Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Chris Saccardo.

Graduate Student Shannon Mancus is one of four recipients of this years Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award.  Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer

Graduate Student Shannon Mancus is one of four recipients of this years Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award.
Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer

References to the Cold War in “Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark” may be lost on most viewers, but graduate student Shannon Mancus hopes to change that.

Mancus was one of four of recipients of this year’s GW’s Philip J. Amsterdam Graduate Teaching Award on Monday, which recognizes her extraordinary contribution to the education of students, both inside and outside the classroom.

Associate professor of American Studies Kip Kosek, who worked with Marcus when she was a teaching assistant for his Modern American Cultural History class last Spring, said her focus has been to create an intellectual cultural dialogue.

“She’s confident, but not overbearing. She leads the class but also lets a variety of voices be heard. She lets them develop their own voices,” Kosek said.

One way Mancus fosters her relationship with students is through the American Studies film club, which she helps lead weekly to lead students as they analyze the deeper meanings behind “Indiana Jones,” “Avatar” and other classic movies.

“We use some of the theoretical frames from American Studies, but also sometimes chat about what was ridiculous or fun,” Mancus said.

Her academic specialities range from American studies, the environmental movement and how media portrays these topics in current events.

Prior to her time at GW though, Mancus spent time on stage as an actress..

At the beginning of the Iraq War in 2002, Mancus was a house manager in New York City for “Nine Parts of Desire,” a play about Iraqi women.

Beyond entertainment, the theatre tried to educate audience members. Night after night, people would leave the production and read information on the Iraq War the house managers posted outside the theater, Mancus recalled.

“Strangers were actually talking to people about things that mattered,” she said.

The experience sparked Mancus’ interest in the influence of theatre, as well as other art forms and media platforms, on social change. Theorizing that there was a potential to leverage media to support issues like the environmental movement, Mancus enrolled at GW to study these connections. A show like “Whale Wars,” for instance, asks a viewer to do and feel different things than Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.”

Mancus has delved into the intersection of media and the environmental movement, her dissertation focusing in how different genres of media have impacted environmental activism over the past two decades.

After serving as a teaching assistant for five classes, Mancus will finally teach her own course this fall. The class, Reading the Environment, will focus on examining the environmental movement through scholarly articles as a part of the American Studies program.

This post was updated on April 3, 2014 to reflect the following:

Correction appended

Due to a reporting error, The Hatchet reported that Mancus had found shows like “Whale Wars” to target an audience more prone to take action, while movies such as the Lorax targeted more passive fans. Mancus meant to imply the two shows simply ask people to do and feel different things. We regret this error.

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The Blossom Kite Festival is one of the best events during the month-long celebration. Ana Cvetkovic | Hatchet Photographet.

The Blossom Kite Festival is one of the best events during the month-long celebration. Ana Cvetkovic | Hatchet Photographet.

The temperature may still be in the 40s outside, but it’s almost time for D.C.’s signature pink and white flowered trees to bloom around the Potomac. But the month-long Cherry Blossom Festival, which continues through April 13, is more than a walk around the Tidal Basin. Don’t miss these highlights:

Cherry Blast: Last year, this dance party was held in an abandoned warehouse. This year, it will take place at Blind Whino, a church that has been graffitied inside and out and transformed into an arts center. The event will feature DJs, live bands and art installations. If those things somehow just don’t appeal to you, the venue itself is reason enough to go.

Cherry Blast will take place this Saturday from 7 p.m. – midnight at 734 1st St. SW. The event is 21+. Tickets can be purchased online and at the time of the event, although tickets tend to sell out.

Kite Festival: Every year, kids and adults gather around the Washington Monument for one of the largest kite-flying events around. This spectacular event features kite-flying contests and demonstrations. Assuming that few college students own their own kite, this event is still perfect to enjoy an eclectic display of shapes and colors (and cute children).

This free event will be held at the Washington Monument this Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival: The Southwest Waterfront Festival is an all-day event located at the home of the cherry blossom trees. The event has more than four stages that will keep attendees of all ages entertained for eight hours. Along with music, the festival will also have a market, beer garden and a food truck park. There will be Japanese cultural crafts and demonstrations to commemorate the original donors of the trees. Make sure you stay for the fireworks at 8:30 p.m.

The free event will be held at the Southwest Waterfront on Saturday, April 5 from 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade: This parade is the grand finale of the Cherry Blossom Festival, one of D.C.’s biggest (nonpolitical) spectator events. Prepare for colorful costumes, eye-catching floats and festive balloons. Don’t miss performances from ‘90s stud Aaron Carter, American Idol winner Candice Glover and Grammy award-winning Regina Belle.

The parade will take place along Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Streets NW on Saturday, April 12 starting at 10 a.m. Spectators can stand along the parade route between 9th and 15th Streets for free, but grandstand seating can be purchased starting at $20.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Morgan Baskin.

Courtesy of Royal Sprinter's Facebook page.

Courtesy of Royal Sprinter’s Facebook page.

Want to take a weekend trip in style without shelling out more than $100 in train fare? Royal Sprinter, the new luxury Mercedes bus company running trips from D.C. to New York, has got you covered.

For $90 one way, you’ll get to kick back in a leather reclining chair with a personal flat screen and DirecTV service, cubby for your bags (to avoid the cluttery nuisance of below-the-seat storage, obviously), Wi-Fi and a foot rest.

The company’s biggest competitor, Vamoose Gold, offers the same amenities (except for the TV) and charges upwards of $60 for a one-way ticket. BoltBus and Megabus, two standard charter bus services that provide wifi and run similar routes, offer tickets as low as $2 round-trip if you’re the first user to purchase them.

Royal Sprinter’s service begins April 11 with D.C. departure times of 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. While the company doesn’t have an online registration system just yet, you can book a seat by calling (202-590-0506).


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Politically active students, prepare to cringe.

Out of the 100 U.S. senators currently serving at Capitol Hill, some American University students can’t name a single one.

When students at American were asked whether they could name a senator by Dan Joseph of MRCTV, a conservative video site, most just replied “no.” Some attempted to answer the question with approximations of names of political figures. But, when asked to name the single from “Frozen,” none had hesitations.

This is concerning for a school that sends the most interns to the White House and boasts its high level of political activity by calling its students “wonks” in Metro stations and Nationals Park.

But the question remains: Could GW do better?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:56 a.m.

Spring Fling: What could’ve been

by admin

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Morgan Baskin. 

Reactions to the Program Board’s Spring Fling lineup announcement have been ambivalent at best, and it’s not hard to understand why: Jay Sean hasn’t had a hit song since the freshman class was wrapping up middle school.

Best Coast. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons license

Best Coast. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons license

Plus, the University of Pennsylvania booked David Guetta, Ra Ra Riot and Magic Man for its spring concert. Yale snagged former GW Fall Fest star Diplo, and Northeastern will feature Snoop Dogg. Our neighbors at American got Chance the Rapper.

This is not to point fingers at Program Board. The group has plenty of financial and scheduling restrictions – and it’s always a highly scrutinized pick. That said, it’s always fun to play a game of what-could-have-been.

Below are artists who cost about $40,000 to book and who had free spring tour schedules:

Ace Hood

The Florida-born rapper is most famous for his 2013 hit “Bugatti,” but it’s still arguably more relevant than Sean’s “Down.”

Mos Def

Dante Smith helped shape ‘90s rap in a way few other artists of his generation did. Although he was more popular in decades past, his contributions to the world of hip hop are undeniable–and for less than $30,000, his show would’ve been a steal.

Best Coast

The L.A.-based indie electronic duo is stereotypical Urban Outfitters soundtrack fodder, but their tracks “When I’m With You” and “Boyfriend” became alternative summer anthems.

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo has helped to define alternative rock for over three decades, impressing critics and amassing a cult following with their nontraditional downtempo rock and quirky stage presence.

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Hatchet File Photo.

Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Cailley LaPara. 

The Class of 2014 may not have showered José Andrés with compliments when GW announced last week that he would be the Commencement speaker. But the city’s globally renowned chef was one of the most notable picks across the country, according to a post by Business Insider on Monday.

Andrés landed on the list alongside the country’s high office holders, actors, and other major public figures including President Barack Obama (who will speak at the University of California Irvine), Secretary of State John Kerry (Yale University), and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen (New York University).

Plus, many of the names on the list have already graced stages at GW. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (Harvard University and Williams Colleges) addressed GW graduates three years ago and International Monetary Fund leader Christine Lagarde (Smith College) spoke at GW this past fall.

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Monday, March 24, 2014 9:32 p.m.

What We’re Watching: Divergent

Promotional Poster for Divergent. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

Promotional Poster for Divergent. Photo used under the Creative Commons License.

Hatchet reporter Tim Palmieri shares his latest cinematic experience. 

Divergent” 2014


If “Divergent” reminds you of “The Hunger Games” its not an accident.

The latest YA novel to hit the big screen, “Divergent” hopes to capture the success of Twilight and the Hunger Games. In a dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions distinguished by their unique characteristics and roles. Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) must choose her faction based on an aptitude test, but when her results are inconclusive, Beatrice soon realizes she is a threat to the structure of their world.

With so many dystopian novels transitioning to the big screen, it’s inevitable that audiences are drawing comparisons with the genre’s most popular story, “The Hunger Games.” Here are the standout comparisons:

Heroine Development

Character development drives these two stories. Beatrice Prior and Katniss Everdeen are both strong females willing to stand up for what they believe is right even if it means opposing their superiors. They both represent an independent, strong female heroine that is sorely lack in many films. While running around in the woods and shooting things come natural to Katniss, Divergent’s Beatrice has to learn to become a warrior and much of the film is dedicated to her development in her new fraction, Dauntless. The spotlight on Beatrice Prior ends up being one of the films highlights due to Woodley’s excellent performance.

Love Interest

The large number of hormone high teenagers hitting the cineplex to see their favorite lovers portrayed on screen means that chemistry and hunk-factor are important to The Hunger Games and Divergent’s success.  Compared to standard young-adult fiction, Divergent’s central romance is refreshingly different. While Katniss finds herself insnared in the typical, almost expected, love triangle, the connection between Beatrice and Four is more developed and becomes increasingly significant to the plot and central themes of the story.

Book to Film Continuity

“Divergent” remains faithful to Veronica Roth’s  novel, but major plot points failure to deliver on the emotional impact of the books. The Choosing Ceremony scene is not as powerful due to little prior development for the audience to understand the relationship between Beatrice and her family in the Abnegation faction. With such a successful book series to guide it, Hunger Game also tries to stick to  original content. But inevitably, the biggest hurdle for both book to screen adaptations is always character development. Like “Divergent”, “Hunger Games” often glossed over the more complex aspects of characters.

Despite these similarities, “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” are two very different stories, but if “Catching Fire” is any indication, there is hope for improvements in Beatrice’s next chapter, “Insurgent.” The exclusion of characters, scenes, and traits makes “Divergent” lose the minute dynamics and flare that made the novel so special, ultimately leaving audiences with a barebones experience amidst traditional plot elements and twists.

Director: Neil Burger

Genre: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Action

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet

Release: March 21

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Photo courtesy of Jay Sean's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Jay Sean’s Facebook page.

Updated: Monday, March 24 at 2:08 p.m.

Rapper and singer-songwriter Jay Sean will headline Spring Fling on April 12.

Sean’s debut single in the U.S., “Down,” shot to the top of the charts in 2009. His other successes include “Do You Remember,” “2012” and “I’m All Yours.”

While his singles featuring artists like Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Pitbull make him fall more in line with R&B, his recent album “Neon” plays more like a reggae boy band, with love-ballad lyrics, acoustic guitars and swooning solos.

American rock group Wavves and DJs Haile Supreme & Congo Sanchez will open the Program Board-sponsored show in University Yard.

“We’re very excited about our lineup because we tried to incorporate a diverse array of musical styles as a way to attract various aspects of the GW community,” said Jon Carfagno, the Program Board’s executive chair. “We really were able to capture GW’s interest in the music scene and the various genres they represent.”

GW senior Abbay Misganaw, known onstage as Haile Supreme, and D.C.-based producer Jeff Franca, better known as Congo Sanchez, toured together last fall with their DJ group Thievery Corporation. Their sound includes mixes of reggae, soul, psychedelia and freestyle hip-hop, and they have covered artists ranging from Bob Marley to 50 Cent.

“We thought it was really important to showcase new talent, and we wanted to take the opportunity to have a student demonstrate their musical talent,” Carfagno said.

Rock band Waaves, best known for their single “Nine is God,” reflect their California roots with a surf-rock style and pop-inspired beats.

The acts follow Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who drew thousands to University Yard last year with their hits “Thrift Shop” and “Same Love.” Other past Spring Fling performers include Childish Gambino, Mike Posner, State Radio and Gym Class Heroes.

Tufts University booked Nelly for its spring concert. University of Pennsylvania landed David Guetta as well as indie favorites Ra Ra Riot and Magic Man for its spring concert. Yale University will have former GW Fall Fest star Diplo, and Northeastern University will feature Snoop Dogg.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Tufts University booked Nelly for its spring concert this year. Nelly actually performed for the school last April. We regret this error.

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Media Credit: The Pizza Underground Media Credit: Morgan Baskin

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Morgan Baskin.

You might not expect a child star who got his roots in the “Home Alone” series to tell a crowd at his band’s show that they were giving him a hard on.

But then again, nothing about Macaulay Culkin’s five member pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band could be anticipated.

Not the German tambourine player telling jokes about the gynecologist, the Kurt Cobain impersonator singing Nirvana songs in the past tense (yesterday I found my friends, they were in my head), or the bizarre, nonsensical interludes of cat images set to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and dancers sporting kitty ears and #PussyJoel T-shirts.

Most of all, nobody could anticipate the Pizza Underground to have a sound so scarily similar to the Velvet Underground or to, surprisingly, not suck. The single electric guitar, tambourine and keyboard were sparse and minimal, a definitive nod to the Velvet Underground’s classic ’60s rock vibe.

The only true departure was the complete lyrical rearrangement to suit the pizza-themed affair: new lyrics include “Papa John says/ when answering the phone/ why give half your pie/ to toppings you don’t like.”

With their black leather jackets and Raybans, they performed punny if not mildly monotonous and jangly covers of “I’m Waiting for the (Delivery) Man,” and “Cheese Days.”

When Culkin brought out his miniature kazoo trumpet and Deenah, the drummer of pizza boxes, began their rousing chorus of “Take A Bite of the Wild Slice,” it seemed like nothing else mattered but this attempt to preserve some semblance of Velvet Underground culture.

The band’s March 21 show at the Black Cat was its 12th show this year year, following a string of performances in New York and California.

The only question left, really, is what would Lou think?

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Courtesy of DC Film Festival Facebook page

Courtesy of DC Film Festival’s Facebook page

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Tim Palmieri.

National Geographic’s Environmental Film Festival is showing a record 200 films across D.C. this month, but one stands out as a must-see.

South African filmmaker Rowan Pybus’s mini documentary “Amazing Grace” follows a young Zambia man named Lloyd Maanyina who is seeking redemption after he single-handedly destroyed thousands of trees to support his family through charcoal burning. Realizing his fatal mistake, Maanyina begins a nursery and sets out on a mission to plant trees.

Pybus’s work earned the first-ever Eric Moe Sustainability Film Award at the National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium Thursday night. The theme of this year’s festival is “Our Cities, Our Planet,” aiming to scrutinize the challenges created by the planet’s urban environments and mankind’s efforts to balance environmental and economic needs in cities.

Thunderous applause and new ambitions filled the venue Thursday as Maanyina slaved over the destruction of trees and painstakingly strived to revitalize the land around his home. The film received six awards across the globe, including Best Film at the UN Forest Film Awards and Best Script at the Ethekwini Filmmakers Association Awards. Pybus said he hopes the film will spread awareness about the dangers of anti-environmental behavior.

“We’re trying every way we can to allow the message of sustainability to be shared and spread,” Pybus said in a discussion after the film. “We have great solutions to share.”

The Eric Moe Sustainability Film Award, given by a jury consisting primarily of environmental activists and educators, recognizes short films for their inventive solutions to sustainability and comes with a $1,000 cash prize.

It was founded by Julia and Richard Moe in memory of their son Eric, an award-winning filmmaker with a passion for sustainability.

“Some of the films were funny, some were serious, but they all celebrated this thought of sustainability that was Eric Moe,” said Shelley Cohen, senior project developer at Ameresco and one of the judges. “I wanted a film that spoke to the heart as well as Eric Moe.”

Runner-up was Simone Giampaolo’s humorous animation, “Hope,” which centered on the interactions between mankind and Earth. One scene depicts a man sitting on the personified planet as it struggles to walk. Similar to Maanyina, the man ultimately fixed his faults, making redemption a recurring theme.

“We still have the opportunity to change what we have, to change what we are doing,” said environmentalist Dianne Dillon-Ridgley. “That redemptive message is a message to us to change. It is truly time to mother nature.”

The festival runs until March 30.

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