenters, which is why their fashions drew Carter-David’s particular attention. She explains that in the NGE, women – whose clothing is called “refinements” — are referred to as Earths and men as Gods (as in the Nation of Gods and Earths). Earths are expected to cover three-quarters of their bodies, as three-quarters of the earth is covered by water. The fashions are hip-hop inspired, and many rappers of the 1990s were affiliated with the Five-Percent Nation, such as Erykah Badu and Wu-Tang Clan.

Carter-David conducted oral histories for most of her research on this project, as so little academic research has been done on fashion in the NGE. What an Earth wears is negotiated between herself and her male partner, and every woman who becomes affiliated with NGE has to be taught about it by a man – not necessarily a male partner, but a man nonetheless. Yet in spite of this male influence on Earths’ experiences and refinements, Carter-David found that much of what is done with women’s fashions is feminist in nature. Her use of oral histories – interviews with Earths — helps her tell a story that is less about seeing dress through a men’s lens than through a female one.

In the 1960s, for example, older Earths would teach the younger ones how to dress, and Earths would make clothing for each other, as some of the articles of clothing were not easy to find. Earths wear headwraps, and women would share with each other in private how to wrap their heads. Carter-David says this practice has been changing with the advent of YouTube; Earths can now watch videos that show them different styles of wrapping their heads. Yet “women have created their own spaces in terms of how they do their refinement,” Carter-David says, “rather than letting men dictate it.”