The Global Language(s) of Scholarship

Academia today often requires dialogue across cultures, especially in addressing global issues, old and new. These faculty from very different disciplines have been busy with such work:

Wilson_Marv_2008_11_19_02_55_441_2009_09_16_05_18_15Marv Wilson, professor of biblical studies, recently delivered the Ninth Annual Edwin M. Yamauchi lectureship at Miami University, Oxford, OH, March 7-9. His lecture combined chapters of a new book he’s written, scheduled for publication in May. Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage: A Christian Theology of Roots and Renewal (Eerdmans) is a sequel, of sorts, to Our Father Abraham, but more theological.  The Department of History at Miami University sponsored the event in co-operation with other organizations within the Oxford community. In addition to his main lecture on “Abraham: Historical Figure of Continuity, Discontinuity and Eschatological Hope,” Wilson also spoke to faculty and students at four other scheduled events in Oxford during the weekend.

Melkonian-Hoover-_Ruth_2007_11_02_09_00_44Ruth Melkonian-Hoover, associate professor of political science and international affairs, addressed the Venezuelan crisis recently in her column for the Center for Public Justice. At the end of May, she’ll be attending the Christians in Political Science conference at Azusa along with Michael Jacobs, assistant professor of political science, and two Gordon students, Ian Isaac and Ilya Timchenko,who recently returned from Ukraine over spring break. Melkonian-Hoover will present a workshop entitled, Jacobs,_Michael_2013_07_12_10_06_29“Religion and Immigration Attitudes,” while Jacobs will explore, “Just Business or Just Politics: Christian Approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Perez-Serrano_Pilar_2011_12_07_09_39_50Associate professor of Spanish, Pilar Pérez Serrano, will be traveling to Harrisburg, PA, in early April to present the following paper at the North East Modern Language Association conference  entitled, “Mediocridad y fantasía: jugando a ser alguien en tres obras de Juan Pablo Heras.”  This spring her new book,  “La rebelión de Los esclavos: tragedia y posibilidad en el teatro de Raúl Hernández Garrido” (Madrid: Fundamentos) will be released, and she’s recently published two two book reviews for the  Spain’s Association of Theatre Author’s journal, El Kiosco Teatral: Leer Teatro.

Models of Excellence, Scholars in Dialogue

Gordon professors from very different fields are often invited to offer their insights and expertise on teaching and dialogue at national gatherings. Here are three recent examples:

Crisman-_Karl-Dieter_2007_11_01_10_12_39In January as the Joint Mathematics Meeting gathered in Baltimore—”the world’s largest mathematics meeting in the world”—Karl-Dieter Crisman, associate professor of mathematics, was there as well. In a poster presentation, Crisman discussed Gordon’s long-running relationship with a local community partner, Girls Inc of Lynn, Mass: “We used a Tensor grant to begin a Math Circles program with an explicit mentoring component for urban middle school girls, mostly from underrepresented minorities.  After one semester, the program has been a success in getting the girls excited about math; it has also provided extremely good experience in flexibility and thinking on one’s feet for our mentors, who are mostly pre-service mathematics educators.” Crisman also gave a talk entitled, “Thou Shalt Compute, in One Click: Using (Embedded) Sage Cells Online” where he demonstrated several ways to use free, open-source Sage cell technology as part of his pedagogy.

Brink-_Paul_2007_11_02_08_59_52Paul Brink, associate professor of political science, will also participate in a unique dialogue related to his scholarship. At an event sponsored by The Constitution Project (TCP) in Washington, D.C., in March, Brink will travel there to discuss a recently commissioned TCP report called, “Preventing Irreversible Error: Recommended Reforms in the Administration of Capital Punishment,” which offers current analysis of the country’s death penalty system to help Americans get beyond fruitless debate over abstractions. Brink was one of only 20 evangelical leaders invited to participate and said that the “goal of the report was not to resolve the theoretical issue of whether the death penalty is right or wrong in the abstract. Instead, it’s to examine how the death penalty is actually practiced and how that practice might better conform to constitutional principles and American values, regardless of theoretical positions.”

Vanborre_Emmanuelle_0729_sm_2011_11_22_10_58_43Dialogue and technology are crucial elements for professors of foreign languages. Emmanuelle Vanborre, associate professor of French, will also present in March at a training workshop called, “Technology as a Tool for Linguistic and Cultural Development” for the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language in Boston. Vanborre will  explore “numerous ways to help make students proficient readers and writers, and to integrate art, culture and literature in the curriculum through technology. I’ll  present strategies  (in French) that can help facilitate comprehension and expression by focusing on developing reading and writing skills while enhancing background knowledge of culture, history, geography, and politics.”

Teaching Teachers of French Through Technology and Cinema

Though Emmanuelle Vanborre, associate professor of French and chair of Languages and Linguistics, spent much of her summer in her native country of France, she’ll be bringing her scholarship August 22 to Boston’s French Consulate. In a workshop on cinema and French language acquisition, Vanborre will explore the use of technology in the language classroom through online activities that help students learn language and culture.

As part of an annual summer university co-sponsored by the French Cultural Center and the Consulate, the two and a half day training offers seminars ranging from “Cinema for French Conversations” to the usage of interactive learning sites in the classroom. The equivalent of 15 hours of complete French immersion, the seminar offers intensive training in language and cultural activities to New England French teachers (K-12 – university).

Here’s what Vanborre wrote about her workshop: “Boston College graduate students created a series of web sites for use by middle school to college level students of French, Italian, and Spanish. These sites contain activities written by graduate students that can only be completed by examining existing L2 web pages written for and by L2 speakers. My presentation will concentrate on French sites. It will explore numerous ways to make students proficient readers and writers, and to integrate art, culture and literature in the curriculum through technology. The strategies I’ll present will facilitate comprehension and expression by focusing on developing reading and writing skills while enhancing background knowledge of culture, history, geography, and politics.”


Art at the Intersection of Culture and Consumption

This spring, the Spanish theatre journal Estreno (Estreno 39.1, pp 14-25) will publish an article from Pilar Pérez Serrano, associate professor of Spanish, her first in this respected journal. Here’s how Pérez Serrano described it:

Pérez Serrano

“The article entitled, “The Song of the Sirens: Awareness and Survival in the Era of Capitalism,” is about a new play written by Raúl Hernández Garrido, who I focused on in my dissertation. The name of the play is El canto de las sirenas.

Currently staged in Madrid together with eight others in a show called ‘Mein Kapital,’ the play is a collaborative effort among eight different playwrights from three different theatre companies and regions of Spain (Madrid, Cataluna, and Aragón). Their challenge for the stage is to think about and reflect upon the social consequences of Karl Marx’s critique of political economy in Das Kapital. (‘Mein’ actually comes from Hitler’s Mein Kampf! which is an interesting twist.) The eight plays criticize in one way or another, the extreme consumption that capitalism has created in our societies and the detrimental results that this consumption has in individuals and in collective groups alike.”

Camus: An Imaginative and Complex Literary Guide

Last year, Emmanuelle Vanborre, assistant professor of French, spent a lot of time, so to speak, with French philosopher Albert Camus. During her  sabbatical, Vanborre re-read many of Camus’s works while editing a new book of essays on him that’s just been released (by Palgrave Macmillan Publishers) entitled, The Originality and Complexity of Albert Camus’s Writings.

Emmanuelle Vanborre

The book is an extension of Vanborre‘s research on twentieth century fiction, literary theory, and Francophone literature. Her articles and book reviews on French and Francophone literature focus especially on Camus, Maurice Blanchot and Maryse Condé. She is also the author of another book on Camus, Lectures blanchotiennes de Malraux et Camus.

The publisher describes Vanborre‘s new book this way: “Fifty years after Camus’s untimely death, his work still has a tremendous impact on literature. From a twenty-first century vantage point, his work offers us coexisting ideas and principles by which we can read and understand literature, the other and ourselves. Yet Camus seems to guide us without directing us strictly; his fictions do not offer clear-cut solutions or doctrines to follow. This complexity is what demands that the oeuvre be read, and reread. The wide-ranging articles in this volume shed light, concentrate on the original aspects of Camus’ writings and explore how and why they are still relevant for us today.”

Summer Scholar: Salzburg Symposium & Program Explores Dynamics of Sacrifice in European Culture

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories exploring what Gordon professors are up to in between semesters. 

Tom Brooks

Gregor Thuswaldner

Five Gordon professors will return to Austria July 9-August 13 for the second annual symposium of the Salzburg Institute of Gordon College with the University of Salzburg. Co-directors of the Institute, Thomas Brooks, professor of music, and Gregor Thuswaldner, associate professor of German and linguistics, along with Susan Brooks, professor of music, Jim Zingarelli, professor of art, and Pamela Thuswaldner, adjunct professor of German, will also teach in the summer school program, which includes classes, tours and the international symposium. Here’s how Thuswaldner and his team of organizers described their call for papers:

Making Sacrifices: Visions of Sacrifice in European Culture                                                                       University of Salzburg, Austria; July 31, 2012

Much like Italian premier Mario Monti did at the beginning of December, politicians are increasingly calling on citizens to make sacrifices for the future of their countries. Such public invocations of sacrifice place politicians and their constituents in a state of tension at least partly because of the difficult and often contradictory connotations of sacrifice. Sacrifice, a concept of religious provenance deeply embedded in European culture, can mean to offer for destruction and to make amends, to hurt and to heal, make whole, or sacred. Such oppositions at the heart of sacrifice make it a dangerous and much-fraught concept, as well as a fruitful and powerful one in numerous spheres of culture.

This year’s symposium of the Salzburg Institute of Gordon College is dedicated to investigating notions of sacrifice as they appear at important junctures of European culture, past and present. The following questions, among others, will be considered: Continue reading

Summer Scholar: Touching the Ancient Texts

Professor Graeme Bird and student Sarah Seibert examine an ancient text.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories exploring what Gordon professors are up to in between semesters.

Graeme Bird, associate professor of linguistics and classics, has always been fascinated by the ancient stories and their modern meanings. And his students can’t help but catch his vision, as the Gordon Tartan recently reported. From June 13-16, he travels to Texas as part of his scholarship on rare and biblical texts. Here’s some of what Bird said about the trip:

“I’ll be going to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, with a current and a former student, recent graduate Paul Johnson, history major, who currently teaches Latin at a school in Malden, Mass., and sophomore Sarah Seibert who has studied two years of New Testament Greek at Gordon. They are two of only 20 successful applicants at the Logos at Baylor program, and the workshop is part of their summer institute for students interested in textual scholarship and Christian apologetics.

The purpose of the one-week seminar on Papyrology (among other things) is to learn about the handling and interpretation of ancient papyrus manuscripts. The two students each won a scholarship to participate in the weeklong workshop, and the event is directly related to Gordon’s loan of an 1800-year-old papyrus of Homer’s Iliad. I imagine part of the session will involve instruction in the construction and transmission and proper handling of ancient manuscript, as well as how to decipher them and work out their dates, from examination of different letter shapes and styles, etc.  But I’m keen to find out.”

Developing New Literary or Linguistics Scholars












It takes a village (of scholars) to raise a new scholar. At least, that’s the ethos behind the Third Annual Literatures and Linguistics Undergraduate Colloquium, taking place Saturday, March 31, 2012, at Gordon. The collaboration between the English department and the Department of Languages and Linguistics includes English professors Andrea Frankwitz and Andrew Logemann, and Gregor Thuswaldner, Moises Park and Emmanuelle Vanborre from the Languages and Linguistics committee. The goal? To encourage greater opportunities for young scholars to present their work and research.

In the fall, the professors invited submissions from undergraduate students from all colleges and universities to submit 8-10 page papers in English dealing with any linguistic or literary topic. Students were to provide a 100-200 word summary (abstract) of their essay in addition to a completed paper. Presentations were not to exceed 20 minutes.

The result are talks ranging in issues from language and gender to culture and anarchy, with titles such as, “A Language Learner’s Difficulty Understanding Humor Across Language and Culture”; “Parody in Austen’s Northanger Abbey”; “Shakespeare vs. Petrarch”; and “The Role of the Racial Other in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.” The day will conclude with a featured address by Richard F. Thomas, the George Martin Lane Professor of Classics at Harvard University. Dr. Thomas’ teaching and research interests are focused on Hellenistic Greek and Roman literature, intertextuality, translation and translation theory, the reception of classical literature in all periods, and the works of Bob Dylan.

Facing the Past . . . on Austrian Public Television

Interviewed (in German) on Austrian Public Television ORF for its news show, “Zeit im Bild,” Gregor Thuswaldner, associate professor/chair of Languages and Linguistics, discussed Thomas Bernhard, one of the most important and provocative European writers of the 20th century. Thuswaldner, who grew up in Salzburg, Austria, and now directs Gordon’s new Salzburg Institute, travelled to Austria during January 2012 for the interview. Here’s Thuswaldner’s summary of his new book “Morbus Austriacus: Thomas Bernhard’s Critique of Austria,” which was published (in German) this past fall:

“Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) repeatedly criticized Austria for its refusal to come to terms with its Nazi past. In this new book, I attempt to analyze the complexity and contradictory nature of Bernhard’s critique. Emphasizing Bernhard’s exceptionally sophisticated poetological concepts in light of Austria’s political and cultural history after World War II, I try to illustrate in this new work the subtle  aspects of Bernhard’s critique, which have been largely overlooked.”

The Virtues of French Cheese

Written exclusively by Gordon faculty members and administrators, Faith + Ideas = is a regular column exploring relevant issues and intellectual interests for our community as well as the broader culture. Several weeks ago, professor of French Damon Di Mauro enlightened readers on the virtues of French cheese…and how those virtues speak to the magic of higher learning.

The subject came up again in my language class the other day, as it invariably does at least once a year: “Why does France have 350 different kinds of cheese?”

Somehow, in the American popular imagination, this seeming superfluous profusion of fromage is emblematic of French frivolity, as farcical as their frou-frou fashion or fickle foreign affairs. After the classroom snickers subside, I find myself casting a forlorn eye on my charges, gently breaking the news to them that, alas, alas, they’ve been deprived, for they’ve probably never tasted “real cheese” before.

They stare back at me as if I’ve just told them they’re depraved, not deprived, but I affirm that nothing could be truer (i.e. the deprived part). Now, French cheese is made with raw milk—the sine qua non for superior quality, anything less would be sacrilege—which explains its complexity and depth of flavor.

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