Dean of the Faculty

FRAP Awards Spring 2013

The following faculty members received funding awards in spring 2013 through the College’s Faculty Research Award Program (FRAP), which supports the research activities of all regular full- and part-time tenured and tenure-track Amherst College faculty members. Since 2000, FRAP has been endowed by the H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life.

SMALL GRANT AWARDS
Small grants are for $6,000 or less.

Professor Carol Clark
Department of Art and the History of Art
Department of American Studies
Title: Bronze Bodies

With the support from this grant, Professor Clark will consider the following in her proposed book, Bronze Bodies: the public and private possession of American Indians in the form of monumental bronze sculptures created for civic sites, multiple-editioned statuettes made for institutions and homes, and such related commodities as clock ornaments, trophies, and coins, cast between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth century. These evocative, often troubling works construct narratives of Indian lives far distant from those of the contemporary Natives most of these sculptors had visited on reservations. The book explores the possible meanings of their makers’ choices, the multiple narratives these sculptures conveyed, their reception, and their role in public and domestic life, arguing that the historical character and life ways bronze Indians performed defined a national heritage their patrons desired. For whites, bronze Indians were historic members of a ”vanishing race” transformed into appealing ancestors who made way for a modern world they could inhabit, in their patron’s minds, only on the mantel or in the park.

Professor Christopher Dole
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Title: Catastrophe, Loss, and Care in Contemporary Turkey

Professor Dole's FRAP grant will enable him to spend eight weeks conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey to examine the psychiatric response to and long-term social and psychological effects of a series of earthquakes that struck western Turkey in 1999, events that have played a defining role in the development of humanitarian psychiatry on a global scale. Complementing previous research focused on the psychiatric responses to disaster in Turkey, this additional period of field research will focus on the experiences of 40 earthquake survivors who participated in post-disaster psychiatric interventions.

Professor Deborah Gewertz
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Title: What was Given Back

With support of this grant, Professor Gewertz will continue her long-term work on global food systems in a new ethnographic context, specifically, to support ethnographic work focused on a 300-acre farm near Brookings, South Dakota, a farm in the family of Fred Errington-Professor Gewertz’s husband and collaborator-since homesteading days. It was on this lakeside farm with its interspersed marshes that Fred’s father, Paul Errington, one of America’s leading naturalists, according to Life Magazine [December 22, 1961], developed the hunting and trapping skills essential to this career as a wetland ecologist. Last year, at the request of Fred’s mother before her death, the farm was given to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be returned to prairie from corn and soy and become part of the public trust. Its marshes forever undrained, the gift fulfilled her desire to memorialize Paul and to affirm the value of ‘nature.’ The ultimate objective is to write the story of “what was given back” in this portion of heartland America. Focusing on what anthropologist Julia Elychar (2005) calls “the production of value,” will explore the range of values-values often coming to the fore under conditions of conflict-as they have played out and are still playing out.

Professor Paul Matteson
Department of Theater and Dance
Title: Take it OVER – Choreographic Residency

Professor Matteson’s funding will support rehearsing collaboratively with four professional dancers/choreographers and one contemporary composer to generate a series of bittersweet solos/duets/trios coalescing into an evening titled, Take it OVER, from June 24-July 20, 2013.
Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York City will be presenting a works-in-progress showing of Take it OVER on Saturday, February 16, as a part of its Winter/Spring 2013 Draftwork Series. This early performance opportunity will help lay a solid foundation for continued work in the summer. The premiere performance will be at Amherst College fall 2013 Orientation event at Kirby Theater. There will be performances in September 2013 at Green Street Studios in Boston, Massachusetts, and a location to be determined in the spring of 2014.

Professor David Ratner
Department of Biology
Title: Investigation of the Intersection of Signal Transduction Pathways in Dictyostelium

Professor Ratner will continue research with the support of his FRAP grant. Cells in a multicellular organism must coordinate their development. In part that coordination involves the phenomenon of “signal transduction,” whereby an extracellular molecule (the signal) activates a succession of intracellular events. This research uses the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, in which it has been shown that three paths of signal transduction, each known to play prominent roles in a range of organisms, converge: cyclic AMP-mediated activation of protein kinase A, phosphorylation by a “two component” histidine kinase, and ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis.  Recent genetic and biochemical observations argue for an interaction of the ubiquinating complex containing the protein FbxA with two other enzymes, a phosphodiesterase (RegA) believed to regulate developmental cyclic AMP levels, and the histidine kinase DhkA. This proposal describes a combination of in vivo (genetic) and in vitro (enzymatic) approaches to confirm the interaction that has been inferred, and to examine the role of various other proteins that have been hypothesized to be involved.

Professor Ronald Rosbottom
Department of French
European Studies Program
Title: La Parade Sauvage: Coming of Age in Occupied Paris, 1940-1944

Professor Rosbottom will study and publish an analysis of fictional and historical documents that deal with coming of age in an occupied city, namely, Paris between 1940-1944. Research for a book on daily life in Paris during that period introduced this theme to Professor Rosbottom. Becoming an adult is always a perilous transition, but it is especially so when the society one is entering is torn asunder by war and violence. Fathers disappear into prison camps or graveyards, mothers have to take on family burdens alone, schools that were havens become places of confusion and danger, friendships become more complex, secrecy more compelling. The adolescent urge to resist authority suddenly is no longer accepted, but can bring imprisonment and death. Many adolescents were executed or imprisoned during this time. Yet the fierceness of their reaction to German authority gave courage to others, adults, who would emulate them, even while disparaging their activities. This project would open up a new avenue of research and that is how does was form new generations of young adults, politically, socially, intellectually, and psychologically? After this beginning, Professor Rosbottom would like to move into other cultures to study the representation of the phenomena in novels, poetry, films, and memoirs of those who reached adulthood in times of crisis.

Professor Lucía Suárez
Department of Spanish
Title: Dance, Race and Nation in/from Bahia, Brazil

Dance, Race, and Nation from/in Bahia, co-edited by Professor Lucía M. Suárez and Amelia Conrado, gathers top dance scholars and activist experts, who have been working in Bahia over the last two decades, to examine the particular ways in which Afro-Bahian dance has responded to socio-political notions of race, nation, and community (ies), resisting stereotypes and re-defining traditions. These funds support the continuing work on this book, which takes as its focal point of study, Bahia, a geographic tourist center from which new and multiplying representations and interpretations of the African Diaspora have been exploding since the 1930s. Almost a century later, the second decade of the twenty-first century serves as a pivotal moment to reflect on the local and global dynamics that reveal continued and new conflicts, which affect the ways African Diaspora identities are performed, valued, and/or negated. Contemporary local discourses in Latin America present the citizen/body as a political, ethical, ethnic, and aesthetic being in motion, while the politics of globalization disfigures this real and/or imagined agency with imperious and homogenizing forces. This shapes a complex dialectic that puts questions of citizenship, human rights, and community building to the fore.  The collected essays are the result of ongoing working groups and collaborations between the US, Brazil, and Canada, which have taken place at the Latin American Studies Association, Toronto 2010, and at the Universidade Federal de Bahia, Brazil 2010, and numerous other, less formal venues. The contributors explore the discrepancy between grass roots work and commercialized African Heritage Tourism.
Through case studies, historical analyses, and autobiographical essays, this book offers a much needed, critical, scholarly investigation of the ways that dance continues to be central to the imaginings of Bahia, yet under-examined as a political tool in a continued national and local quest for implementations of civil and human rights.

LARGE GRANT AWARDS
Large grants are for more than $6,000 and up to $30,000.

Professor Caroline Goutte
Department of Biology
Title: Can Gamma Secretase Heterogeneity Modulate Notch Signaling?

Animal cells must respond to signals from their neighboring cells and their environment. Professor Goutte and her students have been using the genetic model system C. elegans to tease apart the molecular mechanisms by which cellular responses are tightly regulated over the course of development. Their focus is on a cell signaling mechanism found in all animals and known as the Notch signaling pathway. Through genetic mutant screens, the Goutte team has discovered new genes that exert control over the Notch signaling machinery. Most recently they have uncovered an unexpected mechanism by which Notch signals can be modulated using the very basic core machinery of the response pathway. The key player in this regulation is the large complex known as gamma secretase, a common cellular component involved in cleaving a variety of membrane proteins, including the Notch receptor protein itself. Through a variety of preliminary observations and tests, the Goutte team has formulated a working model in which heterogeneity of subunits in the gamma secretase complex can modulate Notch signaling output. They will use this grant award to delve into this new line of research and bring it up to speed in time to warrant external funding support.  The group's working model is directly transferrable to more complex systems (eg. humans) because the model revolves around the ubiquitous gamma secretase complex. Their findings will have implications not only for all Notch signaling events, but also for other roles of gamma secretase, including its medically important role in Alzheimer's Disease.

Professor Jenny Kallick
Department of Music
Title: The Schubert Cello Quintet Project: A Schubert Quintet Festival and A Schubert Quintet Enhanced CD

Schubert's last composition, his Cello Quintet (1828) scored for string quartet and second cello, is perhaps the most admired of all chamber works. Its unique instrumentation, however, presents a puzzle, namely, why did the composer add a second cello, rather than employ one of the more usual additions, such as a piano, second viola, clarinet, oboe, flute, etc.? With support from the FRAP, Professor Kallick will investigate the Quintet's powerful two-cello configuration in order to support a fullscale reimaging of this remarkable, yet mysterious, composition. The proposed Schubert Quintet Festival and Schubert Quintet Enhanced CD will constitute the work of this project. The Festival in Buckley Recital Hall (September 19, 20, and 21) will feature the acclaimed Brentano String Quartet with cellist Michael Kannen in three consecutive performances in conjunction with workshops, demonstrations, and available website materials. The Enhanced CD will publish the "live" recording made during the festival with an extended sourcebook of interactive materials, including video and audio examples of the Quintet's rehearsal process, scores for the newly transcribed choral works, and essays addressing cultural, analytical, and performance practice topics. These two ways of experiencing the Schubert Cello Quintet Project complement each other pedagogically and encourage the practice of active listening through distinctive modalities. The festival provides the venue for creating the "live" recording: "live" recordings aim to capture a performance "event" that has engaged an audience at a particular time and place. Amherst students and community members are the target audience. They will participate fully in the making of the "live" recording, a role they will come to understand through workshops, which will focus on the listener's crucial role in live performance, the festival's thematic approach to the concerts' programming, the rehearsal process, and cultural and analytic background. The enhanced CD format will offer a less scripted path of discovery than that of the Festival, providing substantial opportunities for free ranging exploration without time constraints.
The Quintet will be performed along with newly transcribed string versions of an admired, yet virtually unheard repertoire of choral works central to the activities of Vienna's private men's singing associations. Resembling the curatorial direction provided in art exhibits, these choral transcriptions will provide a sonic path, toward the cello quintet, thereby illuminating the deep musical connection between the darker timbres of this "Mannerchor" repertoire and the Quintet's low-registered tessitura. This significant connection, without mention in the Schubert literature, will become palpable through the premier of these transcriptions, enabling these disparate repertoires to be experienced side-by-side. Through this juxtaposition, the sublime quality that Schubert infused into his men's choruses will be heard to permeate the Quintet as well. The cultural significance of this connection speaks to the emerging role of music in public discourse: drawing on the choral music's marked expressive meaning, the composer succeeded with the Cello Quintet in elevating the string quartet genre from its more mundane role as "house music" to that of public music, thereby realizing his highest ambition in the last chapter of his life, namely, to contribute to the music that was central to the artistic public discourse. In other words, Schubert succeeded in joining Beethoven in posterity.

Senior Resident Artist Peter Lobdell
Department of Theater and Dance
Title: A Collaboration - NOVETO

"Collaboration" is a word used altogether too lightly in the arts. Rarely is a project a true collaboration. Collaboration occurs when artists are able to achieve consensus without compromise. The social and artistic contract that must be engaged requires each collaborator to accept the contributions of the others without veto or control. This grant will support Professor Lobdell’s project, which proposes that Thorn Haxo, sculptor, will create a series of computer drafted projections of interior and exterior places. Charles Ditto, composer, will respond to these places with a new score to be played by professional musicians recruited in Texas. Professor Lobdell will respond to the places with a score of movement and words. The first draft will be completed without any discussion among the artists. The second draft will be informed by the collaborators' reactions to the first. However, the artists will not ask each other to conform to any particular personal vision. Lobdell, Ditto, and Haxo have worked together for twenty-five years. This definition of "collaboration" has revealed itself from their working methods. This project is an experiment to confirm or refute the central notion that "collaboration occurs when artist can achieve consensus without compromise."

Professor Andrew Poe
Department of Political Science
Title: Suicide Protest: Normative Intrusions

With support from the FRAP, a conference, Suicide Protest-Normative Intrusions, will be held on October 4-5, 2013 at Amherst College. Recent events-from self-immolations in the Arab uprising and Tibet, to hunger strikes in Turkey, India, and Guantanamo Bay, to public suicides in China and Greece-have raised the issue of suicide as a mode of protest. Yet for how public and substantial these events have seemingly been, too little attention has been paid to how some such protests have been successful (and why others have failed). The overriding question for this conference is whether and how suicide acts as a unique form of social and political protest. A collection of international scholars from a variety of disciplines will convene – including anthropology, political science, communications and media studies, women and gender studies, and sociology - to participate in a collective discussion on suicide as a mode of protest. These presenters will engage both theoretical and empirical discussions of this unique phenomenon. Discussions will be held to think about what, if anything, suicide transforms in how one might regard protest – when it might prove more affective and which political ends are supported or undermined by such modes of protest. The intent of the proceedings of this conference is to be subsequently produced as an edited volume.