Prof. Rothenberg part of Grammy-Nominated box set.
News from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
One of the biggest box sets ever produced, with 20 LPs and a unique design, For the Birds is a collection of 172 pieces of new music inspired by the beauty of birdsong, performed by artists from across the musical spectrum. Comprised of 20 LPs, each with original cover art, this deluxe box set also features 73 works of bird-inspired poetry, read by familiar and famous voices. The collection comes beautifully framed by the original artwork of painter and naturalist John James Audubon, from his seminal work: Birds of America.
It was created by Randall Poster, one of the most celebrated music supervisors in the film world, having worked with Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and many others. During the pandemic when so many productions were shut down, Poster opened his window and started listening to birds.
Then he invited everyone he could think of to contribute an original, new piece of music having something to do with birds.
Contributors include Suzzy Roche, Beck, Money Mark, Esperanza Spalding, Yo Yo Ma, and David Rothenberg, among 150 others. Poets include Ada Limon, Gary Snyder, and Ocean Vuong. Readers include Alice Waters, Olivia Wilde, and Tilda Swinton.
Accompanying the 20 LPs is a 60-page companion piece, which includes a foreword by Randall Poster, essays by Jonathan Meiburg, Kathleen Moore, and David Rothenberg, and a list of must-read books for bird lovers from novelist and ornithophile, Jonathan Franzen.
Proceeds from For the Birds: The Birdsong Project benefit The National Audubon Society.
NJIT Researchers Launch Project to Improve Energy and Climate Justice in New Jersey
Written by: Jesse Jenkins
A new project led by New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers is underway to help New Jersey’s lower-income homeowners take advantage of the state’s clean energy programs.
The initiative arrives in support of the state’s recent commitments to the Clean Energy Act outlined in the New Jersey Energy Master Plan: Pathway to 2050, which includes “developing a community solar program that allows more state residents to benefit from solar energy, especially low- and moderate-income (LMI) families.”
The community outreach project involves a year-long study of the attitudes and behaviors of under-resourced neighborhoods in Newark toward the adoption of renewable energy, and will encourage residents to engage in N.J.’s Community Solar Program — a key initiative in the state’s goal of reaching 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
Results from the study also aim to provide a broader “sustainability roadmap” for N.J. policymakers to enhance energy justice throughout the state.
Led by Yao Sun, assistant professor in NJIT’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, the $30,000 study is one of ten projects to receive funding this academic year from the New Jersey State Policy Lab of Rutgers University and will be administered by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.
“As climate change intensifies the severity of weather-related disasters, it is imperative to ensure both community and environmental equity when designing and implementing energy and climate policies,” said Sun. “To support these initiatives and to help New Jersey’s under-resourced communities reduce their energy burden, it is important to provide households with opportunities to voice their thoughts and concerns, actively engage in shaping the community solar program, and collaborate with policymakers to improve energy justice.”
According to data provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, a sizable number of under-resourced neighborhoods in the NJIT’s home city of Newark are affected by a disproportionately higher energy burden, often due to environmental and socioeconomic barriers to adopting newer energy technologies.
Using AI-based crowdsourcing tools, Sun’s team will engage Newark residents in online open discussions to collect insights into region-specific barriers discouraging the city’s homeowners from participating in the Community Solar Program and other relevant energy justice programs thus far.
“Progress on reducing climate-changing emissions and enhancing local well-being is dependent on fostering an energy transition in which all communities are able to participate,” said the project’s co-principal investigator Maurie Cohen, professor of sustainability studies and chair of NJIT’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. “This project will help to recruit more of the city’s residents into the process of collaboratively creating a more sustainable future.”
“According to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 55% of New Jersey population lives in overburdened communities,” said Zeyuan Qiu, Co-PI of the project and professor of environmental science and policy in NJIT’s Department of Chemistry and Environmental Science. “As such, the under-resourced neighborhoods we are connecting with through this project can offer us a ‘sustainability roadmap’ that would be extremely helpful for N.J. policymakers to advance energy transformation and enhance energy justice throughout the state.”
Recently, New Jersey’s community solar program has helped pave the way for a national community solar program that will soon include Washington, D.C., Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico and New York, providing up to 20% savings on a subscriber’s energy bills, according to an announcement from the Biden administration.
Updates from the NJIT project — including project milestones, preliminary and advanced research findings, as well as policy recommendations — will be posted online every eight weeks for the general public. The project’s other collaborators include co-investigator Yan Zhao of GTI Energy.
To learn more and get project updates, visit: https://policylab.rutgers.edu/
“This trip was action-packed and offered so many opportunities. I'll remember it for the rest of my life.”
Published 02 October 2023
Undergrads Compete in NJIT's First Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Competition
Written by: Jesse Jenkins
NJIT engineering students Nora Mahgoub (left), Victoria Pirog (right) and humanities professor Gareth Edel take part in Lockheed Martin’s biggest-ever ethics in engineering event.
Undergraduates Nora Mahgoub ’25 and Victoria Pirog ’25 are already solving complex ethical dilemmas of today’s engineering world, and doing so on a grand stage, as the first NJIT students to compete at Lockheed Martin’s annual Ethics in Engineering Competition.
Mahgoub and Pirog recently joined other two-student teams from more than 70 U.S. colleges and universities at Lockheed Martin’s fifth annual case competition, held at its Center for Leadership Excellence in Bethesda, Md., Feb. 27 through March 1.
The bracket-style, head-to-head competition, described by organizers as “compelling students to think about the importance of ethics in the workplace,” has been a pressure-packed, one-of-a-kind journey that the pair ofmechanical engineering majors say they embraced from the start.
“It was an honor knowing we’d be the first group from NJIT to participate in this event and that we would be a group of two female mechanical engineers leading it,” said Pirog, a Clifton, N.J. native who is involved with theHighlander Racing team.
“Representing NJIT for the first time, there was some nervousness going in,” said Mahgoub, a Mount Laurel, N.J. native and member of NJIT’s Robotics Club. “At the same time, there was so much excitement thinking about what it would be like if we did well, who we could network with and the overall bonding experiences we could share on the road to this event.”
The duo first met in their Engineering Ethics course last fall as Albert Dorman Honors College students, and eventually began planning for the event with faculty-advisor, NJIT humanities and ethics professor Gareth Edel.
Ahead of the event, Mahgoub and Pirog received the competition’s case details involving two fictional defense contractors developing a VR training simulator for U.S. service members. However, a dispute was raised over whether to delay its deployment in the field when cyber vulnerabilities in the product were uncovered.
On competition day, teams were given a side of the case to represent — offering their solutions to the ethical, business and engineering challenges of the dilemma before a judge’s panel, which graded teams based on criteria such as their analysis, solution, persuasiveness and presentation.
“The competition was set up as a business meeting between two companies, which got us thinking collaboratively and about other sides of engineering, such as aspects of contract law,” explained Pirog. “But as mechanical engineers, we had to put in extra research into the cybersecurity issues.”
“Professor Edel really helped us refine our arguments and begin thinking critically from an ethics point of view, and we found key sources to talk to about the technical aspects of the case beforehand,” said Mahgoub. “We were able to garner insight from actual engineers and people whose careers in cybersecurity paralleled the nature of the case.
“We even happened to meet a cybersecurity expert from Lockheed Martin outside our hotel elevator and started discussing the case with them … we took every bit of insight we could get, which was crucial in my opinion.”
Ultimately, the NJIT team’s efforts were enough to overcome several rounds of opponents, including the likes of West Point, while making it to the round of sixteen.
“I knew that we could get to that position and I’m so glad we did,” said Pirog. “One of the highlights for me was during our final round … the opposing team from Florida Tech, the judges and moderators were all women. Afterwards, we all had a great conversation and made professional connections, which was a big benefit of the competition.”
Pirog and Mahgoub join up with Florida Tech’s team after the competition.
For now, both students say the experience has already broadened their horizons and instilled new confidence as they transitioning to their careers as young engineers.
“It was incredibly motivating to get to speak and listen to such experienced engineers at Lockheed Martin talk about how they began their careers … it’s eased my anxiety as I become more career-focused,” said Mahgoub.
“This trip was action-packed and offered so many opportunities. I'll remember it for the rest of my life.”
published 30 March 2023
published 29 March 2023
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Published 7 September 2022
Prof. James Lipuma Discusses Collaborative Communication in Latest Publications
2022 has been a prolific year in publication for Dr. James Lipuma of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. During this academic year, Dr. Lipuma focused on Collaborative Communication and explored Collaborative strategies such as Convergence, Collective Impact, and System Change. His articles were co-authored by four researchers, one graduate student, and one undergraduate student. He has published in three categories: international journals, conference proceedings, and federal keynote addresses.
Explore the links below to learn more about Dr. Lipuma's work:
- Lipuma, J., & Leon, C. (2022a). Future Ready Schools—NJ Collective Impact Success Story. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 19(2).
- Lipuma, J., & Yáñez León, C. E. (2022b, April 22). Constructively Aligned Instructional Design for Oral Presentations. American Society for Engineering Education.
- Lipuma, J., Yañez Leon, C. E., & Patel, K. (2022). Scenario Specification Structuring Effective Collaborative Communication. 51–56
Published 15 Aug 2022
Dr. David Rothenberg Publishes with Frontiers in Psychology
"Songs and Signs: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cultural Transmission and Inheritance in Human and Nonhuman Animals" by Drs. David Rothenberg, Julia Hyland Bruno, and Brian Boyd is featured in this month's edition of Frontiers in Psychology.
According to Dr. Rothenberg, "We—an ethologist, an archaeologist/musician, and a musician/philosopher—created this Research Topic as a means of continuing the spirited conversation started at an interdisciplinary two-day conference held at Columbia University in February 2019, 'The Transmission of Songs in Birds, Humans, and Other Animals,' which brought together diverse perspectives on how learned vocal traditions and other communicative systems are shaped by the ways in which they are learned. The present article collection, with less than half of the contributions authored by participants in the original conference, is the result of the efforts of over 80 referees and contributing authors hailing from traditional disciplines including psychology, biology, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, and music, as well as inherently interdisciplinary fields: neuroscience, music cognition, music education, zoomusicology, sound studies, archaeoacoustics, and bioacoustics. Wherever possible, the articles in this collection were reviewed by at least one referee from a discipline other than the authors'. We were fortunate that many contributing authors were also willing to serve as referees, and for the extraordinary openness and goodwill, we encountered throughout the project. Our hope with this collection is that the new space it opens will enrich discipline-based and interdisciplinary work on animal cultures, and support nuanced thinking around conservation."
published 20 June 2022
Prof. Johanna Deane's Wrath Goddess Sing Book Launch Event at the Strand June 6, 2022!
The Strand Bookstore, the legendary New York City bookseller, will be hosting a book launch event for Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor, Johanna Deane's new book, Wrath Goddess Sing on June 6, 2022. This event will be hosted in the store's 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway on 12th Street. Publisher's Weekly starred Wrath Goddess Sing, explaining, "Deane’s tour de force debut gives The Iliad the beating heart of a legendary warrior....Deane’s narrative soars: epic in scope without ever growing tedious, with a huge supporting cast (including many wonderful LGBTQ characters) that readers will have no trouble keeping straight due to their beautifully shaded personalities. Add in massive battle scenes, meddling gods, and all the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, and the result brings the familiar story to fresh, vivid, and unforgettable new life."
published 20 May 2022
published 19 April 2022
Dr. David Rothenberg talks "Mockingbirds" with Marcus Smith, host of Constant Wonder on BYU Radio
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor, Dr. David Rothenberg discusses the aesthetics of mockingbird song alongside Professor Dave Gammon of Elon University on Brigham Young University radio's Constant Wonder.
published 18 April 2022
NJIT's Vector Captures Numerous Awards at College Media Contests
NJIT’s student newspaper, The Vector, continues making its journalistic voice heard — the paper is the recipient of several awards from U.S. college media contests recently.
The Vector was named the Corbin Gwaltney Award winner for “Best All-Around Student Newspaper” (among large universities) at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards, beating out competition from the likes of Hofstra University and Boston College.
published 8 April 2022
Prof. Johanna Deane Publishes Debut Novel with Harper Collins!
Humanities and Social Sciences Professor of First-Year Writing, Johanna Deane's debut novel with Harper Collins will be released June 7th, 2022. According to the publisher's description:
"Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy."
published 30 Nov 2021
New Essay Collection by NJIT's Burt Kimmelman Released to Early Praise
Originally written and published by Jesse Jenkins 9 Nov 2021
Burt Kimmelman, acclaimed poet, literary scholar, and distinguished professor in NJIT’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, is receiving early praise for his new eclectic collection of essays, titled Visible at Dusk.
The 15 essays are a diverse array of new and previously released material revised from its original form. In his introduction to the book, literary critic Edward Foster notes Kimmelman’s “enviable ability to unravel a range of complex subjects, speaking with equal authority on the diamond district in Antwerp, conceptualism in poetry, Czech culture, film noir and much more.”
“Visible at Dusk started at the beginning of the COVID lockdown in March of 2020 when I began reflecting a lot more and revisiting essays I’ve published over many decades,” said Kimmelman. “In bringing this book together, I wanted each selection to have its own voice, to be complementary to the rest, and stand alone.
“Because some of the essays involve art and architecture, I wanted to have visual images included and my publisher, Dos Madres Press, obliged me. The book’s design is striking, in fact. The result, I hope, is a collection that is as much an art object as a variety of critical and playful essays, with the idea that when you juxtapose them something larger can be seen.”
Thoughtfully presented illustrations accompany the 434 pages of text, which span more than 30 years of Kimmelman’s work as an essayist, “traversing cultures and their artifacts, and weighing the reach of the arts, especially in the avant-garde as the modern becomes postmodern.”
The scope of work includes autobiographical and cultural reflections, such as “Film Noir” — the impetus for Visible at Dusk written at the beginning of the pandemic — which is about the iconic black-and-white film genre that shaped Kimmelman’s formative years in 1950s America and then his later writing.
“Letter from Antwerp,” one of the book’s travel essays, offers vivid observations of the port city’s striking architecture, in contemplating parallel histories of the world’s diamond trade and the Jewish Diaspora, while on a walk from the bustling Antwerpen-Centraal train station to Hoveniersstraat — where 85% of the world’s diamonds changes hands.
The book’s literary critiques include a study of the “New England Mind,” focusing on the relationship between Henry David Thoreau and two prominent recent poets, Susan Howe and William Bronk. Another of these critiques, “Oppen→Schwerner→Heller→Finkelstein (Tracking the Word),” examines a major lineage in contemporary avant-garde American literature.
The book has received positive reviews from the likes of the journal B O D Y as well as illustrious authors and literary critics — such as Johanna Drucker who calls the book “critical, metaphysical, and literary,” and Elisabeth Joyce who singles out its attention to “poetics’ philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings.”
Kimmelman has previously received recognition for 10 published collections of poetry, which have been featured on National Public Radio, eight volumes of criticism, and more than 100 articles mostly on literature, as well as art and architecture. His monograph, The Poetics of Authorship in the Later Middle Ages (1996, 1999), continues to be referenced by scholars in the field. He teaches literary and cultural studies at NJIT.
2021: A Year of Reframing Learning Research with Dr. James Lipuma
Dr. James Lipuma, a faculty member of the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at NJIT, collaborated with Cristo Leon in a peer-review article entitled "Converged Learning: The Spectrum of Technology-Mediated Learning" where they discuss the general background of NJIT's approach to the new idea of converged instructional delivery that it defines as the integration of online and on-ground instruction. The work described the strategic planning and interdisciplinary design and pilot testing conducted in order to prepare NJIT for converged learning. This proved especially significant in the shift to online instruction during covid-19. This led to a “best paper” award, an international video presentation, and conference proceedings at “Education and Training Systems and Technologies (EISTA)” on July 18, 2021.
In July of 2021, Lipuma presented with Cristo Leon in an invited panel discussion with NSF INCLUDES awardees entitled "2021 NSF INCLUDES National Network: Collaborative co-design for community change". In this Virtual Convening: Mobilizing to Transform Systems they explained “Collaborative Change Models” and provided insights into their experiences and perspectives. This video presentation was held in Washington DC
In addition, Dr. Lipuma and Leon also collaborated on August 1, 2021 in a peer-review article written in Spanish language entitled "Modelo UPE: Una Herramienta Universal de Planificación Estratégica para la Investigación Académica" where they discuss "La investigación académica actual continúa siendo trascendental para el desarrollo social en todas sus áreas. En Estados Unidos el alto número de propuestas eleva la competitividad y hace insuficiente el presentar una idea innovadora que sólo incluya el mérito científico" this led to a video presentation, a book section and the conference proceedings at the “Congreso de Investigación de Academia Journals”
Lipuma and Leon work together further in a peer-review article entitled "Analyzing the meta dimensions in TRPGs: Meta-action, metacognition, and metagaming" where they discuss "Role-play and how it has critically influenced academic dialogue on education, psychology, and narrative. However, little research has been conducted around “gaming sessions” specifically the “point of contact” amongst participants due to its ephemeral qualities and subjective nature of the co-creative process" this led to a video presentation, discussion panel and a round table at the “5to Coloquio Internacional de Estudios sobre Juegos de Rol” conference on October 24, 2021, in Baja California, México.
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor David Rothenberg Featured in BBC Music Magazine's "The best world music recordings released in 2021 so far"!
BBC Music Magazine mentions, "Another hugely successful collaborative project that’s also very relaxing is In the Wake of Memories, ‘music of hope and survival‘ which sees Syrian oud player Wassim Mukdad, subtly creative German percussionist Volker Lankow and American clarinetist David Rothenberg create breathtakingly gentle ‘meditations on resilience, empathy and love’." Read more here!
Theatre Arts and Technology Director Michéle Rittenhouse Receives 2021 the Overseers Excellence in Service Award
Michéle Rittenhouse, Director of NJIT's Theatre Arts and Technology program, was awarded this year's Overseers Excellence in Service Award for decades of hard work and dedication to her program. As Director of Theatre Arts and Technology, Michele has labored tirelessly to create a versatile and dedicated team that works with new ideas and concepts and regularly and consistently seeks ways to interpret students’ needs to make their lives a bit better through the arts.
A New Brand of Ethics: NJIT's New Center Trains Tomorrow's Responsible Researchers
Working alongside faculty from NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts and Newark College of Engineering, Dr. Britt Holbrook directs the university’s new Center for Ethics and Responsible Research (CER2). Its aim is to create a campus-wide culture of ethical STEM that permeates everything from NJIT’s faculty research to its academic programs. Read more here!
published 1 September 2021
NJIT Science, Technology, and Society Major Braeden Perdue Speaks at White House COVID-19 Press Event with Dr. Fauci!
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences student, Braenden Perdue, got an unexpected invitation to join Dr. Fauci and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff at a press event for the White House COVID Response Team’s “Back to School Vaccination Week of Action” (Aug. 7-14). Read more here!
published 12 Aug 2021
Dr. Andrew Klobucar Publishes New Digital Humanities Collection with Vernon Press
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences professor, Dr. Andrew Klobucar, has published a new exploration into the Digital Humanities with Vernon Press, set to be released in September 2021. Dr. Klobucar explains of the collection:
"By complementing the community with algorithmic computation, this book takes into consideration two entities that supposedly rarely see eye to eye. However, each of the digital literary projects analyzed in this book emphasizes collaborative ingenuity over individual inspiration, some using tools and code supplied by immense corporations, others depending on the designs of experimental media collectives. Just as our own physical bodies provide ample repositories for a host of microorganisms, so too must our current network of media devices be understood as mere gateways for a seemingly endless supply chain of innovative impulses and information patterns. Computation introduced more than calculation to the Humanities and Arts when mainframes first "spoke" to each other almost 60 years ago; it facilitated an exciting range of new creative relationships. Several of the leading voices in the digital arts come together for this volume to discuss and offer insights into how we might critically understand what is to write and read in today's wholly networked cultural ecosystem."
published 29 June 2021
Tune In Podcast Fans: Check Out These NJIT Podcasters Making Waves
Written by: Jesse Jenkins
Got a can’t-miss podcast idea that could be next Serial, Pod Save America or Ricky Gervais Show?
There’s a growing student-podcasting community for aspiring broadcasting personalities at NJIT thanks in part to a new podcasting production course launched this past spring by NJIT Communications and Media Program Director Christopher Funkhouser. Funkhouser is imparting his nearly 40 years of broadcasting expertise to students with flair for chatting on the mic and getting creative.
Already, some of his protégé’s are off making waves this summer — telling stories, interviewing special guests, reviewing tech, movies, games and more. And while the new course for the fall is already filled, Funkhouser says it’s now here to stay as part of the regular Communication and Media curriculum due to popular demand.
“With how popular the medium of podcasting is now, especially throughout the pandemic, I thought the time was right to offer a virtual radio/podcast practicum that gives students everything they need to professionally design, edit and produce podcast episodes. We had more than a dozen skillful podcasts produced by students this spring, who really rose to the occasion to say something to the world about what they know,” said Funkhouser.
With that, we’ve highlighted a few other NJIT-related podcasts from both students and faculty on campus to check out this summer:
The Greatest Song Ever Sung (Poorly) — with Adam Wainwright ’22
Got an itch to sing other people’s songs in public that doesn’t exactly stop when you leave the karaoke bar? NJIT media/communications student Adam Wainwright discusses the world through the lens of a “karaoke addict” in a podcast he describes as “the direct result of when boredom meets fandom.”
Mind Theatre — with Ayo Akingbade ’22
In less than 10 minutes, NJIT media and communications undergrad Ayo Akingbade presents bite-sized essays on television, film and the arts, revealing what makes them so compelling. New episodes every other Monday.
Soundwalker — with David Rothenberg
NJIT Humanities Professor, author and musician David Rothenberg sits down with an incredibly diverse variety of guests, from anthologists and environmentalists to world famous composers, in series of one-hour talks about music, nature and sound from the world around us.
Poet Ray’d Yo — with Christopher Funkhouser
Since 2015, Funkhouser has been producing the Poet Ray'd Yo radio program on WGXC in Hudson, NY, featuring live guests/performances, as well as recordings he has made of poets over the past three decades. Guests have included C.A. Conrad, Bernadette Mayer, Fred Moten, Joan Retallack and many others. New episodes on the fourth Thursday of every month.
published 17 June 2021
NJIT's David Rothenberg Joins the Cicada Musical Reunion Tour, 17-Years in the Making
Written by: Jesse Jenkins
The date is May 11, 2004.
The TV sitcom Friends just aired the finale of its 10th and final season, Usher’s hit single "Yeah!" is giving way to Maroon 5’s “This Love” atop the Billboard Top 100 and Massachusetts is about to become the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.
But lurking under the ground, a seismic event in the insect world was also happening.
Hundreds of millions of buzzing, red-eyed “Brood X” cicadas were staging a mass takeover of the U.S. East Coast after living underground and feeding off of tree roots for 17 years, bringing with them a very short list of things to do and just a few weeks to do them in:
Molt, sing their deafening songs from the treetops, mate as much as possible, lay eggs and die.
But now, in case you hadn’t heard, they’re back.
The next generation of Brood X cicadas has been sprouting from the ground this summer, repeating the 17-year cycle all over again while spreading their unmistakable maraca-like buzzing across 15 states since early May.
For a nature-inspired musician like NJIT Humanities Professor David Rothenberg, it’s been an occasion not to be missed, akin to a Rolling Stones or Grateful Dead reunion tour for classic rock fans.
“I’ve been waiting 17 years, of course!” said Rothenberg. “I’ve wanted to bring different musicians into the mix for this and hear what they all do when confronted with millions of screaming cicadas for the very first time. We’ve had a great crew of saxophonists, drummers, bass players, and more TV crews than one could ever imagine.”
Rothenberg has spent early June playing jazz clarinet in-and-among the thick swarms of cicadas in Princeton’s Battlefield Park and Mountain Lakes Preserve for what many consider the Woodstock of NJ’s cicada festivities this month.
The Brood X cicadas, comprised of three species — Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassinii and Magicicada septendecula — are among the largest of the 15 cicada populations found around the world, dominating the Eastern U.S. exclusively at more than one million cicadas per acre since their synchronized emergence.
Swarms of cicada males are known to be able to drown out the sound of everything from passing cars to lawnmowers with their mating calls, which are created by vibrating drum-like organs (tymbals) in their abdomen and can be heard by females up to a mile away. Image credit: David Rothenberg
Rothenberg has made a name chronicling his jam sessions with everything from Arctic whales to park nightingales in Germany, but he also considers himself a “cicada groupie.” He has previously traveled across the U.S. to play with various other broods since 2011, recounting those experiences in his book Bug Music, and the films, Song of the Cicadasand Cicada Music in Ohio.
And just like any digital age superfan would do to find out where the party is at this summer, he and his fellow musicians are using a special app to find out where the thickest cicada swarms are making the biggest buzz.
“We’ve found ourselves in some pretty surprising situations [tracking these swarms], but some beautiful music has been played nevertheless,” Rothenberg said. “The sound has transported us all to another world. It feels like we are all emerging, we feel the end of this pandemic coming soon, and are so happy to be outside celebrating in song … just like the cicadas.”
While his recent Princeton performances have attracted their own swarms of media attention, the Brood X musical tour doesn’t quite end there for Rothenberg. He’s added stops in Baltimore — for concerts in Herring Run Park and “Cicada Fest” at Atomic Books — where he’s teamed up with field recording experts to record an album that will capture the cicadas in the richest detail yet, using stereo parabolic microphones for the first time.
For now though, Rothenberg says he’s just soaking up the experience, and perhaps taking a bit of the Brood X attitude — “We’re here for a good time, not a long time.” — with him.
“We can learn so much from the other musicians on this planet. Hearing music in the songs of insects, sounds they have literally been preparing for seventeen years underground to make for a few weeks, connects us ever closer to the natural world and gives us a way to share in its beauty.”
published 15 June 2021
Dr. Britt Holbrook Discusses Inclusive Undergraduate STEM education
Britt Holbrook, an associate professor of philosophy in the Department of Humanities and Director of NJIT's Center for Ethics and Responsible Research, has been quoted in an article about the AAAS-IUSE Summer Labs, which focus on undergraduate STEM education. AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science) has partnered with the NSF (National Science Foundation) to put together programming for recipients of grants from the NSF IUSE program. The Principal Investigator on an IUSE grant to test an experimental approach to engineering ethics education, Holbrook was asked to present on the first day of the summer series.
published 15 June 2021
Dr. Jonathan Curley Publishes New Poetry Collection with Marsh Hawk Press!
Department of Humanities Professor, Dr. Jon Curley's fifth poetry volume, Remnant Halo, will be published this June by Marsh Hawk Press. This work is a long poem exploring poetry and personhood during the pandemic. It seeks to provide a creative reflection on various catastrophic developments and damages, personally and collectively.
Curley's previous volumes are New Shadows, Angles of Incidents, Hybrid Moments, and Scorch Marks. Curley is a Senior University Lecturer of Humanities who devotes much attention to Newark in his classes and this book-length anti-epic poem. Newark poet and activist Amiri Baraka (1934-2014) is an informing presence for this work as well.
This book is dedicated to his Fall 2020 poetry students: "Verse Versus Virus!"
published 27 May 2021
Spring 2021 Department of Humanities Seminar Series Kicks Off February 17!
The Department of Humanities begins Spring 2021 with a new slate of seminars by members of our accomplished faculty. Beginning on February 17th at 2:30 pm with Dr. Catherine Siemann's discussion on writing historical fiction, the series also features Dr. Daniel Estrada on March 10th, where he will discuss AI ethics, and Dr. Deborah Morrison-Santana on April 14th, where she will examine the role of the military during the Obama Administration.
Open to the NJIT community, this series is a continuation of the Department of Humanities' exhibition of faculty research and academic pursuits. Each seminar will be available live through Webex on their scheduled dates. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
published 16 Feb 2021
Dr. Maurie J. Cohen Explores the Underlying Environmental Problems of Sustainability in New Book
In this new primer published by Polity, Dr. Maurie J. Cohen "examines the historical foundations and contemporary understandings of sustainable development."
Polity explains, "In this clear-eyed book, Maurie Cohen introduces students to the concept of sustainability, tracing its history and application from local land-use practices, construction techniques and reorientation of business models to national and global institutions seeking to foster sustainable practices. Examining sustainable development in scientific, technological, social and political terms, he shows that it remains an elusive concept and evidence of its unambiguous achievements can be difficult to ascertain. Moreover, developed and developing countries have formulated divergent agendas to engage the notion of sustainability, further complicating its application and progress across the world. Innovative and readily accessible to students from a range of disciplines, this primer takes us on a journey to show that sustainability is as much about unchartered waters as it is about formulating answers to urgent global issues."
published 11 Jan 2021