Among its myriad trans-media permutations—plays, songs, pageants, pinball games—four major American films were made of Helen Hunt Jackson’s famed 1884 novel Ramona. An international bestseller published one year before Jackson’s death, the epic saga, set in Southern California in the early American period, tells of a tragic romance between the half-Indian Ramona and the full-blooded Indian Alessandro, who is murdered by a white man at the end. Intended as a brief for the beleaguered American Indian, Jackson’s lavish description of the region’s Spanish Catholic past instead was used to promote Los Angles as an Anglo Protestant mecca and helped propel the city’s phenomenal population growth—from circa 15,000 at the time of Ramona’s publication to 324,000 by 1910. Continue reading “‘Ramona’ Resurrected: Long Lost 1928 Film Adaptation Resurfaces in L.A.” »
Technology has been praised, criticized, and feared in the classroom. The tumultuous discussion of “pros and cons” is all the more evident in today’s new media landscape. To this day, many instructors resist the incorporation of technology for a number of reasons. To some, the idea of new media in the classroom is frightening because it requires us to acquire new technical knowledge. Do I even have time or want to take the time to learn how to use WordPress, Prezi or Twitter? The same concern relates to students: will new media technology widen the socio-economic technological, digital divide? Will students pay attention in class, when they could easily be on Facebook or shopping for shoes? How would technology benefit my students’ learning? Continue reading “Technology in the Classroom: A Personal Reflection” »
Editor’s Note: This essay was originally written in August 2013, and later revised in March 2014 for publication in Mediascape.
In an essay I wrote for my co-edited anthology Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen (Brandeis Press, 2013), I argue that Allen’s films since the Mia Farrow/Soon Yi Previn scandal of 1992 all to some degree betray (if only unconsciously) the scandal’s lingering effects on the much acclaimed/much maligned writer-director. No film deals as overtly with Allen’s affair with his nineteen-year-old, quasi-step-daughter Soon Yi as his 2011 play Honeymoon Motel, in which a middle-aged New York Jew runs off to a motel with his stepson’s bride on the day of the wedding ceremony. But each film does employ, I suggest, one or more (sometimes overlapping) strategies for coping with the scandal’s (internal and external) fallout. Allen’s latest film, Blue Jasmine, which was released after my essay’s submission for publication, would have made an ideal capper. For besides being one of Allen’s stronger works (and worth seeing just for CateBlanchett’s stunning performance), it fits my post-scandal strategy thesis to a tee. Continue reading “Woody’s Revenge: The Farrow/Previn Scandal Lives! in “Blue Jasmine” »