College of Arts and Letters students made a strong showing at Notre Dame’s 5th annual Undergraduate Scholars Conference, which showcased more than 250 research, scholarship, and creative projects from across the University. At the May 4, 2012, event, senior art history honors student Caroline Maloney won first prize in the Undergraduate Library Research Awards sponsored by Hesburgh Libraries and the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement.
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Notre Dame historian Olivia Remie Constable has been awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for her book project Christian Perceptions of Muslim Identity in Medieval Spain. Among other things, her work will examine Christian attitudes toward Muslim dress and appearance and whether Muslims could engage in public religious expressions, teach Arabic to their children, and maintain bathhouses, schools, cemeteries, and other separate spaces important to the continuity of their culture and religion.
It is widely known that Spanish missionaries played a significant role in introducing Catholicism to the peoples of the Andes throughout the colonial period. Notre Dame senior history major Joseph VanderZee traveled to archives in Lima and Rome to dig a little deeper and find out what these early missionaries thought of the indigenous population—and how their attitudes affected the development of the Peruvian Church.
Robert Goulding, an associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies, was recently awarded a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to support a research project that combines mathematics, philosophy, and Renaissance science. Goulding, who also teaches in the History and Philosophy of Science graduate program, says his work focuses on English scientist and mathematician Thomas Harriot (1560–1621), whom he calls “a really unusual figure” in intellectual history.
Large-scale microfinance programs are widely used as a tool to fight poverty in developing countries, but a recent study by University of Notre Dame economist Joseph Kaboski and MIT colleague Robert Townsend suggests that microfinancing can have varying results for participants and may not be the most cost-effective use of funds for many situations. The study was published in a recent issue of Econometrica. Kaboski and Townsend used the Thai Million Baht Village Fund, one of the largest government microfinance initiatives of its kind, to evaluate and understand the benefits and disadvantages of microfinance interventions.
University of Notre Dame engineer James Schmiedeler received the 2012 Rodney F. Ganey, Ph.D., Faculty Community-based Research Award for a project that uses the Nintendo Wii Fit platform to assist individuals dealing with weakness, paralysis, or impairments in balance and mobility as a result of strokes, accidents or illness. Schmiedeler, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, developed “WeHab” with colleagues from the College of Engineering and College of Arts and Letters, working in collaboration with the therapy staff at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
Art. Sacred music. Medieval history. And the digital humanities. Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy at Notre Dame, brings them all together in her current research on Hildegard of Bingen—research for which she has been recently awarded fellowships from both the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Adding to these accolades, Fassler, who co-directs the Master of Sacred Music program in the College of Arts and Letters, today received the 2012 Otto Gründler Book Prize for The Virgin of Chartres: Making History Through Liturgy and the Arts (Yale University Press, 2010).
Wikipedia is often in the top results when people search for information online, but it isn’t always the most credible source. Enter a group of advanced Notre Dame undergraduates in psychology who have taken on the challenge to update, correct, or, in some cases, write new entries for the online encyclopedia. It’s all part of the new Association for Psychological Science (APS) Wikipedia Initiative—and Assistant Professor Gerald Haeffel’s Science and Pseudoscience in Psychology class is one of a select few across the country selected to participate.
A two-day working conference titled Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe will bring a dozen researchers to the Notre Dame campus May 22–23 to share and discuss a broad range of perspectives on the nature of learning. “We’re taking a critical look at conventional schooling and bringing insights from other domains to understand human learning and to improve schooling—which is one of my goals as a teacher and researcher,” says organizer Susan Blum, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology.
Prominent in both Greek mythology and Catholicism, the labyrinth remains one of the most enigmatic and elaborate structures in history. Notre Dame senior Maria Martellaro traveled to Italy and France this past summer in attempt to unravel this mystery for her senior thesis on the labyrinth and its role in late medieval religious architecture. “How did this [element of a] classical, very pagan myth,” she asks, “work its way into becoming a Catholic symbol?”
A new book by University of Notre Dame Anthropology Professor Agustín Fuentes titled Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature counters these pernicious myths and tackles misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans. Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution, requiring us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.”
Anthropology majors at the University of Notre Dame took their studies from the theoretical to the practical last summer, completing internships that had them doing archaeological fieldwork in Mongolia, cataloging artifacts in Chicago’s Field Museum, and collecting the oral histories of Irish immigrants on Beaver Island, Mich. Through these internships, students did more than gain experience in the field; they also had invaluable opportunities to work alongside experts and get insider looks at a variety of careers paths.
College of Arts and Letters alumnus and current Notre Dame law student Colin Littlefield’s late-night job at the Notre Dame Observatory has led to a one-in-a-billion discovery of a rare type of star—a Wolf-Rayet. Littlefield ’11 discovered the exceptional star, named WR 142b, this past summer, and he and his colleagues announced the discovery in a paper accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.
Michael J. O’Brien, a political science major in the College of Arts and Letters, has been named valedictorian of the 2012 University of Notre Dame graduating class and will present the valedictory address during Commencement ceremonies May 20 (Sunday) at Notre Dame Stadium. O’Brien is editor-in-chief of Beyond Politics: Undergraduate Journal of Politics, and serves as president of the Notre Dame College Democrats, leading one of the most active College Democrats chapters in the nation.
As our nation’s youngest, longest-lived and fastest-growing labor force, understanding the savings and retirement security of Latinos is of national importance. “Confianza, Savings, and Retirement,” a new report from Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, examines the social, cultural, and economic factors influencing Chicago-area Mexican immigrants’ savings and preparedness for retirement.
The Ambrosian Library in Milan hosted 11 Notre Dame graduate students over spring break, where they inspected and read manuscripts dating back to the fifth century A.D. Through the generosity and expertise of their hosts, the class saw some of the great treasures of the library including the Ambrosian fifth-century bible, the poet Petrarch’s copy of Virgil’s works, and Leonardo d Vinci’s notebooks.
Notre Dame theologian Jean Porter has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. Porter, the Rev. John A. O’Brien Professor of Theological Ethics, specializes in Christian ethics and the history and interpretation of the natural law tradition in Catholic ethical reflection, particularly the moral theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Assistant Professor Elizabeth Aura McClintock, a recent hire in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology, maintains a professional interest in a field that most of us at one time or another have tried an amateur hand at: mapping out the rules of attraction in dating and marriage. “My research focuses on gender and inequality in the context of romantic and sexual relationships, particularly in partner selection and relationship formation and in the dynamics of negotiation and compromise within established relationships,” she says.
Collin Erker and Erin Moffitt, both juniors in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, spent four weeks wading through the Great Lakes’ coastal wetlands to create a documentary called Waterlogged.
“Ideas matter, and they can be a powerful force for global political change,” says Eileen Hunt Botting, a University of Notre Dame political theorist who charts early thinking on women’s rights in countries around the world. Botting and political science major Sean Kronewitter ‘13 cowrote an article on the subject which was recently accepted for publication in the academic journal Political Theory.
English and anthropology major Caitlin Wilson traveled down the rabbit hole for her senior thesis, which examines the connection between Victorian children’s literature and ethnography, or the anthropological study of customs and cultures.
Notre Dame senior history major Michael Johnson was one of just 10 undergraduates nationwide selected to receive the Gilder Lehrman History Scholars Award, which funded a five-week research trip to New York City this past summer.
Notre Dame Associate Professor Meredith S. Chesson investigates the extensive looting—mostly by economically struggling local residents—that for decades has affected the area in and around the Jordanian cemetery at Fifa. Her work questions traditional ways of thinking about both archaeologists and looters.
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, professor and Notre Dame Chair in English, has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for her book project titled Professional Reading Circles, the Clerical Proletariat, and the Rise of English Literature. She was also recently named a fellow in the Medieval Academy of America.
The film Bully, opening in some theaters today, addresses an issue that is verging on an epidemic with more than 18 million young people reportedly being bullied in the United States this year alone. All too often, the suggested solution to bullying will be a “one and done" event—an ineffective approach, according to a University of Notre Dame psychologist F. Clark Power.
If practiced safely, co-sleeping with your baby is safe and beneficial, according to James McKenna, University of Notre Dame biological anthropologist and world-renowned expert on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Nodding off in class may not be such a bad idea after all. New research from University of Notre Dame psychologist Jessica Payne shows that going to sleep shortly after learning new material is most beneficial for recall.
Biological anthropologist Lee Gettler ’05 made national news last year with his research on the linkage between fatherhood and testosterone, reporting that the hormone decreases in men once they have children and drops even more in dads who are very active in caring for their children. Currently completing his Ph.D. at Northwestern University, Gettler will bring his attention-getting work to Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters this fall as an assistant research professor in the Department of Anthropology.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world work for humanitarian organizations devoted to the sick and injured, refugees, and victims of wars and disasters. In recent years, this work has become even more dangerous, as growing numbers of humanitarian workers have been attacked, kidnapped, or killed, according to Larissa Fast, assistant professor of conflict resolution at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Department of Sociology.
Wielding a gun increases a person’s bias to see guns in the hands of others, new research from the University of Notre Dame shows. Notre Dame Associate Professor of Psychology James Brockmole, who specializes in human cognition and how the visual world guides behavior, together with a colleague from Purdue University, conducted the study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.