Yale Scholar to Discuss American Presidential Elections at Amherst College Feb. 26

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 12, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

audioPhotos and audio of this event

AMHERST, Mass.—David Mayhew, Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, will deliver a talk titled “American Presidential Elections: The Historical Perspective” at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Amherst College’s Pruyne Lecture Hall. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Mayhew’s research concerns U.S. legislative behavior, U.S. political parties and U.S. policymaking. He is the author of several influential books on American politics, including Party Loyalty Among Congressmen; Congress: The Electoral Connection; Congressional Elections: The Case of the Vanishing Marginals; Placing Parties in American Politics; Divided We Govern; America’s Congress: Actions in the Public Sphere, James Madison through Newt Gingrich; and Electoral Realignments: A Critique of an American Genre. He has been an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Hoover National Fellow, a Sherman Fairchild Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a member of the American Political Science Association National Council, a member of the board of overseers of the National Election Studies of the Center for Political Studies and is currently a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2000 to 2001, he was John M. Olin Visiting Professor in American Government at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford in England. 

Mayhew earned his doctorate from Harvard University in 1964. In 2004, he received the Samuel J. Eldersveld Award for lifetime achievement from the American Political Science Association.

The event is sponsored by the Victor S. Johnson Lectureship Fund.

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Four Amherst College Alumni in the Military to Participate in Panel Discussion on Feb. 29

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 18, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

audioPhotos and audio of this event

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College will host a panel discussion titled “From Campus to Country: Why We Chose to Serve in the Military after Amherst” with alumni and members of the armed forces Matt Flavin, Todd Nichols, Michael Proctor and Paul Rieckhoff on Friday, Feb. 29, in Cole Assembly Room of Amherst’s Converse Hall at 4:30 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of Amherst’s ongoing effort to promote meaningful discussion of the complex issues associated with the nation’s military, as well as honor those who serve.

Flavin ’02 joined the armed forces in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and underwent extensive training before being deployed to Bosnia as a human intelligence officer and an operations officer for the Allied Military Intelligence Battalion. Upon his return to the United States, Flavin joined the Naval Special Warfare community and completed combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He last served as the director of targeting and intelligence for SEAL Team ONE. He now attends law school at Georgetown University Law Center.

Nichols ’99 is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has been to Iraq on three combat tours for a total of two years from February 2003 to October 2006. On his first deployment, he was based out of Kuwait prior to the U.S. invasion of the country, and conducted operations in areas all over Iraq. During his second tour, he spent a significant amount of time in Najaf and Al Anbar Province and then returned to the latter—as well as Balad and Baghdad—on his third deployment. During his time in the military, he has flown AH-1W attack helicopters.

Proctor ’02 graduated from Amherst cum laude with a bachelor’s in philosophy. He took a position with his local congressman for four months until October 2002 and then attended Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va. Following his stint there, he spent several years in training learning to fly various aircraft. He was first deployed to Iraq in February 2007 where he flew countless combat sorties involving air-to-air refueling, logistical transport, battlefield illumination, detainee transport, VIP transport and “Angel” runs, where he carried the coffins of the fallen out of the country to be taken home from Kuwait. He has been awarded a Navy Achievement Medal and five Air Medals for combat flight. He is currently a captain and an aircraft commander in the Marines.

Paul Rieckhoff ’98 is executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), a non partisan non profit founded in 2004 with tens of thousands of members in all 50 U.S. states. Rieckhoff himself was a first lieutenant and infantry rifle platoon leader in the Iraq war from 2003 to 2004. He is now a nationally recognized authority on the war in Iraq and issues affecting troops, military families and veterans and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The Charlie Rose Show, 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, All Things Considered, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Army Times and The Wall Street Journal, among others. His first book, a critically acclaimed account of his experiences in Iraq and activism afterwards titled Chasing Ghosts, was published by Penguin in May 2006. Rieckhoff currently serves as an infantry officer in the New York Army National Guard and lives in Manhattan.

The discussion will be dedicated to the memory of Navy lieutenant Joshua Walter “Max” Gross ’98, one of three crew members who died Jan. 16 in a helicopter crash in Corpus Christi, Texas. The event is sponsored by the college’s President’s Office.

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Amherst College Psychology Professor J.P. Baird Awarded Three-Year, $237,000 NIH Grant

Submitted by Holly R. Saltrelli

February 28, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College’s J.P. Baird, professor of psychology in the school’s neuroscience program, has been awarded a three-year, $237,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The funding will support Baird’s studies of how the brain regulates food intake.

The grant from the NIH will enable Baird and his team of undergraduate assistants to continue their work exploring the role that certain neurochemicals in a part of the brain called the parabrachial nucleus play in feeding control. According to Baird, previous research has shown that neuropeptides, or compounds in the brain made up of two or more amino acids, influence food intake and metabolism, and his group will explore how three particular neuropeptides impact the eating habits and satiety responses of rats in his lab. Because the neuropeptides his team are investigating have been implicated in a number of common food-related disorders, Baird hopes the group’s findings may one day contribute to a better understanding of many such conditions, including obesity, anorexia, bulimia and diabetes.

“An earlier stage of this study received a grant from the NIH three years ago, so I’m thrilled that the agency considered the project worthy of their continued support based on the findings we have obtained here at Amherst,” said Baird. “While the funding will subsidize the research component first and foremost, it will also make it possible for me to continue to bring some of the undergraduate students who collaborate on the research to national research conferences so that they can showcase their work and see how exciting and rewarding life as a professional scientist can be.”

Baird received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and earned a master’s and doctorate in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He also completed post doctoral work in sensory neurophysiology at the Ohio State University. He joined the Amherst faculty in 2002.

According to its Web site, the NIH includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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Mead Art Museum to Show “The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today” Feb. 28 through June 8

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 26, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Thursday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, June 8, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a new exhibition titled “The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today.” The show—which will also feature a gallery talk and reception March 27 and artist talks April 3 and 7—considers cultural identity in a global society and explores the effects of displacement, alienation, exile, diaspora, transnationalism, hybridity and cosmopolitanism.

 “The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today” consists of 15 works by nine artists. Included are pieces from the Mead’s permanent collection and loans in a range of artistic media—video, photography, painting and installation. In addition to Ghanaian-German artist Daniel Kojo and Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso, both Amherst College Copeland fellows, and French-Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Amherst Department of Art and Art History Artist-in-Residence, the artists featured in the exhibition are Moroccan Lalla Essaydi, Palestinian Mona Hatoum, Vietnamese-American Dinh Q. Lê, Iranian-American Shirin Neshat, Nigerian-Cuban-American Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Native American Jaune Quick-To-See Smith.

The title “The Third Space” is taken from the work of the influential cultural and post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha; it refers to the interstices between colliding cultures, a liminal space “which gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation.” In this “in-between” space, new cultural identities are formed, reformed and constantly in a state of becoming. Artists at work in “the third space” speak of a creative edge that derives from the condition of being in a place that simultaneously is and is not one’s home.

Exhibition curator Carol Solomon Kiefer, Bouabdellah, Kojo and Wiharso will give a gallery talk followed by a reception for “The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today” on Thursday, March 27, at 4:30 p.m., with an exhibition viewing immediately following from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Other events associated with the show include artist talks by Bouabdellah on April 3 at 4:30 p.m. in Fayerweather Hall’s Pruyne Lecture Hall and by Kojo on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mead Art Museum. All are free and open to the public.

“The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today” is part of a year-long interdisciplinary initiative at Amherst College on the theme of “Art and Identity in the Global Community.”  The exhibition is generously supported by the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund, the Templeton Photography Fund and the Amherst Arts Series Fund.

The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evening until 9 p.m. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst.edu/mead or call 413/542-2335.

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Author Emily Barton Reading at Amherst Books Feb. 28 CANCELED

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 7, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

* Editor's Note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Emily Barton's reading this evening has been canceled. 

AMHERST, Mass.—Author Emily Barton will read from her work at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Amherst Books (8 Main Street, Amherst, Mass.). Sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, the event is open to the public at no charge.

Writing for The New York Observer, Adam Begley called Barton “a copiously talented, daring writer,” and Thomas Pynchon has described her work as “blessedly post-ironic, engaging and heartfelt.” Her novel Brookland—which imagines an 18th-century gin distiller who dreams of a bridge that might connect her Brooklyn to Manhattan—also earned high praise from The New York Times; the paper called Brookland “[m]arvelous,” and named it a 2006 Notable Book.

Barton has received numerous fellowships and awards and currently serves as distinguished visiting writer at Bard College. In addition to Brookland, she has authored The Testament of Yves Gundron. They were published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2006 and 2000, respectively.

Every year, the Amherst College Creative Writing Center sponsors a reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. All events are wheelchair accessible and followed by refreshments. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.

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Amherst College to Present Series of Activities Culminating in Performance of “War Requiem” March 8

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 26, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Department of Music will host a series of activities culminating in a rare performance of Benjamin Britten’s powerful “War Requiem” on Saturday, March 8, at 8 p.m. in the school’s Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center. The concert will have reserved seating, with tickets available for reservation beginning Feb. 25.

Prior to the evening performance­, at 2 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium, students enrolled in the college’s Music, Human Rights, and Cultural Rights and Music and War courses of professors Jeffers Engelhardt and Jenny Kallick will present and discuss “The Experience of War” Web site (https://cms.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/music) they created for their classes. Following the presentation, the program will continue at around 4 p.m. at Amherst’s Mead Art Museum, where there will be refreshments, a display of artworks used by the classes and live music performed by the Amherst College jazz combo “Offbeat Generation” and various student musicians associated with “The Experience of War.” Both events are free and open to the public.

The Amherst undergraduates, in conjunction with the Amherst Today program, created and selected images for the Web site in order to encourage a conversation about music, war, violence and peace both on campus and beyond. Featured are original artworks from the collection of the Mead Art Museum and sounds, texts and videos with personal commentaries.

The infrequently performed 20th-century masterpiece “War Requiem” was written for the consecration of England’s rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, which had been almost completely destroyed during World War II, and is a deeply felt pacifist manifesto. The piece features a dramatic, liturgical setting of the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead interspersed with settings of anti-war texts by Wilfred Owen, a gifted young soldier-poet who died during the last week of hostilities of World War I.

The Amherst College Choral Society—led by guests Wayne Abercrombie, Cathy Melhorn and Ryan Brandau while director Mallorie Chernin is on leave—will be joined in this special event by the Smith College Glee Club conducted by Jonathan Hirsh, as well as soloists Janna Baty, mezzo-soprano; Scott Murphree, tenor; and Richard Lalli, baritone. The Amherst College Symphony Orchestra performs under the direction of Mark Lane Swanson.

Tickets are available for $6 for the general public and free to Five College students with identification. All tickets are for reserved seating only and may be held for purchase on the night of the performance by emailing amherstwarrequiem@gmail.com.

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Author Victoria Redel to Read Her Work at Amherst Books March 13

Submitted by Emanuel Costache

February 20, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Author Victoria Redel will read from her work at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at Amherst Books (8 Main Street, Amherst, Mass.). Sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, the event is open to the public at no charge.

Redel is the award-winning author of two books of poetry and three books of fiction. Grace Paley said of Redel’s story collection Where the Road Bottoms Out, “Only a poet could have written this prose. Only a storyteller could keep a reader turning these pages so greedily.” Redel’s most recent novel, The Border of Truth, follows the daughter of a Holocaust survivor as she uncovers the secrets of her family’s history, and Publishers Weekly called it “a welcome and fresh perspective on the well-trod subject of the Holocaust.”

Every year, the Amherst College Creative Writing Center sponsors a reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. All events are wheelchair-accessible and followed by refreshments. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.

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Palestinian Poet and Author Suheir Hammad to Hold Reading at Amherst College March 3

Submitted by Emanuel Costache

February 20, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Palestinian poet and author Suheir Hammad, a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College, will gather several of her breaking poems into an evening reading at 7:30 p.m. at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College Monday, March 3. The fourth in a series of Copeland Fellow events on the theme of “Art and Identity in the Global Community,” the reading is free and open to the public.

According to Hammad, this new work responds to the language soundscape(s) of the city, reflecting the headline news as reader and subject, while “remembering myths and rewinding narratives for a break in perspective,” she says.

Born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, Hammad immigrated with her family to Brooklyn, N.Y., when she was five years old. She has published two volumes of poetry, titled Born Palestinian, Born Black and Zaatar Diva, and an autobiography, Drops of This Story. She has been featured on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and was co-writer and a member of the 2003 Tony Award-winning cast of the original Broadway show of the same name. She believes poetry is a place for imagination, exploration, dissent and critical thinking, and is committed to making it a popular art.    

Her performance is sponsored by Amherst’s Marisa Parham, professor of English, and Manu Mukasa, professor of theater and dance.

Each year, the Copeland Colloquium brings a group of visiting scholars and artists to Amherst as fellows. This year’s colloquium theme, “Art and Identity in the Global Community,” was proposed by a group of faculty as the outcome of cross-disciplinary discussions on “the ways in which artists and scholars are revising notions of community identity as well as aesthetic conventions in response to new developments in media and migration.” Faculty representing seven different academic departments and the Mead Art Museum joined to become sponsors and organizers of the colloquium, and brought five international artists, working in a broad spectrum of media to Amherst to work in residence for both semesters of the academic year.

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Philosopher Evan Thompson to Discuss Meditation and Consciousness at Amherst College Feb. 28

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 18, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College alumnus Evan Thompson '83, professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, will deliver a lecture titled “Meditation and the Neuroscience of Consciousness: A Neurophenomenological Approach” in Cole Assembly Room of his alma mater’s Converse Hall Thursday, Feb. 28. The talk, which is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.

During his lecture, Thompson will discuss how self-reports of experience based on contemplative mental training of attention and awareness—meditation—can help advance research in cognitive science exploring consciousness and the self. He will also present an approach to investigating consciousness known as “neurophenomenology” and discuss how contemplative neurophenomenology offers a new way to relate science and contemplative wisdom traditions.

Thompson received a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from Amherst in 1983 and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1990. While writing his dissertation from 1986 to 1989, he also studied at the Centre de Recherche en Epistemologie Applique (CREA) at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. During that time he also co-wrote a book, The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (MIT Press, 1991). From 1989 to 1991, he was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship, which he held first at the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, and then at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He has since held appointments with Concordia University, Boston University, York University and the University of Colorado, Boulder. He moved to the University of Toronto in July 2005, where he now serves as professor and member of the undergraduate program in cognitive science.

The event is sponsored by the Mayo-Smith Read Transdisciplinary Fund.

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Author Adam Haslett To Read His Work at Amherst College March 6

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 15 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

413/542-8417

AMHERST, Mass.—Author Adam Haslett will read from his work at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 6, in Pruyne Lecture Hall of Amherst College’s Fayerweather Hall. Sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center, the event is open to the public at no charge.

Haslett is the author of the short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. The New Yorker has described Haslett as “an eloquent, precise miniaturist,” and his collection as “a fascinating snapshot of life during the era of Prozac, when new ways of thinking about emotion have forced us to adjust our notion of identity and even, perhaps, of grace.” Winner of the 2006 PEN/Malamud Award for accomplishment in short fiction, Haslett currently lives in New York City, where he is working on a novel.    

Every year, the Amherst College Creative Writing Center sponsors a reading series featuring both emerging and established authors. All events are wheelchair accessible and followed by refreshments. For more information, please call 413/542-8200.

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