For Christopher Chowrimootoo, there’s nothing unusual about a musicologist teaching in the Great Books program. That’s because, like his research, the Program of Liberal Studies is fundamentally interdisciplinary. He primarily tries to bring music into wider conversations about the “middlebrow” in literature, film studies, and cultural history. This originally pejorative term implied cultural aspiration, using “highbrow” art to achieve a higher social and aesthetic status.
Now a senior program office for IREX in Washington, D.C., Micah Johnston '06 spent his first year after graduation volunteering for the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly in Chicago. He spent his days visiting the homes of elderly individuals who did not regularly see friends or family. “Spending a year in service helps other people, but it can also be a master class in learning about the world, learning about other people, incorporating that into the education you get at Notre Dame,” he said.
Crystal Avila's senior documentary, Beneath the Trees (Debjao de los árboles), recounts her grandfather's journey from his small village in Mexico to the United States border and his time in Yuma, Ariz., where he got a job picking cotton for 35 cents a day. The film premiered in February at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, where it was one of 10 films selected for the fest's Oscar-qualifying competition. It will screen this weekend at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, where it is nominated for best short documentary film and Avila is up for the best female filmmaker award.
The U.S. government has a good idea of where oil prices are headed and why, but the demand side is less clear. So the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a part of the Department of Energy that collects and distributes data on energy and the economy, recruited Notre Dame economist Christiane Baumeister to develop an indicator for future energy demand. With a two-year, $120,000 grant, she’ll collect data on possible determinants of oil demand and create models to figure out which of those factors actually determine future demand. Having that information, she said, tells us about more than just oil.
Associate Professor of English Matthew Wilkens is fascinated by the use of geography in literature over time. How, for example, did the Civil War affect the importance of certain places in American literature, and what can literature tells us about Americans’ sense of place? The answer can be found in books written during that period — potentially thousands of them, many more than Wilkens could ever read and analyze himself. He was recently awarded a $325,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to bolster Textual Geographies, a database and suite of tools he is developing that allow users to find, map, and analyze more than 14 billion place name mentions from books and journals in English, Spanish, German, and Chinese.
Gretchen Reydams-Schils, a professor in the Program of Liberal Studies, has begun a 10-month fellowship at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as part of a multidisciplinary research project that studies expressions of the self among philosophers, lawmakers, representatives of religious traditions, and biographers in ancient Greece and Rome. The project brings together scholars of philosophy, law, literature, early Christianity, Jewish Hellenism, and Judaism to understand classical thinkers’ concept of the self and how that conception manifested itself in Jewish, Christian, and Roman culture.
In the nearly 100 years since women won the right to vote, a conventional wisdom about the aftermath of the 19th Amendment developed. Christina Wolbrecht believed that conventional wisdom needed to be challenged. In her book, the Notre Dame professor of political science and her co-author investigated and often upended long-held assumptions about women’s suffrage and offered new insight into the largest expansion of the electorate in American history. Their efforts earned them the American Political Science Association’s Victoria Schuck Award for the best book on women and politics published in the past year.
Three Notre Dame faculty members in the Department of Music teamed up with members of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and two Chicago artists to film a dramatic performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire, to be released in January.
Because Shane Kelly ’14 began his undergraduate education intending to go to graduate school in psychology, he knew he should get involved in research at Notre Dame as soon as possible. So when Associate Professor James Brockmole offered him a research assistant position in his Visual Cognition Lab, Kelly jumped at the opportunity. “It turned out to be a great decision and I enjoyed cognitive psychology and working in the Visual Cognition Lab immediately,” Kelly said.
Chris Dekker, an organist in Sacred Music at Notre Dame’s Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) program, has been awarded a scholarship from the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. The scholarship recognizes an undergraduate or graduate music student who intends to pursue a career in sacred music and who demonstrates “evidence of exceptional musical or artistic talent, effective leadership ability, and outstanding promise of future usefulness to the Church.”
Two senior film, television, and theatre (FTT) majors in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters will see their original plays come to life October 2–12 in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. ND Theatre NOW is the only entirely student-driven production in this year’s FTT theatre season, with student writers, directors, and performers. It features two one-act plays: Beneath My Skin, by Zachary Wendeln, and Out of Orbit, by Lucas Garcia.