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After the Bell – Beyond Friends, Flannel, and Frosted Tips: Teaching the 90s as History with Dr. Jim Cherry

Thursday, February 16, 2023
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (EST)

After the Bell – Beyond Friends, Flannel, and Frosted Tips: Teaching the 90s as History with Dr. Jim Cherry

Wabash "rings-out" a new class to our alumni ranks each year. After the Bell offers opportunities to come back to the Wabash classroom and attend virtual liberal arts sessions with current faculty members. Join us for this live virtual event being offered for Wabash alumni, spouses, partners, parents, and friends.

“Here we are now / entertain us”

We look back at the 1990s today with a deep sense of nostalgia for a seemingly-simpler time: AOL! Tamagotchis! Brick-sized cell phones! By today’s standards, it feels like an era of relative peace and security in the United States, a time that cultural critic Chuck Klosterman has recently described as “a period when the world was starting to go crazy, but not so crazy that it was unmanageable or irreparable.”

This past Fall, Dr. Jim Cherry taught a Freshman Tutorial in which students explored the 1990s as a historical era. Incoming Wabash students (born in 2003 or 2004) understand this period through the eyes of their parents and experience it through nearly-unlimited access to the artifacts of cultural production—movies, music, TV—from the time. But moving past Nirvana and Tupac, Friends and Pulp Fiction, we discussed the 1990s as filled with portents of the challenges seen in the first decades of the twenty-first century. In the 1990s, the complexity of race relations in America were underscored by the O.J. Simpson trial, the Rodney King verdict, the L.A. Riots, and the rise of hip hop as a dominant popular musical form. The mass shooting at Columbine High School ignited a nation-wide debate about gun control and mental health before the carnage of Virginia Tech, Parkland, and Sandy Hook. This was the period when analog gave way to digital, and an Internet before social media.

In this “After the Bell” session, Dr. Cherry will discuss how the class tackled the 1990s as a subject, the surprising insights and conclusions students drew from their (occasionally quite contentious) conversations, and the experience of assembling “The Ultimate 90s Tutorial Mix CD.”

Dr. Jim Cherry, Associate Professor and Chair of Theater

Jim Cherry is an Associate Professor and Chair of Theater at Wabash. Jim primarily teaches classes in theater history and dramatic literature at the College, with topics ranging from Greek tragedy to the contemporary New York stage. Jim’s research is equally varied: from melodramatic parodies of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to representations of 9/11 in contemporary performance. Jim has the chance to direct a play every year at Wabash, and his tastes range from the classical (Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Macbeth; Euripides’ The Bacchae) to the contemporary (Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy; Nick Dear’s Frankenstein, a radio theater production of the works of Edgar Allen Poe entitled Twisted Tales of Poe)He also hits the boards of Ball on occasion when an “older” male performer is needed (Prospero, The Tempest; Black Stache, Peter and the Starcatcher). He also serves as Wabash’s Faculty Marshal.

When not in the theater, Jim can be found hanging out with his wife, Crystal Benedicks, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department, and their three children. He also enjoys cooking, puttering around the house, reading contemporary fiction, and watching the Red Sox pummel the Yankees.