On October 12, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Professor David Appelbaum delivered an erudite and poetic meditation on voice, authenticity and language, entitled, “A Voice of One’s Own.” Appelbaum, a Philosophy professor, spoke to students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Honors Center. Appelbaum is the 2013 winner of the Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activity. You can read his talk in its entirety here. Appelbaum, A Voice of One’s Own.
Author Mindy Lewis will lecture on Friday, November 8 from 11-12:15 in the Student Union Building, Room 100 as part of the Composition Program’s Summer Reading Program. The lecture will focus on truth in memoir and creative nonfiction, the importance of writing about difficult personal experiences, the composing process, and lifting the stigma that surrounds mental health concerns. Lewis will also hold a writing workshop that day from 2-3:15 PM. Interested students should contact Joann Deiudicibus at firstname.lastname@example.org before November 1; seats are limited.
Mindy Lewis’s memoir, Life Inside was described in a starred Kirkus Review as “complex, chilling, luminous” and named a 2003 Book of the Year by the American Journal of Nursing. She is also the editor of Dirt: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House. Her writing has appeared in NY Times Book Review, Newsweek, Poets & Writers, Arts & Letters Journal and other publications. She teaches at The Writer’s Voice and Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, and has taught at Brooklyn College and as a visiting writer at George Mason University.
On October 9, 2013, The Composition Program hosted a reading celebrating the student authors of New Voices, New Visions. About a dozen students attended, along with several faculty members. Student author Anna Fields opened the event with an excerpt of her profile of her grandmother: “Her body is rounded and shows signs of age. Her skin is porcelain and still delicate despite years of washing dishes and raising a house of five children and a stubborn husband. The wrinkles reveal her veins that map her worn hands.” Other readers included Zoe Papetti, Chevonne McInnis, and Jessica Restivo on topics ranging from education to the virtues and vices of the Internet and technology.
New Voices, New Visions, an annual publication featuring the best writing of our first-year students, was established in 1986 by SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Dr. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt. The book has undergone several transformations in its twenty-seven years, beginning as a self-assembled, stapled booklet, then maturing into a professional version produced by our campus Print Shop. The book has also been published by companies including Pearson and Cengage Learning in recent years.
Thanks to Matt Newcomb, Composition Program Coordinator; Rachel Rigolino, Supplemental Writing Workshop Coordinator; and former Graduate Assistant, Ryan McGuckin, this year New Voices, New Visions received a digital makeover. At http://www.newpaltz.edu/english/composition/publications.html all students and faculty have free and immediate access to exemplary papers to refer to as models in their composition courses. The web medium may result in a rolling submission deadline for newly accepted essays between the Fall and Spring semesters.
A reading and book signing on Thursday, November 14 will feature New Paltz English Department members and alumni whose work is anthologized in A Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley (Codhill Press, 2013). The reading will take place at 7:00 P.M. in the Honors Center.
Published poet, semi-retired oncologist, and artist Marc Straus will read from his selected works on Tuesday, November 5, at 7 p.m. in LC104. He will also address questions from the audience. Straus’s poetry focuses on responses to illness and cancer from the perspectives of both the physician and the patient; it has been featured in Field, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and TriQuarterly. The reading is sponsored by the English Department, the Dean of the School of Science and Engineering, and the dual degree (BS/DO) medical program.
On October 1st, 2013 New Paltz Asian Studies Alum, Mike Boccio came to campus as part of the returning alumnae speakers series. Boccio is Vice President, commercial affairs at OSI Group, a strategic partner of McDonad’s Corp. Boccio first met with interested students at the East-West Living Learning Community (Crispell Hall) to provide career advice in an informal setting. Also providing input were Prof. Sara Hsu (Economics) and Tonda Highley (Career Resources). Later in the day, Boccio gave a formal talk titled “Perspectives on a Career in Asia.” The talk, supported by CAS funds, was attended by approximately 80 people. After providing information on his own path to success and recommendations for how our students can follow suit, faculty and students had the opportunity to ask questions. At the conclusion of the lecture, Boccio remained to provide one-on-one advice to numerous students who remained to speak with him.
By Despina Williams Parker
Renowned writer and thinker Howard Bloom challenged physicists to abandon the theoretical equivalent of “stone tools” in describing a universe that contains the messy, irrational yet strangely compelling thing we call human sexuality in a provocative lecture delivered on Oct. 9 in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium.
Bloom’s lecture, intended to demonstrate how “sex defies the laws of physics,” challenged two basic scientific assumptions within the framework of sexual reproduction: the Principle of Least Action and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The former holds that nature takes the most economical course of action, while the latter describes entropy as being in constant increase in the universe.
Using examples ranging from biology to Longfellow’s epic weeper, “Evangeline,” to the suicide of a gay friend, Bloom said that “sexuality does not comport” with the Principle of Least Action’s vision of a thrifty universe. The principle, argued Bloom, does not explain the 19 trillion sperm produced in a man’s lifetime, a literary heroine’s lifelong search for her lost lover, or the tragic death of a brilliant 22-year-old in a time when homosexuality was taboo.
Bloom challenged the validity of a principle derived in 1746 from the study of light, which does not illuminate the complexities of human behavior and desire exemplified by a man’s fetish for women’s shoes or a loveless couple’s attempt to hold it together for the kids.
Nor was Bloom content with the Second Law of Thermodynamics’ vision of a universe falling apart. How, he wondered, did entropy explain the genome’s remarkable game of mix and match, the shuffling and exchange at the heart of human reproduction?
“With 22,000 genes shuffled, how many permutations and combinations would that be?” Bloom asked. “How many ways of things going wrong could there be and how many ways of things going right?” If entropy applied to sexual reproduction, Bloom argued, we would not have a population of unique men and women, but “soup.”
And if the Principle of Least Action and the Second Law of Thermodynamics do not explain the complexities of sexual behavior and reproduction, perhaps scientists have not accomplished much at all, Bloom proposed.
“Which is more real in this cosmos – light, or Glenn?” quipped Bloom, nodding at Glenn Geher, Chair of the Psychology Department and Director of the Evolutionary Studies Program. “You are as real an aspect of the cosmos as light. What you represent is as important to understand as physics. Until physics can understand you, physics doesn’t have a clue.”
An avowed atheist, Bloom argued that the “challenge of science is to explain these things, not to put them off on a god.” His work in pondering these grand questions will form the basis of a new book.
Bloom has authored The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates,The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, and The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism.
New Paltz’s Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) Club, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Major Connections and the Honors Program sponsored the lecture.