• National Book Award Winner Colum McCann

    December 16, 2009 | Book Beat, Newsmakers

    “I’m bursting with joy and pride — and a certain amount of terror, to be honest,” said Colum McCann on winning the 2009 National Book Award for fiction, now in its 60th year. “But one must go on to the next book, and that, sometimes, is the more difficult.” McCann’s bold novel, “Let the Great World Spin,” which uses Philippe Petit’s famous high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974 as a prism to examine the story’s main characters, took home the top prize on Nov. 18. Author of two short-story collections and five previous novels including bestsellers “Dancer” and “Zoli,” McCann has taught in Hunter College’s MFA Creative Writing program for nearly five years. At his office, he discussed his teaching approach and how his love for American literature began early in Ireland. “My father was a literary editor for a newspaper in Dublin and he would come home with books by Steinbeck and Faulkner. I remember holding them in my hands.”
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  • Great Issues Forum: Exploring Religion

    December 15, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, Graduate Center

    From the earliest hunter-gatherer societies, religion has played a crucial role in shaping cultural beliefs. Today, as empirical proofs and scientific reason compete with theological ideas, scholars of science and religion still maintain that religion has not lost its relevance. As part of the Great Issues Forum to Explore Religion series at the Graduate Center, experts discuss the continued importance of religious studies, given the prevalence of religions today. “We need to get clear about how religions are designed and what makes them tick,” said cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University.”These are important questions and we should study them so that we can make good decisions.”
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  • Unemployment Tops 10% – Now What?

    December 15, 2009 | Baruch College, CUNY Lecture Series

    As financial forecasters try to predict the beginning of the end of the longest recession since the Great Depression, New York City’s unemployment rate joined the rest of the country’s in hitting the 10% mark. In a panel discussion entitled “Unemployment Tops 10%: Where Can We Turn?” at Baruch College, moderated by Sarah Bartlett, director of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s urban and business journalism programs, four economic experts addressed the latest jobs report and which economic indicators offer hope of a recovery in the near future. “We do see a number of signs on the horizon that indicate things are going to get better,” said Robert Lieber, New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development, “and we are hopeful that the resilience of the New York City economy will help us as we come out of this economic downturn.”
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  • All That Jazz

    December 8, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, Graduate Center

    Veteran jazz critic and Graduate Center faculty member Gary Giddins, whose book “Visions of Jazz: The First Century” won the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award, has a lot more to say on the subject. His latest work, “Jazz,” written in collaboration with Scott DeVeaux, author of “The Birth of Bebop,” is “much more straightforward,” said Giddins. “The animating motive for me was the idea of sharing what we knew on a basic level with people who say, ‘I like jazz but I don’t really get it.’ ” Graduate Center President William P. Kelly hosted Giddins, who has recently interviewed jazz luminaries Sonny Rollins, Jason Moran and Cassandra Wilson.
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  • A Passion for Latino Culture

    December 8, 2009 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

    Where you come from often has no relation to where you end up. “Falling in love with a culture has very little to do with antecedents or heritage,” according to Lori Carlson, who grew up in rural New York with Swedish and Italian parents. After earning a master’s degree in Hispanic literature from Indiana University, Carlson moved to New York and published her first book, “Cool Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Growing Up Latino in the United States,” in 1995. Since then Carlson has written, edited, and translated 16 books, all with Latin American themes. “Somebody from outside the culture can be just as passionate as someone within it,” said Carlson at a Book Talk lecture sponsored by City College’s Center for Worker Education.
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  • Death and Life in New York Harbor

    December 7, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, Queens College

    The restoration of the ecology of the Hudson River estuary is perhaps the greatest accomplishment of The Clean Water Act of 1972, which required America’s cities to build hundreds of water treatment plants, according to Queens College biology professor John Waldman. “I consider it one of the most important pieces of legislation ever enacted in the country,” he said. In “Life in New York Harbor: Death and Resurrection,” a special presentation for the Science Cafe series, Prof. Waldman explores the river’s long history — from its pristine beginnings through years of industrial waste contamination, to its current rejuvenation.
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  • An Evening with Playwright Thomas Bradshaw

    December 4, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, Graduate Center

    In his breakthrough play “Prophet” (2005), Thomas Bradshaw captivated theatergoers with what The New York Times described as his “lacerating satire.” Since then, his politically incorrect plots and provocative themes have earned Bradshaw, an assistant professor of mass communications at Medgar Evers College, a devoted Off-Off-Broadway audience and a 2009 Guggenheim fellowship. In a conversation at the Graduate Center with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, member of the Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab, Prof. Bradshaw discussed his latest drama, “The Bereavement,” and his vision of original productions. “I don’t go to the theater to see my everyday life mirrored back at me,” Bradshaw said. “That’s what psychological realism seeks to do, and I reject that idea.”
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  • Symphony of Support

    December 2, 2009 | Graduate Center, Newsmakers

    Listening to fellow student musicians as they struggled with realities of New York life, Xheni Rroji thought of a way to help. In 2008, Rroji, who is studying for her doctorate in piano performance at the CUNY Graduate Center, founded the Ossia Symphony Orchestra, a not-for-profit based at the Graduate Center that provides support for students and professional musicians through scholarships and income opportunities. “It was so sad to see musicians who, after spending their lives studying and performing, changed careers because they couldn’t pay their bills,” said Albania-born Rroji, who moved from Paris in 1998 to study music in New York. She discusses Ossia’s mission, its goal of bringing classical music to George Washington High School on the Upper West Side and its plans to work with other schools in the city.
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  • Chancellor’s Report to the Board of Trustees

    November 24, 2009 | The Chancellor's Report

    Chairperson of the Board of Trustees Benno Schmidt and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s statement on the passing of Vice Chancellor Ernesto Malave. Plus Chancellor Goldstein details the recent deconstruction of Fiterman Hall and the planned groundbreaking of a new building on December 1, future growth despite difficult economic times, CUNY’s approval for accreditation for a school of public health and the planning of a community college for health professionals.
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  • In Tribute: Natalia Estemirova

    November 24, 2009 | CUNY Lecture Series, Graduate Center

    On July 15, 2009 Natalia Estemirova, human rights activist and prize-winning journalist, was abducted near her Chechen home and brutally murdered. At the time, according to the BBC, she had been investigating hundreds of cases of alleged kidnapping, torture and killings by the Chechen militia. In “Bearing Witness in Chechnya: The Legacy of Natalia Estemirova,” an event co-sponsored by PEN American Center, Human Rights Watch and the CUNY School of Journalism among others, and held at the CUNY Graduate Center, authors, journalists and educators gathered to honor her life. “She could not watch people suffer, and she felt it was her obligation to do something … even if she knew she was doing something risky,” said Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, participating along with former PEN President Salman Rushdie; Michael Arena, associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a former investigative reporter for Newsday, and Russian journalist Elena Milashina.
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