culture

John Simpson is the former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, where he helped take the dictionary online.

His new book, The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary, is an intensely personal memoir and a joyful celebration of English, he weaves a story of how words come into being (and sometimes disappear), how culture shapes the language we use, and how technology has transformed not only the way we speak and write but also how words are made.

The art of hula is thriving in cities all over the country and the world, but it is not always understood.

In The Natives Are Restless, journalist Constance Hale presents the largely untold story of the dance tradition, using the twin keyholes of Kumu Patrick Makuakane (a Hawai‘i-born, San Francisco–based hula master), and his 350-person arts organization (Na Lei Hulu i ka Wekiu).

In the background, she weaves the poignant story of an ancient people and the resilience of their culture. In the foreground, she tells the story of an electrifying new form of hula that has emerged from a restless generation of artists like Makuakane.

With more than three million foreign-born residents today, New York has been America’s defining port of entry for nearly four centuries, a magnet for transplants from all over the globe. These migrants have brought their hundreds of languages and distinct cultures to the city, and from there to the entire country. More immigrants have come to New York than all other entry points combined. 

 City of Dreams by Tyler Anbinder is peopled with memorable characters both beloved and unfamiliar, whose lives unfold in rich detail.

In The Well-Tempered City, Jonathan F. P. Rose distills a lifetime of interdisciplinary research and firsthand experience into a five-pronged model for how to design and reshape our cities with the goal of equalizing their landscape of opportunity.

Rose works with cities and not-for-profits to plan and build green affordable and mixed-income housing and cultural, health, and educational centers. Recognized for creating communities that literally heal both residents and neighborhoods, Rose is one of the nation's leading thinkers on the integration of environmental, social, and economic solutions to the urban issues facing us today.

Fair trade is an approach to business and to development based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks to create greater equity in the international trading system. Fair trade supports farmers and craftspeople in developing countries who are socially and economically marginalized. These producers often face steep hurdles in finding markets and customers for their goods. Fair trade ensures fair wages, care for the environment and respect for cultural identity. 

Mayan Hands in Albany and Mango Tree Imports in Saratoga Springs are teaming up with local places of worship over this holiday season to present Fair Trade options for gift buying. Here to tell us more are Kim Andersen from Mango Tree Imports, Brenda Rosenbaum from Mayan Hands, and Carol Smith from B'nai Shalom, the venue for our first marketplace on Sunday Nov 13. 

Dates and locations for the Holiday Season Fair Trade Markets available here

Victuals is an exploration of the foodways, people, and places of Appalachia. Written by Ronni Lundy, regarded as the most engaging authority on the region, the book guides us through the surprisingly diverse history--and vibrant present--of food in the Mountain South.

Victuals explores the diverse and complex food scene of the Mountain South through recipes, stories, traditions, and innovations.

Kenneth Woodward edited Newsweek's Religion section from 1964 until his retirement in 2002. He remained a writer-at-large at Newsweek until 2009.

His new book is Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.

Beginning with a bold reassessment of the Fifties, Woodward’s narrative weaves through Civil Rights era and the movements that followed in its wake: the anti-Vietnam movement; Liberation theology in Latin America; the rise of Evangelicalism and decline of mainline Protestantism; women’s liberation and Bible; the turn to Asian spirituality; the transformation of the family and emergence of religious cults; and the embrace of righteous politics by both the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will talk about some of the issues that shape misperceptions of Muslims in the United States, and about the “Dialogues Across Divides” series about these issues taking place this fall throughout Western Massachusetts and supported by Mass Humanities.

We are joined today by Mehlaqa Samdani, executive director of Critical Connections, the nonprofit organizing the dialogues in partnership with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. The first event will take place on September 15th in Longmeadow, MA, and will address different kinds and causes of violent extremism in the United States; the second event is on September 28th in Amherst, MA, and will tackle Islam and homosexuality.

  After completing her MFA program in non-fiction, Hannah Tennant-Moore set off on a two-month sojourn to Sri Lanka to examine her longtime interest in Buddhism before beginning the next chapter of her professional career.

Immersed in the culture of the country and surrounded by the fascinating people that she got to know, she began to connect the threads that would form her new novel, Wreck and Order.  The result is a novel of ideas that looks at spirituality, sex, life, friendship, and the eternal quest for fulfillment in life and love that drives us all. 

Yidstock 2016

Jul 12, 2016

Now in its 5th year, Yidstock celebrates the best of klezmer and new Yiddish music with a wide-ranging lineup of concerts that demonstrate the diversity and breadth of the genre, along with workshops, talks, and other programs.

Headlined by the legendary Klezmatics, this year’s lineup also includes the Klezmer Conservatory Band, the Eleanor Reissa Trio, the Yidstock All-stars, and Sklamberg & the Shepherds and many more.

Yidstock Artistic Director Seth Rogovoy, author of The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover's Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music is here to tell us more along with Lisa Newman - Director of Communications at the Yiddish Book Center. 

  From the director of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom; The Music of Strangers, tells the extraordinary story of the renowned international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The feature-length documentary follows The Silk Road Ensemble -- a group of diverse instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers -- as they explore the power of music to preserve tradition, shape cultural evolution and inspire hope.

The Music of Strangers is the Berkshire International Film Festival's opening night film at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, MA on June 2nd at 7 p.m. Yo-Yo Ma will participate in a Q&A following the film.

  The fourth annual Art and Soul reception will take place tomorrow at the Vassar College Alumnae House will feature beautiful, vibrant Haitian art, live entertainment from Vassar student musicians, and fabulous cuisine from Twisted Soul. The program runs from 5:30pm to 8:00pm, and is open to the public.

The Art and Soul reception funds the staffing, supply, and operation of a medical center in northwest Haiti that serves thousands of local residents. For many residents, this is the first accessible medical care in their lifetime.

The Vassar Haiti Project, founded in 2001, promotes Haitian art, fosters sustainable development in Haiti, and provides students and volunteers a life changing experiential education in global citizenship. VHP’s contributions are guided by five initiatives: education, medical access, reforestation, clean water access, and women’s health.

This morning we welcome the co-founders of the project: Andrew and Lila Meade, board member Caryn Halle, and Dr. Joassainvil Gueslin.

Andrew Solomon will be at Oblong Books on 5/14.   (This interview names the incorrect date for the event.)

  Far and Away collects Andrew Solomon’s writings about places undergoing seismic shifts—political, cultural, and spiritual.

Chronicling his stint on the barricades in Moscow in 1991, when he joined artists in resisting the coup whose failure ended the Soviet Union, his 2002 account of the rebirth of culture in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban, his insightful appraisal of a Myanmar seeped in contradictions as it slowly, fitfully pushes toward freedom, and many other stories of profound upheaval, this book provides a unique window onto the very idea of social change.

In New Aging: Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever Matthias Hollwich has laid out his work on aging and architecture into a collection of short, digestible passages that will inspire us to think creatively and realistically about how we want to spend the rest of our lives.

His advice ranges from practical design tips for making our homes safer and more comfortable to thought-provoking insights on how we work, relax, travel, socialize, and even how we eat. Most importantly, Matthias wants us to make small, simple changes in our 40s, so we won’t be forced to make large ones in our 70s.

  In this week’s Classical Music According to Yehuda - Alan Chartock and Yehuda Hanani begin a series of conversations asking the question: What is Jewish Music?

Yehuda’s Close Encounters with Music series in Great Barrington, MA will feature a program of Jewish Music entitled Fiddler OFF The Roof on April 17th at 3pm.

New York Times bestselling author Mark Bowden has had a prolific career as one of America’s leading journalists and nonfiction writers.

His new collection, The Three Battles of Wanat and Other True Stories, features the best of his long-form pieces on war, as well as notable profiles, sports reporting, and essays on culture.

We hear all the time about weight gain, weight loss, how Americans are the heaviest we have ever been, and myriad plans for remedying our egregious fatness. Yet, what if much of what we are told, and what we believe, simply is not true?

Writer Harriet Brown set out to explore our relentless obsession with weight and thinness in the new book Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It.

  In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States.

Award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us that Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

'Trace' By Lauret Savoy

Dec 14, 2015

  While many geologists focus their inquiry on the Earth, probing contours of the land to reveal how past developments have come to shape the present, Lauret Savoy’s new book, Trace, takes a more personal journey.

Lauret Edith Savoy is a woman of mixed heritage, and a professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, where she explores the intertwinings of natural and cultural histories. She is a self-described “Earth historian” and in the new book traces her Native, African-, Euro-American ancestry across the United States in the hope of learning what her extended family experienced.

  Elaine Sciolino, the former Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times, invites us on a tour of her favorite Parisian street, offering an homage to street life and the pleasures of Parisian living.

While many cities suffer from the leveling effects of globalization, the rue des Martyrs maintains its distinct allure.

Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents—the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who’s been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers—bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty.

Elaine Sciolino’s new book is The Only Street In Paris: Life On The Rue Des Martyrs.

  Whether it was Katz' Deli on Manhattan's lower East side, Lindy's  in Midtown, or the Second Avenue Deli originally located in the East Village the sights, smells, and sounds of meats like pastrami, corned beef, and tongue, and glass cases filled with pickled delicacies and just the atmosphere and hubbub created by customers, lingering locals, and deli workers belonged to only one place: the neighborhood delicatessen. For Jew living in New York in the early to mid-twentieth century the deli was not only a place to purchase authentic kosher and Jewish cuisine but for many immigrants and their children it was also a place to socialize, bond, and network.

 Our Ideas Matter series allows us to check in with state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today we’ll learn about Herencia Latina 2015-16, an nine month program featuring a multitude of films, exhibits, discussions, and festivals examining and celebrating Latino heritage in the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts. The program is funded by Mass Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Library Association.

Our guests are Raul Gutierrez, Professor of Spanish at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and Cliff McCarthy, President of the Pioneer Valley History Network.

  The Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, NY hosts the 34th Annual Iroquois Indian Festival this weekend.

Storytelling, social dancing, and an all Iroquois Art Market are just a few of the activities featured at the festival. Guests can join Iroquois from throughout the Six Nations for a family friendly celebration of cultural pride and creativity.

Stephanie Shultes is the Executive Director of the Iroquois Indian Museum and she joins us now along with Amanda Kay Tarbell Kanatisake an Assistant Educator at the museum.

Why We Dance

Aug 17, 2015

  Kimerer L. LaMothe is a dancer, philosopher, and scholar of religion.

She also loves to dance, every day, feeling it is vital for her wellbeing. And when she scans the landscape of human life, she sees dance everywhere—in the earliest human art, the oldest forms of culture, and in every culture around the world into the present.

But, she says, in the maps of and for human life that comprise the philosophy, theology, and religious studies of the modern west, dance occupies a surprisingly small space. So, she has explored that in her new book: Why We Dance.

  In recent decades, America has been waging a veritable war on fat in which not just public health authorities, but every sector of society is engaged in constant “fat talk” aimed at educating, badgering, and ridiculing heavy people into shedding pounds. We hear a great deal about the dangers of fatness to the nation, but little about the dangers of today’s epidemic of fat talk to individuals and society at large. The human trauma caused by the war on fat is disturbing - and it is virtually unknown.

Susan Greenhalgh is Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. In her book, Fat-Talk Nation, Greenhalgh shows how the war on fat has produced a generation of young people who are obsessed with their bodies and whose most fundamental sense of self comes from their size.

  This coming weekend marks the celebration of the 38th Annual East Durham Irish Festival in East Durham, NY. The festival keeps the Irish American tradition alive with music, dance and more!

This year’s line-up includes: The Narrowbacks, The Fighting Jamesons, Whittlin' Donkeys, Andy Cooney, Celtic Cross and more - including 4 bagpipe shows and 4 step dancing shows – and that’s not all! There will be a new beer garden, cottage tours, map of Ireland tour, amusement rides, and an Irish Children’s play.

Here to tell us more are Bernadette Gavin and Kitty Kelly.

ciachef.edu

It’s not just about cooking. With the food landscape changing rapidly, companies are increasingly in need of expertise in food policy, community involvement, global issues, food systems, and much more.

That is why you can now study food history, cultures, and cuisines in the CIA’s Bachelor of Professional Studies in the Applied Food Studies program.

To tell us more, we welcome Beth Forrest - an associate professor of liberal arts here where she teaches the Introduction to Gastronomy course as well as History and Cultures of Europe, Food History, and Global Cuisines and Cultures.

  Also here is Deirdre Murphy who teaches History and Cultures of Asia, a course for juniors and seniors pursuing bachelor’s degrees in culinary management or baking and pastry management. Dr. Murphy also teaches electives in The Ecology of Food and Food and Culture.

  Simon Majumdar is a food writer, broadcaster, and author of Eat My Globe and Eating for Britain. He is a recurring judge on Iron Chef, The Next Iron Chef, and Cutthroat Kitchen. He is the fine living correspondent for AskMen.com and he writes regular features for the Food Network website.

He joins us to talk about about his new book, Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America with My Fork, an exploration into the food cultures that make up America—brewing beer, picking vegetables, working at a food bank, and even finding himself, very reluctantly, at a tailgate.

  Curated by Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims, Made in the Berkshires is a locally-grown festival of new works including theatre, film, dance, poetry, music, short stories, performance and visual art.

This year’s festival takes place Friday, October 10th through Sunday, October 12th at The Colonial Theatre, The Unicorn Theatre, and The Garage.

Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims join us now along with Kate Maguire. Kate is the Artistic Director and CEO of The Berkshire Theatre Group – whose stages host Made in the Berkshires. Kate will also tell us about a world premiere play that BTG is presenting in October - written and directed by Eric Hill and featuring David Adkins - POE tells the story Edgar Allan Poe - the great American poet and short story writer and his mysterious disappearance for four days in Baltimore in 1849.

    Joseph Luzzi is the author of Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and The Times Literary Supplement. He has received an essay award from the Dante Society of America, a teaching prize from Yale College, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The first American-born child in his Italian family, he earned his doctorate from Yale University and is a professor at Bard College.

In his new book, My Two Italies, Joseph Luzzi - child of Italian immigrants and an award-winning scholar of Italian literature - straddles these two perspectives to link his family’s dramatic story to Italy’s north-south divide, its quest for a unifying language, and its passion for art, food, and family.

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