Last updateWed, 24 Feb 2021 1pm


Great Discussion Built from "The Ruined Cottage"

The University hosted a talk entitled Imagining Harmony: Loss, Literature, and Human Flourishing on Monday, March 4. The event took place at 4:30 pm in Wilson Hall as part of the Distinguished Speaker series, run by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The talk was led by Adam S. Potkay, English professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. He is also the author of a wide variety of articles and books, including “The Story of Joy from the Bible to Late Romanticism” which won the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association. In addition, he had “Wordsworth’s Ethics” published through the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2012.

The intention of the talk was to discuss the strange correlation between loss and human happiness by focusing on William Wordsworth’s narrative poem “The Ruined Cottage.”

Wordsworth (1770-1850) is widely considered to be one of the founders of romantic poetry. He later attended Cambridge University. In 1838, he was given an honorary doctorate in civil law from Durham University, then received the same honorary degree from Oxford in 1839.

The poem is about a small house that has fallen into disrepair, since those who once inhabited it passed away some time prior. Despite seeing a formerly happy home overrun by nature, the narrator, Armytage, turns away in joy, a paradox that confuses some. Potkay would not only discuss this scene, but its extension onto literature as a whole.

After a brief introduction by Jeffrey Jackson and Dr. Lisa Vetere, both professors of English, Potkay stood in front of a full room to discuss and critique “The Ruined Cottage”.

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“Two Trains Running” is a Runaway Hit

Two-Trains-Running“Two Trains Running” came to its final stop this week after a successful month-long run at Two River Theater Company.

The play takes place in 1960s Pittsburgh and is part of playwright August Wilson’s 10-play cycle. The cycle depicts the lives of African Americans in each decade of the 1900s.

Taking place in the 1960s means dealing with the civil rights movement in a big way, but that does not mean the play is full of tears and angst. Wilson expertly demonstrates how characters find hope in an era of oppression.

Chuck Cooper shines in his sarcastic moments as diner-owner Memphis. Memphis is trying to prevent the city from buying his diner. Pittsburgh authorities hasn’t offered him nearly enough money for the building and he isn’t giving up what is his without a fight. He would probably keep to himself if it weren’t for the regular customers who keep him on his toes.

Wolf (John Earl Jelks) is a slick bookie who runs numbers in the diner while Holloway (James A. Williams) sits back and plays the numbers with his social security. West (Harvy Blanks), despite being the richest man in town, drops by often for a cup of coffee served by Risa (Roslyn Ruff), a quiet, depressed waitress.

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Songs for the Season

song-seasonWe’ve had three long months of winter, and it seems like it will never end. And suddenly, like the leaves on an oak tree, things begin to change. Cue the beautiful songbirds and bushy-tailed critters that got to sleep through that freezing mess. Spring has arrived, and it couldn’t have come sooner.

Now how do you approximate this feeling to an album’s worth of music?

It seems completely arbitrary to assign a piece of music to a particular season, but it’s not hard to see characteristics often identified with a season like spring emulated in an artist’s music. Excluding pieces by composers (sorry, Vivaldi), these six albums, ranging from a number of decades, are all very distinct from one another, yet all six manage to conjure up, through sound alone, the feelings, images and sensations associated with the pristine beauty of springtime. Those with strong seasonal allergies can rejoice, as there’s no pollen to water your eyes here, just blissful, unique music.

1) Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968) – How did Van Morrison choose to follow up his sunny hit single “Brown Eyed Girl?” He created the cosmic, groundbreaking wonderland known as Astral Weeks. Though it failed to make the commercial splash that his debut and subsequent albums would make, Astral Weeks is Morrison’s finest moment, an adventurous and challenging experience that blends blues, jazz, folk and pop into Morrison’s own unique swirling concoction.

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Welcome Back Fall Out Boy

falloutboyThey’re finally back. After a hiatus lasting a little over three years, which commenced promptly at the end of 2009, American pop-punk band Fall Out Boy has completely come out of the dark.

Consisting of 33-year-old bassist Pete Wentz, 28-year-old vocalist Patrick Stump, 32-year-old guitarist Joe Trohman, and 32-year-old drummer Andy Hurley, the members of Fall Out Boy have come and spoken out about their disappearance in the music scene; all which happened after their last musical showings with fellow musicians Blink 182 and Panic! At the Disco at their August 2009 show in Chicago.

The group started off by addressing the various rumors circulating about a very quiet break-up between the band members, stating on February 4 in a Tumblr post: “This isn’t a reunion because we never broke up. We need to plug back in and make some music that matters to us.”

Although the speculations about the relationships of the members were justifiably up in the air, primarily because of the individual works going on after the 2009 concert; including the side projects of Wentz’s band, The Black Cards; Stump’s solo album, Soul Punk; and at one point Trohman and Hurley’s collaboration with members of the band Anthrax to create The Damn Things.

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Student Spotlight: Dead Precedents

Dead-precedentsUniversity students Nick Ruroede, Dylan Maynard, Sam Maynard and Thomas Blaney brought the punk to the airwaves of WMCX 88.9 F.M. February 26 on the specialty show Alternative Riot. With Sam and Nick on guitar, Dylan driving the bass and Thomas on the drums, the four students formed the gritty hardcore punk band called Dead Precedents.

Although Dead Precedents might be a fairly new group to the New Jersey music scene, the members of the band certainly are not. Ruroede is also the current bassist for Lost In Society, a punk group based out of Asbury Park that has experienced the chaos of life on the road during Warped Tour 2012. Sam and Dylan Maynard shared the experience of performing in local venues and sweaty college basements in their previous band The Black Top Kids, while Blaney used to be a member of the progressive rock group Give Me Light.

The need for change came when Dylan and Sam started writing new music and wanted to find band members who could help drive their latest focus. Ruroede explained, “My other band, Lost in Society, and Black Top Kids played together for a lot of shows and then Dylan asked me about doing new music and then I was like, yeah alright I’ll find us a drummer.”

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PlayStation Preps for Round 4

PS4Sony officially unveiled their next-generation video game console, PlayStation 4, at their live “Future of PlayStation” press conference in New York City last Wednesday. The console is expected to be released this holiday season.

The system will be the first new home gaming console released by Sony since the PlayStation 3 launched back in 2006. Sony representatives stated that the console was to be the “most powerful platform ever” released by Sony, and it will have a strong focus on social networking in gaming. Currently, there is no official confirmation regarding price from Sony.

Andrew House, the current president and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said that the PlayStation 4 will offer the kind of multi-dimensional experience gamers deserve, and will “unleash imaginations to create next generation experiences that will surpass gamer’s wildest expectations.”

The announcement follows weeks of strong speculation after a teaser video popped up on Sony’s Facebook and Twitter page on January 31, which stated that “the future” of PlayStation would be revealed on February 20 at 6:00 pm eastern time. This was followed by a number of retrospective videos released by Sony chronicling the history of their previous consoles, as well as leaked information regarding the systems new controller design.

According to Mark Cerny, the lead system designer of the PS4, the console had been in development since 2008. The goal in developing the system, according to Cerny, was for it to be, “a consumer focused yet developer centric in its design,” with the hopes that the console would, “unleash the creativity and innovation that would result in a true next-generation experience.”

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Gender Bender at Woods Theatre

twelfth-nightThe Lauren K. Woods Theatre is a bit of a wreck right now. Actually, it’s a shipwreck. No, none of the winter storms threw a boat into the theatre. The spring musical, William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” or “What You Will,” involves a shipwreck. It also involves mistaken identities, cross-dressing, fight sequences and plenty of comedy.

Forget the dramatic and depressing Shakespeare that was required in high school. Doomed lovers and cursed kings are nowhere to be found in “Twelfth Night.” Instead we have Viola (Alexandra Appolonia), a girl who is shipwrecked and must find work when she washes up on the shores of Illyria, believing her twin brother to be dead.

When it doesn’t seem like she can find work as a woman, Viola disguises herself as a man named Cesario to work for Duke Orsinio (Henry O. Siebecker). Viola starts to fall in love with Orsinio, but he needs Cesario’s help to court Olivia (Brooke McCarthy). However, Olivia is in love with Cesario who is actually Viola, and that’s just the beginning.

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Film Poster Exhibition Excites

poster_exhibitionEver want to see a musical movie starring The Black Eyed Peas? Or would you prefer to see Selena Gomez in a Vietnam movie? In the hallways of the new Rechnitz Hall, the community can find some unfamiliar movie posters. Students from Professor Karen Bright and Professor Pat Cresson’s digital imaging classes have created their own movie posters based on film concepts they created. The gallery consists of students who have taken the class in the last three semesters.

Students were given a random selection of colors, locations, names, dates, adjectives and film genres. The students used that information to create their own movie summary, which served as a basis for the poster. Amanda Stojanov, junior and graphic design major, found this to be nerve-wracking.

Stojanov said, “I was hesitant because there are so many things that I wanted to do before we even picked our criteria and so it was changing everything. The criteria actually turned out to help a lot when we were writing our own short stories for the poster. We were required to use this criteria in our short stories [which] would be the background to our movie poster. This was also a challenge because this meant that we had to come up with our own movies.”

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Two Lifetimes of Horror

lifetimes_of_horrorFew people get to be called living legends, but two that exist right now in our lifetime are literary giants Clive Barker and Robert McCammon.

Both of these men are being given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writer’s Association, showing that they have made their mark on the industry as well as on society itself through their work.

According to, “The Lifetime Achievement Award is the most prestigious of the Bram Stoker Awards®, given by the HWA in acknowledgment of superior achievement not just in a single work but over an entire career. Past Lifetime Achievement Award winners include such noted authors as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ramsey Campbell and Peter Straub. Winners must have exhibited a profound, positive impact on the fields of horror and dark fantasy, and be at least 60 years of age or have been published for a minimum of 35 years. Recipients are chosen annually by a committee; this one chaired by Yvonne Navarro and including John Everson, Kathy Ptacek, Lucy Snyder and Tim Waggoner.”

The Lifetime Achievement Awards are going to be presented on June 15 during the Bram Stoker awards banquet at the World Horror Convention 2013 in New Orleans.

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The Outlook’s Oscar Options

This Sunday is the only time it’s respectable for filmmakers to say they want to go home with a tiny naked golden man: The Academy Awards. It’s Hollywood’s prom night. The Academy decides who their favorites are, and audiences decide what they have to pick up on DVD. As entertainment writers, we all have our own personal favorites. These are our picks for the coveted Best Picture award.

Violeta Pietronico’s Pick: The story of Les Misérables, one of the longest running musicals in our history, has once again captured the hearts of people around the world. The film opened on Christmas Day to generally positive reviews from critics and audiences alike—despite the fact that the film clocks in at a whopping 158 minutes, includes virtually no spoken dialogue, and is entirely musical.

To old fans, the tale of ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) attempting to avoid capture by his former prison guard Javert (Russell Crowe) after avoiding his parole will undoubtedly be familiar. However, to new generations that are seeing Les Misérables for the first time, the stories of Valjean, his desperate employee Fantine, her daughter Cosette, young student Marius, and the relationships that bud between each of these beloved characters during the time of the French Revolution will certainly reel in the young audience members.

While the film has received some backlash over the possibility that director Tom Hooper—who also directed The King’s Speech—created this film as simply a means to get awards, Les Misérables has mostly been praised for its undeniably incredible musical performances. Hugh Jackman anchors the film with his powerful voice, while Anne Hathaway absolutely nails her big scene in which she sings the famous number “I Dreamed A Dream.”

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Robert Pinsky Performs at Pollak Theatre

The University was host to Robert Pinsky and his accompanying musicians, Steve Cardenas and Ben Allison, on Friday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 pm. Dozens of people, local and otherwise, gathered to see Pinsky perform his renowned poetry to impromptu jazz. He was available for book signings after the show.

Pinsky, a three-time United States Poet Laureate, had dedicated his life to bringing a dynamic, invigorating focus to the spread of the love of poetry. He has published numerous books of poetry, including An Invitation to Poetry and The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996. The latter received the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union. He also published a translation of The Inferno of Dante that received the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry and the Howard Morton Landon prize for translation. Pinsky has written one prose book, The Life of David, which retells the biblical stories of David.

Pinsky is also the poetry editor for Slate, a teacher in the graduate writing program at Boston University, and has appeared on “The Simpsons.”

Having grown up in Long Branch, many wondered as to how many of Pinsky’s poems reflect his life in the local shore town. “All of my poems are about Long Branch,” he laughed.

The bassist for the evening, Ben Allison, is known for his ingenious sounds and unique melodic style. Through the groups The Ben Allison Band, Man Size Safe, Peace Pipe and Medicine Wheel, Allison has traveled the world and performed in many distinct venues. In recent years alone, he has been on stage at Carnegie Hall, Teatro Manzoni, The Capitol Theater, and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

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Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151