As a medical anthropologist, Notre Dame associate professor Vania Smith-Oka is interested in how larger institutions shape the lives of the people who interact within them. In her current research, she wants to know how some medical professionals, tasked with caring for patients, create a system that abuses some of their most vulnerable patients. She and graduate students are spending time in hospitals and doctor’s offices in Mexico to understand how such a culture evolves.
More than 20 million people were killed and another 20 million or more were injured in World War I, but it’s difficult for Americans today to wrap their minds around just how catastrophic the conflict was. The last survivors have died, the war wasn’t fought on American soil, and it ended more than a century ago. But a group of Notre Dame students now has more than numbers, texts, or photos to help them understand the devastation. As part of their Great War and Modern Memory class — an interdisciplinary course designed and team-taught by Robert Norton, a professor of German, and John Deak, an associate professor of history — they traveled to Europe to visit battlefields and World War I memorials along the western front.
Much medieval Italian art from the 13th century is focused on Christianity — paintings and sculptures depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary, saints, or other Biblical scenes. But murals that were hidden for hundreds of years under layers of whitewash at the Santi Quattro Coronati monastery in Rome are different — in addition to religious iconography, they also depict secular knowledge. Notre Dame art historian Marius Hauknes is fascinated by the significant shift implied by the newly discovered paintings, and he’s spending this year writing a book on the subject after winning a fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
After Kaleem Minor graduates with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Letters this spring, he’ll head to California for a job he’d never dreamed of. In fact, less than a year ago, the soon-to-be analyst for a $35 billion alternative investment firm knew next to nothing about the world of finance. A trip over spring break last year changed his perspective — and his career path. Minor was one of 16 black Notre Dame students who participated in an “alternative investment trek” to the West Coast to learn more about careers in the financial services industry.
Thousands of years ago, Mesopotamians craned their necks to watch as the moon passed between them and the sun, casting darkness on the Earth. They sacrificed animals and opened them up, carefully analyzing the characteristics of their organs. These ancient people were looking for messages from the gods; they sought information about potential enemy attacks, the weather, and predictions for their crops. “In any society, there is a desire to know the future. That’s still true today, if you think about political polling or weather forecasting,” said Abraham Winitzer, the Jordan H. Kapson Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Notre Dame. Winitzer, who works primarily in Assyriology, is one of two Notre Dame theology faculty that have a focus on Jewish studies, an area in which the department is giving new emphasis.
The Notre Dame Department of Theology is hosting an academic experience in the Holy Land this summer for graduate students in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity and History of Christianity, adding a sense of place for those studying ancient scriptures. Abraham Winitzer, the Jordan H. Kapson Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, and Robin Jensen, the Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology, will lead the trip for up to 10 students. They will spend four weeks at Notre Dame’s Jerusalem Global Gateway and Tantur Ecumenical Institute learning the geography and history of the Holy Land, then spend two weeks at a nearby archaeological site.
Notre Dame anthropologist Alex Chávez’s first book, Sounds of Crossing: Music, Migration, and the Aural Poetics of Huapango Arribeño, has certainly caught the eye of his peers. The in-depth look at Mexican migrants’ cultural expression through music has earned three prestigious awards in the fields of anthropology and ethnomusicology.Chávez’s work has earned the 2018 Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology Book Prize and 2018 Association for Latina and Latino Anthropologists Book Award, and now the Alan P. Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Looking through new lenses, a Ph.D. candidate and two recent alumni of Notre Dame’s Ph.D. program in history have developed innovative lines of research that are adding depth to the topics of British imperialism, comparative colonialism, and human connections to animals. All three have obtained either tenure-track faculty positions or fellowships, and two finished their degrees in five years — a lofty goal set by the department and College of Arts and Letters and incentivized through the 5+1 Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.
In summer 2016, Notre Dame senior Andrew Grose studied abroad in Spain — taking a headfirst dive into a language and culture he loved and had studied for years. The experience confirmed for him that whatever path he takes after graduation, Spanish will be a part of it. Grose, a Spanish and preprofessional studies major, is planning a career in medicine and knows his language skills will be a valuable asset — a fact that was underscored in a course on Latin America he took last fall.
A new Notre Dame student club focused on macro-scale economics and fiscal policy won the first national contest it entered, knocking off Harvard University, the defending champion. Notre Dame’s six-person Fiscal Challenge team — which features five Arts and Letters students — developed a plan to stabilize the United States’ debt-to-GDP ratio at current levels through 2046. Notre Dame’s team was chosen as one of three finalists, along with Harvard and Northeastern University, to present its plan live and take questions from a panel of judges.
An examination of one of the 20th century’s most important Catholic theologians has garnered a significant honor for Jennifer Newsome Martin, an assistant professor in the Program of Liberal Studies. She is one of 10 people worldwide to receive the 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, presented by the University of Heidelberg’s Forschungszentrum für Internationale und Interdisziplinäre Theologie for outstanding doctoral or first post-doctoral works in the area of God and spirituality.
Four faculty members in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have been awarded 2017 fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies. The pre-eminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, the ACLS offers up to a year of funding for in-depth exploration of a topic that expands the understanding of the human experience. Three historians — Mariana Candido, Deborah Tor, and Evan Ragland — were among the 71 ACLS fellows selected from a pool of nearly 1,200 applicants. Katherine Brading, a professor of philosophy, is a member of one of nine teams to win a collaborative research fellowship.
The first pieces in the expansion of the Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC) are in place, as the once-small program builds toward its long-term goal as a thought leader in American grand strategy. Led by Director Michael Desch, a professor in the Department of Political Science, NDISC recently hired three new faculty members and brought on board three postdoctoral fellows.
For Katie Paige and Laura Heiman, research hasn’t just shaped their undergraduate experiences—it’s shaped their futures, as well. The two senior psychology majors have both gained significant research experience throughout their time at Notre Dame, writing senior theses and working closely with faculty members as they study topics ranging from depression to childhood development.
Darren Dochuk, associate professor in Notre Dame’s Department of History, will spend a year exploring the connection between religion and the oil industry with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH has offered Dochuk both a fellowship and a Public Scholar Award for the project, which will allow him to complete his book, Anointed With Oil: God and Black Gold in America’s Century.
Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science added two new faculty members this year, growing its roster of experts in American and comparative politics. Assistant Professor Jeff Harden, previously an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, studies American politics, including political representation, public policy diffusion, and state politics. Assistant Professor Michael Hoffman studies Middle East politics and democratization.
An interdisciplinary research collaboration between the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University has awarded more than $344,000 to seven projects in the final year of the program that explores the theoretical, empirical, and practical dimensions of hope and optimism, as well as related states such as pessimism, anxiety, and despair. The project, Hope and Optimism: Conceptual and Empirical Investigations, also announced the winners of its Hope on Stage and Hope on Screen contests, which challenged artists to create both original plays and original films that explored the concept of hope.
Robert Goulding, an associate professor in Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science program, has won a yearlong fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he will finish a book on Renaissance thinker Thomas Harriot. About 200 scholars from around the world are chosen each year to work with 28 permanent faculty at the IAS.
After spending part of an undergraduate study abroad trip working with struggling teen mothers in Chile, Lauren Antosz ’16 left with the nagging feeling there was more she could do. She’ll get the chance with a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, helping to develop a program that supports at-risk youth achieve higher outcomes. Antosz, who majored in Spanish, is one of a record 29 Notre Dame Fulbright Scholars for the 2016-17 year.
More than $650,000 has been awarded to 15 projects in the second year of a research collaboration aimed at building new understanding about how religious and transformative experiences occur and shape lives. The Experience Project, a $5.1 million project supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, aims to answer questions about how religious experiences affect a person’s concept of God; how transformative experiences can affect a person’s identity, values, belief system and behaviors; and how religious and other types of transformative experiences differ.
Two faculty members and former chairs who were instrumental in the development of the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre are taking their final bows. Mark Pilkinton, who expanded the department in the 1980s and pushed for the building of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, retired this summer. Donald Crafton unified the department during his tenure as chair and expanded it to include film and television studies. He will retire after the fall semester.
When the Wauja people tell a story about their history and culture, the words they choose convey a deep meaning about the indigenous Brazilian tribe’s interconnectedness to its landscape. Christopher Ball wants to delve into that relationship between language and place. Funded by an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship, the assistant professor of anthropology is exploring how the Wauja people use words to create an identity that ties their culture to a nearby river and chronicling that meaning for future generations.
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton studies medieval texts, many of them on sheepskins and fragile after hundreds of years in conditions not always suited for preservation. The Notre Dame Professor of English studies the margins of these medieval texts, which contain thoughts scrawled by some of the brightest minds of the time. They are a layer of interaction and understanding that Kerby-Fulton will spend the next year studying, supported by a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.
Marcio Bahia is coming to Notre Dame’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures with his eyes focused squarely on Brazil. A scholar of Brazilian culture and language, Bahia will join the College of Arts and Letters faculty this fall with a focus on accelerating the growth of the Portuguese program.
For his book pulling together the complex history of philology and how Western humanistic learning split into the modern humanities that we know today, Notre Dame historian James Turner has received the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award. The honor is given for books in literary scholarship or criticism and is named for a distinguished Princeton University scholar, teacher, and dean. Turner’s book, Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, looks at how learned researchers once included languages, history, and texts in a single broad field of study that came to be known as philology.
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded two of its prestigious 2016 fellowships to faculty in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. The fellowships, which fund a diverse group scholars, artists, and scientists, will go to Anjan Chakravartty, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, and Stephen Fallon, the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities in the Program of Liberal Studies and the Department of English.
Dr. Patrick Lyons ’08 doesn’t ask his patients if they have questions when he’s finished talking with them about a diagnosis. There’s a good chance they’ll say no. Instead, he asks what questions they have. Looking at how he practices medicine now, especially in his interactions with patients, Lyons realizes his time as an English major had a profound effect on how he communicates. “English prepared me well because I have the ability to think critically and organize and analyze the information in front of me,” he said. “Word choice and the way you’re addressing patients can be really powerful.”
Two faculty members from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have won 2016 fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies. Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, the Notre Dame Professor of English, will pursue a book project that explores the notes that medieval readers made in the margins of historic texts and books in order to rediscover sophisticated early reading practices for understanding the self. Christopher Ball, an assistant professor of anthropology, will spend time with an indigenous tribe in Brazil studying local history and culture through connections between language and nearby rivers.
Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology at Notre Dame, will spend a year in Jerusalem working with an international group of scholars to better understand how early Jews, Christians, and Muslims read, understood, and interpreted the stories told in the Bible’s early chapters. Anderson is part of a team of scholars from North America, Israel, and Europe accepted this fall to conduct research at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Susan Youens, J. W. Van Gorkom Professor of Music in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, has been named an honorary member of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, a distinction awarded for extraordinary contribution to musicology in that country. Youens, widely considered one of the world’s foremost authorities of German song, particularly the work of Franz Schubert and Hugo Wolf, said the honor was especially sweet because of a long-standing relationship she’s had with a group of Irish musicologists dedicated to Schubert’s work.