the Luminary a note from Dr. Sylvia Spears Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion A Day without Women at Emerson As most of you are already aware, I began my work at Emerson last summer. As a new member of the community, I was able to bring “fresh eyes” to the work. With fresh eyes comes the ability to observe things from the vantage point of an outsider. This special, but temporary, state has allowed me to see what might go unseen by the more culturally and socially embedded members of our community. areas of strengths as well as areas for growth as it relates to diversity and inclusion. I have also been able to observe and discover what is present and what is absent in our practices, in our policies, and our discourse. Sometimes the things that are not present are revealed in subtle ways, with gentle signs pointing to an unrecognized need or a missed opportunity. In other times, the things that are not present become known because you walk straight into a huge, gaping hole. Imagine yourself walking across the Boston Common and suddenly stumbling upon a Grand Canyon of a hole. You wait. You watch. You wonder. Can anyone else see this enormous hole? This month, I found one of those holes at Emerson, a hole that few seemed to notice or mention.
On college campuses all over the country, special events are taking place right now in recognition of Women’s History Month. In an effort to give voice to women, this month is sometimes called Womyn’s Herstory Month. Of course, we could have a lengthy conversation about why we keep celebrating the contributions of historically marginalized groups for a single month of the year as opposed to infusing information about these contributions into the life of the campus throughout the year, but that’s a topic for another day and another article. I guess one month of acknowledgment is better than no months, right? Nonetheless, as March began, I excitedly looked for the calendar of events for Women’s History Month. It’s always been one of my favorite celebrations. I scanned the events pages on the website and asked others when the College held programs in recognition of women’s contributions, women’s leadership, or even the presence of women at Emerson. Much to my surprise, there was no splashy poster providing information about upcoming panel discussions. There was no keynote speaker who would be kicking off the month’s activities. There was no gathering of the community to Emerson. Radio silence, my friends.
Photo by Jeff Mehling
There it was, a wide and deep hole. In these moments, we have two choices: do nothing and pretend the hole doesn’t exist, or act. By now, most of you know what my inclination might be. On Wednesday, March 27, something happened. Approximately 40 Emerson women - students, faculty and staff - gathered for a breakfast discussion. They talked about their experiences at Emerson, discussed barriers to assuming leadership roles, expressed a need for mentors, and shared their dreams for the future. The energy in the room was exhilarating. A simple gathering of women in community created a collective narrative of validation that lifted spirits and inspired hope. As I stood among these women, I in my own life who validated my (continued page 4)
at the dinner. In an interview with The Luminary, ASLemerson President Jodie Rollins
Silent Dinner held on campus, and featured
ASLemerson Promotes Cultural Awareness with Silent Dinner On March 14, ASLemerson, Emerson College’s American Sign Language organization, hosted a Silent Dinner. Emerson students gathered at the Max Mutchnick Campus Center to enjoy pizza and friendly conversation while honing their American Sign Language skills. The event also featured speaker Sara Blazic, co-founding president of ASLemerson who now teaches writing at Columbia University. Emerson College offers ASL courses through its Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, which pleased Blazic while she was a student. However, she sought a venue for ASL outside of the
classroom, hence the founding of ASLemerson. Four years after her graduation, Blazic continues her activism for the deaf community through magazine, a blog with a focus on Deaf culture and social issues related to deafness. Blazic writes thoughtful articles on a wide array of subjects, from closed captioning to the nuances of the label “disability.” Blazic said that she started the blog because she believes in the power of words. “While I was at Emerson, I studied writing. I have a strong belief that you can change things through writing,” she stated
Rollins said that events like this provide students with powerful insights into Deaf culture, which is often overlooked. “I think the study of cultures is very important,” Rollins said. “A lot of people know about different cultures, but don’t know that Deaf culture is its own culture.” ASLemerson is also holding their capstone event, Deaf, Deaf College, on April 9, in room L151 in the Max Mutchnick Campus Center, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Like the Silent Dinner, Deaf, Deaf College invites Emerson students to interact with one another in a world without sound, fostering a sense of empathy for the Deaf and hearing impaired. Rollins stressed in the interview that it is important to look at Deaf culture on its own terms. “[Deaf people] don’t feel as though
By Blake Campbell
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Features Faculty Spotlight: Maria Koundoura
Maria Koundoura Image courtesy of Maria Koundoura
In 2013, we can truly say that we are living in a globalized world. Technological innovation has made travel and communication faster and more convenient than ever; it’s no trouble at all to sit in the comfort of one’s own living room and have a conversation with a friend 3,000 miles away over Skype. While globalization’s economic, political, and intellectual advantages are obvious, however, this extended discourse also opens up a plethora of important questions. How do we negotiate our cultures and identities in a world where boundaries between nations and peoples are increasingly being traversed? Maria Koundoura, Ph.D. (Stanford University), a professor in Emerson College’s Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing, has devoted her career to answering that question. The author of two books and numerous academic articles, Koundoura describes herself as a cultural and postcolonial theorist. Her work explores such disciplines as multiculturalism, transnationalism, and globalization. Koundoura’s life has had a profound impact on her career as a scholar. Originally from Greece, she grew up living between Australia and her home country, and later went on to a career as an academic in
America. Much of Koundoura’s work explores the implications of a transnational life, and she uses examples from her own experience to put this phenomenon into perspective, incorporating the personal into the theoretical. “What we look at with theory, what we gaze at, is the world with ourselves in it,” Koundoura said in an interview with The . Rather than compromising the objectivity of scholarly work, Koundoura believes that using one’s personal experience in academic writing can provide an important perspective. She uses the analogy that theory offers a “bird’s eye view” of a subject, while personal experience allows us to look at it from the ground level. This belief is evident in Koundoura’s work. Amid the meticulous footnotes and classical examples of her 2007 book The , she provides a poignant personal account of how she used the television show to negotiate her transnational identity as a Greek immigrant growing up in Australia. Koundoura explains that the series was both a means of escapism and personal empowerment for her, and uses her story to demonstrate the power of mass media in shaping identity. “In Jeannie’s foreignness I saw mine,” she writes, “in her limited world of the bottle I saw my limited world of the Greek-Australian community, and in her constant efforts to hide her otherness I saw recent
, she continues this exploration of identity in a transnational setting through her reading of literature from various parts of the world. Koundoura’s current book project, , shifts her academic focus to the urban. A desire line, Koundoura explained, is the shortest distance from a point of origin to a point of destination; it’s what’s created
when frequent foot travel wears a path across a space, when people, out of convenience, leave the pavement behind for a faster or more convenient route to where they’re going. Koundoura uses this concept as a metaphor to explore the creation of pathways of culture in the city’s historical basis, examining past incarnations of the global city while also drawing on the contemporary. Koundoura received a fellowship to research the book at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., where she examined sixteenth- and seventeenth-century records of English travelers who visited Asia. Koundoura’s valuable contributions to scholarly literature, however, represent only one component of her career. She is a proponent for international, multicultural, and transnational discourse at Emerson, and has played a pivotal role in broadening the college’s horizons to a global perspective. Last October, she brought Greek director Christos Karakepelis to ,a gritty documentary about lower class multicultural minorities who collect and recycle refuse as a way of life in contemporary Greece, and also moderated a panel discussion after the screening. In February, Koundoura organized a reading by author Gazmend Kapllani, a Rita E. Hauser Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe experiences as an Albanian immigrant living in Greece. Koundoura’s most recent project brings together Emerson College’s Department of Writing, Literature & Publishing, the Institute for International Education, and Harvard University’s Writers at Risk initiative. Via this collaboration, Emerson will host a new international writer each year. Koundoura’s “passion” is bringing in “different voices from different parts of the world” to represent the multicultural transnationally. Each culture within a particular country views its nation from a different perspective, and in bringing these diverse speakers to Emerson, Koundoura hopes to provide a venue for these viewpoints in an academic setting. “I write about these things in theory, but in my teaching, in my practice, I practice
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Features these things I write about,” Koundoura said. In her interview with , Koundoura said that students need to be educated “through constant examples” in preparation for living and working in a globalized world. “They need to have a constant engagement with the world,” she further explained. Needless to say, the work of Maria Koundoura has made that kind of engagement possible at Emerson College, providing our campus community with a our place in a diverse society. By Blake Campbell
teacherless classrooms as female faculty members fade away. Imagine
there to answer the call. Imagine food not prepared and decisions not made. Imagine a day without women at Emerson. Next March, the gaping hole that I discovered will be a little less deep and a little less wide. Together, we will create a space for the celebration and development of women at Emerson.
experience and showed me the way. Their presence was so powerful, I can’t even imagine who I would be or what my life would have been without them. I wondered how this same kind of powerful moment could be realized in our campus community. Then someone said, “Imagine a day without women at Emerson.” So I challenge you to do just that. Imagine more than half of our student body disappearing. Imagine
Women in Video Games: A Closer Look at The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo 64. Twelve years, two PlayStations, a GameCube, a Wii, and all Nintendo handhelds later, and I still love video games. Out of all the video games I have played, however, games will always stick in my mind as some of the most enjoyable. The gameplay is userfriendly (with the unfortunate exception of , the latest entry in the series), the stories gripping, and the dungeons fun to forge through. As a woman, franchise’s treatment of many of its female characters. Although they have good personalities and good dialogue, many of the female characters in Zelda still lack something crucial: personal agency. While some of the Zeldas have interesting character traits (The ’s Zelda is sassy and the Zelda from is playful), Zelda as a character seems to boil down to one purpose: getting captured so the hero can rescue her. But Zelda isn’t the only female
Take, for example, , the one game where Zelda isn’t kidnapped. In one must rescue a princess who has been captured. The only difference this time is that she’s an anthropomorphic creature. I’m not trying to say that the princesses are entirely weak and submissive—the Zelda from can wield a sword, ’s Zelda is a great pirate, and ’s incarnation of the character eventually turns into the amazing ninja-like Sheik. But when push comes to shove, all that seems to get thrown out the window. Suddenly they are facing a great evil and all the skills that we thought they had seem to vanish, and they need to be in other video game franchises as well; Jill Valentine, for example, the protagonist of , undergoes a similar turnaround of character during gameplay. Thankfully, doesn’t fall into all the traps to which fantasy games are prone. Many times in video games women can be found wearing highly impractical armor that barely covers their bodies. Examples of this include
, titles, and other roleplaying games. Not so in , where the clothing is, for the most part, practical. Also, while the kidnapped women of endure a slew of hardships, including possession, imprisonment, and sensationalized. Meanwhile, games like 2011’s zombie-themed treat violence toward women in an exploitative manner; an advertisement for the game depicts the headless, limbless bust of a woman in a bikini. While part of this has to do with the game’s grounding in the survival horror genre, the question has to be asked if really needed to go that far. As I mentioned earlier, ’s tendency to produce its female characters as damsels in distress doesn’t stop it from being a good game. However, I would like to see a game where Zelda and other female characters are given the same agency as the male characters, and are not just props to be kidnapped.
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Daniel Beaty in
Daniel Beaty’s Emergency: a Review Racism, gun violence, gender expression, and family relationships are just a few of the issues Daniel Beaty tackles in his dynamic one-man show . A profound vision of what it means to be human, the play ran the weekend of March 22, to March 24, as part of ArtsEmerson’s 2012-2013 season. ’s plot sounds outlandish at the New York Harbor in front of the Statue of Liberty during a nationally televised slam poetry competition. From this seemingly absurd premise, Beaty constructs a funny, poignant, and thought-provoking drama. Portraying over 25 different characters (and switching seamlessly between them), he presents a vision of race in America that is both comprehensive and raw. originally ran off-Broadway in 2006 (then ), where it received critical acclaim. The spectrum of characters in ranges from a homeless man, to
a disenchanted academic, to an elevenyear-old girl living with AIDS, each of whom represents a different facet of the experience of being black in America. Each character reacts differently to the emergence of the slave ship, and their responses range from hilarious to harrowing. Beaty’s talent as a performer is the heartbeat of . His voice transcends gender, class, and nationality to tell the stories of his multifarious characters, and his hearty singing raises powerful spoken word poetry, framed within . Beaty’s poems are works of art in themselves, pulsating with energy, frustration, and the beauty of his language. is a very funny play, and Beaty’s sharp wit had the audience laughing throughout. Despite the humor, however, the play explores issues that are anything but lighthearted. In one sequence, a black
man frustrated with racism fantasizes about shooting a slew of white racists outright, and a fatal shooting in a ghetto forms an integral part of the plot. Beaty plays on black stereotypes throughout, alternately subverting and reclaiming them. This approach to issues others might perceive as taboo demonstrates Beaty’s courage and integrity as an artist, and shines a devastating light upon the sheer ugliness of prejudice. But while ’s focus is primarily African American, it is, above all, a play about the human condition, how we persevere in turbulent times and begin to heal after loss. Most importantly, it asks us what freedom is, and shows that we are minds.
By Blake Campbell
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Events Campus Events
Monday, April 1, 2013 – 7:00 p.m. Bright Family Screening Room www.jaclynfriedman.com Screening of , a documentary aimed at shining light on the conditions women face in the military Tuesday, April 2, 2013 – 8:00 p.m. Walker 202 Policy for Survivors: A Panel Discussion on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Wednesday, April 3, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. Tufte 1014 Trojan Women
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Self-Defense Workshop with Girls LEAP SelfDefense Friday, April 5, 2013 – 3:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Paramount Studio 4 ($2 submission and RSVP required; e-mail email@example.com)
Tuesday, April 2, 2013 – 7:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m. Paramount Center Bright Family Screening Room A series of seven short documentaries, Mujeres Women chronicles the lives of women in the city of Medellín, Colombia, looking at the ways in which these women have constructed their city physically, socially, and culturally. For more information, please contact anna_feder@ emerson.edu. This is a free event.
The Vagina Monologues and Original Works Saturday, April 6, 2013 Sunday, April 7, 2013 (Times and location TBA) For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to make a donation, please visit http://www.crowdrise.com/ teamcasamyrna/fundraiser/laurencortizo.
Emerald Empowerment Formerly known as Take Back the Night, this weeklong campaign strives to raise assault and domestic violence both on and off campus. All proceeds go to Emerald Myrna Vazquez, an organization dedicated are as follows: Keynote Speaker: Jaclyn Friedman, author and activist
Games: Special Encore Performance Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – 7:00 p.m. Semel Theater Benny Sato Ambush, a Senior Distinguished Producer in Residence at Emerson, directs this production of George Houston Bass, Jr.’s dynamic performance piece. Through rhyme and child’s play, Games takes us to the often-brutal world of the urban playground, tackling such issues as bullying and peer pressure. This is a free event, and no tickets are required. For more information, contact benny_ambush@ emerson.edu.
Trojan Women April 17-21, 2013 Paramount Center Mainstage The award-winning Anne Bogart directs this production of Jocelyn Clarke’s contemporary adaptation of Euripides’ classic, a devastating vision of Troy’s royal women in the aftermath of the Trojan War. For show times and tickets, visit www.artsemerson.org.
Boston Events Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot on Respect: Witness and Justice Thursday, April 4, 2013 – 6:00 p.m. Museum of African American History 46 Joy St. Boston, MA 02114 Harvard sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot will speak at the Boston Museum of African American History on the African American struggle for liberation, and the connections between respect and equality in regards to race and human relationships. For more information, visit www.maah.org. This is a free event.
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Events and tickets, visit www.thewilburtheatre.com. visit www.friendsjplibrary.org and www. pablomedina.org. This is a free event.
Living Colour Friday, April 5, 2013 – 9:00 p.m. Paradise Rock Club 967 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215 Colour will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their debut album Vivid by playing every song on the record. Living Colour’s music explores issues of race in America.
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Maz Jobrani Friday, April 5, 2013 – 7:30 p.m. Wilbur Theatre 246 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02116 Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani was part of the successful Comedy Central special and comedy tour “Axis of Evil.” A group of comics of Middle Eastern descent, their performance explored the struggles of their people in America through the lens of humor. Now, Jobrani brings his solo standup to the Wilbur Theatre. For more information
firstname.lastname@example.org Published monthly by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion Executive Editors Sylvia Spears Alayne Fiore Editor Blake Campbell Layout/Design Judy Jun Copy Editor Blake Campbell
Contributors Clare Wilson-Pelton Advisory Group Gregory Torrales Jessica Joseph Judy Jun
Send news suggestions and tips to diversity_inclusion @emerson.edu
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Los Pleneros de la 21 Friday, April 5, 2013 – 9:00 p.m. Villa Victoria Center for the Arts 85 W. Newton St. Boston, MA 02118 A music and dance project from the South Bronx, Los Pleneros de la 21 is a dynamic celebration of Puerto Rican culture. For more information and tickets, visit http://www.iba-etc.org. JP Writes & Invites: Pablo Medina Thursday, April 11, 2013 – 6:45 p.m.–7:45 p.m. Boston Public Library – Jamaica Plain Branch 12 Sedgwick St. Boston, MA 02130 Jamaica Plain resident and Emerson College professor of writing Pablo Medina will read from and discuss his work at this event. Medina explores urban life and the Cuban American experience through his
Hugh Masekela Sunday, April 21, 2013 – 7:30 p.m. Berklee Performance Center 136 Massachusetts Ave. Boston, MA 02115 South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela’s work is grounded in the culture and politics of his home country. His music celebrates the glory of South Africa, and also addresses its racial issues. For more information and tickets, visit www. worldmusic.org. Comedy with Wings: An All-Female Comedy Show Sunday, April 21, 2013 – 7:00 p.m. Bella Luna Restaurant & The Milky Way Lounge 284 Amory St. Boston, MA 02130 Incorporating sketch, musical, and stand up comedy, Comedy with Wings is a group of comediennes who tackle everything from military service to motherhood in their routines. For more information and tickets, visit www.comedywithwings.com.
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