The NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture at NUPT is a New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)-Nanjing organization funded by a grant from the United States Embassy, Beijing and the United States Department of State located on the campus of its partner institution, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications (NUPT). Its purpose is to provide a venue in which to foster intercultural communication through the exchange of ideas and art and thereby enhance international understanding.
The NYIT Center is one of the twelve American Culture Centers in China created to present a variety of American viewpoints to the Chinese. The NYIT Director, NUPT Associate Director, and sixteen part time NYIT-NUPT students are responsible for presenting at least one international and/or local guest speaker a month in addition to conducting weekly activities such as international film colloquiums and English Corner. Specific activities may include the following: lectures by international or local scholars and politicians; readings or screenings and discussions of the work of novelists, poets, filmmakers, and dramatists; performances of dancers and musicians; demonstrations and/or exhibits of painters, sculptors, and folk artists.
The Directors and student Assistants of the NYIT Center at NUPT are also responsible for hosting annual NYIT-NUPT Film Festivals & Symposiums and Language and Literature Conferences. The recently completed Center is an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable place where Chinese and international students, faculty, staff, guests, and the public can congregate to read available periodicals and other materials from our library, use the MAC computers, and share ideas both formally and informally in English.
Overview of “Folk Arts in New York State”
NYIT Center for Humanities and Culture at NUPT Programming, 2014-2015
In our Folk Arts in New York State programming in collaboration with the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology-University of North Dakota Shanghai (USST-UND) American Culture Center, we plan to continue introducing our NYIT New York bound seniors, other students, faculty, and the public to a variety of worldviews through folklore. We began doing so last year with Cajun and sacred steel guitar traditions brought by American Routes founder and host, folklorist Nick Spitzer, Ph.D., as well as with a play about the life and work of folk singer and social activist Woody Guthrie. This academic year we hope to resume strengthening American relations with the Chinese through our shared experience of music – that of Alex Torres and the Latin Orchestra and of the Klezmatics -- as well as begin deepening our understanding of each other through presentations on foodways, regional/occupational folklore, and veterans’ narratives.
Monday, November 3, 2014 Ellen McHale, Ph.D., Director, New York Folklore Society, presents on her new book Stable Views: Voices and Stories from the Thoroughbred Racetrack (University Press of Mississippi, 2014), an in-depth study of the regional and occupational folk traditions uncovered through the recording of oral histories at Belmont and Aqueduct Racetracks in New York City and the racetrack at Saratoga Springs, NY. -- accompanied by a photo exhibit. Tuesday, November 4, 2014 This Fulbright Senior Scholar provides an overview of her work on the Veterans’ History Project including her contributions at the Library of Congress.
Thursday, November 13, 2014 November 21, 2014 Monique Taylor, Ph.D., Executive Director and Campus Dean, NYIT Nanjing, presents “Foodways and Gentrification in Harlem” based on her grant funded fieldwork in this section of New York which builds on the research she did for her book Harlem: Between Heaven and Hell (University of Minnesota Press, 2002).
Monday, March 2, 2015 Robert Baron, Ph.D., Director, New York State Council of the Arts Folk Arts Program and co-author with Nick Spitzer of Public Folklore (2007), presents “Folk Arts of New York State: City and Country Lore” in which he provides an overview of New York folk traditions such as that of chain saw carving, Amish quilt and furniture making, graffiti, and musical and dance traditions. Dr. Baron plans to enjoy a question and answer period with the students. Dr. Baron presents on his and Dr. Spitzer’s Public Folklore (1992), a text which has been translated into Chinese. In his talk, this folklorist will describe the ramifications of presenting folk traditions to the public much in the manner that we often do in our American Culture Centers in China. He will also describe the relationship of public presentations of folklore to the academic study of the subject. Dr. Baron will also present at the USST-UND Culture Center on November 10-11.
Monday, March 16 Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra, which originated in Amsterdam, New York in 1980, perform the following musical traditions: Puerto Rican “Plena,” Dominican Republic “Merengue,” and Cuban “Son” and more! Tuesday, March 17 Alex Torres and his band speak informally with the students and other members of the audience about the Afro-Caribbean roots and rhythms of their music while showcasing their instruments and explaining how and with what materials they are made. They also plan to describe how these forms of music have not only impacted the Latino community but other ethnic groups in New York City. Alex and his fellow musicians are open to jamming with Chinese students!
Thursday, April 9 The Klezmatics, in concert -- a world class New York City based American klezmer band that traces the origin of their music back to Eastern European Jewish tradition and spirituality demonstrate that they are also influenced by other musical forms including Arab, African, Latin, Balkan, jazz and punk. Friday, April 10 The Klezmatics meet informally with students and explain the continuity and innovation of their musical tradition, that is, the historical roots and transformation that has occurred in other contexts especially that of New York City. They will share that which they have in common with human rights activist Woody Guthrie and indicate why they chose to put several of Guthrie’s lyrics to music for the first time. Chinese students will undoubtedly be inspired to bring their instruments to this event. The group will perform at the USST-UND American Culture Center, April 6, 7.
Additional USST-UND Shared Programming
Thursday, November 20 Christopher Dewart – MIT furniture designer lectures on furniture making processes both traditional and otherwise. He will include mention of work of New York Amish and the Shakers in this regard.
(Date TBA) Kimberly Porter, Ph.D. – Oral Historian, University of North Dakota, presents on the processes of conducting oral histories used as material in academic monographs such as those completed by Dr. Ellen McHale for her book Stable Views: Voices and Stories from the Thoroughbred Racetrack (University Press of Mississippi, 2014) and for the preservation of the stories of individuals such as those in the Veterans’ History Project.
Audience Reached: NYIT-NUPT and USST-UND communities; Nanjing University community especially those involved in the Jewish Studies program; the Nanjing and Shanghai public; Collaboration: USST-UND American Culture Center, Director Jennifer Tarlin; Arizona State University American Culture Center travelling art exhibition of Southwestern region living artists, Director Kathryn Mohrman; dates TBA; Expected Results: Education, edification, and deepening of relations between Chinese and Americans of NYIT-NUPT, Nanjing University, and the USST-UND academic communities and public.