UAB Alumna Finds Novel Inspiration in Alabama
By Gail Allyn Short
The road to Irene Latham's first novel began in a New York City art museum and led her to Gee's Bend, Alabama. She recently shared her story—and some words of encouragement—with UAB writing students.
Irene Latham always knew she was meant to be a writer. It just took her a few decades to find the right path. The author and 1991 UAB graduate recently returned to her alma mater to talk with students about the craft of writing, the art of finding inspiration, and her first novel, Leaving Gee’s Bend, which debuted this spring.
“As soon as I could read, I was writing,” Latham says. At four she started creating poems for her mother. By eight she wrote in her copy of Dr. Seuss’s My Book About Me that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up.
When it came time for college, however, her parents advised her to choose a more practical career. “They said, ‘It’s difficult to make a living as a writer,’” Latham recalls. So she majored in social work instead, and then concentrated on marriage, career, and motherhood. But she never stopped working on her poems.
“My epiphany moment came after my third child was born,” Latham says. “I looked around at the piles of paper on my desk and spilling out of its drawers and realized that I had been doing what I was meant to do all along. Now it was time to be brave enough to share all of those words with other people.”
UAB Theatre Student Performs Shakespeare at Sloss Furnaces
By Charles Buchanan
UAB theatre student Hannah Hughes experienced her own midsummer night’s dream when she portrayed mischief-maker Puck in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. But it was no ordinary performance; for one thing, the oft-told tale was reimagined as a Bollywood fantasy. And it came to life amid a forest of smokestacks at Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces. In this slideshow, Hughes describes the challenges and thrills of modernizing a magical classic.
See a video clip of Hughes performing as Puck in a dress rehearsal for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Exploring the Marketplace of the Mind
By Jo Lynn Orr
It turns out that you may have a mind for economics—even if you can’t tell a Laffer curve from a bump in the road. Today many scientists are trying to understand how people make choices by viewing the human brain as a sort of marketplace, where each decision comes with a price tag reflecting its risks and rewards. This field of study is known as neuroeconomics, and it could help shed light on everything from consumer preferences to substance abuse.
Don Ross, Ph.D., is applying neuroeconomics to another form of addiction: gambling. Ross, a professor of economics and philosophy at UAB and professor of economics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, explains that gambling can provide the truest model of addiction because it doesn’t involve a substance introduced from outside the brain. Most people who gamble don’t become addicted, of course, but some people find the experience so “rewarding” that it becomes obsessive. Ross and his research team are trying to find out what makes those addicted minds tick. “We’re interested in understanding how—independently of the whole person—that part of the brain that auto-processes reward stimuli does the computations that it does,” he says.