Letter to the Readers

Dear Reader,

The 19th and 20th centuries saw significant advances in the field of communication: the telegraph, radio, telephone, television, and the greatest innovation of all –  the internet. The 21st century’s boom in information and communication technology (ICT) has transformed the global landscape, affecting political, economic, environmental, social, and cultural interactions.

Over the past six months, the corona virus has changed the world dramatically. It has disrupted social interaction, wreaked havoc, and altered our lives. And yet our ability to reach out to one another, and the sounds of laughter and song, endure. 

In this year’s issue of The 21st Century Text, “Beyond Words,” we explore the myriad ways in which people connect through language, and the way communication transcends the spoken and written word.  

Sex addiction, incest, and infidelity are some of the titillating topics that appear in the harrowing essay, a genre which has, in the past decade, rocketed in internet popularity. In What’s Really Harrowing about the Harrowing Essay, the author asks why writers of the harrowing essay tell all. What draws readers to their secrets? Is there redemption for either the writer or the reader in the sharing of these lurid tales?   

Many of us have ambivalent feelings about our email. Curiosity keeps us constantly opening our inboxes yet, at some point, all that mail becomes a burden.  You’ve Got Mail: The Love-Hate Relationship We Have With Our Inbox attempts to clarify what we love and what we hate about email, whether email is passé and, if it is doomed, the types of technologies that might replace it. 

Scientists claim that speaking English is key to career advancement, but forfeiting one’s native language comes at a cost. Forcing non-English speaking students to speak English prevents them from contributing their unique ethnicity to their host laboratories. In some countries, foreign students are pressured to use English in all forms of communications and threatened with reprisals if they do not comply. English is the Language of Science grapples with this issue and attempts to find a compromise solution.

Esperanto is an artificially constructed, international language. It was created to facilitate communication both within societies and beyond national borders.  Esperanto Usage in a Democratic Society contemplates the relevance of Esperanto in today’s world, considering the economic, sociological, and political realities that run counter to the original utopian vision upon which it was founded. 

When conflicts seem hopeless, mediators can help two sides break through an impasse. In the article entitled, When It’s I Against Thou: Applying Martin Buber’s Philosophy in Modern Conflict Resolution, the reader discovers the means by which mediators foster communication between quarreling people, using tools inspired by the champion of dialogue, 20th century philosopher, Martin Buber. 

Fentahun Assefa-Dawit’s story is an inspiration for Ethiopian Jews and all immigrants from the developing world. He refused to allow racial prejudice, language, or cultural barriers to stand in his way. Empowering Ethiopian Jews and Fighting Discrimination  describes his incredible journey to Israel where he became the director of TEBEKA – a non-profit organization that fights for equality and justice for Ethiopian Israelis.

Checkers is not only a game of strategy played by children and adults; it was also the name of the speech given by Richard Nixon in 1952 in which he refuted accusations of awarding special favors to campaign contributors while running for vice-president. Why “Checkers”? That was the name of a black and white Cocker Spaniel that was given to Nixon as a gift.  The article Checkers analyzes the “The Fund” or “Checkers Speech,” as it was affectionately known, the first political speech to take advantage of the new media form, the television. 

Why do some words galvanize an entire country to action while others fail to evoke a response? How Information about Threats is Communicated explores examples of effective and ineffective persuasive discourse, including that of Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, the American intelligence community, and health authorities dealing with the coronavirus, to try to illuminate some of the issues involved.

Employing music in the English Language Teaching (ELT) classroom facilitates language learning and acquisition. Not only is it enjoyable for students, it is an effective pedagogic tool. In How Music and Song Facilitate Language Learning, the reader learns how music impacts vocabulary acquisition, memorization, and other language skills. 

Music and Clapping as Comfort During Social Crisis, surveys the ways in which people have been entertained, distracted, and amused by the magic of music and rhythm in crises throughout history and, in particular, during coronavirus isolation. People of all ages sang from their balconies, playrooms, and nursing homes. Even in times of fear and uncertainty, musical creativity flourished. Let the music play! 

Humor has been used throughout the ages to offset anxiety at times of danger and to help individuals cope with heightened emotions when there is a real or imagined threat to one’s safety or well-being. Humor as a Tranquilizer During the Corona Pandemic explores the psychological and social benefits of laughter during times of crisis. 

Does use of digital technology enhance interpersonal relationships or merely create an illusion of connection and intimacy? How has the increased use of this technology during the corona pandemic affected such relationships? These timely issues are examined in the article, Social Skills and Social Media: Connection and Distancing in the Time of Corona.

What is a logline? It is a concise and compelling description of a screenplay. Writers who succeed in distilling the essence of a movie into a single sentence can entice producers into reading the entire script. See You at the Movies: Revealing the Story in the Logline  showcases a classroom editing exercise and proves, through reviewing students’ loglines of The Graduate (1967), that there is more than one way to describe the protagonist and the central conflict. 

We hope you enjoy the collection.

The 21st Century Text

July 2020

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