Students Master the Portuguese Language in Hybrid Course


PUC-Rio graduate student Veronica Gomes Afonso (center) leads a classroom discussion.

SUNY New Paltz students are “traveling” to Brazil to learn Portuguese thanks to a distance learning course run in conjunction with Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

Students enrolled in the hybrid course, called Elementary Portuguese I, receive traditional classroom instruction from Veronica Gomes Afonso, a PUC-Rio graduate student based in New Paltz, complemented by instruction from PUC-Rio professor Ricardo Alencarvia via videoconferencing. Together, they set the syllabus, lesson plans and testing for the course.

“Students are learning Portuguese with native speakers of the language whose training in teaching Portuguese as a second language is of the highest caliber in the world,” said Mary Christensen, associate professor and chair of the Languages, Literatures and Culture Department. “The students’ progress thus far is impressive.”

According to Bruce Sillner, dean of the Center for International Programs, students also have the opportunity to take advantage of study abroad opportunities through the course.

“After completion of the distance learning program here on campus, our students have the opportunity to continue their language study at PUC-Rio as exchange students,” said Sillner, who noted abroad experiences are in high demand by New Paltz students.

”An ever-growing number of our students are recognizing the centrality of an international experience to the quality of their undergraduate education,” he said. “They realize the importance of being prepared to live and work in the global society of the 21st century.”

Dylan, Bowie and Beyond: An Evening with D.A. Pennebaker

D.A. Pennebaker

D.A. Pennebaker

By Despina Williams Parker

Legendary documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker stood to deliver a talk in Lecture Center 100 on the evening of Oct. 29, following a video retrospective of career milestones such as Don’t Look Back, Crisis and The War Room.

He’d not prepared any comments or seemed to have given much thought to what he might tell the assemblage of digital media faculty, aspiring young filmmakers and fans of his acclaimed documentaries. Pennebaker turned to Lecturer Thomas Cznarty, who delivered his introduction, and asked what, exactly, he was supposed to say.

Later, Pennebaker would call the meticulous planning and scripting of ideas a “yellow pad process,” one that he has never embraced in his art or life.

“I never plan anything, because it would be like planning a love affair,” Pennebaker said. “What would you plan? Everything is a new and wonderful thing that attracts you and comes to you. The idea of planning it negates the whole idea.”

In a fascinating lecture about technology, the power of chance and working without a script, Pennebaker said he was drawn to documentary filmmaking as an art form because it most faithfully realizes the camera’s true potential as an instrument of discovery.

“You tend to go into it to see what will happen, not necessarily to create legends,” Pennebaker said. “You want to use your camera as a way of finding out something that interests you, and as long as it interests you, you keep going.”

Don't Look Back Monterey Pop The War Room

His interest in musicians, which Pennebaker attributed to his boyhood in Chicago – a city “bursting with music” – led him to film some of the most iconic performers of the 60s and 70s.

Pennebaker’s seminal film, Don’t Look Back (1967), which documents Bob Dylan’s last acoustic tour, came about by chance, when Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman invited him to film the artist in England.

Such fortuitous events are a hallmark of Pennebaker’s career, which spans six decades. Pennebaker never searched for cultural icons; they came to him.

“They just barge right into our lives,” he said.

Before filming Don’t Look Back, Pennebaker had only heard one Dylan song on the radio and read an unflattering Time magazine profile, which called him a mediocre folk artist.

Pennebaker said he had not set out to make a music film, but a documentary “about a person who might be a poet.” Dylan’s signature turns of phrase captivated Pennebaker, who said the singer was “able to say things in a kind of condensed way, which great poets do.”

In filming Dylan, Pennebaker said he knew that the singer “was going to spend his life trying to figure out who or what he is, and he’s going to do that through his music.”

Pennebaker’s next film, Monterey Pop, a recording of the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, captured iconic performances by emerging rock legends Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

In the early 1960s, Pennebaker and colleague Richard Leacock developed a portable camera and synchronized sound recording system that gave unprecedented access to musicians on stage, and revolutionized concert filmmaking.

Pennebaker said he arrived at the festival with five volunteer cameramen shooting with the “homemade cameras” that he worried would malfunction at any moment. Though he would not see the footage until he returned to New York, Pennebaker realized that he was witnessing musical history.

Pennebaker recalled making the decision to send two of his least experienced cameramen to film Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, after rationalizing that “no one here listens to Indian music.” Shankar’s performance would wow concert goers and become one of the film’s highlights.

“When I see the film it amazes me,” Pennebaker said. “You watch two guys learn how to be filmmakers in front of your eyes.”

In his concert films, Pennebaker had a knack for being at the right place at the right time.

In 1973, RCA Records commissioned Pennebaker to shoot promotional footage of David Bowie performing as the androgynous alien rock star, Ziggy Stardust. During the concert, Bowie made the announcement that it would be his last performance as the Ziggy Stardust character – which shocked the band as well as the audience.

“Everything about it was a surprise, but the biggest surprise was when he sang, the whole audience would do back-up,” Pennebaker recalled. “It was such an amazing sound. It was like hearing gospel; it had a religious quality to it.”

Pennebaker knew that he had captured something special, and spent the next month working with Bowie to mix the tracks.

“He was terrific. He wanted that film to be good,” Pennebaker said. The film, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, was released in 1973.

Beyond his classic concert films, Pennebaker provided an insider’s look into Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in the Oscar-nominated The War Room (1994) and most recently, profiled dueling chefs competing in a prestigious French pastry competition in the documentary Kings of Pastry (2009). He co-directed both films with his wife and longtime collaborator, Chris Hegedus.

Much like most of the great films of Pennebaker’s career, Hegedus came knocking at his door. Hegedus arrived at Pennebaker’s studio 45 years ago at a time when Pennebaker was on the edge of bankruptcy. The synch-sound, cinéma vérité style Pennebaker had made famous interested her, and Pennebaker knew he’d found much more than a professional collaborator.

“I knew right away when she came in that she understood everything I was trying to do. I knew that we’d be partners in a real sense,” he said.

In meeting Hegedus, Pennebaker said he became “religious overnight.”

“I thought, ‘Someone is watching over me,’” he recalled.

Pennebaker’s life is a testament to his ability to recognize a good thing when he sees it, and to make art out of all the happy accidents along the way.

To the young filmmakers in the audience, he offered a parting wish: “That you have as good a time doing it as I did.”


College Names Next Visiting Ottaway Professor

1306 Alissa Quart

Alissa Quart

Author and multimedia narrative journalist  will join the New Paltz faculty in spring 2015 as this year’s James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professor of Journalism. She will teach an upper-level journalism seminar called “Narrative Nonfiction in the Digital Age.”

Quart is the author of three critically acclaimed non-fiction books: “Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers, and Rebels;” “Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers” and “Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child.” Her books have been published in 14 languages.

She is currently co-editor of Economic Hardship Reporting Project with Barbara Ehrenreich, a non-profit devoted to developing and supporting journalism about inequality. Her current multimedia project, “The End of the Middle,” is about America’s struggling middle class and is supported by the Magnum Foundation. Her first book of poetry, “Monetized,” will be published this year by Miami University Press.

Quart has written for The New York Times Sunday Review, The Atlantic, The Times Magazine, Elle, The Nation, London Review of Books (New York) and many other publications. In addition, she served as a contributing writer/editor at Columbia Journalism Review and Mother Jones, and was formerly a senior editor of the multimedia e-book publisher The Atavist. The transmedia work she co-conceived, wrote and produced for The Atavist, “The Last Clinic,” was nominated for an Emmy and a National Magazine Award in 2014.

Quart previously taught at the Columbia University School of Journalism and was a 2010 Nieman fellow at Harvard University.

About the James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship
The James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship, SUNY New Paltz’s only endowed professorship, is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., now the Dow Jones Local Media Group, which operates print and online community media franchises in seven states. The flagship newspaper of the chain is the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y.

Thirteen well-known journalists have preceded Quart as Ottaway professors. Four have been Pulitzer Prize winners, including Renée C. Byer, a photographer for The Sacramento Bee; former New York Times investigative reporter and columnist Sydney Schanberg; Bernard Stein, an editorial writer with The Riverdale Press; and John Darnton, a former Times foreign correspondent.

Other past Ottaway professors were science journalist and author Sonia Shah; NPR Foreign Correspondent Deborah Amos; New York Times investigative reporter Andrew Lehren; award-winning broadcast journalist and media consultant John Larson; Ann Cooper, a former public radio reporter who headed the Committee to Protect Journalists; Byron E. Calame, a longtime Wall Street Journal editor and reporter who has served as  The New York Times’ public editor; Roger Kahn, the author of 20 books and one of America’s foremost literary journalists; Trudy Lieberman, one of America’s best consumer reporters; and Martin Gottlieb, the global edition editor of The New York Times.

Professor Releases New Book, Proceeds Benefit Local Food Bank


Howard Good

Howard Good’s collection of poems titled “Fugitive Pieces” is his latest book in a string of nearly two-dozen publications written over his more than 20-year career as a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz.

While all of his books are special, this one, in particular, said Good, is near and dear to his heart as all proceeds from the book will go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.

“Although there are many charitable causes worthy of support, it wasn’t a hard decision to support the Food Bank,” said Good, who noted that he, and his wife, Barbara, have contributed to it for a number of years now.

He adds, “Giving the proceeds from the book to the Food Bank is another way of making my writing relevant. Being a writer means being kind of self-involved, but that doesn’t mean writing itself has to be.”

In this collection, Good’s poems are collages sourced from various ordinary texts as well as his own imagination. Images from large historic events to those from our public and private lives create stories that leave readers hungry for resolution.

“Sometimes the reader is rewarded with rich and multivalent conclusions, sometimes frustrated by the author’s refusal to resolve completely the disjunctions created within the poems,” says fellow poet Eric Burke. “In all cases, the reader is compelled by these marvelous poems to engage with the painful difficulties of the shared reality in which we live.”

Good holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in American culture from the University of Michigan; a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa; and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Bard College.

“Fugitive Pieces,” which costs $15, is available now at

Lecture to Address Race, Gender and Mass Criminalization

SUNY New Paltz Department of Sociology and Students Against Mass Incarceration present “The Problem with Carceral Feminism: Race, Gender and Mass Criminalization,” a public lecture by Dr. Beth Richie, on Monday, Nov. 17, at 3:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 100.

Ritchie is a professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Criminology, Law and Justice, and Sociology at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Richie‘s scholarly and activist work emphasizes the ways that race/ethnicity and social position affect women’s experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors.  Richie is the author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012) and numerous articles concerning black feminism and gender violence, race and criminal justice policy, and the social dynamics around issues of sexuality, prison abolition, and grassroots organizations in African American Communities. Her earlier book, Compelled to Crime: the Gender Entrapment of Black Battered Women, is taught in many college courses and is often cited in the popular press for its original arguments concerning race, gender and crime.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

This event received generous support from CAS, the Office of the Provost, the Department of Black Studies, the Department of History, the Scholar’s Mentorship Program, the Honors Program and Residence Life at SUNY New Paltz.  Co-sponsors include the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Native American Studies Program and the Humanistic and Multicultural Education Program.

Day of the Dead Celebration on Oct. 31

Day of the DeadThe annual Day of the Dead celebration will be held Friday, Oct. 31, from 1-3 p.m. in a new location:  the Old Main Quad.

Attendees are invited to join in the making of the Day of the Dead altar (ofrenda).  Hot Mexican chocolate and Day of the Dead bread will be served.

The event is sponsored by the Center for International Programs, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program; Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Spanish Conversation Table, Major Connections, Latin American Student Union, Latino Cultural Center, Latino Week and Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Asian Studies Program Hosts Mid-Autumn Festival

autumn festival 2014-5The Asian Studies Program hosted a Mid-Autumn festival on Monday, Oct. 20, from 4-6 p.m. in the Student Union Building Room 100.

The Korea-themed event featured games, food, music and an introduction to how Koreans celebrate the holiday. Attendees learned more about the Asian Studies program, and a variety of Asia-related clubs participated in the festival.

Asian Studies Program Director Jonathan Schwartz said 100 people attended the event, including students, faculty and deans.

autumn festival 2014-3 autumn festival 2014-4 autumn festival 2014-1

Off-Broadway ‘The Rap Guide to Religion’ Comes to New Paltz

religion-web-04The New Paltz Evolutionary Studies Program (EvoS) is pleased to host a free performance by renowned performance artist and rapper Baba Brinkman on Tuesday, Nov. 4 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Lecture Center 102. Brinkman will perform his new off-broadway show, The Rap Guide to Religion, which explores the nature of religion from a largely scientific perspective.

The Rap Guide to Religion is a new species of theatre, part hip-hop concert, part stand-up comedy, and part TED Talk, exploring one of the most heated questions of our age: what’s the point of religion? Taking a scientific approach to the question, Brinkman, a Canadian hip-hop artist, performs faith-illuminating songs inspired by the best of evolutionary and cognitive science, with examples from his own family history. (Brinkman’s ultra-religious great-great-great-grandfather sired more than 8,000 descendants). Fresh from a 5-star run at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this groundbreaking new work explores the various ways and means by which religion evolves in our species, leaving audiences with a new appreciation of religion, and its critics.

Seats for the off-broadway version of this show at the SoHo Playhouse normally go for $45 each. Don’t miss this chance to watch the performance for free at New Paltz.

View the Facebook event page.

Russian Documentarian to Screen Short Films on Oct. 30

The Media and Journalism Society student organization presents “Babylon 13,” to be held in the Lecture Center room 102 on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

The guest speaker, filmmaker Yuri Gruzinov, is a Russian native who left Russia to live in Ukraine as a young adult. On January 22, 2014, Yuri was wounded with three bullets while recording the Hrushevs’kogo Street, Kyiv clashes. Upon recovery, on March 16, 2014, Yuriy and his crew were captured while filming a documentary about the Crimean referendum and were held by the separatists in Simferopol, Crimea, for six days. In September of 2014, he was filming in Donbas near the town of Debalcevo, on the very front lines of the war.

The screenings will include short movies about Maidan, the Crimean invasion by Russia and war in Eastern Ukraine. The movies are exclusive and only partially are available for view on the official Babylon ’13 YouTube channel. Screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with Yuri.

The screening is free and open to the public.
View the event Facebook page.

Award Winning Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker to Deliver Oct. 29 Lecture

By Despina Williams Parker

D.A. Pennebaker, the acclaimed filmmaker behind such documentaries as Don’t Look Back (1967), Inside the War Room (1993), and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973), will present a special lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. in Lecture Center 100.

D.A. Pennebaker

D.A. Pennebaker

Known as one of the founders of the cinéma vérité movement, Pennebaker earned the Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 for his over 60-year career chronicling such cultural milestones as Bob Dylan’s 1965 electric tour of England, Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential bid and David Bowie’s final performance as Ziggy Stardust.

The lecture, entitled “D.A. Pennebaker: An Evening with a Legend,” will also include a six-minute video retrospective of Pennebaker’s career and a question and answer period.

Thomas Cznarty, a lecturer in the Department of Digital Media and Journalism, reached out to Pennebaker after teaching several of his films in his Digital Media Production and Documentary Filmmaking courses. He credits Pennebaker’s 1953 documentary, Daybreak Express, with reshaping his notion of what great documentaries can be.

Daybreak Express was filmed on New York City’s 3rd Avenue elevated subway train (discontinued in 1955) and set to a jazz composition by Duke Ellington. The documentary is non-linear, with no narration and captures a unique moment in the city’s history.

Cznarty, himself an award-winning documentary filmmaker, said Pennebaker’s early film taught him that “visuals can tell the whole story.” He is excited for his students to meet a living legend.

The lecture is sponsored by the Department of Digital Media and Journalism, with additional support from the Provost’s Office, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of Fine & Performing Arts, Department of Communication, Department of History and Department of Sociology.

The lecture is free and open to the public.