Happy Anniversary Port Authority

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By Angus Kress Gillespie Today marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It was the first interstate agency ever created under a clause in the U.S. Constitution that permits compacts between two states with congressional approval. The Port Authority’s area of jurisdiction was called “The Port District,” a 17-county bi-state region within a 25-mil...

Scholars Talk Writing: Louis P. Masur

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I met Louis P. Masur in 1988, just before his first book, Rites of Execution, was published by Oxford University Press, where I was then an acquisitions editor. We hung out at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians in Reno, Nev., and he taught me how to play blackjack. Let’s just say he was very, very good at the game. The skills required to be an excellent card player seem...

Remembering Larry King

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When I heard of Larry King’s death, I could not hold back my tears. I was never one of his personal friends. I was but one of the 50,000 people from all walks of life that he had interviewed over his long career. News of his death reminded me of our interview on Oct. 27, 2001. This, of course, was about six weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the show was titled “America Remembers:...

Remote teaching is tough. But I learned a few things.

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As the spring semester at Rutgers begins, it gives me a chance to think about remote teaching. I teach American Studies, and the past few months have been challenging, to say the least. Like many of my colleagues, I am often tempted to say that I hate remote teaching. I miss the day-to-day contact with my students. I dislike the extra work. And yet, to be honest, it is not all bad. The shut-down o...

NYC-ARTS Choice: MoMA PS1, "Marking Time"

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A visit to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City for a look at the exhibition “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration." The exhibition examines how artists bear witness to our society’s extensive use of imprisonment. NYC-ARTS spoke with Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University and the curator of the exhibition. See Here

RUPA Presents: Legend Has It

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While some of the stories told here are based on factual records and real persons, they are being told purely for entertainment purposes, and are embellished with folklore and rumor. Safety precautions to abate risk inherent to these filming locations and interpersonal contact during a national health crisis were implemented and followed.

Making Art When 'Lockdown' Means Prison

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Gilberto Rivera’s “An Institutional Nightmare” (2012), made from a federal prison uniform, commissary papers, floor wax, newspaper and acrylic paint.   We’re living in a post-fact time, but that doesn’t mean there are no facts. Here are some. The United States has the largest population of captive human beings on earth, around 2.4 million, and an outsized percentage of them are Black. Since the 1980...

American Studies Solidarity Statement

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We in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers-New Brunswick, home to the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies minor and founded amid the Civil Rights movement, mourn the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others killed by racist violence in the United States. We stand in solidarity and support of the worldwide protests against police brutality and anti-Black raci...

NJFF’s Virtual Folk Fest 2020

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On Saturday, April 25, The New Jersey Folk Festival hosted a series of online activities with artists of various crafts. Click here for video links to the activities on the NJFF website. The videos are also available on Youtube.

What Abraham Lincoln can teach us about resilience in the face of crisis

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"The President quite unwell," reported John Hay on November 26, 1863. On his return from the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery, where he delivered "a few appropriate remarks" that would stand to define the war and the meaning of America, Abraham Lincoln had taken ill with varioloid fever, a mild but highly contagious form of smallpox. Even the New York World, a virulent anti-administratio...

I Will Never Let Go of Emmett Till's Story

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By Christine Clark Zemla I never knew Emmett Till. Not his mischievous smile, or his fun-loving, fearless attitude, or the stutter when he got nervous. I was just a young white girl growing up in New Jersey when the Black 14-year-old from Chicago went to visit family in the Deep South in 1955.Though I never knew him, I can vividly recall the first time I heard his name. I had just returned to coll...

The deportation of an Iranian student shows the unchecked power of Customs and Border Protection

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College campuses have been gearing up for start of the spring 2020 semester. But this week, Mohammad Shahab Dehghani Hossein Abadi, an Iranian student with a valid visa to study at Northeastern University in Boston, was stopped by Customs and Border Protection, detained and then deported — despite a federal court order that should have delayed his removal. His attorneys have no idea why CBP decide...

Michael Aaron Rockland on his latest book The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel

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Since opening in 1931, the George Washington Bridge, linking New York and New Jersey, has become the busiest bridge in the world, with over 100 million vehicles passing over it each year. Many people also consider it the most beautiful bridge in the world, yet remarkably little has been written about it. In this installment of Leonard Lopate at Large on WBAI, Michael Aaron Rockland talks about his...

Professor Kennedy Discusses Christmas Traditions

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Did you know yuletide caroling began 1,000 years before Christmas existed? Or how about the fact that mistletoe was used to represent immortality long before the holiday reached Europe? And before there was eggnog, the medieval English drank wassail made from mulled ale. Maria Kennedy, an instructor of folklore at Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Department of American Studies in the School of A...

“The Politics of Vanishing Celluloid” – Professor Williamson publishes research on collaboration with Library of Congress

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Professor Williamson’s research was recently published in Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film (Duke University Press), an edited collection of essays that “adds to the growing study of nontheatrical films by focusing on the ways filmmakers developed and audiences encountered ideas about race, identity, politics, and community outside the borders of theatrical cinema.” Professor Williamso...

“Nature and the Wonders of the Moving Image: John Ott's Postwar Popular Science Filmmaking”

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By Colin Williamson, PhD This article sheds light on the films of a now-obscure popular science film-maker named John Ott who was widely known in the 1950s for making time-lapse films about plant life that intersected with everything in postwar America from Walt Disney's animations to computer science and natural theology. Drawing on original archival research, I show how Ott used the spectacle of...

Bringing a Native American Perspective to American Studies

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Written by John Chadwick | SAS Senior Writer Jameson “Jimmy” Sweet, the first Native American professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University, had initially set out to become an architect.“That was my dream when I was in high school,” says Sweet, who joined the School of Arts and Sciences faculty in 2018. “It didn’t occur to me at that age that I could make history or America...

The Twin Towers still stand in our memory 18 years later

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by Angus Gillespie So here we are at the 18th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 and the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. There is the obvious question: why did the terrorists attack this particular landmark?Today, the Twin Towers stand only in our memory, an image that calls to mind sorrow and loss. But during the years that they straddled the skyline, the towers meant ma...

Rutgers Course Explores How Mississippi Delta Is Still Healing 64 Years After Emmett Till’s Murder

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What would justice look like for Emmett Till 64 years after his death became a symbol of the U.S. civil rights movement? Rutgers scholar Christine Zemla traveled to the Mississippi Delta to pose that question to the Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., Till’s cousin and the last living eyewitness to his abduction, in preparation for her new fall course, “Remembering Emmett Till.” “Till’s story is Trayvon Marti...

Springsteen at 70: Remembering When The Boss Rocked New Brunswick

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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many people may call themselves Bruce Springsteen’s biggest fan, but Louis Masur has legitimate claim to that title.This fall, the Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers–New Brunswick will share his admiration for the music icon in his course, “Springsteen's American Vision.”Masur said the class will explore how Springsteen’s vision illustrates a gen...