UMF New Commons Project kicks off with exploration of HBO’s highly-acclaimed “The Wire”

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FARMINGTON, ME  (September 5, 2018)—Have you ever had the opportunity to contribute to a gallery of creative works that will be viewed, discussed and shared by an extensive public audience? That’s what’s happening with the 2018 fall kick-off of the University of Maine at Farmington’s New Commons Project.

The project is building a contemporary cultural commons of 24 works of art, literature and ideas that are submitted by members of the Maine community. Twelve will be shared this year through a number of unique events, public discussions, talks and community engagement projects. These 12 works have been selected from more than 150 submissions by community members from a dozen Maine counties and include, a critically acclaimed TV show, public art installations by an anonymous artist, a jazz elegy and more.

The first work to be explored is HBO’s “THE WIRE.” Created by former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon, it is considered to be among the best television series ever produced. Set in Baltimore, Maryland, The Wire ran from 2002 to 2008. It focuses on a different urban institution each season: the drug trade, the commercial harbor, city government, the school system and the media.

The show was hailed by critics and viewers for its sprawling, epic storytelling, compelling characters and analysis of urban life. According to Simon, the show is “really about the American city and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed.”

THE WIRE was submitted to the New Commons Project by a Scarborough community member. To reinforce its community connection, the New Commons will hold an event in the home town of the contributor of each of the 24 final works in addition to those events on the UMF campus.

THE WIRE events:

“The Economics of THE WIRE,”
John Messier, UMF professor of economics provides a unique perspective on the drama’s local economic systems.
Friday, Sept. 14, 11:45 a.m., 2nd floor of UMF Mantor Library

KEYNOTE EVENT: “THE WIRE Today,” a dialogue with Brian Purnell and Jason Mittell.

Brian Purnell
Brian Purnell
Jason Mittell
Jason Mittell

Brian Purnell, Geoffrey Canada Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History and Director of Africana Studies Program at Bowdoin College, and Jason Mittell, Professor and Chair of Film and Media Culture at Middlebury College will focus on THE WIRE as a lens for understanding contemporary issues around police shootings and the criminal justice system.

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 11:45 a.m., Emery Community Arts Center
Wednesday, Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m., at the Scarborough Public Library

 “‘The King Stay the King’: The Game and the War in THE ILIAD and THE WIRE”Jeffrey Thomson, UMF professor of English, undertakes original comparative analysis of strategic warfare in THE WIRE and Homer’s THE ILIAD.
Wednesday, Sept. 26, 11:45 a.m., 2nd floor of UMF Mantor Library

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To learn more about the New Commons Project, or to submit a nomination for the next round of selections to be announced in 2019, visit the website at:

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Media Contact: Kristen Case, associate professor of English, 207-778-7239,

EDITOR’S NOTE: Images can be found at:

April Mulherin
UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
office: 207-778-7081
cell: 207-491-0064

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