Video: Russell T Davies Anti-War Themes from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

Video: Russell T Davies Anti-War Themes from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

I think the deepest theme you find in Russell T Davies work is his anti-war theme. I think that if you look at the first episodes, especially with Eccleston, and as they are later repeated with David Tennant, and we are going to see a little clip from each of those, you find an amazingly deep anti-war strain, because of what war does to human beings — what it turns them into. And that is something that an artist, a writer, dislikes. Because an artist wants to see someone succeed through their creativity and through bringing something important and positive into the world. One of the things I said last time was that I do believe the reason I do believe Who succeeds now at such a level is because its a positive view of our future. As much as y’all like to see zombies eating people and getting shot in barns and all that sort of thing, those are very depressing looks at our potential future. In Doctor Who, the Doctor generally wins and his goal is generally to save humanity. I like that. I would rather live in a future where I get saved than where I turn into a zombie.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: Moffat’s Fear of Everyday Things from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

Moffat's Fear of Everyday Things from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

What’s interesting to me is Steven we most know from Blink, which is an episode he created won his first BAFTA for and it’s quite the scary thing. What Steven likes to do, if you think about recurring themes, is Steven likes to find the fearful things in everyday life. He doesn’t want to invent cheesy fish monsters. He’s not worried about Godzilla — who I hope isn’t so bad in this current creation, but we can’t be sure. We can’t say anything until we see it. He wants to invent fear in everyday life. So, this was a perfect example of it, because, of course, what’s the rule of Blink? Don’t Blink. Blink and you die! Oh my god, how do you not blink. so, that’s right away makes you crazy. That tension and that really makes you scared of something so normal. It’s fascinating. So, Steven is quite and interesting writer when it comes to that.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Q&A on Television with Dr. Rosanne Welch from PolyTrends Magazine – Summer 2014 Issue

Q&A with Dr. Rosanne Welch from PolyTrends Magazine - Summer 2014

Download the PDF version of PolyTrends Summer 1014


Campus Perspective Q&A with Dr. Rosanne Welch By Esther Chou Tanaka

Rosanne Welch is a professor, television writer and producer, and a longtime fan of “Doctor Who.” She’s given numerous presentations and written articles about the show. Welch sat down with PolyTrends to talk about TV, storytelling and the importance of diversity in the entertainment industry.

Why is “Doctor Who” a good show to discuss race and culture?

It’s an excellent example to talk about race because the Doctor travels through time and space. He meets an assortment of people, sometimes on other planets but largely on Earth. Science fiction works best when it highlights to human beings what they’re doing wrong in their humanity. That’s what “Doctor Who” does very well.

For example, there was an episode in which we discover an alien race that once owned Earth, and they all cryogenically froze themselves. When they come back to life, they realize that humans have taken over. Now there’s this clash of how these two creatures can inhabit the same place. Of course they’re talking about the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. But you can do it with fish creatures and humans.

Why is it important to show diversity on television?

People who watch TV are living in the real world. The nicest thing I read about TV once was from a kid who was from a racist family in the South. He said that TV was the only time he saw African Americans as human beings. He never would have heard that message if he hadn’t seen African Americans on television shows. The same thing can be said about the show “Will and Grace.” Gay rights has moved forward in our country largely because of that program. TV lets people into your home that perhaps your own culture would not have let enter. And that’s a huge responsibility.

When books or real-life stories are made into movies, the minority characters are often replaced with white actors. Why?

The problem is that films are made on large budgets, and they expect to make a lot of money. So the first thing they want is Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford or someone who is guaranteed to bring in an audience. Because fewer films have been made with minority leads, they don’t have a track record of proving they can do that. To make the movie more profitable, they tend to whitewash the lead characters.

What can viewers do to change this?

We have to support the shows that give us a diverse cast. That’s why the success of “Grey’s Anatomy” is so important. Shonda Rhimes, the writer/producer, does blind casting. That literally means that when you write a character, you never say what their ethnicity
is. You ask casting directors to send any good actor to the audition. When you look at that show, you have African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans. They’re all blended together in one place, which is what a real hospital would look like.

It sounds like you have high standards for television. Does television have a responsibility to teach?

TV doesn’t have to teach per se any specific thing. But a good, well-written story, like a good episode of “Doctor Who,” will teach empathy, will teach communications skills, and will teach how people should relate to one another.

My husband and I sit with my son and talk about “Doctor Who,” and we’ve done that since he was 8. He’s met Dickens and Shakespeare through the show. When his high school performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” he already had an understanding of Shakespeare. When we visited England, we went to Stonehenge. My son had a deeper connection to it because of the show. I think you should use television and films as a steppingstone to get into stories they claim to represent. See the movie, then read the book.

Book Review: Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni

Book Review: Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni

In a recent Facebook post I mentioned reading more poetry recently (as a preface to quoting Rudyard Kipling’s If).  I’m not sure how Kipling brought me to finally reading some of the work of Nikki Giovanni, but I’ve just finished two of her poetry books back to back and enjoyed each immensely.  First I tasted her newest, Chasing Utopia:  A Hybrid, and then went back to her earlier book, Bicycles, which ends with the poem “We Are Virginia Tech”, a poem she delivered at the memorial for the students who died during the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 where she taught poetry.

I hated to realize that’s the event that brought her work to my attention, but it is, and if poetry is about truth then so, too, should a review of a poet be about truth. Truth is what I found in her work as well as a truly original and inclusive voice.  I say both original and inclusive because she spoke from her own reality – that of being an African American female who grew up in Ohio, studied history in college and works as a college professor and professional writer – but inclusive because if you take the “African” away from “African American” then every thing I used to describe her, describes me, and her work reminded me so much more of our similarities than of our perceived-by-society differences.  True, her frequent references to African American leaders and culture would catch me off – I knew to whom she referenced (I spent my college years wrapped up in Prince mania) but kept realizing she is one of the few poets I’ve read who uses such references primarily and I knew that some people would find that exclusive.  Yet all her poems about love and loss were universal, especially “Love (And the Meaning of Love)” from Bicycles, which called up memories of teenage angst over the one great question we all had:

I wanted to
But you couldn’t

I hoped 
But you wouldn’t

I understood 
Why we shouldn’t

So you declined
And we didn’t 

But it would
Have been fun

If we would’ve.

What I most like about this poem is her ability to sketch out such deep emotion through the efficient use of such simple wording.  She does that again and again.  I a poem also in Bicycles called “I Provide” she lists all the things one lover provides to the other and ends with:

Everything you need
I provide 

Now tell me
Why
You’re not happy

Giovanni uses word layout similarly to one of my favorite poets – e.e. cummings – without employing his love for radical spelling and grammar.  Her poem “Everything Good is Simple” seems to sum up her writing right there in the title.

In Utopia I found more evidence of her earlier, more political writings, the ones that brought her originally to the public’s attention.   Poems like “Note to the South:  You Lost” (which I intend to send to all my Civil War historian friends as a fun thing to let their students ponder:  why if they lost – and after fighting for such a horrendous cause — do we still admire them so?  

Giovanni also considers her poetry – and by extension all writing – political in her piece “The Significance of Poetry”.  In Utopia she writes about jazz as political fodder and about the blues and even the act of loving as a political choice (who, when, how).  I found her work wonderful to ponder and her words wonderful to wander, probably due to the truth behind the lines in “Werewolf Avoidance”:  

Poets should be strong
In our emotions
And our words that might make us 
difficult to live with but I do believe
easier to love
Poet it garlic
Not for everyone
But those who take it
Never get caught
By werewolves
 

Hear more on Nikki Giovanni in her NPRinterview on Tell Me More (from Tuesday July 29, 1014)

More books by Nikki Giovanni

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Video: How to study television writers from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

How to study television writers from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

 

Transcript:

To begin with Russell T Davies, right? When people talk about television I get them to try and look at what were your favorite episodes of a program. Now, go to IMDB and find out who wrote those episodes and now look at the rest of their career. What else have they written that you might enjoy, because clearly they speak to you. Their voice speaks to you. So, the idea of this particular talk is to look at two major writer, one who I just said is Russell T Davies and the other, who you all know, is Steven Moffat. We’re going to talk about a couple of themes that recur in their work and I think make the show more interesting in this “reboot”, that came to us in 2005. Both of them have different strengths, which I find interesting as a person who studies television writing and there are reasons why we like and dislike certain things that they do. So, I think that is the fun thing about what’s going on.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Audio: Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 – Dr. Rosanne Welch on Television and Movie Writing – Day 2/30

Careers in New Media LogoDr. Rosanne Welch

A short interview with Dr. Rosanne Welch (my wife) on the most common mistakes made by beginning screenwriters. (20 min)

Listen to this podcast

Previously in the Dog Days of Podcasting 2014:

What is the Dog Days of Podcasting?

“Essentially, it is a challenge to do a podcast for 30 days in a row.

In 2012 Kreg Steppe was looking to give himself a little push in regards to recording his own personal podcast since he wasn’t recording it very often. That turned into a challenge for himself to record a show everyday for 30 days believing that after 30 days it would turn into a habit. Once it was mentioned to Chuck Tomasi he took the challenge too and they decided it would be a great idea to record starting 30 days before Dragon*Con, culminating with the last episode where they would record it together when they saw each other there.”

Video: The Best Book on Writing for Doctor Who from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the longer presentation, “Doctor Who Regenerated”

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood.

View the entire presentation

The Best Book on Writing for Doctor Who from Doctor Who Regenerated with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

One of the things I focus on right up front is this book, which I have a copy of over there. I highly recommend it if you’re a real fan and you’re interested in the writing of television, because, what it is is a journalist, Benjamin Cook, asked Russel T Davies “Could I email you across the course of the season as your gaining ideas for the show? Could I just ask you what you’re thinking about say at Noon on a Friday night?” And Russell T Davies said, “Sure. That will be fine.” And so he talk about the genesis of his ideas. Starting from the idea of “I want to do an episode where water is dangerous” and suddenly we have Waters of Mars. Right? How do you do that? What is that writer’s process? So that’s what this book is all about. They published, literally, their emails to each another as they discussed and debated each episode of the last season. And so I think it is quite a marvelous book to talk about the art of writing. 

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: Why the 50th Anniversary Episode Works from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Additional Q&A clips from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Why the 50th Anniversary Episode Works from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

I actually think Steven did an interesting thing because one of the things that makes Doctor Who so popular is its positivity. It has a positive view of the future. I mean, I’m not a fan of the whole dystopian — yeah, yeah, the Walk Dead are fine and all that, but I don’t really think the world is going to be so awful and Hunger Games is a really cool book, but I really don’t think we’re all going to be shooting each other on the streets with crossbows in, like, 40 years. And I think most people (inaudible) so, I think while those are popular, I don’t think they have the same lasting loving — I mean, The Doctor is so positive and I think what Steven considered — and so hopeful — I think he realized that by having all the Time Lords be dead and it was this terrible Time War and this genocidal thing, it put a pall over the universe that really didn’t suit Doctor Who. So, this was his chance, if any, to reboot that pall and now we have a positive movement and, you know, if you think about it, one of the greatest themes of all literature is, “Where does Dorothy want to go? Home!” and now Peter Capaldi will — and we want to reinvent the Gallifreyians. We want to see that world, because it was such a cool world. When I watched Tom Baker back — it was wonderful when he went to Gallifrey and your saw all these — and met other Time Lords. In a way, it became claustrophobic to have lost that connection. So, I mean, I think that’s why he did that and I know there is controversy over it — Oh my god, some people love that episode and some people don’t like it. From a writing standpoint, you teach in writing that all drama is based on a decision. Somebody has to make a choice and that episode is only about a decision. Three guys talking about making a decision and then it’s made and none of us expect the one to be made to be the one that got made. Which is the nice twist that he put in there, which we didn’t assume anyone had the right — but, hello, he’s in charge the universe, so he does have the right.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Video: Will we ever see a female Doctor? from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Additional Q&A clips from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Video: Will we ever see a female Doctor? from Doctor Who and Culture with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

I think the reason we won’t is that any trend, any cult, has its peak and it will eventually fade. At some point, maybe 20 years from now, their won’t be a Doctor Who on television and I, I believe for 2 reasons. I believe the network is afraid that’s the thing that would pull audiences away. I believe the writers are afraid if they took that shot and it happened to accidentally coincide with the time when the show starte to fade, everyone would blame the girl. So, it’s almost too difficult. Now I remember learning — I used to teach high school American Lit years ago and I couldn’t figure out why all the novels we would give girls to read were boy protagonists. So I asked like the lady in charge — it was an all girls school, too, a Catholic school — it’s all girls. They were reading all boy coming-of-age stories. So, I asked the woman who ran — a nun actually — who ran the literature department and she said studies had proven that boy’s will not read or care about stories about young girls, but girls — because they are interested in obtaining boys — will read about boys and what they want and what they need and how they grow. So schools had just adapted to that by choosing these novels. (inaudible) Exactly! And so the institutions actually feed into that instead of trying to break it. And it really, really bugs me, so in many ways, I think they’re supposition at the network is that men who love Doctor Who would not watch if she– if he became a she and I think that’s not true, because I would say for y’alls generation — cause my kid’s sixteen — men are much more feminist these days. Thank goodness. We like that in you. All right. Believe me, chicks like that in a boy. But I don’t think — cause the network is run by — and I don’t mean to pick on guys — cause men are lovely, but its run by men in their late 50’s, early 60’s and they’re still thinking like people thought 40 years ago. So, I just don’t think they’re ready to take a chance and I think the smarter, younger guys, don’t want that to be the thing that is blamed because that will continually convince the network that nobody will watch a girl. It’s a big problem.

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.

“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th.  It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”

Summer Reading: My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor My Beloved World

Summer is my reading time, always has been. Whole books get swallowed in a day or two only to be followed by other whole books. Sometimes they are classics I’ve always meant to get to but most often they are books that I find mentioned in articles I read and the mention makes me realize I missed the book the first go round. So I trot on over to my library’s website and put the book on hold. The most current literary gem I’ve discovered is My Beloved World by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She says she wrote it with the help of a poet friend and the lushness of the language attests to that truth. But what I liked best about the book was her relentless positivity in the face of some sad things that happened to her. Rather than wallow in the sadness, as some memoirs do (Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes comes to mind here) Sotomayor uses every sad experience to highlight a lesson she learned and almost immediately put into practice with positive results. The poet’s assistance also shines through on the narrative structure of the individual chapters – they often start with the most interesting piece of dialogue en media res – and then backtrack to explain how she found herself in that moment, making us active participants in the teachable moment.

“What I liked best about the book was her relentless positivity in the face of some sad things that happened to her.”

The other thing I loved about the book is the fact that she vividly recalls the moment she discovered the career she ultimately created – and she credits television for bringing it to her. I’ve often cringed when people told me that old saw about how TV rots our brains. Yeah, sure, I usually say. If you watch a dizzying dose of reality nonsense from capitalistic Kardashians to racist roommates on Big Brother, it rots your brain and wastes hours of your life better spent loving other people (in all ways that word can be understood). But if you actively watch decent stuff studies show you can learn empathy for others as you worry about your favorite characters and wonder how you would behave in similarly difficult situations. But in Sotomayor’s case TV did the other thing it deserves credit for doing. It introduced an impoverished child to the larger world that existed and gave her the goal of achieving entrance into that world through the only doorway offered her – education. Sotomayor discusses watching Perry Mason and realizing that, though the brilliant lawyer was the star of the show, the real power in the courtroom was held in the hands of the judge who told that brilliant lawyer whether or not he won.

The other things Sotomayor does that are refreshing and eye-opening is she frankly discusses the fact that being a single, career-minded, successful woman in the world today can be enough if you nurture a set of deep friends supporting them in their endeavors. Her discussion of how much fun it is to be an aunt brought a smile to my face for all the single women I know. Secondly, she mentioned an assignment given to her in one of her early history classes at Princeton – to do a family history – and how finally asking her mother how she and her father met taught her to see that everyone has difficulties and those should not define a person. Rather, one should be defined by the way they face those difficulties.

Finally, Sotomayor’s memoir puts a face on an experience I read more deeply about in another book I always recommend to my first year college students – Limbo: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar World – the experience of being the first in your family to attend college. The idea that she didn’t know the Ivy League was any more difficult to get into than other colleges so she submitted applications to Harvard and Yale and Princeton, was accepted by all and finally settled on Princeton. Then that her first generation naivete made her originally toss out an invite into Phi Beta Kappa because it sounded like an excuse to sell her a pin for precious money she wasn’t in the habit of wasting. Those are still real experiences for many first generation students and worth seeing come to life in her life.

In many ways her look at the childhood of a Puerto Rican immigrant family in the 1960s was eerily familiar with the Irish immigrant stories from the 1900s from one of my favorite childhood classics – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I can’t say when I’ve enjoyed a memoir more.