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Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Faculty Accolades

November 2011

Assistant professors Jonathan Appavoo and Evimaria Terzi (Computer Science) and Mark Kramer (Mathematics & Statistics) are three of six junior faculty members at Boston University to be named as Junior Fellows of the Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering (HIC).

The HIC Junior Fellows Program aims to recognize outstanding early-career computational researchers at Boston University, and to connect them with one another and with the institute community at large.

Gene Andrew Jarrett, associate professor and chair of English, just published Representing the Race: A New Political History of African American Literature, with New York University Press.

Associate Professor of History Jim Johnson has won the American Historical Association’s George L. Mosse Award for his 2011 book Venice Incognito.

The award honors the year’s “outstanding major work of extraordinary scholarly distinction, creativity, and originality in the intellectual and cultural history of Europe since the Renaissance.” For more information and a list of previous winners, click here.

Carrie Preston, assistant professor of English, just published Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance, in Oxford University Press’s Modernist Literatures and Cultures Series.

Professor of African American Studies John Thornton gave the O. Meredith Wilson Annual Lecture at the University of Utah on October 28.

This lecture, which has been given since 1977, is a major event in the University of Utah’s annual schedule, previously given by some of the most famous contemporary historians. These have included Carlo Ginzburg, Gary Nash, Natalie Zemon Davis, Hayden White, Jonathan Spence, John Brewer, Bernard Baylin, G. R. Elton, Emmanuel Le Roi Ladurie, among others. Professor Thornton was the first person whose special field is African History to give the lecture.

Professor of English Bonnie Costello wrote a recent piece in Arts & Opinion about her experiences visiting Malaysia.

She is the author of many books and articles on modern poetry, most recently Planets on Tables: Poetry, Still Life, and the Turning World (Cornell University Press 2008). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and currently a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library, where she is working on the book Private Faces in Public Places: Modern Poetry and the First Person Plural.

What is the relative importance of the delivery of subsidized agricultural inputs by decentralized local governments in the Green Revolution of West Bengal? This is the central question in a recent paper by Professor of Economics Dilip Mookherjee and colleague Pranab Bardhan, published in the October 2011 issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

The paper is titled “Subsidized Farm Input Programs and Agricultural Performance: A Farm-Level Analysis of West Bengal’s Green Revolution 1982-95.”

Dr. Mookherjee and Dr. Bardhan examine “the role of delivery of subsidized seeds and fertilizers in the form of agricultural mini-kits by local governments in three successive farm panels in West Bengal spanning 1982-95. These programs significantly raised farm value added per acre, accounting for almost two thirds of the observed growth. The estimates are robust to possible endogeneity of program placement, controls for farm and year effects, other programs of agricultural development, local weather, and price shocks. The effects of the kits delivery program overshadowed the effects of other rural development programs, including the tenancy registration program Operation Barga.”

Professor Mookherjee’s interests include development, inequality, and contract theory.

Boston University Associate Professor of International Relations Kevin P. Gallagher has been awarded a two-year grant from the Ford Foundation for a project titled “Policy Space to Manage Global Capital Flows: Enabling Stability, Growth, and Development.”

Gallagher will conduct policy-oriented research to examine the extent to which developing nations have the proper toolkit to manage short-term capital flows in order to prevent and mitigate financial crises. In addition to the academic research, which will also support some graduate students, Gallagher will hold a number of policy workshops with academics, policy makers, and members of civil society to disseminate and feed into the project’s findings.

Professor of History, Philosophy, and Political Science James Schmidt has been selected as a Bogliasco Fellow and will be in residence at the Liguria Study Center for the Arts & Humanities this coming February.

Further information on the Center can be found here: He will be using his residency to make the final revisions on a book, tentatively titled The Question of Enlightenment, which traces the history of debates about the nature, purpose, and implications of the Enlightenment between 1784 (the date of Immanuel Kant’s famous response to the question “What is enlightenment?”) and 1984 (the date of influential reflections on Kant’s answer by Jürgen Habermas and Michel Foucault).

This book offers the first comprehensive account of the wide-ranging series of controversies that, originating with an attempt to clarify the meaning of the term “enlightenment” (Aufklärung), evolved into a quarrel about the nature of the practices that constitute “true enlightenment,” and culminated in disputes over the legacy of the historical period that has come to be known as “the Enlightenment.” It traces the differing ways in which attempts to answer the seemingly innocuous question “What is enlightenment?” have forced a remarkably diverse group of thinkers to wrestle with the conflicting claims of faith and knowledge, to question whether the progress of the arts and sciences undermines the moral foundations on which society rests, and to explore the complex relationship between reason and domination. As a result, the question “What is enlightenment?” casts light not only on the diverse ways in which one significant historical period has been interpreted, but also offers a framework for understanding the ideals, aspirations, and anxieties that have shaped the modern world.

Chair of Political Science Graham Wilson has accepted an invitation to serve on the Warwick Commission on Elected Mayors & City Leadership, a group of experts organized by the University of Warwick to advise UK leadership on a possible transition to elected mayors.

The Localism Bill (2010-11) is currently nearing the end of its passage through Parliament. It makes provision for the creation of directly elected mayors in England’s largest cities.