Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Category — In the Spotlight

Samuel Freedman

“Human nature can be broken down into love, hate, ambition, and disappointment,” Samuel G. Freedman pointed out to a class of students that he visited at Baruch College. It can be assumed that someone with extensive experience and vast knowledge of human life and our behavior can make such an argument, and in Freedman’s case, such an assumption would be correct. He is a columnist for Saturday’s New York Times, for which he is constantly interviewing people. He is also a professor at the prestigious Columbia University. However, it is probably his latest book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, that gives Freedman the most credentials as a respectable writer. [Read more →]

December 24, 2008   2 Comments

A Son’s Journey

Author of the well-respected book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, Samuel Freedman discussed the process behind his research and the makings of his mother’s biography during one of my classes. Freedman was very honest when responding to questions asked of him, and was open with information concerning his personal life. As a student, I was amazed at his ability to uncover information about an obscure past. As a reader, I was amazed at his ability to articulate details that might have otherwise been overshadowed. [Read more →]

December 23, 2008   1 Comment

The Warrior Mother

Ben and Frances Richey

Ben and Frances Richey

Awhile back, I attended a reading hosted by the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence program, featuring Frances Richey. She introduced herself as a yoga teacher and poet, a nice coupling of professions. When she revealed that she worked in the corporate world for two decades, I was taken back. When she revealed that she wrote a book of poems for her son on duty at Iraq, and after reading a selection, I almost doubled over – in front of me that night was a mother with a passionate heart, and a poet who definitely knew how to write. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on The Warrior Mother

Prose writes prose

Francine Prose

Francine Prose

When a writer like Francine Prose comes along, you might just ask yourself, “What the heck did I learn in school?” In her recently released title, “Reading Like A Writer”, Prose probes the mind to re-teach the art of writing and reading – Prose and prose go quite well together. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on Prose writes prose

Mermelstein and His Camera

The man in action

The man in action

From the Big Apple emerges one Jeff Mermelstein, a street photographer whose work is generally associated with photo journalism. He is a photographer who has evolved through the ages so to speak – from black and white to color, from manual to auto focus. After studying at the International Center of Photography, Mermelstein has moved on to work for wideknown companies like the New Yorker, the New York Times, and Life Magazine. He also took pictures for advertising purposes for companies like Hewlett Packard, and electronics giant Samsung. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on Mermelstein and His Camera

Samuel Freedman

How do we find the truth of the past? Visiting the class to share his experience of writing a memoir of his mother, Samuel Freedman was the author of Who She Was. What separated Freedman apart from other guests Professor Bernstein had invited before was the sharpness in his language. He could quickly convert his thoughts into proper language that I began to write down everything he mentioned because they were all clear and useful for my Who She Was project. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on Samuel Freedman

Frances Richey

Once we make a decision, it’s often too late to change. For Frances Richey, however, she was able to repair her relationship with her son, Ben. I chanced to meet her at the Macaulay Honors event, hosted on the Veterans Day. Though I did not know much about her background, prior to the event, her poems reflected her internal struggle with her son. In a divided family with separate views on politics, Richey struggled to compromise with Ben. After He was deployed to serve at Iraq, Richey began to realize how selfish she was. In her published book, The Warrior, Richey attempted to reconstruct her fractured relationship with her son. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on Frances Richey

Jeff Mermelstein

When he walked into the room, Jeff Mermelstien exuded an air of nervousness.  He kept his head down and said little as he surveyed the small class and edged his tall body toward the back.  The few things he said were calm and bored sounding as he first opened his mouth to introduce himself and to ask for help setting up.  It was as though he had the distinct impression that we as a class were going to verbally attack him and his art at the first possible opening.  He set up his slides and steeled himself for a blank and humorless hour and a half.  He obviously did not realize the kind of class he was dealing with. [Read more →]

December 17, 2008   Comments Off on Jeff Mermelstein

Sam Freedman



At an instant, when Sam Freedman visited our classroom, one could tell he was dedicated and humble. Barely late at all, he was apologetic of running a bit behind, despite countless valid excuses. What a busy man! I believe a lot of his energy and drive contribute to his successes as a writer, teacher, and human being. When he began speaking about his novel, one could tell he was kind, despite what could be considered mean about his nature towards his mother in “Who She Was.” He spoke as an author should, with words full of color. One thing that struck me as odd was the repetition of the word obscure to describe his mother. It is such an honest word, but I would have used it to negatively describe someone whose character I find to be slightly off, yet he used the word without remorse, as if it was in full of meaning, but dead in the way I am used to. [Read more →]

December 17, 2008   Comments Off on Sam Freedman

Francine Prose: One in a Million

When I walked out of the elevator of the seventh floor of the William and Anita Newman Library Building, I saw posters and flyers telling all that Francine Prose was amongst us.  To be honest, at first I didn’t truly understand the magnitude of having such an accomplished writer at Baruch willing to talk to Macaulay Honors Students about her life’s work.  I soon realized this was a privilege not just a mandatory part of my Arts in New York City course.  Professor Roslyn Bernstein and the rest of the esteemed Baruch College staff had nothing but praises regarding Francine Prose and the novels she wrote, including the book my fellow classmates and I recently read, Reading Like a Writer. [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Francine Prose: One in a Million