Thursday, February 25, 2016

Calling all creative students!!

Today, LITS launches the final installment of the Emily Silverman ’81 Student Prize contest, a juried competition to recognize an outstanding work of student creativity. Open to all current Mount Holyoke College students, the winning entry will be displayed in a LITS space and will also receive a monetary prize.

Deadline for submissions: Monday, March 21, 2016
For more information see:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It's hard to stop rebels who time travel: Celebrate Black History Month with Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism: you've probably encountered it before, whether you knew the term or not. Did you watch the animated series Static Shock as a kid? Are you a fan of comic book and film heroes Luke Cage, Black Panther, Blade, or Falcon? Love Janelle Monáe's albums Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) and The ArchAndroid? All of these works incorporate images and symbolism of Afrofuturism. But what is it?

"Speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth century technoculture -- and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future -- might, for want of a better term, be called "Afrofuturism." The notion of Afrofuturism gives rise to a troubling antinomy: Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures?"

This is a quote from Mark Dery's 1994 "Black to the Future" essay, where he coined the term. Dery interviewed science fiction writer Samuel R. "Chip" Delaney, musician and writer Greg Tate, and cultural critic Tricia Rose in an attempt to develop a definition for this term. Their conversations touched on books, music, comics, technology, and, yes, even fanfiction.

Want to get your hands on some Afrofuturist works at Mount Holyoke and in the Five Colleges? Maybe some of the works of Samuel R Delaney are up your alley. Or maybe you'd prefer Octavia Butler. If anthologies are more your speed, try Dark Matter : A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora or the sequel anthology, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones. The anthology Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements (available as an ebook) is another good source of Afrofuturist visions. You can search using Afrofuturism as a keyword, in our library catalog, to turn up even more examples.

Did you know that W.E.B. DuBois wrote science fiction? You can find Afrofuturist themes in his stories "The Comet" (see the anthology Darkwater : Voices From Within the Veil) and the recently discovered "The Princess Steel." The latter was found in the W.E.B. DuBois Papers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and you can read about the discovery and the story in a recent issue of Proceedings of the Modern Language Association.

To get another angle on Afrofuturism in culture, check out works by or about Sun Ra in Five Colleges collections. Sun Ra started out in jazz music and led his band, The Arkestra, from the 1950s until his death in 1993. He influenced music, art, and fashion with his experimental music, personal philosophies and narratives about himself.

Let's close with Cindy Mayweather, a decidedly Afrofuturist heroine:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Five Colleges 50th Anniversary

With the add-drop period now over, it is that time in the semester when everyone settles into their final course schedules. Whether you are staying on the Mount Holyoke campus this semester or venturing out into our neighboring colleges, you may be interested to know that the 2015-2016 year is the 50th anniversary of the Five College Consortium! In honor of this occasion, I invite you to take a look at how this five college community developed into what we know today.

Pictured above is the secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts presenting the charter for Hampshire
 College in the presence of the Presidents of Mount Holyoke, Amherst, UMass, and Smith colleges.

Although the Five College Consortium was not officially established until 1966 when Hampshire College joined with Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and UMass colleges, collaboration between the four original colleges started many years before. Joint faculty and academic departments were some of the beginning stages in establishing a community between the original four colleges. Eventually, their collaborations led to the founding and incorporation of the fifth college, Hampshire College.

Four colleges van transport. ca. 1961
Five Colleges bus system before 
arranging five college routes with PVTA
With the inclusion of Hampshire College and the official establishment of the Five College Consortium, the interaction between the colleges increased greatly, such as with the introduction of student cross registration between all five colleges. Consequently, the need for efficient transportation was more necessary than ever. Before Hampshire joined, the original four colleges used inter-campus transportation vans to provide students with the opportunity to visit the other colleges. However, after the consortium was established, the need for more effective transportation ended the original four college van service and was replaced with the five college bus system. Finally, in 1979, Five Colleges arranged transport services with the PVTA instead, which continues today.

Students attending a dance. ca. 1960-1969
Other developments to the Five College Consortium over the years include a range of departmental and extracurricular advancements made to integrate all five colleges and to provide further resources and opportunities for members of the Five College community. For instance, the Five College Dance Department, Astronomy Department, Foreign Language Resource Center, and Women's Studies Resource Center are all examples of departments that that have evolved as a result of this collaboration in the last fifty years. Clubs, extracurricular organizations, and college events are also often open to all five colleges, creating both academic and social communities between the colleges.

Today, the Five College Consortium offers each of these developments to its community in addition to to the benefits that come with combined access to all that these colleges have to offer, whether it be the libraries, museums, performances, department resources, or the network of students and faculty. Thanks to the work put into creating this consortium, those who wish to take advantage of the resources of all five colleges have the opportunity that otherwise would not have been possible.

Brittnee Worthy is a student Archives Assistant in Archives and Special Collections. 

All photographs are from the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections. To learn more about the five colleges or to explore other areas of interest visit the Archives in the Basement of Dwight!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Faculty Moodle Showcase February 12

Are you curious to see what some of your colleagues have been doing with Moodle? Perhaps interested in learning some new ideas or best practices for making the most of your Moodle course site? Join us at an informal Faculty Moodle Showcase for an opportunity to dig into some great examples!

  • When: Friday, February 12 from 12:30-2:00pm
  • Where: Language Resource Center in Ciruti (Room 6, lower level)
  • RSVP (optional but appreciated) by Tuesday February 9th at
  • Feel free to bring your lunch. Drinks and small refreshments will be provided.

Our colleagues in the languages have explored quite a variety of Moodle tools, activities and arrangements and would be happy to share them for thought and discussion.  The showcase panelists include Naoko Nemoto (Japanese), Mark Lauer (German), and Elena García Frazer (Spanish).

Each panelist will show us one or two of their Moodle course sites, and answer questions about how they’ve been using Moodle and managing their sites. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions about teaching with Moodle.  We hope to see you there!

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