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The O'Shea Report: April 2003

At every monthly faculty meeting during the school year, Dean of Faculty Donal O'Shea presents brief overviews of recent publications and other achievements by the Mount Holyoke faculty. Here are excerpts from his report for April 2003.

The fourth edition of Out of Many: A History of the American People, by Professor of History Daniel Czitrom, Johnny Faragher of Yale University, Mari Jo Buhle of Brown University, and Susan Armitage of Washington State University, has just appeared. It is unlike any other history text I have seen and a far cry from the American history text I stumbled through as a student. It reads like a novel, interweaving the stories of the different communities, local and global, past and present, that make up this country with a cultural, political, and economic history of the United States. Fascinating vignettes describe different American communities, beginning with Cahokia, a thirteenth-century city of about 30,000 people on the banks of the Mississippi across from present-day Saint Louis, and ending with the transnational community housed by the World Trade Center. The last chapters, entitled "The Conservative Ascendancy, 1974—1987" and "Toward a Transnational America, since 1988," present a gripping account of post-Vietnam America through the first Gulf War, the Internet, the election of George W. Bush, and the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. This text fairly glows with the insights of wonderful scholarship and superb teaching and ebulliently gainsays those who would undervalue textbook writing.

Associate Professor of Geology Alan Werner has received unofficial word that the National Science Foundation has awarded the College $507,581 to fund his project "Holocene and Modern Climate Change in the High Arctic: Establishing an REU Site on Svalbard, Norway." The three-year project will allow six students each year for the next three years to travel to Svalbard to study the Arctic environment and carry out climate change research. The students will be housed at UNIS, a high Arctic station (79° N) in Longyearbyen established by the Norwegian government and owned by four Norwegian universities. (Check out their Web site: http://www.unis.no.) They will focus on a field site in the Linné Valley, a small (15 km) glacial valley 50 km west of UNIS. They plan to study cores from glacial-fed lake beds, attempting first to study how the strata in the cores match up to known climactic changes and second to then use the strata to infer climactic changes over the last 2,000 years. This is part of an urgent program in Arctic and climate science to try to expand the network of records that can be used to track climate changes with high resolution over the last two millennia.

Orin Hoffman, laboratory director in the physics department, and the Society for Physics Students have received a grant of $1,468 from the Engineering Center Education Trust in Boston, to support the Mount Holyoke College Engineering Outreach Program in its work with the South Hadley Middle School. Among other things, they are working with teams of middle school students designing solar cars.

The Association for Asian American Studies has awarded Associate Professor of Art Anthony Lee the 2001 Cultural Studies Book Award for his book Picturing Chinatown: Art and Orientalism in San Francisco. The award ceremony will take place during the association’s annual meeting May 7—11 at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco.

Associate Professor of Art Ajay Sinha has received a $5,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support his project "The Cultural Currency of Oil Painting in Early Modern India, 1780—1850." These grants are hugely competitive and awarded on the likely significance of the contribution that the project will make to knowledge in the specific field and to the humanities generally. Ajay will visit museums in Essex (Massachusetts), London, Calcutta, and Bombay to study early-nineteenth-century oil paintings of Indian subjects by non-British painters. These paintings, which are more objects of commerce than high art, show how the official history of British colonization is but a small part of a far more diverse, global culture of the time. The links between them and that culture underscore the shortcomings in the current mainstream account of the development of modern Indian art.

Jessica Sidman and Megan Nuñez, both of whom are joining us next year (in mathematics and chemistry, respectively), have just been named Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professors. They join ten (new record) other current and former Clare Boothe Luce assistant professors: Sarah Bacon (biological sciences), Lisa Ballesteros (computer science), Susan Barry (biological sciences), Jill Bubier (environmental studies), Janice Hudgings (physics), Michelle Markley (geology), Jillian McLeod (mathematics), Lauret Savoy (geology), Sharon Stranford (biological sciences), and Rebecca Younkin (physics).

--The February 2003 O'Shea Report more>
--The December 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The November 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The October 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The September 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The May 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The April 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The March 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The February 2002 O'Shea Report more>
--The December 2001 O'Shea Report more>
--The November 2001 O'Shea Report more>

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