John Dominic Crossan To Speak on Historical Jesus at Amherst College Feb. 21

January 31, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The distinguished New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus at DePaul University, will present a lecture titled “Method and Meaning in Historical Jesus Research,” on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 4:30 p.m. in Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Crossan is the first lecturer in the college’s spring lecture series, “Rethinking Jesus: His Intellectual, Spiritual and Material World.”

John Dominic Crossan—born in Ireland and educated there, in the United States, in Rome and in Jerusalem—was a founding member of the Jesus Seminar in 1985. The Jesus Seminar is a group of scholars working to evaluate the historical significance of every shred of evidence about Jesus, trying to ascertain what Jesus actually said and did. Vist the Jesus Seminar's Website.

In the last 30 years Crossan has written 20 books on the historical Jesus and earliest Christianity. Four recent ones, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (1991), Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (1994), Who Killed Jesus: Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus (1995), and The Birth of Christianity (1998) have been national religious bestsellers for a combined total of 22 months. His most recent book, Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (2001), was written with archaeologist Jonathan L. Reed.

Crossan was a member of a ancient Roman Catholic religious order, the Servites, from 1950 to 1969 and an ordained priest from 1957 to 1969. He joined the faculty at DePaul University, Chicago, in 1969 and remained there until 1995, and is now a Professor Emeritus in its Department of Religious Studies.

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Siona Benjamin To Present “Spicy Girl” at Amherst College Feb. 13

January 31, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Siona Benjamin, a Jewish artist from Bombay, India, will present a mixed-media performance called “Spicy Girl—Finding Home and the Dilemma of Belonging” in Room 115 of Fayerweather Hall at Amherst College, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. This event is sponsored by Amherst and Smith Hillel and is free and open to the public.

Siona Benjamin is a multimedia artist of multi-cultural identity. She wrote of an earlier mixed-media work, “ I remember the ornate synagogues of my childhood, the oil lamps, the velvet- and silver-covered torahs, a chair left vacant (for whom, I always wondered). I am a Sephardic Jew from India, my ancestors came from the Middle East (and perhaps from Spain) centuries ago. Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society, having been educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools and now living in America, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived.”

Benjamin has received numerous awards and grants for her work, including a Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant in 2001.

Last year The Boston Globe wrote that her “Finding Home” series, “inspired by Indian miniature painting, Byzantine icons, Jewish religious art, and the tantric art of ancient India, puts herself at its center. She engages in mythic ritual, as if trying to integrate all the pieces of herself into a sensible whole… Benjamin’s paintings are bold and packed with symbolism.”

Benjamin holds a MFA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne with an emphasis on theater and set design. She now teaches at the School of Art and Design, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. See her Website.

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Writers Greg Williamson and Philip Stephens To Read at Amherst College Feb. 11

January 31, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass—Two acclaimed poets, Greg Williamson and Philip Stephens, will read from their work at 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, in Porter Lounge in Converse Hall at Amherst College. The event, sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, is free and open to the public.

John Hollander has described Williamson’s most recent collection, Errors in the Script, as a “... a deeply impressive book. Its triumph is a brilliant and totally original sequence of poems... which raise fascinating questions about knowledge, memory, and their own stability and truth.” The New York Times has declared Williamson’s adherence to formal verse “an achievement in its own right.” Williamson, who teaches at Johns Hopkins University, won the Nicholas Roerich Prize for his first collection, The Silent Partner.

Stephens’s debut collection, The Determined Days, offers a poetic consideration of labor, life and relationships. Anthony Hecht has suggested that “the cumulative effect of this truly accomplished collection is powerful, disturbing, and authoritative. I am filled with admiration for Mr. Stephens’ work.” Stephens lives and writes in Kansas City, Mo. He and Williamson are both published in the Sewanee Writers’ Series by The Overlook Press.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center puts on a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. See the Center’s Website for more information.

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G. Armour Craig,Professor of English Emeritus and Former Acting President, Dies at 87

January 30, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—G. Armour Craig, a former professor of English and acting president of Amherst College, died Tuesday, January 29, after a long illness, in Hanover, N.H., where he had retired. He was 87 years old. Craig was born in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended the Hawken School. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst in 1937, Craig received M.A. (1938) and Ph.D. (1947) degrees in English from Harvard University.

When Craig retired from teaching at Amherst in 1985, he had served on the faculty at the college for 45 years. Near the end of that distinguished service, in 1983, Craig became acting president of Amherst following the death of Julian H. Gibbs. He ably led the college for 15 months and oversaw, among other achievements, a relatively peaceful abolition of campus fraternities.

Along with the late Theodore Baird, Craig was instrumental in promoting and sustaining the famous, required freshman composition course at Amherst for many years. He was an exacting teacher. When he was one of six teachers honored at the White House in 1980, his former student, the poet Richard Wilbur (Amherst College Class of 1942), said Craig had taught him “not only to be fiercely attentive to texts, but also to watch what we said and wrote.... Armour Craig was forever asking the embarrassing question, ‘What do you mean?’”

The service in New Hampshire will be private. Craig’s wife, Margaret Ball Craig, died in 1996. He is survived by his daughter Sara Margaret Ballantine of Hanover, N.H.; his son James Ball Craig of Albequerque, N.M.; and several grandchildren.

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Amherst Biology Professor Goutte Receives National Science Foundation Grant

January 23, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.-- The National Science Foundation has awarded Amherst College with a grant of $140,001 to support of the work of Caroline E. Goutte, an assistant professor of biology. Her project is called “ RUI: The Role of APH-1 and APH-2 in Notch-Mediated Cell Interactions in C. Elegans.”

“My research is geared towards understanding how cellular communication is mediated during the development of a multicellular animal,” Goutte writes on the Amherst College Website.

“The model system we use in the laboratory is the nematode worm, C. elegans and the approach we use is a combination of classical genetics and molecular genetics. Mutations that prevent embryos from undergoing normal embryogenesis are used to pinpoint important genes whose products may be involved in very early events of cellular communication.”

Goutte, who specializes in the molecular mechanisms of cell-cell interaction, graduated from Cornell University and received her Ph.D. from the University of California at San Francisco. Her paper “aph-2 Encodes a Novel Extracellular Protein Required for GLP-1-Mediated Signaling,” describing the discovery and analysis of a new protein required for communication between neighboring cells, appeared in the May 2000 issue of the journal Development. She has just published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled “APH-1 is a novel multipass membrane protein essential for the Notchsignaling pathway in C. elegans embryos.”

The National Science Foundation funds research and education in science and engineering. It does this through grants, contracts and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities and other research and education institutions in all parts of the United States. The Foundation accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for basic research. See the National Science Foundation Website.

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Amherst College Receives Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant

January 23, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College has received $175,000 for undergraduate science education from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the nation’s largest private supporter of science education from elementary school through postdoctoral studies. The funds are the second installment of a total grant of $700,000.

This $700,000 award will provide continuing support for six new interdisciplinary collaborative research groups over the next four years, involving 60 Amherst students and 19 faculty members in seven academic departments. The grant will also pay for laboratory supplies and equipment.

Each summer during the grant’s funding, Amherst will also bring an area high school teacher to campus to spend eight weeks conducting research with students and Amherst faculty in one of the collaborative groups. The HHMI grant will also support Amherst’s Summer Science Program. Established in 1987, this program brings students who intend to major in the quantitative disciplines but who lack the preparation needed to succeed in the College’s science and mathematics courses to campus the summer prior to their first year.

“Through your annual program and financial reports, we are seeing the impressive outcomes of your HHMI-supported activities,” wrote Stephen A. Barkanic, senior program officer of HHMI. “Undergraduates…are undertaking increasingly sophisticated laboratory research, courses and curricula are being developed at the interface of scientific disciplines, and outreach programs are providing teachers and students with unique opportunities to expand their knowledge of science.”

HHMI grants support science education in the United States and a select group of researchers in other countries, complementing the Institute’s principal mission: research in cell biology, computational biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience and structural biology with its own scientific teams. Amherst has received two previous grants from HHMI for similar research-oriented purposes, one in 1988 and another in 1993, both for $500,000. visit the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Web site.

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Amherst Physicist David Hall Receives Cottrell College Science Award

January 23, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.— Research Corporation has presented Amherst College with a Cottrell College Science Award worth $39,786 in support of assistant physics professor David S. Hall’s “Tunable interaction in a 87Rb Bose-Einstein condensate” project.

The award will allow Hall to study interactions between ultracold atoms and molecules in a Bose-Einstein condensate, which reveal the basic properties of the atoms themselves and help scientists to understand their “interatomic potentials.” “Improved knowledge of these potentials will, in turn, lead to exquisite experimental control of the system, permitting production of molecules in selectable quantum states in the rapidly developing field of tunable quantum chemistry,” Hall wrote in his research proposal. “We also expect these results to lead to better predictions for quantities important to precision measurement in atoms, such as those involving atomic clocks.”

A 1991 Amherst graduate, Hall is an experimental physicist specializing in Bose-Einstein condensation. He received A.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University and did postgraduate work at the University of Colorado.

The Cottrell College Science Award is meant to support significant fundamental research in astronomy, chemistry and physics done by both faculty and students. It is one of several awards given by Research Corporation, a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences at U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities. It supports ideas independently proposed by college and university faculty members and is not itself involved in the performance of laboratory research.

See the Research Corporation Website.

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Gladys Brooks Foundation Grants $100,000 to Amherst College

January 23, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Gladys Brooks Foundation has made a grant to Amherst College of $100,000 to support the college library’s Gladys Brooks Foundation Fund for acquisitions.

The latest Gladys Brooks Foundation grant will help the library support a relatively new department at the college, Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. Established in 1993, the department comprises a group of faculty and courses that place the law in its historical, social and cultural context. The Amherst College Library will use this grant to enhance its human rights and international law collections and supplement its holdings in legal philosophy, ethics and global ethnic conflict.

The Gladys Brooks Foundation Fund is an endowed fund, established in 1988, that Amherst College uses to develop the collections at the Amherst College Library. The Gladys Brooks Foundation was created under the Will of Gladys Brooks Thayer of New York. Its purpose is to provide for the intellectual, moral and physical welfare of the people of this country by establishing and supporting non-profit libraries, educational institutions, hospitals and clinics. Visit the foundation's Website.

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Writer John D’Agata To Read at Amherst College Feb. 18

January 23, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—John D’Agata, described by Annie Dillard as “a young writer of rare intelligence and artistry,” will read from his book, Halls of Fame, at 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18, in Porter Lounge in Converse Hall at Amherst College. The event, sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, is free and open to the public.

Halls of Fame was published by Graywolf Press in January of 2001, and has enjoyed critical acclaim for its distinctive blurring of the boundaries between prose and poetry. Publishers Weekly describes it as “an inviting, elliptical puzzle of American life. [D’Agata] examines disparate American subjects that include the revered (the Hoover Dam), the unknown (outsider artist Henry Darger) and the merely spectacular (the beam of light at Las Vegas’s Luxor hotel).” Excerpts from the book can be found at the Graywolf Press website.

D’Agata, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, was called “an alchemist who changes trash into purest gold” by Harper’s. He holds MFA degrees in both nonfiction and poetry and is currently the editor of lyric essays for Seneca Review.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center puts on a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. Please, visit the Center's Website.

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Casa Mañana: Mexican Popular Arts at Mead Art Museum Feb. 8 through April 21

January 21, 2002
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will present Casa Mañana: The Morrow Collection of Mexican Popular Arts, from Friday, Feb. 8, until Sunday, April 21. This exhibition celebrates the collection of Mexican folk art assembled by Dwight W. Morrow (Amherst College Class of 1895) and his wife Elizabeth Cutter (Smith College Class of 1896) during Morrow’s tenure as the United States Ambassador to Mexico in the late 1920s. Highlights include rare lacquered trays and boxes from the Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacán, ceramics from Puebla, Oaxaca, Jalisco and Guanajuato, and textiles from Mexico, Zacatecas and Coahuila.

The Mead Art Museum’s Morrow Collection of Mexican folk art is one of the most important in the United States. The Morrows, among the vanguard of early collectors of Mexican folk art, purchased most of these objects for Casa Mañana, their weekend residence in the resort town of Cuernavaca. Morrow also commissioned a mural by Mexico’s leading artist Diego Rivera. The Morrows believed that Mexico’s visual arts would complement political and economic negotiations and facilitate greater understanding across the border. More than a retreat, Casa Mañana was a sympathetic gesture of goodwill and a visual declaration of allegiance to the indigenista rhetoric of the post-Revolutionary era, which placed Mexican culture at the heart of national identity. In 1955 the Morrow family gave a selection of 159 pieces to Amherst College.

This exhibition, the first major display of the Morrow Collection since the 1930s, places major works in varied contexts—the market, the tourist shop, the home and the museum—that have long determined how Mexico’s popular arts are understood. The installation includes approximately 75 of the most important and diverse works of folk art from the Morrow Collection. It also draws on the wealth of archival material from both the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections and the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. In addition, the Mead Art Museum has assembled a collection of vintage photographs of Mexico by Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, Edward Weston and Hugo Brehme, among others, that illustrate daily life and the culture of the period. Together, these materials offer a rich resource that documents the transformation of functional, everyday objects into objects that carry both aesthetic and national significance.

A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue was published by the University of New Mexico Press. The catalogue includes an introduction by Ilán Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, and essays by James Oles, assistant professor of art history at Wellesley College; Susan Danly, independent curator and formerly curator of American art at the Mead; Rick López, (Amherst College Class of 1993) doctoral candidate in history at Yale University and recent Copeland Fellow at Amherst College; and Anthony W. Lee, associate professor of art history at Mount Holyoke College.

On Friday, Feb. 8 at 4:30 p.m., the Mead will mark the opening of the exhibition with a lecture by exhibtion curator Oles, titled “From Picadilly to Cuernavaca: A Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Popular Arts” in Stirn Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Museum. Stirn will host a premiere screening of the director’s cut of Robert Young’s Alambrista (1963) that evening at 7:30. Afterwards, Mr. Young and Professor Stavans will discuss the film. Professor Oles will offer a special tour of the exhibition on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2:00 p.m. Additional related programs include a lecture by Professor Lee, and a Mexican-American film series beginning on Feb. 11 with Traffic (2000).

This exhibition, and its accompanying catalogue, were funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Fideicomiso U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture and the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund.

The Mead Art Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday evenings until 9:00 p.m. Closed Mondays and Holidays. More information can be obtained on the Museum’s Website, or by calling the Mead Art Museum at (413) 542-2335.

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