Visiting the “Hoop Hall”

Hoops Field Trip 2016

On Friday, November 4, 2016, Dr. Rich Miller lead two sections of his Seminar for Freshmen on an all-day field trip to Springfield, MA, to visit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (or “The Hoop Hall”) to study, enjoy, and experience the rich history and cultural legacy of basketball in the US and beyond.

Hoops Field Trip 2016

For ten weeks, the “Hoop Dreams” classes studied basketball history in the US looking at issues of race and gender and the importance of high school and college basketball in paving the way for racial integration and equal rights for women and minorities. Students began their visit on the top floor of the Hoop Hall star gazing at all the legends of basketball and learning about the often difficult roads many had to success.

Hoops Field Trip 2016

Moving to the lower levels, students enjoyed interactive exhibits as well as the many exhibits showcasing uniforms, famous games, players, and the impact of basketball, past and present, on race relations, gender equality, and the role sport, played, and still plays, in the fabric of American identity.

Hoops Field Trip 2016

In addition to teaching his usual SF 178 in the Fall semester, Miller also taught an Honors section of the same course but themed this section around female and Native American hoop history and concerns. This Honors section blazed new ground and may be the first undergraduate course taught with this particular focus.

Ending the day, Dr. Miller joined the students on the Hoop Hall’s full size basketball court to shoot some hoops and discuss how returning to the Hoop Hall again and again with his classes opened his eyes to new ways basketball may be studied using a variety of media, texts, and themes.

Hoops Field Trip 2016


A Bewitching Assignment

From “Witches and Wizards” Seminar for Freshmen to “American Literature” with Professor Armbruster

When you grow up in New England you have to learn about the Salem Witch Trials. I lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut, where there is a history of witch trials and I was fascinated to learn more about this period of history. When I had to choose a freshman seminar I was drawn to Professor Armbruster’s “Literary Witches and Wizards” course. The course turned out to be perfect because it blended classical literature and history such as reading books like Macbeth and The Crucible and reading current events essays and news articles such as those found in the New York Times and the Huffington Post. In class we would talk about the past, but we would also discuss how the term “witch” is used today, particularly since the election of 2016.

I’m a Witch! What about you?
Are you- A witch- as well?
Then we should join forces!
Don’t confess! We would be shamed- understand!

Very dull- to be- Normal!
Very common- like a Thread-
To stitch a record- the sharp needle-
With all our faults!

A poem inspired by Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” by Chianna Calafiore

Women are knocked down for trying to have the confidence to rise above social norms and expectations. We might think the Salem Witch Trials are over, but the witch hunts will never end. It was also very exciting to get the chance to visit Salem, MA, with some of my fellow classmates. It was a real eye-opener to visit a beautiful place but know that in the same place women suffered for being accused of witchcraft. Nobody will ever truly understand a time in history unless they explore the place where it all happened, which is what we got to do with Professor Armbruster.

Because I enjoyed the classroom environment created by Professor Armbruster, I enrolled in her American Literature survey course the next semester, English 217 (Spring 2018). Early in the semester, we received an assignment to write a poem on any subject we wanted but in the style of Emily Dickinson, the poet we were studying alongside Anne Bradstreet. Dickinson’s poems are unique because she wrote with dashes and used metaphors that hold numerous meanings. I chose her poem “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” because in this poem, Dickinson is telling someone not to publicize themselves in order for the word not to spread.

This poem made me think about how today women are scared of being called and publicized as a witch. But, in another way, contrary to Dickinson, some women like to be referred to as a witch because this makes them feel empowered and different from the rest. That’s what the last stanza of my poem reflects on. What I meant by the words “to stitch a record” is that documents are there forever, so if people see you as a witch in your day, then people in the future will think the same way. I wanted mine to be a poem where the reader would have to sit back, think, and take in the words within each line. I really loved this assignment, and I especially liked the way Professor Armbruster enabled me to connect content from my Seminar for Freshman to content in my American Literature course.

Chianna Calafiore, class of 2021


At the MIT Plasma Fusion Center

On a Tuesday morning in November, “Sustainability, Energy, and Technology” class visited the MIT Plasma Fusion Center to learn about the research performed there to enable nuclear fusion.

mit-tour-1Our tour guide was a highly knowledgeable and articulate third-year MIT graduate student; he first described the process of the nuclear fusion that occurs in the Sun, the benefits of nuclear fusion should the technology ever become viable, and the extreme difficulty in engineering controlled nuclear fusion on Earth.

mit-tour-2He then described the necessity of understanding the properties of plasmas to the problem of designing a fusion reactor that puts out more energy than takes in. The temperature at MIT’s nuclear fusion reactor, Alcator C-Mod, routinely exceeds 30 million degrees Celcius, twice as high as that of the Sun. Since this unimaginably high temperature would melt any real world container, the plasma inside the reactor is confined by a magnetic field in the shape of a torus; this type of a reactor is called a Tokamak, which is a Russian acronym for toroidal chamber with magnetic coils.




We visited the control room where researchers use computers to set-up, control, and monitor experiments in the fusion reactor.  We visited at a time where the reactor wasn’t running, so the control room was nearly empty.


We then put on hard hats and visited the area that houses Alcator Mod-C.


Since the energy requirements to run Alcator Mod-C are way beyond the energy generating capabilities of the local utilities, a 75-ton flywheel (housed in another building) is used to provide the necessary power.

More about this once-in-a-lifetime trip can be found on the students’ blogging assignments, which are linked to at 

Submitted by Professor Lisa Shatz

“Idea of America” class explores the USS Constitution

On October 21, 2016, Professor Gregory Fried and his “Idea of America” class traveled to the USS Constitution Museum in Boston. The main exhibit is the USS Constitution – nicknamed “Old Ironsides” – which is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, since its official launch in 1797.uss-constitution-furling-the-sails


The USS Constitution is an American icon, as it was one of the first commissioned ships of the United States Navy and named by George Washington after the Constitution of the United States.


With the guide Randy Foreman


The vessel has constantly been repaired and preserved since the year 1800, and provides students and tourists alike with a unique experience to witness and learn how the concepts of liberty and independence transformed the United States of America. Students were shown what it was like to live and work aboard the ship over 200 years ago. They also had the opportunity to witness some of the innovative technologies used on the ships of that time.

Student Humza Usman recalls:

The guide was telling us stories about individuals who were on these ships and how they got there. It really personalized the whole experience during the tour. Obviously the best part of the trip was going on the ship itself. It was really interesting to see the different parts of the ship and learn about how the crew worked every day.

Whereas the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution created an independent nation from the English empire, it was the American people that swore to fight and protect and uphold the values created by these transformative documents. Students signed their names into the new copper plates that will be fitted on to the USS Constitution’s hull during its renovation.

The USS Constitution is a staple of the early United States, marking its fresh beginning as world power. The USS Constitution and museum feature the outstanding features of American pride and nationalism, making the idea of America what it is today.

in-front-of-the-uss-constitution-2          boston-harbor

 Submitted by John Burke, student reporter, class of 2018

“Brave New Worlds” Tour of the Museum of Fine Arts

After watching the film Midnight in Paris (2011), which highlights art museums and monuments in and around Paris, including the Musée Rodin and Monet’s garden at Giverny, students in Professor Leslie Eckel’s Honors Seminar for Freshmen “Brave New Worlds” toured the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on October 4, 2016.

Together, the class explored the Art of Europe galleries, concentrating on the works of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, Degas, and van Gogh. In Midnight in Paris, director Woody Allen brings many of these famous figures to life as the characters travel through time to meet their literary and cultural idols in Parisian scenes from the 1920s era of the Lost Generation and then – surprisingly – the 1890s of the Belle Époque.

brave-new-worlds_van-gogh_10_4_2016This seminar examines stories of travel, exile, and cosmopolitanism against the backdrop of the city of Boston and encourages students to consider studying abroad during their college experiences at Suffolk.

Student Adrianne Cormier reflects, “Our trip to the MFA has been a new kind of travel experience for me because I was able to see how people perceived the world at different points throughout history. You are able to ‘travel’ to specific places through art, much like literature.”

An imaginative adventure indeed!


submitted by Professor Leslie Eckel, October 2016


A Visit to the 18th-century Printshop

“Problems and Solutions in American History ” class visited the Printing Office of Edes & Gill near the Old North Church. For one of class assignments students read early 19th-century newspapers.

probems-and-solutions_bob-allison_trip-to-18th-cent-printing-press_10_4_2016At Edes & Gill students met a historian and master printer Gary Gregory, who demonstrated how an 18th-century press worked and how the papers were produced. Students’ blog entries tell the story:



“Enlightened Insanity” Walk with professor Allison

On September 22, 2016 Professor Robert Allison led Honors Seminar “Enlightened Insanity” taught by Professor Barbara Abrams on a Boston walk-about. We discussed the impact of the French Enlightenment on the leaders of the American Revolution, and the influence of U.S. Colonial thinkers of 18th Century on the French in a time of great turmoil change for both countries.



We visited the Granary Burial Ground and the graves of Peter Faneuil and Paul Revere. Then we saw the Birth Place of Benjamin Franklin and moved on to the Latin Grammar School on School Street where we discussed the friendship of Voltaire and Franklin.


enlightened-insanity_bob-allison_tremont-st-students-horisontal_9_22_2016Next on to the best part of the visit… the monument to St. Sauveur and King’s Chapel, where we heard the story of the best friend of Louis XVI who was killed in a mob riot in Boston Harbor. We had a wonderful time!

Thank you, Professor Allison!

submitted by Professor Barbara Abrams, 9/2016

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