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Novelist Mark Slouka Teaching Creative Writing to NYU Prague Students

Like Czech history, Mark Slouka’s life has been accentuated by the number 8.  In 1948, his parents escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia. Ten years later, in 1958, he was born into a “Czech speaking ghetto in Queens, NY.”  The family first returned to Prague on a visit in 1968, and in 2018, Mark and his family made a permanent move to Prague.

NYU Prague has benefitted from this move – Mark has launched a creative writing workshop open to all students and staff.  “I teach how writers read – beginning writers need to learn to read their own work critically,” explains Mark. “And we talk about the use of silence- what is left out of an opening is what brings a reader in.”   

Mark Slouka has published eight books and is currently working on the ninth.  His work treads the line between fiction and nonfiction, often delving into aspects of his family’s Czech history.  His latest book, Nobody’s Son: A Memoir is about his parents’ escape from Czechoslovakia and how their lives were affected by memories of betrayal.   His novel Visible Worlds – based on his mother’s complicated past- was a finalist for the British Book Awards.  His short stories have been selected for the anthologies of Best American Short Stories and the Pen/O’Henry Prize Stories. In June, a Czech translation of  Nobody’s Son will be released.

“One of the reasons I am here is because my books have always been bicultural – they walk the line between languages, culture, histories, between the present and the weight of the past.  

Having spent my life in the States it made sense to connect to that other half of me.  It’s always seeped into my life. I am fascinated by the weight of history on the present.  What city is better for that than Prague?”

Mark’s first language was Czech, and he has had a “lifelong affair with the language, the culture, with palacinky [crepes] and svickova [creamy beef stew].”  Despite the fact that he was born and lived in New York, he remembers hearing English for the first time when he was five and was surprised that the speakers didn’t understand Czech.   

Until now, seven months was the longest time he had spent in Prague – he was here on on sabbatical in 2003 – but he felt like it was inevitable that he would come back.  When he retired from the University of Chicago in 2008, he decided to try to focus more on writing. Moving to Prague seemed to make sense. “I love getting away from the car culture – it’s so isolating.  In Prague, people sit in pubs and talk to one another.”

NYU Prague will host a reading of his work in the beginning of the fall semester.

NYU Sydney Biology Instructor Sean Blamires Discusses His Research Featured in Documentary Film

This post comes to us from NYU Sydney biology instructor Sean Blamires. He also took the photographs. His research was the focus of the film Sixteen Legs.

 

Hickmania troglodytes spider

On Sunday, March 18, the documentary movie Sixteen Legs premiered in Sydney. Earlier in March, New York University students got rare behind the scenes glances at the making of the documentary and a chance to meet the director, Niall Doran.

The movie is an interlinking journey across the Tasmania culminating in rare footage of giant cave spider mating behaviours and is well worth a look. The novelty of the film is its intertwining themes that combine tourism, education, art, natural history, science fiction and fantasy. While an impressive compendium of celebrities, comedians, and scientists appear in the film, the star is unquestionably the cave spider itself, Hickmania troglodytes.

With a leg-span of up to 18 centimetres, Hickmania troglodytes is an intriguing animal on many levels. It has an evolutionary history dating over 100 million years, as such it has outlived the dinosaurs. It has a lifespan of over ten years, which is rare among spiders. Being a troglophile it spends its life in caves but can survive outside if it needs to. H. troglodytes belongs to the Family Austrochilidae. H. troglodytes is found only in Tasmania, while all other extant members reside in Chile. The Austrochilidae is of particular interest to Arachnologists because they are thought to represent the nexus between modern ‘true’, web building, spiders (the ‘Araneomorphs’) and more ancient non-web builders (the ‘Mygalomorphs’). Add to all of this H. troglodytes has a slow but deliberated, complex, and measured copulation behaviour, involving males tapping female’s heads, kinked forelegs, spider bondage, contortionism, and even cannibalism, all over the course of several hours.

A web in a cave under torch light. This distinctly shows the cribellate silks as they appear blue in this light

While this animal’s sexual exploits are undoubtedly impressive, my interest is in its massive horizontal sheet web and the types of silk it uses to construct it. My collaborators (including Niall Doran) and I have examined the main structural silks in H. troglodytes web and found that larger, older, spiders use tougher silks. We presume this is because the web needs to support the larger spider’s mass or that the webs of larger spiders catch bigger prey.

To capture insects in their webs modern spiders can make their capture threads sticky by using a type of silken (aggregate) glue, while more ancient spiders, such as H. troglodytes, secrete bundles of fine silk threads called cribellate silk to entangle prey. Interestingly, cribellar silk is thought lose its adhesion in humid environments. However, the cave environments where H. troglodytes builds their webs often have humidities exceeding 95%. We are therefore investigating how their cribellate silks can withstand moisture and whether water might even enhance their silk’s stickiness.

There are other projects on this spider and in Tasmanian caves in the pipeline, which we are keen pursue. We plan to one day take New York University students on our expeditions.

Reference:

Piorkowski, D., Blamires, S.J., Doran, N., Liao, C.P., Wu, C.L. & Tso, I.M. 2018. Ontogenetic shift towards stronger, tougher silk in a web building cave spider. Journal of Zoology. 304: 81-89.

NYU Paris Hosts Aurélie Samuel, Director of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum

On April 15, NYU Paris will host Aurélie Samuel, Director of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris, for a lecture and Q & A. The event is a wonderful opportunity for students to discover the wealth of the collections held at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and get a better understanding of the various stages of the musealization precess. 

NYU Washington, DC to Host a Student Workshop with Sen. Tim Kaine & Gov. Ralph Northam

On April 24, DC Dialogues and the NYU Washington, DC Global Leadership Scholars cohort will welcome U.S. Senator from the state of Virginia, former Vice Presidential candidate, and proud NYU parent, Tim Kaine along with the Governor of the state of Virginia, Ralph Northam. Sen. Kaine and Gov. Northam will meet with students for a dialogue on American politics. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about their careers as well as current political issues. This DC Dialogues workshop is for students only, and will be facilitated by NYU students.

Tim Kaine has helped people throughout his life as a missionary, civil rights lawyer, teacher and elected official. He is one of 30 people in American history to have served as a Mayor, Governor and United States Senator.

Tim was elected to the Senate in 2012 as a can-do optimist skilled in bringing people together across old lines of party, race or region. In the Senate, he serves on the Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations, and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees. He is Ranking Member of the Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee and the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.

Tim’s Armed Services work focuses on crafting smart defense strategy in a changing world and also enables him to tackle a personal mission – the reduction of unemployment among veterans, especially Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans. His first piece of legislation in the Senate, the Troop Talent Act of 2013, established new standards to help active duty servicemembers attain civilian credentials for military skills to assist their transition into the workforce. In his committee role, Tim has also worked to secure key Virginia priorities in the past three defense bills, including the refueling and overhaul of the Norfolk-based U.S.S. George Washington in the 2015 Authorization and preservation of the U.S. Navy’s 11-aircraft carrier fleet and thousands of jobs across Hampton Roads in the 2016 Authorization.

On Foreign Relations, Tim works to enhance American diplomatic leadership, with a special focus on the Middle East and Latin America. He is a leading voice in efforts to expand the role of Congress on foreign policy and improve the way Congress and the President consult on matters of war, peace, and diplomacy. Tim has introduced bipartisan legislation to revise the War Powers Resolution of 1973 and has pushed Congress to finally vote to authorize the ongoing U.S. military action against ISIL. In addition, Tim coauthored the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, establishing the process for congressional review of the diplomatic effort to block any Iranian nuclear weapons program. He is one of the Senate’s few members fluent in Spanish and serves as honorary chairman of the US-Spain Council.

On the Budget Committee, Tim used his experience making tough budget decisions in local and state office in Virginia to help Congress pass a two-year budget agreement in 2013 to offset the worst impacts of sequestration that had disproportionately impacted the Commonwealth. As a harsh critic of sequestration and an advocate for biennial budgeting, Tim strongly supported the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 for continuing to scale back sequestration cuts and providing for two more years of budgetary certainty.

As a new member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in the 115th Congress, Tim will have the opportunity to focus on two of his longtime passions: health care and education. In this critical time for health care in America, Tim is motivated now more than ever to fight against harmful policy proposals that seek to reverse the progress we’ve made in increasing access to care for millions of Americans. Tim will also use his new role to look for ways to further address the opioid abuse epidemic that affects every corner of the Commonwealth.

Tim is a founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, which focuses on improving access to CTE programs to ensure that students of all ages are prepared with the skills they need for the jobs of the 21st century. Many of his proposals to advance CTE were included in the 2015 re-write of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Tim also supports expanding economic opportunity through infrastructure investment, immigration reform and smart strategies to expand affordable health care access.

In the 114th Congress, Tim introduced many pieces of important legislation for Virginia, including a bill to recognize six Virginia Indian tribes. Inspired by a discussion he had with advocates for sexual assault survivors at the University of Virginia, Tim championed successful legislation to encourage public secondary schools to teach students about how to prevent dating violence and sexual assault. And after numerous discussions with recovering addicts, families, medical professionals, and law enforcement officials about the growing opioid epidemic in Virginia, Tim introduced legislation to increase access to life-saving overdose medication and prevent drug-related deaths.

In the 113th Congress, Tim introduced legislation to preserve the Commonwealth’s historic Civil War battlegrounds, which President Obama signed into law. He also worked to pass bipartisan legislation to expand pediatric cancer research at the National Institutes of Health in honor of Gabriella Miller, a young girl from Leesburg, Virginia who lost her battle with brain cancer in October 2013.

Tim has focused closely on climate change and its effects on Virginia, especially sea level rise and flooding. In 2014, he co-hosted a bipartisan conference that brought together policymakers, experts, and regional stakeholders to discuss strategies to combat the threat that these challenges pose to Hampton Roads.

Tim grew up working in his father’s ironworking shop in Kansas City. He was educated at the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School and started his public service career by taking a year off from Harvard to run a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. After law school, he practiced law in Richmond for 17 years, specializing in the representation of people who had been denied housing due to their race or disability. He also began teaching part-time at the University of Richmond in 1987.

Tim was first elected to office in 1994, serving as a city councilmember and then Mayor of Richmond. He became Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2002 and was inaugurated as Virginia’s 70th Governor in 2006.

Tim is married to Anne Holton, who served as Virginia Secretary of Education from 2014 until 2016. A former legal aid lawyer and juvenile court judge, Anne previously ran Great Expectations, a program for more than 500 foster children attending Virginia community colleges. Tim and Anne revel in the adventures of their three grown children and live in the same Northside Richmond neighborhood where they moved as newlyweds more than 30 years ago. Tim loves reading, being outdoors, and playing harmonica with bluegrass bands throughout Virginia. 

Before he was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ralph Northam served as an Army doctor, pediatric neurologist, business owner, state Senator and Lieutenant Governor.

A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Governor Northam was educated at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), where he graduated with distinction.

After graduation, Governor Northam was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served eight years of active duty and rose to the rank of major.

He attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and then traveled to San Antonio for a pediatric residency, where he met his wife Pamela, a pediatric occupational therapist at the same hospital. Governor Northam did his residencies at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and served as chief neurological resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As an Army doctor, he served in Germany, treating soldiers wounded in Operation Desert Storm.

 

The GRI Writer’s Dissertation Workshop Experience in Paris – A Student Perspective

As part of the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives program, doctoral students in any discipline and in the advanced stages of dissertation writing are eligible to apply to summer intensive dissertation-writing workshops held at the Berlin, London, Paris and Washington, D.C. institutes. Each site hosts an average of six doctoral students for a period of six weeks. Students from all fields and disciplines are welcome to apply to these workshops. Today we are in conversation with Marybec Griffin-Tomas, who participated in the program last summer in Paris. In addition to her academic focus described below, Marybec has also worked at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the areas of HIV/AIDS policy and program design as well as helping to evaluate the quality of sexual health services and contraceptive coverage in NYC.  

Can you tell me about your school affiliation, field, and focus of your dissertation?

 I am a double graduate of NYU’s College of Global Public Health. I will complete my PhD this May in the field of socio-behaviourial health and completed a MPH previously. My research focuses on healthcare access among LGBTQ young adults and my dissertation focuses on health care access among adult gay men aged 18 – 29 in New York City. 

How did you get interested in this topic?

I have had a long-standing interest in sexual health issues. I am a child of the 80s and I watched the HIV epidemic unfold on television at an impressionable age, my interests are now focused on healthcare access among LGBTQ young people. With the HIV epidemic in the 1980s, we witnessed people being denied access to basic health services because of stigma and discrimination based on identity. Seeing people being categorically denied care because of who they were or who they had sex with expanded my research interests out to the broader questions of access for the LGBTQ community and contraceptive access.

How did you hear about the GRI Dissertation Writer’s Program and why did you decide to apply?

I first heard about the Dissertation Writer’s Program through promotional emails a few years before I was eligible to apply. So I always had the idea in the back of my mind that I would do it the summer between my third and fourth years.

I found the program appealing because of the opportunity it provided to simply be away and have protected time just to write. In the hustle of my daily life – with work, research hours, teaching, etc. – finding time to work on my dissertation was challenging. The idea of being away from it all – from my personal life, work, school commitments – was attractive. I was also drawn to the community aspect of the program. I welcomed the opportunity to meet new people going through the same process I was and at the same stage, trying to finish their dissertations, but in different disciplines. I also liked the idea of being able to get regular feedback on my writing and being held accountable for making progress.

What was your experience with the GRI Dissertation Writer’s Program?

My experience was really positive and productive. It was a comprehensively structured program and a very supportive environment. I made deep and quick friendships, even with students from very different disciplines. For example, my office mate is pursuing a PhD in musicology and focusing on feminist representation in popular music. Although we share some common interests, our academic pursuits are not at all related. We would nonetheless often bounce ideas around together or, if one of us was stuck, take moments together to relax or recharge.

The leader of the Paris GRI program, Phillip Usher, is simply an amazing person and was a wonderful resource for us all. His research is in French culture, so his support was not discipline-focused. He really helped us to settle into the disciplined practice of writing – setting a schedule, developing a routine, and just getting the writing done.

Phillip also held special one-hour work groups in addition to the scheduled ones. These were focused on topics of interest to the students, such as getting an academic job. He provided advice on my cv, my cover letter, and the application process. Without his support and insights, I would not have started looking when I did and not be where I am now. He was really responsive to student needs and I appreciated that.

I had written two chapters of my dissertation before going to Paris and wrote the last three chapters while there. With this protected time to write and the resources of through the program, I not only became a better writer and finished my dissertation, but also received amazing career support that I could not have gotten elsewhere.

I understand that you were in Paris. Why did you choose to be there?

The first reason is technical. I speak enough French that I knew I knew I could get by, but I also did not know anyone in Paris. So it would be isolating but familiar. If I had gone to DC, I would not have been able to isolate myself because I have friends there and it is too close to NY. I worried that could be distracted as an English speaker in London. And that without German, I would get lost in Berlin.

The second reason is more romantic. I feel that Paris is where my soul lives. I am my happiest and at my best there. 

Was there anything particularly beneficial about being abroad? 

I was able to be productive. I was away from everybody, my family, friends, and regular life, so I could really focus. The six-hour time difference with New York was unexpectedly helpful. By the time NY was waking up and I started receiving text messages from my mother, it was my afternoon and I had already put in a solid morning of work. I’d usually take an afternoon break to catch up with my life at home as people started to come online and then get back to work. In addition to being physically away, the time difference created sense of isolation that was useful.

This time really allowed me to say “no” to my life for six weeks. As a PhD student, this is also probably the last time I’ll have the opportunity to do something like this as I am coming to the end of my studies. So that was also quite special.

Did your time in Paris influence your work in any unexpected ways?

Well, I am now also looking into jobs in Paris. I also started reading some of the French literature in my field, specifically related to sexual health preventative care. I now have new research ideas to look at these issues with a cross-cultural or comparative perspective. For example, I am curious to explore how the different health insurance systems in the United States and France influence sexual health preventative care. In the US, the system of self-secured or employer-based health insurance and the possibility of being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions creates disincentives for preventative sexual health care, like STD testing. In France, with universal health care, there are not the same pressures.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?

The NYU Paris staff really cares about the students. They are incredible. I cannot speak highly enough of them. The support for students was amazing. 

I would also add that I grew tremendously as a person through this experience. My father passed away in March 2017 just a few months before I did the GRI Dissertation Writer’s Program. In a way, it was good for me to be there alone and to process the complicated emotions of grief. The other GRI participants and the NYU Paris community were also tremendously supportive. Between that and the protected time to write, I grew. I became more confident in my writing and in my skills as an academic. I returned to NY with more confidence and pride in my work and able to engage with my mentors more as an equal. The program changed me a lot.

NYU Madrid Professors and Filmmakers Premiere New Documentary

NYU Madrid Professors and Emmy-winning filmmakers Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo have just premiered their new documentary film, The Silence of Others at the 68th edition of the Berlinale. The film has won two prestigious awards: the Berlinale Panorama Documentary Audience Award and the Berlinale Peace Film Prize. 

The film, The Silence of Others, reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day. Filmed over six years, the film follows victims and survivors as they organize the groundbreaking “Argentine Lawsuit” and fight a state-imposed amnesia of crimes against humanity, in a country still divided four decades into democracy.

NYU Florence Hosts Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando – Encounter the Black in the Mediterranean Blue

On 12 April, NYU Florence will host Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando for an event entitled Encounter the Black in the Mediterranean Blue. Moderated by Alessandra di Maio of the University of Palermo, the program begins at 18:00. 

Sicily lies at the center of the Mediterranean, where Europe meets Africa. Starting in June, Palermo, the capital city of Sicily, will celebrate the richness of the Black Mediterranean, hosting a series of artistic and cultural events that reflect the diversity and dynamism of the African diaspora. Leoluca Orlando and Wole Soyinka will discuss how they are making this happen.

The History of Black Image in Cinema: An Evening with Alrick Brown at NYU Sydney

Article by Mark Eels of NYU Sydney. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Consulate General Sydney

‘This conversation can be honest. Open and honest always makes for uncomfortable discourse, but as Martin Luther King once said, It’s friction that helps us to grow, without that intellectual and emotional friction inside of us nothing changes.’ And with that NYU Tisch professor Alrick Brown set about delivering a truncated version of what is typically already a packed fourteen week course for eager film students. The topic- ‘Black Image & Film: A Brief History”.

Alrick conceded that it was always going to be ‘A Herculean task to talk about the history of Black cinema in 40 minutes or less… There are too many pieces, too many nuances and moving parts for one guy’s perspective’. But for the viewer, Professor Brown was equal to the task.

The event, which coincided with NYU Black History Month, attracted a large audience of students, members of the Benjamin Franklin Club, the U.S Consulate and the broader public. It was also streamed live on the NYU Sydney Facebook page.

At the core of the presentation was the theme of the power of images and how representation in its many forms can be problematic. ‘Racist, stereotypical images are present, even in the earliest films. So as soon as the technology was born people are misrepresented’.

Alrick acted as a steward, navigating the audience through the evolution of the involvement, themes and representation of black people in cinema, especially from a Hollywood perspective. He set the scene with a basic but powerful thought, ‘A lack of representation is problematic; I want you to think about what it means for cultures that don’t see themselves at all on screen. Or should they see themselves, what if the image is not positive? These images shape how we see the world. It’s a conversation of representation and we don’t have it enough’.

Brown interlaced a pertinent mix of supplementary clips, along with a continual return to content from ‘Classified X’, a film created from one of his mentors, Melvin Van Peebles. Some content was so blatant in its racism that it risked making the audience uncomfortable at times, echoing his initial remarks on the importance of friction. But Alrick pushed the audience to confront their own feelings and interpretations, ‘Should I be angry, or as a director and story teller do I try to understand where people’s’ ignorance and prejudice comes from?’

The lecture was successful in traversing between periods with sufficient salient examples and room for discussion. Behind these movements, he explained lay ‘A kind of intersection of art, technology but also the time we are living in’.

The presentation seamlessly moved from discussion of the birth of love for cinema to the current social climate. All starting with those moments where people realised  a ‘Complete enamour with moving images’, how, ‘cutting two images together changed us forever, cutting back and forth between something like a woman and a fire to create suspense’.

And so, said Alrick, in 1903 you have these innovations but you also have a very racist society. Giving birth to one of the first ever blockbusters, ‘Birth of a Nation’, originally titled, ‘The Clansman’.

Alrick moved on to the interwar period, noting a shortage of new black filmmakers trying to create a space and have a voice. But alas, as he points out heroes inevitably were lighter skinned. And so, as his mentor Melvin Van Peebles argues, ‘The so called golden era of independent black film is a myth… The real history has been one of struggle… sacrifices to bring a few precious moments of black humanity to the silver screen… All that wonderful talent wasted’. ‘The only ray of hope was Sam. You remember the piano player in Casablanca? It was the first time I’d seen a black actor go through an entire film without having to kiss ass.’

It was clips like these that elucidated the often neglected or forgotten stereotypes enforced by the hands of Hollywood. Films an audience member like myself might have seen many times, on their own less obvious in their representation, but strung together and seen as a collection, stark in racism.

Moving to the post war period Brown introduced the new black character, one more multidimensional in nature. Why, he asks? ‘Black people are consumers, so Hollywood caught on. There was a need for a token character or a sidekick to open the market’. Behind this, though he argues always rested the sympathetic white character, ‘Even after these adjustments there were always rules’.

Brown then showed a clip from ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’, Hollywood’s push to a more ‘liberal’ lense through interracial relations. ‘The problem though is that if you understand Sidney Poitier’s character in the film, he had just won a Nobel Prize, but the white girl did nothing. But according to the meter in Hollywood they were evenly matched. She was white.’

Alrick then moved on to the realisation of the Black power movement in the 1960s and the acceptance of the need to ‘let people in’. And so, he stated, Hollywood had to let people in, a select few tasked with making movies, directors such as Ossie, Melvin, Gordon, all given budgets. From this stemmed the ‘Blacksploitation’ movement, which was good for employment at the time but there was still an imbalance in roles. Eventually scripts got weaker and it all began to taper out.

The irony, he noted, is that ‘There’s something happening where some of the success that the people are experiencing is a direct result of the lack of success in the criminal justice system’.  And with this came the post 1975 movement and the glorification of drugs and their agents of circulation.

And so, in circular fashion we arrived  back to Professor Brown’s central theme for the evening ‘No representation- some representation – distorted representation’.

So where does Alrick leave us, after some confrontational material and realisations? A combination of personal anecdote, his first short film project ‘Familiar Fruits’ and a message of the importance of not shying away from what he calls friction.  

He explained his pathway to NYU Tisch School of the Arts, via immigrating from Jamaica to New Jersey, living in the crack epidemic of the 1980s, watching footage from the likes of Spike Lee and John Singleton.

‘I was watching them from a distance, I would run home and watch TV, that was my protection, that’s how I escaped’. ‘Some teachers saw something in me and encouraged me to write. I started understanding my world a little bit. Writing was the one place I felt at home. I often say to my students it’s the great equaliser. No matter how much a movie costs, paper and pencil is still free. And you can put pen to paper and you can create just about anything. ‘

Closing his presentation he revealed the moment he realised his passion for film. Walking in Ghana between two villages beginning to doubt his arrival at his destination. ‘I started to write a message to my mother and brother… If I would live what would that one thing be to make my life meaningful? It was film. Everything became clear in that moment’.

And so he applied to film school. That year he was one of 36 accepted from a pool of applicants 1000 strong. The title of his application essay? ‘Death on Graduation Day’. ‘If I die after studying film for three years, I’d be OK. I would have done something I loved.’

Some years have passed since Professor Brown’s graduation. And for NYU Sydney students and those in attendance this was certainly something to celebrate.

NYU Prague Hosts Symposium on Migration and Populism

On April 5, 2018, NYU Prague is hosting a symposium on Population and Migration. Organized by NYU Prague, NYU’s Prague Institute for Democracy, Economy, and Culture and Forum 2000, the event will feature a panel discussion exploring how over the last few years, the phenomenon of migration has moved from a humanitarian domain into a public discourse and has become a powerful instrument for today’s populists and nationalists. The panel will consider the roots of this trend and why is there so much fear and hostility towards migrants and refugees particularly in Central European countries. Petr Mucha, professor of history and religious studies at NYU Prague, put together the program. The panelists come from diverse fields (media, sociology, political sciences, theology) and will discuss these themes from different perspectives. The focus of the discussion will be the Central European region and the phenomenon of fear which serves as a seed for hatred and extremist tendencies.  In her keynote speech, Professor Regina Polak from University of Vienna will talk about ethical issues of migration, about the impact of the fear as well as about the revival of stereotypes (nationalism, Shoa, and World War II). 
 
The Western perspective on migration and refugees was historically formed by Christian morals and modern concept of human rights. Eventually, in the aftermath of World War II, it found its expression in the Refugee Convention. Over the last few years, nevertheless, the phenomenon of migration has moved from the humanitarian domain into a public discourse and became a powerful tool of political campaigns. Moreover, it fuels a new wave of populism, nationalism, and racism in many western countries, including those, which have been considered resistant to these trends.
 
The panel discussion will consider pressing questions, including:
  • Why has migration theme become such a powerful instrument for today´s populists and nationalists?
  • Does this represent a new trend or is it rather a revival of similar stereotypes from the 20th century?
  • What should be an appropriate response of democratic societies?
  • How does this situation vary in different European countries and in the United States?
  • Why is there so much fear and hostility towards migrants and refugees in the Central European countries which are not typical targets of migration? 

Panelists:

Regina Polak, University of Vienna

Tomáš Lindner, Respekt

Martina Mašková, Czech Radio

Salim Murad, New York University Prague

Moderator: 

Jiří Pehe, Director of New York University Prague

NYU Florence Opens The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) Exhibition

Torino, Esposizione Elettronica, 1968
Sistema multivisione Olivetti progettato da Ettore Sottsass

The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979) exhibition curated by Caterina Toschi and produced by Ellyn Toscano, New York University Florence, opened on March 14, 2018  at 6:00 p.m. at Villa Sassetti, Florence.

The opening was preceded by a rountable discussion at 4:30 p.m. on Olivetti’s visual culture, experimental identity and corporate image between the 1950s and 1980s, and its legacy.

Caterina Toschi’s The Olivetti Idiom (1952-1979), published by Quodlibet both in Italian and English editions, will be presented at the opening. The exhibition will remain on display until May 5, 2018.

The exhibition seeks to reconstruct through photographs and documents the history of the Olivetti image from 1952 to 1979, examining three places where Olivetti products were displayed (exhibitions, stores and the school), in which narrative forms – oral, written, and visual – of the Olivetti identity were progressively developed.

Curated by Caterina Toschi and produced by Ellyn Toscano for New York University. Installation by Cosimo Vardaro. The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the contribution of the archival materials held by the Associazione Archivio Storico Olivetti (AASO) in Ivrea.