March 17, 2020A Simple Exercise to Help Stay Calm in the Face of Coronavirus Uncertainty
Martin Seligman, director of Penn’s Positive Psychology Center, offers a quick and straightforward way to refocus the mind. The situation with coronavirus and COVID-19 is changing daily, and such uncertainty and flux can lead to anxiety and fear. “The human mind is automatically attracted to the worst possible case, often very inaccurately,” says Martin Seligman, who founded the field of Positive Psychology and runs Penn’s Positive Psychology Center. To refocus the mind, Seligman suggests a simple exercise called “Put It in Perspective,” which starts by conjuring the worst-case scenario, which our minds tend to do first, then moves to best-case scenario, and finishes with the most likely scenario. The idea is to redirect your thoughts from irrational to rational.
March 17, 2020The History Behind International Women’s Day
March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 marks International Women’s Day. Kristen R. Ghodsee, a professor of Russian and East European studies at Penn and author of “Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism and Other Arguments for Economic Independence,” talks to Penn Today about how International Women’s Day began and why the U.S. has been late to embrace it.
March 17, 2020Painter John Singer Sargent’s Secret African American Muse
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston explores the relationship between the famous artist and his now-famous model. Thomas McKeller worked as an elevator operator in an elite Boston hotel. His life, which spanned the first half of the 20th century, was largely unheralded. But the countenance of McKeller, who was African-American, is everywhere in Boston, in the work of one of the most prominent painters of the Gilded Age, John Singer Sargent. “There was a very strong backlash, especially by members of Congress — the labels were seen as being revisionist and very strident in their historical content,” said Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, an associate professor of history of art at the University of Pennsylvania.
March 9, 2020With ‘The Sacramento of Desire,’ Julia Bloch Completes a Personal Trilogy
Julia Bloch is the director of the Creative Writing Program in the English Department at Penn and teaches classes such as Writing Philadelphia, Writing Through Music, and The Art of Editing. “The Sacramento of Desire,” released in February by publisher Sidebrow, follows “Valley Fever” in 2015 and “Letters to Kelly Clarkson” in 2012, all influenced by her experiences in California, where she grew up, and in Philadelphia, where she came in 2005 to pursue her Ph.D. in English literature at Penn.
February 26, 2020A Time Traveling Harriet Tubman, Brought to Life on Stage
In English faculty Lorene Cary’s first play, Harriet Tubman toggles between her 19th-century life and a present-day Philadelphia prison where she recruits soldiers to fight with her in the Civil War. Lorene Cary is a senior lecturer who has been teaching in Penn’s English Department for 25 years. She is a celebrated author of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, essay, and now a playwright. Her first play, “My General Tubman,” is on stage at The Arden Theatre Company.