Amherst College Professor Susan Niditch Publishes New Book on Judges

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 14, 2008
Contact: Emanuel Costache '09
Media Relations Intern
Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Susan Niditch, Samuel Green Professor of Religion at Amherst College, has just published Judges: A Commentary ($45, Westminster John Knox, 2008) as part of The Old Testament Library Series. The book-length commentary is accompanied by the author’s new translation of the biblical book.

Niditch’s commentary on Judges pays careful attention to the traditional-style literary and narrative techniques of the ancient authors. Fresh readings of the book’s difficult passages are paired with explications of the theological impact and enduring significance of these stories—stories of violence, ethnic conflict and gender issues. The Old Testament Library Series seeks to publish new and authoritative texts and treatments of important aspects of Old Testament study. Its judicious commentaries explain in an accessible way the most significant historical, linguistic, literary and theological features of these biblical texts.

The author of many books, including War and the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israelite Religion, Niditch regularly teaches courses on the Bible, early Judaism, folklore and popular religion and women in Judaism. Her book My Brother Esau Is a Hairy Man: Hair and Identity in Ancient Israel will be published in the coming weeks by Oxford University Press.


Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum to Offer Free Lunchtime Gallery Talks

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 6, 2008
Contact: Karen Cardinal
Mead Art Museum


AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a new series of free, lunchtime gallery talks most Tuesdays and Fridays during the spring academic term, starting Friday, Feb. 15. Each “Ten Minutes with a Masterpiece” talk will be presented by a student in the museum’s volunteer docent program and will offer a fresh look at a single artwork in the collection.

As Elizabeth Barker, director and chief curator of the Mead, noted, “The project should be a win-win for students and the community. Visitors will have the chance to learn something new about a familiar object in an informal event scheduled to suit their lunch breaks, and docents will be able to share some of the knowledge they’ve gathered about the museum’s collection but couldn’t quite fit onto their wall labels!”

Barker explained that the talks represent the culmination of a yearlong project undertaken by the docents. Each student has “adopted” a work of art and found different ways to share it with visitors—by preparing interpretive wall labels, writing “Pick of the Week” campus newspaper features and recording commentary for a forthcoming podcast audio tour. Suzannah Luft ’08, the museum’s lead docent and a double major in chemistry and art and art history, observed, “These projects have given us the opportunity to gain insight about our particular piece and then share our knowledge and excitement with museum visitors.”

Each “Ten Minutes” talk will be held at the Mead Art Museum from noon to 12:10 p.m. and will be followed by light refreshments. No talks will be repeated, and visitors are encouraged to attend them all. Dates of the talks are Feb. 15, 19, 22, 26 and 29; March 4, 7, 11, 25 and 28; April 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22 and 25 and May 2.

The Mead Art Museum holds an encyclopedic collection of more than 16,000 works of art, including American and European old master paintings, ancient Assyrian carvings, African sculpture, Japanese prints and Mexican ceramics. Five galleries display regularly refreshed selections from the permanent collection. From Feb. 28 through June 8, 2008, the museum will present The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today, a special loan exhibition of contemporary videos, paintings, photographs and mixed-media works that explore cultural identity in a global society. The museum is free, fully accessible and open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays until 9 p.m. To learn more, visit


Amherst College Museum of Natural History Recognized With Two Design Awards

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 4, 2008
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations


AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College’s Earth Sciences and Museum of Natural History building has been recognized by the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) and the New England Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for its exceptional design. The building’s architectural firm, Payette, earned a BSA Honor Award and an AIA/New England Honor Award in the Education Category for the innovative facility.

Payette worked closely with Amherst’s geology faculty to develop a unique program and design for the building that seamlessly integrates teaching and research. In the facility, each faculty member’s office serves as a hub surrounded by a teaching laboratory/classroom, scientific instrumentation and faculty research laboratory. 

Jim Brassord, director of facilities and associate treasurer for campus services, praised Payette for their collaborative design approach and was pleased that both BSA and AIA recognized Payette’s design for its aesthetic value as well as functionality. “We are thrilled with the new building,” he said. “It is a wonderful visual and academic addition to campus.”

Opened to the public last year, the Earth Science and Museum of Natural History Building houses both the Museum of Natural History and the college’s geology department. The natural history collections at Amherst include vertebrate and invertebrate paleontological finds, minerals and other geologic specimens and anthropological material acquired through expeditions, exchanges, donations and purchases from the 1830s to the present. The collection mirrors the changing interests of the Amherst faculty and the history of scientific inquiry. Much comes from the Connecticut Valley, but also from Africa, Asia and South and Central America, where early Amherst graduates traveled as missionaries or explorers.

The Boston Society of Architects’ design awards program recognizes and honors excellence in architectural design by all Massachusetts architects and architects throughout the world who wish to submit projects in Massachusetts. The AIA/New England Design Award Competition recognizes design excellence in projects from New England-based architects as well as projects located in New England. 

Founded in the 1930s, Payette is an architectural firm specializing in the programming, planning and design of complex buildings for medical and scientific research, academic teaching, healthcare and corporate research. In addition to Amherst, some of its clients include Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.


Tony Lake, Senior Advisor to Barack Obama, to Speak About Obama and the 2008 Presidential Election at Amherst College Feb. 4

Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 1, 2007
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations


AMHERST, Mass.—Tony Lake, senior advisor to Senator Barack Obama and former national security advisor for President Bill Clinton, will speak on Senator Obama and the 2008 presidential election Monday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Amherst College’s Johnson Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to advising Senator Obama, Lake is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. From 1993 to 1997, he served as the assistant to President Bill Clinton for National Security Affairs, where he addressed some of the world’s most pressing foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1962 and soon embarked on a State Department career that included assignments as U.S. Vice Consul in Saigon and Hue, Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor and Director of Policy Planning.

Lake was also Five College Professor of International Relations at Mount Holyoke College and has worked for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and International Voluntary Services. He is the author of several books, including Somoza Falling and The “Tar Baby” Option: American Policy Toward Southern Rhodesia, and co-author of Our Own Worst Enemy: The Unmasking of American Foreign Policy. In addition, he edited After the Wars and was a contributing editor to Legacy of Vietnam: The War, American Society and the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy.

Lake earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1961. He then read international economics at Trinity College, Cambridge, and went on to receive his doctorate from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1974.





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