December 13, 2018

Virtual Short Reads

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October 1, 2020 - October 1, 2020

We read articles about science, space, climate, current events, health, and more! This month we are exploring: 

MASKS- how humans have used masks across time

Discussion Thursday, October 1st at noon.  

Here are the articles available for download.

Article summaries:

1. Archaeologists believe people have used masks since we’ve been people, but the earliest ones would’ve been made out of natural materials that degraded. The oldest ones we’ve found so far are stone masks carved 9000 years ago (National Geographic).

2. How are masks given meaning by people? How do masks give meaning to people?  An article by Lisa Seip in World Archaeology examines these questions by following a Nuxalk mask from its home in northwest British Columbia to a museum in New York City.

3. Faces of War posits the trench warfare of World War I created a need for a different kind of mask. We could go in several philosophical directions in our discussion of this article. There are no photos of the masks described in the article I’ve included, but I found some online:

4. Some celebrations of Day of the Dead include masks and some of these masks have become collector’s items, decorative items, and a way for artists to make money. How does a mask with a cultural history differ from a commercial mask? Would you consider a mask created for sale by a folk artist a commercial mask?

5. The last article in the attachment is about the creations of Edmond Kok – a costume designer who has turned his talents to making masks. But these masks won’t protect you from COVID-19. They are Kok’s responses to the pandemic and the political situation in Hong Kong.

6. FESTIMA is an annual festival of masks held in Burkina Faso, organized to celebrate the use of masks in African countries. Al Jazeera published an article in 2016 with some wonderful photographs. Below is a link to a video that shows part of a masked dance done by the Dogon people.  It is a different experience to see the masks and costumes in motion.

In Burkina Faso: FESTIMA, a festival of African masks | | Al Jazeera

In Burkina Faso: FESTIMA, a festival of African masks. The frantic music and dancing transform the mask wearer into a spirit that communicates with ancestors.

This video from Mali gives us an idea of how the Dogon people use their masks:


Please email JDuffy @ for the link to the Zoom meeting.

Why Short Reads? Because you don’t have all day. We pick 3-4 articles which could be read in around 60 minutes. It’s the perfect club for the curious and those short on time.

Short Reads is hosted by Jocelyn Duffy.

Jocelyn has over a decade of experience developing and presenting programs about nature, science, and history for federal, state, and regional organizations. She has degrees in information technology, library science, and natural resource management and enjoys exploring the places where people and the environment come together. Jos works on the help desk and also works as a program coordinator. She runs the Short Reads book group and our popular survival series programming.