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Maxwell’s Project 3 “A Ramble”

December 9, 2014

Project IV

November 6, 2014

Project IV proposal

Working title: Holy Bagel, Where Art Thou

This project uses bagels as a portal to a greater issue in my life: my confused religious/cultural identity.

The back story: I went to a christian preschool in which i was the only Jew among my peers. I had an identity crisis at the age of 5 when I made a classmate cry by informing her that Santa isn’t real. From then on my parents bribed me with chocolate to keep my mouth shut about Mr. Claus. I was always the token Jew among my friends, and my family doesn’t have time to be very religious. So, for the most part, my Judaism was brushed off the radar. Except for one thing – bagels.

Bagels, lox, and schmear. Every Sunday in my household was bagel brunch and bagels have become a holy entity in my strange cultural embracement of religion. Israelis find this Jewish-American tradition humorous. In Israel there’s even a fast-food chain “Holy Bagel,” dedicated to alluring tacky tourists.

Why this project? Bagels are empty carbs loaded with tradition and history – sprouting from immigration to New York city and tales and woes of the Jewish-American working class. They have continued to be an important presence in my life, even while living in the South. Due to the non-controversial nature of this food item, I’ve noticed that my friends truly light up when talking about their bagel preferences, which I intend to use  to capture the greater spirit of family traditions and cultural identity.

Why an essay? Nashville – as an up and coming city – has to meet the demands its uniquely growing Jewish population, mostly relocated from Jersey/NYC areas. I frequently witness members of this population go to ridiculous measures to find a “real,” “New York” bagel. I find this quest extremely amusing and I want to explore it some more.


Star Bagel, Nashville, which prides itself on “New York Quality” bagels vs. the quick-fix for most bagel-hungry students at Brueggers on 21st.


I’ve been told to contact Emma Roth. Her father owns a “real deal” NYC bakery that she’s spent a lot of time working in, especially before big Jewish holidays. Emilie Weiner – a close friend of mine whose father is the president of her temple. She worships the bagel more than anyone I know. Her Detroit accent is the funniest thing. The cashier at Brueggers who knows my bagel order by heart- I would love to know if she even acknowledges the Jewish-American association of their bagels. Jake Brenner – a peer who will sporadically “go on a diet” that consists of merely cutting out bagels. Rabbi Schlomo (the nicest man, who I’m sure will have oodles of commentary). Rachel Vance – The “japiest” girl I know (Jewish American Princess), who positively acknowledges this title. She runs a food blog and consistently features southern bagels. I feel like I’m allowed to make fun of these things (JAPS, bagel lovers etc.) because I’m technically a part of the demographic.

It’s a beautiful time of year in Nashville – fall is in full force, and this project will give me an opportunity to do what I love  – photographing people/places and things, or in this case, just bagels. For a change, I want to work with original footage that will allow me to “linger” more than my previous projects. I would really enjoy stepping away from the glitter.

The ultimate/ open question: what is all the hype about bagels? What happens when we try to relocate this hype to the South? Do bagels even have a place in the South? and why do I connect with their cultural implications/hold this food so near/dear to my heart??


When We Were Rappers – Final Proposal

October 30, 2014

It’s my desire to explore three connected points in my life involving rap music:  my discovery/passion for it, the first time I can remember successfully freestyling, and then my becoming a poet and DJ.  I also want to explore the time between, looking at what my musical intake was like before rap music, where the desire to freestyle came from alongside my starting to write rhymes, and then the point where a sense of disillusionment entered the picture and made me acquiesce to simply writing poems and hosting a rap radio show.

Some images that come to mind include:  photos of me going through grade school, exploring my CD collection, clips of music videos of artists I listened to (possibly from a VHS that I have at home), me in the place in my house where I felt most comfortable writing, possibly a reenactment of several freestyle/cypher moments in my life, video footage of a cypher here at Vanderbilt, some footage of me performing as a poet, and footage of me in the studios of WRVU.  I want to encapsulate these moments within a travelogue-esque framework where I travel to see my friend JR who shares similar experience in discovering rap, being in a rap group, becoming a poet, and foregoing the dreams of rapping as a career.

What other visuals would work for this project?  Is it too much to tackle (Max I’m looking to you for a reality check)?  JR and I are attempting to write an actual essay about these experiences, and it keeps growing and growing.

Emily H.’s Final Project Proposal

October 30, 2014

My autobiographical cinematic essay would deal with the experience of being a twin. I would use found footage, interviews, and possibly staged scenes and real-life footage. The main issues I want to address are the commodification that arises when two entities possess the same outward appearance (e.g. the view of twins as a gimmick because they can switch places or serve as mirror image arm candy), which is something that my classmate Caroline offered as an interesting comment. I would do this in part by drawing a parallel between how mass-produced items seem less special than one-of-a-kind pieces like designer clothes or works of art.
The project would also involve an exploration of memory and a vivid recounting of certain aspects of my childhood. For instance, the film would open with images/video and the narration of a childhood memory, but then would be abruptly interrupted by voiceover of Madeleine insisting that actually happened to her and some debate trying to resolve to whom it actually happened (something that happens all the time when we are recounting memories together).
I also want to look at different twin experiences by interviewing different twins I have met on campus, etc. about getting along with each other, the perceived/stated similarity and differences between them, most frequently asked questions and what they think of them, and overall effects on their image or self-perception, etc. I’m interested in whether they consider the degree of their closeness to be a function of their personality differences or other factors of their upbringing. I also want to explore how/whether they have felt pressure to make themselves appear as individuals through appearance, activities, life decisions, behavior, etc.
Some of the staged scenes I’m thinking about including are instances of drawn-out scrutiny where people try to see the differences between me and my twin or instances of people acting awkward toward me or not waving at me for fear that it is my twin who they do not know. Another interesting question I want to investigate is the one commonly asked- whether I enjoy being a twin. I feel like I could go deeper into this question, almost in a philosophical sense, because I find it interesting that people ask this question under these circumstances rather than others. I have found that as a twin I am unable to evaluate what my life would be like otherwise.
My questions are whether this seems like an interesting way to approach the subject, whether I should incorporate other elements of my life, and what style would work for this project. In particular, I am considering performing/directing the staged scenes in a style similar to that of Agnes Varda— quirky, overemphasized, and perhaps even fantastical, and I’m wondering if that sounds appropriately serious and not too gimmicky.

Max’s Final Project Proposal

October 30, 2014

I have been thinking a lot about my life beyond college lately. I have started to consider what I would do with my nights if not school work and my weekends if not playing in the marching band. I recently undertook an impromptu project that began with me stealing some old, gross looking pallets and putting them in my dorm until I transform them into something beautiful and useful. So far I’ve spent every day working on one aspect or another of this project. I also took a trip with my partner, Kait, to Chattanooga for an extended weekend getaway. I booked a hotel and we enjoyed fine dining together, both for the first time. In an attempt to capture my thoughts about my future, I will be making a piece that will feature these two experiences and my own commentary on them. From humorous musings regarding vacation mishaps to bouts of frustration stemming from undertaking an entirely new type of project, my narrative will invite the audience to draw parallels in their own lives as well as hopefully inspire some to quit just thinking about what they want to do and start doing it. My videos from my trip to Chattanooga include earily empty streets, a photography class in an aquarium, and crowded fake hiking trails. My reclaimed wood project will be chronicled primarily through pictures of the work in progress. As for questions and concerns, I am wondering what other elements people would like to see or think I should incorporate as well as if it seems too personal or if I am leaving enough room for outsiders to interact with me.

how to render gender

October 23, 2014

A Ramble (Maxwell Stephan-Queen’s Third Project)

October 15, 2014

Project Proposals, Plans, & Other Assorted Unnatural Disasters

October 15, 2014

Caroline Zigrang- Passion of the Fandoms

October 15, 2014

Jeriel’s Project 3 Proposal — Black Vandy’s Underground

September 23, 2014

I want to explore 2 concepts in my project:  the existence of “Black Vandy” and those African-American students who fall outside of what is typically defined as such, or Black Vandy’s Underground.  If you didn’t know, the designation of “Black [fill-in-the-blank]” exists globally.  Take Black Twitter for example.  It is typical to hear among African-American students on campus talk of the designated microcosm of Black Vandy.  But it’s not quite clear who all is seen to be a part of it.  Is it solely based on skin color?  Is it cultural background?  Is it group assimilation, solidarity, the type of parties one attends, one’s chosen attire at football games, participation in hairstyle movements, dating preferences, study groups, etc?

I developed this idea after a bit of reflection with one of my now-alumnus friends who does not identify himself as a Black American.  His skin is fairly dark.  He was born in Chicago and lived in the U.S. with family and friends who see themselves as Black Americans, however, he identifies more with his parents’ Belizian and Chinese ancestry.  Now, understand that with that comes the notion of being an outlier.  Here is where the exploration of which group he lies outside of, as he never participated in any cultural organizations but he did hang out with all sorts of student groups.

My desire for this essay was further pushed after this year’s Athenian Sing competition.  Athenian Sing is a talent show hosted by the Junior Athenian Honor Society.  The acts can generally be broken into stage plays, a capella, dance, and, that which I do, spoken word.  The winners, from third to first, were Vanderbilt Spoken Word, The Melodores, and The Banghradores.  After the Banghradores performed, Dean Wcislo exclaimed, “That’s so Vanderbilt!”  Many in the audience laughed and applauded in support, while I and others echoed the question:  How?  What is it that made The Banghradores, a dance troupe mainly comprised of Indian (American and International) students dancing to hip-hop infused Punjabi music (forgive me if my terminology is incorrect) “so Vanderbilt?”  To my knowledge, there is no “Indian Vandy.”  And to my knowledge, hip-hop was a Black art, but we won’t get into cultural appropriation here.  Yet, when Vibe Hip-Hop Dance group performed with an outstanding 20+ ensemble of Asian, Black, Latino and White students, that was not “Vanderbilt.”  There are still cultural divides that cause Black faces to have to create their own spaces.

But, to return to my friend, there are many other students like him:  those who are accepted by “Black Vandy” and those who are seen as a part of Black Vandy, but who do not themselves participate in Black vandy.  Here is where the second half of the project comes into play.  I want to explore those students who put Black faces in White spaces.  Not to be confused with the illustration of a fly in milk.  But those of us who purposefully attempt to explore or abstain from Black Vandy by attending events like Melt Your Face Monday, going out for Thirst Thursdays, regularly attending the “mainstream frats,” do body paint for sporting events and improperly tailgate. (shots fired).

As for on screen representation, I would like it to be mainly interview based with my voice interspersed to guide the subject matter.  There is to be a “State of Black Vandy” forum in October.  I would like to take interviews from those leaders of the forum and other students.