O'Shea Report: May 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 May 2003.
book Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kiratarjuniya
of Bharavi has just appeared with SUNY Press. The title may
lead you to think that this is a highly specialized, hyper highbrow
manuscript. Dont be fooled. This beautifully crafted book
was clearly written to be read, is completely accessible to non-specialists
and would make a lovely gift for anyone, especially yourself.
Indira studies a particular poem, Arjuna and the Hunter
(the Kiratarjuniya), by the sixth-century poet Bharavi.
She studies it first as an exemplar of Sanskrit court poetry,
arguing that the classical criticism of such poetry, by focusing
on the microstructure of rhyme and stanza, completely misses the
context in which such poems were embedded. From the outset, Indira
addresses the larger issues the poet faced: how much play to give
one element or another, how particular passages might be read
within and from outside the traditional discourse, what were the
issues of balance and narrative the poet faced, and so on. I particularly
recommend the chapter entitled "Landscapes with Women: Bharavis
Descriptive Art" which analyzes and celebrates the interplay
of rather gorgeous landscape imagery with the erotically charged
revelry of the asparas, the god Indras courtesans.
Indira supplies her own verse translations of some of the passages
she discusses, including the journey of the asparas. These
are lovely, no other word will do, and, even if you didnt
read another word, well worth the price of the book.
Four other books have
appeared or are about to appear. Also, a ton of papers. I havent
had a chance to read the books and one (Marthas) I havent
seen. More later.
Ackmann. The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American
Women and the Dream of Space Flight will be released on June
3 from Random House.
Benfey. The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics
and the Opening of Old Japan. Random House, New York, 2003.
Physician of the Soul. Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and
his Kabbalistic Fellowship. Stanford University Press, 2003.
Wen Xing. Translation
into Chinese of Robert Henricks' book Lao Tzus Tao Te
Ching. Academy Press, Beijing, 2003.
Gomez has received a grant of $35,000 from the Petroleum Research
Fund for her project Proton Conduction in Perovskite Oxides.
Perovskites comprise a diverse class of ceramics which form
nice cubic lattices of great interest for both theoretical and
practical reasons. In particular, some conduct protons and show
great potential for use in developing ever more efficient fuel
cells. However, although there are a lot of conjectures, how this
proton conduction takes place is poorly understood. Maria plans
a systematic study of calcium and barium perovskites with a view
to modeling proton transfer, determining whether the size of the
lattice contributes to the rate of proton transfer (and conjecturally
related phenomena such as transition state energies, vibrational
frequencies, and the like), and comparing to experimental data.
The computations that she proposes to do, and have her students
do, are massive and require a series of ganged-together computers
working in parallel. The reviewers' comments are highly laudatory
and betray an eagerness to see the results, along with an awareness
that these computations push current electronic structure methods
to the limit.
--The April 2003 O'Shea
--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>