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Message from the Dean: ARHU “Year in Review” and the U.S. presidential election.

Dear Colleagues:

It is fortuitous that we’re releasing the College of Arts and Humanities’ (ARHU) annual “Year in Review” the week after the most startling U.S. presidential election in recent history. The election laid bare yawning divisions among us and has elicited deeply-felt emotions of anger, fear, pain and exaltation. People on all sides of this chasm, nationally and locally, are actively engaged in trying to understand and find meaning in these events and discern approaches for moving forward.

This moment presents an exceptional opportunity for me to remind everyone in our community—students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends—of the tremendous value and expertise that the arts and humanities offer society. Through our fields we have the talent and knowledge to analyze, interpret and contextualize these events as both a product of U.S. history and culture and as part of the broad sweep of human civilization.  

Our historians, philosophers and rhetoricians interrogate the narrative arc of the divisive national conversation and its ethical implications. They provide insight into the immense power of words and the burdens of the past. Students and scholars in the visual and performing arts explore creative ways to express feelings of thrill and despair and do so in ways that can bring people together to see and hear one another and to help soothe their pain.

Those who study languages and culture along with those in the multidisciplinary fields of women’s, American, and LGBT studies engage issues of identity, belonging and cultural expression. They are equipped to put into context the pressing challenges of inclusion, communication across cultures and the imperatives of respect for difference.

This report provides multiple examples of the wealth of resources we can draw upon in these challenging times. They offer reassurance and encouragement. I invite you to join me in celebrating the outstanding successes and accomplishments of our community and in utilizing them to help us create new accomplishments in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Thornton Dill

Professor and Dean, College of Arts and Humanities

View PDF here. 

To: Colleagues

From: Bonnie Thornton Dill, Dean

Date: September 13, 2016

Re: 2016-17 Leadership Appointments

I am pleased to announce the following leadership appointments within the College of Arts and Humanities:

Amanda Bailey is serving as chair of the Department of English, effective July 1, 2016.

Amanda Bailey specializes in Shakespeare, early modern legal studies, political theory, economic history and the history of masculinity in literature. Her most recent book, “Of Bondage: Debt, Property and Personhood in Early Modern England,” examines dramatic literature’s contribution to the developing narrative of debt bondage, shedding new light on the conceptions of indentured servitude and slavery. In addition to publishing in journals such as Shakespeare Quarterly, English Literary Renaissance and Renaissance Drama, she has also co-edited two volumes, “Masculinity And The Metropolis of Vice, 1550-1650” and “Affect Theory, Early Modern Texts.” Her current book project, “A Natural History of Politics: Shakespeare, Sympathy and the Stars,” identifies affinity as foundational to ideas about political agency as based on affect rather than rights.

Bailey joined the faculty in the English department in 2012, coming to us from the University of Connecticut.

She earned her doctorate in English literature from the University of Michigan.

David Ellis is serving as executive director of the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC), effective September 7, 2016.

Ellis has nearly 20 years of experience in foreign language teaching, training and curriculum design and is currently focused on developing a model of learner persistence and clarifying the role of technology in foreign language education. He will provide overall leadership and direction to the center, serving as the principal investigator for the Center’s federally-funded STARTALK program, which is designed to increase national capacity in critical-need languages. He is also program manager of the Analysis and Language Learning contract, a federally-funded project to develop self-guided, web-based learning materials in over 100 critical-need languages.

Ellis joined the NFLC in 2006 after leaving the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, where he was a faculty developer. He previously served as deputy director and interim director.

He earned his doctorate in second language acquisition from the University of Maryland.

Jason Geary is serving as director of the School of Music, effective July 1, 2016.

A respected musicologist and conservatory-trained pianist, Geary has focused his research on the music of nineteenth-century Germany and its role in European cultural and intellectual history. In addition to several articles and book chapters, he is author of “The Politics of Appropriation: German Romantic Music and the Ancient Greek Legacy,” which explores the reception of ancient Greece as it relates to German music and culture of the 1800s. His latest book project investigates the theme of childhood in nineteenth-century music amid changing ideas about children that emerged during the late Enlightenment. His work has been recognized by, among other honors, a Fulbright grant and a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

As a young pianist, he won competitions that resulted in performances with the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra, and at New York’s Alice Tully Hall.

Geary joins UMD after a 12-year career at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he served as associate professor and associate dean for graduate studies, equity and inclusion.  

He earned his doctorate in musicology from Yale University.

Catherine Knight Steele is serving as the inaugural director of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded “Synergies Among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture” initiative, effective August 15, 2016.

Steele is an expert in digital media, online communication and race. Her research examines the representation of marginalized communities in the media and how those populations use online technology to create spaces of community and resistance. Her current project focuses on digital black feminism and how the technical and imaginative possibilities of new media are shaping online black feminist discourse.

Steele comes to UMD from Colorado State University, where where she was an assistant professor of journalism and media communication.

She earned her doctorate in communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Please join me in congratulating our new leaders in the College of Arts and Humanities. I would also like to take this opportunity to offer my warm thanks to the former directors and chairs: former Director of the School of Music Robert “Bob” Gibson, who will continue teaching, performing and composing, following a research leave; and former Chair of the Department of English Kent Cartwright, who will continue his research in medieval and renaissance literature.

Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland
Thursday, October 06, 2016 - 8:00 AM to Friday, October 07, 2016 - 6:30 PM

This conference explores the systematic criminalization of migration in many western liberal democracies.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Award-winning poet Claudia Rankine discusses art in the making of American democracy.

Ulrich Recital Hall, Tawes Hall
Thursday, March 02, 2017 - 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Panel discussion on New Directions for the Humanities

Congratulations to ARHU professors La Mar Jurelle Bruce, Julius B. Fleming Jr. and Christopher J. Bonner, who received fellowships for their research projects related to African-American literature, history and culture.

Bruce, Fleming and Bonner were part of an African-Americanist cluster hire, joining a community of scholars at the University of Maryland (UMD) that are at the forefront of the discussion on race and produce scholarship at the intersections of history, literature, gender studies and artistic expression. 

La Mar Jurelle Bruce, Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies

La Marr Jurelle Bruce was awarded the 2016 Ford Foundation  Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. He is one of only 21 scholars to receive the postdoctoral fellowship in this year’s rigorous nationwide competition.

Bruce’s scholarship focuses on “blackness and feeling—that is, the phenomenological, affective, and erotic textures of black life across the diaspora,” Bruce said. “I am especially interested in how feeling informs, inspires, infuses, and sometimes inhibits black expressive cultures,” he added. At UMD, he teaches courses in Africana and American performance, literature, visual art and popular culture.

The fellowship will fund Bruce for the 2016-17 academic year while he completes his first book, “How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness, Blackness, and Radical Creativity.” The book is a study of black artists who mobilize “madness” within radical performance and literature. Proposing a theory of madness that addresses its floating signification—and traverses its phenomenological, clinical, sociocultural, and political dimensions—Bruce confronts “the mad” in the work of Charles Mingus, Nina Simone, Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, Patricia J. Williams, Lauryn Hill and Dave Chappelle, among others.

“African American artists have deployed ‘madness’ as content, methodology, metaphor, form, aesthetic and existential posture in an enduring black radical tradition,” Bruce said. “By ‘going mad,’ these artists also expose and convey the violence, chaos, strangeness, wonder, paradox, and danger—in short, the phenomenological madness—that infuses modernity’s racial drama.”

Bruce will be hosted by the Center for Africana Studies and the Department of Music at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During his time there, he will be mentored by Guthrie Ramsey, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program awards pre-doctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral scholarships to scholars who promote diversity in the academy.

Julius Fleming Jr., Assistant Professor in the Department of English

Julius Fleming Jr. was awarded a post-doctoral residential research and teaching fellowship at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, where he will be completing his first book manuscript, “Technologies of Liberation: Performance and the Art of Black Political Thought.” In addition, he will begin his second book project, which examines the intersections of race, medicine and capital in black performance and literature—19th century to the present.

Fleming specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century African diasporic literatures and cultures, with particular interests in performance, visual culture, sound studies, philosophy and medicine, particularly how they intersect with race, gender and sexuality. He was inspired to pursue his field of research when he was an undergraduate student at Tougaloo College, a private, historically black college in Central Mississippi that served as a bastion for civil rights activism. 

The Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia funds residencies for scholars who specialize in the study of Africa and the African diaspora. Fleming will be part of the post-doctoral program that offers a two-year research and teaching fellowship.

 Christopher Bonner, Assistant Professor in the Department of History

Christopher Bonner was a 2015-16 recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The fellowship has enabled him to work on his current book project, “The Price of Citizenship: Black Protest, American Law, and the Shaping of Society, 1827-1868,” which examines the lives of free Africans who were working to define citizenship and secure rights in the decades before the Civil War.

Bonner chose to pursue the NEH fellowship in Philadelphia, a city that is considered a center for African American politics before the American Civil War broke out in 1789.

In his book project, Bonner poses questions about how people can change their government and about what black freedom means in a slaveholding society. His ultimate goal, Bonner says, is to shed light on the contributions of black activists before the end of slavery and their role in the creation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which is considered the foundation for citizenship and rights for the modern United States.

“I've been drawn to this work as a way of exploring the long history of struggles for civil rights in the United States,” Bonner said. “I'm also interested in understanding how black Americans have related to and worked to transform the structures of American law and government.”

The NEH Post-Doctoral Fellowship supports scholarship related to United States history and the Atlantic world from the 17th through the 19th centuries. It provides a monthly stipend and access to conduct research in residence at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

About the College of Arts and Humanities

The College of Arts and Humanities has made serious investments in African American culture and history, hiring faculty clusters in African American literature and history, adding to the strong community of African Americanist scholars already spread across the campus’s many colleges. The university is also home to important research centers such as the Consortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora.

 Through interdisciplinary collaborations led by the College of Arts and Humanities, UMD is also expanding the breadth of research possibilities in the fields of African American history, literature and culture, and the digital humanities. A new project co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)—“Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture”—will utilize digital humanities to develop tools, methods and archives to address African American themed research questions.

Eubie Blake National Jazz and Cultural Center 847 N Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21201
Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Explore the role of music in protest culture and the ways in which music can be used as strategy to create, fuel, or transform narratives.

3123 Walbrook Ave., Baltimore, MD 21216
Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Screening and Discussion from Baltimorians who are engaged in challenging misleading narratives about the city of Baltimore.Free and open to the public with dinner offered for $10.

David C. Driskell Center (Cole Field House)
Monday, May 16, 2016 - 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Half-day meeting for scholars to learn about the vast range of research materials available to them at UMD for the study of the African American experience.

Pratt Library Southeast Anchor Library, 3601 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore 21224
Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 1:00 PM

Exploring how people who participated in virtual public spaces during the events following the killing of Freddie Gray think about their involvement in the shaping of the narrative.

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