The Queens College Library is co-sponsoring with the Queens College Graduate School of Library and Information Studies a Research in Praxis Discussion Series with Emily Drabinksi, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center and President-Elect of the American Library Association, who will give a talk entitled, Essential to the Public: Libraries at the End of the World. The event will take place on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 5pm.
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Her Majesty Queen Diambi Kabatusuila Tshiyoyo Muata of the Democratic Republic of Congo visited Queens College campus. A CUNY alumna—she holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Staten Island—Queen Diambi stopped by the lab of Maral Tajerian and Sebastian Alvarado (Biology) and joined a reception in her honor in the library.
Video of Her Majesty Queen Diambi Visit
Read more about the visit in The QView.
Ahead of the World Premiere of Action Songs/Protest Dances at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, the Queens College Library is honored to present a discussion on the live music and dance performance with its choreographer and director Edisa Weeks. Weeks, an Associate Professor of Dance at Queens College, discusses the power of dance and its relationship to political action, her experience as the first artist in residence in the Kupferberg Arts Incubator, and how the research she performed in the James R. Forman Library Collection at the Queens College Library helped shape what became Action Songs/Protest Dances.
The interview was conducted via email between Weeks and the Queens College Visual & Performing Arts Librarian, Assistant Professor Scott R. Davis.
Action Songs/Protest Dances is inspired by the life and work of civil rights activist James Forman. While rooted in an historical figure, the production is also firmly about the present and contemporary struggles to address social justice within the United States. What do you believe the medium of dance is uniquely able to contribute toward facilitating such conversations?
As an artivist (artist/activist) dance is my medium of choice for addressing issues in society. Dance serves many functions. It can be a spiritual practice, a source of exercise and catharsis, an economic signifier, as well as a way to affirm a cultural identity and cultivate a sense of belonging. I’m interested in how dance can comment on society. I believe that dance can re-vitalize the everyday to reveal something new about ourselves, and the revelation is a seed, an energy, a spark that has the power to enact change.
One of the joys of dancing is it releases serotonin into the brain, which makes people feel good. Communal singing also releases serotonin. On a more basic level, movement helps develop our brains. For example, research is finding that when infants learn to roll from their stomach onto their back, it helps to develop the pituitary brain, crawling develops the mid brain, and walking develops the frontal brain. Our bodies are hard-wired for movement! Dancing has often been integral to protests. The Toyi-Toyi dance was a part of rallies and gatherings in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. In America in the 1960’s the twist, the mashed potato, the watusi, which emerged from the Black American community, were picked up by White mainstream culture to become an expression of freedom and rebellion against the conservative, repressive social norms of 1950’s America.
Archival research does not often immediately come to people’s minds when thinking of contemporary dance. How did your research within the Forman Archive at the Queens College Library inform your work in this production?
One of my mentors was George Bass who was a playwright, poet, director, and educator. He also was Langston Hughes’s personal secretary. George emphasized a research-to-performance method for creating original devised work. This method for devising work appeals to me as I’m fascinated by history. I enjoy scratching beneath the surface to understand the meaning and reasoning for why something exists. I’m interested in knowing what our deepest, darkest, and sweetest desires are, and in creating a work that interrogates those desires, I can begin to process, understand and possibly transform them.
I was intrigued by one of the boxes in the Forman archives, which is filled with social and political pamphlets, what we would now call zines. Several of the pamphlets featured the bold, psychedelic lettering and colors that were popular in the 1960’s. I immediately knew I wanted the poster for Action Songs/Protest Dances to be a throwback to 1960’s art.
One of the books in the archive “The Making Of Black Revolutionaries” by Forman, a guidebook for anyone interested in the civil rights movement and understanding what is involved in social justice struggles. Forman writes about how the pressure of being on the front lines advocating against oppression and for social change can take a toll emotionally and mentally. Forman had multiple times when he was brutally beaten by the police and members of the White Citizens Council, for being a Black man who did not genuflect, who was advocating for justice, and questioning oppressive systems in America. Forman had several mental breakdowns, yet was able to recover and keep working for social betterment. Hearing about his struggles with mental health really resonated during the pandemic, as the creative team was navigating the isolation and stress of the pandemic; as well as the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and too many others. I hesitate bringing up mental health as it can be perceived as a weakness and used to denigrate and diminish a person’s relevance, however, we need to discuss mental health so we can find pathways for care-taking, healing, and wellness. These discussions resulted in the song Pattern Map by Spirit McIntyre, which is about letting go of toxic isms; and the song Body on the Line by Martha Redbone which discusses how Forman, “often put his body on the line” during the civil rights movement and got beaten and arrested in the effort to register people to vote.
I would describe the process of creating Action Songs/Protest Dances as a Sankofa practice. Sankofa is a symbol and term used by the Akan Tribe in Ghana, West Africa. The literal translation of the word is, “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” In this work, we are going back in history to lift up the work of James Forman and bringing his words and advocacy forward through song and dance.
Did you discover any particular items within the archive that led to unexpected encounters or connections?
An unexpected connection was learning that Forman had worked with human rights activist Ella Baker. They both advocated for empowering the average person to become involved in the governance of their community. They did not believe in charismatic leadership, for if the charismatic leader is removed the work towards social improvement often ends with the leader. If people do not have a say in the laws, land, and resources in their community; they will be controlled by other people who don’t necessarily have their best interests at heart.
Forman was trained as a journalist and wrote several non-fiction books including: High Tide of Black Resistance; Sammy Younge Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement; The Making Of Black Revolutionaries, so it was a pleasant surprise to realize that Forman also did fictional writing and wrote short stories.
In addition to conceiving, directing, and choreographing Action Songs/Protest Dances you also commissioned five original songs for the production. What was the process of collaboration with the contributing composers?
The dancers, composers, and I reside in different cities, New Orleans, Albany, New York City, and we started working on Action Songs/Protest Dances during the pandemic, so being able to connect through zoom, and work online was essential. I worked with student interns Kathreena Bunch and Paolo Cecilia Silva in compiling a dossier about James Forman based on information in the library archives. It included his bio, links to his writings, and quotes by Forman. The dossier was shared with the creative team and it was a springboard for discussions. Several quotes became the lyrical inspiration for the songs.
The process of creating the songs was very collaborative. Each composer was paired with two dancers and we had several meetings where we discussed James Forman, actions that he was involved with, and current social justice issues that we want to draw attention to. What was important for the creative process is to identify what was resonating with the composers and dancers, and especially what the dancers were invested in embodying.
In 1969 Forman wrote “The Black Manifesto”, which is an expression of rebellion rooted in the despair of a people who had given up hope of “integrating” into the mainstream socioeconomic systems and structures in America. It demanded that Protestant and Jewish organizations pay $500 million in reparations for crimes perpetrated against generations of blacks during slavery. Over 40’s years later America still has not come to terms with the legacy of enslavement, and how to pay reparations.
Composer Taina Asili was paired with Brittany Stewart who is a Queens College Dance Alumni. For the project, I am integrating three current QC Students, three QC Dance Alumni, and two professional Dancers with my company DELIRIOUS Dances. What resonated with Brittany is issues connected to financial literacy for the Black community as well as issues of wellness and Black Joy. Taina wrote “Reparations” a joyous song about the need, the demand for reparations.
Another issue that was identified was decriminalizing sex work. We met with members of Sex Workers Outreach Project who explained why they are advocating for decriminalization and not legalization; and with Carol Leigh (aka Scarlot Harlot ) who in 1978 coined the term “sex worker”. We are still working on decrim song, as we need more time to connect with people involved in the advocacy to decriminalize sex work, to clarify who we are writing the song for, is it a song that is a rallying cry for sex workers to be sung and danced at rallies; or is it a song and dance to educate people about why decrim needs to happen.
Since the creative process for the songs was entirely virtual, I have not met composers Spirit McIntyre and Taina Asili in person. I’m incredibly excited for Thursday, November 10 which is when the composers, singers, musicians, and dancers are physically coming together for the first time!
This production is the result of your involvement in the inaugural Kupferberg Arts Incubator. As an artist residency initiative to support and advance the work of artists of color what was your experience producing Action Songs/Protest Dances within this context?
This question makes me think of how the US Supreme Court currently has several cases that are challenging the need for affirmative action. If education institutions remove affirmative action, then they also need to remove the practice of legacy. I also think of writer Toni Morrison who stated,
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”
That being said, the experience of producing Action Songs/Protest Dances has been joyous. A give and take of listening, discussing, and dream-storming with an incredibly talented, smart, and generous gathering of artists.
I started teaching at Queens College in 2010, which is also when the Rosenthal Library acquired James Forman’s personal papers. I was incredibly excited as James Forman was the first person I heard criticize capitalism as an exploitative economic system. I remember feeling shocked, as I grew up playing monopoly and believing that capitalism was good and the “American Way”. Since 2010 I’ve been wondering how I can lift up James Forman’s voice, work, advocacy and sacrifices during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. Then in 2020, the pandemic happened, followed by the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. I began wondering how as a choreographer I can engage with the protests that were happening across the nation and help address injustices in America. The Kupferberg Center for the Arts Incubator provided the opportunity to create Action Songs/Protest Dances, which celebrate the life and words of James Forman; and through music and dance advocate for America to be a truly great nation.
Action Songs/Protest Dances premieres at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts Saturday, November 12th at 8pm and Sunday, November 13th at 3pm. Tickets are $20. Queens College students receive a 50% discount.
For more information on the performance visit the Kupferberg Center for the Arts website.
This last week of October, we are once again celebrating Open Access Week!
What is Open Access?
Open access is all about distributing scholarly research without financial or other access barriers. This helps readers, especially those who don’t have access to institutional subscriptions, and it helps authors, who can gain a broader audience for their work.
Open access can be achieved in many different ways. While you may have heard that many publishers offer open access, either by default for all publications or selectively via a “hybrid” model, open access can also mean making your work available in an institutional repository, like CUNY Academic Works, or a subject repository, like arXiv (or one of many others, depending on your field!).
Open access does not always involve paying a fee as the author.
- Many open access publishers do not charge fees
- Open access via self-archiving in a repository is free, and almost all publishers allow it
You can learn more about open access in this set of guides covering related issues, or you could contact the library’s scholarly communication librarian! I can answer questions about publisher policies, evaluating prospective publishers, depositing to CUNY Academic Works, making yourself and your work more visible, and more.
International Open Access Week 2022
The theme for International Open Access Week 2022 is climate justice. How does open access promote climate justice?
In the words of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition):
Openness can create pathways to more equitable knowledge sharing and serve as a means to address the inequities that shape the impacts of climate change and our response to them.
This year’s focus on Climate Justice seeks to encourage connection and collaboration among the climate movement and the international open community. Sharing knowledge is a human right, and tackling the climate crisis requires the rapid exchange of knowledge across geographic, economic, and disciplinary boundaries.
Keep an eye out for CUNY events related to open access and climate justice. While schedules did not align in a way that allowed these events to happen during the designated Open Access Week, these issues continue to be relevant, and we plan to offer something soon.
Events: Understanding New Guidelines for Federally Funded Research
The library is holding an event on October 26, 2022 on the new guidelines for federally funded research! Please join us. There is more information in the event blog post.
The Queens College Library is pleased to announce that we have a one-year subscription to the online version of the MLA Handbook!
This is an essential resource if you are writing a paper or an article and need to cite your sources in MLA style. The Handbook provides clear and detailed explanations of each element needed for a citation, with plentiful examples.
The MLA handbook will help you to compose your Works Cited page, properly cite your in-text citations, and format your work more generally. As the authoritative resource on MLA style, it answers typical questions (“What order do the elements go in this citation?”), complicated questions (“How do I cite a work without a title?”), and everything in between.
By Annie Tummino and Caitlin Colban-Waldron
A collaboration between the Department of Special Collections and Archives and the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies provided students a special opportunity to gain real-world experience in the library’s archives during the summer 2022 term.
In the course, “Library Science 790.3 Advanced Archival Practice,” students developed advanced proficiency in archival appraisal, arrangement, and access through embedded fieldwork. Under the supervision of course instructor Caitlin Colban-Waldron and with the assistance of Head of Special Collections and Archives Annie Tummino, students engaged in a hands-on project from beginning to completion, processing portions of the archival collection of artist Barbara Rosenthal. The class was held in the Charles J. Tanenbaum Room, funded by the Pine Tree Foundation of New York for use as a special collections classroom.
Barbara Rosenthal, a QC alumnus and multi-media artist, whose donated work and materials served as the basis for all practical coursework, was an invaluable resource to the students as both a unique and compelling subject and as a rich source of information and context for the materials themselves. By the end of the term, students completed processing work on specific sections of the larger collection and will be able to translate coursework into tangible skills and outcomes for inclusion in their professional résumés.
The course is one of several initiatives developed by the Department of Special Collections and Archives to fulfill its strategic mission of “training the next generation of archivists.” Barbara Rosenthal’s collection is an exciting new addition to the archives, encompassing a lifetime of record-keeping, notes, drafts, versions, and materials for every project in many media, plus household, family, and moment-to-moment life-recording and professional correspondences.
by Simone Yearwood, Interim Associate Dean & Chief Librarian
After 30 years of Service to Queens College, Alexandra de Luise has decided to retire. Alexandra began working at Queens College, Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library in 1991, as the Art Librarian. Over the years, Alexandra has played many roles serving as the Coordinator of Instruction and more recently, Coordinator of Reference and Instruction. Her final role as the Associate Librarian for Research & Instructional Services. Alexandra oversaw Research Services operations, managing and supervising the delivery of assistance in multiple formats to students, faculty, staff, and the community. She worked collaboratively in devising best practices for research instruction to Queens College students, especially at the first-year level, and was a regular instructor to ENG110 and SEEK, and to undergraduate classes that include ENG130, EURO120, ITAL41W, and FR41W. She was an instructor for LIBR170, the Library’s three-credit research, and writing course. She has served as a mentor to many junior colleagues.
Her areas of Collection Development included: French, Italian, and Modern Greek languages & literatures; Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, and Italian American Studies.
During her retirement, Alexandra will finally have time to enjoy her hobbies of interest, watching an independent film, taking in an exhibit, visiting family, and keeping up with her Italian language skills.
Congratulations, Alexandra. You deserve this next chapter in your life. Thank you for your service to the library and college. While we are happy for you, we are saddened by your departure and the loss of your stellar service to our faculty, students, staff, and library colleagues. I applaud you on a career well done!
By Lori Wallach, Adjunct Archivist and Queens Memory Outreach Coordinator
One of the primary functions of a college archive is to preserve and make accessible a record of the school’s past – its institutional history. At Special Collections and Archives (SCA), we do this through a variety of collections, such as those containing yearbooks; student publications; administrative records of numerous departments, schools, and programs; and items donated by individual faculty members and alumni. Of course, our Photograph Collection, which we are in the process of digitizing, provides an especially rich documentation of the college from its very earliest days.
Over the past several years, we’ve made a concerted effort to expand another type of institutional history – our oral history collection. Through our ongoing Queens Memory partnership with the Queens Public Library, we’re able to preserve both audio and video recordings and make them easily accessible to the public. These oral history interviews provide a fascinating firsthand look into the college’s history in the words and voices of those who lived and shaped it.
In 2019, we embarked on the Retired Faculty & Staff Oral History Project, an ambitious plan with two goals: 1) to actively pursue interviews with retired QC faculty, staff and administrators, and 2) to comb through our collections and solicit donations of earlier interviews that can be formatted for online access. Dr. Dean Savage, retired professor of sociology, has been instrumental in helping us locate many of his fellow QC retirees.
An important addition to our oral history collection is a set of interviews conducted in one of Dr. Bobby Wintermute’s history classes in 2013, to commemorate Queens College’s 75th anniversary. Dr. Wintermute donated the recordings and supporting documentation to SCA, and to date, we’ve processed and made accessible nine interviews, with several more to go. We were particularly delighted to find recordings with former QC President Saul Cohen and longtime history professor Dr. Martin Pine, both of whom have since passed on.
In this clip, former QC President Saul Cohen explains how he appealed directly to then-Governor Mario Cuomo for funding to construct a new building for the Aaron Copland School of Music.
Among the important interviews in our collection are those with QC’s oral history pioneer Dr. Bette Weidman; Prof. Alexander Kouguell, who taught in QC’s music program for 68 years and recently celebrated his 102nd birthday; 50-year history professor and civil rights activist Dr. Frank Warren; and former QC President James Muyskens. Our current President Frank Wu and immediate past President William Tramontano also recorded interviews as part of our COVID-19 Project.
Another component of our oral history collection comes from SCA’s larger SEEK History Project, which documents the history of QC’s Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK Program from its inception in 1966. Over 15 interviews associated with the SEEK program have been conducted, and eight are fully processed, including those of former director Dr. Bill Sales, counselors Alan Townsend and Waldo Jeff, and faculty member Dr. Jessica Harris, all of whom were with the program in its earliest years. SCA recently selected two QC grad students to process additional SEEK interviews this summer. The students will be paid stipends from the department’s foundation funds.
Please do explore our full oral history collection! Catalog records for each interview, with links to the audio/video and transcripts, are located in our online archives database. If you are interested in volunteering to conduct an interview, would like to nominate someone to be interviewed, or have a previously recorded oral history to donate, please email us at email@example.com.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. The QC Library celebrates AAPI Heritage Month with featured resources in honor of Asian American history, culture, and contributions to social diversity.
The AAPI Heritage Month guide features open and licensed resources, including current facts, print books, and electronic resources (eBooks, streaming media, digital archives, etc.). Below are a few of the featured resources. More information of interest may be found in the Asian Studies guide.
AAPI Population by State
“Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2022). In 2020, the estimated number of Asian alone or in combination in the United States was 24 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 2022).
Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
New York, New York: One World, 2020
“Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative–and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality will change the way you think about our world.”
Amina’s Song by Hena Khan
New York: Salaam Reads, 2021
Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature. “In the companion novel to the beloved and award-winning Amina’s Voice, Amina once again uses her voice to bridge the places, people, and communities she loves across continents.”
Permutations of a Self by Thomas V. Nguyen
College Station: Texas Review Press, 2020
“Much of the poetry comes from Nguyen’s imperfect memory of himself and others as it changes over time.” “The poetry in this manuscript is about accepting that and reconciling what it means to be part of his family.”
Asians and Pacific Islanders in American Football by Joel S. Franks
Lanham, Maryland: Lexington, 2018.
“This book sheds light on experiences relatively underrepresented in academic and non-academic sports history. It examines how Asian and Pacific Islander peoples used American football to maintain a sense of community while encountering racial exclusion, labor exploitation, and colonialism.”
- PBS.org: “Celebrate the month with a collection of PBS video stories that explore the history, traditions, and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.”
- DiversityInc.com: “A new study reports that 8 in 10 Asian Americans believe they are regularly discriminated against in the United States.”
- Stop AAPI Hate.org: Launched in March 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center “tracks and responds to hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.”
- Hmong musicians in America: “This 58-minute video tells the story of two senior musicians from Laos who play instruments and sing for various American audiences, adapting their presentations for Hmong and non-Hmong listeners of all ages.”
- Language of a Nation: How Hawaii Became Part of the U.S., Parts 1-4: “Native Hawaiian filmmaker Conrad Lihilihi presents a four-part historical Docu-series examining the 1896 Hawaiian Language Ban from public education. This series approaches the subject by culminating in a rich and diverse panel of academics in language, history, and politics.”
- Chinese American History: Origins of an Organic Farmer: “Hiu Newcomb, a third-generation Chinese American, is the co-owner and operator of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Vienna, Virginia. In this interview, she discusses her family’s origins in the United States and her start as an organic farmer in Virginia.”
- FORKLIFE: Children of Sticky Rice: “FORKLIFE traces the journeys of immigrant food traditions taking root in the United States, narrated by the D.C. chefs and cooks who carried them here.”
On April 12, the Queens College Libraries hosted Dr. Peter Archer for an on-campus visit. We are happy to announce that Dr. Archer is organizing his personal papers for donation to the archives, including research documents, photographs, and mementos from his lengthy career as a musician, educator, and academic.
Dr. Archer is widely known as the real NYC music teacher who inspired Disney-Pixar’s ‘Soul’. As explained by the Daily News:
Peter Archer, a band teacher for more than 30 years at Middle School 74 in Bayside, Queens, served as a consultant on the movie, which has Jamie Foxx voicing Joe Gardner, a middle-aged teacher and musician. Archer, 58, helped pinpoint everything from the aesthetic of a middle school band classroom to the emotional tug of balancing a passion for music and a love of teaching.
Here at Queens College, Dr. Archer is known as an alum with a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Performance and a Master of Science degree in Music Education. While working on his doctorate for Boston University, Archer also spent many long days at the Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library archives conducting research for his dissertation, The History of The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College: 1938-2010, which is available in the Music Library’s reference collection.
Dr. Archer’s papers will join the collections of other prestigious ACSM faculty and alumni, including K. Robert Schwarz, Karol Rathaus, and Leo Kraft. We are thrilled that Dr. Archer is willing to add his own papers to our growing repository of valuable research materials!