Episode 71: Punching Up with Christian Cintron

In Episode 71, Dan talks to comedian Christian Cintron about creating uplifting comedy, processing trauma through stand-up, and punching up instead of down.

Christian Cintron is a jack-of-all-trades, master of fun. He’s a writer, comedian, actor, and spiritualist. His work has appeared in Hollywood.com, Queerty, The Authentic Gay, and Ranker to name a few. He’s also a regular contributor to Backstage.com about comedy. He’s a graduate of The Second City: Hollywood, iO West, and Vassar College. As a Nuyorican, he’s committed to social justice and making the world a better place. 

You can find Christian on Twitter @StandUp4YourPower and online at standup4yourpower.carrd.co and linktr.ee/standup4yourpower.
You can purchase the first book/lesson of the Stand Up 4 Your Power book series on Amazon. (Link: https://www.amazon.com/Stand-Your-Power-intersectional-self-improvement-ebook/dp/B09HJ9JC7T

This episode was recorded on July 19th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

CW: mental illness, generational trauma, genocide, abuse, rape, suicidal ideation

Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“You don’t have to lose your edge to make comedy that’s uplifting for the masses. It should be about something deeper.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Having someone understand what I’m saying is one of the most important things to me.” @StandUp4YourPower

“I personally believe that rhetoric is stronger than grammar–and more important. I think grammar is part of gatekeeping in society.” @StandUp4YourPower

“That’s sort of the weird rub of college, that you learn a lot of skills that don’t always serve you…I wish that college was a little more integrated.” @StandUp4YourPower

“For me, writing is more the way a sculptor cuts away at rock.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Writing is best when it comes from a place of being healed.” @StandUp4YourPower

“The deepest [writing] is the most universal. But sometimes that’s the most specifically you.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Do you have a relationship with yourself out in the world or do you have a relationship with the world inside yourself? I think what we don’t realize as human beings, and where there’s a lack of empathy, is that everyone has a world as complex inside them as you do.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Wouldn’t a pandemic that affects the entire planet usher in a new age for humanity?…There is a collective trauma, there is a collective eye-opening, there is a collective awareness, there is a collective enlightenment. We cannot pretend anymore.” @StandUp4YourPower

“I’ve always been more concerned with being respected than being liked.” @StandUp4YourPower

“I didn’t realize how angry I was until I started doing stand-up in drag.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Stand-up is shadow work.” @StandUp4YourPower

“If you’re going to take a shot at anyone, they should be the first ones laughing.” @StandUp4YourPower

“I think inspiration is misunderstood. Inspiration is energy from something higher than us…but the writing still needs to come from you.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Part of the need to attack other people is the hurt inside.” @StandUp4YourPower

“I feel like world peace would be installed if the final level in Call of Duty was to process your issues.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Say it because no one else can say it.” @StandUp4YourPower

“Some of my writing has been informed by the times that I didn’t write…I think we get so stuck on having a voice. Your voice is kind of always going to be there, but you might not always have something to say.” @StandUp4YourPower

The inaugural Humanities Podcasting Symposium will open new conversations between podcasters in the Humanities, guided by the aims of the Humanities Podcast Network. The event will gather instructors, scholars, and independent creators working in the Humanities, and build support for those who are interested teaching with podcasts and/or making their own podcasts. It will be free to attend and open to all.

Our featured guest will be Latif Nasser of WNYC’s Radiolab.

The conference will take place virtually over Zoom (link will be provided closer to the date). You can register to attend in advance on Eventbrite.

Sessions will include:

  • Roundtable discussions about different elements of Humanities podcasting, including questions about tone/style/form/aesthetics, audience, interview techniques, accreditation, peer review, open access, and more
  • Roundtable discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the podcasting space
  • Technical workshops for educators interested in starting a podcast
  • Topic-focused workshops for creators who have podcasting experience
  • Flash presentations of existing Humanities podcasts

Please register now to attend the symposium, and receive updates about sessions and presenters.

This event is sponsored by Public Books and the Humanities Podcast Network.

Episode 70: Contending with Misinformation with Danielle Mastrogiovanni

Episode 70 was part of the 2021 Big Rhetorical Podcast Carnival, “Contending with Misinformation in the Community and the Classroom.” In this episode we talk to Danielle Mastrogiovanni about the intersectional issues misinformation creates for students, teachers, and administrators.

As Supervisor of Humanities for New Brunswick Public Schools, Danielle Mastrogiovanni collaborates with district and building leaders to design curriculum and provide professional development around culturally responsive practices for teachers throughout the district.  Additionally, she has helped to spearhead the district’s Education Empowerment Alliance, a collective of teachers and administrators who are working together to dismantle oppressive practices typically found in schools and reshape the trajectory of public education. 

With over two decades of experience working within the context of urban education, Danielle holds a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Naropa University, which grounded her teaching practice in the belief of basic goodness and propelled her to integrate contemplative practices into traditional public education settings. Additionally, she holds an M.S. in Elementary Education from Brooklyn College with a minor in Cultural Studies, as well as an Ed.S in Educational Leadership from Seton Hall. She is currently studying district-level systems that can be used to promote educational equity and is completing her dissertation on Culturally Responsive District-Level Leadership.In addition to her professional accolades, she considers being a mother to three tween-age sons to be both her biggest challenge and greatest accomplishment.

This episode was recorded on August 12, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I’m actually the daughter of a lifelong educator who warned me against going that route [into education] because she said that I would probably get fired.” @DMastroG4

“I realized my contributions could be a little bit bigger than just self-serving.” @DMastroG4

“The other really important piece, I think, is that real belief that everybody is basically good. Because if everybody is basically good, then we’re going to work towards equity because we believe that everybody deserves the same access and opportunity and everybody’s story deserves to be told and heard, everybody’s perspective deserves to be represented.” @DMastroG4

“It’s really important to know what you’re contributing.” @DMastroG4

“When you study culturally responsive leadership…critical self-reflection is one of the four components. It’s so important. But it’s so left out of every teacher or leadership program.” @DMastroG4

“What I was asked to teach [in middle school] was not necessarily reflective of the experiences of my students…There was one perspective and it was the white, Eurocentric, male conquerer perspective.” @DMastroG4

“For my students, who were at that time 99.9% African American, it was really important for them to identify that their story or their voice wasn’t there in order…to get them invested in how important and powerful their voice was.” @DMastroG4

“I think that’s the context we’re in now: there’s all this information, and students are being asked to sort out what’s real, what’s not real, think critically about things. But if we don’t give them all the pieces, how can we ask them to think critically and to form their own decisions about information?” @DMastroG4

“Some people chalk it up to: well, that’s human nature. Everybody wants to survive. Yeah, no. That’s not human nature. That’s misinformation.” @DMastroG4

“I think students at this point are feeling like they know more than their teachers.” @DMastroG4

“There’s no need to keep re-teaching incorrect history. It just doesn’t make any sense.” @DMastroG4

“I realized that [teachers] couldn’t combat misinformation because they were also misinformed.” @DMastroG4

“I’m not afraid to say I don’t know anything.” @DMastroG4

Humanities Podcasting Symposium Registration

A free, virtual program of discussions and workshops about using podcasts for teaching, learning and scholarship in the humanitiesRegister here.

The inaugural Humanities Podcasting Symposium will open new conversations between podcasters in the Humanities, guided by the aims of the Humanities Podcast Network. The event will gather instructors, scholars, and independent creators working in the Humanities, and build support for those who are interested teaching with podcasts and/or making their own podcasts. It will be free to attend and open to all.

Our featured guest will be Latif Nasser of WNYC’s Radiolab.

The conference will take place virtually over Zoom (link will be provided closer to the date). You can register to attend in advance on Eventbrite.

Sessions will include:

  • Roundtable discussions about different elements of Humanities podcasting, including questions about tone/style/form/aesthetics, audience, interview techniques, accreditation, peer review, open access, and more
  • Roundtable discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the podcasting space
  • Technical workshops for educators interested in starting a podcast
  • Topic-focused workshops for creators who have podcasting experience
  • Flash presentations of existing Humanities podcasts

Please register now to attend the symposium, and receive updates about sessions and presenters.

This event is sponsored by Public Books and the Humanities Podcast Network.

Episode 69: Practicing Mindful Entrepreneurship with Lloyd Cambridge

In Episode 69, Dan Dissinger talks to the founder of Progress Playbook, Lloyd Cambridge about practicing mindfulness to be a better entrepreneur and person, community building, and supplementing the gaps in higher education with experiential project-based learning.

Lloyd J. Cambridge is the founder & CEO of Progress Playbook, a small business training and economic development consultancy.  Lloyd partners with government agencies, nonprofits and small businesses nationally to design customized learning experiences and inclusive growth strategies that support entrepreneurs in starting and scaling businesses locally and beyond. Progress Playbook’s clients includes but is not limited to NYC Department of Small Business Services, City Harvest, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, The Actors Fund, New York City Housing Authority.   

Prior to starting Progress Playbook, Lloyd was the Director of NYC Business Solutions, and prior to that, he was an underwriter and credit analyst at JPMorganChase for their middle-market division. Lloyd has supported over 10,000 entrepreneurs and business owners throughout his career and has shared his expertise on entrepreneurship and business development with organizations like Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Small Business Administration and New York University.  He earned his B.S. in Economics from NYU and is an Alumni of the Coro Leadership network.

This episode was recorded on July 23rd, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“My passion and joy is really helping people to create what they believe should exist in the world, helping them to create a living for themselves, to add value to the world and really being able to do that through entrepreneurship.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“As a business owner, you want to really identify what you’re good at and just do that.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“A lot of entrepreneurship is around adjusting people’s mindset around different topics, and [relationship to] money is one of them.”
–Lloyd Cambridge

“When it comes to entrepreneurship, most people want to jump right into finance, or they want to jump right into business planning or jump into sales and marketing, but the first thing you need to focus on is you.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“[Progress Playbook] starts with, what do you want to have, but then the second question is who do I need to be?”
–Lloyd Cambridge

“So everything in business or life I think is about practice […] You set the intention and then you build habits, and through routines you get better and better and stronger and stronger.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“You’re essentially living life from the inside out when it comes to business.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“Your business will never grow beyond your personal development.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“I’ve interviewed a ton of entrepreneurs myself and many of them say that the hardest part is changing yourself.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“Everybody’s an artist.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“You never burn bridges, because your employer can become your customer.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“What does local prosperity look like, not only from an economic standpoint, but just like socially?” –Lloyd Cambridge

“I think the purpose of business is to add value to people.”
–Lloyd Cambridge

“[Empathy] is my secret sauce. That allows me to be innovative.”
–Lloyd Cambridge

“Customers make their choices based off of their value system.”
–Lloyd Cambridge

“If you want to grow as a person become an entrepreneur, because it’s going to force you to grow.” –Lloyd Cambridge

“Nobody is self-made […] you need community in order to grow.”
–Lloyd Cambridge

Progress Playbook

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Progress Playbook is a business training and service platform that designs customized experiences that help entrepreneurs start and grow businesses in NYC and beyond.

We are on a mission to equip entrepreneurs to design the business, life and world they love.

Episode 68: Building Your Story with Tanya Gough

In Episode 68, Dan Dissinger talks to the founder of StoryBilder, Tanya Gough, about breaking the rules for the sake of creativity, curating the first-ever Shakespeare on film catalog, and teaching English in Japan pre-internet.

Tanya Gough has been an ESL teacher, a retail store owner, a corporate digital marketer, and a freelance content strategist, intelligence researcher, and web developer. Today, she is the founder of StoryBilder, a creative writing platform for new and aspiring writers. Tanya also writes middle-grade fantasy fiction and science-infused fantasy short stories for adults.

This episode was recorded on July 10th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“Everything we give you is breakable, and we encourage you to do so.” –Tanya Gough

“[StoryBilder] gives you ideas, we don’t give you rules.”
–Tanya Gough

“I’m very big on people breaking stuff and making it their own.”
–Tanya Gough

“There is no creativity and there is no growth as a creator unless you can push boundaries and you can test things and do unusual things […] that’s how you create something that’s new.” –Tanya Gough

“I think there have been a number of times in my life where opportunity has sort of overlapped [with] experience or subject matter expertise and every once and a while it turns into something that’s just really unusual and kind of cool.” –Tanya Gough

“Before I [created the Shakespeare on film catalog] Shakespeare on film was something that a few people did exceptionally well and had a reputation for, but for the most part it was not something you could do legitimately. I remember even for me when I was in grad school, I would have loved to do a Ph.D. on Shakespeare on film but I didn’t really sort of feel like there was really that much opportunity and I was kind of dissuaded from doing it.” –Tanya Gough

“As a side effect of having Poor Yorick, I was able to start encouraging and influencing the way people were teaching Shakespeare.”
–Tanya Gough

“We have this weird thing in North America where it’s kind of assumed that if a teacher is good at their job or if they like their job that they’re doing it wrong.” –Tanya Gough

“I just find it a very weird disconnect in our society that people don’t respect and honor teachers the way that they’re supposed to or that they should.” –Tanya Gough

“At least for me, there’s some advantage in doing this kind of work as an outsider or as an outlier because it gives me a lot of freedom to sort of break the rules and do things on my own terms, and hopefully if I’ve done them well then I can create some new benefit for people.”
–Tanya Gough

“I think the blending of things that are familiar and also things that are not familiar is how we learn to be creative.” –Tanya Gough

StoryBilder

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

StoryBilder is a writing platform that bridges the gap for new and intermediate writers. Supporting writers through flexible narrative frameworks, a library of adaptable story assets, and integrated, experiential education layer, StoryBilder is built to foster creativity no matter what or how you write. StoryBilder is scheduled to launch this Fall 2021.

Episode 67: Learning to Adapt with Spencer Frankeberger

In Episode 67, Dan Dissinger talks with to Actor, Director, and Board Certified Music Therapist Spencer Frankeberger about adaptability in Music Therapy, how being scared of improv is the best reason to do improv, we discuss systemic ableism in standardized testing from the bar exam to the GREs, and this all somehow ends up in a deep conversation about whether or not theme parks can be a genre.

Hi! I’m Spencer Frankeberger. I’m an actor, improviser, board-certified music therapist, award-winning director, award-winning musical theatre producer, theme park enthusiast, and word nerd based in Los Angeles, straight outta Florida and a graduate of iO West, The Second City Hollywood, and ComedySportz LA.

I live my life like the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding daily as a goofy Greek-American, but that’s not all. I’m also a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) and am conversational in American Sign Language.

And to top it off, I think I’m the only living human who can say he has been hit in the eye with a baseball, is a board-certified music therapist, finds the art of tattoos fascinating, even though he never wants one, and is the biggest theme park enthusiast who lives vicariously through theme park design, Youtube ride POV’s, and random trivia facts about amusements. spencerfrankeberger.com Follow Spencer on
TikTok | Instagram | YouTube

This episode was recorded on June 26th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in this Episode

“[Music Therapy] is using music as a therapeutic goal to reach a non-musical goal.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“[With music therapy] adaptability is key, which makes me think of the idea of improv and writing.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“Music is creative. What I’m doing specifically is finding creative ways to use this music in my sessions that are relatively structured for the goals that I need to reach or assess.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“I love exploring where work comes into play and where life comes into play and where I can combine the two.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“[Improv] scared me the first time I did it.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“I think that improv is a great intercrossing of everything because it allows me to kind of pick and pull certain aspects of improv and put it in whatever career path I’m going in, but also whatever thing I’m doing at that moment.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“Every single person learns and processes in a different way.”
–Spencer Frankeberger

“[Standardized testing] is setting certain people up for failure, because their brains are not adapted to that specific type of exam.”
–Spencer Frankeberger

“Things that I can’t do, I’m a lot more fascinated by and have to find a way to discover vicariously how to incorporate that idea.”
–Spencer Frankeberger

“I talk about theme parks as if it’s a genre.” –Spencer Frankeberger

“For me, theme parks are like my Star Wars.” –Spencer Frankeberger

Episode 66: Unpacking Cultural Anthropology with Sydney Laws

In Episode 66, Dan Dissinger talks with recent graduate of USC’s Film and Television Production program Sydney Laws about how Black stories are represented in media, cultural anthropology, and Storytelling versus Story-breaking.

Sydney Laws is a very proud ATLien and recent graduate of USC’s Film and Television Production program. She defines herself as a creative, particularly a filmmaker, who finds her current interests at the exciting and often-overlooked intersection of storyteller and cultural anthropology. Her main focus is on marshalling ethnographic insight into the creative realm in an attempt to influence the interpersonal nature of society and shape broader social structures. Though her current projects are nonfiction, Sydney typically enjoys crafting fiction and fantasy stories to actualize this goal. She currently works as Associate Producer at The Skin Deep, an interactive studio focused on human connection and, what Sydney deems, a ‘true feat of visual anthropology’. 

This episode was recorded on June 25th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I currently find myself, at least storytelling wise, at the intersection of filmmaking and cultural anthropology.” -Sydney Laws

“If I dream about a story, and that’s coming from an alternate reality, [and] I’m bringing it into this reality, it feels exactly like you’re breaking it in here.” -Sydney Laws

“[Cultural anthropology] I love that word […] about a year ago or two years ago, I didn’t know the term for what it was I was consistently doing throughout my life, and then when I found it, it was like being in love for the first time.” -Sydney Laws

“I would like to be [Zora Neale Hurston] in the film realm, being able to use ethnographic insight to inform the creative realm.”
-Sydney Laws

“The first image of a Black person in this country, many times, was in shackles. So if that was the first thing that anyone in this nation saw, how do you think 400 years from now we’re going to be seen?”
-Sydney Laws

“Most of the things that I have written about in my films has been about, not even in my film class, it’s been in a literature class, it’s been in a history class, so if we’re banning critical race theory, it’s laughable […] it’s so ingrained in every part of who this nation is.”
-Sydney Laws

“[Birth of a Nation] led to the KKK being reborn and then all of this racial violence […] especially in the 1920s when you see the height of lynching […] particularly Black men being lynched […] and it’s all because of this image that was created in 1915 with Birth of a Nation.” -Sydney Laws

“It’s really nice to see yourself on screen […] but it’s much more than that, it genuinely comes down to a matter of life and death for a lot of people when you actually look into how it impacts the mind.”
-Sydney Laws

“You are at the whim of someone else’s imagination, constantly.”
-Sydney Laws

“I’m acutely aware of how the mind works given all of this history, so how can I tell the stories I want to tell, but tell them in an authentic and accurate way that’s also going to be putting humanity at the forefront and going to be ensuring my safety.” -Sydney Laws

“Is it possible for a film to actually hold a sense of double-consciousness?” -Sydney Laws

“It’s a tactic, honestly, this idea that Black stories and minority stories aren’t relatable […] That means that Black love is something that is not relatable and it leads to Black people [being] something that is not relatable and it’s just another tactic to further this divide.” -Sydney Laws

Call for Contributors
Humanities Podcasting Symposium
October 15-16, 2021

The Humanities Podcasting Network is inviting expressions of interest for our first annual symposium on academic podcasting. Please use this survey to indicate which kinds of event(s) you’d be interested in organizing and to briefly describe your proposed topic. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2021.

Episode 65: Documenting the Nickelodeon Story with Scott Barber

In Episode 65, Dan Dissinger talks with filmmaker Scott Barber about storytelling through documentary, why Nickelodeon was such a positive creative force in the early 90s, and the role of writing when making a documentary. And who can forget GWAR.

Scott made his directorial debut with his film, The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, featuring Kenan Thompson, Drake Bell, & Melissa Joan Hart. The film  premiered at the DOC NYC Festival in 2018, to a sold out crowd. 

This episode was recorded on June 11th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“We started assembling this team but it wasn’t through a production company or having a big budget, it was just people that were like, ‘I like Nickelodeon and I think it cool you guys are doing this and I want to do it with you.’” –Scott Barber

“I think it’s important for all writers to find their voice […] What stories are you going to tell and how are you going to tell [them]?”
–Scott Barber

“Whenever I became a documentary filmmaker, I was like, ‘Oh, I feel like this is how I was meant to write, through other people’s words.’” –Scott Barber

“People have high expectations of documentaries now; it has to feel like a movie.” –Scott Barber

“To me, the real writing is the editing.” –Scott Barber

“We wanted the [Nickelodeon] story to be told through people’s voices.” –Scott Barber

“I was able to use sound and vision and dialogue and all that together to tell a story, […] I just felt much more confident than whenever I’m just writing in Final Draft.” –Scott Barber

“My favorite part of this whole process is people saying, ‘I cried when I watched your movie. I didn’t know I was going to feel the way I felt when I watched your movie.’” –Scott Barber

“For an hour and a half, 90 minutes, we’re going to make you feel better, and you deserve that, you deserve to feel better. […] We’re living in a pandemic, it’s a crazy world where nothing makes sense anymore, so I hope for 90 minutes I can be your court jester and just entertain you and make you feel good for 90 minutes.” –Scott Barber

“[Nickelodeon] treated kids like people in a time where kids were not treated like people.” –Scott Barber

“When you say, ‘I love 90s Nickelodeon’ there’s no real unifying trait other than the fact that they were just all good and felt real.” –Scott Barber

“If you think [GWAR] is a heavy metal band that wears costumes, you’re wrong.” –Scott Barber

“I just love human stories.” –Scott Barber

Call for Contributors
Humanities Podcasting Symposium
October 15-16, 2021

The Humanities Podcasting Network is inviting expressions of interest for our first annual symposium on academic podcasting. Please use this survey to indicate which kinds of event(s) you’d be interested in organizing and to briefly describe your proposed topic. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2021.

Episode 64: Performing Arts Advocacy with Viva Vinson

In Episode 64, Dan Dissinger talks with Vocalist/Educator/Actor/Writer Viva Vinson about the positive impact of performing arts education, overcoming Dyslexia and ADHD, and harnessing the power of the performing arts to have deeper DEI discussions with students and teachers.

Born of an Italian American mother, and African American father, Viva has always had multiple artistic interests as diverse as her cultural and ethnic background. Viva is somewhat of a Triple Threat, starting her dance career at age 12, her acting career in her teens, and then later transitioning into music, writing, and performing arts education. Viva started her acting career at age 16 appearing in such productions as Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, A Different World, Cop Rock and the cult-classic Roadside Prophets, to name a few.

After taking a hiatus from her acting, Viva rediscovered a deeper joy and passion for music. She turned to a career in Music in 2002 where she made her way to Asia in September 2003, performing at the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong. She spent several years traveling to and from Asia.

Viva is currently pursuing parallel careers in music, acting, writing and performing arts education. She loves inspiring young artists through arts-education programs and individual instruction. She has also become an arts advocate, reinforcing the importance of Performing Arts Education in Schools. Follow this link to see Viva’s full bio.

Follow Viva on:
Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

This episode was recorded on June 25th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I believe performing arts education should be in every learning institution that is on the planet […] whatever I can do to champion that cause, I’m all for it.” -Viva Vinson

“Performing arts education saved my life, literally.”
-Viva Vinson

“We are all musicians.” –Viva Vinson

“Music is an essential part of the evolution of mankind.” –Viva Vinson

“Music is its own language and it’s universal.” –Viva Vinson

“The intellectual process that one has to go through to learn music and play music is so, so valuable it’s a different way of thinking, and I just think it makes us more well-rounded, more sensitive, more empathic, and more creative and more intelligent.” –Viva Vinson

“I’m dyslexic […] and ADHD, so fitting in those [writing] constructs was always very difficult for me and sometimes it did kill the joy of writing, because I was always so afraid that I didn’t adhere to all the rules of grammar.” –Viva Vinson

“You’re always learning, you’re always growing as a creative person.” –Viva Vinson

“I feel like everyone should feel that they excel at something, and sometimes the students who have ADHD and they can’t focus, they can’t read […] they might be great in drama class, they’re great at doing improvisation, they’re great at rapping, they’re great at coming up with rhymes, or they’re great at dancing, or putting choreography together; and so it’s a vehicle for students to excel in this other area […] there’s a lot of learning to be had in the performing arts.”
–Viva Vinson

“I want to reach those kids who don’t feel like they’re good at anything and have nothing to say and give them a vehicle to try and explore how to say what’s in their hearts through performing arts education.” –Viva Vinson

“There needs to be this more collaborative approach to education, where it’s not like a kid scared in a classroom that the teacher is going to give them an F and therefore they can’t express their ideas.”
–Viva Vinson

“If I’m going to achieve, I have to work three times as hard as others and I have to be the best, I have to be supreme at what I do in order to get the recognition that’s so freely given to somebody who may just be good, but not the best, but we have to be ‘better than’ because of the color of our skin or because of our gender identity […] it exists in all spaces.” –Viva Vinson

“Instead of me just having this conversation [about my racial identity], or feeling fearful about saying these things, because I might hurt somebody or offend somebody, if I put it into the context of a play or a scene […] yes I’m expressing these ideas, but it’s not me expressing, it’s the character and it kind of gives me an opportunity to kind of free myself from feeling so identified by this thing that I’m going to say.”
–Viva Vinson

“Why bother teaching if you’re not learning […] That’s why I teach. I’m constantly learning, I have to constantly work and develop and learn and expand, work on my craft to be able to teach […] but I’m also learning from my students. And that’s why I do believe in a space that’s collaborative, because how can I learn from my students and how will that inform my teaching?” –Viva Vinson

“I’m here to facilitate, to facilitate the learning.” –Viva Vinson

“Why do we assume that we know everything and the students know nothing? That’s constantly, I think, a mistake that a lot of educators make.” –Viva Vinson

Call for Contributors
Humanities Podcasting Symposium
October 15-16, 2021

The Humanities Podcasting Network is inviting expressions of interest for our first annual symposium on academic podcasting. Please use this survey to indicate which kinds of event(s) you’d be interested in organizing and to briefly describe your proposed topic. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2021.

Episode 63: Expanding the Victorian Conversation with Dr. Melissa Rampelli

In Episode 63, Dan Dissinger and special guest host Dr. Meghan Nolan talk with friend, colleague, and fellow Saint John’s University Alum Dr. Melissa Rampelli from Holy Family University about the impact of the Victorian Age, Medical Humanities, and what sea monsters have to do with the 2008 Great Recession. On top of all of that, this was a mini Saint John’s University reunion!

Melissa Rampelli is Assistant Professor of English at Holy Family University where she teaches courses in British literature and first-year composititon. She is currently at work on her book manuscript, Plots of Pathology, and her article “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and the 2008 Recession” is forthcoming in the Winter 2021 issue of Modern Language Studies. Her research interests include nineteenth-century British literature and culture, the history of psychology, gender studies, medical narratives, and the novel. 

This episode was recorded on June 14th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“Even as an undergrad I just remember that very first semester when I was actually a business major taking an English Literature course just for fun—that should have been the first sign—and we read Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and something just… I still teach it to this day, there’s something that just drew me to it, and I wrote my undergrad thesis with my mentor Catherine Golden on mental health for women in 19th century. It just kind of stuck with me.” –Melissa Rampelli

“There’s work done in terms of Medical Humanities by Rita Charon from Columbia University, and a lot of work about the plot of therapeutics and why we as a culture need this plot of pathology, this idea of cause to crisis to cure and why we’re just so drawn to that.”
–Melissa Rampelli

“Maybe I’m biased, but I think the Victorian period is so important for so many different reasons […] so much is happening in terms of modern medicine like the very beginning and the fundamentals of modern medicine […] and psychology in terms of the actual physical body […] and also this really fascinating mind-body connection.”
–Melissa Rampelli

“With the Industrial Revolution, all of these hurt maimed bodies now, so this real strong focus on the able body from a real commercialized/industrialized point of view as well, what it means to be well and healthy psychologically, physically, that’s all coming so fresh in [during the Victorian period], and then you add all the gender things, which adds a whole other layer.”
-Melissa Rampelli

“In academia, we celebrate the more Cartesian divide, right, like we are not our bodies, we are disembodied, our ideas ought to be disembodied. So, to have a professor tell you to come into your body not only because of identity, but also just to like to feel how you actually feel.” –Melissa Rampelli

“It’s also a wonderful opportunity when [students] don’t understand passages to use class time to just dissect them and try to understand them together […] we’re here together, I don’t even understand every passage, let’s do it together, because then you’re really teaching them how to learn as well.” –Melissa Rampelli

“At the end of [my] Brit Lit 1, I want [students] to pay attention to craft and play with craft. Because we’ve done so much close reading of the form and function, and the meter or the metaphor […] that I want them to then be able to play with that themselves and show why Fantomina by Eliza Haywood written in 1724 is just still relevant.” –Melissa Rampelli

“I want [my students] to make Canterbury Tales relevant.”
–Melissa Rampelli

“I added some classes; like I added Women in Literature, Literature and Disability, Literature and Disability […] [Holy Family University] is really incredible about opening up the curriculum.”
–Melissa Rampelli

“I let [my students] write on whatever they want to write about, because that’s when they’re most passionate: when they have the most choice.” –Melissa Rampelli

“I don’t think [Ben] Winters poses this is what caused the recession, or even know if he even intended this by any means, it’s just a way that we could read [Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters]. But I think it doesn’t just offer one thing, because there are multiple theories of the alteration within the novel, so I think it more so, encourages us as readers to do our own research on the recession.” –Melissa Rampelli

“I did have students watch at one point Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and they had a fantastic conversation dissecting the Bennett sisters [who] are all of a sudden, like ninjas and they had this incredible like conversation dissecting how that physicality and that strength for those women actually just made manifest this feminist wit that a lot of people may have just missed in Austen in the first place, I mean the critics are always debating whether or not Austen is even a feminist.”
–Melissa Rampelli

“It was definitely gender politics [that made me interested in the Victorian and Regency periods]. As a budding 17-year old feminist coming into my own […] I think that’s what spoke to me, like the new woman […] there are these gender tropes, and I mean these gender tropes are still so relevant right like the woman in the house, the fallen woman, how short was your skirt right, I mean still so relevant today.” –Melissa Rampelli

“We had really good mentors [at Saint John’s University].”
–Melissa Rampelli

“I doubly agree with the Comp work at Saint John’s because my program [at Holy Family] I teach two writing and two literature, so if I had not had that background it would have been a rude awakening.”
–Melissa Rampelli

“I think [teaching writing] strengthens how I teach and reinforce writing in my literature classes […] so to operate like literature classes aren’t writing classes it’s doing everyone a huge disservice.”
–Melissa Rampelli

Call for Contributors
Humanities Podcasting Symposium
October 15-16, 2021

The Humanities Podcasting Network is inviting expressions of interest for our first annual symposium on academic podcasting. Please use this survey to indicate which kinds of event(s) you’d be interested in organizing and to briefly describe your proposed topic. The deadline for submissions is July 15, 2021.

Episode 62: Seeing Each Other’s Humanity with Chris Muniz

In Episode 62, Dan Dissinger and special guest host Stephanie Renée Payne talk with Chris Muniz of the USC Writing Program about reconnecting creative writing back to academic writing, developing meaningful and authentic student-centered projects, and how the personal journey leads the way towards student agency.

Chris Muniz is a faculty member in the University of Southern California’s Writing Program. He received and MFA in Interdisciplinary Writing from CalArts and a PhD. in Literature and Creative Writing from USC . His critical and creative work center on the intersection of race, identity, and culture in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and American West. The former Editor-in-Chief of Gold Line Press, Chris has work forthcoming in Ploughshares and is nearing completion of his first novel, Owl Medicine.

This episode was recorded on May 24th, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“What is the purpose of higher education, and as I moved into a role of actually being in a place to have a classroom of my own, even through grad school, what’s the best space and use of this time and space that we can sort of carve out in the institution. Kind of pushing the boundaries as much as possible, still providing the deliverables that the ‘Man’ wants, but at the same time really emphasizing that this is an experience. rather than, ‘I’m an authority figure here to fill you up with knowledge.” –Chris Muniz

“Critical thinking and writing, they can apply almost to any major, any degree, [and] any class I taught.” –Chris Muniz

“Real life doesn’t afford us six months to sit down and sort of read and think about our lives and figure out our place in the world, so let’s take full advantage of that.” –Chris Muniz

“A student-centered approach is something that’s easily thrown around as a term.” –Chris Muniz

“Starting with getting [students] to think about and articulate their position and their positionality in terms of related to writing and thinking, but also getting them to think about their career goals begins to situate them in a space where they go, ‘Okay, wait a minute this really why.’” –Chris Muniz

“The personal value of having [my students] sit outside for 15-minutes and reflect on and write about that experience, I would argue that it actually was probably more valuable and more insightful than the final project that they ended up turning in for the whole semester.”
–Chris Muniz

“You know, this idea of building human beings, developing character and ourselves more than just like churning out A-level writers drives what I do.” –Chris Muniz

“The reason Malcolm Gladwell is so popular or Atul Gawande is because […] there’s a really kind of human center to it where you’re like, ‘Oh! I feel something emotional as a result of that writing.’”
–Chris Muniz

“In terms of the arc of my own kind of journey, one thing I haven’t been able to do but plan to do […] how do we invoke spirituality into this, right, into this sense of awe about the world? And not in a kind of dogmatic sense […] but just again that child-like awe and wonder of the world, for me, is a spiritual experience.” –Chris Muniz

“In many ways, what we’re talking about, doesn’t sound revolutionary or transgressive, but I think going back to bell hooks it is in a way to sort of approach education this way that somehow threatens the status quo to be excited about transforming the lives of your students.”
–Chris Muniz

“Coming back to this idea of willing to be vulnerable with your students, but then of course when they’re vulnerable with you, you have to be in a position to hold that, create a space for that, not only just a safe space, but a space that allows you to do something productive with it.” –Chris Muniz

“You can’t be encouraging people to come up with trauma to write about because it makes for good emotional writing and then leave them with no kind of framework.” –Chris Muniz

“I think it just comes down to seeing each other as human beings.”
–Chris Muniz

“I’m honored when people share something with me.” –Chris Muniz

“Really the goal is you want [the students] to connect the dots themselves. I’m going to gather all these dots, but I want [my students] to connect them. Because I think that’s really where they get excited, it’s when they start to go, ‘Oh! I connected something!’”
–Chris Muniz

“Not only is making a mess okay, that’s exactly where we start, the generative mess is where we start.” –Chris Muniz

“The way in which the educational system is setup is it sort of prevents students form having agency.” –Chris Muniz

“You know that notion of not letting your education getting in the way of your education […] that the real world experiences are almost more valuable.” –Chris Muniz

“Asking questions is just as good as or even better than coming up with answers.” –Chris Muniz

“You make that kind of circle where you realize at a certain point the academic connects to the creative and then obviously all of that work connects to who you are as a human.” –Chris Muniz

Call for Contributors
Humanities Podcasting Symposium
October 15-16, 2021

The Humanities Podcasting Network is inviting expressions of interest for our first annual symposium on academic podcasting. Follow the link to read the CFC and submit your ideas: Call For Contributions