Senior Sabbatical Fellowships 2016-2017

The H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life supports the Senior Sabbatical Fellowship Program, which increases tenured faculty members’ salaries for one semester of leave from 80 to 100 percent. The fellowships are competitive, and they are awarded by the dean of the faculty and the Committee of Six once their recommendations are approved by the president and the trustees. The following are summaries of the 2016–2017 fellowship recipients’ research projects.

 Elizabeth Aries, Clarence Francis 1910 Professor in Social Sciences  

Research Project: Ten Years Later: Revisiting Race and Class Matters

Professor Aries conducted a longitudinal study of race and class issues at Amherst based on fifty-eight students from the class of 2009.  The study addressed two main questions: what challenges were students facing in their day-to-day lives on campus due to their race and social class and what were students learning from the diversity in the student body.  The students were selected from four distinct groups—affluent white students, affluent black students, lower-income white students (i.e., those with high financial need and/or limited family education), and lower-income black students (i.e., those with high financial need and/or limited family education).  Participants were interviewed and filled out online surveys at the beginning and end of their first year of college, and again at the end of four years.  The details of the study were reported in two books: Race and Class Matters at an Elite College (Aries, 2008), and Speaking of Race and Class.  Professor Aries is interested in carrying out a ten-year follow-up of the original fifty-eight students from her study.  Her expertise has been on adolescents and “emerging adults,” i.e., individuals between eighteen and twenty-five, but not on individuals in their early thirties.  She needs first to deepen her understanding of this age group, a cohort that has not been well researched by psychologists.  She also plans to identify and review longitudinal studies that follow college students into their adult years.  Professor Aries will be searching specifically for studies that address how race, social class, and the college experience affect life outcomes.  Based on her reading, her goal is to develop a methodology for her study, which will include survey questions and a structured interview.  She will also work with the Amherst’s alumni office to obtain contact information for students who participated in her study.  She wants to examine questions such as the following: what is the nature of her former participants’ current relationships with family members; what types of work have they engaged in since graduation; what are their career aspirations; what are the race and class compositions of the communities in which they reside; what challenges are they facing in their day-to-day lives due to their race and social class; what has been the impact on them of having been in a diverse group of students at college; how has that differed for students who took advantage of the diversity at the college while they were here by making diverse friends and those who did not.

Robert Benedetto, Professor of Mathematics  

Research Project: Dynamics in One Non-archimedean Variable

 A dynamical system is a quantity or collection of objects that constantly changes its state according to some rule or law.  For example, weather patterns and the atmospheric rules that govern them form a dynamical system, the motion of the planets of our solar system, and the gravitational laws that guide them, form another.  Professor Benedetto studies an abstract kind of dynamical system where the objects belong to a number-theoretic realm known as a non-archimedean field.  Meanwhile, the rule governing how the objects change is given by a polynomial or, more generally, by a rational function.  During the spring 2017 semester, he plans to finish writing a book on the theory of such non-archimedean dynamical systems, with an emphasis on presenting a unified exposition of the foundational results developed in the past two decades.  In addition, he will work on a research project on non-archimedean aspects of arboreal Galois representations, which are certain intricate number-theoretic objects arising from non-archimedean dynamical systems.

 Anthony Bishop, Professor of Chemistry

Research Project: Target-specific Control of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Activity

 The protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), which dephosphorylate specific phosphotyrosine residues in protein substrates, constitute a large family of signaling enzymes, whose activity is ubiquitously misregulated in human diseases such as leukemias, solid-tumor cancers, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.  Tools that are capable of inducing target-specific PTP inhibition or activation would be invaluable for the validation of PTPs as therapeutic targets.  However, the common architecture of the conserved PTP-domain fold impedes the discovery of selective PTP inhibitors, and cell­ permeable PTP activators have not been identified to date.  The broad objective of Professor Bishop’s proposed research is to develop tools to specifically inhibit or activate PTP enzymes by targeting either engineered cysteine residues or naturally occurring cysteine residues.  The target-specific PTP inhibitors and activators of engineered PTPs developed in this work can be used to delineate the precise functions of target PTPs in signaling cascades and may provide direct leads for PTP­directed pharmaceutical development.

 Anston Bosman, Associate Professor of English

Research Project: Shakespeare in Multimedia Translation

 Professor Bosman will spend his leave developing a new project on Shakespeare as a transnational media interface.  The project will focus on the social force of print and performance technologies and the emergence of transnational media communities around Shakespeare’s work in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.  He will build case studies of translation in the production sites and processes of Shakespearean drama.  Besides the canonical venues of London and Stratford-upon-Avon, the spotlight will fall on Germany, Japan, and South Africa.  Working across these territories, he will target focal points in the production process, including multilingual script preparation; rehearsal and revision; the increasing use of subtitles and supertitles; and, finally, the outreach and teaching associated with the texts and performances developed in the transnational and remediated contexts.

Lisa Brooks, Associate Professor of English and American Studies 

Research Project: Engaging Places of Memory: Digital Spaces of King Philip’s War

With a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship, Professor Brooks is creating and piloting a website to accompany her book, “The Queen’s Right, the Printer’s Revolt and the Place of Peace: A New History of the First Indian War.”

 Rhonda Cobham-Sander, Emily C. Jordan Folger Professor of Black Studies and English

Research Project: Amital Queer: Aunts, Aunties and Other Anansis in Caribbean Literature

Professor Cobham-Sander’s research project examines how digital technologies have altered the forms African authors use, as well as their relationships to their audiences.  It offers close readings of twenty-first century print works that draw on digital conventions, as well as the serialized blogs, multimedia essays, listicles, sexting, Twitter novels and Ted Talks by African writers that circulate on social media to address questions about the relationship between forms of representation and modes of production.  Ultimately, it helps resituate the work of some of Africa’s most widely read contemporaneous writers – Chimamanda Adichie, Lauren Beukes, Teju Cole, Mike Maphoto, Stella Nyanzi, Binyavanga Wainaina, and Nnedi Okorafor, among others – within the digital contexts that have circumscribed and enabled their success.

 Christopher Dole, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Research Project: Living On: The Remains of Disaster in Post-Earthquake Turkey

This proposal supports the completion of Professor Dole’s manuscript, which is titled “Living On: Essays on Care and Endurance in Post-Disaster Turkey.”  Based on ethnographic research with the survivors of a massive earthquake that struck western Turkey in 1999 and a group of Turkish mental health professionals, who provided humanitarian psychiatric care in the wake of the earthquake, “Living On” examines the relationship between transnational forms of psychiatric expertise and long-term experiences of loss and suffering in a context marked by catastrophic destruction.  As such, “Living On” engages a set of forces and processes that have emerged as a defining feature of our so-called “Age of Catastrophe”—namely the vital convergence of large-scale disaster, scientific expertise, and human suffering.

 Robert Doran, Samuel Williston Professor of Greek and Hebrew  

Research Project: Commentary on 1 and 2 Maccabees for the Jerome Biblical

 The two major resources for the understanding of the Maccabean revolt of the 2nd century BCE, which led to the Jewish Feast of Hannukah, are 1 and 2 Maccabees.  These are two completely different accounts of the events, one of which survives in the translational Greek common to the Septuagint and which follows the patterns found in the biblical books of Judges and the other is in well-written Greek which uses the patterns found in Greek historiographical works.  Professor Doran has been invited to comment on both works, which will allow him to show the differences but also the similarities between the two works.

 Jonathan Friedman, Professor of Physics

Research Project: Quantum Dynamics of Single-Molecule Magnets

 Professor Friedman will carry out experimental and theoretical studies of quantum phenomena in molecular magnets and related systems.  The overall thrust of the work is the investigation of quantum-interference phenomena and forbidden transitions.  The experimental work will focus on radiation-induced transitions between two energy levels when a magnetic field causes these levels to come very close to each other.  Applied microwave radiation can induce various forms of wave-like interference that results in a modulation in the probability of transitions between the levels.  Professor Friedman and collaborators will pursue experiments to explore various manifestations of these interference effects.  Professor Friedman’s theoretical work will investigate the possibility that interference may occur between waves of different characters (e.g., light and sound) that do not even directly interact with each other.

Betsey Garand, Senior Resident Artist

Research Project: Visual Notations

 Senior Resident Artist Betsey Garand will be focusing on multiple series of works including hand pulled prints, drawings, watercolors, and artist’s books.  The work involves visual research and analysis of Native American northeastern petroglyphs in their specific geographic locations; including sites in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  Also studied will be the birchbark pieces of Tomah Joseph, Passamaquoddy (1837-1914).  Garand’s imagery centers around ideas of resonance, balance, and continuum.  Biomorphic shapes combine with calligraphic linear elements, some seem animal-like while other shapes reference utilitarian tools or invented natural forms.  There is a symbiotic component of flat and dimensional space, imagined and seen, with quips of comedic interactions.  The colors are layered and often transparent, muted with accents of vibrancy.  The prints utilize a combination of various processes including woodcut, spit-bite and lift-ground aquatint, drypoint, etching and pochôir.  The drawings and artist’s books utilize the materials of walnut ink and birchbark.  The Notation series references visual research and investigations kept in Garand’s notebooks and journals of observations made from the petroglyphs, Tomah Joseph’s work, and elements of nature’s flora and fauna of the northeastern woodlands.

 Tekla Harms, Massachusetts Professor in Chemistry and Natural History  

Research Project: Construction and Geologic Evolution of the Western North American Continent

 Professor Harms’s research seeks to clarify the geologic evolution of western North America, and the plate tectonic driving forces responsible for that geologic history, in order to better understand the geologic processes that lead to the construction of mountain belts.  Her work has centered on two verydifferent periods: one in the Paleoproterozoic (~1780 million years ago) when the North American continent was first consolidating, and a second, much younger  period (~150-50 million years ago) during the creation of the Cordilleran mountain belt.  During her sabbatical, Harms will focus on aspects of both of these important phases, conducting a series of structural, petrological, and geochronological analyses on Paleoproterozoic rocks from southwestern Montana and concluding quantitative structural analysis of strata deformed during Cordilleran mountain building in northwestern Washington.

 Maria Heim, Professor of Religion  

Research Project: Well-Spoken Words: How the Buddha Taught

 Professor Heim is completing a book on theories of scripture and interpretation by the fifth-century Buddhist thinker, Buddhaghosa.

 Michael Hood, Associate Professor of Biology  

Research Project: Evolutionary Genomics of Sex-linked Disorders

 This current era of global warming and anthropogenic movement of species has highlighted the emergence of infectious diseases as one of the largest modern threat to natural and domesticated ecosystems.  By investigating the natural history of past disease migrations, awareness of the fundamental properties in this important ecological process can be realized.  This project uses a tractable, non-agricultural plant disease to study the inter-continental migration patterns that have been hypothesized to travel through the high arctic.  Collections of multiple natural history museums will be the basis of studies in molecular genetics to reconstruct dispersal routes and provide new insights into disease distributions across substantial environmental variation and great geographic distances.

 Sheila Jaswal, Associate Professor of Chemistry  

Research Project: Investigation of the Interplay between Kinetic and Thermodynamic Stability in Protein Folding Landscapes

 Professor Jaswal’s scholarship as a protein chemist focuses on understanding the delicate balance of form and function in protein molecules—nature’s labor force in every cell.  Proteins originate as linear chains of chemical building blocks called amino acids.  When first assembled in the cell, they resemble floppy noodles.  Precise chemical interactions between different parts of the chain then stitch each protein into a compact and highly specific three-dimensional architecture that specifies its given role in the cellular economy.  However, the chemical bonds stabilizing the “folded” shape are surprisingly weak and dynamic, so that proteins are continually flickering between unfunctional, less structured shapes—including the floppy extended chain – and the active structured shape.  The degree to which a protein can resist unfolding and maintain its structure —its stability—is critical.  Protein stability dictates the quality and longevity of a protein’s job performance in its normal biological role.  In addition, mutations or environmental conditions that tweak stability even slightly can cause some proteins to completely abandon their posts and/or take on rogue activities in a number of human diseases, including Lou Gehrig’s and Huntington’s.  Therefore, learning about protein folding and stability is critical to understanding not only the natural workings of biology, but also the dysfunction that accompanies many diseases.  Professor Jaswal’s lab has developed a new method to probe protein stability without drastically perturbing experimental conditions like most traditional approaches.  (Witten, J.; Ruschak, A.; Potera, T.; Jaramillo, A.; Miranker, A.D.; Jaswal, S.S. Mapping Protein Conformational Landscapes Under Strongly Native Conditions with Hydrogen Exchange Mass Spectrometry.  Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2015, 119 (31), 10016-10024).  She is currently applying the new HXMS method to better map the diversity of stabilization strategies in natural proteins.  By focusing on several proteins that have eluded investigation by the harsh traditional approaches, she hopes to uncover novel fundamental principles underlying protein stability.  Understanding the stabilization of a broader and more representative range of proteins will improve theoretical models predicting folding and stability of amino acid sequences and help in engineering better protein therapeutics and materials.

 Jenny Kallick, Professor of Music

Research Project: Schubert’s Pastoral Quintet

 Schubert performance practice is widely recognized as an area fraught with significant challenges.  The composer’s notational idiosyncrasies pose major concerns for performers as they undertake to shape their interpretations on the large and local levels.  A close study of the composer’s manuscripts, in particular, the substantial body of song manuscripts, will offer copious guidance in how best to interpret details of notation, thereby affording more historically informed interpretive decisions.  Consultations with song interpreters promises to add another opportunity to better understand Schubertian notational and performative choices.  A particular feature of this expected publication will be the inclusion of companion musical illustrations presented either as an accompanying CD or on a website.

 Laure Katsaros, Associate Professor of French  

Research Project: Glass Architecture: Charles Fourier and the Utopia of Collective Self-Surveillance

 Professor Katsaros plans to devote her sabbatical leave to the completion of a book project begun at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard.  With the support of a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation, she enrolled at Harvard during the academic year 2014-2015 to study the history and philosophy of architecture.  As part of the requirements for the degree of master of design, she wrote a thesis titled “Glass Architecture: Charles Fourier and the Utopia of Total Visibility,” which explored the link between utopia, architecture, and surveillance through the figure of the French utopian philosopher Charles Fourier (1772-1837).  She is currently in the process of turning this thesis into a book manuscript.  The book centers on the revolutionary form of collective housing pioneered by Fourier, the “phalanstery,” a neologism coined from the words “phalanx” and “monastery.”  Fourier sought not only to abolish social and economic inequalities, but also to overturn all the generally accepted social norms that regulated domestic life, sexuality, and parenting.  His plans for the ideal society he called “Harmony'” blurred the distinctions between the public sphere of work and social interactions, on the one hand, and the private world of the self and the emotions, on the other. As such, Fourier's vision entailed a radical transformation of the built environment.  The endpoint of his utopian system was the construction of actual places, which, in their very structure, attempted to generate and sustain the form of collective life he prescribed.  Legibility, visibility, and communication were embedded into the layout of the “Social Palaces” imagined by Fourier and built by some of his disciples.

 Christopher Kingston, Professor of Economics

Research Project: The Institutional Development of Eighteenth-century Marine Insurance

 Professor Kingston will spend his sabbatical writing a book, provisionally titled “In Peril on the Sea: Institutional Change in Eighteenth Century Marine Insurance,” that will integrate and expand on his previous work on the historical development of the marine insurance industry.  Maritime trade during the age of sail was inherently very risky, and without insurance, few merchants could have afforded to undertake any substantial ventures.  However, marine insurance transactions were far from straightforward.  The probability of a ship or its cargo being lost or damaged (and therefore, the appropriate premium) depended on numerous complex risk factors, and there were also many opportunities for fraud (or “moral hazard”) on the part of both underwriters and the insured.  Over time, merchants developed business practices and institutions that enabled them to transact marine insurance despite these complicated agency problems and informational asymmetries.  Professor Kingston’s book will describe how these institutions emerged, how they enabled merchants to overcome their agency problems, and how they developed over time as the industry was periodically buffeted by wars that diverted trade and raised the threat of enemy capture.

 Trent Maxey, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Civilization and History

Research Project: Constructing Automobility in Twentieth –century Japan

 Drawing on a wealth of interdisciplinary literature that considers the way in which the automobile refracted and shaped individual subjectivity, constructions of gender, ideals of citizenship, as well as institutional discourses concerned with safety and liability in North America and Europe, Professor Maxey is exploring the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Japan through the prism of the automobile.  The apparatus of driving, including everything from cars, roads, and driving schools, introduced a new mode of mobility and with it a set of expectations about individual freedom, liability, and regulation.  Professor Maxey is looking at the early cultural representations of the car and driving in interwar Japan and social movements opposed to automobiles in the 1960s to consider the shifting intersections of class, mobility, and gender in Japan.

 Edward Melillo, Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies  

Research Project: Out of the Blue: Nantucket and the Pacific World

 Professor Melillo is exploring the myriad historical connections between the island of Nantucket and the distant environments and cultures in and around the Pacific Ocean.

 Klára Móricz, Professor of Music  

Research Project: Neoclassicism á la russe

 During her sabbatical leave, Professor Móricz will continue working on her book project, titled “After the End of Time: Russian Composers in Interwar Paris,” about emigrant Russian composers in Paris between the first and second World Wars.  Her goal is to uncover the lost generation of Russian composers and to explore the betwixt-and-between cultural context of the Parisian Russian émigré community.  She has already completed two chapters, “Double Narrative: Petersburg Text in Vladimir Dukelsky’s The End of St. Petersburg,” and “Soviet ‘méchanique’ or the Bolshevik Sublime.”  Professor Móricz plans to complete the third chapter, tentatively titled “Neoclassicism à la russe,” about the Russian roots of neoclassicism in Paris of the 1920s.  Stravinsky’s contribution to the new fashion in post-World-War-I Paris is well documented, but little has been written about the neoclassical aspect of Russian emigrants’ preoccupation with the quintessentially neoclassical Russian capital, St. Petersburg.  The chapter focuses on Nicolas Nabokov’s 1928 ballet Ode and Stravinsky’s Apollo, both performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.  She will also start research for the fourth chapter of the book, which will discuss the cult of Pushkin among Russian emigrants, specifically during the centenary of Pushkin’s death in 1937, a year during which celebrations in Stalin’s Soviet Union and among Russian emigrants competed over Pushkin’s legacy.  Arthur Lourié’s opera The Plague during the Plague, based on Pushkin’s short tragedy of the same title, will serve as the chapter’s focal point.

 Samuel Morse, Howard M. and Martha P. Mitchell Professor of History of Art and Asian Languages and Civilizations

Research Project: The Development of the Gyōki and Kūkai Cults in Medieval Japan

 Professor Morse’s project will focus on the cult of the image of Eleven-headed Kannon at Hasedera in Nara, one of the most well-known miracle-working Buddhist deities in Japan, and its thirteenth- and fourteenth- century replicas.

 Susan Niditch, Samuel Green Professor of Religion  

Research Project: The Biblical Book of Jonah: A New Translation and Commentary

 The Book of Jonah is an intriguing and challenging little biblical book.  It is difficult to translate into English because its delimited vocabulary shares various recurring root words in the Hebrew which convey somewhat different meanings in English, despite the shared roots.  Jonah is also ambiguous as to genre and tone.  Jonah is a prophet called by God and is canonically situated among the Twelve Minor Prophets and yet the work has no oracles or sign acts typical of other prophetic works.  The prophet tries to avoid his call, and his assigned mission is to call the Assyrians of Nineveh to repent, not to speak to Israel the more typical assignment.  While some scholars point to irony and satire, others write of humor, while still others insist that its author presents heavy and vexing theological and cultural issues about Israelite identity and the relationships with and obligations to foreigners.  There are debates as well about the work’s date and provenance.  In this volume under contract to the Hermeneia series Professor Niditch will grapple with these questions, exploring matters of texture, text, and context.  Special interests include Jonah as an expression of personal religion in the Persian period, the use by its author of a fund of international folk motifs, and the way in which Jonah is received and reinterpreted in post-biblical Jewish and Christian sources.

 Marisa Parham, Professor of English  

Research Project: Virtuality and Embodiment: Black Life and Digital Histories

 Professor Parham will use her sabbatical to complete “Virtuality and Embodiment,” a hybrid book and digital project that conceptualizes African American life in parallel relation to a set of mechanical and digital technologies.

 Ronald Rosbottom, Winifred L. Arms Professor in the Arts and Humanities and Professor of French and European Studies  

Research Project: Blind Resistance: Parisian Teenagers Confront the Germans during the Occupation

 The goal of Professor Rosbottom’s research is to learn more about resistant youth in Paris especially those whose close association with the occupying forces—German and Vichy—impelled them to actively oppose their presence.  And more extensively, it is his hope to develop a clearer idea of how pacifism, socialistic experiments, and a new wave of immigration might have created the ground for such courageous, albeit often naïve, resistance.  By concentrating on youngsters who were of different social, political, and familial backgrounds, he should get as well a fuller picture of the complex culture of resistance.  Professor Rosbottom’s book will be published by HarperCollins/William Morrow.

 Rebecca Sinos, Professor of Classics

Research Project: A Diptych: Plato’s Symposium and Phaedo

 At the end of a celebratory occasion, the symposium that gives its name to Plato’s dialogue, Socrates is seen sitting between a tragic and a comic poet convincing them that composing comedy and tragedy is the work of the same man.  The Phaedo, the dialogue that takes place on Socrates’ last day, is the only dialogue in which Socrates laughs.  This study will explore the serious and the comic in these dialogues with the aim of understanding what Plato means by both.

Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture  

Research Project: Projects: Jewish Latin America, El Gaucho Martin Fierro, and an essay on rethinking the Humanities

 Professor Stavans’s sabbatical leave will be devoted to the following three projects: completing the writing of the book “A Journey through Jewish Latin America,” in which he examines the history of the Jewish communities in this region from 1492 to the present; a new English translation of the Argentine literary classic “The Gaucho Martin Fierro” by Jose Hernandez; and an illustrated book-long essay on rethinking how the humanities should be taught in the twenty-first century that is based on Professor Stavans’s experience performing his one-man show “The Oven.”

 Wako Tawa, Willem Schupf Professor of Asian Languages and Civilizations

Research Project: Word Formation Process of Loan Words in Japanese

 Language changes over time and through space everywhere in the world.  The types and degrees of such changes, and the causes that give rise to them, may vary from language to language, but language does inevitably change.  Professor Tawa points out that we have, of course, seen changes in the Japanese language: in grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and other aspects of the language.  One aspect of language change is the borrowing of words from other languages.  Like English and other modern languages, Japanese also borrows words from foreign languages. Loan words are known to be temporary in nature but some survive in the language for quite some time.  In different regions of Japan, the same loan word may be pronounced differently or have a different meaning.  In addition, the written representation of loan words in Japanese is not as strictly conventionalized as that of native words.  For instance, Professor Tawa has seen at least four different ways of writing “Amherst College” in Japanese.  During her sabbatical, Professor Tawa will study the word formation process of new loan words in Japanese.  Her study will focus on the following: why some loan words disappear while others survive; what factors determine regional variations for loan words; and why there is resistance against conventionalizing the writing of loan words.  As the first step of this project, Professor Tawa will travel to Japan for two months during the fall semester of 2016 to gather data.  In addition to traveling through a few different regions that represent varying dialects, she will visit the archive and collections of the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics in Tokyo, which stores the largest volumes of linguistic materials in Japan.  Actual analysis of the data will begin immediately after she returns to Amherst from the two-month visit to Japan.