Hot Dog University Brings Academia to the Masses @rust_belt_chic @HappyDog58

By Sarah Valek

This winter, get collegiate without all those student loans. Belt, Cleveland’s online literary arts magazine, is serving up two new events to stave off that winter malaise — Hot Dog University and Belt Out. Both are offered at the ever-popular Happy Dog, are free of charge and will leave you thinking and, hopefully, inspired.

Hot Dog University was inspired by Happy Dog’s science series, “Life, The Universe and Hot Dogs,” and aspires to bring liberal arts topics to the masses — free of tuition.

Here’s the gist: Local profs giving cool talks on their expertise. In a bar. Anne Trubek, Editor in Chief of Belt and a professor at Oberlin College, says the aim is to break down “what seems to be the increasingly higher wall surrounding the ivory tower” and bring experts together with non-experts.

The event kicks off on Tue 1/14 at 7:30pm with Greggor Mattson, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Oberlin College, discussing “Why Are Cities Where They Are?”

Then mark your calendars for Tue 2/11 when Daniel Goldmark, Associate Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University, delves into “The History of Music Publishing in Cleveland.”

Other upcoming Hot Dog U topics include public art in Cleveland, gangsta rap and “War Photography and Truth.” The event is ongoing and occurs monthly.

When choosing speakers, Trubek says she chose people who were not only experts in some field of the Humanities, but also understood the concepts of Belt and Rust Belt Chic, were good teachers and lecturers, worked on interesting topics and who “would not be put out — indeed would be happy about — giving a talk in a bar filled with people, some of whom might be more interested in flirting with the person next to them than the person on the stage.”

Belt‘s other new event is Belt Out! — a series of readings from the Rust Belt occurring at the Underdog (located in the Happy Dog’s basement). Each month will feature different readings from someone in the Rust Belt literary scene. The series starts on Wed 1/22 at 7:30pm with “Cleveland Stories from the Belt,” featuring some of Belt‘s best essayists reading their work — including Becky Cummings, Dana DePew, Christine McBurney and Amanda Shaffer.

“The idea of Belt Out! came when Sean [Watterson of Happy Dog] and I discussed doing a writers’ series,” says Trubek. “There are several fantastic series in town that showcase local authors. I thought it would be a great addition to the literary scene ┬áto invite writers and publishers from Cleveland and elsewhere who are writing about the Rust Belt specifically.

“Also we will have the Cleveland launch of Rust Belt Chic Press’s two upcoming new releases, The Detroit Anthology and the Cleveland Anthology, as part of the series.”

Besides Cleveland, writers will represent Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Cincinnati and other sister cities.

The goal of these events? “Bring people together, bring interesting ideas and good writing to the public, raise the profile of the writing scene in Cleveland, and provide a space for the Liberal Arts–for free (no tuition!).

“And, of course, I hope the series will indirectly help support Belt, which is free to all but still needs to bring in revenue… We will have special promotions for Belt members and people who become members at the readings.”

So plunk yourself down at the Dog (Happy or Under) and get schooled in the best way possible.

[Photo via Elisa Vietri]



Cool Cleveland editor Sarah Valek studied art and writing at Ithaca College. After graduation, she came back to Cle and served two years as an AmeriCorps*VISTA with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. She can be found on all sides of the city in pursuit of homeschooling activities for her son and the perfect soy latte. Contact her at or via Twitter.



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