February 2008

"So... Beowulf?" (February 2 – 8)

Beowulf, the most famous epic poem written in Old English, seems to be undergoing a revival. A recent movie featuring Angelina Jolie is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been several new translations, three movies, as well as new Beowulf interactive media. English Professor Kenneth Tiller (The University of Virginia’s College at Wise) explains why Beowulf is in some ways a very modern story.


Also: Poet David Wojahn (Virginia Commonwealth University) is writing a book of essays on the importance of poetry today.


WGR News Feature: A thousand-year-old poem has experienced an unlikely cultural revival in the last ten years.  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," sought an explanation from a Virginia scholar about the curious popularity of Beowulf. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

Hear Today, Hear Tomorrow (February 9 – 15)

It’s an old joke among audiologists. If you see somebody blasting their ears with iPod headphones, give them your business card; they’re going to need a good audiologist in a few years. Hearing loss is all around us—Bill Clinton wears two hearing aids. Audiologist Mani Aguilar (University of Virginia) explains the complex and delicate workings of the ear.

Also: Bruce Sofinski (J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College) teaches American Sign Language, which is a wholly different language than spoken English.

WGR News Feature: If you are 50 years old, there's a 12-percent chance that you have a hearing loss.  By the time you're 65, that jumps to a 30-percent chance.  But there's an even better chance that you won't do anything about it.  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," has more. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

August Wilson's 20th Century (February 16 - 22)

The Kennedy Center this spring will stage all ten plays in which renowned playwright August Wilson explores the African American experience through each decade of the 20 th century. Page Laws and Clarence Murray (Norfolk State University) say Wilson was one of the most significant and lyrical writers of modern American theater.

Also: A 1996 resolution in California to train teachers in Ebonics brought the word to our attention. But many confuse Ebonics, which has a long history and its own standard usages and dialects, with slang. English Professor Pamela Reed (Virginia State University) says Ebonics is as important to African-American culture as a language like Chinese would be to Chinese-American culture.

WGR News Feature: Next month a major American theatre (the Kennedy Center, in fact) will stage all ten of August Wilson's plays...including two Pulitzer prize winners.  Nancy King, with the radio program "With Good Reason," found a Virginia dramatist who is thrilled with this landmark theatrical undertaking. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.

Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night (February 23 - 29)

Film maker Sonali Gulati (Virginia Commonwealth University) used to spot telemarketers by the way they mispronounced her Indian name. But when they started to get the name right, she knew something was up. American companies have outsourced telemarketing and customer service jobs to India where workers compete for jobs at giant call centers. Gulati visited a call center in India and discovered how Indian telemarketers acquire American names and accents, and learn about American movies, music, and TV. Her film, “Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night” is a journey into that world.


WGR News Feature: Chances are quite good that the next time your dinner is interrupted by a telemarketer, the phone call is coming from India.  An Indian-born film-maker, now teaching in Virginia, has made a documentary about New Delhi call centers.  Nancy King, with the radio program “With Good Reason,” takes a look behind the scenes. Listen to the two and a half minute feature.