Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Outliers & Practical Intelligence - Chapter 4

[Outliers Reading Group]

Extending his “Trouble with Geniuses” concerns, Malcolm Gladwell explains how particular skills give talented people the extra edge to become outliers. Gladwell notes that we too often assume that success is based purely on intellect or physical talents. Genetics tend to play vital roles, but they are hardly the sole determining factors.

To describe the differences between a highly intelligent yet underachieving person and a highly intelligent and successful one, Gladwell highlights psychologist Robert Sternberg’s concept “practical intelligence,” which includes “'knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect.’” Practical intelligence is “knowledge that helps you read situations correctly and get what you want. And, critically, it is a kind of intelligence separate from the sort of analytical ability measured by IQ.”

The practical intelligence that Gladwell presents can also be thought of as a kind of “social savvy,” an ability to skillfully negotiate multiple social and professional environments. People with high IQs who seemed to squander their talents were actually people who lacked “a community around them that prepared them properly for the world.”

How did you respond to Gladwell’s ideas about practical intelligence? Why?

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Reflections

[Behind the Beautiful Forevers]

We're seven chapters in to Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers. What do you think? What have you found most fascinating, surprising, or thought-provoking? Why or how so?

The Big Smoke: “Cooking Lessons”

[The Big Smoke reading group]

In "Cooking Lessons," Adrian Matejka presents one of the incidents for which the heavyweight champ, Jack Johnson, was arrested. Johnson speaks to his lover Belle after striking her with his fist.

Strangely, Johnson tells Bell, in short, how grateful she should be. He even mentions that “Shakespeare had a man/play Desdemona, didn't he?” suggesting that men are somehow supposed to give women direction. In this poem, Matejka is revealing Johnson's deeply troubling treatment of women.

What did you think on most regarding "Cooking Lessons," and why?  That is, what captured your attention most concerning the poem's main themes or the use of language in the poem, and why did that capture your attention?

The Big Smoke: “Mouth Fighting”

[The Big Smoke reading group]

Like many of the poems in Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke, Jack Johnson delivers a personal description of his fighting style. In “Mouth Fighting,” however, this description of his unique style is not of a physical quality (as the title may or may not suggest). Mouth fighting, in this case, refers to trash talk (a trait that is evident in many great black athletes of the past and present).

Jack Johnson’s trash talking is “civilized” with rules. “A civilized/mouth fight is about making a fighter wild/& as soon as I can tell he's listening,/I know I've won.” The irony is layered as there may be some white fighters or fans who may consider trash taking to be uncivilized.

What did you think on most regarding "Mouth Fighting," and why?  That is, what captured your attention most concerning the poem's main themes or the use of language in the poem, and why did that capture your attention?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall 2014 Public Humanities Programming

Nov. 4: Public Thinking Event [Lovejoy Library] 
Oct. 30: The Big Smoke exhibit [Lovejoy Library]
Oct. 28: Public Thinking Event [Lovejoy Library] 
Oct. 14: Public Thinking Event [Lovejoy Library] 
Oct. 1: Tribute to Maya Angelou: Photographs from the Eugene B. Redmond Collection [Lovejoy Library]  
Sept. 30: Public Thinking Event - Maya Angelou exhibit [MUC] 
Sept. 25: The Big Smoke exhibit  [Lovejoy Library]
Sept. 17: Public Thinking Event [MUC]
Sept. 11: Poetry Listening Session [Underground Reading Room, Lovejoy Library]
Sept. 10: African American Literary Showcase [Lovejoy Library]
Sept. 2: Public Thinking Event [MUC]

The Big Smoke Exhibit at Lovejoy (September 25)

This semester, a group of us (50 or so black men at SIUE) are covering Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke (2013) – a volume of poetry concentrating on heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. On September 25, in Lovejoy Library, we held the first of a series of public exhibits that we are doing related to Matejka's book. What follows are a few images from the event.

Public Thinking Event (Sept. 17)

We coordinated our second Public Thinking Event on September 17.

Fall 2014 Public Programming