Fordham GSAS: Grad. Life: April 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Graduate Students CAN Make a Difference

Happy Friday GSASer's!
      It's a beautiful spring day here in NYC. I hope everyone's semester is winding down well! You are probably beginning to hole yourselves up in libraries writing final papers, studying for final exams, grading your students' papers or labs, conferencing with professors and/or students, editing chapters or trying to meet conference paper deadlines, while desperately trying to rationalize spending some time in the warm spring sunshine. I empathize completely. At least we have the kind of profession in which we may be able to haul some of our daily work materials out to a grassy knoll somewhere and read/grade/edit/think in the sun, if only for a few hours in the day. Then it's back to the lab/library/classroom/cubicle.
      In the midst of all this crazy end of semester running around, when you may begin to question why you have chosen this path in the first place, I have for you a positive and graduate-life-affirming story to share!! It's the story of a once "lowly graduate student" who, in doing a simple end of semester assignment, ended up making a huge impact on his field and possibly the entire world's view of political economics. How's that for uplifting?

       Here's the scoop: A few weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine featured the story of 28-year-old economics graduate student Thomas Herndon, studying at UMass Amhearst, who was spending time doing an assignment for one of his econometrics courses. His assignment was to replicate the data from an already published study. During his work, he discovered several flaws in the famous and influential economics study of austerity measures by Reinhart and Rogoff. The story reports:
Herndon was stunned. As a graduate student, he'd just found serious problems in a famous economic study — the academic equivalent of a D-league basketball player dunking on LeBron James. "They say seeing is believing, but I almost didn’t believe my eyes," he says. "I had to ask my girlfriend — who's a Ph.D. student in sociology — to double-check it. And she said, 'I don't think you're seeing things, Thomas.'"
After he gained some confidence in his findings, he brought it to his advisors, who also didn't believe it at first. But then, after re-confirming the research and analysis, Herndon and his mentors published a paper with their findings, which received immediate and world-wide attention. Now, Herndon is trying to finish up his semester while basking in the glow of his newfound academic fame.

    See people -- you never know what your studies will lead to! My take-away from this story is: keep your nose to the grindstone, but don't be afraid to challenge established theories or data-sets or conclusions. This story encourages graduate students to have confidence in themselves and their work, even in the midst of all the critiques and push-backs from professors, committees, panels, journals, etc -- keep your eyes, heart, and mind open, and follow your instincts, and above all believe in yourself.
Read the full story here. And then go make a difference in the world!!
-- Until next time! -- Liza

Monday, April 22, 2013

Grad.Life and Earth Day?

   Today, Monday, April 22, 2013, is EARTH DAY!
    When you think of Earth Day, you may reminisce about times in elementary, middle, and high school when teachers and students came together to honor, celebrate, and learn about ways to preserve the beauty and health of the planet. You know -- re-use, reduce, recycle mantras called for kids to create some cool project or invention out of plastic bottles and cardboard tubes, or classes would choose a public outdoor space to clean up and "adopt," or students would learn about water conservation, pollution, and energy sources. Indeed, educational institutions play a central role in Earth Day awareness and observance; but did you realize that colleges and universities played a crucial role in its originating year, 1970? According to the, "Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values."
     The event didn't become a major annual holiday right away, however. But the 1970 event did mobilize the modern environmentalist movement that we know today. It catalyzed the creation of the EPA and Clean Air, Clear Water, and Endangered Species Acts. And environmental issues became a mainstay in  the academic conversation in graduate and undergraduate programs throughout North America.

     Then, in 1990, another huge Earth Day was organized by environmental leaders, and it went global this time. After 1990, Earth Day began to resemble its contemporary form, with children, parents, advocates, environmentalists, and activists across the globe celebrating and participating in Earth Day as a day of action and education.

     Today, it seems like the graduate students play somewhat less of a role in the Earth Day activism of the 1970s. But I may just not be aware of what is being done on college and university campuses. What is the buzz around Fordham, or around your campus? As a graduate student, how are you recognizing Earth Day today? And, what are your thoughts about it? What role should we as graduate students play in fostering enthusiasm for the day, and in taking action to protect our planet? Please write in to let me know!

     Also, here are some cool Earth Day links!

Have a good Earth Day, everyone!
-- Liza

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vinyl Discoveries: Celebrating Record Store Day!

     Happy Record Store Day! Yes folks -- today, April 20th, 2013, is Record Store Day!
     The best thing I ever did was buy a record player for my apartment. Since then, we have LOVED combing through record stores in different cities and towns, looking for cool finds and building our record collections, new and old. In general, it seems vinyl is coming back around as a medium for music. It's nice to feel something and own something as substantial and satisfying as a record album. There's something great about coming home on a Friday night and starting the weekend with a record, turning the volume up, watching it spin, hearing the tiny crackles, knowing that sound is mechanically happening right there in front of your eyes and ears, feeling the tiny etches inscribed on the object -- the vinyl --  knowing that those inscriptions will somehow generate the music when the needle is dropped.

     To help celebrate this resurgence, record store owners across the nation participate in Record Store Day, and artists and labels release material, new and old, on vinyl. This year's ambassador is the great Jack White. His essay on the Record Store Day home page urges us to "wake up" and make sure we don't lose this special medium. He is afraid it will disappear, that the youth of today are so used to things beings at their fingertips, at the click of a mouse, that they don't understand the beauty and humanity of going out and actually experiencing something: "Years ago someone told me that 1,200 high school kids were given a survey. A question was posed to them: Have you ever been to a stand-alone record shop? The number of kids that answered "yes" was... zero."  He writes,
"We need to re-educate ourselves about human interaction and the difference between downloading a track on a computer and talking to other people in person and getting turned onto music that you can hold in your hands and share with others.  The size, shape, smell, texture and sound of a vinyl record; how do you explain to that teenager who doesn't know that it's a more beautiful musical experience than a mouse click?  You get up off your ass, you grab them by the arm and you take them there.  You put the record in their hands.  You make them drop the needle on the platter.  Then they'll know. Let's wake each other up."
Mr. White is exactly right. To me, record store are about two things: discovery, and tangibility. The experience of going to a record store and buying a record and then going home and playing that record leaves an indelible mark on a person -- it is a material experience that charges your senses in ways that doesn't happen from downloads and digital media.

Here are some other great quotes about records and record stores that I found provocative and inspiring.  
"Record stores keep the human social contact alive it brings people together. Without the independent record stores the community breaks down with everyone sitting in front of their computers"
- Ziggy Marley 
“My local independent record shop (Honest Jons) is a library, where you can go to listen to music, learn about it, exchange ideas about it and be inspired by it. I think independent record shops will outlive the music industry as we know it because long term their value to people is far greater, because even in our era of file-sharing and blogs, you cant replace the actual look on someone’s face when they are playing something they really rate and think you should listen to it too. It’s special.”
- Damon Albarn (Blur, The Gorillaz, etc.) 
“I love the smell of them. I love that people actually care for and know about the music they are selling.”
- Neko Case
“It’s important to keep indie record stores alive because their unique environments introduce music lovers to things in a very personal way.”
- Norah Jones
These artists emphasize the bodily experience of being in a space that fosters interaction and knowledge. Thinking about the "record store" as a local cultural space that preserves human interaction, learning, discovery, teaching, expertise, and appreciation for materiality in the age of what White calls "disposable" digital media is important in an era in which technology globalizes our human network of ideas and digitizes many of our interactions. White ends his essay by reminding us that "there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves."
     Anyway, this is my tribute to Record Store Day! Check it out online to find a store, but don't stop there.  Get out there and check it out in person!
Enjoy -- Liza

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston's Tragedy and Terrorism

Flowers, flags and balloons at a memorial in
Boston near the site of Monday's explosions.
      Since I have held this post as GSAS Grad.Life blogger, our country has seen some sad and tragic events that have shaken us emotionally, physically, and psychologically: the Aurora movie theater massacre in July, Hurricane Sandy in late October, and the Newtown shooting in December. I've tried to use this space as a way to reflect on these events, and to provide readers with some kind of sense of the conversation about these events among graduate students.
    On Monday, we again faced another tragic event, the bombing at the Boston Marathon. My heart is with all the victims; please know that your sisters and brothers at Fordham are thinking of and praying for you.
    As events are unfolding today in the hunt for the suspects, I also hope and pray for no more additional violence and terror in the great city of Boston, or anywhere.
     I also hope we are able at some point to understand the reasons behind the terrifying attack. After 9/11, it was difficult to hear and swallow the reasons given for the attack. But it is much harder psychologically and emotionally, in my opinion at least, to have no understanding of the motivation behind such a gruesome act of violence and terror.

    President Obama's speech yesterday moved me as I listened on the radio. Here is a transcript of the ending:
Our faith in each other, our love for each other, our love for country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences there may be, that is our power. That's our strength. That's why a bomb can't beat us. That's why we don't hunker down. That's why we don't cower in fear. We carry on. We race. We strive. We build and we work and we love and we raise our kids to do the same. And we come together to celebrate life and to walk our cities and to cheer for our teams when the Sox, then Celtics, then Patriots or Bruins are champions again, to the chagrin of New York and Chicago fans. The crowds will gather and watch a parade go down Boylston Street. And this time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon.Bet on it.Tomorrow the sun will rise over Boston. Tomorrow the sun will rise over the - this country that we love, this special place, this state of grace. Scripture tells us to run with endurance the race that is set before us. As we do, may God hold close those who've been taken from us too soon, may he comfort their families and may he continue to watch over these United States of America. 
President Obama's speech sang with spirit, and moved many to tears, including me.
    Today those of us who are in sister cities will watch with hope that no more harm comes to any human. And for those in Boston, our hearts are with you.
--Liza and the Grad.Life Blog

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tribute: My Top Ten Favorite Roger Ebert Reviews

       I was saddened last week when, as I sat down to work on an annotated bibliography for my diss. chapter, I learned from my CNN app something devastating. My favorite writer, Roger Ebert, had passed away.
       Mr. Ebert had long been a favorite writer of mine; for the past 23 years since I was ten years old, I read his amazing movie reviews every Friday in The Bergen Record, and then, in later years, on-line on his Suntimes homepage. Through Ebert, I learned how to talk about, think about, and love movies. He brought much joy to my life, having given me many happy hours reading his reviews of films old and new.  He shared so much of his mind and the way he thought about things and saw the world, that I feel like I have had so many conversations with him -- I guess only in my mind. That's the mark of an amazing writer and presence in the world.

       As a tribute to him, and his famous Top Ten Lists at the end of each year, I am posting my Top Ten Favorite Reviews by Mr. Roger Ebert, plus some Grand Jury Prizes. I actually remember reading each of these when they came out. I learned a lot about writing, analysis, critique, emotion, and self-expression from Mr. Ebert's incisive, heart-felt, and soulful essays. These reviews are my favorites -- not my favorite movies necessarily (although I love most of these movies), but my favorite of Mr. Ebert's writing. I've linked you to each review; one day when you have time, needing a break from dissertation or course-work or grading papers, treat yourself to reading these great commentaries on our movies and our world. Ebert mastered the art of short, but meaningful, analytical, but emotional, commentary. His blog is a wonderful treasure, too. Honestly, I enjoy reading these even apart from my movie viewing experiences -- he is just a great writer. He might even inspire your own work and writing!
      Mr. Ebert, I hope your special soul is resting in peace and happiness. In Memoriam, 1942 - 2013.

Pleasantville (1998)
Ebert's review of Pleasantville begins with a sweeping statement: "In the twilight of the 20th century, here is a comedy to reassure us that there is hope--that the world we see around us represents progress, not decay." It hooked me right away. When I watched the movie, which is an amazingly profound story hidden in a comedy, I had Ebert's words in my ear, and I knew what he meant about how this movie inspires hope and removes the veil of nostalgia.
Favorite Line: The ending of the review gives me goosebumps. Ebert writes, "There is a scene in this movie where it rains for the first time. Of course it never rained in 1950s sitcoms. Pleasantville's people in color go outside and just stand in it."

Ghost World (2001)
I'll never forget how, in his review of Ghost World, a movie about an "18-year-old girl from Los Angeles who drifts forlorn through her loneliness, cheering herself up with an ironic running commentary," Ebert begins by telling his readers about the haunting gravesite of an anonymous teenage girl in London. He somehow can make his memories our memories.
Favorite Lines: "I wanted to hug this movie. It takes such a risky journey and never steps wrong. It creates specific, original, believable, lovable characters, and meanders with them through their inconsolable days, never losing its sense of humor." and: "The movie sidesteps the happy ending Hollywood executives think lobotomized audiences need as an all-clear to leave the theater." So great!

Gosford Park (2002)
I was drawn into this movie, and Ebert's review articulates why this movie draws its audience in. Calling it a "celebration of styles," Ebert skillfully explains Robert Altman's achievements without sounding pedantic or didatic. His review is a celebration!
Favorite Lines: "At a time when too many movies focus every scene on a $20 million star, an Altman film is like a party with no boring guests."
and: "This is no less than a comedy about selfishness, greed, snobbery, eccentricity and class exploitation, and Altman is right when he hopes people will see it more than once; after you know the destination the journey is transformed."

Far From Heaven (2002)
Aside from my obsession with Julieanne Moore, I am also obsessed with this movie, and with Ebert's analysis of it. His review actually stands out in my mind as a quick example of how a cultural representation can be powerful when completely lacking irony. I also loved the way he described the cinematography; he writes, "the opening downward crane shot of autumn leaves is matched by the closing upward crane shot of spring blossoms, and every shot has the studied artifice of 1950s 'set decoration,' which was not so different, after all, from 1950s 'interior decoration.'" He just observes so culture and society so insightfully.
Favorite Line: "The key to the power of "Far from Heaven" is that it's never ironic; there is never a wink or a hint that the filmmakers have more enlightened ideas than their characters. This is not a movie that knows more than was known in 1957, but a movie that knows exactly what mainstream values were in 1957--and traps us in them, along with its characters."

Children of Men (2007)
This review demonstrates Ebert's ability to share his emotional response to a film, almost as if you are watching it with him, inside his head. He reveals how his thoughts change and unfold as he watches a movie. It's beautiful.
Favorite Lines: I was so moved by his closing line. He writes, "Here is certainly a world ending not with a bang but a whimper, and the film serves as a cautionary warning. The only thing we will have to fear in the future, we learn, is the past itself. Our past. Ourselves."
and: His opening line is gripping, too: "It is above all the look of "Children of Men" that stirs apprehension in the heart. Is this what we are all headed for?"

Everyone Says I Love You (1997)
A review that made me realize that a movie's achievement can be inspiring silly, happy, fun in the hearts of its audience. I wish I could have watched this with Mr. Ebert! We would have been grinning together.
Favorite Lines: "Sometimes, when I am very happy, I sing to myself. Sometimes, when they are very happy, so do the characters in ''Everyone Says I Love You,'' Woody Allen's magical new musical comedy. I can't sing. Neither can some of Allen's characters. Why should that stop them? Who wants to go through life not ever singing? Here is a movie that had me with a goofy grin plastered on my face for most of its length."

Crash (2005)
Ebert chose this movie as the best of 2005, despite the movie getting slammed as the "worst" by some critics. Many critics said it was ridiculous, didactic, and heavy handed. But Ebert sees it in a different way: "It connects stories based on coincidence, serendipity, and luck, as the lives of the characters crash against one another other like pinballs." After it got selected as the worst movie of the year from, Ebert then rose to the occasion again, defending his perspective with class and respect in this rebuttal.
Favorite Line: His distillations of movies and stories are simply amazing. "The result is a movie of intense fascination; we understand quickly enough who the characters are and what their lives are like, but we have no idea how they will behave, because so much depends on accident."

You Can Count on Me (2002)
This review stands out in my mind for the way Ebert analyzes the film as a study of character and acting. He reminds us, in his analysis, that some movies are great because they explore human beings. I like the way Ebert appreciates how both the actors' performances and the writing of the characters work together to generate memorable, three-dimensional characters on screen. Great study in human character on film. Favorite Lines: "This is not a movie about people solving things. This is a movie about people living day to day with their plans, fears and desires. It's rare to get a good movie about the touchy adult relationship of a sister and brother. Rarer still for the director to be more fascinated by the process than the outcome."

Shakespeare in Love (1998)
First of all, I like how Ebert describes Shakespeare: "The story is ingeniously Shakespearean in its dimensions, including high and low comedy, coincidences, masquerades, jokes about itself, topical references and entrances with screwball timing."I always remember this line. But more importantly, Ebert has a special way of seeing what makes us the same -- he finds some kind of connectivity or almost universality in stories and story-telling. It's amazing, because something about the way he can boil down the basics of a story is so persuasive, making the needs and wants of the human heart feel ahistorical and archetypal. It is almost a mood in his writing, more than an argument. A good example of this mood can be found in this review, in my favorite lines: "A movie like this is a reminder of the long thread that connects Shakespeare to the kids opening tonight in a storefront on Lincoln Avenue: You get a theater, you learn the lines, you strut your stuff, you hope there's an audience, you fall in love with another member of the cast, and if sooner or later your revels must be ended, well, at least you reveled."

Kill Bill Vol. I (2003)
Think about how Ebert gets this perfectly right: "The movie is all storytelling and no story. The motivations have no psychological depth or resonance, but are simply plot markers. The characters consist of their characteristics." Yes, yes, yes. He nails it. Favorite Part: Just read Ebert's opening paragraph. It made me excited to read the review, and excited to see the movie. "Kill Bill, Volume 1 shows Quentin Tarantino so effortlessly and brilliantly in command of his technique that he reminds me of a virtuoso violinist racing through 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' -- or maybe an accordion prodigy setting a speed record for "Lady of Spain." I mean that as a sincere compliment. The movie is not about anything at all except the skill and humor of its making. It's kind of brilliant." Ebert, YOU'RE kind of brilliant. :)

Grand Jury Prizes: Each of these have a special place in my memory, too. Maybe I will write another blog post for these; for now, here are some honorable mentions: In the Bedroom, Junebug, Lost in Translation, Match Point, Signs, The Truman Show, Grave of the Fireflies, and Ice Storm.

(Note: Here, I've only included four star reviews; Mr. Ebert always seemed to move me most when he was moved the most. His one and zero star reviews are hilarious, too, and sometimes angry. Here's a list of his zero-star movies!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chew on This Food For Thought, and then Stick a Fork in the Pudding for Proof: Grad Students and Food

from phd.comics
   What is a graduate student's relationship to food? This comic, first published on in 2005, above would indicate that the most important thing about graduate school cuisine is its fiscal impact on the student. Indeed, there is not much money for a graduate student to indulge in expensive, high-end groceries, restaurants, or gourmet treats.

    In my very first graduate class in the GSAS, I had the pleasure and honor of taking Dr. Stuart Sherman of the English department, who brought a lavish spread of cheeses, fruits, veggies, danishes, pastries, breads, crackers, and beverages to each of our once-a-week seminars. I used to LOVE these seminars -- our discussions were lively, and I would be nice and full afterwards that I wouldn't even need much, if any, dinner. SCORE! I then realized that this wasn't exactly the *norm* for graduate seminars, but still, throughout the years of coursework, many professors would often bring snacks here and there from various neighborhoods of the city as treats for their intellectually, and physically, hungry graduate students. 
    Despite money issues, though, food is, obviously, a primary need for any human being, and, some graduate students can find ways to incorporate food rituals into their routines born out of the unique qualities of the graduate student lifestyle. 
    An article published in April 2011 in The Chronicle recounts writer Rachel Hermann's relationship with food throughout graduate school; entitled "Food and Sanity in Graduate School," the piece suggests that food may be viewed not only as a source of comfort but also as a teaching tool for many grad students. Hermann explains how cooking, baking, and eating rituals provided humor, stress-relief, and socialization opportunities, and improved time management, productivity, and juggling responsibilities of every day adult life.
   Like Hermann, I too enjoy participating in a monthly dissertation reading group, and we enjoy a themed potluck style meal at each of our monthly meetings. It is so nice to enjoy and share homecooking together -- we all have tried our hand at making new dishes or sharing traditional ones from our repertoires with each other. There is something comforting and also bond-forming when a group cooks for each other; it becomes a safer space in which ideas can be shared. I'm sure there are plenty of academic treatises on the benefits of food-sharing rituals in human societies, but for me, I just know how it makes me feel, and it is a good thing.
   For now, I've gotten the ball rolling on this topic, but look for some grad-student friendly recipes upcoming in future posts! Cost, time, and space friendly, providing energy and nutritional value, with big taste for your buck -- that's what grad school cooking is all about!! Also, there are some good sites for you to check out: The Graduate Student Food Blog, Study Food, The Grad School Food Blog, and Grad School Veg all have great ideas and recipes made specifically with the grad-student lifestyle in mind!
    In the meantime, share your grad-student food stories here! Until next time, Liza <3

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Digital Humanities -- Upcoming events!

I checked on my friends at the The Fordham Graduate Digital Humanities Group today, and found out there's a lot of cool stuff going over there!
    First of all, if you don't know this group, check them out at their Facebook page and their website.
The FGDH group invites graduate students from across disciplines to join them in pursuit of developing and incorporating new digital technologies into the methods and practices of academic life.
    As a blogger for my graduate institution and a writer who has been investigating online publication media, my interest in digital humanities projects and initiatives has become both personal and professional. Plus, the idea of a "digital humanist" is just cool. I remember one of my favorite graduate school readings was Donna Harraway's "A Cyborg Manifesto," which got me thinking about different ways to imagine the human being in the post-modern age. And a few years back, the American Comparative Literature Association's (ACLA) conference theme was based around the idea of a "human" -- what does it mean to be human? Many of the panels investigated the expanding boundaries of the human bodies, brains, and social networks with the onset of the digital age.

    The aims of digital humanities may not be as "out there" as re-imagining the human being through the structure of the cyber-organism, but I do believe that its mission to find ways to incorporate digital technologies into humanities scholarship, research, and pedagogy is nonetheless essential to our social and cultural development not only as scholars but as human beings.
    So, how to get involved? Well, start this Monday by checking out the Day of DH! On Monday, April 8th, join the FGDHG and digital humanists around the nation in celebrating this event to raise awareness of digital humanities. What, you may ask, exactly, is a Day of DH? According to the official website, "Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities (Day of DH) is an open community publication project that  brings together scholars interested in the digital humanities from around the world to document what they do on one day." Participants can document their day via a digital forum hosted by Michigan State University’s MATRIX: The Center for the Digital Humanities & Social Sciences. The open online format takes advantage of the unique interactive and connective opportunities that the cyber-world can provide as a medium for publications. The finished product will be a tapestry of digital media woven together by digital humanists all over the world. Get involved or at least peek in on the fun!

    Then, on Wednesday, April 10th, the group is sponsoring a workshop seminar entitled "Getting Academic Things Done: How to Utilize Innovative Digital Tools," led by Jon Stanfill. The workshop will take place at Duane, room 140, on Rose Hill from 2:30 to 4pm. Check out this link for more information on how to participate in this event!
   Finally, on May 1st, 12:00-1:30, guest speaker Matt Gold will present on "Teaching to the Network: Digital Humanities and Public Pedagogy.” Check out the FGDHG Events page for more info on this upcoming presentation!
   Have a cyborganic day!!! :) -- Liza

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week!

Hey Readers! So, I just found this out: It is Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week! From April 1 to April 5th, universities around the nation are celebrating and appreciating its graduate and professional students:
"April 1-5, 2013 has been set aside as a time to recognize the contributions and importance of graduate students in the United States. We celebrate and honor the teaching assistants, research assistants, graduate association leaders and all students pursuing graduate and professional degrees. We appreciate your vital contribution to this university."
 The special week is sponsored by, a non-profit organization devoted to providing graduate students with resources ranging from dissertation advice, financial issues, mentorship, social issues, and even emotional and psychological crisis management. Check out their "Articles and Resources" page here.
   How will you be celebrating this week? Do you think we deserve a week of appreciation? Sound off here. At the very least, maybe your professors will bring you some pastries during your seminar today.

:) Enjoy being appreciated!
-- Liza


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

World Autism Awareness Day

Hello Readers!
   Today is World Autism Awareness Day! To celebrate, supporters of this international awareness day will "Light it Up Blue"! The Empire State Building here in NYC will be lit with beautiful blue lights. Teachers, educators, and parents around the world will be wearing blue. And I want to use today's blog post to create conversations about Autism in the graduate student community around the globe.
Last year in April, which is Autism Awareness Month, I posted an entry about how my graduate school scholarly pursuits have been shaped by, and now dovetail with, my work with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Check out the post here.
    I truly believe that the idea of neurodiversity needs to be discussed more often in academia, across all disciplines including history, literature, narratology, psychology, biological sciences, environmental sciences, social sciences, fine arts, philosophy, religious studies, law, business, and education. I currently am studying how early American literature engaged with its contemporary discourses of the mind and neuroscience, in order to see how our ideas of "cognitive normalcy" came to be. What makes someone "normal"? What role does our fiction play in shaping these ideas of the normal?

    The paradigm of "neurodiversity" de-emphasizes the binary of the normal versus impaired mind and instead draws a picture of the human mind that is naturally varied and diverse, and calls for a basic cultural and social acceptance and awareness of these variations, diversities, and differences as natural and even beneficial for society.
    Today, as you begin your day, think about how the idea of "neurodiversity" might change your outlook on your day, your work, or your life. Talk about it with someone, and share your thoughts and ideas!
    Check out this article for some more information and links!
Until next time! -- Liza