“A Bouquet of Flowers of Evil”

Oct. 29, 2010

Interview by Katherine Duke ’05

Just in time for Halloween, I sat down with Natasha Staller, a professor of the history of art who is currently at work on a book called The Spanish Monster, to talk about her popular course “Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters.” Read on to find out how monsters—in different forms throughout history—have crept into disciplines ranging from art to women’s studies to medical science to political science, and why Staller finds Sharon Stone more terrifying than Nosferatu.


History of Homes


History Professor Kevin Sweeney points out architectural details on the Dickinson Homestead.

History professor Kevin Sweeney is a historian of “material culture” which involves researching archeological sites, estate sale records, wills and census reports to uncover clues about consumption and use of goods ranging from food to furniture to firearms.

Sweeney’s firearms research alone has yielded surprising insights. For example, he’s found that gun ownership in the original colonies was surprisingly varied – relatively low in regions like Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and comparatively higher in the New England and Southern States.

He has used this approach to study the life of Lord Jeffery Amherst, and over the years also has become an expert on the history of the American home. This semester, he’s sharing that knowledge, in a course he’s teaching titled "The Material Culture of American Homes."

Professor Sweeney recently sat down with Director of Public Affairs Peter Rooney to discuss the class.

Listen to the full interview below or download it here:

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Q: What is “Material Culture?”


Consuming Happiness

Professor Daniel Barbezat 

If there ever was a sobering time to teach an economics course titled "Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness," it might be during the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

The course, being taught this semester by Economics Professor Daniel P. Barbezat, aims to open students’ eyes about the link between well-being and consumption, and how government policies and economic conditions can impact that well-being. To help students gain insight, he’s also introducing elements of mindfulness into the course, and leading meditation exercises as well.

Professor Barbezat recently sat down with Director of Public Affairs Peter Rooney to discuss the class, as well as his thoughts about the current downturn and how it might impact our own sense of happiness. (He also spoke with Kimberly Palmer ’01 about the course for a piece she wrote for U.S. News & World Report.)

Listen to the full interview:


Q: It’s a very intriguing title, given the times and the unraveling of the economy.  To what extent are you incorporating the downturn into the course or discussion?

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