For Arienne Thompson Plourde ’04, the first step toward a successful journalism career was to study history and Japanese. Although it might seem an unlikely combination for an aspiring journalist, it gave her a strong foundation to build on — and just as importantly, four years to study what she loved. “For me, I always knew that I wanted to be writing and thinking and reading — and being immersed in the world of letters. It was almost like breathing. What else could I have done?”
Notre Dame senior Margaret “Meg” Burns, an art history major from San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a 2021–22 Luce Scholarship. The scholarship provides a stipend, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia, with a goal of enhancing the understanding of Asia among potential leaders of American society. Burns is Notre Dame’s 10th Luce Scholar in total and its third since 2014.
Psychologist Jessica Payne is passionate about helping the world better understand the value of sleep — and the many ways it impacts our cognition, health, and longevity. She dreams of a society where people no longer take pride in how little sleep they need to get by, but how much they sleep in order to thrive. Her groundbreaking research on sleep, stress, and psychological function has led to her being selected as the National Academy of Sciences 2021 Seymour Benzer/Sydney Brenner Lecturer — and to being awarded a nearly $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Molly Spencer ’94 knows how much words matter. As a writing instructor in the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and and the author of two books of poetry, she appreciates the connotation, the shades of meaning, the nuance in every word. “People often ask me how it is that I teach policy writing and write poetry because they seem like such opposite pursuits. But I feel that they’re actually very closely aligned — policy practitioners and poets all care so deeply about the world,” said Spencer, who majored in economics. “And as in poetry, in policy work it’s important to get the words just right because of the way policy shapes our society and our everyday lives.”
Three faculty members from Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy — Richard Cross, Katharina Kraus, and Samuel Newlands — have been offered fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Scholars in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have received a total of 68 NEH fellowships since 1999 — more than any other university in the country.
Sophie White, a professor in the Department of American Studies, has won the prestigious 2020 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for her work, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana. The prize, sponsored by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, recognizes the best book published in English on slavery, resistance, or abolition. It is considered one of the most distinguished awards for the study of global slavery.
Christopher Waller, the former Gilbert Schaefer Professor of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, has been confirmed to the Federal Reserve’s seven-member Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. Waller, executive vice president and director of research at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday with a vote of 48-47.
Neeta Verma’s teaching and research examines a range of social inequities facing the local community — including homelessness, poverty, and the digital divide. But the issue she finds most pressing is youth violence — and she believes that art and design can play a key role in breaking its vicious cycle. With a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, she is launching a two-year project that will use community-designed public art installations and youth programming to address this systemic problem.
Francie Shaft has discovered intersections between her theology and Japanese majors through her classes and research — both on campus and in Japan. Those opportunities would not have been possible, she said, without the support she found at Notre Dame. “Notre Dame wants you to start pursuing what you’re passionate about, even as a freshman. If I didn’t have these people who have believed in me from the start, I don’t think I would be as creative and as bold in the sorts of experiences I want to have.”
Christina Wolbrecht, a professor of political science and affiliated faculty member in the Gender Studies Program, has been awarded a Centennial Center Special Projects Fund grant from the American Political Science Association. With the grant, she and a team of colleagues are planning to broaden the impact of the organization Women Also Know Stuff by hosting a virtual conference in early 2021 that will bring together journalists and scholars.
The John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values has announced new leadership for two key programs — Vania Smith-Oka, an associate professor of anthropology, and Amy Hixon, an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences. Smith-Oka will serve as the inaugural director of the center’s Medicine and the Liberal Arts program, and Hixon has been named director of the GLOBES graduate certificate program.
Sociologist Erin McDonnell and psychologist Nathan Rose have received National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards for 2020. They are among nine University of Notre Dame faculty members to receive the awards this year. “This is the most prestigious award granted by the NSF to early-career faculty and reflects the quality of Erin McDonnell’s and Nathan Rose’s research,” said Sarah Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. “I am thrilled that they are continuing the College’s strong record of success with these awards.”
The highest teaching honor in the College of Arts & Letters, the Sheedy Award was created in 1970 and honors Rev. Charles E. Sheedy, C.S.C., who served as A&L dean from 1951 to 1969. Pamela Wojcik, also a concurrent professor in the Department of American Studies and the Gender Studies Program, will accept the award during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, November 17.
Rawls' work A Theory of Justice has had a lasting and far-reaching influence on the fields of economics, political science, philosophy, and law — and nearly 50 years after its publication, it remains one of the greatest works of political philosophy ever produced, said Paul Weithman, the Glynn Family Honors Professor of Philosophy. With funding from a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Weithman is planning a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication in September 2021.
The College of Arts and Letters is introducing Beyond the Dome — a new set of tools and resources to help guide Arts and Letters students through the career discernment process. The program features a number of opportunities that are exclusive to A&L students — including a peer-mentoring program, an online discernment tool linked to a job-matching board, an alumni speaker series, and a year-by-year guide to career readiness — that are designed to enhance and increase awareness of the resources at the Meruelo Family Center for Career Development.
The College of Arts and Letters is launching a new minor in economic and business history that will allow undergraduates from across the University to explore the intersections of history, economics, finance, labor, and capitalism. Housed in the Department of History, the minor offers students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the political, historical, and economic complexities at play in the age of globalization, said Elisabeth Köll, chair of the department.
Dominique Vargas discusses how the body works as a metaphor in contemporary American literature and why it is important to question the global politics and economic institutions that dominate, regulate, and sometimes criminalize the body as commodity, labor, and threat.
Denis Robichaud, an associate professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, has been awarded the I Tatti Jean-François Malle Residential Fellowship for his project, Controversies over God and Being in the Italian Renaissance: religion, philosophy, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s De ente et uno. As one of 15 recipients awarded an I Tatti residential fellowship, Robichaud will spend a year researching and writing at I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, Italy.
What Karen Graubart didn’t find in archives in Spain and Peru was, in some ways, as valuable as what she did. An associate professor in the Department of History, Graubart has spent more than 15 years conducting archival research on women and non-dominant communities in the Iberian Empire for her first two books. But she is also considering how the archives themselves have shaped her research — by questioning who is represented in them and why.
Sophie White, a professor in the Department of American Studies, offered an exceptional glimpse into the lives of the enslaved — through their own words — in her latest book, Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana. She recently won two awards for the work — the Kemper and Leila Williams Book Prize and the 2020 Summerlee Book Prize. White also received an honorable mention for the Merle Curti Award for best book in American social history from the Organization of American Historians.
Katie Jarvis, an associate professor in the Department of History, has been awarded the Louis A. Gottschalk Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies for her work, Politics in the Marketplace: Work, Gender, and Citizenship in Revolutionary France. The book is the first study of the Parisian market women — the Dames des Halles — during the French Revolution and explores how the Dames’ political activism and economic activities shaped the nature of nascent democracy and capitalism through daily commerce.
La Donna Forsgren writes because she has something to say — and because the people she writes about had something to say, too. An assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, Forsgren’s research shines a light on the essential role African American women have played in theatre history. She has written two books on female dramatists in the Black Arts Movement and is now working on a third focusing on women in contemporary black musical theatre.
Acclaimed organist Kola Owolabi will join the faculty of the Department of Music and Sacred Music at Notre Dame this fall as professor of music and head of the Graduate Organ Studio. Owolabi — whose expertise includes a broad range of organ repertoire, composition, choral conducting, church music, and improvisation — will replace Craig Cramer, who is retiring at the end of the academic year.
Pamela Wojcik, a professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, has been awarded a 2020 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in support of her book project, Unhomed: Mobility and Placelessness in American Cinema. Wojcik is among 175 scholars, artists, and scientists to be awarded fellowships this year from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. Faculty in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have won 18 Guggenheim fellowships in the last 20 years.
In this Q&A, Christopher Baron, an associate professor of classics and concurrent associate professor of history, discusses his research on Greek historians living in the Roman Empire and how we grapple with similar questions today, as well as the strange and interesting things he's learned while editing an encyclopedia on Herodotus — the "Father of History."
Emilia Justyna Powell wants to change how people see Islamic law and culture — because too often, she’s found, people in the West have an inaccurate view of it as strict or outdated. She has spent five years traveling to Muslim-majority countries and interviewing Muslim scholars for her new book exploring the similarities and differences between the Islamic legal tradition and classical international law.
From philosophy to musical theatre to economics, Arts and Letters faculty are using technological innovations — as well as creativity, patience, and empathy — to continue the educational experience for their students as the University shifts to online classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The sudden shift has prompted adaptation in the face of adversity — from defending a dissertation via Zoom meeting to posting and analyzing behind-the-scenes clips of rehearsal for a musical that won't be performed — but it has also already helped faculty and students forge new bonds with each other.
In this Q&A, Brooke Ammerman, an assistant professor of psychology, discusses her research on the risk factors and protective factors for self-injurious behaviors, how her work maps onto the University mission, and why undergraduate and graduate students are essential to her research.
Paul A. Rathburn, a professor emeritus in the Department of English at the University of Notre Dame and founder of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival (NDSF), died Wednesday (Feb. 12). He was 85. Rathburn, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1965, retired from teaching in 2000. He founded NDSF the same year and served as producing artistic director for its first five years.
Tim Morton joined the College of Arts and Letters faculty last spring as director of the collaborative innovation minor and associate professor of the practice in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. The minor, which centers on the principles of design thinking as an approach to solving real-world problems, draws students with a wide variety of majors from across the University — with more than 65 students taking the introductory Design Matters course last semester alone.