Philosopher Jerrold Levinson To Speak on “Jazz Vocal Improvisation” at Amherst College March 8

March 5, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Jerrold Levinson, a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, will give a talk on “Jazz Vocal Improvisation: A Philosophical Interpretation” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, in Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Organized by the Amherst College Department of Philosophy and funded by the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science, Levinson’s talk is free and open to the public.

Levinson’s philosophical interests are in aesthetics, metaphysics, ethics and philosophy of mind. He has written extensively on the definition of art, expression in music, emotional response to art, the nature of literary interpretation and the ontology of artworks.

Levinson has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism since 1993, and has been a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the University of London, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the Université de Rennes in France, the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland. A past president of the American Society for Aesthetics and general editor of the Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics (2003), Levinson is most recently the author of Contemplating Art (2006), a collection of essays.

The Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science was established in 1983 by Carol Micken and John I. Forry ’66 to promote the study of philosophical issues arising out of new developments in the sciences, including mathematics, and issues in the philosophy and history of science.

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Amherst Lecture in Philosophy Now Available Online

March 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417


AMHERST, Mass.—The first “issue” of a new journal, The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy, has been published and is available only online (www.amherstlecture.org). The first electronic publication from Amherst College, The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy each year invites a distinguished philosopher to the college for a public lecture; last March J. David Velleman, professor of philosophy at New York University, gave the inaugural talk. An attractively laid-out copy of his text, titled “So It Goes,” and supporting materials such as a digital audio recording and photographs, are now available at no cost through a fully archived and catalogued publication online. The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy is supported from the Forry and Micken Fund in Philosophy and Science, in cooperation with the Amherst College Library and Information Technology Department, and is free and available to all interested readers.

Velleman is a 1974 graduate of Amherst College and received a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from Princeton University in 1983. His Amherst lecture, “So It Goes,” is about the “the sense in which the enduring self is indeed an illusion.” Velleman maintains that “this illusion goes hand-in-hand with another—namely, the illusion of the passage of time. Seeming to be an enduring self, even though one is not, is what makes time seem to pass, even though it does not. And the appearance that time passes, I argue, is the source of the suffering that is allevi–ated when both illusions are dispelled.”

Velleman’s most recent book, Self to Self (2005), brought together essays on personal identity, autonomy and moral emotions. Although the essays were written independently, they are unified by the encompassing thesis that there is no single entity denoted by “the self,” as well as by themes from Kantian ethics, psychoanalytic theory, social psychology and Velleman’s work in the philosophy of action. His work in the philosophy of action includes the book Practical Reflection (1989) and a series of papers titled The Possibility of Practical Reason (2000). He has also published papers on the right to die and (with Paul Boghossian) the metaphysics of color. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, Velleman serves (with Stephen Darwall) as founding co-editor of Philosophers’ Imprint.

The second Amherst Lecture in Philosophy was “‘Borges and I’ and ‘I’,” given in October 2006 by John Perry, the Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. Perry is a scholar who has contributed to logic, philosophy of language, metaphysics and philosophy of mind—and also a humorous 1995 online essay on “Structured Procrastination,” and “Philosophy Talk,” a radio program that “questions everything except your intelligence.” “‘Borges and I’ and ‘I’,” will be published online in the fall. Interested readers can “subscribe” by e-mail at no cost at the Website and receive notification of future publications.

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Amherst Political Scientist Javier Corrales and Economist Frank Westhoff Publish Study of Internet Use and Political Regimes

March 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Javier Corrales, associate professor of political science at Amherst College, and Frank Westhoff, the James E. Ostendarp Professor of Economics, have published an article on “Information Technology Adoption and Political Regimes” in the latest issue of the International Studies Quarterly (Dec. 2006). Corrales and Westhoff ask, “What explains the different rates of internet use across nations, otherwise known as the worldwide digital divide?”


This is a question about the determinants of technology adoption, according to Corrales and Westhoff, a debate that has been dominated by two schools of thought—one that focuses on the technology, the other, on the politics. Corrales and Westhoff integrate the two approaches by focusing on the features of both information technologies and social and political institutions that adopt them. Income, trade, infrastructure, market-oriented policies and political liberties help explain the digital divide, but Corrales and Westhoff find a more complex relationship between political liberties and Internet adoption. Not all authoritarian regimes discourage Internet use similarly. “High-income, market-oriented autocratic states are less draconian,” Corrales and Westhoff report, because such regimes “fear the political consequences of Internet expansion, [but] also welcome its economic payoffs.” They conclude with a discussion, drawing from China, on why increasing Internet use may not automatically lead to greater prospects for democratization in authoritarian regimes.

Corrales, who has taught at Amherst since 1997, has been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. He has taught in the Netherlands, Argentina, Paraguay and Venezuela. He earned a B.S. degree in foreign service from Georgetown University, and holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

Westhoff, who has taught at Amherst since 1979, has B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and economics from M.I.T., and an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.

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Guatemalan Indian Activist Rigoberta Menchú to Speak at Amherst College March 29

March 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Rigoberta Menchú, Guatemalan Indian leader and 1992 Nobel Peace Laureate, will give a talk on “Healing Communities Torn by Racism and Violence” at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, in Johnson Chapel at Amherst College. Free and open to the public, the event is sponsored by Amherst’s Mayo-Smith-Read Trans-Disciplinary Fund.

Born in Chimel, Guatemala to a Quiché-Maya indigenous family, Menchú has devoted her life to ethnic and cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. After witnessing members of her family arrested and killed by the Guatemalan army, she joined activist groups like the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC) to campaign against human rights violations by the military during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. In 1982 she founded the United Representation of the Guatemalan Opposition (RUOG) while exiled in Mexico. The subject of the internationally known biography I, Rigoberta Menchú, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Menchú recently formed an indigenous political party and announced her intention to run for president of Guatemala in September of 2007, with the desire to represent her country’s 13 million indigenous residents, who represent 42 percent of the country’s population.

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Novelist Brian Morton To Read at Amherst College March 12

March 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417


AMHERST, Mass.—Novelist Brian Morton will read at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 12, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Creative Writing Center at Amherst, the reading is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The New Yorker called Brian Morton’s recent novel Breakable You “ferociously moving” and elaborated: “This packed novel about the vagaries of love and grief takes place in a New York straight out of Woody Allen: enormous apartments abound, and girls in bars say things like ‘Paul Auster makes me wet.’” Brian Morton is the author of three other novels: The Dylanist (2000), A Window Across the River (2003) and Starting Out in the Evening (1999), the film version of which premiered at Sundance in January.

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center sponsors a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.

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Professor of History Emeritus Fredric Cheyette to be Named Fellow of Mediaeval Academy of America

March 2, 2007
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Fredric Cheyette, a professor emeritus of history at Amherst College, has been elected a fellow of the Mediaeval Academy of America, and will be inducted at the organization’s annual meeting in Toronto on April 14.

Cheyette is the author of the award-winning Ermengard of Narbonneand the World of the Troubadours (2001), the story of a 12th-century warrior princess best known “among the poets and songsmiths.” In earlier work Cheyette explored royal justice in France, the place of law in the origins of the state and the history of the European landscape from late Roman to medieval times.

Cheyette, who had taught at Amherst since 1963, retired in 2005. He received an A.B. from Princeton University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He was the history book review editor at Speculum, the journal of the Mediaeval Academy of America, from 1978 through 2000.

The Mediaeval Academy of America, founded in 1925, is the largest organization in the world devoted to mediaeval studies. Its goal is the support of research, publication and teaching in mediaeval art, archaeology, history, law, literature, music, philosophy, religion, science, social and economic institutions, and all aspects of the Middle Ages.

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Contact

Peter Rooney
Director of Public Affairs
(413) 542-2321
prooney@amherst.edu