O'Shea Report: May 2002
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 May 2002.
Assistant Professor of Music
David Sanford has won the Samuel Barber Rome Prize Fellowship,
one of the two Rome Prizes awarded to musical composers. This
award will allow him to stay at the American Academy in Rome for
eleven months with a group of twenty-five to thirty scholars in
other areas of the humanities. These hyper-prestigious fellowships
cover travel and lodging, and provide a stipend. The list of composers
(Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, John Eaton, Lukas Foss, John Harbison,
Roger Sessions, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, to name a few) who have won
the Rome Prize reads like an outline of twentieth-century American
music. David plans to compose seven to ten contemporary works
for large jazz orchestra. The works will be concerned with the
jazz orchestra as a palette, not a tradition, and will explore
contemporary musical directions largely untouched by composers
associated with jazz modernism. As one of the referees for his
work wrote: "David Sanford is the real thing, a composer in the
American tradition of brash, open-eared exploration: no material
is too exalted or too debased for him to transform into his living
Darlingtons Fall, the
novel-in-verse by Emily Dickinson Lecturer in the Humanities Brad
Leithauser, has just appeared with Knopf. It is utterly absorbing
and impossible to put down. Part love story, part rueful reflection
on the single-mindedness that makes a great scholar, it tells
the story of a gifted lepidopterist whose career is abruptly foreshortened
by a great tragedy. I succumbed to the temptation to race through
to see what happens, returning to read it a second time at a more
leisurely pace. In a way that is difficult to describe, the verse
works with the subject matter to make the book more legible. Loads
of insect lore seem somehow lighter when rendered in verse, and
transitions that would be impossible in prose seem natural. My
favorite is the one that skips from piano lessons to a few stanzas
on parasites beginning with the line "
If your gut hosts
a two-foot guinea worm
" No biologist will be able to resist
this book. Each chapter begins with a lovely sketch, twelve in
all, by Brads brother, Mark.
Wei Chen, Mary E. Woolley
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has hit the jackpot. In addition
to the NSF grant that she received last month, she has been awarded
a grant of $35,000 by the Petroleum Research Fund for her project
"Probing the fundamentals of wetting."
The Smith Richardson Foundation
has awarded $103,290 to Associate Professor of Russian Studies
Stephen Jones for his project "U. S. Policy in Georgia
and the Caucasus: Four Case Studies" to begin July 1, 2002. The
grant will allow Stephen to research and write a book that will
evaluate U.S. national interests in Georgia and Georgias
role in U.S. policies toward Iran, Turkey, and Russia. The book
will assess the history of U.S. policy in Georgia since 1991 and
analyze the arguments for more or less U.S. commitment. It will
focus on four vital areas of U.S. interest: oil and gas development,
ethnic conflict resolution, Russian interference in Georgian sovereignty,
and South Caucasian regional cooperation.
Just this morning, I received a
copy of Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the
Early Modern Period, the new book by Lawrence Fine,
Irene Kaplan Leiwant Professor of Jewish Studies. It appeared
last fall with Princeton University Press. It looks great. More
Associate Professor of Art Anthony
Lee has been awarded one of three Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowships
for recently tenured faculty in the humanities by the Woodrow
Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. This is the first year
that these fellowships have been offered. They are underwritten
by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. Tonys award is
for two years and his project is entitled When the Cobbling
Began: Photography, Visual Culture, and Chinese Shoemakers in
a Nineteenth-Century New England Factory Town.
Taking Haiti by Assistant
Professor of History Mary Renda has won the Stuart L. Bernath
Prize of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
for the best first book on the history of American foreign relations.
The purpose of the award is to recognize and encourage distinguished
research and writing by scholars of American foreign relations.
The citation for the award lauds Marys use of diaries, letters,
memoirs, poems, field campaign reports, congressional testimony,
military recruitment materials, and photographs to examine the
emerging culture of U.S. imperialism and to deconstruct the then
prevailing discourse of paternalism.
Karen Remmler, associate
professor of German and codirector of the Weissman Center for
Leadership, and her collaborator A. Eshel of Stanford have edited
a special issue of the German Quarterly entitled Sites
of Memory. Karen has contributed an introductory essay laying
out the issues and locating them within current German studies.
She explains that the volume deals with the interplay between
place and memory, exploring "not only specific sites of memory,
but the process by which sites become memorable." She goes on
to raise issues such as divergent memories and the pitfalls of
applying discourses associated with spatial phenomena to forms
of cultural memory that are conveyed through spatial metaphors.
With another collaborator (Leslie Morris of the University of
Minnesota) she has edited another book, Contemporary Jewish
Writing in Germany: An Anthology (University of Nebraska Press,
2002). I have not yet had a chance to read it, but it looks terrific.
Karen and her coworker have focused on four current
authors: Katja Behrens, Maxim Biller,
Esther Dischereit, and Barbara Honigmann, translating several
substantial pieces of each into English and contributing a long
introductory essay. More later. Finally, Karen has contributed
the lead article, "Encounters across the Void: Rethinking Approaches
to German-Jewish Symbioses," to a collection on German-Jewish
symbiosis (L. Morris, J. Zipes, eds. Unlikely History: The
Changing German-Jewish Symbiosis. 1945-2000, Palgrave, 2000).
More on this, too, later.
Michelle Stephens, assistant
professor of English, has been awarded a summer stipend of $5,000
by the National Endowment for the Humanities for her project,
Transnational Sensibility and Caribbean Intellectuals in the Early
Professor of English Corinne
Demas has continued to maintain her extraordinary output with
two new childrens books. The first, The Magic Apple,
is a retelling of an old Jewish folktale in which a dying
princess is rescued by three brothers. In Corinnes account,
a dying prince is rescued by three sisters (Ella, Bella, and Stella).
The second, The Boy Who Was Generous with Salt, tells the
story of a nine-year-old boy who was hired on as a cook on a fishing
vessel out of Wellfleet. The prose is spare, the story is based
on a real one, and the illustrations by Michael Hays are gorgeous.
Professor of Art Marion Miller
has a show entitled "Horses Indoors, Part II" at the First Street
Gallery in New York (526 West 26th Street, New York,
New York, 10001) May 725. Its going to be fabulous.
Alycia Smith-Howard, visiting
assistant professor of theatre arts, and a group of four MHC theatre
students have been selected to participate in the Festivale Internazionale
del Teatro Corto in Arezzo, Italy, in May. They will present Strindbergs
one-act play The Mother and premier Ophelia Machine
by Rebecca Short 02. They join a number of Italian schools,
Trinity College (Dublin), and three other American institutions.
Associate Professor of History Lynda
Morgan was accepted into a hugely competitive seminar on slavery
debates at Columbia University.
Assistant Professor of Spanish Kristin
Pesola was accepted into the NEH Summer Institute for college
and university teachers at Arizona State University entitled,
"Hispanic Gendering of the Americas: Beyond Cultural and Geographical
Assistant Professor of Japanese
Naoko Nemoto was accepted into the National Foreign Language
Resource Centers summer institute "Pragmatics in the Japanese
as a Foreign Language Classroom."
Michigan State University has selected
Associate Professor of Art Nancy Campbell and her course
for its program in Hikone, Japan. She will teach it there in spring
--The April 2002 O'Shea
--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>