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Research and Scholarly Work

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! 

6/6/13

By Mark Wilson, Fast Company

Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys. Of course our society allows exceptions now and again, but imagine showing up to a boy’s baby shower with a pink bib and matching pink shoes. There would be whispers that either you’re nuts or you must not have seen the ultrasound on Facebook.

But things weren’t always this way. Jo B. Paoletti, historian and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys, has found that pink and blue designations are extremely recent phenomena. Around the turn of the century, both sexes wore easily bleached white dresses up to age 6, meaning that gender neutral clothing was the norm. Then things slowly shifted.

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4/22/13

By Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Sean Pue had an Urdu problem. An assistant professor of South Asian literature at Michigan State University, Mr. Pue was searching for a way to automate his analysis of classical Urdu's internal meter. As an adherent of the small but growing digital humanities movement, he had some coding proficiency, but not enough: Urdu poetry is not based on stress, but on contextual patterns of syllables. His program ran slow, and the problem proved to be, in computational argot, "combinatorially explosive"—the variables piled up, bogging it down.

While at his daughter's ballet class, Mr. Pue mentioned his difficulties to Tracy K. Teal, a microbial ecologist and postdoc at the university. The two had never seen each other on campus, but their girls, best friends, brought the families together. Ms. Teal began to see analogies between how the information in DNA causes proteins to form and the chain of transformations Mr. Pue used to extract Urdu's scansion. Perhaps, she offered, she could help?

The duo were soon in for a surprise, though. The central dogma of biology—that DNA makes RNA makes protein—had nothing on the ballads of Mirza Asadullah Khan. "As we discussed it further," Ms. Teal said, "we actually realized that Urdu poetry is a lot more complicated."

That revelation was one of many packed into a small, two-day meeting at the University of Maryland at College Park that brought together, for the first time, scholars engaged in the digital humanities with scientists from the data-heavy trenches of computational biology.

Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Institutes of Health, among others, and held by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the symposium, titled "Shared Horizons," sought to present the fields together as equals. In application, though, it offered lessons to digital humanists from biology, a field that has already gone through its own, sometimes painful, computational revolution.

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By Monette Austin Bailey, Terp Magazine

Fatemeh Keshavarz, new director of the Roshan Center for Persian Studies, isn’t thinking small: She wants to move her field “to the center of humanities on campus,” she says.

Keshavarz, who is also the first Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute Chair in Persian Studies, is planning projects such a first-time translation of the seminal “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a collaboration with the Department of Women’s Studies, and awarding fellowships to train academic leaders who broaden the field’s scope by working across disciplines. Keshavarz also hopes to improve digital access to poetry, music, lectures and scholarly texts.

“The Iranian community in the United States is just coming to realize that it has a lot to offer,” she says.

Keshavarz brings her own impressive record to Maryland. An internationally respected interpreter and scholar, she spoke before the United Nations in 2007 on the importance of cultural education to world peace.

 

2/20/13

Department of English 

Our own Kari Kraus was one of the featured participants on The Kojo Nnamdi Show as Kojo moderated a terrific conversation about the digital humanities on "Tech Tuesday."  The discussion also included Brett Bobley, director of the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities and Benjamin Schmidt, a visiting graduate fellow at the Cultural Observatory at Harvard and a graduate student at Princeton.

To listen to the conversation, please click here. A transcript of the show is also available here.

 

1/31/13

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland Professor Philip Resnik's React Labs is partnering withFrank N. Magid Associates this Sunday to take a comprehensive, real-time look at how consumers engage with the Super Bowl and its advertising. The research will use React Lab's innovative mobile technology - developed at the University of Maryland - to measure how engaged viewers are, their reaction to the Super Bowl and its commercials, and if they plan to buy any of the products advertised.

The React Labs technology utilizes a mobile app that enables users to react to an event moment by moment. The new real-time polling platform captures viewer engagement with what they're watching, while simultaneously collecting temporally fine-grained, interpretable data about their responses.

"React Labs harnesses the potential of mobile technology to tap into people's immediate, unmediated responses to what they're seeing and hearing," says Professor Philip Resnik, founder of Bethesda-based React Labs.

Resnik holds joint appointments at Maryland in the Department of Linguistics and at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

"Our goal for this project is to build a platform that seamlessly integrates with how consumers watch and react to major media events like the Super Bowl," he says.

The technology was last used to judge reactions during the presidential debates at the University of Maryland and other colleges and universities across the U.S.

This is the first time it has been used with a Super Bowl.

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Thanks to a grant from the university’s College of Arts and Humanities that recognizes innovative projects, a faculty team will digitize rare historical French pamphlets, exposing valuable information about the French Revolution to a broad audience.

Funded in part by a $5,000 New Directions Innovation Seed Grant, three co-leaders will oversee a project to digitize 300 French pamphlets published in the late 18th century. Another 700 will be cataloged to increase their accessibility among researchers.

The UMD French Pamphlets Project is led by Assistant Professor Sarah Benharrech and Professor Valerie K. Orlando of the Department of French and Italian and Kelsey Corlett-Rivera, librarian for the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures from the University Libraries.

The pamphlets reveal valuable information about French society during the upheaval of the Revolution (June 1788-December 1804) and provide cultural historians, linguists and political scientists with important source material to study history, language, politics, government  and social issues.

The University Libraries hold approximately 12,000 historic French pamphlets, more than 7,000 of which are from the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras.

“We hope this pilot project jumpstarts an even greater effort,” says Corlett-Rivera. “I’m honored to be part of a team that builds on the expertise and relationships across campus.” Corlett-Rivera and her co-leaders conceived the project at the Digital Humanities Incubator series sponsored by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

The project leaders are working closely with colleagues who curate special collections within the University Libraries as well as those from the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. 

For more information: http://www.lib.umd.edu/special/guides/frenchpamphlets

1/28/13

By Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard

Back in the 1990s, advocates for arts education were thrilled by the final wording of the “Goals 2000: Educate America Act.” According to those federal education guidelines, which were signed into law in 1994, fourth, eighth and 12th-graders were expected to demonstrate “competency over challenging subject matter” in a variety of fields, including—for the first time—the arts.

Newly published research reveals that their inclusion had more than just symbolic value. In many schools, elevating the arts to core-subject status made a real difference.

Kenneth Elpus of the University of Maryland reports that Goals 2000 did not significantly increase the number of unique music courses offered in American high schools. However, he writes in the Arts Education Policy Review, “high schools were more likely in the post-Goals 2000 era to require arts course for graduation, and to increase the number of courses needed to satisfy these requirements.”

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1/22/13

By Julie Scharper, Baltimore Sun 

A rumpled pile of sheets. A Bloody Mary on an airline tray. Bags of mustard greens from a Korean grocery store. Gas station pumps, battered street signs, a steamed crab.

These are among the everyday images encountered by artist and University of Maryland, College Park professor Hasan Elahi. For the past decade — since he was detained by the FBI at an airport — Elahi has meticulously compiled tens of thousands of photos of each stop he makes in his day.

Rather than shy from government attention, Elahi embarked on a self-surveillance project. He maps his location on a website, along with photos of beds on which he has slept, lots where he has parked and meals he has eaten.

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1/11/13

By Katherine Boyle, The Washington Post

The Ghost in “Hamlet” was once a simple creation: a white sheet or some smoke was enough to depict a dead king. The audience, of course, cooperated with these primitive displays, since imagination was required of theatergoers.

But if 20th-century technology — aviation, space travel, doomsday bombs — conquered the extremes of our own universe, modern science is more concerned with the virtual world, weaving in and out of daily life without drawing attention to itself. That is the challenge that Jared Mezzocchi, a video projection designer, confronts every time he looks at a stage. How does one infuse elements of this virtual world into the age-old art form that we call “live” theater?

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