Author: Erin Smith

41 North Film Festival, Nov. 2-5

Presenting another year of cinematic explorations and provocations, the 41 North Film Festival returns November 2-5 to the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. With a lineup of over 20 films, the festival includes panels, special guests, music, and more. This four-day event is free and open to the public.

The opening night film, Time Bomb Y2K (Becker/McDonald, 2023), takes a sometimes hilarious look back at a significant moment of global technological anxiety. Assembling archival footage from 1997-2000 as the world prepared to face the “Y2K millenium bug,” the filmmakers offer both a time capsule and an opportunity to reflect on technological dependency and its implications. Continuing the discussion about technology on Sunday with a different set of questions is Another Body (Hamlyn/Compton, 2023), about a college student who takes us on an investigation into deepfake pornography after she finds herself a victim of it. Both films will offer panel discussions following the films. 

Elephant 6 Recording Co., Friday, 11/3, 7:30 p.m.

On Friday night, the spotlight turns to the Elephant 6 Recording Company (Stockfleth, 2022), an inspiring story about the music collective that gave rise to such bands as Neutral Milk Hotel and the Apples in Stereo, among many others. Core member of the collective, Robert Schneider, who is now part of the Michigan Tech faculty in mathematics, will be joined by Schneider and producer Daniel Efram for a Q&A. A reception will follow this film in the Rozsa Lobby with music by Liquid Mike, helmed by alum Mike Maple (CCM ’19).

Saturday afternoon offers films that expand our field of view on history, culture, and current events. In King Coal (Sheldon, 2023), Elaine McMillion Sheldon takes a poetic look at the people and places of central Appalachia where she grew up; Black Barbie: A Documentary (Davis, 2023) examines Black female representation through the history of Black dolls; and The Mission (McBaine/Moss, 2023), investigates the legacy of colonialism and the death of John Chau, whose missionary zeal led to a fatal encounter in 2018.

The Erie Situation, Saturday, 11/4, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday evening, the festival presents The Erie Situation (Ruck, 2022), which takes a hard look at the confluence of science and politics around a great lake’s toxic algae problem. Co-sponsored by the Great Lakes Research Center, the film will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with filmmaker David Ruck.

32 Sounds, Sunday, 11/5, 7:00 p.m.

More lyrical and contemplative offerings this year include the charming Hummingbirds (Castaños/Contreras, 2023), which follows two friends (one documented, the other not) on their adventures in Laredo, Texas, and the festival’s closing night film, 32 Sounds (Green, 2022), a meditation on the power of sound.

In partnership with the festival, MTU Film Board will be offering Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City in Fisher 135 over the course of the weekend.

Major sponsors of the festival include the department of humanities, the department of visual and performing arts, and the college of sciences and arts. For more information, contact Erin Smith,

The 41 North Film Festival returns Nov. 3-6

All That Breathes
All That Breathes (Sen, 2022) on Saturday, 11/5, 3:00 p.m.

The annual 41 North Film Festival will be held Thursday, 11/3, through Sunday, 11/6, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The festival once again offers an exceptional opportunity for people to gather together and watch thought-provoking, entertaining, and award-winning films from around the world that explore a range of issues, ideas, and personalities. Along with over 20 films (both features and shorts), there will be special guests, educational panels, and other attractions.

The festival has something for everyone, with films that examine the progress and perils of scientific research, as well as those that shed a light on the achievements and challenges of small communities much like our own. This year’s cast of characters includes artists and art thieves, hockey players and range riders, big wave surfers and social justice warriors, as well as a beleaguered laundromat owner who finds herself plunged into the metaverse.

High school students are the focus of two films in the program: Hockeyland (Haines, 2021), which follows high school players on the Iron Range in Minnesota, and Boys State (Moss/McBaine, 2020), a timely and rollicking tale about the lessons of civic engagement at the American Legion’s annual Boys State competition in Texas.

Highlights from this year’s program include 2022 Sundance award winners All That Breathes (Sen, 2022), The Territory (Pritz, 2022), Fire of Love (Dosa, 2022), and I Didn’t See You There (Davenport, 2022). Reid Davenport, who won Sundance’s U.S. Documentary Directing Award and has cerebral palsy, provides us with a literal point of view focused on his daily encounters with ableism, along with his meditation on the legacy of the circus freak show. A panel discussion will follow on disability and being looked at without being seen.

I Didn't See You There
I Didn’t See You There (Davenport, 2022) on Saturday, 11/5, 12:30 p.m.
Hockeyland (Haines, 2021) on Friday, 11/4, 7:00 p.m.

The festival will also present several films that focus on scientific research including The Human Trial (Hepner/Mossman 2022). Lisa Hepner and Guy Mossman tell a very personal story about the patients and scientists seeking a cure for diabetes with an up-close look at research development. Fire of Love profiles French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft and their life-long love affair with volcanoes, while All That Breathes takes us to New Delhi where two brothers attempt to save the black kite population being devastated by the city’s collapsing ecology. Michigan Tech researchers and community members will participate in Q&A sessions following these films.

Indigenous land rights and culture are taken up in several films this year, including The Territory, which provides an on-the-ground look at Uru-eu-wau-wau people’s fight against the encroaching deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Two Michigan stories, Bad Axe (Siev, 2022), and The Sentence of Michael Thompson (Anderson/Thrash, 2022), examine social justice issues closer to home.

See the full line-up of films and events at: The festival is free and open to the public. Students will need to bring their HuskyCard. No ticket is necessary for others attending the festival this year. For more information, email festival director, Erin Smith, at Major sponsorship for the festival is provided by the Department of Humanities, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the College of Sciences and Arts, and the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows Study Amtrak

Three Humanities undergraduates have been awarded Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) for 2022. All three will be carrying out their research in conjunction with the study-away program, “Amtrak Tourism: Trains, Cities, & Sustainability” led by Mark Rhodes, Assistant Professor of Geography in Michigan Tech’s Social Sciences department. Students in the Amtrak Tourism program travel on Amtrak for a three week tour of the western United States and study topics related to human geography, sustainability, and the urban environment along the way.

Lena Lukowski’s project, “Locating Tourism Rhetoric: A Comparative Study” pays attention to the connection between location and tourism rhetoric in different cities across the United States. She is interested in seeing how the way in which tourism is discussed changes with the landscape and location. Lukowski is pursuing a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Scientific and Technical Communication.

Riley Powers’s project, “Public Tourism Infrastructure and Accessibility: Comparison of Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Rural Structures” will focus on public tourism infrastructure accessibility design, with a particular focus on the infrastructure encountered by students participating in the Amtrak Tourism study-away program. Powers’ work includes consulting with those who plan and design infrastructure as well as those who are impacted by disparities in accessibility. Results of the study will be shared with stakeholders locally in the Houghton/Keweenaw area, with the aim of highlighting ways to improve accessibility for public tourism in our own community. Powers is a Scientific and Technical Communication major.

Davi Sprague’s project, “Understanding the Relationship Between Rail Communities and Rail Infrastructure” seeks to answer the question, how did rail and train stations influence the urbanization, industrialization, and deindustrialization of rail communities and how are these communities planning for the future? Sprague, a Scientific and Technical Communication major, will combine archival research with filmmaking to produce a short video documentary that features historical and contemporary sources as well as highlights from the study-away program itself.

The SURF fellowship program is administered by Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College. Fellowship recipients conduct a research project under the guidance of a Michigan Tech faculty mentor during the summer semester and, at the conclusion of their work, present their research at the Michigan Tech Undergraduate Research Symposium, or at a professional conference in their field. 

Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo Receives 2022 CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication


Dr. Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo (RTC ’21) has received the 2022 CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication for “Spatial Technologies, (Geo)Epistemology, & the Global South: Addressing the Discursive Materiality of GhanaPostGPS through Technical Communication.” The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is a constituent organization within the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Dissertations for this award are evaluated according to five criteria: originality of research, contribution the research makes to the field, methodological soundness of the approach used, awareness of the existing research in the area studied, and overall quality of the writing.

The selection committee noted: Dr. Agbozo’s dissertation is a rich study of the GhanaPost Global Position System. Agbozo makes a compelling case for how the field thus far has had a limited perspective on “technology take-up within a globalizing context,” and how, historically, researchers have engaged with global spaces in problematic ways. The committee was especially impressed with the originality of Agbozo’s research and its contributions to broadening the field’s borders and working towards developing, as Agbozo argues, a “global perspective.” Drawing from a mix of surveys, interviews, and observations, and employing decolonial and multimodal lenses of critique, Agbozo’s dissertation is methodologically rigorous, with a robust analysis that works to build new theory and innovative pedagogical practice in technical communication. The committee also appreciated the ways Agbozo’s research amplifies marginalized voices, communities, and scholarship.

Agbozo will be announced as the recipient of the CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication during the CCCC Awards Presentation on Friday, March 11, during the 2022 CCCC Annual Convention.

Dr. Agzobo is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at UNC–Wilmington.

The 41 North Film Festival Returns

Wildlife Photographer Vincent Munier and writer Sylvain Tesson seek the elusive snow leopard in The Velvet Queen, screening Saturday, 11/6, at 7:30 p.m. as part of the 41 North Film Festival.

The 41 North Film Festival will be held November 4–7, 2021, featuring four days of award-winning independent film at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. Highlights from this year’s program include: Storm Lake (Risius/Levison, 2021), a story about a family-owned and operated small-town newspaper that recently won a Pulitzer Prize. The Storm Lake Times editor, Art Cullen, and filmmaker Beth Levison, will join for a virtual Q&A following the film. The film will screen on Friday, 11/5, at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, 11/6, at 7:30 p.m. the festival will present The Velvet Queen (Amiguet, 2021), which follows acclaimed wildlife photographer Vincent Munier‘s Tibetan trek in search of the elusive snow leopard. On Sunday, the festival offers the family-friendly, Lily Topples the World, the story of young domino artist Lily Hevesh, whose incredible domino creations have earned her over three million Youtube followers.

Other films include Sundance documentary winner Summer of Soul, Writing with Fire (winner of 17 international awards), Academy-Award nominee The Mole Agent, and a host of other thought-provoking, entertaining, and inspiring films. As always, expect music in the lobby between films, as well as other special events and guests.

The festival is free and open to the public. MTU staff, faculty, and students from other schools can reserve a ticket (only one needed for entire festival) by visiting or calling the SDC Ticketing Office at 906-487-2073. MTU students should bring an ID to gain admittance. The festival will follow the Rozsa Center Covid-19 Policies. Please visit the festival website for the full program and additional information.

Humanities Undergraduate Attends Society for Technical Communication Summit

Professional development opportunities that students can take advantage of while they are in school contribute significantly to student success after graduation. For Julia Barnes, Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) major, a recent opportunity to hear from professionals in her field was a great way to continue to build her expertise and her network. Barnes attended the 2020 Society for Technical Communication Summit in May. 

While she was looking forward to a trip to Seattle, WA to attend in person, Covid-19 restrictions resulted in a shift to a virtual conference. However, the result was no less impactful for Barnes. “I was able to visit sessions that covered a wide range of topics from project tracking to giving feedback. I learned a lot and engaged in meaningful conversations with the other attendees as well.” One benefit of the virtual format? “All of the sessions have been recorded and the slides are available to download until August or so. So many of the topics this year are relevant, no matter the workplace or profession. I’m going to continue tuning into sessions so that I can hear what other technical communicators have to say.”

STC undergraduate students from Michigan Tech have been able to attend the Summit annually over the past several years thanks to the encouragement and support provided by Nancy Hoffman, a member of the Society for Technical Communication and generous friend of the Humanities department. The department thanks her for helping provide these valuable opportunities for our students.

Technical Communication Internship, Michigan Tech Gardens

Whitney Johnson

When I applied for a student gardener position, I was overjoyed that I would get to spend all my time outside doing what I love to do while also taking classes and getting paid for my time.  It took me nearly a year to realize that what I was doing could be related to my Scientific and Technical Communication major based on the fact that the degree is incredibly broad and can be applied to a wide variety of situations.  The STC degree has allowed me to take bits and pieces of what I have learned in my classes and apply it to this internship.  This includes things such as design, spreadsheets, documentation, information organization, and prioritization. 

In this internship, I am mapping all 172 gardens across campus and documenting the plants in each one.  The objective is to create a page on Michigan Tech’s website where visitors can learn about the gardens and the overall ability to grow plants in a climate such as ours which, to some, may seem a bit difficult if not impossible.  The overall goal is to spread awareness and promote the creation of green spaces.  On the technical end, in addition to the garden mapping, I am revamping the garden department’s current method of chemical storage.  With this, I am reorganizing, documenting, creating spreadsheets, laying out safety procedures, and ensuring all OSHA standards are met.  This will be beneficial not only moving forward with day to day tasks but also with the overall training of new students.  I am thrilled that the work I am doing will be used for years to come.  It is not simply busywork, but instead, something that will help me progress in my career and also serve future employees in this role.

 I am realizing, while still in college and taking STC classes, that the skills I learn in school and apply in my working life are more concept-based than specific information/procedure based.  I am learning how to learn, and the STC program is putting me in the mindset to do that.  I know how to take in all sorts of seemingly unrelated information and connect them in ways that are unique and beneficial.  I think that this is a great opportunity for me to harness my skills in a real-world setting.  I entered this major because I was intrigued by the idea of being able to adapt to a work environment of my choosing and being able to take my work with me, not going where my work takes me. — Whitney Johnson, STC

Editing Intern, Portage Review Undergraduate Journal

When I was thinking about attending Michigan Tech some of the things I was excited about were the small class sizes and the opportunities that were available to me. I found these two things come together when, thanks to a small class size in my editing class, my professor reached out to me about an opportunity as an editorial intern with the Portage Review here on campus. 

I started my internship at the beginning of my second semester here at Michigan Tech and I was thrilled about the opportunity to work with graduate students and be a part of the school’s growing literary journal. So far, I’ve had the chance to write documentation, use WordPress, and edit blog posts. I have enjoyed learning new things and practicing my skills in my field. This internship has been a great opportunity I’m thankful for!

— Jayleen Rossi, STC