Glamour, a definition
A language domination debate, a history of glamour and music experiments, these were the three activities I attended on a very miserable gloomy Saturday. The first event featured Professor Stephen Gundle from Warwick University, the author of the book Glamour: A History, interviewed by Dr.Sean Campbell from Anglia Ruskin University. I never attended a session like this before which essential is a live interview. Sean asked Stephen questions and Stephen when answering faced the audience and when he had finished answering would turn to Sean. There were moments when I thought that the two were reading from two different scripts – one having prepared questions he wanted to ask and the other information he wanted to present regardless of the question. He began by commenting on how “slippery” defining glamour is – its different things to different cultures in different times but it is all about image and therefore requires an audience. Leisure, fame, wealth, sex appeal, and beauty are some of the values associated with glamour and the more of these values a person, object, event or place has the more glamorous it is. Glamour is an appealing combination of trash, class, style, and elegance mixed with a pinch of vulgarity.
Gender roles in glamour as producers, performers, consumers were discussed as well glamour in popular music. One of things I found was missing and only gets a cursory mention in his book is the Black American take on glamour, “pimping” and “bling bling” and glamour in the African context which has roots in African culture and tradition. For example in West African fashion and style, the women wear ostentatious headwraps, adorn flamboyant bubus during lavish feasts and celebrations. If there are no books out there, I suggest someone writes one on African Glamour. I also find out it strange that a talk on glamour did not have any pictures – I think he could have illustrated his talk with a visuals, after all, all the Powerpoint equipment was there.
Which language would conquer the world
If you were to choose the language of world domination would it be Greek or Latin. That was the topic of the debate I attended. Two Professors from each language argued the merits of each language in two rounds of seven minutes each with questions from the audience at the end. Both of Professors came well prepared one brought a Latin cartoon handout and the other dressed in t-shirt promoting the Greek Alexander the Great. A poll was done at the beginning and the end, and Latin won hands down, mainly because it is very predominate in the English language.
You on music – a series of experiments and talks organized by Cambridge Music Education Outreach (CAMEO) probably by far the most organized event that I attended probably because they have a dedicated community outreach project. A series of experiments, hands on activities for children and talks. I took part in the silent disco. We were a group of about fifteen people and unknowingly we were split into two groups listening to different music through wireless earphones. I was in the group listening to the very slow song Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh and the other group were listening to a very fast track from Spice Girls. What you find is that those who are listening to the same song dance in tune with each other, interact more and more likely to remember things about the person who they were dancing in tune with. Other experiments looked at the influence of music on mood, music in movies and in film, music and memories, music and time – I even had a chance to make a 30 second clip for a action packed scene in the Transformers movie. The only downside of this event was to find out what the experiments were about you had to go to the Discovery Zone, a room tucked away in the back that had posters explaining the reasoning behind every experiment. This was all somewhat anticlimactic for me to have to read all this information on a posterboard. I would have liked to have known what my participation meant in the big picture e.g. for the silent disco – did I remember more details of the people I was dancing in tune with.
Food for thought
A book on the history of African Glamour. A talk in Malawi on “pimping” and “blinging”.
If you going to have a talk on something extremely visual like Glamour – why not illustrate it with some pictures.
Debate format – two speakers 7 minutes each, two rounds, first round they put forward their argument and second round they respond to the others argument with time allowed for questions from the audience. A poll should be done at the beginning and at the end to see who was able to change people’s stand point. Speakers should be witty, outspoken, and well versed on the subject. The Chair should do a good job of introducing the subject, controlling for time, handling the poll and questions from the audience. Time should be given at the end before the poll for speakers to summarize.
Children love music! Have activities that basically give children the right to clang on instruments and make noise! If you are going to run a series of experiments come up with a way that allows people to know what the experiments are about and give them a chance to analyse and interpret their results.