Film Series & Technology Lecture Series
Beginning in fall 2011, College of Arts and Letters Dean Karin Wurst and her staff members began discussing two potential academic series anchored by visits from high-profile, successful Arts and Letters alumni. The two series were scheduled for fall 2012 as part of the College of Arts and Letters 50th Anniversary celebration, July 2012 to June 2013.
Left to right: Peter Stougaard, Susan Metros and Todd Presner
The first, a film series, included visits with faculty, multiple student class sessions, and public film screenings and post-film discussions with CAL alumni. The second, a technology-focused lecture series, offered opportunities for faculty and students to meet, interact and learn about the alums’ views on the state of various technologies as well as digital humanities.
Over the course of the next few months, our amazing California-based alums stepped up to the plate. Film screenwriter Jack Epps, former studio executives Bill Mechanic and Peter Stougaard, and University of Southern California CIO Susan Metros agreed to participate in the two series. Epps and Mechanic would anchor the film series, and Metros and Stougaard, the technology series.
All promised to give our students and faculty an inside look at their professional worlds, the daily challenges they face, and insights on how the value of what they learned at MSU is still paying off, today. Bringing extraordinarily successful alums like these back to campus allows our students to imagine themselves in their own dream careers, as it inspires them to work even harder and persevere.
Rounding out the technology series, Todd Presner, Chair of the Digital Humanities Program at the University of California Los Angeles, signed on to present CAL students and faculty with his take on what’s next in digital humanities.
The "Breakfast at Tiffany's" event included a reception (top) in the new Wells Hall Addition's lobby, featuring period women's outfits from the Apparel and Textile Design program's fashion collection; an updated take on designer Hubert de Givenchy's little black dress for Audrey Hepburn assigned by ATD program Professor Theresa Winge (in black, holding white program sheet second from right) to her student assistant Martín Flores (center in black tee); and an attendee attire contest for best 1960s period clothing.
Discussions and decisions on the films to be screened and the various lecture topics followed. With CAL celebrating its 50th anniversary, a decision was made to choose a film from the early 1960s. The first film chosen was "Breakfast at Tiffany's." The classic Audrey Hepburn-George Peppard vehicle, based on the Truman Capote novella, debuted in 1961, going on to be nominated for five Oscars, including Hepburn for Best Actress, and winning two–both for music–at the 34th Academy Awards in April 1962.
Because the film features seven iconic outfits from French designer Hubert de Givenchy, Dean Wurst approached Professor Theresa Winge of the Department of Art, Art History and Design's Apparel and Textile Design program, and asked how her students and the program might become involved. Dr. Winge assigned student assistant Martin Flores to design and create a black gown inspired by the Givenchy black gown worn by Hepburn in the film.
Working with ATD Professor Sally Helvenston, Winge culled three 1960s-era dresses from the department's fashion collection that could be displayed with Flores' creation at the film's pre-screening public reception in the new Wells Hall addition. Professor Winge also revised the fashion design competition for CAL's Apparel and Textile Design Annual Fashion Show in March 2013 to include an element that tied into the College's 50th Anniversary. The five-decade–1960s through 2000s–fashion design competition was dubbed "FASH forward," and the rules were revised to require that entries take their inspiration from fashion icons of the last five decades.
Each designer who entered–the competition was open to all CAL students, not just ATD majors–received a design packet containing images of a fashion icon from the past five decades. Designers were required to use this fashion icon as inspiration for a modern avant-garde fashion design; they could not trade with another designer. Up to 50 selected designs were to be chosen and featured as a segment of the Apparel and Textile Design Fashion Show at Michigan State University on March 24, 2013, with awards given for best design from each decade, and best in show.
College of Arts & Letters alumnus and successful screenwriter Jack Epps ("Top Gun") met with students in class and after the screening of "Top Gun" to answer questions.
ROUNDING OUT THE SERIES
As part of the College of Arts and Letters Homecoming events and the 50th Anniversary film speakers series sponsored by the College's Alumni Board, Jack Epps Jr. returned to campus in October 2012 for a special screening and discussion of the film "Top Gun."
For nearly 20 years, MSU alums and writing partners Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. co-authored numerous successful screenplays. Their first produced screenplay was "Top Gun," which went on to become the highest-grossing film and #1 worldwide box office hit of 1986. Within 11 months, the duo had produced three screenplays in theatres nationwide: "Top Gun," "Legal Eagles," and "The Secret of My Success." An award-winning writer and filmmaker, Epps first became involved in making films while an undergraduate in the College of Arts and Letters. Inspired by a student film festival, he made his first film the following semester and has been making movies ever since. His student film "The Pigs vs. the Freaks" was purchased by NBC and made into a Movie of the Week, retitled "Off Sides." Epps produced and worked as second unit director on the film.
Epps' partner, CAL Distinguished Alumnus Jim Cash, earned an English degree and later an M.A. in telecommunications. He also founded "The Red Cedar Review," the longest-running undergraduate-managed publication in the U.S.
As a screenwriter, Mr. Epps co-authored more than 25 screenplays and eight produced motion pictures, including "Dick Tracy," "Turner & Hooch," and "Anaconda." Epps also did extensive revisions on "Sister Act" and "Die Hard III."
"Top Gun" was the second of three films to be screened, discussed and tied to events for CAL's 50th Anniversary. Epps and Professor Gary Hoppenstand, PhD, an expert in American studies, popular culture, and film studies from the Department of English, engaged in a post-film audience discussion and Q&A. Hoppenstand is currently associate dean for undergraduate studies.
During the Q&A session, Epps revealed that he loved flying, and part of the deal he negotiated for writing the screenplay was that he get to go up with a pilot and fly in the type of Navy jet he was writing about in "Top Gun." "It was the best perk ever!" Epps says.
1973 Alumni Bill & Carol Mechanic
Speaking of her husband and fellow 1973 MSU alumnus Bill Mechanic, Carol Mechanic says, "Around 1970, I was involved with a movement that was trying to get ROTC off campus. And, running away from an event, I met some of Bill's friends, and then I met Bill through them.
"I didn't like him at first, and he didn't like me."
Carol says that she was a student in Justin Morrill College and lived in Snyder Phillips. That's where she met Bill, as he was also living there.
"My favorite memory of Michigan State," Carol says, "has always been–and from a Californian, now, it's funny–but those moments at 2 o'clock in the morning after it had snowed and you walk around, and I'm assuming people still do it. It's so quiet, and so peaceful, and so beautiful up here. There's really nothing like it."
As for Bill, getting out of the city (he grew up in the Detroit area), and adjusting to life and finding more people who are like-minded was what he remembers most.
"I was an English Lit major, so literature adult-style was fun. We were reading the best books, and my favorite was always Shakespeare," Bill says. "I kind of had a good time when I was working at The State News, and I was film critic. I found it an interesting experience to be so public and, I guess, controversial. I'd walk into class and be attacked. I kind of got used to having a thick skin and getting criticized."
Bill says that the story of how he became film critic at The State News involves another famous College of Arts & Letters alum, screenwriter Jack Epps, who also came back to campus for the College's 50th Anniversary Film Festival. Mechanic was a junior at the time, looking toward his senior year. To work on his writing, he took a journalism class where it was required that he get published.
"So, I wrote a film review, and sent it to The State News, and got a call from the film critic. It turned out to be Jack Epps, who said, ‘You're better than me. You should have my job. C'mon in.'
"So, I did, and Jack said the same thing to the editor, and then he quit, saying, ‘I'm going out to California to make my way in movies.' And, so, I took his job. And that's half the story."
A few years later, when Bill moved to Paramount, one of the first movies he worked on was "Top Gun," which Jack and MSU alum and professor Jim Cash wrote.
"So, we met up again," Bill says. "Then, kind of the circle completing, years later, Jack is teaching screenwriting at USC, and I sit on the Film Board. So, I helped him get his tenure, making a long complete circle. One that all began at MSU and The State News."
Adds Carol, "And when our daughters (Jack's and ours) graduated from college, they both graduated on the same day from the same school, so we were in the audience together."
While a film critic at The State News, Bill says, he started getting published and picked up by other colleges. There were no film classes here at MSU at the time. There was no film school. So, his mind began to focus on getting out of the city, getting his head in a different place.
Looking back, Bill says, "Who would have thought you could go from writing film reviews to heading up a movie studio? I didn't."
CAROL'S MSU STORY
"When I was deciding where to go to college, I just picked the biggest school I could find, and that was Michigan State. I wanted to be able to function in the biggest pond I could find. While I was in Justin Morrill College, I did decide I wanted to become involved in tourism. So, I took a lot of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management classes. It's now called Hospitality Business, I believe.
"And my first job, I was hired by Peter Ueberroth, who was the head of the Olympics in 1984, and later became the commissioner of baseball," Carol says. "Pete started this travel company when he was 26 years old. And I think he was 30 when I was there, and it grew to become the second-largest travel company in America, and was ultimately sold to American Express. So, I didn't get to speak French, but I did get to travel the world and do things like that."
Asked what they tell students when they come back to MSU or speak to other college audiences, Bill answers quickly.
Says Bill, "I always tell them to stay in school if they're thinking of leaving early. If they're graduating and are going to go to work, I tell them to keep their head down and concentrate on the job at hand.
"It's tough out there, right now. The economy is probably in its worst state since the Depression. And while it's definitely picking up a bit, now, it's no time to be out there unprepared."
Both Mechanics say that once in the workforce, "You always want to be on the lookout for new businesses where there's more opportunity." Neither thought they would end up doing what they did, or rising to the jobs they had, but new markets and new businesses provided new opportunities, and they took advantage of them.
DIDN'T REALLY THINK ABOUT A JOB
Says Bill, "For me I came here (to MSU) to write. I was a writer. You know, most kids do come in sort of practically-minded, thinking ‘I'm going to go into business and be a doctor or a lawyer.' A writer really doesn't. I didn't really think about having a job and making money, or doing anything other than working my way through life and seeing if I could actually write the great American novel.
"Did I ever think I would end up, career-wise, doing anything like this? No. There was never a scintilla of that."
He continues, "When I was running studios and hiring people, the thing I did more often than not was hire people out of the Midwest. I hired very, very few out of Harvard or Yale or Princeton. That was more something somebody had to overcome, than not. I felt my training in the Midwest–and one type of person: hard working, more honest, more straightforward, more ‘feet on the ground,' made a much better employee.
"And I think that Midwest work ethic has always served me well. It makes me more unique when I deal with people. My feet walk on the ground every day."
Carol agrees, saying, "I did the same thing in hiring. I think you gravitate to people who are like you, but you also gravitate to a work ethic that you don't necessarily find in a lot of Californians. There are exceptions, of course. But, I also think that helped both of us, because people did read us pretty quickly as straightforward, and that served us very well. They trusted us.
"And the Spartan nation is alive and well in Los Angeles," Carol says. "Just had to put in my plug, there."
MOST FUN, REWARDING, CHALLENGING
As for what over the course of their careers they found to be most fun, most rewarding, and/or most challenging, the couple named several instances as well as provided valuable insights.
"All three, generally, are wrapped together," Bill says. "I guess, big picture, it was getting on top of the pyramid and running the studios. It's kind of like you look back and think, whoa, that was pretty amazing.
"Making ‘Titanic.' And going through the kind of pain in the process. It was certainly one of the most difficult movies to make. For a year and a half you're going through a kind of hell. And for six months another hell where people are saying you're going to be fired; what are you doing? And then, actually unveiling the movie and having it become the biggest film in history, was kind of a nice turnabout.
"In terms of being a little bit more fun, but the same kind of a rocky, roller coaster ride, producing the Oscar show because it's live in front of a billion or whatever people. I call it another one of those pincushion jobs, because there's no way of ever satisfying people. Everybody now has an opinion.
"But the fact that my whole career has been in film entertainment, where you get to fix your films; you get to edit your articles; you get to edit your films; re-edit your films, whatever you can do, and now you're live with no rehearsals. It's pretty amazingly intense."
For Carol, it was definitely when she switched to the cable television industry.
"HBO was moving into the urban market," she says. "The average age at the company was 26 years old. So, you can imagine how many old people were there to make up for all of the 23-year-olds.
"And we were out there with the assets of Time, Inc., and yet, in a sense, making up a business as we went along. It was a lot of fun. You could make a mistake, and it didn't matter. There was no fear of that at all. And we built a business.
"I think the most heartbreaking was my next job, which was a joint venture of ABC News and Westinghouse. They created a news channel called Satellite News Channel to take on CNN. And we worked so hard. And we were organized as only Westinghouse could make you. And we had great news as only ABC could give you.
Carol Mechanic speaks to CAL students.
"And we ran up against Ted Turner, who had relationships with everybody from all those years at the top of every cable company. And we would go and we would get contracts, and we'd negotiate them to the eleventh hour.
"And I remember meeting a guy to have a glass of really expensive scotch, because he was going to bring me the signed contract. And he said, ‘I'll buy it.'
"And I went, ‘Why? You're not going to sign it?'
"And he said, ‘Sit down.'
"And I looked at him and said, ‘Are you kidding?'
"And he said, ‘Ted got to my boss. We're dead.'
"And he did that everywhere. And at the end of the day, Ted Turner bought Satellite News Channel and shut it down, and we never did get it off the ground."
On the subject of joint projects, the power couple has never worked together professionally, but Carol did lose her job at HBO when Bill took the job at Paramount. HBO felt it was a conflict, and there were rumblings that they were going to fire Carol, but she left before they did.
As for the future, Bill's Pandemonium Productions is making movies, and Carol notes that, because Bill is busy, she is now "delightfully retired."
They have one child – a daughter who works, as Carol notes, "…in a discipline in which neither of us is involved or has experience: unscripted reality development."
So, the two are learning what she does. Carol says she has helped her a bit, and Bill hired his daughter for the Oscars show. But, other than that, he says he has pretty steadfastly left her to her own devices. And, they say they've seen their daughter struggle, but also seen her start to carve a place for herself on her own.
As to their lives and their careers since MSU, Bill says, it's been a good run. Even in the most difficult times in his career, he says, things seemed to work out. Like his high-profile "fight" with James Cameron over "Titanic," when Bill shut down production of the estimated $200-million epic.
"You know, I never felt you could shut ‘Titanic' down for good. I had to shut it down for a couple of days. And that was $750,000 a day, so it's not a small decision. The fight with Jim was to try and get the movie under control. Actually the fight made the film better because we took stuff out that it didn't need. And while it was bad for the relationship, I think it was good for the movie.
"But, I always felt he would come back. It wasn't just a movie to him. I don't think anything is just a movie to him. And, at the end of the day, you're in control, and you better act like you're in control. It's not for the faint of heart to do that. In a situation like that, you find out what you're made of. And it all worked out pretty well."
As for his leaving Twentieth Century Fox, Mechanic says it wasn't only because of the box office failure of "Fight Club." The film did find commercial success later with its DVD release, which established "Fight Club" as a cult film, and critical reviews of the film have also greatly improved. In fact, in 2008, "Fight Club" was named the 10th greatest movie of all time by "Empire" magazine in its issue of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
"The big fights with Rupert Murdoch were over ‘Fight Club' and animation. He thought we couldn't compete with Disney. They tried to shut down ‘Ice Age.' They tried when I left–they tried to sell it off. And it's probably the most profitable animated film series in history, now. There were a couple others in there. They called ‘X-Men' my $70-million art film."
But Bill says he doesn't like to follow the crowd.
"My interests are in not being the same as everyone else. You look at those five or six movies, and they're all very different things. So, instead of doing copies of copies of copies, they were all unique. And Murdoch (studio owner Rupert Murdoch) didn't really want that. But we took the studio from being the lowest-ranked and least profitable studio to the number one studio with the most profits."
When asked about a personal favorite movie, Bill says, "There's not one for me. Because we have a daughter, one of them is ‘Anastasia.' When I spent nine years at Disney, I got familiar with everything including ‘Little Mermaid.' All those movies, I thought, were kind of bad role models for women. The girls are always saved by the guy. And, I thought, that's not life.
"One of the movies I tried to make with a purpose was to find a fairy tale–even though we took a real-life character, Anastasia–where the girl solves her own problems. The guy tries to rescue her, and she pushes him aside. And you can find that motif in a lot of movies, now. ‘Coraline' has it, as do others, of strong women.
"So, there's ‘Anastasia;' and ‘Fight Club,' I think, is a great film. ‘Titanic,' ‘Braveheart,' ‘There's Something About Mary' just because I think it's so funny. I think ‘Boys Don't Cry' because it said something important even though it's a pretty difficult movie. And I think ‘Cast Away,' ‘Ice Storm,' and ‘Full Monty' are all pretty good.
As for keeping in touch with other MSU alumni, Bill says Carol is more active, but he is aware of their presence.
"Carol knows more of them than I do," Bill says. "There are alumni clubs, and there's also a West Coast Council, and Spartans in Hollywood. There's a bunch of people in Hollywood and in L.A., obviously, and California. I think it's the second biggest non-Michigan location for alums."
He adds that for a long time, the alumni efforts seemed disorganized or unorganized after they had first moved to Los Angeles.
"I think I finally became in touch–when I was president of Disney. And I thought, ‘Well, they didn't call me the first 15 years. I guess I'm important enough, now.'
"But there was someone running the west coast who organized people, and brought in a couple people from show biz, one who's a very good friend, now. They were mostly from different backgrounds, and they started doing fundraising, and doing things to help Michigan State from California."
Adds Carol, "In fact, the Orange County alumni association group has their own scholarship program, where they fund Orange County kids to come to Michigan State. They're very active."
Both say that giving back to MSU is the main reason they like to come back to the University.
"You give back to where you've got from," Bill says. "Michigan State gave me my start. Whenever they want me to, I'll fly in for a film festival, or a special event. We did a premiere here. Anytime I'm asked to help, I try to do so."
Carol agrees, noting that, "Tonight, I'm speaking with students from the other side of the desk, answering questions like, ‘What do you need to know that they don't teach you in college?'"
Topics for the student session included how to make and seize opportunities; interview perspectives from the other side of the desk; how to strategize your first months on a new job; as well as words of wisdom from Carol on how to successfully network within the industry.
Both Carol and Bill say the most recent invitation to return to campus during the College of Arts and Letters 50th Anniversary celebration was welcomed.
"When the film program through the College of Arts and Letters created this film series as part of the 50th Anniversary, Dean Karin Wurst asked if we would come and be involved. And we both said yes."
Carol agrees, saying, "I truly believe that alums need to both pay it forward and pay back.
"You owe. Pay up," she says.
Technology Lecture Series
Titled "Different Angles on Technology," the College's 50th Anniversary Technology Lecture Series was created to expose faculty, students and community leaders to academic and business advances as well as thought on current and future technology from leaders in their respective fields.
College of Arts and Letters alumna Susan Metros kicked off the series in September. The Associate Vice Provost and Associate Chief Information Officer for Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Metros also holds professorships in visual design, communication and clinical education. In her executive role, she leads the academic community in integrating new and emerging education and communication technologies into teaching, learning, research, and outreach.
In her role as educator and designer, Metros teaches courses in digital and multimedia literacies and has served as principal visual designer on several international-award-winning multimedia projects. She has published and presented widely on information technology leadership and mentoring, visual and multimedia literacy, digital scholarship, and the role of technology in transforming education to be interactive and learner-driven. In 2011, Susan was elected to EDUCAUSE's Board of Directors for a four-year term.
Formerly on the College of Arts and Letters faculty, Metros was at The Ohio State University prior to USC and served as interim chief information officer from February to September 2007. From 2001 to 2007, she served as OSU's deputy chief information officer and the executive director for eLearning, transforming the technology-enhanced learning and research unit into an operation that served as a state model for the integration of technology into teaching, learning, and research. She has also held faculty appointments at OSU, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
TWO SESSIONS – TWO AUDIENCES
In addition to meeting with various faculty and students, including those associated with the Creativity Exploratory, Metros held two formal sessions while on campus. The first was a lecture and question-and-answer session for students and faculty.
Titled "Learning to Look: New Literacies for the Digital Age," this first session addressed the premise that American college students are technology dependent and visually stimulated, but not always tech savvy and visually literate. Metros says that, while we educate students to read and write, we do not teach them to see. Her lecture was designed to help answer two critical questions:
- "What does it mean to be literate in a visually overloaded and digitally saturated world?"
- "How can educators prepare students to thrive as astute consumers, producers, and critics for this new visual and digital realm?"
The second session was a panel discussion and forum for MSU and community IT leaders that Dr. Metros conducted at the Kellogg Center with David Gift, MSU's vice provost for Libraries and IT Services, chief information officer, and adjunct professor of radiology. Starting off with the premise that, in the past, technical expertise was the most important qualification for selecting IT leaders, Metros noted that higher education institutions, today, seek to attract a new crop of leaders from a diverse array of academic disciplines and corporate sectors.
She said that business terms like "super-collaborator," "thought leader," "passionate champion," and "change agent" are infiltrating senior IT leader job descriptions. Metros then opined that the new IT leader must be tactical and strategic, compassionate and shrewd, collaborative and competitive-all within an environment of expanding needs and constrained budgets.
CAL Technology Lecture Series speaker and CAL alum Peter Stougaard engages students in the Wells Hall Addition's Presentation Space.
PETER STOUGARD, BFA 1981
Next up in the CAL Technology Lecture Series was Peter Stougaard, former senior VP of creative advertising for 20th Century Fox, and also a College of Arts and Letters alumnus (BFA 1981). An advertising executive with a history of blockbuster campaigns under his belt, Stougaard was a part of a highly successful motion picture marketing team as senior vice president of 20th Century Fox from 2000 to 2011.
Stougaard worked closely with talent, agents, filmmakers and studio executives to distill each film into a single marketing icon for up to 25 movies simultaneously, including "Xmen," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "Cast Away," "Moulin Rouge," "Ice Age," "Cheaper By The Dozen," "Minority Report," "The Day After Tomorrow," "Walk the Line," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Borat," "Night at the Museum," "The Simpsons Movie," and James Cameron's "Avatar," to name a few.
As the key creative executive at Fox, Stougaard was also involved with the debut of Clear-Channel's digital billboard network in Los Angeles. These programs ran exclusively prior to any other advertiser using the outdoor network.
Prior to Fox, Stougaard was one of the first hires at DreamWorks SKG, founded by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. He headed all creative/product development for its consumer products division, and was responsible for building the brands and interfacing with every major retailer to translate DreamWorks' properties into successful retail programs. Stougaard developed the first digital style guide for a major motion picture – "Men In Black," which included pioneering a user interface allowing licensees to easily navigate digital assets to develop consumer products, at a time when computer graphics was in its infancy.
Before DreamWorks, Stougaard worked as a lead creative director for BLT & Associates, designing theatrical key art for every major movie studio and for Sagon-Phior, where he helped develop campaigns launching Fox Broadcasting, American Movie Classics, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and various licensed film and television properties.
Most recently, Stougaard co-founded ActivateTV – a Facebook-interactive television platform that transforms any video into a social game. He is also consulting with numerous agencies and studios on traditional/digital marketing campaigns and application design and development.
CAREER TIPS FOR STUDENTS
For CAL's Technology Lecture Series, Stougaard presented a workshop and lecture session titled "From Student to Professional" in the Presentation Space that spans the second and third floors of the new Wells Hall Addition. Stougaard's lecture addressed answers to the question: "What can you do to make your college experience something that will set you apart in the workforce?"
Targeting freshman, sophomore, junior and senior students, the session addressed the issue of how students can go about making themselves as attractive as possible to employers upon graduation–and even sooner. Stougaard spoke on the activities that translate into valuable experience; how internships and jobs in a student's chosen field while still in college are important; and what areas are a must-learn for any college student with expectations of being hired upon graduation.
The lecture and follow-up question-and-answer session were designed to inform students about what hiring managers want and expect to see in new graduates.
UCLA Director of Digital Humanities Todd Presner's week-long campus visit, sponsored by the CAL Department of German, allowed him to close out the Technology Lecture Series. A professor at the University of California Los Angeles, Presner is chair of the Digital Humanities program; professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies; and Sady and Ludwig Kahn Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies.
His research focuses on European intellectual history, the history of media, visual culture, digital humanities, and cultural geography. Professor Presner is the author or co-author of three books: The first, "Mobile Modernity: Germans, Jews, Trains," maps German-Jewish intellectual history onto the development of the railway system. The second, "Muscular Judaism: The Jewish Body and the Politics of Regeneration," analyzes the aesthetic dimensions of the strong Jewish body. The third, co-authored with Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, and Jeffrey Schnapp is "Digital Humanities," a critical-theoretical exploration of this complex, emerging field. A fourth book is under contract, "HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities."
Presner is founder, director, and editor-in-chief of HyperCities, a collaborative digital mapping platform that explores the layered histories of city spaces. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation as one of its first "digital media and learning" projects in 2008, HyperCities is an open-source, web-based platform for "going back in time" to analyze the cultural, urban, and social layers of city spaces. HyperCities brings together archival objects, maps, 3D models, academic books and articles, as well as community histories in an ever-growing, hypermedia context that allows for rich interaction, collaborative authorship, and participatory learning. As of fall 2012, HyperCities hosts content for more than two dozen cities, including Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, and Rome, with many more cities coming on-board in the future.
While on campus over the last week in November, Dr. Presner presided over two sessions that admirably concluded the CAL 50th Anniversary Technology Lecture series. The first was a student and faculty lecture held in the Wells Hall Addition Presentation Space on Digital Humanities titled "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Digital Humanists," that played off the title of the famous business management and self-help book by Steven Covey, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."
The second session, held in a large conference room in the new Wells Hall addition, was a public forum on the future of digital humanities titled: "Next Steps: What's Next in Digital Humanities?" Numerous faculty, graduate students and undergrads filled the room to capacity to openly discuss the future of digital humanities.
In addition, Dr. Presner attended numerous classes and met with faculty and students throughout the week. As was the case with Presner's campus visit and lecture in April 2012, Dr. David Kim was instrumental in bringing him back to campus. Dr. Kim is professor of German and core faculty of Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities; affiliated faculty with the Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Peace and Justice Studies Program, and the Environmental Science and Policy Program. A number of Dr. Presner's activities were hosted by and/or involved the Department of German, given that he is a professor of Germanic Languages at UCLA.
With the successful conclusions during the same week of both the College of Arts and Letters 50th Anniversary Film Series and its Technology Lecture Series, the Arts and Letters 50th Anniversary team breathed a collective and measured sigh of relief. All of the professional participants are staying in touch with various students and faculty members with an eye toward continued and future joint involvement and collaborations with the College.