Amherst College Russian Professor Catherine Ciepiela To Read Nov. 9

October 31, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Catherine Ciepiela, professor of Russian at Amherst College, will read from The Same Solitude, her new book that follows the epistolary romance between Russian poets Boris Pasternak and Marina Tsvetaeva, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, at Amherst Books (8 Main Street). Sponsored by the Creative Writing Center at Amherst College, this event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The novel represents a fascinating study of the unlikely yet lasting relationship that arose between two of Russia’s greatest modernist poets during the 1920s. The correspondence began in 1922, after Pasternak sent a letter praising the poetry of the newly exiled Tsvetaeva, and Ciepiela masterfully develops the ensuing decade-long affair through previously untranslated letters and poems. The title of the book comes from a poignant excerpt from one of Pasternak’s letters: “Still, we have the same solitude, the same journeys and searching, and the same favorite turns in the labyrinth of literature and history.” Ciepiela’s work reveals the widening gap that grew up between an increasingly radical Soviet Russia and European Russian émigrés during this tempestuous period. The book has received superior critical praise, and Clare Cavanaugh applauds Ciepiela’s “impeccable scholarship, theoretical acumen and rich, resourceful close readings.”

Ciepiela, who received her B.A. in interdisciplinary studies from Amherst College in 1983, has been a member of the Amherst faculty since 1989. She holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University, and has received fellowships from Yale University, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. She also co-edited and wrote the introduction for The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems(2006).

The Amherst College Creative Writing Center puts on a yearly reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.

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Amherst College Professor Dominic Poccia Appointed to Two Editorial Positions

October 30, 2006
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413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Dominic Poccia, the Rufus Tyler Lincoln Professor of Biology at Amherst College, will join the advisory board of Signal Transduction: Receptors Mediators and Genes, a journal established six years ago as the official journal of the Signal Transduction Society. He has also been appointed associate editor of The Biological Bulletin, which publishes experimental research on a full range of biological topics and organisms from the fields of neurobiology, behavior, physiology, ecology, evolution, development and reproduction, cell biology, biomechanics, symbiosis and systematics. In addition, Poccia continues to serve as an associate editor for Molecular Reproduction and Development and is the associate editor in charge of the reproductive biology section of the Journal of Experimental Zoology.

Signal Transduction: Receptors Mediators and Genes is based in Germany and devoted to scientific exchange between investigators concerned with mechanisms that underlie the generation and processing of inter- and intracellular signals. As a member of the advisory board, Poccia will provide support and advice to the editors and review and solicit new submissions. He is currently editing a special edition of the journal concerning cell and developmental signaling mechanisms in echinoderms. The Biological Bulletin, published since 1897 by the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., is one of America’s oldest peer-reviewed scientific journals. Its editor-in-chief is James L. Olds, director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at George Mason University, and a 1978 Amherst graduate.

Poccia’s latest project involves a paper titled “Improvisational Thinking in the Liberal Arts Curriculum” that he will deliver at the University of Michigan in December at the Inaugural Conference of the International Society for Improvised Music, “Time, Sound, and Transcendence: Forging a New Vision for Improvised Music Pedagogy and Practice,” which will include performances, workshops and papers from individuals involved in all kinds of improvised music in tradition-specific realms as well as in trans-stylistic approaches. His paper is based on experiences with his First Year Seminar 6 course Improvisational Thinking.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1978, Poccia was educated at Union College and Harvard University. When not studying the spermatogenesis and reactivation of sperm nuclei following fertilization, Poccia plays jazz saxophone and clarinet.

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Russian Ballet Symposium at Amherst Center for Russian Culture at Amherst College Nov. 10 and 11

October 30, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst Center for Russian Culture will sponsor a symposium on “The Russian Ballet: Choreographers and Critics” on Saturday, Nov. 11, in the Center for Russian Culture in Webster Hall at Amherst College. Lynn Garafola, a professor of dance at Barnard College, will speak about the 19th-century Russian dancer and choreographer Marius Petipa at 9 a.m. Stanley Rabinowitz, the Henry Steele Commager Professor and Professor of Russian at Amherst College, will speak on the ballet writings of Akim Volynsky at 10 a.m. Irina Klyagin, the archivist for the Harvard Theater Collection at the Harvard College Library, will conclude the morning presentation with a talk on dance historian Liubov Blok at 10 a.m. In the afternoon, at 2 p.m., Tim Scholl, an associate professor of Russian at Oberlin College, and Maria Ratanova, doctoral student at Harvard University, will consider aspects of George Balanchine’s choreography. All events are free and open to the public.

In connection with the symposium, Dayna Goldfine’s and Dan Geller’s recent documentary film, Ballets Russes (2005), will be screened at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, in the Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Lynn Garafola will speak briefly about the background of the film and the group about which it was made. The Mead Art Museum will sponsor another related event, an exhibit on “Russian Theatrical Design,” on view from Oct. 27 through Dec. 10, Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Amherst College Music Professor David Schneider is Author of New Book on Béla Bartók

October 26, 2006
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413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—David E. Schneider, an associate professor of music at Amherst College, is the author of Bartók, Hungary, and the Renewal of Tradition: Case Studies in the Intersection of Modernity and Nationality ($49.95, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2006), a book that dispels myths about the relationship between nationalism and modernism in early 20th-century music by re-examining the great Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s debt to Hungarian and Central European musical traditions.

Bartók’s ability to synthesize Western art music with the folk music of Eastern Europe is well known, but Schneider demonstrates that Hungary’s leading modernist composer was also strongly influenced by the art music tradition. Drawing from a wide array of primary sources, including contemporary reviews and little-known Hungarian documents, Schneider presents a new approach to Bartók that acknowledges the composer’s debt to 19th-century Hungarian composers as well as to influential contemporaries such as Igor Stravinsky. Schneider reads the composer’s artistic output, from his 1903 graduation from the Music Academy to his 1940 departure for the United States, as a continuation and a profound transformation of the very national tradition Bartók publicly rejected. By clarifying why Bartók felt compelled to obscure his ties to the past and illuminating what that past was, Schneider dispels myths about Bartók’s relationship to 19th-century traditions and also provides a perspective on the relationship between nationalism and modernism.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1997, Schneider has served as chair of the music department since 2005. Schneider has Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in historical musicology from the University of California at Berkeley and an A.B. in music from Harvard College. The author of many essays and articles on modern music and Bartók, Schneider has also been a professional clarinetist since 1986.

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Amherst College Satisfies its Sweet Tooth with Local Farm Products on Oct. 27

October 24, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—On Friday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the upper terrace of Valentine Dining Hall, Amherst College, in association with the “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown” ™ program of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), will host a bevy of local farmers as part of the college’s family weekend activities. The event will provide Amherst students and their families with an opportunity to learn about and even sample a selection of the many goods that are grown, manufactured and produced in the Pioneer Valley.

Prominent among these is a variety of sugary treats that are sure to delight the college student’s palate. Warm Colors Apiary, a South Deerfield-based company that supplies Valentine with local honey, will educate students about beekeeping with an interactive display featuring live bees and different types of honey. Flayvors of Cook Farm will furnish five of its most popular ice cream flavors for a “make your own sundae” extravaganza, along with various cow-themed exhibit including cowbells and statuettes. Beth Cook, co-owner of the third generation farm in Hadley, provides Amherst’s co-op “Zü” house with its dairy products and is thrilled to be working further with Amherst College. The North Hadley Sugar Shack will represent Massachusetts’ strong but underappreciated maple industry with maple sugar candies. The event will also boast a cornucopia of colorful crops from prominent local farmers, such as flowering kale, exotic eggplant and log-grown shitake mushrooms.

CISA—a non-profit organization that unites local farmers, producers and consumers in an effort to preserve and promote community agriculture—began the “Be a Local Hero” Campaign in 1999 to advertise locally grown farm products and provide them with a wider consumer base. The initiative is the longest-running “buy local” program in the country, and Amherst College is excited to be contributing with this Family Weekend event. Debbie Omasta, the dining hall manager for Valentine, says that dining services aims for “student satisfaction” with the event. “The main purpose of hosting this is to let folks know that we do believe in this program and that we do our best to buy only the best local, high-quality items,” she says. Dan Conlon, co-owner of Warm Colors Apiary, appreciates the initiative that Amherst College takes in sustaining local agriculture. “Big schools can do a lot to support local farmers, and Amherst has really reached out to take the lead in that.” Conlon believes that participation from consumers like Amherst College is vital to the program because it “helps keep our farms going.”

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Commentary Editor Gabriel Schoenfeld To Speak on “Should The New York Times Be Prosecuted under the Espionage Statutes?” at Amhe

October 20, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Political essayist Gabriel Schoenfeld will give a talk titled “Should The New York Times Be Prosecuted under the Espionage Statutes?” at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the Paino Lecture Hall in the Earth Sciences Building at Amherst College. The fourth lecture in the series sponsored by the Colloquium on the American Founding at Amherst, Schoenfeld’s talk is free and open to the public.

The author of The Return of Anti-Semitism (2004), which Publishers Weekly praised for its “pungent, well-written, argumentative analysis,” Schoenfeld has written on world affairs for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New Republic and other publications, including Commentary magazine, where he is the senior editor.

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“Contemporary Brazil: Law, Politics and Resources” at Amherst College Nov. 9

October 19, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte ’63, Woods Hole Research Center scientist I. Foster Brown ’73 and educator Amy Rosenthal ’02 will present a lecture on “Contemporary Brazil: Law, Politics and Resources” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, in Stirn Auditorium and a panel discussion the same evening at 7:30 p.m. also in Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College. The second in a series of lectures titled “The Rain Forest Crunch,” sponsored by the environmental studies program and the Office of the President at Amherst College, the talk and panel are free and open to the public.

After Amherst, District Judge Peter J. Messitte received a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Messitte then joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer and was stationed in Sao Paulo, Brazil until 1968. Upon his return to the U.S., he entered private practice in Washington and Maryland. An associate judge in Maryland from 1985 to 1993, Messitte was nominated for appointment as a United States District Judge by President Bill Clinton, and received his commission in 1993.

In addition to many awards in the U.S., Messitte has been honored in Brazil with the Gran Cruz da Ordem de São José Operário for Judicial Merit in the field of labor, Tribunal Regional do Trabalho, Mato Grosso and the Medalha de Mérito Acadêmico, Academia Paulista de Magistrados, for Academic Contributions to the Brazilian Judiciary. Messitte was a member of the International Judicial Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States between 1997 and 2003, chairing the Working Group for Latin America and the Caribbean. He has served as a consultant on judicial reform projects throughout Latin America and Africa, and most recently in Turkey.

I. Foster Brown was an independent scholar at Amherst and went on to receive M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geology from Northwestern University. Since 1987 he has been a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and since 1996, a professor of ecology and natural resource management at the Federal University of Acre (UFAC) in Rio Branco, Brazil. From 1981 to 2002 he was an associate professor of geochemistry at the Federal Fluminense University in Niteroi, RJ, Brazil. Specializing in sustainable development in the Amazon basin, Brown coordinates the WHRC’s program dealing with deforestation, water quality and land use in the Brazilian Amazon and directs the program for human resource development in Third World countries. He has published widely in those fields, and is also the author of “Innocence in Brazil,” a travelogue, published online by the Woods Hole Research Center.

A member of the Brazilian Committee on Education for the Large-Scale Biosphere Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia from 1996 until 2000, Brown was also a member of the working group for establishing the University of the Forest in Acre, Brazil, and later the coordinator of two successive UFAC research projects supported by the Pilot Program for the Preservation of Brazilian Tropical Forests. UFAC is one of only two Amazonian universities awarded support, and the latter project was one of two chosen for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, June 2002.

After Amherst, Amy Rosenthal received an M.A. degree in international educational administration and policy analysis from Stanford University, and worked as a researcher at UFAC, where she helped direct a rural education project focused on natural resource management. She will be conducting out research in 2007 in California, New Zealand, Brazil and Peru.

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Professor Abdulaziz Sachedina To Discuss the Origins of Shiism at Amherst College Nov. 9

October 19, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Abdulaziz Sachedina, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, will give a series of three lectures at Amherst College this fall on “The Ideals and Realities of the Islamic Community.” Sachedina will begin his discussion of the Shiite sect with a talk titled “Sucession to the Leadership: The Genesis of Shiism” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, in the Cole Assembly Room of Converse Hall. His second lecture, “Messianic Shiite Theology and Its Political Ramifications,” will be given on Thursday, Nov. 30, and he will discuss “Modern Theological-Juridical Shiite leadership” on Thursday, Dec. 7. The talks are free and open to the public, and sponsored by the religion department and the Willis D. Wood Fund.

Sachedina, author of Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism, is professor of Islamic and Shi’ite studies; theological and juridical studies in the department of religious studies at the University of Virginia. He was educated at the University of Toronto, the Aligarh Muslim University in India and the Ferdowski University in Iran, and has taught in Canada at Wilfred Laurier, Waterloo and McGill Universities, at Haverford College and at the University of Jordan, Amman. Born to a West Indian family in Tanzania, Sachedina has been praised for his reassertion of “Islam’s potential as a source of tolerance and pluralism” (Middle East Journal). A prominent member of the Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism objective within the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Sachedina works to bring knowledge of Islam as a peace-building religion to the general public. He is currently conducting a study titled “Islamic Law for Muslim Physicians: The Spiritual Foundations of Biomedical Ethics in Islam.”

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Earliest Fossils are of Sponge-Like Animals: New Research by Amherst College Geologist Whitey Hagadorn Featured in Science Magaz

October 13, 2006
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AMHERST, Mass.—The notion that an animal would need a hard skeleton to leave behind a fossil imprint is something of a fossil itself, according to Whitey Hagadorn, an assistant professor of geology at Amherst College. Hagadorn is the lead author of a paper titled “Cellular and Subcellular Structure of Neoproterozoic Animal Embryos” in the latest issue of Science magazine (Vol. 314, no. 5796). Hagadorn and a team of researchers from the U.S., U.K., China, Sweden, Switzerland and Australia, among them Matthew McFeely, a 2005 graduate of Amherst College, demonstrate that “the earliest animal fossils are nothing more than ancestral sponge-like animals,” Hagadorn says.

Hagadorn, McFeeley and their colleagues also document the first fossil example of cells about to undergo division. Fossilized embryos predating the “Cambrian Explosion” by 10 million years provide evidence that early animals had already begun to adopt some of the structures and processes seen in today’s embryos. The article reports the first direct evidence that primitive animals 550 million years ago were capable of asynchronous cell division during embryonic development.

The researchers also believe they’ve identified specialized structures inside the cells, such as bubble-like vesicles that the cells might have used to transport, store or metabolize molecules. Slight aberrations during the fossilization of dead embryonic cells even reveal what appear to be dividing nuclei. It was assumed such structures existed in early animals, but until now, no known fossils of the structures existed.

The research uncovered 162 fossils of animal embryos from the Doushantuo Formation of south central China, still encased in a fertilization envelope, a protective husk that likely aided the preservation of the embryos long enough for fossilization to occur.

Hagadorn’s and McFeeley’s co-authors are Stefan Bengtson (Swedish Museum of Natural History), Philip Donoghue, Neil Gostling and Maria Pawlowska (University of Bristol, England), Kenneth Nealson (University of Southern California), Marco Stampanoni (Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland), F. Rudolf Turner and Rudolf Raff (Indiana University Bloomington) and Shuhai Xiao (Virginia Tech).

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, NASA, the National Natural Science Foundation (China), the Natural Environment Research Council (U.K.), the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (U.K.), the Mellon Foundation, the Trustees of Amherst College, the Swedish Research Council and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 2002, Hagadorn studies the earliest known marine animal communities—“paleocommunities” exposed in the sedimentary rocks in mountain ranges created about 500-550 million years ago in the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. Sedimentary structures and fossils provide clues about the nature of ancient seafloor environments, as well as the animals that lived there. Hagadorn was educated at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. degree) and the University of Southern California (M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

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Classicist Victor Davis Hanson To Speak on “The Western Way of War” at Amherst College Oct. 13

October 11, 2006
Director of Media Relations
413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson will give a talk titled “The Western Way of War” at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. The third lecture in the series sponsored by the Colloquium on the American Founding at Amherst, Hanson’s talk is free and open to the public.

Hanson was a full-time farmer before joining California State University at Fresno in 1984 to initiate a classics program. Educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the American School of Classical Studies and Stanford University, Hanson still lives and works with his family on a 40-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, Calif., where he was born in 1953. Currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Hanson has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, Calif., a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University, a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism, an Alexander Onassis Fellow and the visiting Shifrin Chair of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Hanson has written widely on Greek, agrarian and military history and contemporary culture. His many books include Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983), The Western Way of War (1989), Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (1991), The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (1995), Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (1996), Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (with John Heath, 1998), The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (1999), The Soul of Battle (1999); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (2000); Carnage and Culture (2001), Bonfire of the Humanities (with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, 2001), An Autumn of War (2002), Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (2003) and Ripples of Battle (2003).

Hanson has written essays for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, the New York Post, National Review, American Heritage, Policy Review, Commentary, National Review, the Wilson Quarterly, the Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph and Washington Times. He has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, the PBS NewsHour and C-Span BookTV. He is a columnist for the National Review Online and serves on the editorial board of Arion, the Military History Quarterly and City Journal, as well as the board of the Claremont Institute.

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