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.
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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.
Arts and Letter junior Emily Vincent discovered Chunmiao Little Flower on a service trip during high school in 2013. There, she learned the extent of China’s issue with orphaned and abandoned children. There are an estimated 600,000 abandoned children in China—98 percent of whom have disabilities. That first experience at Chunmiao Little Flower set the course for Vincent’s future—and, ultimately, led her to choose Notre Dame, inspired by the University’s devotion to human solidarity and concern for the common good.
Notre Dame's sustainability program, open to all majors, seeks to inspire students to cultivate practices and ways of living that preserve natural resources for future generations. The minor is housed in the College of Science, but it has proven to be an ideal way for Arts and Letters students to connect their interest in science with their passion for the humanities.
Thomas E. Burman, an esteemed scholar of medieval Christianity and Islam, has been named the Robert Conway Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Institute. Burman, currently a professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will begin his new role in January 2017.
Notre Dame alumna Ray’Von Jones ’16 wants to make a difference in the world of education. And her sociology and Spanish majors are going to help her get there. “Education doesn’t only happen inside schools,” Jones said. “It happens in communities and in neighborhoods. So it’s important for me to have a larger understanding of what’s going on in our country in terms of racial climate, what different communities look like, and how they interact.
Peter Casarella, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and interim director of Latin American/North American Church Concerns (LANACC), is a scholar of Latino theology. Before joining the Notre Dame faculty in 2013, he served as professor of Catholic studies at DePaul University where he was director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology. In an interview, he discusses his research, Pope Francis, and the future of Latin American/North American Church Concerns, of which he is interim director.
Tamara Kay, a scholar with extensive experience in Latin America and Africa, will join the new Keough School of Global Affairs as associate professor of global affairs, according to Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean of the Keough School. Kay will hold a joint appointment in the Notre Dame Department of Sociology.
“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.
Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture director and professor of law Carter Snead will deliver the inaugural University of Florence “Law and Justice Lecture” on May 30 in Florence, Italy. His lecture, “Three Regulatory Models for Stem Cell Research,” will analyze and contrast the U.S. government’s federal funding policies under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as a means of exploring the complexities of American governance of science, medicine, and biotechnology in the name of ethical goods.
Twenty-four members of the Class of 2016 who study in the College of Arts and Letters have won major national and international fellowships and scholarships, from prestigious institutions such as the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program and the National Science Foundation.
Notre Dame and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, or Vatican Library, formalized a unique agreement of collaboration and exchange in a ceremony May 9 in the Hesburgh Room of the Morris Inn, where Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P., archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, together signed a memorandum of understanding.
On April 15, four students participating in the College of Arts and Letters and Notre Dame International’s Kennedy Scholars Thesis Seminar were invited to present their research proposals at Durham University, before a jury of faculty members and graduate students. With constructive feedback from the jury and new insight gathered from Durham’s world-renowned libraries and archives, the Kennedy Scholars will hone their senior thesis proposals and apply for Kennedy Family Undergraduate Research Fellowships through the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.
Notre Dame seniors Teresa Kennedy and Connor Hayes have been selected to receive the 2016 Yarrow Award from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Kennedy, an anthropology and peace studies major from Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and Hayes, a political science and peace studies major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will accept their awards at the Kroc Institute’s undergraduate recognition ceremony on May 13.
Twenty-four Notre Dame students who study in the College of Arts and Letters have received 2016-17 grants from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering students grants to conduct research, study, and teach abroad. The total number of finalists from Arts and Letters alone surpasses the previous University-wide Fulbright record of 17, set last year. In all, 30 Notre Dame students were named Fulbright finalists for 2016-17.
Two juniors in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, Caleb “C.J.” Pine and Christa Grace Watkins, have been named 2016 Truman Scholars. Established in 1975 as a living memorial to President Harry S. Truman, the prestigious scholarship includes $30,000 in graduate study funds, priority admission and supplemental financial aid at select institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and internship opportunities within the federal government. Just 54 college juniors have been selected as Truman Scholars this year from a pool of 775 nominees. Six Arts and Letters students have received the Truman Scholarship since 2010.
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.
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.
The young people of war-torn northern Colombia want their homes and their lifestyle back. Displaced from their villages by guerilla and paramilitary groups, they have spent the last 10 years in urban centers—making them prime targets for recruitment by those same criminal enterprises. But rather than falling prey to a violent cause, they’ve founded a successful peace-building movement. Notre Dame Ph.D. student Angela Lederach ’07 wants to know why. She’s spent the last two summers living in Cartagena, Colombia, researching the Peaceful Movement of the Alta Montaña, and plans to return in August for at least a year to continue researching the organization for her dissertation.
“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.
Their subjects are separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, yet two recent books by Notre Dame anthropologists have striking similarities on the driving forces behind human migration. Living and Leaving: A Social History of Regional Depopulation in Thirteenth-Century Mesa Verde, by Associate Professor Donna Glowacki, untangles the web of reasons why an entire culture simply packed up and left the Four Corners region nearly 800 years ago. Crimes of Peace: Mediterranean Migrations at the World’s Deadliest Border, by Assistant Professor Maurizio Albahari, examines why African and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees risk their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The books have played a major role in establishing Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology as a source of insight and perspective on significant social issues.
Inspired by her extensive research on a 10th-century German empress, Ph.D. candidate Megan Welton set her sights early on a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which provides funding for American students to study in Germany. Her patience and planning paid off recently, when she was awarded the scholarship to study for a year in Essen. “My success in winning a DAAD fellowship is directly linked with the immense support that I have received as a part of the Medieval Institute and as part of the wider Notre Dame community,” she said.
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.
Robert O. Smith, historian and specialist in American Christian theologies concerning the Israeli-Palestinian context, has been appointed the first academic director of the Jerusalem Global Gateway by Nick Entrikin, vice president and associate provost for internationalization. Smith is concurrent faculty in the Department of Theology and Keough School for Global Affairs.
Fourteen University of Notre Dame students have been awarded Fulbright grants in the 2015-16 program, placing the University among the top-producing universities in the nation. The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. It awards a one-year postgraduate fellowship for research, study or teaching English abroad. During their fellowship, scholars will work, live and learn in their host country.
Michel Hockx has been appointed director of the University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies within the new Keough School of Global Affairs. Hockx is professor of Chinese and director of the China Institute at SOAS, University of London. He will join the Notre Dame faculty in August 2016 and teach in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures within the College of Arts and Letters.
Celia Deane-Drummond, professor of theology, and Agustín Fuentes, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, have been awarded a grant by the John Templeton Foundation to convene invited scholars to explore the intersection of wisdom, humility, and grace in human evolution. An advanced symposium, entitled “Humility, Wisdom, and Grace in Deep Time: A Conversation between Theology and Evolutionary Anthropology,” will assemble scholars from around the world in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in January 2017.
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.
Robert Schmuhl is the Walter H. Annenberg-Edmund P. Joyce Professor of American Studies and Journalism at the University of Notre Dame. He received the 2014 Hibernian Research Award in support of his forthcoming book, Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising, which will be released by Oxford University Press next month, just in time to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916.