Friday, February 20, 2009

Faculty Member Awarded Humanities Grant

Christopher Volpe, a faculty member in the Integrated Liberal Studies department at Chester College of New England, has been named the humanist in a grant by the New Hampshire Humanities Council to extend the N.H. Seacoast's annual "Jazzmouth" poetry and music event to the greater Portsmouth area.

Volpe will lead a public book-discussion at the Portsmouth Senior Center on Carolyn Cassady's "Off the Road," a memoir by the wife of the real-life protagonist of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." The discussion will center on the women of the Beat Generation: who were they and in what ways did they contribute to the body of work that has come down to us? Topics may also include the position that women generally occupy in the canonical works of the Beat Generation, the contribution that reclaimed narratives such as Carolyn Cassady's make to our understanding of the blurred line between life and art, and the uses and misuses of memoir, fact, and fiction in general in historical and contemporary letters.

Volpe also will lead a session for children and their parents on "Jazz ABZ," an alphabet primer by contemporary jazz legend Wynton Marsalis which teaches fundamentals of reading through the marriage of music and poetry. For the latter event, Professor Volpe will be joined by music expert Bruce Pingree and several musicians for a demonstration of musical instruments, group singing, and first-hand proof that learning and creativity need not be confined within the borders of any given genre. At the heart of this event will be an introduction to the sheer freedom and joy of language, music, and improvisation, as well as the importance of passing down to children an appreciation for the American art forms of jazz and poetry that predate them.

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