University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol Tilley has always felt strongly about the fact that kids need comics. And she’s not the only one. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Tilley about how comics played a huge role in her childhood and why she thinks it’s so upsetting that they are less widely available and more expensive than they once were. Award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder also joins us. He’s creating a new series of graphic textbooks for elementary and middle school teachers. We’ll talk with him and Tilley about what sets comics apart and why they’re useful in the classroom.
In her new book 'The Humanity Project" Jean Thompson confronts circumstances and questions plaguing many in the US in a post-recession era. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Thompson about her new novel, what inspired the story and why she thinks its an important story to tell.
This hour we'll meet Sean, a wayward carpenter whose bad luck turns even worse; Linnea, who has survived a school shooting and is living in California with a father she barely knows, and Mrs. Foster, a wealthy cat lady who starts "the Humanity Project" to help out a few whose luck has run out.
Read an excerpt of the book at the link below.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member Julia Sweeney is known for both her infamous character “Pat” and her solo performances. Since her days on SNL, she’s toured as a one woman show exploring love, cancer, family and faith in God Said Ha!, In the Family Way and Letting Go of God. In her new book If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother, she confronts parenting and what it was like for her as a single woman to adopt her daughter, Mulan. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Sweeney about her book, the TED Talk and the embroidered pillow that inspired the book.
We’ll also ask her about “Pat” and her career as a comedian and performer.
Do you have questions for Julia about her life and career? In her book, she writes about her hatred of large strollers and being mistaken for her daughter’s grandmother. Do you relate? Post in the comments section below or find us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale” that introduced the world to the now infamous mystery man, James Bond. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Michael VanBlaricum, a UIUC alumnus and founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, about Bond’s legacy. John Cork, co-author of the book "James Bond: The Legacy" and a documentary film maker and writer known for his knowledge of the character, also joins us.
The premier for the 6th season of MadMen was last night on AMC. Set in the 1960’s in New York, the television drama follows the lives of advertising executives on Madison Avenue. Some have criticized the show for its portrayal of race and gender politics, while those same elements of the show have drawn critical acclaim from others. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Robert Rushing, Lilya Kaganovsky and Lauren Goodlad of the UIUC about the show and their book “MadMen, Mad World: Sex, Politics Style and the 1960’s.”
Monday, March 11 - My Name is Jody Williams
Have you been an activist? What causes matter to you?
Jody Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her campaign to eradicate landmines. But she wasn’t always an activist. Monday on Focus, we’ll talk with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams about her new memoir, “My Name is Jody Williams.” She’ll tell us about her life as an activist, why she’s spent her career advocating for freedom and human rights and what she really means when she uses the word “peace.”
During this hour on Focus, we talk with Professor Miriam Cooke about how she got started studying Muslim women and their writing and why their writings are important. She talks with us about women who inspired the feminist movement in the Middle East and why it became important during the 1990’s. Cooke is a Professor of Arab Cultures at Duke University and the Director of the University’s Middle East Studies Center. She’s been a visiting professor in Tunisia, Romania, Indonesia, and Qatar and is one of the foremost scholars on Islamic Feminism and Arab Culture.
Then during the second half of the hour, we talk with Mariam Sobh. She’s the founder and editor-in-chief of Hijab Trendz, a fashion blog for Muslim women. Host Jim Meadows talks with Sobh about her decision to cover her hair, what it means and how some Muslim women are choosing not to.
During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with author David Toomey about his new book, “Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different From Our Own.” He tells us about organisms that live off acid rather than water, those that reproduce without DNA and thrive in temperatures and pressures so extreme that they really shouldn’t be alive in the first place. Meadows also talked with Toomey about our fascination with exotic life forms here on Earth and why we’re so fascinated with the possibility of the discovery of life in the rest of the universe.
To many February 14 is Valentine’s Day; the “Hallmark holiday” famous for teddy bears gripping pink satin hearts that say “I love you,” chocolate, jewelry and cheesy greeting cards. But according to Sasha Cagen, February 14 is actually QuirkyAlone Day. This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with Cagen about the movement she’s sparked with her book “Quirky Alone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.” We’ll talk about why she’s chosen to live alone and why she speaks out against the idea that your life is incomplete until you’re coupled.
Have you chosen to stay single? Do you identify with the QuirkyAlone movement? Maybe you just think Valentine’s Day is dumb and are happy to learn of a counter holiday... Join our conversation. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline that even the chief economist at Google has called “sexy.” This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Charles Wheelan, author of the new book “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data,” about what we can learn from statistics and their growing role in our world today.