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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.

Read more

 

By Ashley David

The College of Arts and Humanities would like to congratulate its FIA-Deutsch Seed Grant Competition winners! Out of the 22 FIA grantees, 11 Arts and Humanities (ARHU) students and faculty were awarded  for two separate projects entitled, “Approach: Every Voice, Every Path” and “The Digital Cookbook: A Friendly Guide for Making the Local, Global.” Each team won up to $25,000 to carry out their research and vision.

The ARHU winners are listed below:

Approach: Every Voice, Every Path

  • Daniel Greene, Department of American Studies
  •  Jarah Moesch, Department of American Studies (*DCC Graduate Assistant)
  •  Paul Nezaum Saiedi, Department of American Studies
  • Jessica Kenyatta Walker, Department of American Studies
  • James B. Wills, Department of Computer Science (DCC Student)
  • Dr. Jason Farman, Department of American Studies (Faculty Mentor) (DCC Faculty)

The Digital Cookbook: A Friendly Guide for Making the Local, Global

  • Jennifer Hottle, College of Journalism (DCC Student)
  •  Kelsey Hughes, College of Journalism (DCC Student)
  • Claire Naylor, Information Systems (DCC Student)
  •  Eliana Vornov, Computer Science and Linguistics (DCC Student)
  • Dr. Evan Golub, Department of Computer Science (Faculty Mentor) (DCC Faculty)

*Digital Cultures and Creativity (DCC) is an interdisciplinary living and learning program in the Honors College with students and faculty sharing a common passion for the digital world that goes beyond any particular tool or platform. To find out more about DCC, please click here.

The Future of Information Alliance (FIA) was launched at the University of Maryland in 2011 to serve as “a catalyst for discussion, research and action on campus and beyond.” The FIA focuses on “transdisciplinary dialogue and research on evolving issues related to the role of information in our lives.” The FIA Seed Grant Competition is designed to encourage teams of students to engage in research projects that lead the way to innovative solutions for key information-related challenges.  The teams of undergraduate and graduate students came together with a faculty mentor to create innovative solutions to challenges that face us in a rapidly evolving information landscape.

For more information on the awarded projects and for the complete list of winners, please click here.

Adichie examines the powerful impact storytelling has on politics and culture across generations.

The University of Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities presents the WORLDWISE Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2008 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient and award-winning Nigerian author, and it’s FREE!

WHAT:

An intimate conversation with the influential author, Chimamanda Adichie.  Named by The New Yorker as one of the 20 most important fiction writers under 40 years old, Adichie describes her work as “realist fiction” and is largely inspired by the cultural and political history of her home country of Nigeria.

She will speak  to the cross-generational significance of storytelling and its enduring impact on the cultural history of our lives.

Recently Adichie was also named one of “The New Guard: People Who Are Shaping Washington” by the Washingtonian and awarded the 2011-2012 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.  Her newest novel, “Americanah” will be published by Knopf in May 2013.

WHEN:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 5:30-7:30 PM

WHERE:

Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 Map.

BACKGROUND:

Presented by the College of Arts and Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies and the Institute for International Programs.

Admittance is free. Media should present credentials. For those attending:

  • Please RSVP with Nicky Everette at meve@umd.edu
  • Due to limited seating, please arrive early - Doors open at 5:00 p.m.
  • No food/drinks are allowed in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall

ABOUT THE DEAN’S LECTURE SERIES:

The Dean's Lecture Series provides an opportunity for the college faculty, students and staff to join together with colleagues across campus for stimulating conversation about issues that cross our disciplines.  Lectures and performances may address either enduring or emerging questions central to the arts and humanities, or questions arising from other disciplines to which the arts and humanities might speak.

In addition to presenting a major public event, each speaker interacts in smaller settings with faculty, graduate students and/or undergraduates.  This new series follows up on the spirited and popular moderated round table discussions, "BE WORLDWISE: The Arts and Humanities in the 21st Century."

MEDIA:

Media coverage is welcome. Parking is available in the Stadium Drive Garage across from the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and just off University Blvd.

To join in the live twitter conversation on the day of the event, follow the College of Arts and Humanities on Twitter @umd_arhu and use #ARHUDLS

CONTACT:

For more information about this event, please contact Nicky Everette, College of Arts & Humanities, Director of Marketing and Communications at meve@umd.edu or 301-405-6714.

 

By Jackie Zakrewsky

Hacker. Brainiac. Creative genius. Email savior.

These labels don’t faze software entrepreneur Dave Baggett ’92, founder of the Bethesda, Md.-based company Arcode – though they’re flying thick and fast in the flurry of reviews generated among tech bloggers about Arcode’s first product, Inky.

“So much for the slow organic growth path,” the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Arts and Humanities noted in a recent email.

That ubiquitous technology, which Baggett simply calls “mail,” happens to be his current entrepreneurial target. Through a simple download at inky.com, Baggett aims to offer the world a better email experience, with “smart” features such as a unified inbox that consolidates a user’s email accounts and sorts messages by relevance.

Baggett is the first to admit Arcode wasn’t ready to unleash Inky on the world.

“We’re hardly out of [initial] alpha [testing] at this point and are focused primarily on fixing bugs,” he wrote in late December in a post on the Hacker News website.

But Inky’s unexpected debut in the tech community has found Baggett fielding questions about a host of issues, ranging from security and privacy concerns to requests for mobile versions of Inky. The magna cum laude graduate with a double major in linguistics and computer science offers straight-up answers, no matter how much “geek argot,” or tech lingo, is thrown his way.

If you question whether Inky is “wrapped with Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF), with web page JavaScript calling native Python scripts,” Baggett has a simple answer that doesn’t give away the company store: “Yes, it embeds Python and uses CEF. But there’s a lot of other native code running there as well.”

For the past two decades, Baggett’s programming acumen and entrepreneurial spirit have served him well. As he wrote on Hacker News, “I'm a hacker who (long ago) co-wrote Crash Bandicoot (1&2) and co-founded ITA Software, which was sold to Google in 2010.”

That track record led to an extensive overview of Inky in the influential online media hub known as Tech Crunch and prompted one blogger to write, “I’ll try Inky just because of your credentials.”

Meanwhile, the hard work of getting Inky right continues. In an interview at Arcode last year, Baggett noted that making “this transition from the dumb mail client to a smart one entails solving a lot of hard [technical] problems”—to the extent that “larger companies with more resources will not easily clone what you do.”

He also recognized that getting the product right wasn’t the only hurdle he faced in creating Inky.

“The biggest challenge with consumers is you have no idea what they’re going to like,” he said. “It’s worth pointing out that you have to do everything right and then get somewhat lucky to have that happen.”

You can try Inky for free at http://inky.com

By Ashley David

The College of Arts and Humanities would like to congratulate University of Maryland English Professor Vessela Valiavitcharska on receiving a year-long fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

NEH is an independent federal agency and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.  In November 2012, NEH distributed $17.5 million in grants to 246 humanities projects. Valiavitcharska was awarded a “Fellowship for University Teachers,” which provides $50,400 to college and university teachers pursuing advanced research. 

Valiavitcharska’s research project entitled, “The Relationship between Figurative Language and Argumentation in Medieval Greek (Byzantine) Rhetoric,” is a broader inquiry into the relationship between style and argumentation in Byzantine rhetorical prose.  She was drawn to this research because of attitudes of Byzantine rhetoricians, who appear to treat rhetorical argumentation not so much in terms of logic and reason, but in terms of style and language form.

When asked what impact she hopes to make with her research, Valiavitcharska says, “I hope to challenge the understanding that there is an absolute divide between argument and style in medieval rhetoric.”

For a complete list of the 2012-13 NEH grant recipients please click here

11/7/12

 

ALL events are FREE (ticketed) and open to the public.

Reserve tickets through the Clarice Smith Center online at www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu or by calling 301.405.ARTS.

 

David Alan Grier in conversation
Monday, November 12, 2012, 7 PM
Dekelboum Concert Hall Clarice Smith Center

The multitalented comedian and film, television, and Broadway star discusses the creative process, comedy and improvisation, music and his life experiences with culture and race. Named one of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time,” Grier was most recently nominated for a 2012 Tony Award for his performance in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of The Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess.”

Cosponsored by The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Eric Schlosser in conversation
Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 5:30 PM
Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Center

Award-winning journalist, producer of the critically acclaimed documentary “FOOD, Inc.,” and best-selling author of “ Fast Food Nation” — selected by TIME magazine as one of the top 100 non-fiction books of all time — discusses the controversial and alarming state of public health, agriculture and the food industry in America.

Cosponsored by UMD Dining Services Green Dining Program

Chimamanda Adiche
Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 5:30 PM
Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Center

2008 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient and award-winning Nigerian author of “Half of a Yellow Sun,” “Purple Hibiscus,” and “The Thing Round Your Neck,” which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa, speaks to the cross-generational significance of storytelling and its enduring impact on the cultural history of our lives.

Cosponsored by the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies and The Institute for International Programs

Cathy Davidson
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 5:30 PM
Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Center

Professor of English at Duke University, renowned scholar in Digital Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies, and prolific author of “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn,” explores how the modern digital age will globally shape the future innovation of learning.

Cosponsored by the ADVANCE Program

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