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Fall 2004 Faculty Research Award Program Awards
The following faculty members received funding awards in December 2004 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 grants are for $5,000 or less.
Professor Ethan Clotfelter, Department of Biology
Research Project: Costs of Incubation in Birds: A Behavioral and Physiological Approach
In this project, Professor Clotfelter and Daniel R. Ardia, a visiting scholar at the College, will explore the factors affecting an important component of reproduction in birds, incubation. During incubation, parents must invest significant time and energy in maintaining proper temperature conditions. In two experiments, the scientists will manipulate parental behavior and thermal conditions. First, they will control the condition of breeding female tree swallows to examine how physical state affects investment in reproduction, learning about the tradeoffs that parents make between their own survival and their investment in incubation. They will then experimentally cool nests (the tree swallows will be nesting in boxes) during incubation to determine how the thermal environment influences behavior and egg viability. Prior work has heated eggs in order to reduce incubation costs. This experiment will be the first to cool nests and should provide valuable new information about the role of environmental conditions in influencing reproduction.
Professor Suzanne Dougan, Department of Theater and Dance
Research Project: Dead Fall Revisions
Professor Dougan will use her award to support her plans to revise and re-stage her play Dead Fall, which premiered at the College in January 2004. She will strengthen what she describes as the “topsy-turvey, high and low art, 3D-collage that [she] imagines the world of the play to be.” The house, inspired by the image of Dorothy’s Kansas home after it drops from the sky in the Wizard of Oz, that serves as the centerpiece of the set, will remain much as it was in the original production. However, the tangle of tree limbs that evoke the play’s governing metaphor will become a stronger visual component, reinforcing the sense of instability suggested by the skewed lines of the half-buried house. Professor Dougan wants the “deadfall” to break through, disrupt, and ultimately envelop the play’s action, creating an omnipresence through which the actors maneuver with ease, but without commentary or even acknowledgement. After reworking the visual environment, she plans to revise the script.
Professor Catherine Epstein, Department of History
Research Project: Model Nazi? Model Nazi Territory? Arthur Greiser and the Warthegau (1939-1945)
Professor Epstein will explore the life of Arthur Greiser, the Nazi leader of the Warthegau, a part of Poland annexed to Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1945. Greiser is exemplary of a particular kind of Nazi perpetrator, the militant nationalist from the borderlands. His rule of the Warthegau was characterized by Germanification, the ethnic cleansing of Poles, drastic initiatives that culminated in the Final Solution, and anti-church measures. Professor Epstein will demonstrate that each of these radical policies can be linked to Greiser personally. Her biography of the Nazi leader will make a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion of perpetrators and their motives; to the study of center-periphery relations within the Third Reich; to the analysis of the variety of Nazi occupation policies in Central and Eastern Europe; and to the role of ethnic cleansing in the Warthegau. The portrait that emerges is of a Nazi leader who ruthlessly acts on his hatreds. By shedding light on this individual, Professor Epstein hopes to heighten our understanding of the kind of men who shaped the fierce conflicts of Europe’s last century.
Professor Jill Miller, Department of Biology
Research Project: Too much of a good thing—Redundancy and the Evolution of Separate sexes in Lycium (Solanaceae)
The majority of flowering plants are hermaphroditic, and individuals produce both male and female gametes. In such organisms, the potential for self-fertilization exists, and mechanisms to avoid mating within individuals have evolved, possibly as means of avoiding the often deleterious effects of inbreeding. Such outcrossing mechanisms are widespread among flowering plants and include the evolution of separate sexes, spatial and temporal separation of gender, and self-incompatibility systems. In the genus Lycium (Solanaceae), all species are protected from self-fertilization by a genetically-controlled self-incompatibility system, which prevents pollen from fertilizing ovules on the same plant. Separate sexes have also evolved multiple times in Lycium. The presence of both genetic self-incompatibility and separate sexes calls into question the basic interpretation of such features and allows researchers to examine the evolution of these traits in association. In Lycium, separate sexes have evolved in concert with polyploidy, a chromosomal mutation in which the entire genome is duplicated. Since polyploidy is believed to disrupt the genetic control of self-incompatibility, it seems likely that separate sexes may have evolved secondarily as an outcrossing mechanism. In her research, Professor Miller will examine allelic variation in the gene that controls self-incompatibility to explore the proposed relationship between polyploidy and self-compatibility.
Professor David B. Reck ,Department of Music
Research Project: Research in South India’s Classical Music in Madras (Chennai)
Professor Reck will document and study classical south Indian (Carnatic) music as presented at the Madras Festival of Music and Dance, which occurs from mid-December through mid-January. The festival brings together nearly three hundred musicians and dancers in various Indian classical traditions for concerts, seminars, and conferences. Events begin in the morning in dozens of venues and can last until midnight. In 2002, Professor Reck performed four concerts as part of the festival, playing the South Indian veena. The FRAP award will enable him to study music as performed by the master musicians at the festival and to attend the annual conference of the Music Academy, Madra (Chennai). In addition, as part of Professor Reck’s ongoing research in the Karaikudi tradition, he will study with, and record important and rare traditional compositions as rendered by his principal teacher, the veena virtuoso Mrs. Ranganayaki Rajagopalan.
Professor Karen Sánchez-Eppler, Departments of English and American Studies
Research Project: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century America
Dependent States, Professor Sánchez Eppler’s forthcoming book on United States childhoods, is in the final stages of production and will be published in winter 2005, by the University of Chicago Press. The FRAP grant will enable her to pay for indexing the book and for reproduction and copyright fees for numerous illustrations, production costs not covered by the press. Dependent States explores the complex roles played by childhood—the paradoxical pressure of children’s power and powerlessness—in the tasks of reforming American society during the mid-nineteenth century. Professor Sánchez Eppler is concerned with how cultural norms are inculcated in children, how children are used structurally and rhetorically to enforce such norms, and how individual children negotiate these conflicting expectations. Studying these contradictions has enabled her to reassess the nature and function of America’s celebration of domesticity, and to raise new questions about how power works both within the family and between the family and larger institutional or economic structures: tavern, church, school, market, street, and state.
Professor Kevin Sweeney, Departments of History and American Studies
Research Project: Captive Histories: Captivity Narratives and Native Stories of the 1704 Deerfield Raid
Professor Sweeney’s FRAP award will provide funding for maps and illustrations to accompany “Captive Histories: Captivity Narratives and Native Stories of the 1704 Deerfield Raid,” a collection of captivity narratives and Native stories that he has edited with Professor Evan Haefeli of Tufts University. The manuscript is intended to be a companion volume to their book Captors and Captives: The 1704 Deerfield Raid. The collection departs from existing works devoted to the genre of Indian captivity narratives by including Native stories and essays by Native scholars, as well as rare examples of the unpublished accounts by captives that often served as the basis for published captivity narratives.
Professor Rick A. López, Department of History
Research Project: Forging a Mexican Aesthetic and Integrating the Nation, 1921-1972
Professor López’s FRAP award will support his study of Mexican cultural integration after the Revolution of 1910. His work focuses on the validation of peasant aesthetics, especially handicrafts, to understand broader processes of Mexican national integration. The manuscript delves into the impact of art markets, modernist aesthetics, and economic marginalization, offering insights into how we think about Indianness and cultural imperialism, and about the unanticipated ways national and international projects unfolded on the local level among the artisans of Olinalá in southern Mexico. The FRAP award will support Professor López’s archival and field research in Mexico and his archival work at Yale University.