10 Things I Learned at the REL Film Studios

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Russell McCutcheon wrote a post on this blog recently in which he talked about the history and development of our filmmaking ventures here at REL, and as a student worker heavily involved in producing the films, I felt the need to respond to his post. For about two years now I’ve been planning, directing, filming, and editing our department’s videos, with some help from Andie of course, and the process came with a bit of a learning curve. So now, as I pass my knowledge on to the next REL filmmaker, Caity Walker, I’ve assembled a “top 10” list of tips that I’ve learned over the years. Continue reading

Sita Sings the Universal Blues

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by Jared Powell
Jared Powell is  a senior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies. This post
was originally written for Steven Ramey’s REL 419 class.

Any college student would agree that the last thing we need is another Netflix suggestion to distract us from our studies… but that is exactly what I’m going to offer. Put down your English readings, forget about that MathLab assignment, and–dare I say it–skip the football game and watch Sita Sings the Blues. Nina Paley’s animated retelling of the Ramayana is humorous, charming, visually captivating, and–as will be explained after the preview below–incredibly insightful for thinking about narrative formation. Continue reading

Weaving the Thread of Oregon’s Origins

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a senior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies

If you follow college football, like most folks around here do, then you’ve surely heard a thing or two about the Oregon Ducks. Oregon has carved their place as one of the most successful college teams of the past five years with an imagined rivalry with the Tide (“We want Bama” anyone?), but they also make waves week in and week out with their jersey designs. The Ducks have been known to sport bright neon green and yellow getups in games past, but the designs for the October 10th matchup against Washington State branch off in a new direction—the overt creation of an origins narrative.

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Eudora Welty’s Jitney Jungle

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a junior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies.

I recently attended the first Hidden Humanities lecture, hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences, featuring Dr. William Ferris and his talk “Standing at the Crossroads: The Humanities and the American South.” The lecture struck a few chords with me–and not just because he also played a couple blues classics on a steel string guitar during the lecture–and got me thinking about what I understood to be two of Dr. Ferris’ main points: the importance of a sense of place to “Southern culture,” and memory as a tie that binds individuals together. Continue reading

The Authentic Dream Cafe

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a junior from Canton, Mississippi
majoring in English and Religious Studies.

A few months ago I wrote a post relating an episode of Seinfeld to issues of identity that are commonly discussed in our classes. After letting the initial fame and grandeur of my first post wear off, I decided that more connections could be made from the sitcom and the academic study of religion, particularly with regards to authenticity.

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Identifying for the Jokes

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By Jared Powell
Jared Powell is a junior from Canton, Mississippi majoring in English and Religious Studies. He enjoys watching Seinfeld, his favorite TV show, and is always disappointed when somebody does not understand a reference to the famed sitcom. He one day hopes to become an architect, or maybe an importer-exporter of latex products.

What are the various identities, religious or nonreligious, that an individual can assume? Why do individuals choose to identify with certain categories? How do individuals exhibit or prove their identity to members of the group, or nonmembers? These key questions constantly come up in my classes with the department. During one class, another student mentioned an episode of Seinfeld (Season 8 Episode 19, “The Yada Yada”) that could be related to these questions of identity. In order to defend my self-proclaimed Seinfeld aficionado status, I took it upon myself to rewatch the episode and see what connections I could make. Continue reading