Thorpe Tuesday!

April 14th, 2015 by

Are you working on a multimedia project as part of your coursework? Are you filming and editing a video? Are you editing photographs for an excellent presentation? Ames has you covered!

The Thorpe Centerdigital_editing is a collaborative endeavor between Information Technology Services, the Mellon Center for Teaching & Learning, and The Ames Library that is located on the 3rd level of The Ames Library. The Thorpe Center welcomes faculty, staff, and students and provides support and technology in the following areas:

  • Opportunities to become acquainted with new technologies
  • Support for integrating standard & emerging technologies for use within & outside the classroom
  • Digital video editing for integrating audio and video into presentations and projects
  • Classroom and event support for technology & media

The Thorpe Center is also a sandbox for testing out new technologies and furniture. Please send any comments our suggestions that you may have for this space to our Suggestion Box.


▷ Import, edit and digitize video and audio

▷ Scan photographs or documents and integrate them into presentations

▷ Record a DVD-R of your video, audio, or an entire presentations

▷ Borrow a camcorder or digital camera from the Circulation Desk and shoot your video

Software Hardware
  • Adobe Design Standard CS5 – (Mac)
  • Adobe Acrobat Pro – Create PDF’s (Windows & Mac)
  • iLife Series 11- iMovie, iPhoto,iTunes, iDVD (Mac)
  • Epson & HP Scan Pro – Scanning Software (Windows & Mac)
  • Adobe Premiere Elements – Video editing software (Windows)
  • 20″ iMacs and Lenovo Desktop Computers
  • Flatbed Image Scanners
  • Slide Film Scanners
  • Negative Film Scanners
  • Document Scanners
  • DVD Burners
  • USB/Firewire cables

National Library Week!

April 13th, 2015 by


NLMDid you know that April 12-18 is National Library Week?! From the American Library Association: “First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.”

This week is also the last full week of classes at IWU, with the annual John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference starting Friday night, culminating in a full day of presentations on Saturday. Participating students can learn all about poster printing from the Ames website, and submit their finished products to be printed using this form. The deadline to submit posters for printing is TODAY (4/13) if you want it printed in time for Saturday. Remember that the foam board will be jwpprovided to you at CNS or SFH on Saturday morning.

Stephanie Davis-Kahl is one of the Ames librarians, and is the coordinator for Digital Commons@IWU, our online archive of exceptional student and faculty work. Our goal is to showcase the intellectual and creative work in our campus community. If you are presenting this weekend as part of the JWP Student Research Conference, you are invited to share your work via Digital Commons. You have a number of choices of what to share and how to share your research. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Stephanie by email or phone (309-556-3010).


Tuesday,4 p.m., Beckman Auditorium, The Ames Library – “Building Bulwarks: an ArcGIS Model of Roads, Campaigns, and Colonies in Republican Italy – Assistant Professor of History Amy Coles will present her preliminary, time-lapsed set of maps – created using ArcGIS (Global Information Systems) software – of Roman Republican military campaigns, road-building, and colonial foundations in ancient Italy. While military success enabled the building of roads and foundation of colonies, the map demonstrates that the relationship between these three was neither simply causal nor static over time. (This project was made possible by a Re-Centering the Humanities grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.)

Thursday, 7 p.m., Beckman Auditorium, The Ames Library –International Film Series – “Wadjda” (2012, Saudi Arabia), presented by Associate Professor of English Alison Sainsbury.

Instruction Lab, Room 129

  • Monday, 10am – Environmental Studies 120
  • Wednesday, 10am – Environmental Studies 120
  • Friday, 10am – Environmental Studies 120

Meeting Room, Room 214

  • Monday, 9:30am – Network Meeting
  • Monday, 10:30am – Disaster Recovery Meeting
  • Tuesday, 1pm – Assessment Committee Meeting
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 9am – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 11:30am – Theatre Recruitment
  • Wednesday, 2pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 1pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Friday, 10am – Campus Climate Assessment Meeting
  • Friday, 2pm – Portal Meeting

Beckman Auditorium, Lower Level

  • Tuesday, 9:30am – History 150
  • Tuesday, 2:30pm – Theatre History II
  • Tuesday, 4pm – “Building Bulwarks: an ArcGIS Model of Roads, Campaigns, and Colonies in Republican Italy”
  • Wednesday, 2pm – English Skype Session
  • Thursday, 1:10pm – LC 116 Film Showings
  • Thursday, 7pm – International Film Series


English as a Second Language Service

The new English as a Second Language Service at IWU seeks to support the University’s international students and their academic and professional needs by providing ESL instruction and help with academic writing, reading and speaking. Our primary goal is to enhance the learning experience of international students and support the University’s community.

If you have any questions about our services or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Teodora Nikolova at or call (309) 556-3810.

We are now located in the Writing Center, Ames 105B.
Office hours are
Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Writing Center+ESL online scheduler is at

Election “News” in Ames

April 8th, 2015 by

The votes are in!

From the Pantagraph: “Voters on Tuesday went to the polls to decide a variety of races, including contested contests for the Bloomington and Normal city councils and the Unit 5 and District 87 school boards.” IWU’s very own Karen Schmidt was re-elected to Bloomington city council for Ward 6.
Speaking of elections, Ames Library has hundreds of resources to help you learn all about election processes, trends, and history. Check out this newly published book, Gender in campaigns for the US House of Representatives.
From the publisher: “Barbara Burrell presents a comprehensive comparative examination of men’s and women’s candidacies for the U.S. 9780472052318House of Representatives in elections from 1994 through 2012. Analyzing extensive data sets on all major party candidates for 10 elections—covering candidate status, party affiliation, fund-raising, candidate background variables, votes obtained, and success rates for both primary and general elections—Burrell finds little evidence of categorical discrimination against women candidates. Women compete equally with men and often outpace them in raising money, gaining interest group and political party support, and winning elections.
Yet the number of women elected to the U.S. House has expanded only incrementally. The electoral structure limits opportunities for newcomers to win congressional seats and there remains a lower presence of women in winnable contests despite growing recruitment efforts. Burrell suggests that congressional dysfunction discourages potential candidates from pursuing legislative careers and that ambitious women are finding alternative paths to influence and affect public policy.”


burke book

Want to earn some points in your next Sociology class? Check out this book, Race, gender, and class in the tea party: What the movement reflects about mainstream ideologies, written by IWU’s own Prof. Meghan Burke!

From “It has been all too tempting to characterize the Tea Party as an irrational, racist, astro-turf movement composed of members who are working to subvert their own economic interests. Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party reveals a much messier and much more fascinating analysis of this movement. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with organizers and fieldwork at conservative campaign trainings and conventions, its rich ethnographic data explores how the active folks in this movement, specifically organizers in one Midwestern state, understand their world, and how they act on that basis to change it. As this book will reveal, most Tea Party organizers do depend on deeply flawed understandings of race and class—either believing wholeheartedly in myths, or confining their analyses to the narrow limits of the conservative media system. Yet, Tea Party racism is simply American racism.
Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party reveals the complexities and contradictions inherent in this movement, where organizers attempt to reconcile their personal experiences with their conservative politics. In the end, these dynamics reveal as much about us as it does about the Tea Party. It is certain to challenge all of our politics, and especially our scholarly thinking, about the movement, and offers a path toward real conversations about our collective future in the United States.”

“Lincoln in Limbo” Discussion

April 6th, 2015 by

You’re Invited!
Discussion Prior to the Performance of “Lincoln in Limbo”

Monday, April 6
2-3 p.m.
Beckman Auditorium, The Ames Library

lincoln in limboPlease come and join in an informal conversation with actors from the Shakespeare Project of Chicago and director Peter Garino, along with leading Abraham Lincoln scholars Michael Burlingame and Guy Fraker. The discussion will center on literary/dramatic and historical representations of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Later Monday, at 7:30 p.m., the SPC will perform Emeritus Professor Robert Bray’s “Lincoln in Limbo” at the Hansen Student Center. Admission is without ticket and without charge.

Friday, 4pm – German Undergraduate Research Conference – The German Program at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL will host its 4th-Annual German Undergraduate Research Conference during the spring semester of 2015. The purpose of this conference is to provide an outlet for students from any field of research engaging with any area of German Studies to present their research to their peers and to receive feedback in an academic setting. Since this conference is open to all advanced-level undergraduate students enrolled in any university in North America, it will afford those attending not only an excellent opportunity to network with others researching in the field, but also to discuss their own academic and study abroad experiences with students from different universities and academic backgrounds. Presenting at this conference will provide students with valuable communication experience that will be relevant to any field of post-graduation work or study being considered.

Instruction Lab, Room 129

  • Monday, 8am – Hispanic Studies 280
  • Monday, 10am – English 280
  • Monday, 12pm – Moodle Gradebook Overview
  • Monday, 2pm – Hispanic Studies 280
  • Tuesday, 2:30pm – English 352
  • Wednesday, 10am – Environmental Studies 120
  • Wednesday, 1pm – Facebook for your Department
  • Thursday, 9:30am – English 280
  • Friday, 10am – Environmental Studies 120
  • Friday, 1pm – Alumni Board Meeting

Beckman Auditorium

  • Monday, 2pm – Lincoln Symposium
  • Tuesday, 10:50am – Sociology 305
  • Tuesday, 2:30pm – Anthropology 274
  • Tuesday, 7pm – LC 116 Film Showings
  • Thursday, 7pm – International Film Series – “Anna Karenina” (2012, UK), presented by Isaac Funk Professor of German and Russian and Co-director of International Studies Marina Balina.
  • Friday, all day – AABD Spring Meeting
  • Saturday, 1:30pm – Better Test Scores
  • Sunday, 7pm – LC 116 Film Showings

Meeting Room 214

  • Tuesday, 9am – Workflows
  • Tuesday, 1pm – Assessment Committee Meeting
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 9am – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 2pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 12pm – Adam Guo Presentation
  • Thursday, 1pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Friday, 1pm – Alumni Board Meeting

Writing Center Wednesday! – Make an Appointment Now.

April 1st, 2015 by

Have you made an appointment for writing help at the Writing Center yet?

The Writing Center at Illinois Wesleyan University welcomes all IWU students who would like help with their writing. They are open afternoons and evenings during the school year. They’re conveniently located on the first floor of The Ames Library.

quillTutors are students at Wesleyan, and come from a variety of majors. In many cases they’ve taken the same courses in which their clients are enrolled, and have tackled similar writing assignments. They’ve taken the time to complete a non-credit, semester-long course in tutoring.

Their philosophy is simple: help student writers help themselves by acting as sympathetic readers, by asking questions, by helping students evaluate their ideas, argument, content, and style, by teaching writers invention, argumentation, drafting, and copyediting strategies they can use on their own. They help students with all the stages of the writing process, from those first rough ideas through prewriting, collecting supporting material, drafting, and final editing and proofreading. They believe that good writing takes work and benefits from several revisions and re-inventions.

Need additional help as a ESL student? Check out the ESL webpage!


All appointments are now made through an online appointment software. You must have a email account to use our services. Now you can make and change your appointments yourself, with just a click.

Bring hard copies of both your paper and the prompt!

Papers 5 pages or less:  30 minute tutorial
Papers 5-10 pages:  60 minute tutorial
Papers 10-15 pages: 90 minute tutorial
Papers over 15 pages: 2 hour tutorial
All papers are read during the tutorial
If you’re working on a long senior sem paper, establish a relationship with a tutor early in the process.

Priority is given to appointments, but walk-ins are welcome.

The End is in Sight…

March 30th, 2015 by

“I’ll take Research Skills for 2oo, Alex!” Jeopary aired for the first time on March 30th, 1964. While we can’t guarantee you’ll win thousands, you’ll definitely come out ahead by attending the Academic Skills Series this semester.jeopardy Check out this week’s topic – The Ames Advantage: Research Skills for SuccessThe Divisions of Academic and Student Affairs collaborate each semester to present the Academic Skills Series, a series of 10 programs to assist students in the development of and/or strengthening of academic skills needed to be successful at IWU. Students can pick a specific topic to join us, or attend all sessions. (Free Papa John’s pizza provided for lunch!) These sessions are in CNS E101 (no reservation necessary) at noon. We hope to see you there!

Monday, 7:00pm, Beckman Auditorium –  “People’s Republic of China,1949-1989-2029-?: The Place of the 1989 Tiananmen Protests in Modern Chinese History” – This is the first of two lectures to be presented during a campus visit by Li Minqi, an economist from the University of Utah. In 1989, Li was a student at Peking University who participated in the Tiananmen protests; he was later arrested for his activism and spent two years in prison.

Tuesday, 4:00pm, Beckman Auditorium – “China, Peak Oil, Climate Change, and the 21st Century Crisis” – The second of two lectures to be delivered by Li Mingi, an economist from the University of Utah.

Thursday, 4-5:30pm, Welcome Center Auditorium – Kevin Smith, director of the Office of Scholarly Communications at Duke University, will share his expertise on how copyright is practiced internationally, provide some tools to help faculty assist our students — especially those from other countries — to avoid plagiarism, and consider a couple of assignments that help underscore the concepts of copyright. Refreshment will be available. An accomplished copyright attorney and librarian, Smith is well-versed in many aspects of copyright, including international copyright law and copyright in the digital age. His visit is supported by the Mellon grant on Writing in the Disciplines and Information Literacy.

Instruction Lab, Room 129

  • Tuesday, 12:00pm – Moodle Gradebook Overview
  • Tuesday, 1:10pm – English 258
  • Wednesday, 12:00pm – JWP Student Orientation

Meeting Room, Room 214

  • Monday, 9:30am – Network Meeting
  • Monday, 10:30am – Disaster Recovery Meeting
  • Tuesday, 1:00pm – Assessment Committee
  • Tuesday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 9:00am – Star Literacy
  • Wednesday, 11:30am – Theatre Recruitment
  • Wednesday, 2:00pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 1:00pm – CUPP
  • Thursday, 4:30pm – Star Literacy
  • Friday, 2:00pm – Portal Meeting

Beckman Auditorium, Lower Level

  • Monday, 7:00pm – Lecture
  • Tuesday, 10:50am – Sociology 305
  • Tuesday, 4:00pm – Environmental Studies Speaker
  • Tuesday, 6:00pm – Phi Beta Delta Induction Ceremony
  • Wednesday, 12:00pm – JWP Student Orientation
  • Thursday, 9:25am – International Politics
  • Thursday, 10:50am – International Politics
  • Thursday, 1:10pm – International Politics
  • Thursday, 2:30pm – Theatre 372
  • Thursday, 7:00pm – International Film Series – “Shall We Dance?” (1996, Japan), presented by Visiting Assistant Professor of Japanese Ikuko Yuasa.
  • Saturday, 1:00pm – National Society of Leadership and Success Leadership Training Day

Next week –

lincoln in limboA play that imagines the dream-world of Abraham Lincoln’s mind from the time he was shot until he died the next morning will be staged April 6 at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Written by IWU Professor Emeritus and Lincoln scholar Robert W. Bray, Lincoln in Limbo will premiere April 4 at 10 a.m. at the Newberry Library in Chicago, followed by a performance April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hansen Student Center at Illinois Wesleyan. Both are staged by the Shakespeare Project of Chicago, an equity company, and are free of charge and open to the public.

In what Bray calls “a remarkable coincidence,” the premiere of Lincoln in Limbo will occur 150 ‘Easters’ after Lincoln’s assassination on Easter weekend 1865.

Prior to the IWU staging, a conversation with Director Peter Garino, members of the cast, leading Lincoln scholar and author Michael Burlingame, author Guy Fraker, and Bray will be held April 6 at 2 p.m. at The Ames Library’s Beckman Auditorium.

Bray said Lincoln in Limbo is a “fantasy of imagination and emotion,” as if taking place in Lincoln’s shadow-mind between the time he was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, and the time he was pronounced dead the next morning.

“Within the scenes, Lincoln is sometimes impersonating himself, sometimes having events control him, sometimes both at once,” said Bray. In the play, Lincoln is attempting to take care of “unfinished business” in his life. Although a work of fiction, Lincoln in Limbo features individuals who played prominent roles in Lincoln’s life, including Ann Rutledge, whom some historians believe to be Lincoln’s first love; Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who was Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker and confidante; and Francis Bicknell Carpenter, painter-in-residence at the White House while working on his painting The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Even though he is a professor of literature and not a historian, Bray’s Lincoln works has been widely praised. Bray is the author of Reading with Lincoln (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010), the winner of the 2010-11 Illinois State Historical Society’s Russell P. Strange Memorial Book Award and runner-up for the Lincoln Prize. Another Bray book, Peter Cartwright: Legendary Frontier Preacher (University of Illinois Press, 2005), examines the dynamic relationship between Cartwright, a Methodist revivalist, and Lincoln as political rivals in a Congressional race in 1846. Bray also co-wrote the play Lincoln’s In Town! with Bloomington playwright and journalist Nancy Steele Brokaw ’71. Bray retired in 2014 after teaching at IWU for 44 years.

What’s New Wednesdays – Kindle Titles!

March 25th, 2015 by

Did you know that in addition to checking out some physical books for reading for fun (popular reading collection on the entry level) you cankindle check out a Kindle and borrow books electronically?

Use this form to reserve a Kindle and use this form to request a Kindle title if you don’t see one you’re interested in reading. For Kindle titles, allavailable titles can be browsed/searched through Amazon. The maximum price for a requested Kindle title is $20.00.

We’ve got over 300 titlesavailable on Kindle – here are some of the newest titles.

Bleeker, Emily     Wreckage

Pulley, D. M.     Dead Key

Lackberg, Camilla     Hidden Child

From – The brilliant new psychological thriller from worldwide bestseller Camilla Läckberg—the chilling struggle of a young woman facing the darkest chapter of Europe’s past.

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her hidden childlate mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death. Detective patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother’s wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica’s past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be . .

Heitzmann, Kristen     Rose Legacy

Reiss, Tom     Black Count: Glory Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

Theroux, Paul     Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories

Hollis, Rachel     Party Girl

Hyde, Catherine Ryan     Take Me With You

Moriarty, Liane     What Alice Forgot

From – Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

what alice forgotSo imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (agym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

Hawkins, Paula     Girl on the Train

Ng, Celeste     Everything I Never Told You

Genova, Lisa     Still Alice

Strayed, Cheryl     Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Tail

Patterson, James     Hope to Die

Kellerman, Jonathan     Motive

Tyler, Anna     A Spool of Blue Thread

Hannah, Kristin     Nightingale

Allen, Sarah Addison     First Frost

Grossart, Chuck      Gemini Effect

From – From its first sentence—“The extermination of the human race began in a salvage yard”—The Gemini Effect blazes out of the gate and never slows down. Based loosely on genetics research conducted during World War II, the story races through a complex and devastating arc of conspiracy and mayhem with breathless abandon.

gemini effectFor a debut novelist, Chuck Grossart tells a tale with surprisingly little fat, and the book’s breakneck pace was a big part of why it won the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. But it’s not only fast. The awards committee and I also loved the book’s “good guys,” particularly two admirable women—biowarfare specialist Carolyn Ridenour and US vice president Allison Perez—whose unerringly noble motivations provide the few moral beacons in Chuck’s apocalyptic world, where everyone faces imminent risk.

What I love best about this story, though, is its commitment to upping the ante, again and again, chapter after chapter. I lost track of how many times I paused to ask no one in particular, “Wait, there’s more?” And until the very end, there’s always more: more stunning plot twists, more cliff-hangers, and more at stake in how it all plays out. As the conspiracy unfolds and the death toll mounts, we’re driven toward a surprise that forces us to stare into the mirror and face the often violent lengths we’ll go to to preserve our way of life.

Yet The Gemini Effect is still a hefty dose of screaming fun. So buckle up and settle in for a wild, white-knuckled ride.

Munshower, Suzanne     Younger

Sheehy, Gail     Darling: My Passages


Trial Tuesday – Test this Database!

March 24th, 2015 by

We now have a trial for Routledge Handbooks Online.

The collections covers a broad range of classic and current research and future trends in subject areas in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Available through May 12, 2015. This resource is available on campus only.

Routledge Handbooks Online brings together the world’s leading scholars to provide a cutting-edge overview of classic and current research and future trends in the Social Sciences and Humanities, while at the same time providing an authoritative guide to theory and method, the key sub-disciplines, and the primary debates of today. Every title within RHO is surrounded with meaningful metadata and abstracts at a chapter level, making it fully searchable and browsable, providing a functionality of greater value to the student and researcher.

Key Features:

  • All chapters are accompanied by an abstract and rich metadata that make searching and research more efficient and effective
  • Intuitive search tools enable users to find exactly the material they need across the Handbooks’ and Companions’ multiple subject areas
  • Peer-reviewed content ensures quality of research
  • Over 11,000 chapters from 320+ volumes available at launch
  • Expansive coverage of 18 subject areas including Sociology, Linguistics, Education, and Asian Studies
  • All titles DRM-free
  • Content available as HTML and PDF
  • Full text DOIs, OpenURL, and Usage Statistics to aid discoverability and help ensure library patrons are accessing the materials they need.

Routledge Handbooks Online features collections in the following areas:

  • Archaeology & Classics
  • Asian Studies
  • Business & Economics
  • Communication,  Journalism, Media & Culture
  • Criminal Justice & Criminology
  • Education
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Health & Social Care
  • History
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Security Studies
  • Sociology
  • Sport & Leisure
  • Tourism, Hospitality & Events Management

Tech Tuesday – New Database!

March 24th, 2015 by

Ames Library has just signed up for a new database! The Kanopy streaming video database is available for use in classrooms and wherever else you need it.

KANOPY logoHere’s your chance to watch entire films or preview many interesting titles!  Kanopy offers a broad selection of over 12,000 films and documentaries, featuring such producers as Media Education Foundation, Criterion Collection, PBS, California Newsreel, HBO, Kino Lorber, and more.

Search Tips

  1. To look for an exact title or phrase, put your search terms in quotation marks (e.g. “Killing Us Softly”).
  2. Include “AND” between search terms to view results that must contain both words (not just either word).
  3. Having searched for keywords, use the filters on the left side of the search results page to narrow your search (by category, producer, year of production, etc)

The library welcomes your feedback on this resource.  Please send comments to Marcia Thomas,

Sayles/Renzi Film Festival

March 23rd, 2015 by

film festivalOn March 25th and 26th, we will be hosting acclaimed filmmaker John Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi on campus. In support of their visit, we will be sponsoring a John Sayles mini-film festival during the week prior to and during their visit. Sayles and Renzi will be attending classes, meeting with faculty, students, and staff during lunches and dinners, and will be giving a public talk after the screening of Amigo, one of their more recent films starring academy award winner Chris Cooper. In addition, Sayles, who in addition to having been nominated for two academy awards, is a MacArthur Award winner and a National Book Award finalist,  will be giving a public reading of some of his fiction. More about the film festival and their visit during our meeting.


From Sayle’s website: “Sayles’ career as a storyteller BEGAN WITH HIS FICTION. HIS FIRST NOVEL WAS Pride of the Bimbos (1975), FOLLOWED BY Union Dues (1978, nominated for National Book Award and National Critics’ Circle Award)). Los Gusanos (1990) CAME NEXT AND THEN short story collections The Anarchists’ Convention (1979) and Dillinger in Hollywood (2004)THE epic historical novel A Moment in the Sun  IS HIS MOST RECENT NOVEL, PUBLISHED IN 2011 BY MCSWEENY’S.

Fiction brought him to the attention of legendary director/producer Roger Corman, for whom he wrote screenplays for such B classics as Piranha, Battle Beyond the Stars and The Lady In RedContinuing to work with directors who had developed in the Corman school, he penned The Howling and Alligator, two works that helped establish a new, more self-aware horror film tradition.

Screenwriting is still Sayles’ primary profession, and credited or not, he has been able to work in a myriad of genres- Western (The Quick and the Dead), techno-thriller (Apollo 13), action (Men of War), monster flick (Mimic), romance, historical epic, animated features- crafting over sixty screenplays-for-hire over the years.  The job has allowed him to work with directors such as John Frankenheimer, Steven Spielberg, Jonathan Demme, Sidney Pollack, Billie August, Ron Howard, Sam Raimi, Joe Dante, Rob Reiner, and James Cameron among others, and get a view of their storytelling process.

Secaucus 7 was a surprise success, one of a number of films in the early 80’s that began to be described as part of ‘the independent film movement’.  The Sundance Film Institute and its make-or-break Festival did not yet exist, but with each subsequent indie film Sayles and his collaborators found more company, and competition, at the theatrical box office.  Standing out from the crowd is always a challenge for a filmmaker, and Sayles’ work was notable not only for its rapid increase in technical mastery (breaking the $100,000 budget barrier didn’t hurt) but for the eclectic, ever-changing array of subject matter.  Lianna (1983) was a tight family drama about a wife and mother dealing with the realization that she is a lesbian, whileBaby It’s You (1983), Sayles’ first studio backed (and virtually abandoned) film, dealt with the life crisis of a Jewish girl catapulted from working-class Trenton to Sarah Lawrence college in the wild mid-60’s.  Cult classic Brother From Another Planet (1985) followed a three-toed alien stranded in Harlem attempting to ‘assimilate’.

During a lull in financing, he had the opportunity to direct three early rock videos for Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA, I’m on Fire and Glory Days.

Finally able to raise just enough money to shoot Matewan (1987) an extremely ambitious low-budget pseudo-Western about a bitter, violent coal miners’ strike of 1920, Sayles continued to explore different territory each time out.   Eight Men Out (1988), based on Eliot Asinof’s classic non-fiction account, explored the Black Sox Scandal of the 1919 World Series, while City of Hope (1990) is set in a decaying, eastern-urban city and features a complex web of politics and crime that foreshadows the HBO series The Wire.   Passion Fish (1992)a sadVespa-portrait-e1333472182505, romantic trip to Cajun country in Louisiana for a story of two women who help each other rebuild their lives, won Sayles his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Sayles’ first feature shot outside the U.S was The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), based on a children’s book about a young girl descended from a selkie (seal-woman).  Lone Star (1996),also garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, took place in a town on the Texas-Mexico border and dealt with race, memory and legend.   Even further afield was Men With Guns (Hombres Armados, 1997), a political parable set in a fictional Latin American country (nominated as Best Foreign Language Film for the Golden Globes).  With dialogue principally in Spanish, it remains one of the few instances where the long tradition of foreign directors coming to Hollywood and working in English has been reversed.

Limbo (1999), another studio-backed film, took Sayles to Alaska, ‘where Nature is big and people are small’ and provoked controversy everywhere it played with its 70’s-style open ending.  The next picture, Sunshine State (2000), took place at the extreme opposite end of the country in a multi-character tale of roots and real estate on a Florida tourist island.   As usual there were familiar faces from other of Sayles’ films as well as newcomers.  Over the years he has been able to work with excellent actors on several different stories, actors like David Strathairn, Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Morton, Angela Bassett, Mary McDonnell, Gordon Clapp, Mary Steenbergen, Vanessa Martinez, Bill Cobbs, Susan Lynch-  the list goes on.

One of Sayles’ short stories became the mico-budgeted Casa de los Babies (2003), shot in Acapulco with a knockout American/Mexican cast.  Silver City, rushed into production for the election year of 2004, was much more specific in its politics than previous outings, and marked his fourth collaboration with noted cinematographer Haskell Wexler.

Honeydripper (2007), about the origins of rock and roll in the deep South, was shot in Georgiana, Alabama, where country legend Hank Williams grew up. Danny Glover, Charles Dutton, Stacey Keach, R&B legend Mabel John, singer-songwriter Keb Mo and Austin guitar sensation Gary Clark Jr. combined their talents for a feel-good movie with a memorable soundtrack, winning an NAACP Image Award for best independent film.   His latest film,Amigo (2011) deals with a suppressed aspect of our history, the Philippine-American War, and was nominated for the Filipino equivalent of the Oscar in several categories.

Sayles continues his work for hire on features and television series, as well as writing original scripts.  He will be shooting his 18th feature, currently titled Go for Sisters, this summer.


Maggie Renzi has been John Sayles’ creative partner since 1978 and she has produced nearly all of his movies.

From Maggie Renzi’s page: She has also acted in many of them. Renzi and Sayles were students together at Williams College in the early 1970s, and have been together since 1973.

Before becoming a fulltime producer Renzi had worked as a bookstore clerk, a pediatric receptionist, a substitute teacher, a casting assistant, a talent agent’s assistant, and for two years as a salad chef in Southern California. She began her acting career as a child at the Williamstown Theater Festival, where she continued to perform into her twenties. Renzi began her professional association with Sayles when she played a leading role in his first film,The Return of the Secaucus Seven, where she was also Unit Manager and Assistant Editor.

For John Sayles, Maggie Renzi has produced Lianna, The Brother from Another Planet,Matewan, City of Hope, Passion Fish, The Secret of Roan Inish, Lone Star, Men With Guns,Limbo, Sunshine State, Silver City, Honeydripper, and Amigo.

In addition to mastering the highly specialized craft of producing thematically ambitious films on small budgets, under often adverse conditions, Renzi has made key creative contributions to many of Sayles’ films-suggestMaggie-on-Amigo-Set1ing that Louisiana was the perfect location for Passion Fish, for example, and discovering the novel by Rosalie K. Fry that Sayles adapted as The Secret of Roan Inish.

Since her linchpin performance as Kate, who hosts the weekend gathering in The Return of the Secaucus Seven, Maggie Renzi has also played featured roles in many of the movies she has produced. She is especially memorable as Sheila the friendly neighbor in Lianna, as the social worker Noreen in The Brother From Another Planet, as the Italian immigrant wife Rosaria in Matewan, and as the American tourist glued to her guidebook in Men With Guns. She also appeared in Jonathan Demme’s film Swing Shift (1984) and in Key Exchange(1985).

“It’s pretty interesting to have a record of yourself aging on film.” Renzi says. “In Secaucus Seven I was 28 years old and I weighed 118 pounds. By the time I saw myself in Passion FishI thought, ‘I think I’m gonna wait until I’m a genuine old lady before I go in front of a camera again.’ Also, I really like producing. It’s where I am most fully myself at work, more than I am as an actress.”

In 2000 Renzi produced, in partnership with Sarah Green and Martha Griffin, Karyn Kusama’s acclaimed debut feature Girlfight. The film went on to win several international festival awards (including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance) and the Independent Spirit award as Best First Feature. The film’s star, Michelle Rodriguez, also won critical acclaim and several awards for her performance as a young Latina pursuing a boxing career. Co-Executive Produced by Sayles and Jonathan Sehring of IFC Films, Girlfight featured Jaime Tirelli (Hector in The Brother From Another Planet) as the heroine’s show-me trainer.

According to director Karyn Kusama, “Maggie has a very dynamic personality,” “so she moves things through when most people couldn’t. She’s persuasive and charismatic. Those are very important qualities for someone who has to be diplomatic with a host of different people, and at times forceful with those same people.”

“Different producers have different styles,” Renzi asserts. “Mine is very hands on. Even now, I’ve been doing it for twenty years, I’m still up and on the set at morning call and I eat with everyone else and I wrap out the day with everyone else. My job is really about fulfilling the director’s vision. I think particularly as a woman it’s taken me a long time to really sit in my own chair. But also it doesn’t really suit the independent style to be too much of a show-off about being a producer.”

Most recently, Renzi was an Executive Producer with Sayles on the Alejandro Springall movie, entitled Morirse esta en Hebreo or My Mexican Shivah.


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