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A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer

Refereeing the Muses

Bob Abelman and Cheryl Kushner

A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer: Refereeing the Muses examines the skill set associated with being a critic and arts journalist. It explores the history, evolution, and future of the profession in the United States, and carefully and purposefully dissects the preparation, observation, and writing process associated with generating thoughtful and interesting arts criticism.
Using theatrical productions as the best and most vivid example of a storytelling enterprise that employs creativity, imagination, collaboration, aesthetics, and artisanship to effectively engage an audience, this book is intended to generate the critical thinking and critical writing skills necessary to effectively engage in all forms of arts journalism.
It is designed to be used as a college-level textbook on theater criticism and arts journalism courses, for those looking to become more thoughtful, critical consumers, for casual critics thinking about starting a blog or working for their university newspaper, and for working critics hoping to improve their craft.
The text is written in an accessible style and includes quotes from renowned critics and arts practitioners throughout as well as frequent sidebars that offer timely, insightful, and entertaining examples of the points being made in the text.
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About the author(s)/editor(s)


Bob Abelman (Ph.D., The University of Texas-Austin) is Distinguished Professor of Communication at Cleveland State University where he teaches arts journalism and media criticism. He is also an award-winning theater critic for the daily News-Herald, a produced playwright, and a former professional actor with New York credits. He was a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts fellow in arts journalism and is the recipient of three Excellence in Research awards from The International Mensa Education and Research Foundation for his work on media/arts literacy and artistic giftedness.

Cheryl Kushner (M.A., Kent State University) is Assistant Professor at Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is a former entertainment editor at The Plain Dealer, as well as New York’s Newsday, where she directed coverage resulting in a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. She was a fellow with the National Arts Journalism Program, where she studied theater and creative writing at Northwestern University. Ms. Kushner is also the author of four romance/women’s fiction novels.

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