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To: Colleagues
From: Bonnie Thornton Dill, Dean
Date: August 23, 2013
Re: Latin American Studies Center Director
 
I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Alejandro Cañeque as Interim Director of the Latin American Studies Center, effective August 23, 2013.
 
Currently an associate professor in the Department of History, Alejandro is a specialist in the history of colonial Latin America and the Spanish empire. He teaches courses on the history of the encounter between Europeans and natives in the New World, colonial Spanish America, early modern imperialism and colonialism in the Atlantic world. In addition to the United States, he has taught in the United Kingdom,Mexico, Peru and Spain.
 
Alejandro’s main area of research is the political and religious cultures of the early modern Spanish world, with an emphasis on colonial Spanish America. He is the author of “The King’s Living Image: The Culture and Politics of Viceregal Power in Colonial Mexico” (2004) and contributor to the edition of Juan de Palafox’s “Virtues of the Indian” (2009). His works, “The Americas,” “Historia Mexicana,” “Revista de Indias” and “Histórica,” were published in the Colonial Latin American Review. He is currently working on a book-length study of the politics of martyrdom on the frontiers of the Spanish empire in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
 
The Latin American Studies Center has long serviced the campus and larger community as a research center dedicated to the teaching of topics related to Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the 2013-14 academic term, Alejandro will provide oversight for the center’s curricular offerings, undergraduate certificate program
and outreach activities.
 
Alejandro holds a licenciatura (or license) in geography and history from the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain, and a M.A. in Latin American studies and a Ph.D. in Latin American history from New York University.
 
I also announce that Jennifer Baur Sanchez is the center’s new coordinator, replacing Winslow Robertson and responsible for course scheduling, events and publicity.
 
Finally, I want to take this time to thank Karin Rosemblatt for her service as the center’s director for the past five years.

By Natalie Kornicks

The School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures has appointed Zhanna Gerus-Vernola the Maya Brin Distinguished Lecturer in Russian starting fall 2013. In addition to teaching, she will organize all events and activities related to the new Maya Brin Residency Program, established through a generous $600,000 gift from University of Maryland Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Michael Brin. The residency program, named in memory of Brin’s mother, Maya, who taught Russian in the Russian program for nearly 10 years, is designed to bring leading Russian scholars, artists and cultural figures to campus for short-term stays between one week and one semester.

A lecturer in Russian at Maryland since 2006, Gerus-Vernola has been the primary beyond-the-classroom organizer for the Russian program and has been active in providing program enrichment through contacts in the community.

“Ms. Gerus-Vernola unites excellence in teaching and a range of administrative skills with a strong attachment to student engagement and a serious commitment both to the new Maya Brin Residency Program and to the Maryland Russian program,” said Elizabeth Papazian, an associate professor of Russian and film studies in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.

Gerus-Vernola holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology from Moscow State University and a master’s degree in Russian language and linguistics from the University of Maryland. She has completed her Ph.D. coursework in second language acquisition and Russian at Bryn Mawr College.

Gerus-Vernola is active in the area of technology and learning, with a three-year stint as a consultant on Internet-based language modules for American Councils. This past year she received a New(er) Technology Grant from the University of Maryland Center for Teaching Excellence for intensive training during the summer, followed by monthly seminars throughout the academic year

Additional professional experience includes a three-year position as a program officer for the Future Leader Exchange Program (FLEX) at the American Councils for International Education; four years as a co-organizer of an annual international sports festival for handicapped athletes in Russia; and a year as a practicing psychologist in Moscow working with women from war-conflict zones.

By Karen Shih, Terp magazine

The university is exploring a partnership with Washington, D.C.’s famed Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design that could lead to access to the gallery’s $2 billion, 17,000-piece collection, enhanced art and design opportunities for Maryland students, and increased visibility and presence for the university in the nation’s capital.

President Wallace Loh in April signed a memorandum of understanding with the head of the Corcoran Board of Trustees and has appointed an 18-member task force to consider a formal collaboration. It is scheduled to report its findings to him by the end of the summer.

“We are energized by the potential to enhance both institutions, to bring together diverse academic disciplines, students and faculty to create something truly unique and compelling in higher education,” Loh says. “This is a moment of remarkable possibility.”

The Corcoran was established in 1869 as D.C.’s first private art museum, dedicated, in the words of founder William Wilson Corcoran, to “encouraging American genius.” Its renowned collection, housed just a block from the White House, includes works by Degas, Monet, Picasso and Sargent. 

 The college opened in 1878 and today has approximately 550 undergraduate and graduate students. In recent years, the museum has struggled to overcome severe financial troubles, including $7 million operating deficits for the last two years and a $130 million backlog in building repairs.

The agreement signed by the Corcoran and UMD notes the advantages of UMD’s management expertise, financial strengths, economies of scale and capacity to help run the Corcoran’s administrative side, in such areas as student services, fundraising, facilities management and human resources.

The UMD task force, led by Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin; Curlee Holton, interim executive director of the David C. Driskell Center; and School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Dean David Cronrath, is now investigating the possibilities for new courses, joint degrees and innovation studios, which would bring together students and faculty from disciplines like engineering and business with the arts.

“All our students will have to be creative problem-solvers and designers as well as entrepreneurs in their jobs,” Cronrath says.

“All great universities have a well-balanced set of disciplines,” he says. “This will complement nicely the partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which tends to focus on science and engineering.”

If the task force recommends moving forward, the University of Maryland Board of Regents and the Corcoran Board of Trustees will vote on the decision.  

This partnership would be unique but not unprecedented. The University of California, Los Angeles operates the Hammer Museum, and Johns Hopkins University has partnered with the Peabody Institute for more than three decades.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it takes great courage and leadership for President Loh to imagine it and make it possible,” Holton says.

By Monette A. Bailey, Terp magazine

An African-American art collection valued at more than $2.2 million now belongs to the university’s David C. Driskell Center.

The nearly 270 paintings, sculptures and other works bequeathed by Sandra Anderson Baccus, who died last year, and her late husband, Dr. Lloyd T. Baccus, make it the center’s largest gift. Mrs. Baccus served on the center’s board from 2004 to 2006.

“She was impressed with what we were doing here,” says Dorit Yaron, acting director. “Usually 3 to 5 percent is shown on exhibitions while the rest of objects are stored. At a place like the center, she believed we would use the collection more often for study, classes and possibly an exhibition.”

Familiar names such as Clementine Hunter, Romare Bearden and Palmer Hayden are represented, as are a range of formats and subjects. The collection includes abstract metal sculptures addressing lynching, fine drawings evoking nights at the famed Apollo Theater and even a pair of creatively decorated shoes.

“There were a number of artists she was interested in, and her husband was interested in a different group,” says Curlee Holton, interim executive director of the center. He says it makes for a diverse and “exceptional” collection.

By Natalie Kornicks

The College of Arts and Humanities would like to congratulate Art History and Archaeology Professor Abby McEwen on receiving the 2013 Dedalus Foundation Senior Fellowship for her project, a book titled “Revolutionary Horizons: Art and Polemics in 1950s Cuba.” The fellowship includes a stipend of $30,000, the maximum amount of money awarded to a recipient.

“The fellowship is supporting final stages of work on my book manuscript,” McEwen said. “And the stipend will support a semester of research leave from the university (in Fall 2013), as well as travel to Miami and Havana.”

Her book, which she expects to complete by the end of the fellowship year, considers the emergence of abstract art in Havana and its promulgation within a radicalized cultural filed, circumscribed by the national discourse of cubanía and the Cold War ideological divide. Abstraction, both a physical form and an ideological platform, signaled new possibilities for art as a means of social and political transformation, and is the focus of McEwen’s research.

In addition to the Dedalus Senior Fellowship, her project has also been supported by grants and fellowships from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the University of Maryland Graduate School.

The Dedalus Foundation’s Senior Fellowship program is intended to encourage and support critical and historical studies of modern art and modernism. Under this program, fellowships are awarded to writers and scholars who have demonstrated their abilities through previous accomplishments and who are not currently matriculated for academic degrees.

Congratulations again to Assistant Professor McEwen on receiving this prestigious fellowship! 

5/14/13

By Kathy Park, WJLA

University of Maryland students took over public space in the Long Branch neighborhood and put a spotlight on an area that may soon get even more attention with the Purple Line.

baseline">Hands-on work takes on new meaning for Fox. She spent the semester along with other classmates using the Long Branch community as their canvas.

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baseline">“This piece is called Thirsty for Change,” says Kristen Fox, a graduate student at the University of Maryland. Her piece consists of 3,444 plastic bottles.

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baseline">“My favorite thing to do is watch the kids,” says Fox. “You’ll see as soon as they get off school they immediately run in and run around the tree here.”

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baseline">The two-week public art display aims to connect the neighborhood while showcasing what the area has to offer.

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baseline">“This temporary work is part of thinking about the longer term vision,” says Ronit Eisenbach, a professor at the University of Maryland.

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baseline">Part of the future plans includes the highly-anticipated and controversial Purple line, a light rail system proposed to go through Long Branch.

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The Honors Humanities Living and Learning Program, administered by the College of Arts and Humanities in collaboration with the Honors College, has announced the appointment of Gregory A. Staley as its new director.

Staley, who will begin his new position on July 1st, is an associate professor of classics in the college.  His research focuses on Latin literature, on its reception in later eras and on the role of Greek and Roman antiquity in the formation of American identity.

Staley said he welcomes the opportunity to celebrate with students all the ways in which the humanities foster self-knowledge, self-formation and self-promotion in every possible career and in every pathway in life.

As director, he plans to emphasize the intersections between the humanities and the sciences; to highlight the connections between the humanities and careers; and to honor the ways in which knowledge of the past helps to shape the future.

Selections of Staley’s work include his book “Seneca and the Idea of Tragedy” and an editing of the essay series, “American Women and Classical Myths.”  He has also written articles and essays about fictional and non-fictional figures ranging from Rip Van Winkle to Nathanial Hawthorne.  He is currently working on an article to be included in the book “Brill Companion to Roman Tragedy.”

Staley has won many awards, including the Excellence in Teaching award from the American Philological Association.  He has also served as a Lilly Fellow and been elected to the Academy for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Maryland.

ABOUT THE HONORS HUMANITIES PROGRAM
The nationally recognized Honors Humanities Living and Learning Program is one of seven living and learning programs under the Honors College. Located in Anne Arundel Hall, the program challenges students to think about fundamental questions facing humanity through their exposure to traditional practices within the humanities combined with investigations of the role of arts and humanities in the world today.

ABOUT THE HONORS COLLEGE
The highly acclaimed Honors College consists of a close-knit community of faculty and intellectually gifted undergraduates committed to acquiring a broad and balanced education.  The program features small classes taught by outstanding faculty who encourage discussion and foster innovative thinking. Each year, approximately 1000 undergraduates are welcomed into this highly selective program.

For more information on the Honors Humanities program, visit www.honorshumanities.umd.edu.

For more information on the Honors College, visit www.honors.umd.edu.

4/11/13

Department of English 

The College of Arts and Humanities would like to congratulate Professor Joshua Weiner, who is a 2013 recipient of a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation!

Professor Weiner is the English department's 4th winner in the past 5 years. He joins 8 other current faculty members who are Guggenheim laureates: Vin CarrettaMichael CollierMerle CollinsReggie Harrison,Matt KirschenbaumBob LevineHoward Norman, and Stan Plumly. In addition, 10 other former and emeritus faculty members from our department have received Guggenheim fellowships: Eric Bentley, Adele Berlin, Carl Bode, Gladys-Marie Fry, John Fuegi, Annabel Patterson, Bill Peterson, Jack Salamanca, Sam Schoenbaum, Reed Whittemore, and Cal Winton.

Often characterized as "midcareer" awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. Established in 1925 by former United States Senator and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, in memory of seventeen-year-old John Simon Guggenheim, the elder of their two sons, who died April 26, 1922, the Foundation has sought from its inception to "add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding." The Foundation receives between 3,500 and 4,000 applications each year, and approximately 200 Fellowships are awarded each year.

By Natalie Kornicks

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an elegant award-winning writer from Nigeria, but if you ask her she’ll tell you she’s just like her grandmother—“a trouble maker, fierce and difficult,” all of which she loves.

“I think Africans have a tendency to romanticize who and what we are,”Adichie said to the sold-out crowd at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center during the third installment of the 2012-13 WORLDWISE Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series.

Early in the conversation on Tuesday, Feb. 19, Adichie described a moment that took place in her family's ancestral hometown of Abba, on her way to visit her Uncle Mai—“My father’s only brother. My favourite uncle,” she wrote in an article for the Financial Times in Nigeria last year.

“A woman walking ahead of me tripped and fell, and then she said ‘f***, f***.’ That was the last thing I expected to hear from her. Part of me was taken aback—I probably would have wanted to say something deep and moving, but this woman said f***,” Adichie laughed. “The reality of things is how you want them to be. It’s the reality—you say f*** when you fall down.”

Hearing that word come out of the mouth of such an accomplished author, a MacArthur “genius” award winner who graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University and completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, delighted the crowd with “mild shock,” said Associate Professor Sheri Parks, who moderated the lecture.

“It helped make her point,” Parks said. “For us to see that it made her realize that she had romanticized her homeland.”

A place, where according to Adichie, others in the African community would say of the incident if it were to occur in one of her books, “That’s not Nigerian.”

But even if Adichie is writing about someone else’s experience, it’s authentic. And she doesn’t worry about what other people think about her portrayals of reality and place, because she is telling her own truth, she said.

“I think place is very important for me…I don’t think that what I am—whatever that is—is unable to coexist with Africaness—whatever that is,” she said. “I think I grew up in Nigeria and my sensibility is Nigerian.”

While her two most notable books, Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half a Yellow Sun (2006), took place in Nigeria, not all of her stories take place in Africa. Yet Adichie said all of her writing is really about exploring “Nigerianness,” which she does through her characters.

Even if the story is set in the U.S.—a country that is filled with “an abundance of unreasonable hope”—it is really about Nigeria, she said.

After soliciting suggestions from the campus for the series and a considerable deliberation process, Adichie was chosen for her relevance across multiple departments of the College of Arts and Humanities to make a balanced and engaging event, according to members of the lecture series committee.

“[Adichie] embodies the spirit of global innovation and connectedness that is at the heart of the University of Maryland’s mission to be a leading internationally recognized institution that fosters cosmopolitan citizenship,” said Assistant Professor of English Keguro Macharia, who recommended Adichie as a potential speaker. “Her works are already widely taught on campus—so students are familiar with her—and her status as a successful African immigrant woman would be inspirational.”

Adichie’s significance to Maryland transcends literature and is not only inspirational to students of English, but also students of theatre, dance, history, linguistics, women’s studies and language and culture.

But overall, Adichie just wants people to tell truthful stories, whether they are good or bad, she said.

When Parks asked Adichie how she felt about being called wise, Parks read the following quote from renowned novelist Chinua Achebe:

“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. Adichie knows what is at stake and what to do about it…” Parks read.

“I memorized that,” Adichie said.

And the two finished reciting the quote aloud in tandem, “She is fearless or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria’s civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.”

To hear another motivational conversation, attend the last lecture of the series with Cathy Davidson, who will speak about digital humanities on April 18 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

For more information on Adichie visit: http://www.l3.ulg.ac.be/adichie/

2/27/13

By Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post

An ambitious National Civil War Project will be unveiled Thursday at Arena Stage as major universities and flagship theaters in four cities team up to create new performances and campus programming.

The partnerships represent a “radical collaboration,” says Arena artistic director Molly Smith. Arena is working with George Washington University. The announcement is scheduled to include “artistic demonstrations” of the kinds of theater, dance, music and scholarship likely to emerge from this large-scale initiative...

Baltimore’s Centerstage and the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a pod that has already initiated a notably big project. The Kronos Quartet has been commissioned for a piece composed by jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard; the performance will involve a 500-voice choir and spoken word by 2011 National Book Award winner Nikky Finney. The result, “At War With Ourselves,” will be performed at a historically significant site.

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