Sports Medicine, or What to Do (Before and) after You Hit the Wall


Dr. Marnie Vanden Noven of the Department of Sport Science at Belmont began last night’s Seminar by asking this hard-working group of Scholars “What do you play?” Some answered with sports and some with music, but whatever the activity, Dr. Vanden Noven emphasized that “play will make everything easier,” from academic work to relationships.

Of course, play among children can lead to injuries (especially when adults get involved!), and Dr. Vanden Noven discussed the most likely scenarios that produce injuries.  She then gave the Scholars a definition of Sports Medicine: “a multi-disciplinary approach to health management including physiological, biomechanical, psychological, and pathological phenomena associated with exercise and sports” which “generally focuses on areas of performance enhancement, injury care, prevention, and management.”

Dr. Vanden Noven then showed some videos that explained how sport science research can help with the prevention of injuries. One video demonstrated the difference between a baseball player hitting a padded wall vs. hitting a part of the wall without padding. Another discussed the prevalence of injuries of both football and soccer players when competing on artificial turf. She then asked the Scholars to think about a case study in which a high school basketball player had been injured on an improperly prepared court, and then was injured further when, dazed from her head injury, she fell off a training table. Who had been most responsible–the athlete? the coaches? the athletic trainer? her teammates? the school?

For the final portion of the Seminar, Dr. Vanden Noven divided students into groups and had them practice applying elastic wrap in spiral and figure-eight patterns to each others’ forearms and hands (click on images to enlarge). The Scholars found it challenging to get the correct tension while wrapping in a pattern that would provide the most support.

Then, for the “shocking” finale, she broke out a small Neuromuscular Electric Stimulator, which she used to cause her volunteer to (involuntarily) raise and lower her arm and turn her wrist. These tools and many more help athletic trainers and physical therapists restore movement and confidence for people who have suffered losses from illness or injury.

Dr. Vanden Noven closed by encouraging interested Scholars to find out more by doing research as well as just by observing what athletic trainers do. “Whatever you end up doing for a living,” she told the scholars, “pick something that feels like play to you. It will make all the difference.”


Who’s Playing Whom?

by Dr. Joel Overall, special to the CLASS Seminars Blog

Sound and PersuasionOn Thursday, September 28th, Dr. Joel Overall from the Department of English began his Seminar titled “Sound and Persuasion” by describing the chaos involved at the Paris premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a ballet that sparked controversy among audience members for its discordant opening notes, audacious costumes, and unorthodox dancing. Some audience members at the 1913 ballet responded “with a storm of hissing” while others “began to hit each other over the head with fists, canes, or whatever came to hand.” With this historical scene set, Dr. Overall asked Scholars to ponder the question “How does music persuade?”
 Throughout the evening, Scholars had opportunities to investigate their ownjoel2 experiences with music, keeping this question in mind. As Dr. Overall introduced several analytical terms from the field of rhetoric such as “rhetorical form,” “identification,” and “the graded series” to serve as a lens for analysis of these experiences, he expanded into examples from modernist musicians using the twelve-tone technique to a German musician composing a symphony for the Nazi music organization  Reichsmusikkammer. As a result, Scholars examined their own music listening (and in some cases, composing) practices critically.

Finding Your Place in History

On Thursday, September 7, Dr. Daniel Schafer from the Department of History encouraged the Scholars to think about their connectedness to history through the story of his great grandmother, Eudora Schafer. He showed the image of a photograph taken when she was a baby sitting on the lap of her great-grandfather, who had himself been a baby when Thomas Jefferson was still alive. The message? We’re not as disconnected from the past–even the seemingly distant past–as we might think.

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Dr. Schafer began by differentiating the past itself from history, which he defined as a process by which you come to understand the past. Historians look for patterns of continuities as one means for understanding, but are also aware of the contingent nature of their study–there is always a chance some new fact will come to light.

He then engaged the Scholars in a consideration of history as a series of circles out from their earliest memory of some public event–for the Scholars, it mostly centered on the 2008 election of Barack Obama, while the professors in the room cited their first memory of a public event, which was a bit more ancient: the 1969 Apollo moon landing!

Dr. Schafer illustrated the fascinating historical difficulties that can arise when a passed-down story is tested by documentary evidence, as he traced competing narratives about a traffic accident involving some of his ancestors from family stories and from contemporary newspaper accounts.

He concluded the evening by encouraging the Scholars to think about the histories of every thing around them: a favorite symphony or a book, or even commodities like coffee, sugar, and milk. As Dr. Schafer pointed out, “Everything has a history.”

Changing the World

by Dr. Bonnie Riechert – Special to CLASS Scholars blog.

“Changing the World, One Organization at a Time,” is one way to explain what public relations is, and does, according to students and faculty members describing careers in this field.

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Belmont PR alum Alex Murphy and current PR majors Aliyah Sheffield and Lydia Bailey

“When we work as public relations professionals, we help our organizations do a better job of listening, as well as connecting with people and serving them,” said Dr. Bonnie Riechert, associate professor and chair of the Department of Public Relations at Belmont University. Dr. Riechert moderated a panel of three public relations majors and graduates at a recent CLASS Scholars Seminar.

“All companies need skilled communicators to help them manage and improve their communications,” she said. Public relations graduates can work in any industry – entertainment, music business, health care, education, corporate, nonprofit, government, etc.

Many people don’t know what public relations is when they’re in high school, said Belmont University senior Aliyah Sheffield, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, a public relations major and political science minor. She shared her personal definition: “Public relations takes strategic initiative on challenging issues to create platforms for two-way communications.”

Currently serving in her second internship in the Office of the Governor, Sheffield said sometimes her work involves answering telephone calls and listening to complaints, she said. “People want to be heard.”

CLASS scholars_PR2

Lydia Bailey, a rising junior public relations major at Belmont University, discussed her leadership involvement with the Public Relations Student Society of America ( ). With more than 300 chapters and 10,000 members around the country, PRSSA “advances the profession and the future profession,” and provides professional development at the local, regional and national level. Bailey works as a communications specialist for Belmont Wesley Fellowship (a campus ministry associated with the United Methodist Church) and also works for the Belmont’s Office of Development & Industry Relations as well as the Curb College of entertainment and Music Business. She is from Knoxville and is minoring in marketing.

Alex Murphy, a 2016 public relations graduate of Belmont University from Salt Lake City, Utah, minored in music business. He interned at Kaleidoscope Media and All Eyes Media, and was hired full time at All Eyes Media when he graduated. “I’m doing what I love, working in the music industry,” he said. “Our company is starting to look for summer interns now.”

Sheffield and Murphy both served as president of Belmont University PRSSA and recommended involvement in the organization for students majoring in public relations and planning careers in this field. The panelists emphasized the importance of skills in writing, research and problem solving.

The panelists addressed several questions:

· What is public relations? Why should you be interested in it?

· What do public relations professionals do?

· What skills will help you succeed in this industry?

The presentation also included watching and discuss a video, “That’s real PR,” produced by a team of public relations students at Belmont. The video is accessible on YouTube:


What’s In A Name? (A Lot, Actually!)

Last night, the CLASS Scholars gathered in the Janet Ayers Academic Center to hear from Dr. Marcia McDonald, grad student Alyssa Wynans, and Santiago Sosa, who directed the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Winter Shakespeare production of Romeo and Juliet the scholars attended last week.

Dr. Marcia McDonald answers questions.

Dr. McDonald began the seminar by answering questions Scholars had written down the previous week during the production. She read from books from the 1580s that described the rigid social structure and family relationships of Shakespeare’s London, explaining some of the actions of the Montagues and Capulets. Then she asked the Scholars “to think about how Romeo and Juliet runs counter to all of these assumptions.”

Dr. McDonald also discussed our perception of the play vs. how it was marketed at the time. The examination of a title page of an early paperback version of the play advertised it as “An Excellent, conceited Tragedie of Romeo and Iuliet.” We don’t think of tragedies as being funny, but the word “Conceited” indicated to contemporary audiences that there were humorous elements in the play, as well as excellent wordplay.

Santiago Sosa, director of Romeo and Juliet.

Santiago Sosa spoke next, discussing how he came to Shakespeare as a Hispanic actor when all other kinds of roles in contemporary American plays seemed closed off to him. After getting his start in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Texas State University, he attended workshops and acted with a traveling company before completing an M.F.A. at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He has worked with Shakespeare Festivals in Illinois and Pennsylvania, among other places, before landing here in Nashville, where he had performed in several plays before being asked to direct Romeo and Juliet.

Santiago Sosa creates a sketch of Brutus based on the X-Men.

He answered Scholars’ questions on a variety of topics, from how he found and directed the very diverse cast of this play to how his background in Art helped him as a director. Prompted by one of the Scholars to “Draw something!”, he demonstrated how he might develop concept art for Julius Caesar, based on X-Men comics from the 1990s but reflecting our immersive media environment today. (Sosa’s concept art for Romeo and Juliet is available here.)

Draft Concept for Julius Caesar

Speaking of our media environments, Belmont M.A. student Alyssa Wynans discussed her current project investigating social media performances of Shakespeare plays across a number of cultures and platforms. Shakespeare’s works, it seems, are endlessly adaptable, ensuring the enduring reputation of the man and his plays.

Alyssa Wynans on Social Media and Shakespeare

To close out the evening, some Scholars tried their hand at being directed in the famous balcony scene. After the scholars read their lines, Santiago Sosa explained how a director would find direction for actors actually within the lines of the play. An actor playing Romeo has to figure out how to make “Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven” real for an audience, and Juliet’s “O” in one of her most famous lines has to forcefully express the emotion of the young girl in love, in order to give context and clarity to the rest: “Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Sosa coaches “Juliet” and “Romeo” on their performances.

Some of the CLASS Scholars lingered to talk Shakespeare with our guests after the seminars, reminding us of those famous lines of the bard:

“Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Making a Case for Communication

by Ashley Sanders

On December 1st, forensics team sponsor, Jason Stahl, and students from the Belmont forensics team came to give performances for CLASS scholars. Mr. Stahl began the seminar by explaining what a forensics team does. Forensics, he explained, stems from the idea “to build a case.” So the forensics team works to argue and persuade using a wide variety of communication methods. He explained that there are many different ways to make an argument. One less commonly known way is through performance.

Forensics Team Director Jason Stahl

Madison Kendrick demonstrated this with her performance combining all different kinds of literature to make an argument regarding the way society treats older women. Madison “built her case” by showing various stories that all spoke to the same theme. She used poetry, drama, prose, and even news headlines to demonstrate that women are frequently mistreated in the last third of their lives.


Allison Mahal also used performance to make a point. Allison’s performance, however, came from a single source. Allison performed a scene from a play that spoke to the nature of grief and how people cope.


Next, Janvi Shukla and Laura Durr gave speeches they wrote for public address.

Janvi gave an informative speech on the Sikh religion attempting to inform her audience about the religion’s history, beliefs, and the discrimination they are facing in post-9/11 America.

Laura gave a persuasive speech on dishonorable discharge from the military due to sexuality. She built her argument providing evidence of real cases and personal anecdotes. At the end of her speech, she gave her audience some action steps they could take and had a petition the students could (and many did) sign.

Finally, Finley Sehorn and Justice Sloan debated Blake Simmons and Noah Miller. They debated whether or not the United State should fund germ line editing. The persuasive tactics used by both sides included poking holes in the other side’s argument attempting to discredit them before launching into their own argument.


Each of the students on the team demonstrated different ways you can build a case and make an argument. They all used different persuasive tactics: evoking emotion, providing solid evidence, and attempting to discredit the opposition.

Scholars and speakers talk after the presentation.

Feminism: Who Needs It?

by Ashley Sanders

Belmont English Professor Caresse John began her seminar, “Feminism: Who Needs It?” with a couple of questions – the first question, “Do you believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities?” drew every hand in the room up into the air. The second question, “Do you believe that men and women are equal in our society?” was met with silence. These answers confirmed the progress that has been made by the feminist movement and highlighted the fact that there is still work to be done.

Dr. Caresse John

Dr. John did a brief history of the feminist movement as a whole, beginning with pre-first wave women. There is a lot we don’t know about the lives of women in this time because their stories have been erased or were never told. We do know that they were allowed very little education; they could not have a job, they had no legal or civil identity, or authority. They were at the total mercy of the men in their lives.

The first wave of feminism began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 where 300 people gathered and signed the Declaration of Sentiments: where every “he” in the Declaration of Independence was replaced with “she.” The goals of this convention were women’s invisibility in law and government and the right to vote. There were a few things standing in the way of progress after the convention. The first, there was no national organization in place to keep up communication after the convention. During the civil war, women worked for abolition. After helping to earn black men the right to vote, women’s own right to vote became the main fight of the movement. Every year beginning in 1878, Congress denied women’s proposal for suffrage until finally granting women the right to vote in 1920.

In the time between earning the right to vote and the second wave, America went through the Great Depression, fought in WWII and saw the beginnings of the Cold War. The second wave of feminism began with the Women’s Strike for Equality in 1970 led by Betty Friedan. After achieving the goals of the first wave, the second wave focused on women’s issues big and small dealing with standards of beauty, multiplicity of female experience, reproductive rights and sexual violence. During this wave, the phrase: “The Personal is Political” was coined.

Finally, Dr. John discussed where we are today. The feminist movement has made great strides. We are now living in a time when it’s cool to be a woman; She showed videos of famous feminists, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Emma Watson. These days, “feminism is the fluoride in the water”: it’s everywhere and it’s good for you. We have grown up in that. But there is still a ways to go. We still live in a culture where women are slut-shamed, men cannot cry and BIC makes pens for women. Now to be a feminist means more than just believing that men and women should be equal, it means doing something about it. It means caring enough about the experience of both women and men to try to make it better. Because as Dr. John said, “At its core, feminism is about compassion, all of us being human beings.”