by Anna Lemberger

Two speakers, two fields of study, one theme: Theorizing Space Transnationally. Under this unifying heading, Emanuela Guano (Anthropology, Georgia State U) and Carl Nightingale (American Studies, SUNY-Buffalo) kicked off the second installment of the Center for 21st Century Studies’ symposium on Embodied Placemaking in Urban Public Spaces on Friday, April 29. There were a lot of titles within titles within titles on the program so I will try to keep them straight for y’all. (Please excuse the drawl. I just got back from Memphis and am still in Southern mode). For some great guides to the conference and a detailed list of all of the speakers, click here.

The spring symposium was made up of three thematic sections, each with two speakers whose research was tied together on some level. Besides Theorizing Space Transnationally, there were two other sessions on Mapping Urban Space and Engaging Visual Culture. Underneath each session heading, each speaker, of course, had his or her own specific topic. Guano’s lecture was entitled “Inside the Magic Circle: Conjuring the Terrorist Enemy at the 2001 Group of Eight Summit.” I was especially drawn to her research since I had never heard of the protests and police brutality that occurred in Genoa, Italy during the G8 Summit of July 2001. I attribute this to the fact that I was in seventh grade and, like others, was soon consumed with the events of 9/11, which Guano did discuss. Basically, Guano focused on the Italian government’s attempt to exclude Genoa’s residents from the G8 which led to mass uprisings and violent clashes between protesters, police, and guerilla groups. This may be slightly tangential but I was struck by a particular state scare tactic that Guano mentioned. Apparently, the government attempted to demonize protesters by, for example, claiming the protestors were planning to show up to sites with balloons filled with HIV positive blood. While visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis this weekend, I felt as if I were hearing Guano’s lecture all over again. The Genoa violence is extremely reminiscent of the police brutality at the Memphis marches during the Civil Rights Movement. It reminded me that these kinds of horrors do not just happen “over there.”

While Guano’s lecture focused on a tangible line of protestors around the G8 Summit, Nightingale’s talk concerned a strongly felt but less visible line—the color line. His lecture’s title asked, “What Does an Urban Color Line Feel Like? Transnational Sensations from Johannesburg and Chicago, 1900-1920.”  This lecture connected quite well with another of my recent travels. I did a winterim study abroad in South Africa and briefly visited Joburg (local name for Johannesburg). Even though Nightingale’s lecture focused on the early 1900s, the lingering effects of state-sanctioned segregation are apparent. Nightingale said that in the city the only people you see walking around are blacks (so true!). The other things that struck me were the fences. Most houses are surrounded by fences, gates, and other security features. There is clearly still a lot of fear. Nightingale highlighted fear as a factor that led to segregation during the times and places of his research.

Overall, it was a great end to the Center’s lecture series.

With graduation weeks away I am signing off for good. Thank you to the Center for an intellectually stimulating semester and to all the people who took the time to read this blog. Please keep supporting the Center’s lecture series and the blog!

[blog title: definition from dictionary.com]

“Going to Mecca”

April 26, 2011

by Anna Lemberger

When first glancing at Associate Professor Anna Vemer Andrzejewski’s lecture title, Midwestern Modernism: “Wrightification” and Domestic Architecture in Madison, Wisconsin 1930-1970, I felt a little unenthused. Besides Frank Lloyd Wright, what could one possibly say about Wisconsin architecture? But Andrzejewski, from UW-Madison’s Department of Art History, during her lecture on Friday in the Architecture and Urban Planning building, wove a colorful narrative on how place-based Midwestern architecture came to be.

Andrzejewski’s specific interest is in Marshall Erdman, a “merchant builder” who had a close personal and professional relationship with Wright. Erdman was an entrepreneur and builder with a respect for artists and design. Andrzejewski places him within a movement of “Wrightification” that saw architects and builders borrowing and transforming aspects of Wright’s buildings for the masses. Andrzejewski provided some background information on Erdman, which included his enlistment in the Army during World War II and his post-war building projects. Recognizing a post-war housing shortage, Erdman took up constructing low-cost veterans’ housing. Soon after he was asked by Wright to work on the Unitarian meeting house—an experience he said “was like going to Mecca.”  I really enjoyed the anecdotal moments of the lecture that showed the wonderful relationship between Erdman and Wright. When Erdman first met Wright, Wright asked, “Baby, how would you like to be famous?”  Erdman seemed to take this question quite seriously because he continued to create business for himself by advertising his relationship with Wright.  Erdman and Wright also worked together on creating low cost, high quality prefab houses that Erdman could market to a wider audience. Erdman’s emphasis on mass-produced housing for the middle class seems to define his career.

Andrzejewski certainly covered a lot in her lecture so I encourage people to check out her web page and books for more information. What interested me most was seeing the way the architecture and building methods really fit into the broader historical atmosphere of the time. Erdman focused on mass production and creating prefab building parts in his Madison factory. His largest projects were the doctor’s parks, of which he built over 3,000. The doctors’ offices were built on the idea that people prefer to go to offices where they can park. Today this seems like an obvious feature, to include a parking space. But I suppose at that time, the car-based society we have today was just starting to boom. It is interesting to see how architecture reflects social changes or at least, in this case, the way Erdman was so in tune with the places he built on and people he built for, much like Wright.

by Anna Lemberger

I hope people had a nice spring break (for those of us lucky enough to get one) and were able to make it to the Center’s lecture Friday, April 1. Professor Lauren Berlant from the University of Chicago’s Department of English got the Center’s lecture series back in the swing of things with her lecture entitled, “The Desire for the Political.” Berlant presented another timely talk in light of current political upheaval and protests in Wisconsin—or as my favorite satirical reporter Jon Stewart calls it, the “Crisis in Dairyland.” These protests, however, are not the type that interest Berlant, at least not in this particular paper. The main thrust of her research looks at silent protest and noise politics and the artistic movements these traditions inspire. So in the spirit of Berlant’s lecture, I will silently withdraw from writing this blog and suggest that in place of reading you listen to some ambient noise.

. . .

April fools!

Okay, let’s get back to Professor Berlant. After a nice introduction by Center director Richard Grusin, Berlant took to the podium armed with enthusiasm and a PowerPoint. Then she proceeded to read excerpts from the final chapter of her forthcoming book, “Cruel Optimism.” Now, I mean this with all of the constructive criticism I can muster, but I am always slightly disappointed when a lecturer just reads his or her work. If I have learned anything from my time interning at a radio station it is that writing for print and writing for speech require different approaches and styles. In written work, the readers can go back, reread, look up words, annotate, etc.–unlike listeners at a public lecture. Having said this, however, I felt that Berlant did a pretty good job of portraying her ideas, although I could probably benefit from reading her work for a better understanding. There was also an opportunity to ask questions for clarity at the end of the lecture, and I actually did get a lot out of the Q & A.

There are a few terms that I was still a little uncertain about after Berlant’s talk. One term is affect. Professor Grusin also uses this term a lot in his work so it’s clearly important to this area of research. According to dictionary.com, affect (n.) is a feeling or emotion. It is also an “inward disposition or feeling” or “an expressed or observed emotional response.”  In relation to political activism or active citizenship, affect is an observable response, or lack of response, to a particular situation. So Berlant is mainly interested in how “withdrawal” can also be a form of political engagement. I particularly like the artistic examples that illustrated this engagement, specifically the “One Nation Under CCTV” movement. One video showed the Surveillance Camera Players performing a mock (in more ways than one) protest, holding up signs to the street security cameras that said mundane things like “Going shopping.” Their performance raises a lot of questions about citizenship and the nature of surveillance. Is citizenship just performance? Does surveillance ignite unnecessary paranoia? Check out their performance here and tell me what you think.

For more information on Professor Berlant, please explore her page and other writings. I certainly will.

by Anna Lemberger

Without even reading the description, I was immediately drawn to the title of the Center’s March 4  lecture: 21st Century Wish Dreams: Seattle, Detroit, and the Recalcitrant Anthropologist. Themes of recalcitrance are even more attractive than normal considering our current political situation. The presenter, anthropologist Jacalyn Harden from Wayne State in Detroit, did not disappoint, bringing up both insightful and controversial images of the two cities and their residents. Harden had a lot to say and show last Friday, but I will try to keep my blog brief this time since there will be links (videos, blogs) I encourage you to explore.

Before beginning her lecture, Harden played Chrysler’s “Born of Fire” Superbowl commercial. The viewer gets a tour of Detroit and statement from Eminem who says, “This is motor city, and this is what we do.”  The final tagline is “Imported from Detroit.” To see the video follow this link.  As a resident of Detroit for six years now, Harden is very interested in how Detroit compares with her previous home city, Seattle. Although very different, she sees both becoming capitals of the 21st century and representative of the wish dreams and fears the world holds about cities and their residents.

Harden discussed each city’s historical mode in the 20th century and the changes they experienced that make them even more significant in this century. The biggest surprises for me came out of her descriptions of Seattle. For a city that cares about diversity and where race does not matter as much as in other large cities, Seattle has seen some brutal, racially charged riots.  In 1999 protests at the WTO Conference were, as Harden said, where “dreams of world class racial harmony fell apart.” The same could be said for the Mardi Gras Riot in 2001 where the violence was mostly done by black men against white crowd-goers. To emphasize the confusing image that is Seattle, Harden showed a clip from the film McQ (1974) which has John Wayne as a Seattle cop with a black partner, kicking hippies in the shins. Definitely odd and deserving of further analysis.

Finally, Harden (and this blog) comes full circle as we look at what makes Harden a “recalcitrant anthropologist.” Unlike many in her discipline who believe in a steady diet of fieldwork and notes, Harden pushes the idea of fieldwork by actually living in these communities and being “on the clock” all of the time. Instead of being a drive-by observer, Harden actually feels what it is like to live in a “nature preserve,” to experience the frustration of the “spectacle factor” in Detroit. Instead of writing up field notes, Harden has entered the blogosphere to report on her everyday life and findings. So at this point let me direct you to Harden’s blog (click here), or what appears to be her blog. If it’s not she should probably be worried about an evil twin.

by Anna Lemberger

Heather Love, Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, presented her research as a keynote speaker for the Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference that kicked off this Friday, the 25th of February. I was very excited to hear Love’s presentation, “Sticking Together,” after seeing she was a fellow English scholar and that her work looks at stigma, queer studies, and deviant studies—all things I love. Then when the person introducing her mentioned that Love engages with Willa Cather I was totally sold. (As a side note, I highly recommend Cather if you have not read anything by her yet.) I have to admit, however, that I found myself getting a little lost during her lecture; I struggled to understand exactly what she was arguing and how all of her examples fit together—which I suppose is appropriate considering the theme of the conference is “Ambivalence.”

Love began by discussing the definition of ambivalence and brought up interesting ideas about its connection to ethics and politics. Love stated that “the ability to tolerate ambivalence serves an ethical function.” I would agree that many people, especially in political discourse, regard ambivalence as a dangerous position. Love argues that it is much needed and should be embraced. Her comments remind me of a recent Jon Stewart episode where he interviewed Donald Rumsfeld about his new book. Stewart quotes Rumsfeld’s book saying, “Certainty with power can be dangerous.” This seems to connect well with what Love is getting at when she argues for more political ambivalence. Recent political issues have also shown the turmoil of extreme certainty.

Love sped into her most recent research on Erving Goffman and his 1963 sociological study: Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity.  Interestingly, she is more interested in the book’s footnotes and their references to other texts and groups of social outsiders. Somehow, this has provided her with a promising model of a coalition of social outsiders, groups that include (on Goffman’s list) homosexuals, prisoners, stutterers, intellectuals . . . “and other figures of the underworld.” From what I could gather, stigma creates spoiled identities because it creates and reinforces stereotypes.

She then referenced the It Gets Better Campaign started by Dan Savage and his partner in response the high number of suicides by gay teens. First of all . . . what? I have no idea how we got on this example or how it figures into her research. I mean, it was really interesting to hear her critique of the campaign but our transition to this example was abrupt. Her main critique is that the campaign is “massively condescending” because it assumes that teens can’t see positive futures for themselves. I think Love has issue with the fact that the campaign kind of ignores the root of these traumas and also ignores that fact that things might not get better.  So then what? Where can these kids go?

I am very interested to read Love’s work after her studies are complete to see if I can better connect all the dots of coalition, ambivalence, deviance, affect, and stigma. I have also been inspired to read footnotes more closely since they may contain a wealth of untapped information.

[Ø] [zerospace]

February 21, 2011

by Anna Lemberger

A low hum filled the lecture hall as presenters got things wired and ready for NOMADS (Network-Operational Mobile Applied Digital System) Participatory Colloquium and Performance on this Friday afternoon, February 18. The C21-hosted colloquium was part of their two-part  [Ø] [zerospace] conference that started with a discussion on interactive and distance collaboration in music and ended with an evening Telematic Concert.  Presenters and moderators included Matthew Burtner (C21 Provost Fellow), Steven Kemper (UVA), David Topper (UVA), Chris Chafe (Stanford)—who interacted with us via Skype—Scott Deal (IUPUI), and Christopher Burns (UWM).

The first three of that rather lengthy list introduced us to NOMADS, which emerged out of the Interactive Media Research Group (IMRG) at the University of Virginia. Although much of the colloquium was focused on performance and music, it was exciting to see the general academic use and value of the program. Everyone in the audience who wanted one got a laptop to borrow for the lecture. We accessed NOMADS through the web browser (check it out here: http://nomads.music.virginia.edu/) and clicked in Thought Cloud. Burtner posted a question (Which department are you from?) and each audience member’s submitted response appeared on the main projection screen.  While it seems a lot like watching a live Twitter feed, there are some capabilities that make this style of classroom interaction really unique. For instance, the most popular answer will actually get bigger in size allowing the instructor to see whether or not most people are on the right track.  Another benefit of this type of classroom interaction is that it engages students in a way that hopefully keeps them more focused and attentive. One audience member later asked about the possibility of students abusing or subverting the system.  The lecturers did point out that students sometimes use the interaction inappropriately but believe they will adapt and become better users.

The main thrust of the program was toward telematic art/performance in which people interact and perform together through technologically mediated space. Burtner described this experience as a “synergistic dialog and interaction” that folds remote spaces while also emphasizing distance. Chris Chafe provided some great video clip examples of music collaboration through technology. Check out this commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGZtC4m52zM) or search “Time Warner Cable commercial (featuring The Mommyheads)” on YouTube.  From a technical standpoint I was pretty lost as they discussed servers and bandwidth, but it was a great example of interdisciplinary collaboration between the arts and sciences.

Later that evening I did stop by the concert to get a taste of telematic performance in the PSOA Music Recital Hall.  The first number, “Deconstructions No. 4,” involved a bicycle wheel, synthesizers, and a cymbal played with a bow, among other things. The cymbal player teleconferenced in from Indiana. The Milwaukee Laptop Orchestra performed next and created some pretty interesting sounds for their piece “Improvisation.”  What stood out most to me was the cinematic quality of the music. The first performance even had a 3D animation; I imagine the film [studies] department might have an interest in telematic performance since video is such an integral element.

As a final thought, what struck me most about these musical experiments and compositions was the way music is changing and being inspired by technology.  On the other hand, music is also inspiring the creation of new technologies and emphasizing the power of people to adapt and thrive in an ever growing world of digital interaction.

“Cablegate”

February 7, 2011

by Anna Lemberger

It was great to see that so many people survived the snow-pocalypse of 2011 and were able to attend the Center’s first lecture of the semester, Friday, February 4 in Curtin 175. The lecture, or more accurately the symposium, entitled “Minding the Gaps: WikiLeaks and Internet Security in the 21st Century,” hosted speakers from various schools and universities who all took on the WikiLeaks issue from unique angles. Professor Sandra Braman from UWM’s Communication Department discussed the legal issues surrounding WikiLeaks, specifically the major leaks of 2010, and the changing relationships among the law, the state, and society.  The second presenter, Professor Richard Grusin, the C21 director, looked less at the content of the leaked cables and more about the feelings or affect they created among the public. He also looked at the form WikiLeaks has taken, a form he calls “mediality.” Professor Laura DeNardis (Yale Law) questioned the political implications of WikiLeaks and focused on the politics of distributed denial of service attacks. Are DDoS attacks a legitimate form of dissent or protest in our digital age?

The lectures took me back to a recent episode of Conan O’Brien’s new show where he criticized the Egyptian government’s decision to shut down Internet access during the recent protests: “If you want people to stay home and do nothing, turn the Internet back on!” Although meant for a laugh, O’Brien’s statement brings up a lot of interesting points about the role of Internet in society. The Internet is undeniably an integral part of our lives, especially as a tool of information dissemination. But as a student in the School of Information Science and Technology, I have definitely become more analytical towards information and the environments in which it undulates. I question the effectiveness of the Internet in communicating information since the overabundance of information is often confusing and leaves a sort of digital disconnect between the reader and actual event. Is the Internet creating a “do nothing” public or an active citizenry? Professor Grusin’s presentation seemed to deal with this issue as he discussed the collective affect prompted by the “scientific journalism” of WikiLeaks.

Professor Grusin also showed a clip from “Collateral Murder,” the classifed US military video disclosed to WikiLeaks. The footage, taken from the gunsight of a US helicopter, showed the helicopter firing on and murdering innocent civilians outside Baghdad, yet the outcry was minimal compared to the torture photos from Abu Ghraib. Grusin’s consideration of a kind of “Iraq weariness,” along with the length of the video, seems to explain the relative silence around the videos. He then showed a clip from the game “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” an online, multiplayer shooter game that places players right in the action. It was a striking comparison that presented a similar video and medial interface and situation. The game is even programmed to say “good kill” and other statements which reflect the actual language of soldiers in the field. To Grusin, this fantasy/reality crossover highlights a collective affect and an environment that premediates affectivity of soldiers in the field. In comparing WikiLeaks to games like Modern Warfare, he focused on the way they both present information and control affectivity.

The issue of WikiLeaks and Internet Security is confusing and a relatively new arena of discussion. For more information on the presenters and their work click here.

by Anna Lemberger

Dr. Arthur Kleinman of Harvard University wrapped up the Center’s lecture series this semester with an overview of his collaborative research in his forthcoming, co-authored book, “Deep China: Remaking the Moral Person in China Today.” The talk once again took place in Curtin Hall 175 this Friday, December 10 at 3:30pm and was followed by a lovely reception of cheese, crackers, and wine. I was extremely excited to discover the topic of today was China considering recent controversies surrounding the Nobel Peace Prize.

Entering the lecture hall I was immediately struck by the fact that it was 100 degrees and smelled strongly of vapor rub. On the plus side, I now know where all of the hot air is being redirected and why I have to wear a jacket in all of my other Curtin classes. Luckily, things got more comfortable and I was able to settle in to what was a very accessible and interesting lecture about China from the standpoint of Medical Anthropology—Kleinman’s field of study. Kleinman’s research and writings focus on the enormous changes that have occurred in China over the recent decades, particularly moral changes. Kleinman and his colleagues have also noticed an increased individualism which has turned their focus toward the perceptual, emotional and moral experiences of this shift.  A psychology student I talked with after the lecture found the elements of self-help emerging among the Chinese to be most interesting.

Kleinman gave a brief overview of the different chapters and articles in the book coming out, but there were certainly a few that stuck out more than others. As an employee for the Health Promotion office on campus, I was especially drawn to the sections most obviously about health. One chapter examined the Sexual Revolution in China as a result of the one-child rule. Sex shops saw an increase in women shoppers and people began to realize the importance of pleasure for women and men. On a more serious note, I found the chapter “Suicide, a Modern Problem in China” both interesting and distressing. Fact: young rural women in China have the highest rate of suicide in the nation (and the world? I can’t remember).  Most of the acts are very impulsive and come from a sense of injustice in their public and private lives rather than a mental disorder.  In many cases the women consume pesticides and are unable to receive care in time. What may have been just a cry for help–an “attempted suicide” in the United States–ends as a tragically completed suicide in China.  It certainly makes me realize how privileged I am to have access to health care and of the great, free services to students on campus at Norris.

Dr. Kleinman delivered a very thorough argument and balanced view of China, which I very much appreciated. It’s a tough subject which he handled well and which brought out some interesting discussions in the Q&A. This was definitely a great end to a fascinating lecture series.

By Jessica Sellin

This past Friday, December 10, saw the Center for 21st Century Studies’ final guest lecturer of the fall semester, Arthur Kleinman, M.D.  Dr. Kleinman, a Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Anthropology at Harvard University, as well as the university’s Asian Center director, has co-authored a forthcoming book entitled “Deep China: Remaking the Moral Person in China Today.”  It might go without saying that our eastern contemporaries are at the forefront of a majority of American minds, at least as seen in the scholarly (well, maybe slightly less than scholarly) debate between Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez) and Michael Scott (Steve Carell) in a recent episode of The Office, entitled “China.”  Granted that 90 percent of the words that come out of Michael’s mouth hold little to no validity, he is not wrong in his feeling that China is successfully rivaling the United States in terms of global power.

According to Kleinman, China currently holds over two and one-half trillion dollars in U.S. foreign currency reserve and China’s current two hundred million middle class citizens are expected to grow to five hundred million by the year 2025.  While some may think that such dominating numbers are cancelled out by a radicalized state of life in which a tyrannical government enforces laws such as the one-child policy, Kleinman urges us to see the era of reform currently taking place in modern China.  Not unlike our nation’s own historical progression that incorporates both the good and the bad, Kleinman’s upcoming publication highlights both the positive and negative social changes taking place in China, including increased global interests, increased NGO activity, and a newfound awareness of public health issues–as well as an increase in materialism and cynicism, a decline in filial ties, and a rise in nationalism.  Despite a rise in nationalism, a great deal of the contemporary moral and social changes occurring in China revolve around an increased interest in the individual.

Kleinman’s book notes the rising prominence of the individual–as opposed to the state–in Chinese life; he and his co-authors, all former students of his, operate from a model of the individual as “a divided self,” a self who incorporates the polarities of past vs. present, public vs. private, moral vs. immoral, and so forth. I have to admit that some of the names and ideas that Kleinman mentioned were completely new to me, so when he presented the familiar work of the artist Huang Yongyu, in particular his 1973 painting entitled Owl, I got pretty excited (Owl).  Although being an art history major may make my stance seem biased, I see art as an all encompassing record of particular historical values, and the more controversial the piece is, chances are, the more truth it represents.  Created during the cultural revolution of the 1970’s, the painting was condemned at the time for supposedly commenting on the communist government’s tendency to “turn a blind eye” to injustice (as seen in the fact that the owl has one eye open and one closed).  Kleinman, however, finding a more contemporary reading for the piece, suggests that the open eye comments on the public aspect of an individual, and the closed the private domain of an individual.  This topic of individualism and morality is analyzed throughout Kleinman’s work under the guise of topics such as gentrification, sexual revolution (and the spread of HIV and AIDS that comes with it), as well as individual quests for meaning in contemporary Asian society.

On a final note, after only a brief foray into the blogosphere, I would like to bid adieu to all those who have read the blogs, as I will now be heading for the greener pastures that are graduate studies.  This has been a great experience and privilege, and I think that the Center for 21st Century Studies has great things planned for the future, so keep watch!  Also, congratulations to fellow class of 2010 graduates!

Discovering Harlem

November 15, 2010

by Anna Lemberger

Today’s lecture was a little, well really a lot, different for me than past events since I attempted to tweet my way through Paula Massood’s lecture “Harlem and Visual Culture” at 2 pm in the UWM library (search for #c21 if you’re interested). To open her talk, Massood provided a longer and supposedly clearer lecture title: “Living in the City: Harlem’s Representational Turn Towards ‘Marketable Shock.'”  I was intrigued by what was to follow since it seemed to fit with my film and media studies.

Through photographs and film clips, Massood presented an interesting history of Harlem between the 1930s and 1960s and representations of life in this urban environment. Massood clearly has broad interests related to African American culture as portrayed and sculpted through media, but she focuses specifically on Harlem and the urban, mostly exterior, environment of African Americans and the neighborhoods for her research paper. The first photo she projected, shot in 1943, showed three men standing side by side, feet apart, and wearing top hats and tails over work clothes. I found this image, “Harlem Riot: part 1,” very striking. As is with most presentations when the person just reads from their paper, Massood only grazed over the image, giving a snippet of how the outfits imply costume and performance; they also reference the sort of house service work done by many of these people. I’m not sure what the history behind this photo series is. Was the photo set up, or was the photographer just recording actual events, like a journalist? I hope Massood has some evidence to support these interpretations in her essay when it comes out because I would like to know more.

Is it real? Is it fiction? Is it both? Several of the film clips that followed were especially important in how they blurred the lines of fiction and documentary genres. Shirely Clarke’s The Cool World (1963), for instance, not only gives an large-scale view of Harlem but also follows a particular character, Duke, and the familiar narrative of a “Harlem teen who turns to crime for lack of better options.” Strangely, I really enjoyed the film’s title sequence and the way the credits drifted sideways along with the field trip bus full of singing teens. The singing also reminded me of what Massood said about the use of oral tradition in representing Harlem.

Overall, the talk was very interesting even if my brain was not able to process and tweet very well at the same time. (I just need more practice.) It did feel more like a history lesson, and I did not really understand or pick up on the central argument of Massood’s paper.  I think there  was a broader argument about how media, film and photographs contribute to shaping and categorizing a neighborhood–specifically how the black male youth were labeled “delinquent.”

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