An Interview with author Sharon White

sharon white.jpgInterview with Sharon White

On Thursday, March 25, 2010, author and professor Sharon White visited the Paley Library Book Club to discuss her most recent book, Vanished Gardens: Finding Nature in Philadelphia. Sharon White is the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Sharon spoke to the Book Club about her own experiences and explorations of public gardens in Philadelphia. She also discussed her research of the little-known history of urban agriculture that is as old as the city itself. After the book club talk, Sharon sat down with librarian Adam Shambaugh to chat about Vanished Gardens, her earlier works, life in Philadelphia, and writing as a healing process. Please have a listen.

 

Adam Shambaugh

Talking About Starbucks

Bryant Simon

Bryant Simon

Temple history professor Bryant Simon is the author of Everything But the Coffee: Learning About America From Starbucks, published by University of California Press in 2009. It describes how the Starbucks phenomenon reflects many of the social and cultural trends in American society and business. On March 24, 2010, he stopped by Paley Library to talk to me about his new book. He discussed the history of the company, the research methods he employed, the coffeehouse tradition, the shrinking of public spaces in America, and how we might renew our civic culture.

Listen to the audio of the interview

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—Fred Rowland

Discussion with Temple Classicists

tompkins.jpg robin.jpg roy.jpg

On March 18, 2010 I had the opportunity to speak with Classics professors Dan Tompkins, Robin Mitchell-Boyask, and Sydnor Roy. I wanted to understand how Classics research–and humanities research more generally–had changed in the course of the past few decades in the wake of broad transformations in academia, technology, and society.

Dan Tompkins received his PhD from Yale University in 1968 with a dissertation entitled Stylistic Characterization in Thucydides. Robin Mitchell-Boyask graduated in 1988 from Brown University with a dissertation entitled Tragic Identity: Studies in Euripides and Shakespeare. Sydnor Roy is a 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her dissertation is entitled Political Relativism: Implicit Political Theory in Herodotus’ Histories.

We began by discussing their respective dissertation experiences: where they studied, what kinds of sources they used, the technology that was available, and the scholarly community that surrounded them. Since the three dissertations spanned the years from 1968 to 2010, the discussion revealed interesting similarities and differences in the academic environment over the past forty years. Below is Part 1 of our discussion. Parts 2 and 3 will follow.

Listen to the audio of the discussion, Part I

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—Fred Rowland

Discussing American Jewish History Research

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On September 9, in a ceremony at Sullivan Hall, over one hundred interested faculty, students, staff, friends, and members of the public celebrated the arrival of the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center (PJAC) to Temple’s Main Campus. This 5 million piece collection is perhaps the best local Jewish archive anywhere in the country and finds an excellent home in the Temple University Libraries’ Urban Archives, a research center specializing in twentieth century Philadelphia. Another new arrival to Temple’s Main Campus, from its former Temple University Center City home, is the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Both of these organizations will invigorate Jewish studies research at Temple University. On November 6, Sarah Sherman, Archivist for the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center, and Lila Berman, head of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, sat down with librarian Fred Rowland to discuss the recent arrival of these two organizations. They discuss the long arc of Philadelphia Jewish history, the history of their respective organizations, and their roles in promoting research at Temple University. Interview (mp3; 28:24 minutes; 26 MB)

In Every Tongue–Speaking about Gary Tobin

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The Center for Afro-Jewish Studies and the Jewish Studies Program held its 3rd Annual Symposium on Race and Judaism on November 19, 2009. The day’s program was devoted to themes in memory of the late Dr. Gary Tobin who died on July 6, 2009. Gary Tobin was the President of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, and, along with his wife Dianne, the founder of Be’chol Lashon/In Every Tongue, “a think-tank devoted to the study of Jewish diversity and bringing diverse communities of Jewish people together across the globe.”  (View this short film about Be’chol Lashon.)  Gary Tobin was a social scientist, teacher, and community organizer with interests in Jewish demography, philanthropy, antisemitism, and anti-Israelism.

On the morning of the symposium, librarian Fred Rowland sat down with four of the participants to discuss Gary Tobin, the organizations that he created, the issues to which he devoted his life, and the day’s events. They were Lewis Gordon, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies; Laura Levitt, professor of religion and women’s studies; Rabbi Capers Funnye of the Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Chicago, and Walter Isaac, graduate fellow for the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies.

Stone Reader Interview

Mark Moskowitz sat down for an interview with librarian Fred Rowland after discussing books and filmmaking in an appearance at the Paley Lecture Hall on March 24, 2009. Moskowitz is the producer and director of the non-fiction narrative film The Stone Reader, in which he tracks down the elusive author of The Stones of Summer, Dow Mossman, a young writer who slipped into obscurity after publishing his first novel. The Stone Reader won awards at both the 2002 Slamdance Film Festival and the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. In this interview, Moskowitz talks about the book, his film, its reception, and his current projects.

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Vampire Huntress Interview

Leslie Banks appeared at the Temple Book Club on March 4, 2009 to talk about her new book, The Thirteenth, and her new projects including a forthcoming graphic novel. In an engaging presentation with many fans in the audience, she discussed the final book of her Vampire Huntress series, as well as her journey to becoming a writer, the publishing industry, and the challenge of writing as a career. Afterward, she kindly agreed to an interview with librarian Fred Rowland, who engaged her on many of these same issues.  Take some time to listen to this interesting interview.

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Interviews: Library Prize Winners 2009

The interviews with the winners of the 2009 Library Prize for Undergraduate Research are now available for download. Take some time and listen to these engaging young scholars.

Interview (mp3, 13:06): Danielle Country and Faculty Sponsor Laura Samponaro

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Interview (mp3, 21:36): George Keddie and Faculty Sponsor Vasiliki Limberis

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Interview (mp3, 15:05): Cara Shay and Faculty Sponsor Diana Woodruff-Pak

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For more information on this year’s winners and honorable mentions, go to the Winners page.

New Orleans Before & After: author interview

Author Ronald Gauthier visited the Temple Book Club on December 4 to discuss his new book Crescent City Countdown, a mystery which is situated in post-Katrina New Orleans. Gauthier discussed his colorful and nuanced characters, the twists and turns of plot, and the mystery’s connection to real events in New Orleans. He also addressed the profit-driven pressures of the contemporary publishing industry and his current writing projects.

After his appearance at the Temple Book Club, he stopped by for an interview. We talked about his book as well as the odyssey that the winds of Katrina set him on, blowing him from New Orleans to Atlanta and beyond. Have a listen.

 (mp3, running 15 minutes)

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—Fred Rowland

Exploring Race in Contemporary Judaism

On October 6, 2008, The Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought at Temple University held its Second Annual Symposium on Race and Judaism in the Paley Library Lecture Hall. The program was entitled Exploring Race in Contemporary Judaism: A Symposium on Jewish Diversity [click here for PDF of flyer].

Before the symposium began, Professor Lewis Gordon, director of The Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought, sat down with three of the presenters, Edith Bruder, Avishai Mekonen, and Shari Rothfarb Mekonen to discuss their work. Edith Bruder has written a book entitled The Black Jews of Africa: History, Religion, Identity and her symposium presentation was entitled “African Judaism: Ancient Myths and Modern Phenomena”. Avishai Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb Mekonen screened and discussed their work-in-progress documentary, 400 Miles to Freedom, a “film [which] explores racial and ethnic diversity in Judaism through the story of Avishai Mekonen, whose disappearance in Sudan as a boy launches a quest that leads him to other African, Asian and Latino Jews in Israel and in the U.S.” John L. Jackson, who also presented at the symposium (“The Bodied Politic: Ethnobiology, Anti-Religiosity and the Reckoning of Black Hebrewism”) was not present for this recording (but we hope to record an interview with him at a later date).

 (mp3, 22 MB).

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