Professor Dwight Carey Wins SAH IDEAS Research Fellowship

Submitted on Monday, 1/24/2022, at 2:07 PM

Carey, an assistant professor in the Department of Art and the History of Art, is one of five architectural scholars to receive the 2022 research fellowship from the Society of Architectural Historians. These fellowships “aim to support research that challenges existing paradigms” and “are intended to create mentored cohorts to support the work of emerging scholars” from marginalized groups.

The IDEAS Research Fellowship includes one year of SAH membership and $1,000 in research support. In addition, each member of the year’s winning cohort is assigned a senior scholar as a mentor. Carey will be mentored by Louis P. Nelson, vice provost for academic outreach and professor of architectural history at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. “Throughout the year, the cohort will meet with each other regularly to foster relationship building and encourage peer support,” says an SAH press release.

Carey’s research “seeks to change how scholars and the public understand the link between slavery, environmental knowledge, and colonial architectural history in Mauritius and around the world.” He is at work on a book titled The Island of Bound Masters: Slavery and Construction Labor in Mauritius

Professor Ilan Stavans: “A Texas Politician Wants to Investigate My Book and 849 Others—Bring It On”

Submitted on Tuesday, 1/18/2022, at 7:33 PM

“State Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican candidate for Texas attorney general, has prepared a list of 850 books that, in his judgment, should be banned from the state’s classrooms,” writes Stavans in a column originally published in The Forward and reprinted in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “I’m honored to have one of my books in that list.”

Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture, explains that the book in question is Quinceañera, an ethnographic essay collection about the Latina rite of passage, and that Krause “is concerned that such books address sexual and racial themes that ‘make students feel uncomfortable.’” The professor goes on to suggest other books of his that might have been challenged instead, and to defend the idea that classroom reading and teaching should draw students out of their comfort zones.

Invoking the history of book-banning and book-burning in the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust and other historical contexts, Stavans invites Krause “to a public debate on the value about having a critical eye about topics he and I hold dear. We should talk about censorship and about our tragically polarized country. And about his list.”

A Conversation with Literary Agent Jim Levine ’67

Submitted on Friday, 1/14/2022, at 1:51 PM

Appearing on The Learning Leader Show, Levine talks at length with host (and his client) Ryan Hawk, sharing insights and advice from his decades-long career as a literary agent.

Levine’s other clients at the Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency include mystery writer Gillian Flynn, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, football player Tom Brady and model Gisele Bündchen. On the Learning Leader episode (which can also be viewed on YouTube), he discusses some of the best book proposals he’s ever received, his approach to hiring new employees and his own career path, among other topics.

“Being an agent is a continuing liberal arts education,” Levine says. “It’s an opportunity to engage with experts and thought leaders in a wide variety of fields and help shape their work to reach the broadest possible audience.”

Statistics Professor Shu-Min Liao on Lessons Learned from Fall of the Jedi Order in “Star Wars”

Submitted on Tuesday, 1/11/2022, at 1:09 PM

Playing off of the acronym JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion), Liao writes for Amstat News: The Membership Magazine of the American Statistical Association, drawing parallels between current problems in academia and the weaknesses that lead to the downfall of the Jedi Order in the Star Wars movie series.

Liao, an assistant professor of statistics at Amherst, points out how both the Jedi Order and modern universities have hierarchical power structures in which some people occupy long-standing positions of privilege and control over others. In addition, she argues, just as the Jedi abide by a strict dichotomy between the “light side” (good) and the “dark side” (bad), academics tend to follow a narrow idea of what constitutes success versus failure, and which goals and projects should be prioritized over others. Liao describes the Jedi Order and the academic world alike as a “rigid system with little room for humanity or failure.”

The professor closes with a quote from her favorite novelist, Haruki Murakami, about creating a more humane system by “believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls  and … in the warmth we gain by joining souls together,” followed by a sentiment from Star Wars: “May the Force be with us!”

Debby Applegate ’89 on “How a Poor Jewish Immigrant Made a Fortune as a Madam”

Submitted on Thursday, 12/9/2021, at 5:02 PM

Applegate, who won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her biography of Henry Ward Beecher (class of 1834), spoke to the Forward about the subject of her new book, Madam: The Biography of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz Age.

Because the Forward is a prominent Jewish newspaper, reporter Mervyn Rothstein’s interview with Applegate focuses largely on the Jewish identity of Polly Adler, who emigrated alone as a teenager from Eastern Europe and later became “the most famous madam in New York, her houses of ill-repute frequented by the rich and the notable—the politicians, gangsters, businessmen, celebrities, writers and journalists who ran New York in what was to become known as the Roaring Twenties.”

Applegate explains why and how Adler became successful in the sex trade, and comments on what her story says about American life and the immigrant experience.

Zach Jonas ’22 on Finding Independence While Managing Type 1 Diabetes

Submitted on Tuesday, 12/7/2021, at 5:09 PM

Writing for, Jonas—a senior biology major who came to Amherst from Kansas City, Mo.—shares some of his own experiences and offers advice to fellow students on how to manage diabetes during their college years.

“Traveling to college and, namely, living alone with type 1 diabetes for the first time, can be daunting,” Jonas writes. “But taking advantage of the resources available to you, such as academic accommodations, establishing a healthy routine, and finding a support network, can make the transition to college much more manageable.”

Jonas gives specific examples of how he has requested and used academic accommodations while at Amherst, and how he has learned to mitigate the blood-sugar risks of attending parties and drinking alcohol. He also quotes similar advice from diabetic students at Boston College and Smith College.

Could You Have Passed Amherst’s Entrance Exam from 136 Years Ago?

Submitted on Tuesday, 11/16/2021, at 2:42 PM

“Every generation congratulates itself on being wiser than the ones that came before. But are we?” asks an article in The Berkshire Edge. “This Amherst College entrance exam from 1885 may offer an answer.”

The article—written by Carole Owens and based on research by Andrew Berner, library director and curator of collections at the University Club in New York—presents some of the questions asked on the 13-page Amherst entrance exam from Sept. 8, 1885. The test required prospective students to write an English composition; correct the grammar and spelling in various English sentences; translate writings to and from French, Greek and Latin; solve algebra, arithmetic and geometry problems; and answer questions about ancient history.

Supposing that few people in the 21st century would be able to pass the 19th-century exam, the article concludes, “It may be that we substitute rather than add to our knowledge base. That is, we know far less about the things our ancestors prized, and we know more about things they hardly imagined. Possibly, if we retained the old knowledge and added to it, we would be correct in congratulating ourselves that we are older and wiser.”

Trans History Is Defiant, Tender and Visible in Professor Jen Manion’s “Female Husbands”

Submitted on Thursday, 11/4/2021, at 2:49 PM

Manion, professor of history and sexuality, women’s and gender studies, recently spoke with Rachel Garbus of about their 2020 book Female Husbands: A Trans History, sharing “thoughts about these female husbands, the women who married them, and what these couples can tell us about queerness across the span of time.”

“The 18th and 19th centuries were full of gender nonconformity and transing in all different ways,” Manion says in Garbus’ article. “I thought the female husbands were the most original and exciting—I decided to really focus on them, to understand the trajectory of their lives.” The professor adds, “It’s possible that some, most or all of the people in my book would relate to trans identity as it’s currently defined. And it’s also possible that they wouldn’t.”

Garbus summarizes a few of the life stories and legal battles detailed in Manion’s book, and contextualizes the book in relation to the history of sexology and the work of other trans scholars.

Former Amherst Faculty Member Sonia Sanchez Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Submitted on Thursday, 11/4/2021, at 2:48 PM

As part of an homage to the poet, educator and activist, who has won the 2021 Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize, an article in The Miami Times cites Sanchez’s 2018 return to the Amherst campus, when she delivered the keynote address at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Legacy Symposium.

Written by Emily Cardenas, who vividly recalls being Sanchez’s student at Temple University in the 1980s, the Times tribute traces Sanchez’s life, career and influence, and quotes her response to winning the $250,000 lifetime achievement award.

The article also extensively quotes Roberta Diehl’s account of Sanchez’s 2018 speech in Johnson Chapel, as well as the speech itself, and includes a photo of the event taken by Takudzwa Tapfuma ’17. Sanchez was invited back to the Amherst campus for the MLK symposium after having taught at the College and chaired the Black studies department in the 1970s.

Actor Jeffrey Wright ’87 Honored with Legend and Groundbreaker Award

Submitted on Thursday, 11/4/2021, at 2:46 PM

Wright received the award from Variety at this year’s Newport Beach Film Festival. A Variety article traces his career, and an IndieWire article delves more deeply into his performance in the new Wes Anderson film The French Dispatch.

The Variety article, by Carol Horst, describes how Wright majored in political science at Amherst and was always an avid theatergoer, but didn’t do any performing until he took an acting class junior year. He recalls that “at the end of the first day, I knew that’s what I was going to be doing. It was a long coming time, but then a sudden shift.” Horst writes, “At Amherst, it was Kevin Frazier, who had adapted Wallace Terry’s oral history of Black Vietnam vets, Bloods, and gave Wright a monologue in the play.”

Wright is best known for roles in plays such as Topdog/Underdog and Angels in America; films including Basquiat and the James Bond franchise; and the TV series Westworld. In The French Dispatch, he plays Roebuck Wright, a character based on James Baldwin.

Professor Jallicia Jolly: “No One’s Telling the Stories of HIV-Positive Black Women. In the Pandemic, They Need More Support.”

Submitted on Monday, 10/11/2021, at 5:41 PM

“Black women who are living with HIV/AIDS and navigating the [COVID-19] pandemic shoulder multiple burdens,” writes Jolly in an article for The Lily: “psychosocial strains, the stress of isolation, stigma and the trauma of overlapping inequalities of food insecurity, financial hardships, unemployment and inadequate access to quality care.”

Jolly is a postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor of American studies and of Black studies at Amherst, as well as a writer and a doula. Her article draws from the eight years she has spent interviewing women with HIV, particularly Black women, who were reported in 2019 to be “14.5 times as likely to die from HIV infection as White women,” she notes.

The article focuses especially on Black immigrant women—many of whom work in health care and service jobs that increase their risk of COVID exposure—and on the ways in which “immigration status is a factor that magnifies the obstacles faced by HIV-positive women.”

“My interviews with HIV-positive women,” Jolly writes, “serve as potent reminders that to advocate for them, we must prioritize holistic, culturally sensitive approaches that appropriately address their unique needs.”

Nicole Sin Quee ’93 Featured on Cover of "Triathlete" Magazine

Submitted on Tuesday, 9/28/2021, at 5:01 PM

“Nicole Sin Quee is a mom, a teacher, a champion, a bad***, and the winner of the 2021 Reader Cover Contest,” says a feature article from Sept. 7. The Jamaican-born world-championship athlete’s “ability to overcome and set an example for others is why she won.”

The feature, written by Carrie Barrett and illustrated with several photos by Danny Weiss of Sin Quee and her young son, focuses largely on the athlete’s family and young life. She experienced many hurtful slights that made her feel like an outsider, including when a high school classmate questioned whether she truly deserved to be admitted to Amherst. “I was the girl with the weird Jamaican accent and then I’d tell people I was also Chinese and they just wouldn’t get it,” she is quoted as saying.

“Today, she wants other kids—kids who felt like she did—to believe they belong and that they deserve to be here too,” Barrett writes. “Understanding from personal experience that kids of color are not well-represented in the sport, Nicole [has co-founded] triathlon camps for middle- and high-schoolers to help grow minority participation.” Sin Quee also works as a math teacher in the Bronx. 

Gus and Hugh Quattlebaum ’00 Take Divergent Baseball Journeys, Cross Paths at Fenway

Submitted on Tuesday, 9/28/2021, at 3:59 PM

An article in The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass., focuses on Hugh Quattlebaum ’00, hitting coach for the New York Mets, and his brother Gus, vice president of scouting development and integration for the Boston Red Sox. The brothers’ teams recently faced off at Boston’s Fenway Park.

The article describes the Quattlebaum brothers’ upbringing as the children of faculty members at Phillips Andover, their competitiveness as young athletes and their respective academic and professional paths. Hugh “was a standout baseball and basketball player at Amherst College and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 25th round of the 2000 MLB Draft,” writes Mac Cerullo. “He spent four seasons in the Tigers and Orioles systems before hanging up his spikes and settling in as a private hitting coach, and it wasn’t until 2018 that he got back into professional ball as a Seattle Mariners assistant. Now he’s serving as the New York Mets hitting coach, a role that unexpectedly fell into his lap this spring after the incumbent coach was fired a month into the season.”

Included is a photo of Gus, Hugh and Hugh’s two young sons together at Fenway.

This Place in History: U.S. President Calvin Coolidge (Class of 1895) Historic Site

Submitted on Friday, 9/24/2021, at 3:39 PM

A local news segment takes viewers on a tour of the President Calvin Coolidge Historic Site in Coolidge’s birthplace and childhood hometown of Plymouth Notch, Vt., highlighting an exhibit called More Than Two Words

Regional Site Administrator Bill Jenney tells the story behind the exhibit’s title: “Vice President Coolidge often had to go to dinner parties as part of his obligations. He apparently was seated next to a woman who told him that she had a bet with someone that she could get him to say more than two words during the dinner. And his response to her was ‘You lose.’” He adds, “We hope though, however, after people go through this exhibit they realize that Coolidge had a lot to say on many different subjects.”

More Than Two Words features such artifacts as Coolidge family photographs, an ornately carved chair given to the president by the people of Hungary, and a humidor from the people of Cuba. There is also a ballot box from Northampton, Mass., where Coolidge studied law and served as mayor.

Kent Johnson ’91 Carries on Family Tradition at “Highlights” Magazine

Submitted on Friday, 9/24/2021, at 3:04 PM

An article in Schenectady, N.Y.’s Daily Gazette focuses on Johnson, current CEO of the children’s magazine company, which his great-grandparents founded in 1946.

The article, written by Indiana Nash, describes Johnson’s upbringing in Schenectady (where his mother was mayor), as well as his education at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., at Amherst College and at Harvard University. He holds both a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics. “So I ended up going to a bio-tech, medical diagnostics company outside of Washington D.C. and spent about six years there before joining Highlights,” he says.

But Johnson also had a summer internship at the magazine company while a college student in 1989—a job in which “I spent about half my time reading letters from kids and seeing how we responded.” He summarizes the company’s mission today: “We help children become their best selves by publishing content and creating experiences that engage, delight and foster joyful learning.”