Faculty in the News: Nov. 2, 2010

Rita Kirk's debate-meter for monitoring real-time reactions to political debatesRita Kirk and Dan Schill, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Meadows School of the Arts, provided expertise in measuring real-time reactions to political debate for NBC 10 News in Providence, Rhode Island. A story on their work aired Oct. 28, 2010. Watch the NBC 10 video. video

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about the effect Tea Party candidates will have on Washington and the Republican Party with Postmedia News Oct. 30, 2010. The article appeared in outlets including The Ottawa Citizen. He also discussed the importance of a no-tax-increases promise to Rick Perry’s race for Texas governor in The Wall Street Journal Oct. 27, 2010.

Matt Wilson, Political Science, Dedman College, discussed the possibility of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. running for president with The Deseret News of Salt Lake City Oct. 28, 2010.

Rick Worland, Cinema-Television, Meadows School of the Arts, talked about vampires in pop culture with host Krys Boyd on KERA Radio’s “Think” Oct. 28, 2010. Download or listen to a podcast. audio

Al Niemi, Dean, Cox School of Business, talked about the state of the American economy with The New York Times Oct. 28, 2010.

The envelope, please: SMU’s role in preserving Oscar history

1942 Oscar ceremony photoWhile Hollywood prepares to celebrate the 82nd annual Academy Awards March 7, 2010, North Texas can look to SMU to find priceless pieces of Oscar history.

SMU library collections include almost 70 years of Academy Award history, such as Greer Garson‘s 1942 Oscar for “Mrs. Miniver,” four 1951 Academy Award envelopes (complete with red seals and winners’ names), and Horton Foote‘s original screenplay and dialogue notes for his 1983 Oscar-winning screenplay, “Tender Mercies.”

“I’ll never forget that when Mr. Foote came to SMU in 2003 to receive an honorary degree, we had displayed some of the early manuscripts of his play, The Trip to Bountiful,” says Russell Martin, DeGolyer Library director.” He looked at the pages on view in the exhibit case and said, ‘I think I’ll change that. I think I can make it better.’ And so it goes: Literary manuscripts are tangible links to the writer and the creative process. When researchers study such materials at SMU, they help advance our understanding and appreciation of literary works.”

The ephemera from past Oscar ceremonies represent aspects of the physical culture of the Hollywood industry – one of the most influential facets of American society and global culture in the 20th century, says Rick Worland, professor of cinema-television in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

“Everyone knows the catch-phrase, ‘The envelope, please.’ To actually have several of the envelopes from the 1951 ceremony, literally fished out of a trash can, might seem cultish or just dumb,” Worland adds. “But being able to see ephemeral objects such as this can help bring the bit of cultural history alive for people from now on.”

(Above, Greer Garson – left center – at the 1942 Academy Awards with, left to right, Van Heflin, Teresa Wright and James Cagney.)

Read more from SMU News

Fondren festival focuses on rare ‘race movies’

DVD box artSMU’s internationally famous collection of black independent films from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s will be showcased from 7-10 p.m. Oct. 26-27 as part of the Fondren Library AV Bi-Annual Film Festival.

The G. William Jones Film and Video Collection in SMU’s Hamon Arts Library is home to the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection, from which the festival screenings were chosen. These “race movies,” shown mostly in the segregated movie houses of the mid-20th century American South, were discovered in an East Texas warehouse on miraculously well-preserved nitrate stock in 1983. Transferred to safety film in 1985, several were digitally restored and released in a 3-DVD boxed set in 2004.

“These films stand as a testimony to the history of black independent film in the United States, to the skill and artistry that have existed in the genre for much longer than many people may know,” says Tinsley Silcox, director of public services for SMU’s Central University Libraries (CUL). “They’re also an undistorted glimpse of African-American life in the early 20th century, devoid of the usual Hollywood stereotypes. They’re very representative of African-American self-consciousness of the time.”

Silcox and Rick Worland, professor of cinema-TV in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, will host the festival and provide commentary on the films. All screenings will be held in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

The complete schedule:

Movie poster for 'The Broken Earth'Monday, Oct. 26

  • Introduction by Tinsley Silcox
  • The Broken Earth (1939) – A one-reel drama starring Clarence Muse as a hard-working sharecropper whose son becomes ill with a fever. In its acting, writing and cinematography, “this is a powerful, powerful statement that shows the depth and breadth of talent in these films,” Silcox says. It’s an especially important showcase for Muse, whose acting career spanned more than 60 years and included many major Hollywood releases, he adds. “At a time when most mainstream black film characters were servants and comic relief, Muse’s artistry in this role demonstrated the very high dramatic standards African-American performers could achieve.”
  • Juke Joint (1947) – Shot in Dallas, this feature stars pioneering actor-director Spencer Williams and Texas native Robert Orr (credited here under the screen name July Jones) as a pair of con artists, down and out in the Southwest, who pose as theatrical experts to help a girl win a beauty pageant.
  • Midnight Shadow (1939) – Carnival performer Prince Alihabad takes an interest in the daughter of an Old South family when he learns they have oil property in Texas. The daughter’s boyfriend becomes jealous, and murder ensues.

    Movie poster for 'Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A.'Tuesday, Oct. 27

  • Introduction by Rick Worland
  • Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (1946) – In a screenplay based on W. Somerset Maugham‘s short story Rain, a sexy dancer shakes things up in a sleepy Caribbean island resort.
  • By-Line Newsreels (1953-56) – Newsreels featuring interviews with black government officials in the Eisenhower administration, including Carmel Marr, United Nations employee; Ernest Wilkins, Assistant Secretary of Labor; Samuel Pierce, Undersecretary of Labor; E. Frederick Morrow, one of President Eisenhower’s top aides; and Lois Lippman, the first black member of the White House staff.
  • Vanities (Harlem Hot Shots) (1946) – Charles Keith is the master of ceremonies of a nightclub act.

    For more information, contact Lisa Wall at 214-768-4397.

    Read more about the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection
    Find more digitized content at the CUL Digital Collections homepage

  • Calendar Highlights: Oct. 6, 2009

    The 1931 Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C.Wendland-Cook Professorship Inaugural Lecture: SMU’s Perkins School of Theology commemorates the establishment of the Wendland-Cook Professorship in Constructive Theology with a lecture by the first faculty member to hold that position. Joerg Rieger will discuss “Speaking Truth to Power – With a Twist: Re-envisioning the Task of Theology and the Academy” at 5 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall, followed by a reception in the Kirby Hall Parlor. Free and open to the public.

    “Holocaust Legacies” lecture: Author and University of Pittsburgh Professor of Art History Kirk Savage (Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape) will explore the achievements and pitfalls of the victim monument, which has come to rival the hero monuments of old. “Beyond the Victim Monument” begins at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Co-sponsored by the Division of Art History in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, the Dallas Holocaust Museum and The Sixth Floor Museum. Free and open to the public; tickets required. For more information, call 214-768-2698; for tickets, call 214-768-2787. (Right, the Titanic Memorial on Washington, D.C.’s southwest waterfront, originally erected in 1931.)

    'The Blood of Jesus' theatrical posterScreening a classic: Friends of the SMU Libraries/Colophon and the Hamon Arts Library present a free screening of Spencer Williams’ 1941 classic, The Blood of Jesus, Oct. 8 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Made specifically for African-American audiences in segregated movie theaters, the film was placed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991. The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening at 7 p.m. and a panel discussion moderated by SMU Professor of Cinema-TV Rick Worland at 8 p.m. Arrive early – seating is first-come, first-served and not guaranteed. For more information, call 214-768-3225 or visit smu.edu/friends.

    Clubhouse Lunch: The SMU Faculty Club hosts a Clubhouse Lunch with Hector Rivera, director of the Center for Child and Community Development in the University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, at noon Oct. 14 in the Faculty Club. Rivera will speak on “Integrating English Language Learners Into Our Schools – What Do We Need to Know?” Lunch is $5; attendees are welcome to bring their own.

    Haunting the Hilltop: Halloween on campus

    Halloween cat and jack-o-lanternCelebrate the scary season with Halloween fun, SMU style:

    • Create a lantern and compete for prizes at a pumpkin carving contest 4-8 p.m. Oct. 28 by The Falls, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. Bring a pumpkin and any supplies you need. Carved pumpkins will be displayed at The Falls through Halloween; Dedman Center visitors can vote for their favorites through Oct. 30. Contact Lindsey Keller, 8-8816.

    • Thrill to the cheesy magic of “B Movies Shot in Big D” 7-10 p.m. Oct. 29-30 in McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. Each will be introduced by a faculty member from the Division of Cinema-Television in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. Wednesday screenings include Logan’s Run and The Amazing Transparent Man (both introduced by Rick Worland). Thursday shows are Gas!, or, It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (introduced by Kevin Heffernan) and Mars Needs Women (introduced by Sean Griffin). Presented by Fondren Library Center and Friends of the SMU Libraries. Admission is free and open to the public. Contact Lisa Wall, 8-4397.

    Outdoor Adventures offers Midnight Cosmic Climbing, 11 p.m.-1 a.m. Oct. 30, in the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. Come for the late-night rock climbing – stay for the lights, prizes and DJ’ed music. Costumes are encouraged (must be harness-compatible). Contact David Chambers, 8-4822.

    SMU Child Care and Preschool holds its annual Halloween Parade beginning at 10 a.m. Oct. 31. Come out to Bishop Boulevard to see the costumes and treat the tricksters.

    • Wear your biggest hair and scariest sweats to ’80s-themed Group X classes all day Oct. 31 at Dedman Center – including the Cardio Bosu Booty Bounce, Heavy Metal Spinning and a “Step Into the ’80s” version of Radical Abs. All Dedman Center members and guests are invited; no Group X pass is required. Costumes are encouraged. Contact Brook Jimenez, 8-4824.

    • Students, faculty, and staff are invited to celebrate the departed with Mexican food, music and hot chocolate at a Dia de los Muertos celebration 11 a.m. Oct. 31, 153 Heroy Hall.

    • The Hegi Family Career Development Center invites students, faculty and staff for a Haunted Open House 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 31 at their offices in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The festivities feature haunted tours, treats, contests and prizes.

    Meadows Opera Theatre celebrates the spooky side with performances of eerie scenes from Die Fledermaus, Lucia di Lammermoor and Fiddler on the Roof in an Opera Free For All at 1 p.m. Oct. 31 in the Taubman Atrium, Owen Arts Center.

    Research Spotlight: The horror, the horror

    1-sheet from Night of the Living DeadIf the daily headlines aren’t scary enough – wars, fires, super germs, rising oceans – then slip into your local theater for a blood-curdling two or three hours. Horror movies and their stars, from rambling monsters to torturers to psychos, remain ever-popular, especially during the Halloween season.

    “The successful horror film is similar to a nightmare,” says Rick Worland, chair of SMU’s Division of Cinema-Television and author of The Horror Film. “In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud argued very famously that all dreams are forms of self-communication about our deepest fears and desires. So, the monsters in horror films – human or otherwise – are easily seen as symbolic of what we fear most. The horror genre is traditionally held in low regard, at least in public by arbiters of taste and morality. However, horror often achieves its greatest impact when it exposes or flouts cultural taboos.”

    For those who want to get beyond such popular horror films as Jaws and The Exorcist, Kevin Heffernan, associate professor of cinema-television and author of Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, has several recommendations, which are “less familiar but which hold untold pleasures for those lucky enough to see them.” Read more from SMU News.

    For the Record: Sept. 27, 2007

    William May, Ethics (emeritus), has been named Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed May for a three-month tenure from September to December 2007.

    Rita Kirk, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, discussed the media campaigns that will determine the fate of a planned toll road inside the Trinity River Corridor’s levee walls in The Dallas Morning News Sept. 18, 2007.

    Matthew Wilson, Political Science, discussed the politics behind Texas State Rep. Kirk England’s switch to the Democratic Party in The Dallas Morning News Sept. 20, 2007.

    William J. Bryan III, Theology, talked about the “Sunday-night slump” in church attendance that has led to growing cancellations of evening services in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sept. 21, 2007.

    Rick Worland, Cinema-TV, talked about the history and legacy of the film Easy Rider in The Dallas Morning News Sept. 12, 2007.

    The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams volunteered Sept. 22 at the 2007 Tour des Fleurs, a 10K/20K run benefiting the Dallas Arboretum. Nearly 50 student-athletes manned 6 water stations along the race route.