The Klezmatics Performance

 The Klezmatics band


Date: April 9,2015                           Participants: 100s

Thursday, April 9, 6:30-8:00 pm The Klezmatics, in concert -- a world class New York City based American klezmer band that traces the origin of their music back to Eastern European Jewish tradition and spirituality demonstrated that they are also influenced by other musical forms including Arab, African, Latin, Balkan, jazz and punk to an audience composed of 150 members. Band Co-founder Frank Young explained the history of the klezmer tradition -- which included a brief description of Yiddish speaking people -- and how this band in particular has transformed the music in the context of New York City to express that which they feel as individuals and as a group - in regard to world peace, gay rights, human rights - for example. Frank reported that the band learned a Chinese song at the Shanghai ACC, with whom we are in collaboration, the preceding day and they then played it which greatly moved the audience . He also reported that the group had observed Buddhists in walking meditation at Nanjing's Jingan Temple that morning, and he indicated that repetition is also a klezmer music tradition which the group then illustrated. Lisa Gutkin elaborated on their receipt of the Grammy Award for Wonder Wheel (2006), where they  have put the lyrics of folk musician Woody Guthrie to music for the first time. The Klezmatics then demonstrated choice songs from the CD. This information concerning the connection between Woody Guthrie and the Klezmatics was of special significance to those present who had had the opportunity to see the play "Woody Says: the Life and Work of Woody Guthrie" and to hear lectures by independent scholar Sandra Parks on the relationship between human rights activist and folklorist Stetson Kennedy as part of our US Embassy Grant funded Cultures of the American Gulf Coast: Work and Play in Story and Song from Louisiana to Florida last academic year.

Below are the words of Center Assistant Yang Shuyuan (Lucas) which provide an overview of his perception of the Thursday evening concert:

Today's concert has been the most wonderful performances of this semester year yet. The Grammy winner, New York based Jewish American music band--the Klezmaticas gave a gorgeous concert at the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture in Nanjing. Vocalist Lorin Sklamberg began the performance with several pieces of music in the antique Yiddish language. Everyone was amazed at the wonderful combination of music and vocals. After kicking off, Frank London, the band's trumpet player, briefly introduced their music style, which is basically a combination of Arabic, traditional Jewish, Jazz, Latin etc music. Beautiful music then went on with vocalist Lorin and Lisa, vocalist and violinist of the team singing and other members' active participation. Students were so involved with the enthusiasm of this group of passionate musicians that they clapped and danced to the music, . Trumpet player Frank then gave the audience his thanks and those of the whole team. Later the Klezmatics presented students with happy tunes, some of which even included Chinese music which they said to have newly learnt during their trip. Every audience was totally indulgent in the dreamlike melodies. The concert ended with an applause of more than a minute. And it's sure, for my personal experience, an EVERLASTING experience to have known these fun people.


Date: April 10,2015                           Participants: 40s

Friday, April 10 The Klezmatics met informally with students, professors, and Dean Monique Taylor and explained the continuity and innovation of their musical tradition, that is, the historical roots and transformation that has occurred in other contexts especially that of New York City. They again shared that which they have in common with human rights activist Woody Guthrie and indicated why they chose to put several of Guthrie's lyrics to music for the first time. Chinese students were inspired to bring their instruments to this event; however one did not have access to his; therefore, Lisa Gukin let him borrow her violin! Frank London explained the meaning of some Yiddish words such as that of sholem: hello, goodbye and peace. He also elaborated on the traditional greeting of sholem aleichem meaning "peace unto you" and the traditional response: aleichem sholem. The group next taught the audience to sing the refrain of a traditional song sung by vocalist Lorin Sklamberg and  in which the Yiddish word sholem is repeated. All sang!! The two Chinese student violin players then played a minority group song followed by a Klezmatic rendition of it. Next Frank Young explained that the following song they would play is either of the Jewish, Greek, or Turkish tradition. He indicated that the melody was likely to have been learned through tradition first and then words were put to it. Toward the end of this two hour session, the musicians again played wedding music only this time everyone in the Center did indeed dance!  Lisa Gukin guided everyone present (including the Dean!) to get in a circle surrounding the seats and dance in a circle. Eventually this circle broke into pairs and students, faculty, and the Dean danced in couples.




Between Earth and Sky: Contempoaray Art from the American Southwest

                                                Julio Cesar Morales,Visual Arts Curator,Arizona State University 


(Waiting for pictures)


On Sunday, April 5, 2015 Julio Cesar Morales, Arizona State University Art Museum Curator hung the exhibit Between Earth and Sky: Contemporary Art From the American Southwest on the four walls of the the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture at NUPT. This exhibit consists of twelve artists who describe themselves as being American, Native American, Hispanic American, and Vietnamese American and are characterized by Arizona State University Art Museum Director Gordon Knox in the introduction to the catalog of the exhibit as being some of the American Southwest’s “most astute, critical, and thoughtful artists.” Indeed, the truth of these words are made evident in this exhibit as well as in the  PowerPoint presentation about their work given by Julio Cesar Morales on Tuesday, April 7, 12:30 1:30 pm to an audience of forty students a day after the show opened. (It did not open on April 6, as planned, out of respect for the Chinese Qing Ming holiday.) Mr. Morales discussed the work of all twelve artists from the woodcuts of Alice Leora Briggs, each created in response to one line in a poem, to the photographs of Native Americans by the Native American Will Wilson who seeks to document this group “from the standpoint of a twenty-first century indigenous, trans-customary cultural practitioner” as he states in the catalog. The audience of forty received a fine introduction to contemporary artists of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona through the curator’s enthusiastic and informed lecture. Members mainly queried about how certain art forms were created by the artists while the lecturer stimulated dialogue after his presentation by asking students which piece of art was their favorite and why.

In addition to the PowerPoint presentation described above, Mr. Morales spoke informally with a class of thirty Communication Arts Students who are taking a course on Radio Production with Dr. Geoff Bell, on Tuesday, April 7, from 1:30 3:30 pm. Dr. Morales described the radio program he started at San Francisco Art Institute which still continues to this day. He also shared his short animated documentaries which he related to the issue of sound on radio. The sounds heard by a street vendor in his family’s hometown in Mexico and the accordion filmed in the Amazon River were especially poignant. In addition, Mr. Morales’ presentation of his watercolor diagrams of Mexican individuals trying to cross the U.S. border concealed in passenger vehicles had particularly powerful impact on those present. The students were greatly involved in this talk and did ask questions. One answer led to our learning that Mr. Morales’ grandfather had been a street vendor in Mexico for fifty years. Afterwards, one top Communication Arts student commented that Mr. Morales is “gifted.”




Film Colloquium Poster,Spring 2015







Capitalize V,T,R For Views, Thoroughbred, Racetack

 Ellen McHale Ph.D

Date: March 23, 2015                Participants: 50s

           We at the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture were greatly honored to have folklorist Ellen McHale, Ph.D., present on her new book:  STABLE VIEWS:  VOICES AND STORIES OF THE THOROUGHBRED RACETRACK (Uiversity of Mississippi, 2015). This publication is largely based on the fieldwork she did at Saratoga, Belmont, and Aqueduct Racetracts in New York State with the assistance of an Archie Green Fellowship in Occupational Folklore from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
Dr. McHale began her presentation with a brief self-introduction in regard to her experience with the study of racetrack  folklore. She spoke about how the book is based on more than a decade of recorded oral histories pertaining to the occupations of those who compose the racetrack community. Pictures were shown all through the presentation of those in the various occupations about which she lectured: grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, trainers,  outriders, horse identifiers, blacksmiths, horseshoers, and jockeys, for example. She elaborated on instances where entire families had different occupations at the track which helped to perpetuate certain occupational traditions. She explored the folkloric elements of the clothing worn by individuals in certain racetrack occupations as well as the language coined by others. She mentioned Irish and Latino American workers at the track but clarified that no particular ethnic group dominates the occupations at the racetracks. The Director of the New York Folklore Society and former Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, explained that the idea of luck is especially important in the career of hotwalkers, those who walk the horses after they have come off the track. These workers would not dream of changing the direction in which he/she walks horses due to the belief that it is bad luck to do so. Immediately following the PowerPoint presentation, students asked questions about the reasons why racetrack employees travel from track to track and whether going to the racetrack is still a popular activity in the states.  Dr. McHale informed the audience composed of approximately forty students, faculty, and administrators that these individuals travel due to the changing seasons, the weather, and the schedulng of the races in different parts of country. This folklorist  indicated that racetrack attendance may not be as popular as in the 1980s but that it is still an important recreational and, for some, gambling activity in the country. Everyone present was content with this informative and interesting culture-rich presentation and continue to appreciate the accompanying photo exhibt still to be found in the Center for Humanities and Culture at NUPT.

  If you want more information about New York  folk lore, click this link:




Changing Foodways in Gentrifying Harlem

 Dean Monique Taylor


Date: December 1, 2014                             Number of participants: 26

NYIT Nanjing Campus Dean and Executive Director for the NYIT China Program’s Monique Taylor lectured on "Changing Foodways in Gentrifying Harlem" in the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture during the NUPT Fall Inaugural Event.  Early in Dean Taylor's presentation was the inclusion of colorful and detailed maps of Harlem.  Alongside the work of Jacob Lawrence presented on-screen, we were able to clearly situate ourselves in this part of New York while also gaining a deep sense of the pain and beauty that dominated this community's history.  Dean Taylor’s explanation of the Great Migration of African Americans from the south and of the Harlem Renaissance that followed facilitated our appreciation for this strong and enduring community.  Dean Taylor's elaboration of southern food traditions, their migration and later transformations in this environment due to the changing demography, was highly illuminating.  In addition, Dean Taylor's sharing of her fieldwork, especially in regard to the dishes she enjoyed this summer and the menus she collected on her feasting journey throughout the ever-changing Harlem, was a delight.  The audience also greatly appreciated the way in which the Dean enriched the presentation with the poetry, quotations, and music of Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, and Duke Ellington, respectively.


A Folk Arts of New York State Lecture on Furniture Making

Professor Christopher Dewart

Date: November 20, 2014                                         Number of Participants: 50

Professor Christopher Dewart – a professor of Furniture Making in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 1987 -- presented his lecture, "From Shaker to Ikea: A Folk Arts of New York State Lecture on Furniture Making."  He began with an overview of American history, establishing the foundation for the aspect of his talk regarding folk art.  He indicated that "American Folk Art is shaped by the indigenous Native Americans and by all the different cultures that arrived in North America: the Spanish, the English Puritans, the enslaved and indentured servants, and people fleeing persecution, poverty and war," as stated in his lecture summary.  The Professor asserted that it is necessary to look to traditions of the past in order to help create the designs of today.  For example, the religious group named the Shakers created extremely simple designs as an expression of the value of simplicity in their lives; these designs can be found in present-day Ikea© stores.  This New York folk group shares the simplicity of design and materials with another religious group, the Amish.  Professor Dewart shared a wide assortment of colorful and high-quality slides, not only regarding the work of the Shakers and Amish, but also of a variety of furniture designs from Asia and Europe.  In addition, as also stated in his lecture summary, he informed the audience that:


At MIT, we are makers 'Making'… MIT provides opportunities for the artist, the scientist, and the technician to work together to build better designs.  With many 'FabLabs,' a glass lab, blacksmith shop, several wood shops, welding facilities, electronics labs, and machine shops all available to both faculty, staff and students, MIT is producing important, innovative and sustainable design for the future.



Women of Courage

 Dean Monique Taylor

Date: November 13, 2014                                         No.  of Participants:30ds-zcxO) 

 Today's Center Event served as the opening ceremony for the Exhibit: Women of Courage Our esteemed Dean Monique Taylor and distinguished Nebraskan guests from the Center inXi'an joined us.  Professor Beverly Butcher began the event with a brief introduction about the Exhibit: 72 African American women who were born between the late 1870s and the second decade of the twentieth century (with the exception of one).  These 72 women represent a "cross section of the many women of African descent who made significant contributions of varying kinds to American society in the early and middle decades of the twentieth century" Professor Butcher.  Dean Taylor then shared her thoughts about those “women of courage” and imparted additional era-specific information.  She began with a book named "But Some of Us Are Brave," which drew our attention to the black community, specifically the disregard of black people's civil rights, especially those of black women.  These civil rights issues are shown time and again throughout a 150-year period.  She also introduced the two American Supreme Court cases that forever changed the treatment of black citizens in America: Plessy versus Ferguson and Brown versus the Board of Education.  These two cases taught facts that we as beginners and learners must know when we talk about racial and post-racialism problems.  Dean Taylor’s introduction was very professional and easily understood, especially for new learners.  After Dean Taylor’s presentation, one of the assistants presented Rosa Parks, one of the most famous civil rights activists of all time.  It was a successful kick-off for the Exhibit!


Video Game Literacy

Professor Christopher Patterson


Date: November 25, 2014                                         Number of Participants: 50

Tonight's English Corner featured a grand crowd of about 50 people.  Professor Christopher, the leading star for the night, began the EC with a question, or rather, a survey: how many participants are "gamers"?  Luckily, we did not have too many addicted gamers.  Professor Christopher showed us some games that he had played or had experience with, many of which aroused students’ interests.  He then presented studies that prove that gamers are not what we think them to be: people who are so addicted to their respective games that they have no regard or awareness of real life.  We learned that video games can also be considered an art form.  Professor Christopher also came to the conclusion that game culture has become more "male".  After the professor's talk, he posed discussion questions that would further our understanding of the content he had covered; the students and two other professors talked and debated.  One interesting thing about this EC was that there were some NUPT English-major students involved, and they shared their opinions about whether games can be a kind of literature and art.  Students who participated also talked about their experiences with games and expressed their understandings of balancing between games and academic performances.  It was a fantastic, fun-filled night.



Film Colloquium Poster, Fall 2014




Halloween Party 2014


Cultures of the American Gulf Coast: Work and Play in Story and Song from Louisiana to Florida

Sandra Parks, M.A., Independent Scholar

Students speak at an event

Date: May 15, 2014                                      Number of Participants: 35

On Thursday, May 15, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Sandra Parks, M.A., Independent Scholar, spoke on “The Life and Work of Floridian Folklorist Stetson Kennedy,” to an audience of approximately thirty-five students and faculty. Her presentation largely consisted of stories of growing up in St. AugustineFlorida during the early to mid-twentieth century in which Jim Crow laws were in place. She explained that her late husband was inspired to risk his life to change such thinking specifically by his infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan as described in his book The Klan Unmasked (University of Alabama Press, 2011).

On Thursday, May 15, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Sandra Parks, M.A., Independent Scholar and prolific author of numerous Critical Thinking books (The Critical Thinking Company) spoke on “Critical Thinking About Assumptions: Their Eyes Were Watching God,” in which she provided a model lesson demonstrating uncovering unstated assumptions which explored racial stereotypes in the Gulf South at mid-twentieth century. The audience was composed of professors, administrators, and an attentive thirty students, many of whom had read portions of this book as part of their Multicultural Literature Cultures of the American Gulf Coast course. Ms. Parks began her talk by describing the attitudes about beauty that predominated in early twentieth century Florida especially, but not only, in relation to skin color.

On Thursday, May 15, 1:45-3:45 pm, Sandra Parks, M.A., Independent Scholar, spoke with Professor Zhang Dongmei (Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology) informally on the life and work of Florida authors Zora Neale Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and Stetson Kennedy in Dr. Beverly Butcher’s Multicultural Literature Cultures of the American Gulf Coast: Work and Play in Story and Song from Louisiana to Florida class. Three sections of this course had read chapters from Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (HarperPerennial, 1999) and the first chapter of Kennedy’sThe Klan Unmasked (University of Alabama Press, 2011). They will be reading chapters in Rawling’sThe Yearling (Scribner, 2002) during the final weeks of class.


The Campbell Brothers

The Campbell Brothers

The Campbell Brothers joined by erhu player Cao Jiawang play at the NYIT-NUPT Overseas Education Building The Campbell Brothers joined by erhu player Cao Jiawang play at the NYIT-NUPT Overseas Education Building The Campbell Brothers joined by erhu player Cao Jiawang play at the NYIT-NUPT Overseas Education Building The Campbell Brothers joined by erhu player Cao Jiawang play at the NYIT-NUPT Overseas Education Building

Date: May 15, 2015                        Number of Participants: 80

Thursday evening, May 15, 7:00 – 8:15 pm, The Campbell Brothers, based in Rochester, New York, but with strong Florida connections, where their family has a history of performing expressed their sacred steel guitar music in Concert on the first floor of the NYIT-NUPT Overseas Education Building before an audience or 150 students, faculty, administrators as well as the public. Erhu player Cao Jiawang, a graduate student at the Guangzhou Xinghai Conservatory of Music joined these artists for several pieces. NYIT-NUPT students especially were enthralled by this music which inspired many to participate not only with their voices but also with the waving of hands and jumping to the music.National Public Radio American Routes radio show creator and host Nick Spitzer, Ph.D., and Josh Kohn organized and narrated the highly successful program with Chuck Campbell (pedal steel guitar), Phil Campbell (electric guitar, bass), Darick Campbell (lap steel guitar), Carlton Campbell (drums), Daric Bennet (bass) and gifted Tiffany Godette (vocals). Many of the students proclaimed the event to be “fabulous” while professors used such words as “uplifting” to describe the spirit of the music as well as the quality of the interaction between the band and the audience members.


The Campbell Brothers Panel

The Campbell Brothers

The Campbell Brothers meet with over students at the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture at NUPT

The Campbell Brothers meet with over students at the NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture at NUPTDate: May 16, 2014                                     

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