Series explores New Jersey through the Work of Bruce Springsteen, Philip Roth, and William Carlos Williams

Two culminating events in a year-long series that explores the role of New Jersey as an inspiration for the arts, humanities, and experiments in living . . .

Cover art (detail): Talk About A Dream: The Essential Interviews of Bruce Springsteen (courtesy Bloomsbury Press), Photo copyright Frank Stefanko.

Say "New Jersey," and likely as not you'll conjure in many people's minds an image of traffic congestion, malls, and aging industrial infrastructure!  The series "Jersey: A Sense of Place," hosted by the Institute for the Humanities at Montclair State University, however, aspires to offer a quite different -- and much more positive -- perspective on the state. The final two presentations in what has been a highly successful year-long NJCH-funded series exploring its role as a source of inspiration for the arts and humanities as well as for experiments in living are coming up on October 9 and November 7, 2013.

Organized around the themes of "Dramatizing," "Writing," "Singing," "Living," and "Painting" Jersey, the aim of the series has been to provide perspectives about the ways in which the state has been celebrated -- as both geographical reality (country, city, shore) and emotional concept -- in both the popular media and "high" culture. The theme of the first of the two events this fall will be "Singing Jersey," and will focus on the music and lyrics of New Jersey's biggest home-grown rock star, Bruce Springsteen.  "Writing Jersey," the theme of the second presentation, explores the works of two New Jersey writers, the Rutherford-born poet William Carlos Williams, and the novelist Philip Roth, a Newark native. 

Louis P. Masur, co-editor (with Christopher Phillips) of the just-published Talk About a Dream: The Essential Interviews of Bruce Springsteen (August 2013, Bloomsbury Press) will present "'Talk about a dream:' Bruce Springsteen's American Vision -- from New Jersey to the World," on Wednesday, October 9, 4-5pm in Brantl, Dickson Hall at Montclair State University.  Dr. Masur is a Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University.  His presentation will focus on Bruce Springsteen's New Jersey origins and how his American vision was shaped by his Jersey roots, and then carried to the world. 

On Thursday, November 7, 2013, 4-5 p.m. in Cohen Lounge, Dickson Hall, at Montclair State, Neil Baldwin, who is the Director of The Creative Research Center at MSU, and James D. Bloom, a professor of English and American Studies at Muhlenberg College, in Allentown, will jointly present on "'The local is the only universal:' William Carlos Williams in New Jersey"and "Philip Roth: Newark and Beyond."  Neil Baldwin is author of Williams' biography entitled To All Gentleness: William Carlos Williams, the Doctor-Poet, and Jim Bloom author of Gravity Fails: The Jewish Shaping of Modern America. This presentation will discuss the way in which the Jersey-scapes of both these Jersey-born-and-bred writers provide particularized locations for explorations -- on a grander scale -- of American identity and of the human condition in general. 

The series is open to the public and free of charge. 

This program was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. 

For more information on the series, visit: