News & Activities
In addition to our course offerings, the Liberal Arts department hosts special performances and creates publications showcasing students' work from Liberal Arts classes, as well as guest lecturers. Our ongoing events and activities include the Creative Arts Festival, Courses in Collaboration, and academic journal Hear Here!
Iris Fanger, historian, theatre, and dance critic, visited Jill Gatlin's Wilderness to Wasteland class on March 12, 2013 to discuss Martha Graham/Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring and American dance.
Oni Buchanan & Jon Woodward visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry class on February 21, 2013.
Poet and ecologist Andrew Schelling visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry on April 24, 2012. His lecture about his ecopoetry and his translations of Buddhist poetry and Sanskrit stimulated and engaged students: "I left the class feeling like more of an artist than ever before," one student said. Schelling's visit complemented students other studies, as well: "I have been taking Gretchen Breese's Buddhist Philosophy class this semester so all of [Schelling's] thoughts on Buddhism and how it relates to poetry were really interesting to me," another student commented. Schelling's presence made a big impact on the classroom, as one student describes: "His whole life has been centered around exploration of many things such as language, history, religion, etc. It was so interesting to listen to him read his own poetry...When Andrew read, it was almost as if he was completing the other half of the words on the page."
Poet Brenda Ijima also visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry on April 16. Ijima has edited an anthology of ecopoetry, the ecolanguage reader, and concentrated on that work as well as reading her own poetry in her appearance at NEC. She is writing an informal encyclopedia on animals used as surrogates by humans. Ijima is also the editor of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs and a visual artist as well as a poet. Her books of poems include Around Sea; Animate, Inanimate Aims; revv.you’ll—ution; and If Not Metamorphic.
Super Tuesday! The Presidential Election
Guest speaker Professor William Mayer discussed this year’s Super Tuesday primaries, the role they might play in the Republican nomination, and the issues they raise for the up-coming presidential election in March 2012. William Mayer, Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University, has written and lectured on the politics of presidential elections for almost three decades. In such works as In Pursuit of the White House, The Swing Voter, and The Making of Presidential Candidates, Professor Mayer has explored the new, entrepreneurial campaigns emerging out of the protest politics of the 1960s, as well as the expanding role of money and celebrity in the modern presidential election cycle. Professor Mayer spoke in collaboration with James Klein's Liberal Arts Elective, The Presidential Campaign: Party Politics in the 21st Century. Read an article about this lecture in The Penguin's March 2012 issue.
Claudius Conrad, a part of the Music in Medicine research group at Massachusetts General Hospital, gave a presentation to Jean Chandler's Owner's Manual to the Brain class on December 13, 2011 in Pierce Hall. He spoke about his research on the impact of music on patients during surgery. (Read about Conrad's work in this article from The New York Times.) Poet Elizabeth Willis previously visited Ruth Lepson's Poetry Workshop class on October 20, and theater director Judy Braha visited Patrick Keppel's Origins of Drama class on October 27 to speak about a play she directed at Boston University, Intimate Apparel.
Several exciting guest lecturers appear in Liberal Arts classrooms every year (watch for announcements in Upcoming Events).
Hear Here! Liberal Arts Journal Publication
On April 23rd, 2013, the department held a special event celebrating the publication of NEC's fourth annual academic journal published by the Liberal Arts Department. President Tony Woodcock spoke and presented the Liberal Arts Writing Award to Julia Dombek and Mattia Maurée. Hear Here! is a journal edited of exemplary essays, fiction, and poetry written by students at NEC in Liberal Arts electives and outside of their academic work. They are selected and edited by an editorial board comprised of faculty members and students. Take a look at it (and previous issues) here.
Oni Buchanan & Jon Woodward visit the Poetry Workshop
Oni Buchanan & Jon Woodward visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary Poetry class on Thursday, February 21, 2013.
Course Fair Fall 2012
The annual Liberal Arts Course Fair was held on October 23, 2012 in Pierce Hall and what an amazing turn out we had! The Fair is a great opportunity for faculty and students to come together in a casual setting to discuss electives being offered. One highlight of the Spring 2013 course catalog is a new Science & Mathematics course being offered: Natural Disasters and Catastrophes, being taught by Jennifer Cole, Director of the Environmental Studies program at Northeastern University.
Liberal Arts Drama Workshop Performs Pains of Youth by Ferdinand Bruckner
Originally written as a warning about the confused and purposeless generation being created in Germany between the wars, Pains of Youth has seen a revival in recent years, receiving many productions in Europe, the US, and Canada. The NEC production was performed workshop style, with each role played by multiple actors from the Drama Workshop, a Liberal Arts elective taught by Patrick Keppel. The actors in this year’s Workshop were: Josh Azenberg, Jeremiah Barcus, Samantha Bennett, Tommy Boynton, Wesley Chu, Stephanie Economou, Jean Huang, Neal Markowski, Paige McGrath, Abby Miller, Julia Partyka, Zach Preucil, Rachel Taft, and Joanna Wiebe. The play featured original music by Stephanie Economou and Neal Markowski.
Hear Here! Liberal Arts Journal Publication
President Tony Woodcock presents student Colby Parker with the Liberal Arts Writing Award for his essay in Hear Here!On April 24th, 2012 in the Keller Room, the department held a special event celebrating the publication of NEC's third annual academic journal published by the Liberal Arts Department. Hear Here! is a journal edited of exemplary essays, fiction, and poetry written by students at NEC in Liberal Arts electives and outside of their academic work. They are selected and edited by an editorial board comprised of faculty members and students. Keep an eye out for a detailed report of this event in the upcoming May issue of The Penguin. This year's journal is now available on the Hear Here! website.
Creative Arts Festival 2011
NEC students presented the Creative Arts Festival on Thursday, December 15, 2011. This annual poetry reading and visual art installation event was presented at an outside venue: favorite neighborhood hangout Espresso Royale Caffe (ERC). The event coincided with the printing of the annual NEC poetry chapbook, For Now (stop by the Liberal Arts office at St Botolph 215 to check out the chapbook).
Throughout the fall semester, NEC’s Poet-in-Residence Ruth Lepson guided students through the process of writing and reading original poetry in her Poetry Workshop—a Liberal Arts elective offered every year and open to all undergraduates. The Festival and the chapbook were the culmination of students’ explorations from the workshop, and offered a glimpse of a group of diverse poetic voices.
Poets read their own works and works by their classmates, including poems penned by Issey Ackerman, Talya Buckbinder, Charles Burchell, Christian Contreras, Alina Czekala, Mia Friedman, Dara Hankins, Andrew Hock, Cale Israel, Sam Lisabeth, Jeremy Marx, Kimberly Mayo, Akenya Seymour, Rachel Taft, and Nash Tomey. Students also created multiple musical settings of poems by Andrew Hock, Nash Tomey and Mia Friedman. Recordings and live performances were interspersed through the evening, including pieces for voice and keyboard and pre-recorded electronic pieces.
Work by students in Artist-in-Residence Robin Dash’s Freshman Seminar and Liberal Arts elective Interarts (also offered every fall semester) were also featured. Visual artworks ranging from watercolor to collage were hung in ERC behind the poets as they read, and select artworks—primarily text-based drawings and collages—are also reproduced in the chapbook alongside the poetry.
Watch a video about the anuual Creative Arts Festival and view photos of past festivals on our Flickr page.
Course Fair Fall 2011
The Liberal Arts department welcomed first year and returning students to its annual Course Fair on October 13, 2011 in Pierce Hall. The Course Fair is a great opportunity for students to chat informally with professors about upcoming spring courses and to let the faculty know about course topics and events they would like to see from the department in the future.
One highlight of the spring 2012 catalog is that Ruth Lepson’s Contemporary American Poetry class will be offered in conjunction with Jill Gatlin’s new course, BioCultures: Nature, Gender, and Sexuality. Jill’s course will examine three recent trends in Cultural Studies: Green Cultural Studies, Gender Theory, and Queer Theory. These fields investigate what is “natural” and what is socially constructed about nature, gender, and sexuality. In addition to asking what nature, gender, and sexuality are, the course will explore what they mean in contemporary culture. How do our understandings of these terms affect our interactions with human and nonhuman others; our social structures and ecological values; and our sense of identity, performance of identity, and self-expression? What does it mean to live in an era of ecological crisis, gender-bending, and polarized public discourse on sexuality? What are the implications of the ways we represent nature, gender, and sexuality in the arts and popular culture?
Meanwhile, Ruth’s Contemporary American Poetry course will examine how such questions are treated in contemporary ecopoetry, innovative women’s poetry, and queer poetry. Students will be encouraged, but not required, to take both courses, and those enrolled in both will have a joint final project option. The two classes will also take a field trip to Gloucester, MA, to meet with people who knew the influential innovative poet Charles Olson, who wrote the epic The Maximus Poems, one of the first poems with an awareness of the landscape and a very specific sense of place.
Hear Here! Spring 2011
On April 26 in Pierce Hall, Liberal Arts celebrated the publication of our second annual edition of Hear Here!, NEC’s academic journal featuring essays and creative writing by NEC students. Professors Patrick Keppel and Jill Gatlin spoke, students read selections from the journal and the Poetry Chapbook, and special guest President Tony Woodcock spoke and presented the first NEC Writing Award and Poetry Award.
Creative Arts Festival 2010
Liberal Arts Creative Arts Festivals celebrate the impressive work NEC students do in our Drama, Poetry, and Creative Writing Workshops and in the Visual Arts and Sculpture Studios. (Watch a video about the event here, and view photos of past festivals on our Flickr page.)
The fall 2010 Liberal Arts Creative Arts Festival featured two days of presentations by students in Patrick Keppel’s Drama Workshop, Ruth Lepson’s Poetry Workshop, and Robin Dash’s Interarts. On December 15th, drama students presented an evening of staged scenes from Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams, and on December 16th poetry students read original poetry and presented musical settings of poetry written by fellow students. Students from Interarts created an art installation in the performance space using quotations from the poems being read.
Abreu Fellows visit "Diversity & Difference" class
The fellows described some of the philosophies and methods behind El Sistema and how they are putting these into practice as Abreu fellows at NEC. Leading a discussion on how social work can be achieved through musical organizations and music education, they prompted the seminar students to consider what social issues are of the greatest importance to them and how they might think about connecting those issues to their careers as musicians.
David Amram's visit to the Poetry Workshop
Composer, conductor, improviser, and writer David Amram visited Ruth Lepson's Poetry Workshop as part of his residency at NEC on November 2, 2010. Amram, who in the 1950’s collaborated with legendary beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, spoke to the Workshop about his approach to improvising music to poetry and about the aesthetic validity of combining the arts. Amram then improvised music to several students' readings of their own poetry, solo and in collaboration with other students. The class ended with a group improvisation.
Course Fair Fall 2010
At the annual Liberal Arts Course Fair held October 14, 2010 in Pierce Hall, about 50 students came by to browse the new Liberal Arts catalogue and to discuss spring 2011 course offerings with Liberal Arts faculty members over pizza and fresh picked Vermont apples.
The Course Fair also provided an occasion to introduce students to Professor Joseph Hoffmann, who will teach Human Nature and Philosophy of Religion at NEC this spring.