Alexander George Receives 2011-12 Romanell-Phi Beta Kappa Professorship

Alexander George

Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, has awarded its 2011-12 Romanell Professorship to Amherst College Professor of Philosophy Alexander George. As part of this prestigious professorship, George is to deliver three public lectures on the Amherst campus, all on a unified theme of his choosing. “I expect to talk about belief in miracles,” George says, “via a consideration of the views of David Hume and of Ludwig Wittgenstein.”

“This honor recognizes your distinguished achievements within the field of philosophy, as well as your vast contributions to the understanding of philosophy by the public,” wrote Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill in a letter notifying George of his professorship. George’s achievements and contributions include establishing the Amherst Lecture in Philosophy series; launching the website and its companion book, charity and mobile app; and writing and editing numerous books and articles on philosophy (among other subjects). When asked why he believes it is important for the general public to have access to and understanding of philosophical discussions, George says, “Philosophical thought is one of the gems of human creation. A culture is impoverished in so far as they are kept out of sight, under lock-and-key in the vaults of universities.” He has taught at Amherst since 1988, holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities and is himself a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Allen Guttmann Receives Antemortem Recognition

Allen Guttmann, Professor of English and American Studies

At its annual conference on May 31, the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) waived a rule that former presidents are not eligible for awards and surprised Allen Guttmann, professor of English and American Studies, with an award in recognition of his “outstanding leadership in sport history with the publication of numerous books, service on journal editorial boards, teaching, writing and general service to the profession.”

Then, at a special ceremony convened on August 6, the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Science at Tuebingen University (Germany) conferred upon Guttmann an honorary doctorate for “his many contributions to the study of sports history and the Olympic Games and for his extensive documentation of the global development of modern sports. Professor Guttmann’s work, which is recognized throughout the world, has greatly influenced research at Tuebingen University.”

Grant Awarded to Amherst Archives to Process Papers of Key WWII Rebuilders

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a unit of the National Archives reporting to the Archivist of the United States, has awarded $56,744 to Frost Library’s Archives and Special Collections to process the personal papers of three men who played key roles in the economic and political reconstruction of belligerent nations after World War II. The materials belonged to Charles R. Kades, one of the writers of the Japanese constitution; Karl Loewenstein, a legal scholar instrumental in developing a constitution and civil administration in Germany and professor in Amherst’s political science department from 1936 to 1961; and Willard L. Thorp ’20, assistant secretary of state for economic affairs under President Truman and one of the principal architects of the Marshall Plan, who taught in his alma mater’s economics department from 1927 to 1936 and also served as a trustee. The NHPRC funding will enable the library staff to arrange and describe the papers according to current professional standards and apply existing in-house procedures for processing, said Michael Kelly, head of Archives and Special Collections.

Professor Christian Rogowski Publishes Book on Weimar Cinema


Professor of German Christian Rogowski is editor of the new book The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema: Rediscovering Germany’s Filmic Legacy (Boydell & Brewer). Published on June 15, 2010, the book presents up-to-date perspectives on German filmmaking from the years of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933).

Traditionally, Weimar cinema has been viewed reductively—equated with only a limited number of canonical films (for example, Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), several auteurist filmmakers and the expressionist film style. But in recent decades, researchers have uncovered a wealth of source material that shows Weimar cinema to be richer and more diverse than typically thought. The new book’s 18 contributors, including Rogowski himself, highlight lesser-known directors and producers, popular genres, nonfiction film and experiments in the artistic avant-garde. “The essays collected in the volume seek to redress the neglect such genre films have suffered,” he says. “Few have survived; even fewer are available outside archives, with English subtitles, for an international audience.” The essays also discuss Weimar films in terms of broader issues such as gender and sexuality; national identity and transnational collaboration; filmmaking technologies, including the introduction of sound to films; and connections with other media and art forms.

Ilan Stavans Publishes Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years

Ilan StavansIlan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and Five College 40th Anniversary Professor, has published Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, $25 hardcover). The book is a comprehensive reexamination of the early life of García Márquez, the celebrated Colombian writer, up until the 1967 publication of his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Born in 1927, García Márquez began his career as a journalist and later took to writing short stories, novellas and novels. He is credited with popularizing the literary style known as magical realism, and he went on to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982 and to publish Love in the Time of Cholera in 1985. Stavans plans to detail the latter part of the author’s life in a second book.

Archives and Special Collections Librarian Lands NEH Grant

Mike Kelly

January 11, 2010

Mike Kelly has landed a $5,275 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will fund a general preservation assessment of the Archives & Special Collections that he heads at Frost Library.

In late February 2010, Angelina Altobellis of the Northeast Document Conservation Center will visit Archives & Special Collections to survey the collections. Her report will identify at-risk collection materials, address fire protection and security concerns, provide recommendations for improving storage and handling practices, and review the general condition of library and archival collections.

Nature Episode to Feature Professor Ethan Temeles’ Hummingbird Research

December 22, 2009Ethan Temeles

Tiny birds will be the big stars of an episode of Nature airing Jan. 10 on PBS. The episode will feature the hummingbird research of Ethan J. Temeles, professor of biology at Amherst College.

The show, titled “Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air,” will feature Temeles’ research on the purple-throated carib hummingbird on the island nation of Dominica. The film is spectacular for its high-speed cinematography: viewers can literally see hummingbirds trying to kick each other as they squabble over food and get birds’-eye views of them feeding from flowers.

New Book by Professor Brandes

Ute Brandes, Professor of GermanDecember 10, 2009

As part of the 25-volume Werkausgabe of Anna Seghers’s literary works, Aufbau-Verlag in Berlin just published the second of Ute Brandes’s two-volume edition of Seghers’s short stories from 1950-1965. Anna Seghers, a German Jew and author of short stories, essays, and novels, was a leading intellectual voice among international postwar writers. Her works have been translated into more than forty languages and were made into numerous films, including the Hollywood movie The Seventh Cross with Spencer Tracy. Seghers’s short stories were written at the height of the Cold War in East Germany, a period notorious for censorship and self-censorship. Brandes’s editing and critical essays focus on restoring the original features of the texts, on their reception in East and West, and on the aesthetic and political implications of certain narrative strategies which make Seghers’s works richly original.

Scholarly Achievements Archive

Three Faculty Members Win Awards

December 1, 2009

Three faculty members have received awards for their research projects or initiatives recently. The math department’s Rob Benedetto and law jurisprudence and social thought’s Austin Sarat were each given single grants in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, while neuroscience’s J.P. Baird received two grants totaling $142,000.

Austin Sarat Recognized for Pioneering Work Studying the Death Penalty

Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science

Oct. 30, 2009

Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor, has been honored with the Hugo A. Bedau Award from Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty and the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service. He formally received the honor “in recognition of his pioneering work and distinguished scholarship in the legal study of capital punishment, specializing in efforts to understand its social, political, and cultural significance in the United States” on Oct. 28 at an awards ceremony in Boston.

Allen Guttmann Wins Lifetime Achievement Award from International Society of Olympic Historians

October 2009

imageAmherst’s Allen Guttmann, professor of English and American studies, has been honored with a prestigious lifetime achievement award from the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH). During a special two-day meeting of the group in Cologne, Germany, in August, Guttmann delivered an address titled “Ludic Diffusion as Cultural Imperialism?” and received an honorary ISOH diploma as well as a bronze bust of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. “I was especially pleased to be able to begin my address by thanking, at some length, the European scholars whose work had inspired me and whose help had been indispensable,” said Guttmann. “I was quite moved that many of these scholars come to Cologne in order to be present at the ceremony.”

Kristin Bumiller Wins Victoria Shuck Award

Kristin Bumiller

September 18, 2009

Kristin Bumiller, professor of political science and women’s and gender studies, has won the 2009 Victoria Shuck Award for her book In an Abusive State: How Neoliberalism Appropriated the Feminist Movement Against Sexual Violence (Duke University Press, 2008). The American Political Science Association (APSA) presents the prestigious award each year in recognition of the best book on women and politics.

In an Abusive State examines the ways in which feminist campaigns against sexual assault and domestic abuse have become entangled with the stances and goals of the state. This has lead, the author argues, to policies and practices that are racially biased and harmful to women of low socioeconomic status. Inspired by a “convergence of interests” in issues of gender, race and incarceration, Bumiller’s research included interviewing abused women and sitting in on the Central Park Jogger rape trial of 1990. Joanna Bourke of Britain’s Times Higher Education reviewed In an Abusive State as a Book of the Week, calling it “one of the most invigorating and challenging books I have read for years … a ‘must-read.’”

“It was a complete surprise,” said Bumiller of the Victoria Shuck Award, which she received at APSA’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Toronto in early September.

Constance Congdon’s Play to Benefit Opposition to Prop 8 in California

Constance Congdon

September 4, 2009

Constance Congdon’s new play, Something Blue, is part of a benefit for the Human Rights Campaign and its opposition to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. The benefit, titled Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, was conceived and produced by Brian Shnipper of the Attic Theatre and will play for one night—Sept. 12, starting at 8 p.m.—at the historic El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, Ca. It features work by 12 playwrights, including Congdon, who is a playwright-in-residence at Amherst. Some of the benefit’s actors include Eric McCormack, performing alongside his Will & Grace co-star Debra Messing, Timothy Olyphant, Dan Futterman, Jason Alexander, Jillian Armenante, Alison Arngrim, Lisa Edelstein, Clark Gregg, Dan Lauria and Hamish Linklater. Other well-known actors are still being cast. For more information, see this article on

Melillo Awarded Lectureship at U. North Carolina

Edward MelilloAugust 3, 2009

Edward Melillo (Ted), assistant professor of environmental history, has been named the 2009 Virginia and Derrick Sherman Emerging Scholar by the Department of History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. The lectureship—which carries a $5,000 honorarium—provides a forum for an outstanding junior scholar (an untenured assistant professor or researcher) to offer his or her perspective on a selected topic and enables recipients to meet with undergraduate and graduate students, share his or her expertise with the university’s faculty members and be available to the city’s media. During his visit to Wilmington October 13 to 16, Melillo will deliver a major public address that the university will subsequently publish, visit classes and participate in a symposium on his work titled “Edible Capital: Agricultural Expansion and the Global Environment over Three Centuries.”