The flash beamed into the eyes of my peers as I wound up the camera for a quick second shot. “Everyone say cheese” as the flash once again made my friends freeze like a deer in headlights. “What the f*** is that Michael?”, but I had no time to explain as I raced around the room looking for another timeless shot. Time was running out as I tried to relive these moments forever.
With second semester of senior year finally eliminating the pressure of college applications and homework assignments, my friends, Max and Ben, and I were finally able to design our project. Throughout high school we always talked about “doing something cool” senior year, but we never figured out what to do. Sharing a passion for all types of art and the vintage aesthetic, we wanted to construct a project that we would remember forever. From creating a short film on a VHS camcorder, to constructing an exhibit of mood boards in our high school, we thought of almost everything, but nothing ever came into fruition. It was not until we were at a party one night that the idea came to us. The three of us walked around and noticed almost everyone posting stories on their Snapchat. With these stories only lasting 24 hours we began to question how one could turn these short moments into timeless memories. The answer was: Point and Shoot Film Cameras. As a famous photographer, Gunner Stahl, once said “there is nothing more natural than an unfiltered film photo” (I Don’t Even Rap, Fader.com). With the power of a simple disposable camera from CVS, we were able to create something much more meaningful than a 15 second low quality clip.
From there on out we always kept these small cameras by our side. Whether it was a shot in the cafeteria at school, or at a Friday night party, these special moments can come at unexpected times. Though at first, our classmates would give us weird looks and mock us for our “girly little arts and crafts project”, they were all amazed by the sentimental value each photo held. It was almost as if we were able to relive these experiences once the images were developed on paper. When we saw this value in a photo that was taken a week before, we began to think about the nostalgic power they would hold 50 years from now. This realization inspired us to give the photos to the people we shot as we found ourselves picking up prints weekly at the local camera store. We would organize our collection of photos based on our peers and leave them in their mailboxes around town. The simple smiles and laughs that each photo created made the time and effort worth it as each photo shared a unique story.
Everyone at some point in their lives has heard of the phrase “a Kodak moment”, but rarely people take it literally. Though the sheer emotional attachment of these memories grow as we get older, the vividness and accuracy of these moments slowly fade away. With the power of the printed film photos, the three of us were able to create something tangible out of a moment in time. Essentially a memory pasted on a piece of paper, never to be faded and forgotten. Though these prints may be left around in some cabinet drawers decades from now, I am confident they will reappear in everyone’s life at some point, not only sparking the essence of childhood, but also the relationships that were built.
TheFaderTeam. “Gunner Stahl – I Don’t Even Rap.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 Sept. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VL3LyfL9iA.
Michael and Sandro stood anxiously shivering under the roof of Long-Street Means as the 42 degree air had their teeth chattering and fingers frozen. Once again Sandro subtly hinted “Do we really have to go? I’ve been there before and have pictures”. Without even acknowledging his comment Michael jumped in the Uber and Sandro reluctantly followed. Once again Sandro decided that the Uber driver was his best friend as Michael shook his head and put in his headphones. Though the ride only lasted 10 minutes, the sound of Sandro talking about cheese with this complete stranger had Michael smashing his head against the window.
Shortly after the ride Michael and Sandro were warmly greeted by the garden staff with a “We are closed!” as the receptionist shut the window. Sandro started laughing hysterically, but Michael was extremely frustrated as the garden was supposed to be open on Sundays. A technician approached us from behind explaining that there was a “power outage” moments before we arrived. After Sandro berated Michael with about 50 “I told you so”s, Michael was convinced that Sandro was a bad luck charm for our blogs. “What the f*** are we going to write about” Michael crankily said, but Sandro somehow had it all planned out.
Sandro’s eyebrow started twitching and along came a sudden flashback. It was like a PTSD moment for the Vietnam War veterans except on a smaller scale. He was only 13 years old when his parents forced him to go to this wretched place. Sandro turned to Michael and started talking about his first experience: “First up, after the main entrance hall where you are given the opportunity to learn all the worthless information about the different types of flowers at the garden, is the Rose garden itself. The tour guide as well as the website said that ‘The Rose Garden offers a representative collection of old-fashioned and landscape roses to visitors. These varieties are managed organically and are interplanted with appropriate perennials’.”
However, to bring it down to a few sentences, if you’ve ever seen a bunch of different colored roses planted together or have seen four different colored roses in a small bouquet, you can completely skip this part and head on over to the next useless attraction at the garden, the Great Lawn. This one’s amazing, there’s a whole field of grass, I was absolutely mesmerized when I saw grass for the first time in my life on this indeed Great Lawn. If you come at night, they even hang some flashing lights on nearby trees as well as across some of the bushes surrounding the Chapman Conservatory. The lights, I have to admit, were very aesthetically pleasing, but I definitely wasn’t at the botanical garden to get an epileptic seizure. Our tour guide said our next stop was…. The Rock Garden. Holy f***ing s**t, I thought to myself, rocks with lights over them. The tour guide described it as an exciting addition to that garden, but really there was just one tiny gazebo with water around it.
On the way we saw the Parterre Fountain Installation, which definitely did not make my $30 ticket worthwhile. The website says “Created for the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2004, Dale Chihuly’s Parterre Fountain Installation is a one-of-a-kind sculpture in blue and white, interpreting shapes and colors of water, ice and sky. A captivating assemblage of twisting, brightly colored glass, the sculpture sparkles in Levy Parterre Fountain, where it is especially lovely lit up after dark. See it sparkle from a whole new perspective, the top of the recently renovated Alston Overlook.” “Sparkle” there was not sparkle. I thought I came to the garden to see plants, not glass. Last but not least we were at the Gardens in Storza Woods where we would “Experience the tranquil beauty of storied hardwoods surrounded by woodland gardens in one of four spaces: Beachwood Overlook, Boardwalk Balcony, Channel Overlook and The Patio at the Water Mirror.” That was truly the only good part about the garden, nothing was altered, it was just one big peaceful wooded area. But again, the ticket was $30 and I have some trees planted in my backyard as well.” Wow, Michael thought as Sandro finally closed his mouth and they hopped in the Uber back to Emory. Thank God for the wind that day, as otherwise he too would’ve endured the same torturous fate as Sandro did on the cold night of August 11th, 2014.
Although Sandro successfully convinced Michael that the power outage was a good thing, he noticed a theme in Sandro’s flashback. Though Sandro’s experience was utterly painful, he seemed to have appreciated the natural beauty of the Gardens in Storza Woods. He was able to describe in great detail the unpolished elegance of this wooded area compared to the superficial aesthetic of the other sites. Though the Botanical Garden emphasizes an “organic approach”, it seems like almost everything in the garden has some sort of human alteration and fabricated appearance. Whether it was the Rock Garden or Parterre fountain, there really seemed like nothing truly natural about this garden. While one could easily argue that the garden is supposed to be seen as a giant architectural achievement, there are some clear transformations that are almost too artificial. A perfect example of this can seen with the lights on the Great Lawn. Though this arrangement was aesthetically pleasing, Sandro was disappointed because the lights distracted the visitors from the natural beauty of the lawn. It seems as if our world is no longer attracted to the simple, natural things in life. From beauty products to the man made designs of the garden, our world is living in a constant cycle of superficial reinvention. But when does it go too far? How long can our world sustain a balance of natural beauty and advancement when our own affinity for the natural things in life is ever changing?
Feel free to explore the website: http://atlantabg.org
Morehouse College and Spelman College are part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUC), which comprises of one co-ed school, one all male school, and one all female school; Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College respectively. Each of the colleges in the AUC are also Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), meaning they have an overwhelmingly high black student population. Morehouse and Spelman celebrate their homecomings together in what is known as the “SpelHouse Homecoming” every year. They have events throughout the week, including a concert on Wednesday and a homecoming football game on Saturday.
Michael: I jumped out of my seat during film class as I received a text on my phone. The words “Travis Scott this Wednesday at Morehouse” made me ecstatic as I quickly flipped open my laptop and purchased a ticket. My favorite artist was performing in Atlanta and all my friends were coming with me. Two days later we found ourselves in a swarm of people 6,000 deep. We were pushed, shoved, and even cursed out as everyone made a mad rush to the door. The shouts of the security guards only made the crowd even more disorderly as students began to bang on the glass. “Move back! We need everyone to move back!”, but nobody was listening as the crowd of people slammed into the doors like a wave crashing into the shore. The reflection of red and blue police lights on the glass windows illuminated the excited faces of the crowd. The concert started at 8pm and it was already 9:30pm. Suddenly a scream was heard from the right side of the mob as multiple student were seen frantically wiping pepper spray from theirs eyes. With the fear that the chaos would only escalate, many AUC students began to disperse, but we were not ready to give up. Being one of the few white students in the crowd, some people were giving me dirty looks. They tried to tell me that I would be denied at the door because I was not an AUC student. I tried to tell them it was open to the public, but they refused to listen. Although I was frustrated by this, I understood their perspective as it was SpelHouse homecoming meant mostly for the AUC students. As I received these dirty looks from all angles, one Morehouse student named Hilliard took us under his wing and led our entire group to the doors. Once we finally made our way through security, we rushed into the gymnasium and found some great seats on the bleachers. Though we tried to find space on the floor, the gym was clearly reaching maximum capacity as it was extremely packed. After Travis’ expected late arrival, the concert began and the whole crowd went crazy.
Zion: My older sister Ashia is currently a Junior at Spelman College and this weekend happened to align perfectly for my family. Emory University and Spelman College both had their homecomings on the same weekend and this weekend was also parents weekend at Emory. Our mom decided to come down from Maryland to Atlanta and we got to spend the weekend together. On Saturday, my family and I attended the SpelHouse tailgate before Morehouse’s homecoming game later that day. The plan was for my sister to meet us over there, so my mom came and picked me up from Emory that morning. Trying to find parking was an absolute nightmare given the amount of people who showed up for the event. We ended having to pay $25 to park a few blocks down, but we were determined to have a good time. Once we finally arrived at the tailgate we were met with a huge crowd of people. There were families with children, current students, and alumni who had come back to visit. The air was filled with a sort of electric energy that I can’t quite describe. We quickly found my sister and she introduced us to some of her friends before disappearing again into the crowd. My mom and I didn’t stay long, however, as I had to get back to Emory for a track meet later that afternoon.
Since our blog comes from the perspective of two outsiders, we decided to interview Chris Moye, who has attended Morehouse homecomings all his life.
Tell me about your experiences at Morehouse homecomings when you were younger.
“My experiences at homecoming consisted of going to the tailgate before the football game, and meeting alumni. It was always one of the things that I looked forward to in the fall when I was growing up.”
What do you think about the Morehouse community and AUC?
“I love the Morehouse community and the AUC. I have dealt with many Morehouse men and members of the AUC since childhood, and I have yet to meet someone who makes me think negatively about Morehouse, or the AUC as a whole; Morehouse and the AUC as a whole is essentially a giant family.”
How have the homecomings changed since you were younger?
“The access that I have to certain homecoming events has changed as I have gotten older. In years past, there wasn’t as much corporate involvement in the Morehouse homecomings, but they are now hosted by large companies like Ford and Viacom.”
After attending both homecomings, there was a clear distinction between the two schools. Though the endowments of both universities are quite disparate, it was evident that Morehouse puts more effort and creativity into its homecoming compared to Emory. The energy at Morehouse was significantly greater as the community was extremely tight-knit and lively. Whether it was the thrill of the concert or the celebrations at the tailgate, we both realized that the AUC truly moves and acts as one big family. Traveling to Morehouse was more than just a change in environment, it was a change in spirit and morale. The school showed signs of unity and harmony that we never knew existed on campuses. After interviewing Chris it was clear that the AUC homecomings continue to grow as more money is put into events through sponsorships with large companies. Without a football team, we expected Emory to focus heavily on community events, but we realized that our school lacks one essential aspect of campus life: school spirit. It seems that nobody is excited about campus events unless it is required for PACE. Following our visits to Morehouse and Spelman, we both walked away with a newfound understanding about what campus culture truly should be. When talking to Zion’s sister, a current student at Spelman, she noted that at this year’s concert there was an unusually high number of people who did not attend one of the AUC schools. She also explained that while each school is its own entity, the level of school spirit is unparalleled to other schools. The AUC is much more than a community, it is a family, and to see people who aren’t part of that family at the events understandably rubbed some students the wrong way, but it truly shows the excitement it brings. The sight of thousands of students all coming together and celebrating the year was quite incredible and really inspired us to create this same community and awareness at Emory.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
Caption: Closed captions are correct for those with hearing disabilities.
(Perspective of Michael) I leaped off the bus and instantly could smell the fresh pines and soft needles. With each step I gently crushed the leaves and fallen branches below me. The sound of the soil cracking under my shoes urged me to venture out into the trees, but I made sure to remain close. I was only eight years old at the time, but Walden Pond was much more than just a landmark. Just two towns over from my home, it was an escape from reality. The sounds, smells, and sights of nature engulfed my thoughts. I never wanted to leave. Whether it was a deer sipping water with her fawn, or the sounds of the turkeys trotting through the bushes, Walden pond brought wonders beyond imagination for a young boy like me.
Six years later, Michael, Kate, Zion, and Josh found themselves listening to Rachel Kolb, an Emory graduate student, analyzing Thoreau’s work. Kolb, who is partially deaf, explained Thoreau’s opinions on the two different “spheres” of sound that he experienced while living in the wild – natural sound and industrial sound. Thoreau described natural sounds as the things that we hear from the animals and natural parts of life. This connects to all of the sounds that Michael heard at Walden Pond when he was younger. However, industrial sounds come from the new technologies of the time, such as “the noises of the train cars passing by.” Kolb concluded this idea by stating that Thoreau related the noise that he heard to interruptions, which seem to be inevitable aspects of modern day life.
The focus of Kolb’s analysis was on sound, specifically the new technologies of the mid-19th century, which affected people’s ability to enjoy the natural things in life. Kolb described these technologies which, “distract our attention from serious things” as “inventions that collapse the time and distance between two places.” Some of these technologies include railway systems and the telegraph. Kolb argued that these technologies changed the way people perceived space and time, as it was possible to communicate and therefore “listen” to each other while not being in the same location. This phenomenon leads to face-to-face interactions between people having less value. The new technologies of the mid-19th century can be compared to our very own age of social media. The access to information and communication we have from our electronic devices is taking away from our need to talk with each other in person. Both the railways of Thoreau’s period and our modern day digital platforms interrupt our thought and change the way that we interact with each other.
While Rachel was presenting her paper, Michael and Kate noticed the sign language translators that sat on both sides of the table. They connected this to the lecture by Jennifer Sarrett titled “Autism in the Classroom”, which stressed the importance of accommodations for students with learning disabilities. They noticed that Rachel utilized many of the teaching techniques that Sarrett described in her presentation–techniques that help students with learning disabilities better absorb information and that help generalize the presentation to everyone. For instance, Rachel’s whole powerpoint was a black screen with white font. This is a common visual
aid. She also passed out packets of her transcript to the class for those who wanted to read along. It was interesting to witness how a writer with a disability interprets effective teaching. By presenting multiple versions of her presentation, Rachel was really demonstrating the effectiveness of the multimodal communication that she was talking about. Getting to see this perspective really opened our eyes to see how the world spreads ideas in different ways. By utilizing the mode of sound in her presentation despite her deafness being a hindrance, Rachel was emphasizing the strength of sound in formulating thoughts and avoiding distraction.
Whether it was the sound of leaves crunching below Thoreau’s feet or the sight of Rachel’s translators, it is clear that sound plays a variety of roles in our world. Though we never fully realize it, we are constantly adapting to newer ways of communicating through sounds and expressions. Listening to Rachel describe the use of sound in Thoreau’s work was like witnessing the combination of different products. Much like how Walden was forced to adapt to the growing technological influence of his world, Rachel was forced to adapt to her disability and find new ways to analyze everyday senses.
“My whole thing is just to put out positive messages in the music, give people something that can change their lives.” – Scott Mescudi
Scott Mescudi has changed many aspects in the world of hip-hop. Known by his stage name, Kid Cudi, Scott grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and has paved the way for your favorite new artists. Whether you realize it or not, Kid Cudi is more than just “Day n Nite” and “Pursuit of Happiness”, as he is able to create a new world of defiance and joy in his music. Connecting with the everyday struggles of the younger generations, Kid Cudi’s discography serves as an escape from reality by bringing listeners on the journey of “The Man on the Moon”. Rather than highlighting the satisfactions found in life, Cudi addresses the darker truths of depression, pain, and sorrow as his music emphasizes the power of realism. By doing so, Mescudi is able to connect with his audience in a deeper and more meaningful way that resembles the influence of Kurt Cobain. With countless critically acclaimed albums and a cult like fan base, there is only one thing missing in Kid Cudi’s legacy: the credit he deserves.
Kid Cudi is an easy target for criticism. While his music is played by millions of fans around the world, mainstream culture likes to discredit the impact he truly has. Because his music does not easily fall into the norms of rap, many do not like the dark and mysterious path that Cudi follows. Combining grunge rock with hip-hop, Kid Cudi embodies the melting pot that music culture should be. Instead of following the status-quo, Kid Cudi is one of the only artists to fearlessly break creative boundaries and truly show a progression of differing ideas and aesthetics. Whether it is the “Man on the Moon” or “Mr. Rager”, each album is connected to different personal identities that express emotions and relate with various groups of listeners. While Mescudi’s first two albums were praised by practically everyone, there was definitely a turn in his career that hurt his mainstream legacy. Following the Man on the Moon series, Kid Cudi released “Indicud” and “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven”, two albums that were considered disappointments in the eyes of popular culture. Famous music blog, Pitchfork, wrote, “While his diehard fans await his long-delayed Man on the Moon III*,* Kid Cudi opted instead to release a 90-minute, double-disc rock album. Unfiltered, unpolished, and uncomfortable, the album is a failure, and not even a noble one.” While mainstream culture around the world lost its faith in Scott Mescudi, your favorite artists today remained loyal to his vision.
Whether you realize it or not, Cudi has inspired many of our favorite artists today. I truly believe there would be no Travis Scott, Drake, A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, and Lil Uzi Vert without the inspiration from Kid Cudi. Travis Scott even said in a 2015 interview that Cudi is a “part of [his] story, part of [his] life. There would be no Travis Scott if it wasn’t for him.” Having multiple credits on Kanye’s “808s and Heartbreaks” and frequently collaborating with techno artists, Kid Cudi is a clear inspiration in the new wave of auto-tuned/techno rap. Mescudi also diverged from the genre of “gangsta rap” and instead embodied the character of a rock star, which artists like Lil Uzi Vert and others have taken. With the influence that Cudi has left behind, one may wonder why he does not receive the credit he deserves. We as people often criticize the unfamiliar instead of embracing it. With experts and artists around the world praising his influence and revolutionary style it is clear that popular culture fails to appreciate the impact of true artistry.
Kid Cudi is performing in Atlanta on 10/12
Click the link to purchase tickets: https://www.stubhub.com/kid-cudi-tickets-kid-cudi-atlanta-coca-cola-roxy-theatre-10-12-2017/event/103142786/?sort=price+asc
“To Be or Not to Be”. Hamlet’s soliloquy left me with unanswered questions as I picked up a pamphlet from within White Hall. “Resisting Fascism” was the theme of the screening as I found myself sitting with baby boomers from all over Atlanta browsing the newest addition of The Emory Wheel. The lit lecture hall contrasted perfectly with the dark night and eerie mood following the school lockdown. The apprehensiveness on campus following the incident seemed to be spreading as I noticed only a few students in the room with me.
As I hid myself in the back left corner of the hall, Paul Buchholz, a German studies professor, introduced himself on stage. Though everyone could tell he was quite nervous, Mr. Buccholz did a fantastic job emphasizing the historical importance of the film. It was at this moment that I became very puzzled. Professor Buccholz explained that the film was a dramatic comedy on Hitler’s dominance of Poland. I was pleased to see that I was not alone with my confusion as everyone checked to see if they had heard Mr. Buccholz correctly. Comedy and Hitler? How did that make any sense? He went on to praise the director, Ernest Lubitsch, for his unique approach to the film as he broke many barriers in the world of dramatic comedy. Mr. Buccholz said that Lubitsch’s use of comedy was to “unsettle the audience not relieve it” and called this technique “the Lubitsch touch”. Combining this approach with the delicate topic of the Nazi regime, many contemporary critics considered Lubitsch to be tasteless and inappropriate. Though his work was not exactly respected at the time, modern day researchers and film enthusiasts around the world praise Lubitsch’s forward thinking. Mr. Buccholz talked about the new wave of European filmmakers making their way to Hollywood in the early twentieth century and how Lubitsch served at the forefront of this revolutionary change. I was suddenly fascinated. Professor Buccholz then dimmed the lights after his conclusion and the film began.
The trailer (would not allow me to insert into post):
Within minutes of the movie the audience was already jumping out of their seats in laughter as a man dressed up as Hitler was mocked in the streets. The film revolved around a Polish theater couple and their experiences with the invading Nazi regime. It almost seemed as if the comedic presence of the story increased with Hitler’s power. Whether it was mocking Polish culture or poking fun at the brainwashed Nazi officers, To Be or Not to Be seemed to shed light on the lack of humanity in the early 20th century.
I noticed a perfect example of Lubitsch’s technique with the use of the Hamlet’s soliloquy, “To Be or Not to Be”. The scene revolves around a man, Mr. Tura, and his performance of the soliloquy in the city theater. As Mr. Tura steps on stage with hundreds of people in attendance, his soliloquy is cut off by a man who gets up from the second row to meet Mr. Tura’s wife backstage. The awkwardness and irony of the scene left the audience bursting in laughter, but what makes it so interesting is the meaning behind the soliloquy. Written by Shakespeare, the monologue is about Hamlet and his suicidal thoughts as he compares death to a peaceful sleep. Though Professor Buccholz did not speak on this after the screening, I believe Lubitsch chose this soliloquy as the title to point out the irony of his own film. Though the monologue has a tense and depressing mood, Lubitsch makes the bold decision to combine it with the comedic value of romantic comedy. I believe this connects perfectly to the overarching theme of the movie as Lubitsch combines comedy with the dark topic of World War II.
Writing this exactly four days after the screening I still have not made my final stance on Lubitsch’s work. His ability to take something so sinister and transform it into a playful matter was a skill Hollywood had never seen before. Though many praise the film today, I started to think about the other perspectives such as the Jewish community and all those affected by Hitler’s reign. With art often acting as a catalyst for conversations regarding social change, I began to question whether there should be a line in what is appropriate for mainstream works. When do artists take it too far? Though I am a firm believer in freedom of expression, it is important to be aware of the feelings of others and how different cultures might view your work.
If you are interested in future screenings from “Resisting Fascism” I would highly recommend attending. Below I have listed the dates and films.
Wednesdays 7:30pm, White Hall 208, Free
9/27: Hangmen Also Die
10/4: The Stranger
10/11: Naked Among Wolves
10/18: Army of Shadows
10/25: The Conformist
11/1: The Tin Drum
11/15: The Counterfeiters
Danios12345. “To Be Or Not To Be (1942) Trailer.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 Sept. 2011, www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W_B10VbYjI.
Lemaster, Dana. “Dana Lemaster.” Thinking Cinema, 19 June 2015, www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-to-be-or-not-to-be/.
“Paul J. Buchholz, PhD.” Department of German Studies, german.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/buchholz-paul.html.
“To Be or Not to Be (1942).” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt0035446/mediaviewer/rm3433567232
Prostitutes and Pederasty. The two words kept circling my mind as I tried to fathom the message in my inbox. The thought of the lecture was already making me uncomfortable as I envisioned the eerie and somber ambiance of the room. I then pictured myself standing in front of the class having to reiterate and analyze my newfound knowledge of prostitution and child molestation. I was anything but enthused. After my initial concern gradually faded away I looked deeper into the description of the event. Prostitutes and Pederasty: Men and Morals in Roman Comedy. Prostitutes, pederasty, and comedy. With those three words my anxiety was quickly replaced with curiosity.
Having studied latin since 7th grade, I have grown a passion for the roman culture as the ancient civilization shared many similarities to our own. Whether it was studying the gladiatorial fights or the simple phrase of “veni, vidi, vici”, I admired everything about ancient rome. As I excitedly strolled into room N-116 of the Callaway Center, I was quickly puzzled by the age of the people in attendance. I was given awkward looks as I scurried to a seat and checked to see if I was in the correct place. It turns out I was as I immediately took out my computer for notes and typed “everyone here is very old”. I guess the lecture on prostitution, pederasty, and comedy was the place to be for everyone’s grandma and grandpa. As the limited amount of seats quickly filled up, Dr. Martin Dinter of Kings College stepped up to the front and introduced himself. Coming from London, Dr. Dinter described his studies of roman culture, specifically in epics and theater. After his short introduction to the audience, Dinter took a seat and began his presentation.
As Dinter started to read his notes he addressed the edgy title of the presentation. He instantly relieved my original apprehension as he explained how prostitution and pederasty were representations of the principle of roman culture, not the focus of the lecture. He said that “roman comedy parades concerns about public morality”, a theme that embodied his entire lecture. Dinter went on to give specific examples of this theme from roman playwrights and rhetoricians such as Plautus and Calpurnius Flaccus. Though Dr. Dinter’s format of presentation was lifeless as he simply read his paper word for word with a slideshow, the content was truly amazing. Dinter explained how these comedies mocked family life, politics, sex, and marriage. After hearing this I immediately made the connection to current shows like Modern Family and Seinfeld. While the ancient plays were created to mock and entertain roman culture, Dr. Dinter showed how there were many underlying life lessons. Whether it was a mock on a father son relationship or the selfishness of a man raping a prostitute, each comedy represented the rhetorical exercises of roman playwrights.
As Dinter slowly flipped the last page of his lengthy paper he opened up the audience for questions. Immediately, an older woman in the back raised her hand and asked about the progression of roman morality as a result of these comedies. During the presentation, Dr. Dinter subtly explained how each comedy seemed to end with the happy ending of marriage. The woman questioned this pattern as almost every play exposed the underlying strife and lack of morality in roman culture. She questioned how the audience was supposed to learn from these themes if each story had a happy ending, ultimately making the themes unnoticeable. She wanted to know why the playwrights would focus on the lack of morality of romans if they did not want to encourage social change and revolution. It was easy to tell that Dr. Dinter had never truly researched that perspective as his answer was a simple reiteration of what he said before. This almost felt like a perfect way to end the lecture as it served as a cliffhanger for further research and analysis.
Overall, the content of the lecture was very compelling. Though Dr. Dinter’s actual presentation was quite dull and lifeless, I was able to understand the overarching message of morality and social interaction. Though these plays were created thousands of years ago, it was truly fascinating to see the similarities with modern comedies and how social themes are expressed on entertainment platforms.