“Do what you feel naturally inclined to do, where your skills and abilities are taking you, what you're best at. It really has helped me to narrow down and find the right career,” said Elizabeth Simari ’08. An English and Italian major in the College of Arts and Letters, Simari studied abroad in Rome during her junior year. Her interest in the language, history, and culture of Italy developed into a passion, leading her to move to Sicily after graduation. After teaching English for a year and then earning a master's degree in literature, she wrote for L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s English-language newspaper, and now teaches at the University of Loyola Chicago's campus in Rome.
Jennifer Jones is an assistant professor of sociology and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research uses qualitative methods to explore increasing migration, the growing multiracial population, and shifting social relations between and within racial groups. In this video, she discusses her work on how race relations are changing and what race means for politics and inequality.
“The Notre Dame Berlin Seminar provides something that no graduate program in the United States can do, and indeed no professional can access very easily simply from your home institution,” said William Collins Donahue, the John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities and chair of the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures. The Notre Dame Berlin Seminar is a two-week program where faculty and advanced graduate student Germanists gather in Berlin to examine a particular topic. For the first three years of the program, participants will explore Der Literaturbetrieb, German literary institutions. What makes the program exceptional is that participants will meet with authors, archivists, publishers, and reviewers working in Germany, as well as visiting presses, libraries, archives, and theaters to get a full picture of Germany’s literary scene.
Valerie Sayers is a professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of six novels as well as numerous short stories, essays, and reviews. In this video, she discusses her approach to writing, the way modern fiction has evolved based on contemporary concerns, and the strength of Notre Dame's Creative Writing Program.
“An internship abroad is a great starting point for a career abroad,” said Margaret Swinehart, a senior history major in the College of Arts and Letters. Swinehart spent the summer of 2016 interning at the United States Embassy in Rome, Italy. She worked in the non-immigrant visa unit of the consular section, collecting documents and helping applicants prepare for their interviews. Swinehart learned about the internship through the Notre Dame Career and Internship Fair hosted by the Career Center. “The internship started as just something I was intrigued about,” she said. “It has shown me that I would like to pursue a career in government.”
Timothy Matovina is Professor of Theology and Co-Director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He specializes in U.S. Catholic and U.S. Latino theology and religion.
Why Berlin? “Berlin has so much to offer. It wildly exceeded my expectations,” said Taylor Seeman, a senior Program of Liberal Studies and sociology senior who participated in Notre Dame’s Berlin Summer Program. The Berlin Summer Program is a six-week, six-credit program where students can experience Germany’s capital city while learning about its history and culture. Led by faculty in the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures, the program is open to students from all majors, and no prior knowledge of German is necessary.
Patrick Griffin is the Madden-Hennebry Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include colonial and revolutionary America, early modern Irish and British history, and Atlantic history. In this video, he discusses how his research integrates American history with British history and Irish history to examine trends and dynamics that connected the old world to the new world.
“The liberal education I received at Notre Dame really taught me how to learn, how to analyze, and, at the most fundamental level, how to problem-solve,” said Bill Dirksen ’82. “And that’s what most businesses are looking for—people who know how to solve problems.”
Notre Dame senior Joseph Strasz made the most of his study abroad experience by participating in the Rome International Scholars Program—a unique opportunity for students interested in conducting research, completing an internship, and participating in extensive service learning in Rome. “I am exceptionally glad that I chose to do this. It has been 100% worth it,” said Strasz, an Italian studies and Greek and Roman civilizations major.
Notre Dame’s annual Rome Seminar brings together graduate students and junior faculty members from around the world to learn from top scholars and interact with peers at the University’s Rome Global Gateway. Sponsored by the Italian Studies at Notre Dame program and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the seminar’s interdisciplinary topic changes each year.
“When you look at which men and women U.S. Catholics have wanted to become saints, you actually learn a lot about how they understood themselves, not only as Catholics but also as members of American society. ”
— Kathleen Sprows Cummings
Meghan Sullivan, the Rev. John A. O'Brien Collegiate Associate Professor of Philosophy, discusses her current research on the philosophy of time—especially time biases, or how our assumptions about time factor into our preferences about how our lives go.
“Rome is just amazing. There’s no other city like it,” said Andrew Guinan, a senior Italian and accounting major at the University of Notre Dame. Guinan spent the 2016 spring semester in Notre Dame International’s Rome study abroad program, and he stayed through the summer to intern with the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission. A student of Italian since his first year at Notre Dame, Guinan found himself supported by Notre Dame's extensive resources in the city, based at the Rome Global Gateway.
When honors medieval studies major Karen Neis ’16 took a class on Charlemagne, the unusual story of the emperor’s prized elephant resonated with her. She recalled that story when it came time to choose a senior thesis, ultimately leading her to produce an illustrated children’s book, Abul Abbas, The Elephant. The book recounts the journey of the elephant a caliph gave as a gift to Charlemagne around the year 800. In the story, a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim all work together to transport the elephant 3,000 miles from Baghdad to Aachen.
David Campbell is the Packey J. Dee Professor of American Democracy and chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His research interests include American politics, civic engagement, political behavior, religion and politics, and education policy. In this video, he discusses his research on why people do—or, increasingly do not—get involved in politics.
“When we think about paramilitarism, we tend to think about a rather contemporary history around counterinsurgency warfare, but that moment is actually linked to a much longer history that goes back to the very formation of modern American states,” said Joshua Lund, associate professor of Spanish at the University of Notre Dame. Lund studies Latin American film, literature, and cultural politics. His published works include two books, The Mestizo State (2012) and The Impure Imagination (2006), a co-edited volume of scholarship on Gilberto Freyre, and essays on a range of cultural topics.
A political science major and a German minor in the College of Arts and Letters, Mallory Brown has spent her entire career with Egon Zehnder, a global management consulting and executive search firm, and is now based in its Berlin office. When hiring entry-level researchers, Brown said that she looks for students with a broad educational background. “I'm targeting Arts and Letters majors because I know they can write well, and they've also had exposure to a broad number of topics,” Brown said. “We deal with every industry, every function, and every geography, so the broader the type of candidate and the type of student we can interview, the better."
“A liberal arts education gives you really good foundation,” said John Phillips ’66, a College of Arts and Letters alumnus who majored in government and international studies. President Barack Obama appointed him ambassador to Italy in 2013. Phillips is the president’s personal representative in Italy and is responsible for managing a wide range of diplomatic issues, including military, commerce, immigration, and foreign policy matters.
Congratulations to the Class of 2016! This video, screened at the Arts and Letters Diploma Ceremony, features several seniors reflecting on their time at Notre Dame and in the College of Arts and Letters. "The College of Arts and Letters has really given me this great base that has allowed me to think and critically reflect on what kind of life I want to live," said Seamus Ronan, a political science and peace studies major. "I feel prepared for whatever life brings my way."
“The focus of your education should be on trying to open your doors to a more international understanding of the world, and I think the Spanish major does an amazing job in preparing us for that,” said Nick Nissen ’16, a Spanish major in the College of Arts and Letters. Studying Spanish at Notre Dame provides students with the skills needed to fully experience the Spanish-speaking world. Students learn the language while also studying literature and culture to better understand the historical and social contexts of the 400 million native Spanish speakers around the world.
“Early literary encounters with the Holocaust tended to tell you about the whole event, but now when the Holocaust appears, generally speaking, it appears in small moments, in kind of passing glances,” said William Collins Donahue, the John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities and chair of the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame. Donahue has researched extensively in the areas of literary realism and modernism, especially the work of Elias Canetti. Now focusing primarily on Holocaust literature, Donahue is developing an analogy for how the Holocaust appears in contemporary narratives. These small episodes, Donahue said, are similar to the Stolpersteine, a worldwide movement of small pavement stones, each commemorating a victim in the Holocaust.
“I tend to gravitate towards doctrines that seem inexplicable, and I try to understand what motivated the early Christians to formulate these doctrines in just these ways,” said Khaled Anatolios, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. Anatolios specializes in the theology of the early Church. As a Byzantine Catholic priest, he has a special interest in the doctrines of the Greek fathers as well as complementary ideas between the Eastern and Western traditions. His current research focuses on the doctrine of salvation, particularly the disconnect between classical sources and modern experience.
“It’s my conviction that the best way to know about how early Christians worshipped — even what they believed — is to try to get as much information as we can about where they lived and what they saw, not just what they wrote and what they read,” said Robin Jensen, the Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Jensen researches topics at the intersections of Christian art, architecture, liturgy, and theology. Her forthcoming book examines the history of the cross from a variety of liturgical and social perspectives, both in ancient times and in contemporary culture.
Notre Dame historian Darren Dochuk’s research primarily focuses on the United States in the long 20th century, with emphasis on religion, politics, and the rising influence of the American West and Sunbelt Southwest in national life. His current project examines religion and politics in North America’s age of oil, 1890 to the present, through the lens of two prominent oil families, the Rockefellers and the Pews. “Oil sparked a certain imagination of progress, a certain ambition for American dominance in the world in the twentieth century, and then religion helped frame that imagination,” he said.
Notre Dame junior Allison Emeott didn’t just study Korean this summer. She was immersed in it. “You get to use what you learn and talk to people,” she said. “It’s really inspiring because when you’re surrounded by people speaking a language, you want to learn more and you just want to become a part of the community." Emeott, an applied mathematics and Asian studies major, spent the summer of 2015 intensively studying in Seoul, South Korea. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Letters, she received a grant from the Summer Language Abroad program, which provides funding up to $5,500 for individual summer foreign language study abroad.
“Studying Chinese opens the doors to different ways of thinking,” said junior John Fox. “It helped a lot to be able to come here and study abroad this summer and to experience such a great city.” Fox was one of several Notre Dame students to participate in the 2015 China Summer Language Program through the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts and Letters. Students honed their Chinese language skills at Peking University in Beijing, both in the classroom and one-on-one with an instructor. Students in the program typically advance the equivalent of one full year of study in just eight weeks.
The neuroscience and behavior major is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Science. Students combine coursework in psychology, chemistry, biology, and other fields to study the nature of mind, brain, and behavior. The interdisciplinary approach prepares neuroscience majors to pursue medical school, graduate school, lab work, or clinical research. “Neuroscience really allows you to explore your options, and you certainly have a lot of them,” said junior Maureen Tracey.
Seung-Jae “David” Oh, a senior history major, spent the summer of 2015 in Seoul doing archival research at the Diplomatic Archives of Korea. He gathered documents produced by the South Korean foreign ministry to get a better understanding of the bilateral relationship between South Korea and the United States. His research, supported in part by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, will inform his senior thesis, focusing on a tumultuous period between 1979 and 1983 when a movement for democracy clashed with South Korea’s authoritarian government.
Through the liberal arts, you learn to read deeply. Think about issues critically. Discuss topics thoughtfully. Write arguments persuasively. Contribute to projects creatively. And these abilities aren’t just vital in the classroom—they’re exactly what employers, graduate schools, and service organizations are looking for. With 20 departments across the humanities, arts, and social sciences, the College of Arts and Letters is home to exceptional faculty and talented students who are studying what they love.