Idea Blog

Curb Internship Blog Post: Compassionate Travel

Posted on: June 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Ben Shane

This blog post is part of the Curb Scholars program.

I have faith in humanity when I travel. It comes from hitchhiking in Spain, where strangers interrupted their lives because they saw me for a total of a second-and-a-half on the side of the road and invited me into their cars and sometimes their homes. From the young woman in Morro Bay, California, who invited me surfing with her and her friends and equipped me with surfboard and wetsuit and patient instruction. From the countless people on the road who provided me with food or shelter or company, all of the most basic and meaningful necessities of life. These experiences bring me close to humankind and make me feel fortunate to be a part of it. Read More

A Summer Internship in Hualcayán

Posted on: June 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Karissa Deiter

Hello! My name is Karissa and I am an intern with PIARA this summer. My journey with PIARA started two weeks ago, when I arrived at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa in Memphis, TN to work with director Dr. Robert Connolly and begin preparing educational and outreach materials for the summer in Hualcayán, Peru. I’m excited to join the PIARA team in Peru in two weeks, but first, here’s the story on how I became involved with PIARA. Read More

Apply now: Curb Fellow in Media, Art, and Public Policy, 2014-15

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Applications accepted through Friday, March 28.

The Curb Center is pleased to announce a continuing fellowship opportunity for advanced graduate students in the humanities or humanistic social sciences at Vanderbilt University. For the academic year 2014-15, the Curb Center offers a year-long fellowship to support a student who has completed his or her comprehensive examination and is interested in policy issues raised by media or the arts.

Candidates should be engaged in research that promises to illuminate challenges or opportunities that face any cultural field, including (but not limited to) music, publishing, the graphic arts, film, television, theater, literature, the entertainment industry, or digital media.  Policy concerns may involve race, class, gender, social or political concerns, economic issues, legal questions, government regulation, copyright, urban planning and development, public humanities and heritage preservation, indigenous cultures, international trade and diplomacy, distribution and access, artistic careers, nonprofits, new media, medicine and the arts, creativity and well-being, arts entrepreneurs, public support of the arts, arts education, and more.  We are also willing to entertain proposals that would allow a student to do research on an arts and cultural policy issue related to a dissertation nearing completion.

For more information and application instructions, click here.

Using Google Forms in the Classroom (HASTAC Cross-Post)

Posted on: February 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post originally appeared on HASTAC.org on February 7, 2014. The original post and comments can be found here.

Weekly course assignments can be a headache for both instructors and students. Students lament having to print them (let alone do them), and instructors lament opening several hundred emails in the course of a semester. However, there are times when such assignments are pedagogically necessary.

A friend and I both used weekly reading assignment in our history courses last semester as a way to gauge student understanding of material and develop students’ abilities to summarize and interrogate readings. Although my friend teaches high school and I was a TA at a university, our students had a communal complaint about the assignments: “I don’t have the resources to print the assignment,” which was followed up with a “Can I just email it to you instead?” Read More

Tepper named dean of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Posted on: December 27th, 2013 | 0 Comments

After ten years of exceptional research and practice at the Curb Center, Steven Tepper has accepted an appointment as dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Steven’s opportunity is an extraordinary one, and a testimony to his expertise and stature in the field of arts careers, creative practice, and arts policy.

Sad as we are to see him go, we are also overjoyed for Steven’s success. For a link to ASU’s press release click here, and to read a note from Steven, click here. Read More

Conversations/Conversas with Ashley Larson

Posted on: December 18th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Ashley Larson talks “Conversations/Conversas,” the Vanderbilt Art Dept & University of Sao Paulo collaboration

People often ask me (family members especially), “why are you learning Portuguese?” or “why do you speak Portuguese?” The answer I frequently give is that I have always had a love for the Spanish language and so when I was earning my bachelor’s in Latin American Studies at Cal State Fullerton and they told me that an intermediate level of Portuguese was required, I responded with enthusiasm. Who wouldn’t want to learn a new language and a new culture? Many people think that Brazilians speak Spanish…wrong! The giant of the South American continent speaks Portuguese which is a romance language, like Spanish, but they are not the same. Brazil should not be ignored or grouped with all of the Spanish-speaking nations around the world. Trivia time: Brazil is actually larger than the continental U.S.! It is the B in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and has officially arrived as an economic powerhouse. Unfortunately, the country still has one of the highest rates of unequal wealth distribution; the poor are very poor and the rich are über rich. But, let’s talk about culture and ART! Brazilians pride themselves on being creative and artistic. As most of you know, the 2014 World Cup will be in Brazil. but did you know that the Brazilians have invented a different way of playing ‘futebol’ (soccer)? Bet you didn’t! The “Jogo Bonito”, which literally translates to ‘beautiful game’, is a way of playing soccer that combines style, beauty, and cunning. They even play to the beat of Samba music for artistic inspiration and motivation! But their creativity doesn’t end there. AND … it is not contained within Brazilian borders! Read More

What is a Victorianist doing at the Curb Center? Or, Everything Old Is New Again

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 | 0 Comments

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[Guest post by Elizabeth S. Meadows, @MorbidVictorian, new Faculty Director of Curb Creative Campus & Curb Scholars Program]

 

Early this summer, Sotheby’s, the famed auction house that brokered the sale of such iconic works as Vincent van Gogh’s Irises and Edvard Munch’s The Scream, announced that a version of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Proserpine will be sold at auction in November.  Proserpine is, according to one assessment, “one of the most internationally recognisable images of the nineteenth century,” and the estimated price of this variant done in colored chalk is $1.8-2.7 million. You’ve seen this image before; Rossetti’s “Proserpine” has appeared on postcards and posters as well as in textbooks, works of literary criticism and art history, genealogies of artistic movements, biographies, and—of course—museums, and even more importantly perhaps, their gift shops.  Nonetheless, my first reaction was simply shock—“You mean you can buy that?!”  Perhaps naively, I had thought that Art-with-a-capital-A can’t be bought, sold, or owned. Read More

“Frantic & exciting”: Clayton reflects on week one of his Coursera LOTR MOOC

Posted on: September 17th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Curb director’s Coursera course launched September 9th

Professor Jay Clayton got 40,000 new students this week, and for a moment, the thirty-year writer and lecturer is at a loss for words.

“It’s been … dizzying!” he finally laughs.

Fifteen minutes after “Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative” launched last Monday afternoon, more than 1000 people had watched a video, and the tech team had discovered (and corrected) two errors we had made in setting up the site. “It’s frantic and exciting at the same time,” Clayton says. “It’s an intense experience of media saturation, of all these multiple channels coming at us at once. “ He pauses then begins to laugh. “And it’s close to overwhelming!”

Of the 40,000 registered, around 5000 are also interacting on Facebook, another group is on Twitter, and then there’s the actual course’s forums—one on J.R.R. Tolkien, the author; another on the game Lord of the Rings Online; another on games in general; and still another for each week’s material—already hold over almost 3000 posts.  Additionally, there’s conversation on the Coursera channel inside the online game, where only people in this course come to chat. “Hang on, I promised I’d say something to them,” Clayton says as he turns back to his laptop where, as Vainamoinen (named for the Finnish minstrel who inspired Tolkien’s Gandalf), Clayton pops in to say hello. Read More

Tepper: technology doesn’t fundamentally change what people want from life/work/social encounters/culture; it changes how we go about achieving these human goals and desires

Posted on: September 5th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Last month’s NYTimes cover story, “High Culture Goes Hands On,” argues that the renaissance of the “quest for experience,” revived by web 2.0 technologies, has museums scrambling to provide “the kinds of participatory experiences available almost everywhere else,” and this has author Judith H. Dobrzynski concerned: “Some of these initiatives are necessary, even good. But in the process of adapting, our cultural treasuries are multitasking too much, becoming more alike, and shedding the very characteristics that made them so special — especially art museums.”

So of course, we asked Steven Tepper to respond:

Very thought provoking piece.  I think Judith tends to lean toward the elitist definition of art in most of her writing, but she raises some excellent points about balance.   As a sociologists who has studied technology’s impact on society, my general conclusion is that technology doesn’t fundamentally change what people want or desire from life/work/social encounters/culture; instead, it changes how we go about achieving these human goals and desires.   So, people have always wanted both sublime, reflective experiences and deeply, social and interactive experiences. They have always wanted experiences that they can share with others.    Technology has changed where, when and how we can achieve these goals.   This is one of the challenges facing any institution—commercial or non-profit.  We build structures and organizations to deliver these experiences in one way, and then technology (especially today), provides people with a host of alternatives and we are slow to adapt.   The real challenge, it seems to me, is to be smart about “modalities” rather than content.  How do people want to experience moments of sublime reflection or intense and passionate, multi-sensory “experience?”  Museums and other organizations need to be open to new modalities — but not change their mission or necessarily their content.   People can still have a deep and reflective experience reading a book on a Kindle, in spite of what all the book lovers said about the demise of reading.   If you are in the business of promoting “reading,” then you should be agnostic about how people get the book or what form the “reading” comes in.   So, fundamentally, what business are museums in and what modalities exist today to help them better succeed in that business?  That is the big question.

Getting Unplugged by Harvey Burrell

Posted on: August 14th, 2013 | 0 Comments

“If you aren’t being challenged, you die”

-Soren, Noma Restaurant Farmer

 

In light of the Media Immersion workshop I am co-teaching this week, I thought now would be a good opportunity to think about how to introduce people to design thinking practices for the first time. Learning about design thinking is a bit like getting unplugged from The Matrix; the experience is completely foreign, yet still entirely too real. These freshmen will have to use parts of their brains that have atrophied after years of neglect. I want to help them get their feet wet without hurting them, so I can’t have them pulling their creative muscles.  However, I know they are very bright, and since we all have the capacity to be creative, I will need to give them some space.

What will be most difficult is overcoming the judgmental environment that pervades freshmen orientation. It is hard to think of a place more critical and less open to new things that exist outside of the norm than freshmen orientation. Friendships are made and broken on nothing more than a whim. It is like a mass of eager humanity breaking against the hardened brick walls of this prestigious campus. The pure number of people one has to meet requires shorthand notation to help expedite the process. But for those of us at the Curb Center, it is the opposite of what we need. Creativity can only thrive in an environment free of negativity. We need more “yes and” or “plus 1ing,” as we creative types like to call it.  Our goal is to help push these kids towards discovering the new and obscure. I hope to push them and lead them to some experience that breaks them from the safe and routine.

I have reduced my teaching strategies down to a few bullet points that I, for the most part, understand and hope make some sense to the rest of you…

 

A few of my thoughts:

-       Regular name games are lame. We can do something better.

-       We should do something that we can all fail at, because at least we are failing together. Let’s see if we can break some synaptic connections.

-       Propose a big problem. But keep it relevant and/or local.

-       Ask them to “think wrong” about it. For example, what is the opposite of how you would typically solve this problem? Get wrong. Get weird. Come up with solutions that should make me feel stupid just from having heard them.

-       Ideally, these kids will walk out of here wanting to keep thinking wrong, not just saying yes, but asking why and demanding to know how they can squeeze the university for everything it is worth.

 

NB – Why name games suck:

-       Because knowing your name doesn’t make us friends, but knowing you have a brain might make me want to listen and listening is where it all starts.

 

Tangible practices:

My two favorite games:

Thinking Wrong – Pick a problem. Sit in groups of two with sharpies and a pile of post-it notes, spending ten minutes coming up with the wrongest, worst, stupidest ideas you possibly can. Then share with the group.

Crazy Eights – Now, you have five minutes to draw eight possible solutions. Yes, that means 40 seconds per drawing. Better move fast. Now proceed and be bold!