News & Activities

In addition to our course offerings, the Liberal Arts department hosts special performances and creates publications showcasing students' work from Liberal Arts classes, as well as guest lecturers. Our ongoing events and activities include the Creative Arts Festival, Courses in Collaboration, and academic journal Hear Here!

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Upcoming Events
Guest Lecturers
Past Special Events

Upcoming Events

Poetry Reading

Thursday, December 17
7:00-8:30 PM, St. Botolph Room G01

-coming soon-

Guest Lecturers

Geoffrey O'Brien joined Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry class on April 23, 2015 to to present on music review writing, as well as reading and discussing some of his poems.

"Geoffrey O'Brien is an American poet, editor, book and film critic, translator, and cultural historian. In 1992, he joined the staff of the Library of America as executive editor, becoming editor-in-chief in 1998. O'Brien began publishing poetry and criticism in the 1960s. He has been a contributor to Artforum, Film Comment, The New York Times and The New York Times Book Review, Village Voice, New Republic, Bookforum, and, especially, to the New York Review of Books. He has also been published in numerous other publications, including Filmmaker, American Heritage, The Armchair Detective, Bomb, Boston Globe, Fence, GQ, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Men’s Vogue, Mother Jones, The Nation, Newsday, and Slate, and has contributed many essays for liner notes for The Criterion Collection. In addition, his work has been included in numerous anthologies."

Carol Dine, renowned poet  and author, joined Linda Cutting's Interarts class on October 1, 2014 to read poems and show the Samuel Bak paintings on which her book, "Orange Night" is based. Carol Dine’s book, Orange Night (2014, Pucker Art Publications, dist. by Syracuse University Press), combines her poems with the images of acclaimed artist and Holocaust survivor, Samuel Bak, offering the reader an intimate confrontation with history.  Of Van Gogh in Poems (2009, The Bitter Oleander Press), art critic John Berger wrote,“Her words are strung on Vincent’s life-line.”

Laura Mullen, poet, author, and teacher at Louisiana State University, visited New England Conservtory to present a poetry reading and discussion event on November 7, 2013.

Iris Fanger, historian, theatre, and dance critic, visited Jill Gatlin's Wilderness to Wasteland class on March 12, 2013 to discuss Martha Graham/Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring and American dance.

Oni Buchanan & Jon Woodward visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry class on February 21, 2013.

Poet and ecologist Andrew Schelling visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry on April 24, 2012. His lecture about his ecopoetry and his translations of Buddhist poetry and Sanskrit stimulated and engaged students: "I left the class feeling like more of an artist than ever before," one student said. Schelling's visit complemented students other studies, as well: "I have been taking Gretchen Breese's Buddhist Philosophy class this semester so all of [Schelling's] thoughts on Buddhism and how it relates to poetry were really interesting to me," another student commented. Schelling's presence made a big impact on the classroom, as one student describes: "His whole life has been centered around exploration of many things such as language, history, religion, etc. It was so interesting to listen to him read his own poetry...When Andrew read, it was almost as if he was completing the other half of the words on the page."

Poet Brenda Ijima also visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary American Poetry on April 16. Ijima has edited an anthology of ecopoetry, the ecolanguage reader, and concentrated on that work as well as reading her own poetry in her appearance at NEC. She is writing an informal encyclopedia on animals used as surrogates by humans. Ijima is also the editor of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs and a visual artist as well as a poet. Her books of poems include Around Sea; Animate, Inanimate Aims;’ll—ution; and If Not Metamorphic.

Super Tuesday! The Presidential Election
Guest speaker Professor William Mayer discussed this year’s Super Tuesday primaries, the role they might play in the Republican nomination, and the issues they raise for the up-coming presidential election in March 2012. William Mayer, Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University, has written and lectured on the politics of presidential elections for almost three decades. In such works as In Pursuit of the White House, The Swing Voter, and The Making of Presidential Candidates, Professor Mayer has explored the new, entrepreneurial campaigns emerging out of the protest politics of the 1960s, as well as the expanding role of money and celebrity in the modern presidential election cycle. Professor Mayer spoke in collaboration with James Klein's Liberal Arts Elective, The Presidential Campaign: Party Politics in the 21st Century. Read an article about this lecture in The Penguin's March 2012 issue.

Claudius Conrad, a part of the Music in Medicine research group at Massachusetts General Hospital, gave a presentation to Jean Chandler's Owner's Manual to the Brain class on December 13, 2011 in Pierce Hall. He spoke about his research on the impact of music on patients during surgery. (Read about Conrad's work in this article from The New York Times.) Poet Elizabeth Willis previously visited Ruth Lepson's Poetry Workshop class on October 20, and theater director Judy Braha visited Patrick Keppel's Origins of Drama class on October 27 to speak about a play she directed at Boston University, Intimate Apparel.

Several exciting guest lecturers appear in Liberal Arts classrooms every year (watch for announcements in Upcoming Events).

Past Special Events

Jennifer Cole Field Trip to Solar Panels and Steam Plant

Professor Jennifer Cole took her "Environmental Science" class to visit solar panels and steam plant!

Katya Popova Workshop on Graphic Notation 2014

Guest artist Katya Popova visited Professor Linda Cutting's Interarts class on November 12, 2014 to present a workshop on graphic notation. "The students were completely engaged in first creating and then singing their collaborative graphic notation!" -Linda Cutting  




Interarts Dalcroze Workshop 2014

On Wednesday, October 22, Professor Linda Cutting's Interarts class was joined by guests from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. A performance of "Plastiques" (improvised movement) on a Bartok String Quartet was given by Graduate Dalcroze students as well as a Dalcroze eurythmics workshop by Adriana Ausch, graduate Dalcroze instructor.




Laura Mullen Poetry Reading and Discussion 2013Mullen Poetry Reading

On November 7, 2013, a special guest artist from  Louisiana State University - poet, author, and teacher Laura Mullen - joined us in an incredibly inspiring evening presenting a poetry reading and discussion with students.

Laura Mullen is the author of seven books: Enduring Freedom: A Little Book of Mechanical Brides, The Surface (which makes use of traditional forms), After I Was Dead, Subject, Dark Archive, The Tales of Horror (a postmodern gothic), and Murmur. Her books are "concept albums," and Tales of Horror and Murmur are 2 sections of a trilogy dissecting genres that define the construct of women: horror, mystery, and romance novels and films. She deals with disaster in her writing, from Hurricane Katrina to personal loss.

She has received many awards for her poetry and is a frequent visitor at the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. Her work has been widely anthologized and is included in Postmodern American Poetry, and American Hybrid (Norton), and I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues). Mullen lives in Baton Rouge and teaches at Louisiana State University.


Hear Here! Liberal Arts Journal Publication 2013

On April 23rd, 2013, the department held a special event celebrating the publication of NEC's fourth annual academic journal published by the Liberal Arts Department. President Tony Woodcock spoke and presented the Liberal Arts Writing Award to Julia Dombek and Mattia Maurée. Hear Here! is a journal edited of exemplary essays, fiction, and poetry written by students at NEC in Liberal Arts electives and outside of their academic work. They are selected and edited by an editorial board comprised of faculty members and students. Take a look at it (and previous issues) here.

Oni Buchanan & Jon Woodward visit the Poetry Workshop

Oni Buchanan & Jon Woodward visited Ruth Lepson's Contemporary Poetry class on Thursday, February 21, 2013.

Liberal Arts Drama Workshop Performs Pains of Youth by Ferdinand Bruckner

Originally written as a warning about the confused and purposeless generation being created in Germany between the wars, Pains of Youth has seen a revival in recent years, receiving many productions in Europe, the US, and Canada. The NEC production was performed workshop style, with each role played by multiple actors from the Drama Workshop, a Liberal Arts elective taught by Patrick Keppel. The actors in this year’s Workshop were: Josh Azenberg, Jeremiah Barcus, Samantha Bennett, Tommy Boynton, Wesley Chu, Stephanie Economou, Jean Huang, Neal Markowski, Paige McGrath, Abby Miller, Julia Partyka, Zach Preucil, Rachel Taft, and Joanna Wiebe. The play featured original music by Stephanie Economou and Neal Markowski.

Hear Here! Liberal Arts Journal Publication 2012

President Tony Woodcock presents student Colby Parker with the Liberal Arts Writing Award for his essay in Hear Here!On April 24th, 2012 in the Keller Room, the department held a special event celebrating the publication of NEC's third annual academic journal published by the Liberal Arts Department. Hear Here! is a journal edited of exemplary essays, fiction, and poetry written by students at NEC in Liberal Arts electives and outside of their academic work. They are selected and edited by an editorial board comprised of faculty members and students. Keep an eye out for a detailed report of this event in the upcoming May issue of The Penguin. This year's journal is now available on the Hear Here! website.

Creative Arts Festival 2011

NEC students presented the Creative Arts Festival on Thursday, December 15, 2011. This annual poetry reading and visual art installation event was presented at an outside venue: favorite neighborhood hangout Espresso Royale Caffe (ERC). The event coincided with the printing of the annual NEC poetry chapbook, For Now (stop by the Liberal Arts office at St Botolph 215 to check out the chapbook).

Throughout the fall semester, NEC’s Poet-in-Residence Ruth Lepson guided students through the process of writing and reading original poetry in her Poetry Workshop—a Liberal Arts elective offered every year and open to all undergraduates. The Festival and the chapbook were the culmination of students’ explorations from the workshop, and offered a glimpse of a group of diverse poetic voices.

Poets read their own works and works by their classmates, including poems penned by Issey Ackerman, Talya Buckbinder, Charles Burchell, Christian Contreras, Alina Czekala, Mia Friedman, Dara Hankins, Andrew Hock, Cale Israel, Sam Lisabeth, Jeremy Marx, Kimberly Mayo, Akenya Seymour, Rachel Taft, and Nash Tomey. Students also created multiple musical settings of poems by Andrew Hock, Nash Tomey and Mia Friedman. Recordings and live performances were interspersed through the evening, including pieces for voice and keyboard and pre-recorded electronic pieces.

Work by students in Artist-in-Residence Robin Dash’s Freshman Seminar and Liberal Arts elective Interarts (also offered every fall semester) were also featured. Visual artworks ranging from watercolor to collage were hung in ERC behind the poets as they read, and select artworks—primarily text-based drawings and collages—are also reproduced in the chapbook alongside the poetry.

Watch a video about the anuual Creative Arts Festival and view photos of past festivals on our Flickr page.

Creative Arts Festival 2010

Liberal Arts Creative Arts Festivals celebrate the impressive work NEC students do in our Drama, Poetry, and Creative Writing Workshops and in the Visual Arts and Sculpture Studios. (Watch a video about the event here, and view photos of past festivals on our Flickr page.)

The fall 2010 Liberal Arts Creative Arts Festival featured two days of presentations by students in Patrick Keppel’s Drama Workshop, Ruth Lepson’s Poetry Workshop, and Robin Dash’s Interarts. On December 15th, drama students presented an evening of staged scenes from Spring Storm by Tennessee Williams, and on December 16th poetry students read original poetry and presented musical settings of poetry written by fellow students. Students from Interarts created an art installation in the performance space using quotations from the poems being read.

Abreu Fellows visit "Diversity & Difference" class

Patrick Slevin discusses the reassessment of the effectiveness of outreach programs.Patrick Slevin discusses the reassessment of the effectiveness of outreach programs.2010-11 El Sistema USA Abreu Fellows Steven Liu and Patrick Slevin visited Jill Gatlin's Liberal Arts Seminar Diversity & Difference as guest speakers on November 9, 2010.

The fellows described some of the philosophies and methods behind El Sistema and how they are putting these into practice as Abreu fellows at NEC. Leading a discussion on how social work can be achieved through musical organizations and music education, they prompted the seminar students to consider what social issues are of the greatest importance to them and how they might think about connecting those issues to their careers as musicians.

David Amram's visit to the Poetry Workshop

David Amram provides a tin whistle accompaniment to a student’s poem. Photo by Andrew Hurlbut.David Amram provides a tin whistle accompaniment to a student’s poem. Photo by Andrew Hurlbut.Composer, conductor, improviser, and writer David Amram visited Ruth Lepson's Poetry Workshop as part of his residency at NEC on November 2, 2010. Amram, who in the 1950’s collaborated with legendary beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, spoke to the Workshop about his approach to improvising music to poetry and about the aesthetic validity of combining the arts. Amram then improvised music to several students' readings of their own poetry, solo and in collaboration with other students. The class ended with a group improvisation.