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Center for Arts and Humanities celebrates launch, hosts NEH chairman

Washington State University will celebrate the public launch of the Center for Arts and Humanities (CAH) with two workshops and a reception on Oct. 24. Joining the festivities will be Jon Parrish Peede, chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“The center will serve as a ‘front door’ to the arts and humanities at WSU. Our goal is to nurture curiosity and encourage innovation that crosses traditional scholarly boundaries and supports the public good,” said Todd Butler, associate professor of English and CAH director.

The center will award its first two undergraduate scholarships at the reception and celebrate the work of the current cohort of eight CAH Faculty Fellows, who are pursuing projects ranging from an examination of the links between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frank Lloyd Wright to collaborations with Native American singers to preserve recordings of traditional Nez Perce songs.

Formally approved by the Board of Regents in May 2019, the center is supported by a University-wide consortium that includes the Office of Research, College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School, WSU Libraries, and the Office of the President.

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WSU Insider

Fulbright Summer Institute to the U.K. award takes WSU sophomore to Wales

Ava Beck.

Washington State University linguistics major and Spokane native Ava Beck will study at Aberystwyth University in Wales for three weeks this summer, thanks to a Fulbright Summer Institute to the U.K. award.

Beck is one of around 60 U.S. students selected to undertake short academic and cultural programs at any of nine hosting institutions throughout the United Kingdom. At Aberystwyth, on that country’s western coast, Beck will join fellow Americans exploring contemporary issues in identity and nationhood “through the lens of Wales.” She will attend classes in the university’s Dept. of International Politics, explore the city, visit the National Library of Wales, and learn a bit of the Welsh language.

“I am eager to learn and study during the experience and apply that knowledge to my future studies,” Beck said. “But I am also eager to just experience a new place and culture. I hope to grow in obvious and subtle ways and to bring this experience back with me to share with my peers as well as those I am closest to. It really is an exciting opportunity.”

The aspiring speech language therapist chose to apply to the Aberystwyth program for two reasons. She is interested that Wales is striving toward bilingualism in English and Welsh. Plus, she believes her academic area of interest—linguistics, or the study of the nature and structure of human language—is “irrefutably connected” to the summer themes of identity and culture.

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WSU Insider

Five accomplished men on the female role models that have changed their lives

David Leonard.

Dr. David Leonard, professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies and American Studies at Washington State University, talked about the influence of African American Studies professor and scholar Ula Taylor. Leonard and Taylor first met when he was a graduate student at University of California, Berkeley.

“I arrived in Berkeley with trepidation and anxiety. My fears were quickly assuaged after a lunch with Dr. Ula Taylor,” Leonard recalled. “At the time, I saw such support as ‘normal’ and ‘routine,’ yet it was anything but commonplace—it is the kind of daily labor that is often rendered invisible. This is the essential work, often carried out by faculty of color, particularly women, that deserves recognition because of its impact. This labor isn’t just about support and mentoring but intellectual work. Thank you, Dr. Ula Taylor for giving so much to me and so many others. Thank you for contributing to my purpose.”

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Social Issues in Cosplay: Racism

Holly Rose Swinyard, editor of The Cosplay Journal, examines an unpleasant aspect of the cosplay scene – and what can be done to tackle racism in the community

Racism is probably one of the biggest issues in the cosplay community. You’d think with a community that claims to be open, liberal and supportive that this wouldn’t be the case, but here we are.

I’m not going to sugar coat this. This isn’t a “tinge of racism” or a “dusting” of it – the cosplay community, and geek culture at large, has some serious racism embedded in it and is full of racist people. That’s just the case. It is happening. Everywhere.

And it’s not just language or slurs that are commonplace; there are so many people who think that making your skin colour darker/giving yourself more ethnic features (making your eyes look more Asian, making prosthetics to mimic black features etc) is the same as painting yourself blue or green or adding elf ears. Those who do this claim that what they are doing is not blackface or raceface, since, in their minds, what they are doing isn’t mocking people of colour, and yet they are being told over and over again that it is hugely disrespectful to use someone’s race as part of a costume.

David Leonard.
David Leonard

“Blackface is part of a history of dehumanization, of denied citizenship, and of efforts to excuse and justify state violence. From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilized blackface (and the resulting dehumanization) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence. It is time to stop with the dismissive arguments those that describe these offensive acts as pranks, ignorance and youthful indiscretions. Blackface is never a neutral form of entertainment, but an incredibly loaded site for the production of damaging stereotypes…the same stereotypes that undergird individual and state violence, American racism, and a century’s worth of injustice.”

wrote David Leonard, then-chair of Washington State University’s department of critical culture, gender, and race studies, in a Huffington Post essay, “Just Say No To blackface: Neo Minstrelsy and the Power to Dehumanize.”

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Duke University Apologizes Over Professor’s Email Asking Chinese Students to Speak English

Duke University has apologized after a professor cautioned international students against speaking Chinese on campus and urged them to speak English instead.

Anna Chow.Yung-Hwa Anna Chow, who advises students in Washington State University’s college of arts and sciences, said international students must already have English proficiency to study in the United States. While students may need to speak English in classrooms and research labs, they should be able to choose which language to speak in social settings, she said.

“To attack these students and say they have to speak English because it’s good for them and that they need to practice more, it speaks to these professors’ privilege and entitlement,” she said.

Ms. Chow, who was raised in Taiwan and began learning English at 12 when she moved to the United States, said speaking a native language allows people to connect with one another, establish a feeling of home and combat homesickness.

“That’s a really important piece for these students,” she said. “If you were traveling to China and you didn’t speak Chinese, would you want to be speaking Chinese all the time or would you feel more comfortable speaking English with your friends?”

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New York Times