Tag Archives: School of Liberal Arts


FIT being a school of art and design, business and technology, some people don’t realize that high-caliber novelists often visit.

Mostly recently, FIT hosted Helena Maria Viramontes, author of The Moths and Other StoriesUnder the Feet of Jesus, and Their Dogs Came With Them, and chair of the creative writing MFA program at Cornell University. Her most famous story, The Moths, about a teenager’s relationship with her dying grandmother, has been anthologized hundreds of times.

The talk, sponsored by FIT Words, the college’s creative writing club, was called “Writing Your Truth in Fiction,” and Viramontes spoke about how her upbringing as a Chicana (the identity of many Mexican-Americans) in Los Angeles influenced her writing.

We were struck by some of her early inspirations, fragments of her childhood that she alchemized into literary gold.

New roads: “The freeways started in 1959 and finished in 1970. Much of my upbringing was about seeing the destruction of our community.”

The encyclopedia: “Growing up, we had a World Book encyclopedia, but we weren’t allowed to touch it. I’d pick up a volume and run to the bathroom to read it. Whenever I opened a book, it was with a sincere and profound faith that it would inform my life.”

The Bible: “I’d read the parables and stories and recite them to my younger brothers and sisters.”

James Joyce: “With The Moths, I wanted to do a Joycean Dubliners for East L.A.”

Her family: “My first short story began with my mother and my father. I wanted people to know us. I realized I was writing not about my family but a community.”

Hue Too readers, what traces of your childhood inspire you today?


Jack Drescher, MD.

Jack Drescher, MD.

Jack Drescher, MD, one of the world’s experts on the psychology of gay men, lectured at FIT last week about the history of psychiatric views on homosexuality. (He was invited by Daniel Levinson Wilk, Associate Professor of American History. )

Turns out Hue didn’t know nearly as much as we thought we did. For example:

1. Pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud considered homosexuality to be a result of “developmental arrest,” and nigh impossible to treat, but he didn’t judge it as perversion. Only later did psychiatrists pass judgment on it.

2. At the American Psychiatric Association convention In 1972, Dr. John Fryer spoke to the membership about his life as a gay psychiatrist. At that time, a psychiatrist could lose his or her license for being gay, so to conceal his identity, he spoke through a microphone that distorted his voice, and he wore an oversized suit and mask. Creepy!

A landmark 1972 panel on the question of whether homosexuality is mental illness, featuring a moving speech by Dr. John Fryer, right.

A landmark 1972 panel on the question of whether homosexuality is mental illness, featuring a moving speech by Dr. John Fryer in disguise, right.

3. When the APA voted in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the DSM (the official list of mental disorders), it was the first and only time the membership has voted on a scientific matter.

4. Conversion therapy, the effort to change the sexuality of gay people, is now illegal in some places because it is considered consumer fraud. In other words, any claim that it can be “successful” is false.

Hue plans on reading Drescher’s book, Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man, to learn more.


Romney and Obama

If the debates don’t solve anything, maybe a wrestling match will.

Regardless of how many binders full of women Mitt Romney keeps in his desk drawer, Hue finds all this economy talk a little baffling. Who really knows which economic plan, if either, will bring back the boom? To that end, we turned to two of FIT’s Economics professors for a little professional insight.

Paul Clement, assistant professor of Economics:

“Romney has proposed a $5 trillion tax cut without expanding the deficit. Instead he proposed to close the loopholes in our tax code and get rid of some deductions. The problem with that is there’s no way he can raise $5 trillion that way, unless he faces the deductions that millionaires and billionaires have, and that would anger his base.

“I think Obama’s plan will work. This is probably the worst recession since the Great Depression. Companies are not going to invest their money until the economy starts to get better. The government needs to act as the stimulus to get the economy going, to encourage the private sector to spend money and create economic growth. And Romney has offered no specifics as to how he’s going to stimulate the economy.”

Juan DelaCruz, adjunct assistant in Economics (and assistant professor at Lehman College):

“I don’t think unemployment is declining. A 5 percent unemployment rate is healthy. Even the 7.8 percent that we’re seeing this month might be misleading. The labor force has been shrinking over the past four years. Many people are giving up on finding jobs. And 47 million people live on food stamps.

“The economy relies on the private sector. Why not support the private sector to create jobs? I don’t believe governments can produce better products than the private sector. And if you raise taxes on the rich, they’ll go somewhere else. Tax reform needs to happen. If you have a tax code that’s clear and simple, without loopholes, you can lower tax rates for everyone.”

Hue has a preferred candidate (but we’re not telling!). Who is yours and why?


Growing up near Youngstown, Ohio, Assistant Professor of English and Speech Matthew Petrunia never tasted a wedding cake. Instead, the staple dessert at weddings for him was the cookie table—or, more accurately, tables, lined up all around the ballroom, crowded with platters of cookies baked by the couple’s family and friends, enough for every guest to gorge on about 30 of them.

Hue thinks that just takes the cookie.

“The first wedding I went to after moving to Colorado, there was no cookie table,” Petrunia remembers. “I thought it was a colossal joke.”

For an info session for incoming students about Liberal Arts minors on August 23, he decided to bring the tradition to FIT and create a cookie social, where students could mingle with professors in a relaxed, butter-heavy setting.

Matthew Petrunia's cookie table

The cookie table: Starting from bottom right, the cookies are pizzelles, marmalade thumbprints, apple thumbprints, and pecan tarts.

But procuring all those baked goods was no cookiewalk. He drove more than seven hours to Santisi’s IGA Marketplace in Girard, Ohio, and picked up 1,500 cookies, plus 15 pounds of Giannios chocolate candies, then drove right back. (Cookies from a respected supermarket, apparently, can stand in for the home-baked variety.)

The goodies came from a melange of ethnicities: clothespin cookies (a flaky crust with a cream filling), kolache cookies (filled with apricot, poppyseed, or nuts; also called foldover cookies), and buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate), but none of the chocolate-chip variety. “I was interested in bringing cookies they hadn’t seen before.”

The cookie table

The cookie table (again). From bottom, Italian wedding cookies (the white balls), walnut bars, raspberry kolaches, nut kolaches, buckeyes, and kiffles.

He plated the sweets with Fenton Glass and Viking Glass, colorful candy dishes that everybody’s grandmother owned when he was growing up. FIT’s cookie table became a rainbow of glass and jelly.

Handkerchief vase

Giannios candies inside a Viking handkerchief vase

Then the students flooded in, and the treats went like hotcookies. The buckeyes disappeared after just 40 minutes.

“There were polite cookie-takers who took three and walked away,” he says. “Then there was this one girl who had about 20 cookies on this little plate. I like that she lost control.”

Crowds at the cookie table

Students loving the liberal arts (plus cookies)

By the time the room emptied two hours later, just 23 marmalade thumbprint cookies remained. Clearly, at FIT, you can’t have your cookie and eat it too.

By Monday, 22 students had signed up for a Liberal Arts minor. Now isn’t that just the icing on the cookie?