Editor’s Introduction

Dear New England Conservatory Community, Friends, and Visitors,

Welcome to the third issue of Hear Here!, NEC’s student academic journal. The selections included here are products of not only students’ individual coursework but also a peer review process wherein five NEC student editors—Samantha Bennett, Joseph Mannarino, Michael Mayo, Isabella Mensz, and Lucy Tan—reviewed two dozen submissions, debated which ones to include in this issue, and detailed the ways the selected authors could improve their work. Our motivated contributors met with faculty advisors to refine their essays according to the editors’ recommendations. Our managing editor, Nell Shaw Cohen, once again turned the vision of the journal into the print product (and website: www.hearhere.posterous.com) you’re reading right now. The essays, fiction, and poems you’ll read here not only demonstrate each author’s talents but also reflect the collaborative process crucial to creative endeavors.

The first five essays examine the implications of the ways in which we represent reality or narrate stories. Colby Parker’s “How British Petroleum Escaped the Deepwater Horizon” and Nina Guo’s “Furnishing the American Dream” uncover the under-examined contemporary American values evident in British Petroleum’s Gulf Oil Spill press releases and in furniture advertisements, respectively. Guo’s “Facebook: Breeding Ground of the Hyperreal” and Zachary Preucil’s “‘Based’ on a True Story: The Effect of Unreliable Narrations in Roger & Me and Forrest Gump” address similar problems regarding the authenticity of self-representations and the reliability of storytellers. Why and how do we believe or doubt what we see and hear online, in film, in personal stories, or in historical accounts? Bob Anemone’s “Duplicitous Governments: Storytelling in Missing and Syriana,” Parker’s and Preucil’s essays, and Guo’s “Furnishing” all pinpoint the powerful personal and cultural narratives that encourage or disrupt faith in the governmental or economic systems that shape our lives. These five essays urge us to reconsider our own reading and viewing practices—to think more carefully about the information we encounter daily.

Asha Carroll’s poem “B Film” provides a thematic bridge from the essays on film that close the first section; her “Three Poems” reflect the themes of consumerism and capitalism in the first set of essays but also point toward the questions of identity and expression that arise in the last four essays. The theme of intentionality and purpose emerges in Jennifer Wey’s “Reverse Causality in Shakespeare,” which illuminates the ways one’s character is shaped by one’s behavioral response to the tension between free will and fate, and in Katherine Velasquez’s “‘From “Stayin’ Alive’ to Living: The Change in Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever,” which tracks the maturation of disco-dancer Tony Manero, as reflected by the film’s soundtrack. Velasquez’s essay and Shane Simpson’s “Quiet Conflict: The Search for Identity in Tim O’Brien’s ‘The Man I Killed’” both expose the conflicts of belonging that accompany identity crises. A silent internal struggle characterizes the war-scene crisis Simpson discusses, while a much different sense of quiet interiority appears in Nell Shaw Cohen’s “Intimate Immensity: Daydreaming in Sculpture,” which approaches daydreaming and artistic creation as routes to a seemingly paradoxical transcendent interiority. These essays encourage us to think about the reasons for and consequences of our actions, the ways our interpersonal relations may change our sense of personal identity, and the potential we have to explore the depths of self.

We hope you enjoy hearing what students have to say here at New England Conservatory.

 

Jill Gatlin, Department of Liberal Arts

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