Over a multi-year collaboration, playwright and director Ricardo Pitts-Wiley, Melville scholar Wyn Kelley, and media expert Henry Jenkins have developed a new approach for teaching Moby-Dick in the age of YouTube and hip-hop. They will explore how “learning through remixing” can speak to contemporary youth, why Melville might be understood as the master mash-up artist of the 19th century, and what might have happened if Captain Ahab had been a 21st century gang leader.
* Part of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Public Library’s month-long citywide initiative “What Ever Happened to Moby Dick?”
Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He has written and edited more than fifteen books on media and popular culture, including Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture with Sam Ford and Joshua Green. His other published works reflect the wide range of his research interests, touching on democracy and new media, the “wow factor” of popular culture, science-fiction fan communities, and the early history of film comedy. His most recent book, Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick for the Literature Classroom was written with Wyn Kelley, Katie Clinton, Jenna McWilliams, Erin Reilly, and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley.
Wyn Kelley teaches in the Literature Section at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is author of Melville’s City: Literary and Urban Form in Nineteenth-Century New York and of Herman Melville: An Introduction. She also co-author Reading in a Participatory Culture: Re-Mixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom with Henry Jenkins and Ricardo Pitts-Wiley. She is former Associate Editor of the Melville Society journal Leviathan, and editor of the Blackwell Companion to Herman Melville. A founding member of the Melville Society Cultural Project, she has collaborated with the New Bedford Whaling Museum on lecture series, conferences, exhibits, and a scholarly archive. She serves as Associate Director ofMEL (Melville Electronic Library), an NEH-supported interactive digital archive for reading, editing, and visualizing Melville’s texts.
Ricardo Pitts-Wiley is the co-founder of the Mixed Magic Theatre, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to presenting a diversity of cultural and ethnic images and ideas on the stage. While serving as Mixed Magic Theatre’s director, Pitts-Wiley gained national and international acclaim for his page-to-stage adaptation of Moby Dick, titled Moby Dick: Then and Now. This production, which was presented at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, DC, is the centerpiece of a national teachers study guide and is featured in the book, Reading in A Participatory Culture. In addition to his work as an adapter of classic literature Pitts-Wiley is also the composer of over 150 songs and the author of 12 plays with music including:Waiting for Bessie Smith, Celebrations: An African Odyssey, andThe Spirit Warrior’s Dream.
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|From Page to Stage: Moby-Dick: Then and Now
Featuring Ricardo Pitts-Wiley and Mixed Magic Theatre
Visions and Voices
Friday, October 11, 2013 : 7:00pm
University Park Campus
Reception to follow.
Admission is free. Reservations required. RSVP at the links below beginning Tuesday, September 17, at 9 a.m.
The fateful voyage of the Pequod and its revenge-obsessed Captain Ahab is reimagined in Moby Dick: Then and Now. Alba, a young woman in contemporary urban America, is hell-bent on avenging the gang-related death of her brother Pip in this adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic American novel. Moby Dick: Then and Now emerged through Ricardo Pitts-Wiley’s work with incarcerated youth at the Rhode Island Training School, a juvenile prison. Pitts-Wiley, an actor, director, playwright and composer with Mixed Magic Theatre, encouraged the youth to read and rewrite this challenging novel in relation to their own realities. The 19th-century whaling trade became the 21st-century drug trade, and the young writers’ creativity inspired the stage production, which remixed Melville’s language with hip hop. Pitts-Wiley’s approach is featured in the new book Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom, co-written by USC professor Henry Jenkins. This staged reading will feature student actors from USC and local high schools. Henry Jenkins will moderate a post-show discussion with Pitts-Wiley and the cast.
Organized by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Co-sponsored by the USC School of Dramatic Arts.
For further information on this event: