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Category: Arts & Humanities

The Best Of Experimental Radio: Favorite Pieces From The NPR Archive : NPR


The network featured content from NPR reporters, freelancers and member stations, such as the National Center for Audio Experimentation (NCAE) at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, which shared staff and resources with WHA (Wisconsin Public Radio). The NCAE produced radio dramas and other explorations of sound, including the All Things Considered theme, composed by Don Voegeli.

UW Prof. Jordan Ellenberg, “Shape: The Hidden Geometry Of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy And Everything Else.”


Stu Levitan welcomes one of the brightest stars in the firmament that is the University of Wisconsin faculty, Professor Jordan Ellenberg, here to talk about his New York Times best-seller, Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else.

Q&A: Jazz musician Johannes Wallmann pays tribute to a creature he’s never met

The Capital Times

Johannes Wallmann got the recording of his new jazz album “Elegy For An Undiscovered Species” in just under the wire. The director of jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison brought 14 musicians, including a string section, together in the Hamel Music Center for a week in late February 2020 to record the tracks for the album. Two weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everything.

Enwejig Works To Preserve Wisconsin’s Indigenous Languages


For hundreds of years, Wisconsin’s indigenous languages faced suppression and extermination. Concerted efforts to wipe out native tongues played out in a variety of arenas — from schools to government policies.

Enwejig hopes to address some of those past injustices. The group, which formed last year on the UW-Madison campus, works to bring visibility and recognition to Wisconsin’s native languages.

For more on the group’s mission, our producer Jonah Chester spoke with Brian McInnes, an associate professor of civil society and community studies/American Indian studies at UW-Madison.

14 Excerpts from Commencement Speeches Without the Word C*vid

New York Times

André De Shields

Mr. De Shields is an actor, director and choreographer. He was the keynote speaker at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Why is today different from any other day?

Because you are about to use the many years you have prepared to go out into the world and find employment.

But not just any employment. Here is my charge to you: Don’t look for just a job. Look for that horizon that if you do not discover it, it will forever remain a secret. Look for that treasure, that if you do not uncover it, it will forever remain just X marks the spot. Look for that mystery that if you don’t unravel it, it will forever remain a mystery.

10 New Books We Recommend This Week

New York Times

SHAPE: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else, by Jordan Ellenberg. (Penguin Press, $28.) In fine-grained detail, “Shape” reveals how geometric thinking can allow for everything from fairer American elections to better pandemic planning. It offers a critique of how math is taught, an appreciation of its peculiar place in the human imagination and biographical sections about beautiful minds and splendid eccentrics. Ellenberg, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is “rather spectacular at this sort of thing,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes. His “preference for deploying all possible teaching strategies gives ‘Shape’ its hectic appeal; it’s stuffed with history, games, arguments, exercises.”

3 Black women from Jacksonville debut acclaimed books, become friends

Florida Times-Union

Noted: Moniz’ collection of short stories, “Milk Blood Heat,” was called an “electrifying debut” by a Washington Post reviewer who wrote it is “exhilarating and shocking and even healing.” She won the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, among other awards, and is leaving Jacksonville soon to teach creative writing at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

45 Memorial Day Songs: War Songs for Memorial Day


1. The Animals, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”The Animals‘ 1965 hit “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” wasn’t written explicitly about the Vietnam War, but many troops who fought in the stalemate adopted it as a rallying cry for the futility of their efforts and the lack of support veterans received if they were lucky enough to return home after battle. “We had absolute unanimity is this song being the touchstone,” Vietnam War veteran and University of Wisconsin Communications Systems Director Doug Bradley said in a 2006 interview. “This was the Vietnam anthem. Every bad band that ever played in an armed forces club had to play this song.”

‘Shape’ Makes Geometry Entertaining. Really, It Does.

The New York Times

Ellenberg, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is rather spectacular at this sort of thing. A seam in his narrative is a critique of how math, and especially geometry, has been taught. (His strategy for success in teaching is to employ more strategies; multiply approaches so students might find one that works for them.) He also takes a few well-aimed swipes at current depictions of the campus culture wars. The “cosseted” American college student might have launched a thousand Substacks, but have you heard of the “Conic Sections Rebellion”? Some 44 students, including the son of Vice President John C. Calhoun, were expelled from Yale in 1830, for refusing to take a geometry exam.

Some call it pop others call it soda

The Washington Post

The DARE project is overseen by the University of Wisconsin at Madison. (That’s in Dane County, a rare Midwestern outpost of pop/soda parity, according to An online subscription to the dictionary is $49 a year. There’s more info at

Wisconsin Film Festival announces 115 films to be streamed online for 2021

Wisconsin State Journal

Usually running in April, this year’s festival will take place May 13-20 and will feature 115 films — from narratives to documentaries, international, independent, animated films, shorts and more. The lineup was announced Friday, and single tickets are now on sale at Viewers can buy tickets for particular works for $10, a series for $50 or an entire festival pass for $140.

Book review of Assignment Russia: Becoming a Foreign Correspondent in the Crucible of the Cold War by Marvin Kalb

The Washington Post

In 1957, when Marvin Kalb joined CBS Radio in New York to write local news, television was called “electronic journalism,” and the backdrop for the “CBS Morning News” was a cardboard sign hanging above a desk on the fifth floor of the Grand Central Terminal building. The United States had yet to recognize what it referred to as “Red China” diplomatically, and Edward R. Murrow still worked for CBS

-Kathryn J. McGarr is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the author of “The Whole Damn Deal: Robert Strauss and the Art of Politics.” Her forthcoming book is about Washington foreign policy reporters in the early Cold War.

Why Disability Studies Scholars Are Protesting a Prominent Textbook

Chronicle of Higher Ed

A few lines above hers in the table of contents, Pickens saw the name of Sami Schalk, another colleague. Schalk, who studies race, gender, and disability in American literature as an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, also did not know she was going to be included in the reader. She messaged several of the other authors and soon formed a group text, which migrated to Facebook, then an email chain.

Here’s how pop culture has perpetuated harmful stereotypes of Asian women


Quoted: When a national tour of the musical came to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2019, Lori Kido Lopez — a media and cultural studies professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison — protested outside of the theater. As she told TODAY over Zoom, “Miss Saigon” embodies “the classic story of the self-sacrificing Asian woman.”

Kim, the protagonist, is a sex worker who falls passionately in love with an American GI — a romance that is, as Lopez pointed out, “already extremely uncomfortable because there’s a power dynamic where he’s paying her for sex.” He promises to take her back to the states; she promptly becomes pregnant. But the plan fails, leaving her languishing in war-torn Vietnam with a child to raise on her own.

How Wisconsin’s Charlie Hill Influenced Native American Comedy

Wisconsin Public Radio

After majoring in speech and comedy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he joined the American Indian Theatre Ensemble Company. He portrayed the Nez Perce trickster figure Coyote in a production called “Coyote Tracks.” The ensemble went on a six-week tour of Germany but infighting and an inability to receive regular payments led to the end of the troupe. When Hill returned to the United States, he began hanging out at new comedy clubs like Catch a Rising Star and the Improvisation in Greenwich Village.

U.S. Lawmakers Suggest 25 Movies About Latinos to the Film Registry – The New York Times

New York Times

The list speaks to many parts of the Latino experience, including people who are native to the United States and its territories and those who migrated to the country because of its politics and interventions in Latin America, Theresa Delgadillo, a Chicana and Latina studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in an interview.

Golden Globes: Mark Ruffalo wins 1st Globe for ‘I Know This Much Is True’; Aaron Rodgers gets a shoutout from Jodie Foster

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: Ruffalo had been nominated for Golden Globe awards three times before: for best actor in a comedy or musical for the 2014 movie “Infinitely Polar Bear”; best actor in a TV movie or miniseries for “The Normal Heart”; and best supporting actor in a movie for 2014’s “Foxcatcher,” as former University of Wisconsin-Madison wrestling coach David Schultz.

Poem: Smokey

New York Times

Born and raised in Compton, Calif., he is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he directs the M.F.A. program in creative writing. His latest collection, ‘‘Imperial Liquor,’’ was published by University of Pittsburgh Press in 2020 and nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry.

American Hegemony Is Ending With a Whimper, Not a Bang

The Nation

Today, in the era of a 78-year-old president, a veritable Rip Van Biden, Americans and the rest of the world are, it seems, waking up in a new age. It could well be a daunting one.Invest your way with Schwab.From automated investing to financial consultants, get tools and resources that match your needs.

-Alfred McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A TomDispatch regular, he is the author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power and Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State.

Nathans And Ronstadt Premier A New Music Video For ‘Ghost Writer’

Wisconsin Public Radio

Nathans has roots in Madison. He said he “began playing guitar and writing songs when I lived in Madison roughly two decades ago. I worked for The Capital Times covering the (University of Wisconsin) System, and I remember sitting at the Board of Regents meetings at the top of Van Hise Hall and scrawling song lyrics in my reporter’s notebook.

Artist Vicki Meek’s Nasher Exhibit is a Profound Celebration of African Ancestry

D Magazine

Noted: Meek knows a thing or two about the symbols and rhetoric associated with the African American race dialogue. She earned her MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which she calls “the Whitest place in the world.” In the 1960s, the university was a hotbed of civil rights activism. By 1971, when Meek arrived on campus, the administration had purged the campus of “most of the so-called radical element,” she says. “And I had gone to that school because of the radical element.”

Mellon Foundation grants $72 million to humanities projects focused on issues of racial justice

Inside Higher Education

Another $5 million grant, awarded to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, focuses on antiracism literacy in the sciences and medicine. “Over the summer in response to Black Lives Matters protests, my history of science colleagues and I were talking about how we could ramp up the teaching we do on histories of race in the sciences and medicine,” said Elizabeth Hennessy, the project leader and an associate professor of history and environmental sciences at Madison. “A typical education in the sciences doesn’t include a history of your own discipline. It rare that is an emphasis in scientific training, but I think it’s a really important emphasis.”

Local performer’s pro-staying-at-home video goes viral, thanks to Rafael, Ava & Oprah

Madison 365

James Gavins, the creative director of the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has taken to making music, dance and comedy videos during the COVID pandemic. Performing is nothing new for Gavins — an alum of the UW’s First Wave performing arts scholarship with a degree in theater, he worked with the Youth Arts Initiative and mounted a one-man show before returning to UW to join OMAI.

“The comedy and the sketches, and things like that, I’ve been doing that for a while, but as far as the music … that really started once quarantine hit, because I was an artist at home figuring this all out for myself, this is how I communicate. You try to communicate, and this is how I relate to most people,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

How Susie Yang Went From Tech Entrepreneurship to Literary Stardom

Wall Street Journal

Around the same time, her high school friend Lucy Tan, author of What We Were Promised, got into the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA program. “I remember when she told me, I was like, ‘What is an MFA program?’ When she explained it to me, I just remember being so inspired, but also shocked.” Yang was surprised to learn there was a professional track for literary writers.

New UW acting prof Baron Kelly uses arts to open doors

Capital Times

As an educator, actor, director and author, Kelly has built his career on making lasting connections. This fall, Kelly joined the UW-Madison Department of Theatre and Drama, where he earned a Ph.D. in theatre research in 2003. He’s teaching a small, upper-level Shakespearean performance course this fall.