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Fact vs Fiction .

The beam of a flashlight plays across a warehouse floor, finally coming to rest on a body, awkwardly twisted. The investigator squats down, sweeps his light, then a gloved finger over the singed fibers where a bullet left the body. “Dead before he hit the ground,” he says. “Ever notice they do that in the dark?” asks Dr. Hugh Berryman. “Apparently, they don’t know how to turn the lights on when they investigate a crime scene.” Having investigated plenty of crime scenes during the past 30 years or so, Berryman gets a kick out of dramatic representations of what he does for a living, though he says he almost never watches them. That’s a bold statement, given that you can’t pass a television nowadays without running across a police procedural. In the 1970s, Americans loved Quincy, starring Jack Klugman as crusading medical examiner, but the nation really caught forensics fever in 2000, with the premiere of CSI (now ubiquitous through spinoffs, copycats, and the combination of syndication and hundreds of cable channels). To their credit, most crime shows do seek input from forensic experts. (Years ago, Berryman was asked to be a consultant for both CSI: Miami and the crime drama Crossing Jordan. “When CSI called, I said, ‘You know, I never watch your show.’ They never called me back.”)


The wild popularity of crime shows hasn’t changed forensics, Reichs says, but it has changed popular perception of the field, with mixed results. “People have a better idea of what we do,” she says. “I don’t think anyone had heard of forensic anthropology 15 years ago. And I think they have an unrealistic expectation of what science can do, but it’s good that the public does have a better understanding of what a powerful tool it can be.” That’s a point driven home regularly in the news, as cutting-edge DNA analysis, taught at MTSU as part of its new forensic science major, is now helping exonerate prisoners who have spent decades behind bars—sometimes on death row—for crimes they did not commit.  MTSU

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According to Bray, Williams’s drama has a universal quality that transcends Southern literature or even American literature. “Several years ago, I taught his work at a university in Rio de Janeiro while I was there on a Fulbright scholarship, and the students loved it. His drama often deals with affairs of the heart and family dysfunction, and who can’t relate to those themes?” he says. One of Bray’s greatest pleasures is discovering and publishing previously

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Internationally renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Kathy Reichs, who visited MTSU last April as part of Berryman’s Legends in Forensic Science series, is uniquely positioned in both the real and fictitious worlds of forensic science. Her series of novels about forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan inspired the hit TV series Bones, which Reichs produces. While there’s sound science behind her show, she says, some parts of a forensic scientist’s job simply don’t lend themselves to dramatization—like the prolonged tedium of reconstructing a shattered skull fragment by fragment.

unpublished plays and stories, such as the one-act version of Streetcar called Interior: Panic he located in the archives of the University of Texas. Visiting the Harvard theatre archives, he found and published the last short story Williams wrote, The Negative, which was published in the TW Annual Review. The public, it seems, can’t get enough of Tennessee Williams. In the past year, Dr. Bray has been quoted in Smithsonian magazine, U.S. News and

World Report, the New York Times, and other newspapers. He made a DVD with Criterion Films on Williams’s movie adaptations and has done a podcast from the Young Vic Theatre in London on questions surrounding The Glass Menagerie. “It’s a busy time to be a Williams specialist,” Dr. Bray says. Editor’s Note: Find the Tennessee Williams Annual Review at MTSU

MTSU Magazine April 2011  

MTSU Magazine is the premier print publication for Middle Tennessee State University. Published by the Office of Marketing and Communication...

MTSU Magazine April 2011  

MTSU Magazine is the premier print publication for Middle Tennessee State University. Published by the Office of Marketing and Communication...