Amherst College Professor Ilan Stavans Publishes Book of Fiction

August 28, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture and Five-College 40th Anniversary Professor at Amherst College is the author of The Disappearance: A Novella and Stories ($22.95, TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press, Bloomington, 2006.) “The Disappearance” tells the story of a Belgian Jewish actor who plots his own kidnapping in order to denounce anti-Semitism in the Low Countries. “Xerox Man,” commissioned by the BBC, is about a book thief. “Morirse esta en hebreo” is a novella about the death of a Mexican patriarch at the time of the 2000 presidential election. A feature film based on the novella and produced by John Sayles will be released at the end of the year.

“Stavans beautifully demonstrates that the best way to suggest the extraordinary is through the ordinary,” according to a Boston Globe review. A Library Journal reviewer wrote, “The Mexican and European Jewish heritage of multilingual screenwriter, translator, critic and fiction writer Stavans is reflected not only in his plots but also in his obvious admiration for such writers as Isaac Bashevis Singer, whose three-volume Collected Stories he edited. This captivating book is highly recommended,” the reviewer concluded. Publishers Weekly noted “These provocative stories read almost like newspaper dispatches, conveying facts and stopping short of analysis. Fans of Stavans’s expansive body of work won’t be disappointed.”

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1993, Stavans is also author of Growing up Latino (1993) and The Hispanic Condition (1995), The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998), On Borrowed Words (2001), The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (2003) and most recently Dictionary Days (2005.) He is the editor of the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2005.) Stavans has published the first dictionary of Spanglish, titled Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language (2003), and has debated in public the role language plays in public life and civic affairs for African Americans, Latinos and other immigrant groups. Stavans also published a selection of the interviews that he conducted on Conversations with Ilan Stavans on the WGBH (PBS) program La Plaza.

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Jewish Studies Scholar Susannah Heschel To Speak at Amherst College Sept. 6

August 28, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Susannah Heschel, the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, will speak on “From Theory to Reality: Implications of Feminism for Judaism” at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6, in the McCaffrey Room in the Keefe Campus Center at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Willis D. Wood Fund and the department of religion at Amherst, Heschel’s talk is free and open to the public.

Heschel, whose scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, received her Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989. Her publications include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (1998), which won a National Jewish Book Award, and a forthcoming book, The Aryan Jesus: Christians, Nazis and the Bible. She has also edited several volumes, most recently Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (1999, with Robert P. Ericksen) and Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism (1998, with David Biale and Michael Galchinsky). She also published a volume of her father’s writings, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1997), with a biographical introduction. Susannah Heschel has also written extensively on feminist issues related to Jewish studies and edited the collection On Being a Jewish Feminist (1983.)

Heschel has taught at Princeton University, the University of Cape Town and the University of Frankfort. She has been a fellow at the National Humanities Center, and has served since 1999 on the academic advisory committee of the research center of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. She spoke on Judaism and the environment at the 1992 Rio de Janeiro United Nations Earth Summit and at the 1994 Cairo United Nations conference on Population and Development. A frequent commentator on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Heschel also contributes to The Nation, Dissent, Commentary and Tikkun magazines.

In addition to her academic work, she has written and lectured frequently on Jewish issues, served for several years, with Michael Lerner and Cornel West, as the co-chairs of Tikkun, sits on the advisory board of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and is an enthusiastic member of the National Council of Jewish Women.

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Architectural Historian Carroll William Westfall To Speak on "To Restore the American City” at Amherst College Sept. 11

August 25, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Carroll William Westfall, the Frank Montana Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, will give a talk titled “To Restore the American City: A Guide from the Past to the Present” at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, in Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. The first lecture in the series sponsored by the Colloquium on the American Founding at Amherst, Westfall’s talk is free and open to the public.

Westfall’s early work, devoted to the Italian Renaissance and the consolidation in architecture of political authority and theological reform in the Catholic Church, resulted in scholarly articles and a book, In This Most Perfect Paradise (1974). He has since concentrated on the relationship between the history, theory and practice of architecture, especially the role of tradition in shaping the practice of the present to serve the future. A review of this interest is in his contribution to Architectural Principles in the Age of Historicism (1991), written with Robert Jan van Pelt. Westfall, whose current interests are in tradition and classicism in architecture and the American city and on the architect’s capacity to nourish the Christian faith, studies the history of the city with attention to the reciprocity between the political life and the urban and architectural elements that serve the needs of citizens.

Westfall was educated at the University of California (B.A., 1961) and at the University of Manchester (M.A., 1963) and Columbia University (Ph.D., 1967). After teaching at Amherst College (1967-72), the University of Illinois in Chicago and the University of Virginia, he joined the faculty of the Notre Dame in 1998 as Frank Montana Professor at the School of Architecture.

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Media Artist and Activist Kembrew McLeod To Speak on Intellectual Property Law at Amherst College Sept. 18

August 22, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—In recognition of Constitution Day, independent documentary filmmaker and media studies scholar Kembrew McLeod will present a multimedia program titled “Culture, Inc.: How Intellectual Property Erodes Freedom of Expression” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Cole Assembly Room is wheelchair accessible. Sponsored by the Amherst College President’s Office and presented by the Amherst College Library, the event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

McLeod is the author of Freedom of Expression®: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and other Enemies of Creativity (2005), which received the 2006 American Library Association Oboler Award for the best published scholarship in the area of intellectual freedom. A professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, McLeod received his doctoral degree from the University of Massachusetts. He is known also for such “media pranks” as filing a trademark on the phrase “freedom of expression” in 1998 and auctioning his soul in a glass jar on eBay.

The presentation will explore the impact of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) and intellectual property law in general, in such diverse areas as genetics, art and music, farming, academic research, publishing and teaching. McLeod is currently producing a documentary film of Freedom of Expression® (in conjunction with the Media Education Foundation in Northampton), which relates to copyright and free speech. He is also working on a feature length documentary film on the history of sound collage and sampling called Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport. McLeod will show brief excerpts from each film during his multimedia lecture.

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Amherst College Graduate and Book Collector William Miglore ’06 Receives Award

August 21, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—William Miglore, a 2006 graduate of Amherst College, won second place for his Ray Bradbury collection in the first annual Collegiate Book-Collecting Championship, which honors winners from the three dozen colleges and universities that hold student book-collecting contests. He will receive $1,000; a trip to New York for the awards ceremony Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Grolier Club; a scholarship to the Rare Books School at the University of Virginia; and a $500 donation in his name to the Amherst College library. The Friends of the Amherst College Library presented the Frederick S. Lane ’36 Prize for Excellence in Book Collecting to Miglore in 2004 for his collection of association copies and in 2005 for his Truman Capote collection. In 2006 Miglore received the Lane Prize for an unprecedented third time for the Bradbury collection. “It’s hard for me to imagine what it was like before the Internet,” commented Miglore, who started collecting online at age 14 in 1996.

Daniel McKee of Cornell University took first place in the national Collegiate Book-Collecting Championship for his collection, “Educational Books from Japan’s Meiji Period (1868–1912),” and David Rando of Cornell won third place for his “Finnegans Wake Reference Books.”

A panel of judges, including a librarian, a bookseller and a collector, reviewed 44 collections from winners of campus competitions. The used and rare book marketplace Biblio.com, the San Francisco auction house PBA Galleries, the Los Angeles antiquarian booksellers Heritage Book Shop and the New York-based Grolier Club, the country’s most prestigious book-collecting society sponsor the contest. Next year, the competition will be open to students whose institutions don’t have their own contests. For more information, please visit the contest website.

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Amherst College History Professor Kevin Sweeney is Co-editor of Captive Histories

August 21, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Kevin Sweeney, a professor of American studies and history at Amherst College, and Evan Haefeli, professor of history at Columbia University, are the editors of Captive Histories: English, French, and Native Narratives of the 1704 Deerfield Raid ($22.95, 306 pp., University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, 2006), a collection of original source material that tells the story—or the stories—of the 1704 French and Indian attack on Deerfield, Mass. Sweeney and Haefeli were also the authors of Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield(2003), a historical re-examination of the events from multiple points of view. Captives and Captors received an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History in 2004.

In their new book, Sweeney and Haefeli have chosen texts that range from the famous, such as John Williams’ The Redeemed Captive, to the records of French soldiers and clerics, to less well-known Abenaki and Mohawk stories of the raid. Sweeney and Haefeli provide a general introduction, extensive annotations and notes. The texts are also assessed by two Native scholars, Taiaiake Alfred and Marge Bruchac, who was a Five College Fellow in the Program for Minority Scholars in Anthropology/Sociology at Amherst College in 2004-2005. The Abenaki and Mohawk narratives of the events offer readers an opportunity not only to compare captors’ and captives’ accounts of the same experiences, but also to compare Native oral traditions. Similarly, the memoirs of French military officers and an excerpt from the Jesuit Relations illuminate the motivations behind the attack and offer fresh insights into the complexities of French-Indian alliances.

Sweeney, a resident of Greenfield, Mass., has taught at Amherst since 1989. He received a B.A. from Williams College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Yale University.

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Refugees International President Ken Bacon ’66 To Speak at Amherst College Aug. 28

August 21, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Kenneth Bacon, Amherst College Class of ’66 and president of Refugees International, will speak to the incoming Class of 2010 at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28, in Johnson Chapel at Amherst College. Bacon will address issues of genocide in Darfur. The first annual Benjamin DeMott Lecture at Amherst College, his talk is directed toward first-year students at Amherst, and will relate to their summer reading. As space permits, the DeMott Lecture is free and open to the public.

In 2001, Bacon became the president of Refugees International, a 25-year-old organization that generates lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced people, and works to end the conditions that create displacement. He previously served in the Clinton administration as the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs and Pentagon spokesman, as a reporter and editorial columnist at The Wall Street Journal, in the United States Army Reserve during the Vietnam War and as a legislative assistant to Senator Thomas J. McIntyre (R.-N.H.) He is a member of Population Action International, the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

After receiving a B.A. with honors in English from Amherst, Bacon earned M.B.A. and M.A. degrees in journalism from Columbia University. He has published articles and op-ed pieces on peacekeeping, displacement and other topics in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Newsday, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, World Policy Journal and The Guardian.

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2006-07 Music at Amherst Series Opens Sept. 15 with Parker Quartet

August 18, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Music at Amherst opens its 29th season of world-class chamber music with the Parker Quartet on Friday, Sept. 15, in Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Building at Amherst College. Tickets for series subscriptions are on sale until Sept. 15. Five other programs are included in the series.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m., cellist Pieter Wispelwey and pianist Dejan Lazic will perform a program of Beethoven sonatas.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m., the Ying Quartet will present a program featuring the works of Smetana and Mozart, and also two works commissioned for the quartet.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m., pianist Peter Serkin returns for his fourth Music at Amherst appearance.

On Saturday, March 3, at 8 p.m., world renowned musicians Leon Fleisher and Jaime Laredo collaborate in a special performance presented by the Adams Fund. (This performance is open only to series subscribers and Amherst College students.)

On Tuesday, March 13, at 8 p.m., the Music at Amherst season will close with a rare recital appearance by tenor William Burden, accompanied by pianist J.J. Penna.

This schedule is subject to change; latest information can be obtained from the Amherst College Concert Website at www.amherst.edu/~concerts, or by calling the Concert Office at 413/542-2195. Season subscriptions are available until Friday, Sept. 15, for $100-$125 ($85-$110 for seniors, and $30-$50 for students). For more information and brochures call the Concert Office at 413/542-2195.

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Amherst College Professors Nasser Hussain and Austin Sarat Consider “The Literary Life of Clemency” in TriQuarterly

August 16, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Nasser Hussain, assistant professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, and Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College, have written an essay titled “The Literary Life of Clemency: Pardon Tales in the Contemporary United States” in TriQuarterly 124, the most recent issue of the international journal of writing, art and cultural inquiry published at Northwestern University.

Hussain and Sarat examine the writings of three state governors—the elected officials in this country who enjoy the “sovereign prerogative” in their power to pardon criminals lawfully tried, convicted and sentenced—who justified in their narratives their seeming “disregard of settled law.” In 2003 Illinois governor George Ryan commuted 164 death sentences and delivered a 22-page, hour-long speech he titled “I Must Act.” Twenty years after he left the governor’s office in California, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown published a memoir, Public Justice, Private Mercy (1989), that examined his conflicting treatment of various clemency pleas. An earlier governor of Ohio, Michael DiSalle, had written The Power of Life or Death (1965), in which he expressed the agonies of such decisions.

The governors’ literary efforts seek “some rhetorical trope that connects what is in the end a personal choice with larger cultural and political values,” Hussain and Sarat say “In the face of clemency’s lawful lawlessness and its seemingly anomalous place in a constitutional democracy,” they conclude, “contemporary pardon tales provide some semblance of order.”

Hussain, who received a B.A. degree from Yale University (1988), has both an M.A. (1990) and a Ph.D. (1995) from the University of California at Berkeley. Before coming to Amherst in 1994, Hussain was a fellow with the Harvard University Society of Fellows. His 2003 book, The Jurisprudence of Emergency, analyzed the historical uses of a host of emergency powers, ranging from the suspension of habeas corpus to the use of military tribunals.

Sarat, who has taught at Amherst since 1974, is author, co-author or editor of more than 50 books, including When the State Kills and Law, Violence, and the Possibility of Justice. He was the co-author of Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism and Cause Lawyering (2004) and co-editor of From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State (2006) and Law on the Screen (2004). His most recent book is Mercy on Trial: What It Means to Stop an Execution (2006). His teaching has been featured in The New York Times and on the NBC Today Show. Sarat was the co-recipient of the 2004 Reginald Heber Smith Award given biennially to honor the best scholarship on “the subject of equal access to justice,” and has served as president of the Law and Society Association and of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities.

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Emily Dickinson Museum Board of Governors Presents Museum Master Plan

August 4, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens has announced that its Board of Governors has adopted a new master plan that will serve as the long-range planning tool for the restoration and improvement of the museum site.

The master plan was initiated in November 2004, a year after the Homestead and The Evergreens, the two adjacent historic houses closely associated with poet Emily Dickinson, merged into a single museum. “Previously owned and operated separately, the reorganization allowed the museum’s new Board of Governors to consider the long-term future of the combined site from a fresh—but truly historic—perspective,” explained Jane Wald, the museum’s executive director. The museum commissioned preservation architect M. Jeffrey Baker, of the Albany, N.Y., firm Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker, LLP, to prepare a master plan based on careful review of its buildings, grounds, historic documents and other related material. The result is a comprehensive blueprint for restoration and care of the Homestead and The Evergreens and for their shared landscape. It also provides options for additional space to accommodate the program requirements of the increasing number of visitors anticipated in coming years.

The plan emerges from the board’s strategic vision for the museum. “We want to employ the assets of Dickinson’s literary legacy and her family’s property to widen the circle of those who encounter the power of her poetry,” states board chair Polly Longsworth. “Home was so important to Dickinson, as a concept, as a place. Careful stewardship of her home, which formed the core from which she explored ‘circumference’ (one of her key images), helps orient the museum’s countless visitors within her experience.”

The master plan recommends restoring the interiors of both Dickinson homes to represent more accurately what the poet and her family knew when they occupied the houses. Examples of specific treatments include refurbishing the poet’s bedroom, where she composed her verse late into the night, and reconstructing the glass conservatory where she tended exotic plants in winter.

Another of the important projects in the plan involves rehabilitation of the 19th-century groundscape so loved by the poet that it was a vital presence in her poems. “Each member of the Dickinson family had a particular interest in nature, horticulture or landscape design,” said Wald. “The gradual change in the property’s character from the working gardens on the Homestead side to the carefully designed park on the Evergreens side reflected these interdependent interests.” The master plan proposes to protect historic landscape features while re-creating a Dickinson-era planting scheme.

Recommendations range from replacement of the overgrown hemlock hedge fronting the property to potential reconstruction of the property’s barn. This would fill out a major interpretive element of family life on the three-acre estate, as well as provide much-needed space to accommodate visitor services and programs, collections storage and exhibits.

The museum’s board anticipates that execution of the full master plan, estimated at $13 million in today’s dollars, will be phased as the extensive fund-raising required will permit. “The plan gives us a lot to think about and choose from in the years ahead,” said Longsworth. “We hope that Dickinson admirers across the country and around the world will want to be a part of the museum’s exciting future.”

Announcement of the master plan comes on the heels of a successful completion of an initial $705,000 campaign. Spurred by a matching grant of $200,000 secured with the help of Rep. John Olver from the Save America’s Treasures program of the National Park Service, the museum’s board quietly raised the required match for the federal grant. A master plan was one of several objectives of the campaign, which also funded the exterior restoration of the Dickinson Homestead, completed in 2004, and secured funds for critical infrastructure improvements.

The next steps for the museum are to address urgent infrastructure concerns: aging electrical wiring at the Homestead, fire security and water infiltration in the cellars of both houses. The work is currently underway, and scheduled for completion in the summer of 2007.

“Once completed,” Wald said, “our upgraded mechanical systems and water control measures will vastly improve our ability to care properly for the Dickinson houses and collections. They’ll be the foundation for progress toward our ultimate restoration goals, so that every visitor can experience Dickinson’s legacy in the family homes she knew.”

The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens is owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information about the museum, please call 413/542-8161 or visit the Website at www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org.

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