William Pritchard Pays Tribute to John Updike

William Pritchard

July 1, 2009

William H. Pritchard, Henry Clay Folger Professor of English, was one of several distinguished scholars, writers and journalists invited recently to pay tribute to John Updike, who passed away on January 27, 2009 at the age of 76. The tribute took place at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Professor Pritchard, who frequently reviewed Updike’s work and is author of Updike: America’s Man of Letters, was joined by authors Nicholson Baker, Samuel Shem (pen-name of Dr. Stephen Bergman) and Anne Bernays; editor and journalist Charles McGrath; and family members. Radio/internet host Christopher Lydon was Master of Ceremonies. The forum was recorded on June 7, 2009, and was presented in conjunction with PEN New England. View the tribute (Professor Pritchard’s address begins at 14.38).

Randall R. Griffey Receives Award from Association of Art Museum Curators

Randall R. Griffey

May 27, 2009

Randall R. Griffey, curator of American art at the Mead Art Museum, has received an Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC). Griffey received the organization’s Outstanding Essay prize for an article he penned titled “Marsden Hartley’s Aryanism. Eugenics in a Finnish-Yankee Sauna,” which was published in the Smithsonian journal American Art in 2008. “Each year, our pool of nominations grows and grows - and this year was no exception,” said Sally Block, director of AAMC, who added that all of the group’s 900-plus members are eligible for nomination, and awards are determined by the AAMC prize committee. “Among the many exemplary publications and exhibitions, this year’s winners stand out for their innovation and commitment to scholarship.” Griffey’s award was formally announced at the AAMC Eighth Annual Meeting May 18 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Ask Philosophers Fund Charities Hit $50,000 Mark

Alexander GeorgeMay 1, 2009

Thanks to the continuing sales of Amherst philosophy professor Alexander George’s What Would Socrates Say? and its growing number of  translations and international publications, total donations from the AskPhilosophers Fund, the charitable organization that disburses the proceeds of the book, reached the $50,000 mark on April 1. The fund, according to the AskPhilosophers.org Web site, donates its monies on a quarterly basis to various educational charities, particularly those that help to make education available to people who would not otherwise have access to it. Just a few of the organizations that have received  AskPhilosophers funding include Reach Out and Read, which trains doctors and nurses to advise parents about the importance of reading aloud; the United Negro College Fund, the nation’s largest, oldest, most successful and most comprehensive minority higher education assistance organization; and the Hadley School for the Blind, which promotes independent living through lifelong, distance education programs for people who are blind or visually impaired their families and blindness service providers. A complete list of recipients can be found at the fund’s dedicated Web site.

Austin Sarat, March 29, 2009

Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science

Austin Sarat Awarded Stan Wheeler Prize

Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and expert on law, has been awarded the Stan Wheeler Prize by the Law & Society Association. The prize is awarded for distinguished work as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional students.

The prize is named for Yale Law School Professor Stanton Wheeler, who died in 2007 and was known for his leadership in the integration of law and social science, teaching at both Yale Law School and in the sociology department at Yale University. Professor Sarat is the inaugural recipient of the prize. “Stan was quite renowned for reaching out to people who were not his own students and nurturing their careers,” Sarat said. “In fact, he was one of my mentors, so this award means so much to me. I’m thrilled and flattered to be recognized for carrying on his tradition of teaching and mentoring.”

Former students, colleagues and others who Sarat has worked with over the years in one form or another sent letters to the Association nominating Sarat for the prize.

Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, March 6, 2009

Rabbi Bruce Bromberg SeltzerRabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer Celebrates Jewish Center at Franklin & Marshall

In November, Rabbi Bruce Bromberg Seltzer, Amherst’s Jewish religious advisor, served as Rabbi-in-Residence for the opening of Klehr Center for Jewish Life at his own alma mater, Franklin & Marshall College. In addition to Seltzer, the celebration of the new institution involved F&M’s president, John Fry; Kent Trachte, dean of the college; Morris Garten, president of the college’s Jewish alumni council; and faculty, staff, and students. The event also featured a Torah Walk and a rededication of the Torah to the Center’s Beit Midrash.

Howell D. Chickering, February 17, 2009

Medieval Academy Honors Chickering

The Medieval Academy of America recently recognized Howell D. Chickering, the G. Armour Craig Professor of Language and Literature and Chair of English, as “one of the most impressive teaching collaborators in medieval studies.”

An article in the Fall 2008 issue of Medieval Academy News noted that Professor Chickering’s “poetic pitch and keen curiosity has transformed the lives of generations of Amherst students just as his openness to new modes of thought and emerging disciplines has changed our scholarly perceptions. His habit of great teaching is a discipline and a generous gift.”

Jane Taubman, February 2, 2009

Professor of Russian Jane A. Taubman

Professor Jane Taubman snares top teaching honor

Professor of Russian Jane A. Taubman was cited for her “extraordinary pedagogical achievement” as a teacher, mentor and advisor by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages at its annual conference in December.

The citation declared that during more than thirty-five years of teaching Russian language, literature, film, and art, Professor Taubman “has helped nurture a remarkable cohort of scholars and teachers who have left a mark on the field of Slavic studies through their publications and their own students.”

The citation also mentioned those of Professor Taubman’s students who became architects and auctioneers, chemists and political scientists, and remember fondly to this day their first encounters with Russian culture in her classroom.

Alexander George, Janurary 8, 2009

Alexander GeorgeWhat Would Socrates Say?, a book edited by Alexander George, professor of philosophy, has recently published in Portugal and Spain. (The new editions are titled Que Diria Sócrates? and ¿Qué dirí Sócrates hoy?, respectively.) First published in the U.S. last year by Clarkson Potter, the book draws from AskPhilosophers.org, a popular Web site created by George, which brings together some of today’s most esteemed philosophers. Using their knowledge of the arguments laid down by the likes of Aristotle, Camus, Locke and Socrates, and their own insightful interpretations, participating philosophers answer questions from real people around the world in an accessible style. Included are queries on pressing social issues (war, euthanasia); timeless conundrums about religion and morality (how do we know God exists?); personal perplexities about adultery, child-rearing and sex; and some lighthearted topics, such as whether it’s right to let your kids believe in Santa. In addition to the United States, the book has also been published in Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands, and will soon be available in Italy, Brazil, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Israel and Greece. All profits from the book sales are being donated to educational charities; a special Web site has been created that lists recipients.

Natasha Staller, December 9, 2008

Natasha Staller

Natasha Staller, Professor of the History of Art, was featured in a documentary titled “Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies” that was narrated by celebrated filmmaker Martin Scorcese. The movie, from art dealer-producer-director Arne Glimcher (The Mambo Kings) delves into the relationship between film and the visual arts. Edited by Sabine Krayenbuehl, who also edited My Architect and Mad Hot Ballroom, the film also features contemporary artists like Julian Schnabel, Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, Lucas Samaras, as well as other artists and critics, and was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.  In a pioneering 1989 article and more extensively in her book, A Sum of Destructions: Picasso's Cultures & the Creation of Cubism (2001), Professor Staller explored the relationship between Cubism and the first cinema, particularly that of George Méliès.

Scott Kaplan, November 18, 2008

Scott Kaplan

Scott Kaplan, Associate Professor of Computer Science, along with collaborators in the Computer Science Department at University of Massachusetts—Amherst, have had a paper accepted to the “Symposium on Operating System Design and Implementation” (OSDI, for short).  The title of the paper is “Redline: First Class Support for Interactivity in Commodity Operating Systems.”  See the project Web site.  The paper is co-authored with Ting Yang and Tongping Liu, two graduate students at U-Mass, and Emery Berger and Eliot Moss, two faculty members there.

The OSDI conference, which takes place during even-numbered years, is considered the top computer science conference of those years. The OSDI provides the primary, most competitive and most desirable publication channels for computer science research. This is the second OSDI conference in which Professor Kaplan, as part of this research group, has published work.