We are proud to announce that Becky Martin, History of Art and Architecture, has won an NEH Summer Stipend for summer 2014 for her project, “Artists and Patrons of the Middle Ground,” chapter five of her forth-coming book “The Art of Contact: Comparative Approaches to the Eastern Mediterranean of the First Millennium B.C.E.” Professor Martin has held a BUCH Junior Faculty Fellowship for this past year and she will use the Summer Stipend to cover travel and housing cost for a research trip to visit museums in Beirut, Istanbul, and Athens in May and June to put the finishing touches on her fifth chapter.
As a “Gift to Our Colleages,” the BUCH hosted an evening in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. The event featured a short dramatic medley by undergraduate students from the College of Fine Arts Theater Department; a lecture by Margaret Litvin, Professor of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature with visuals from global performances of Shakespearean plays or plays inspired by Shakespearean themes; and different instrumental and choral musical settings of “Full Fadom Five,” a song from Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest. The event was followed by a reception featuring wines, cheeses, ales, and Elizabethan cuisine.
The event was the Third Annual “Gift to Our Colleagues” and a great success. Faculty from across the Charles River Campus came to enjoy our celebration.
For the first time in its history, the Boston University Center for the Humanities will include graduate students among its Fellows. The Center has offered fellowships for junior faculty since its founding, and for senior faculty since 2005; next year’s group will include twelve faculty members from seven different departments. To that group, the BUCH Executive Committee now proposes to add several Ph.D. students, who will be able to use the support to complete their dissertations.
“We are grateful to the many donors who helped build our endowment,” said Center Director James Winn. “Thanks to careful management of that endowment, we have sufficient funds to extend our support to the faculty of the future.” Winn also noted that many leading humanities centers and institutes include advanced graduate students among their Fellows.
“BU’s humanities departments have some of the finest graduate students in the country,” said Professor Erin Murphy, Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department and a member of the BUCH Executive Committee. “These new fellowships will help them to realize their full intellectual potential, allowing them to produce cutting-edge research and preparing them for today’s competitive job market.”
Interested students will soon find information about eligibility and application forms on the BUCH website. Each fellowship will provide a $10,000 stipend for a semester in residence at the Center, and Graduate Student Fellows will participate with faculty in the meetings of the Fellows’ Seminar.
The Boston University Center for the Humanities is proud to announce the publication of The Starry Sky Within, a new book from former BUCH Fellow Anna Henchman. Professor Henchman worked on this manuscript during her time as a BUCH Fellow.
From the author’s own description of the book:
Tracing unexplored connections between nineteenth-century astronomy and literature, The Starry Sky Within offers a new understanding of literary point of view as essentially multiple, mobile, and comparative. Nineteenth=century astronomy revealed a cosmos of celestial systems in constant motion. Stars, comets, planets, and moons coursed through space in complex and changing relation. As the skies were in motion, so too was the human subject. Astronomers showed that human beings never perceive the world from a stable position. The mobility of our bodies in space and the very structureof stereoscopic vision mean that point of view is neither singular nor stable. We always see the world as amalgam of fractured perspectives.
From the publisher’s description of the book:
In this innovative study, Henchman shows that the reconceptualization of the skies gave poets and novelists new spaces in which to indulge their longing to escape the limitations of individual perspective. She links astronomy and optics to the form of the multiplot novel, with its many centers of consciousness, complex systems of relation, and crisscrossing points of view. Accounts of a world and a subject both in relative motion shaped the form of grand-scale narratives such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Bleak House, and Daniel Deronda. De Quincey, Tennyson, and Eliot befriended leading astronomers and visited observatories, while Hardy learned about astronomy from the vast popular literature of the day. These writers use cosmic distances to dislodge their readers from the earth, setting human perception against views from high above and then telescoping back to earth again. What results is a new perception of the mobility of point of view in both literature and science.
On January 10 & 11, 2014, six Boston University faculty travelled to Heidelberg, Germany to participate in the third and final conference of the Leisure Project. Former BUCH fellows Catherine Yeh (MLCL), Christopher Lehrich (Religion), Eugenio Menegon (History), and Sarah Frederick (MLCL) joined Nancy-Smith Hefner (Anthropology) and Robert Weller (Anthropology).
Entitled “Leisure and Social Change: The Dynamics of the Transcultural Flow of Concepts, Institutions and Practices of Leisure across Asia,” this meeting brought together some of the participants to earlier conferences and new speakers. This conclusive gathering in Germany was coordinated and logistically supported by Professor Rudolf Wagner and his team at the Institute of Chinese Studies and Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” in Heidelberg, and generously funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. The BUCH supported the two previous conferences, in 2010 and 2012, which where held here at Boston University.
On Tuesday, November 5, 2013 the Program in Scripture and the Arts welcomed the Alash Ensemble, internationally acclaimed Tuvan throat singers. The Emsemble hosted a workshop, performance and Q + A session focusing on the relationship between throat signing in the Tuvan region of Siberia and Shamanism.
At 1pm in the GSU Conference Auditorium, an audience of about 65 students, faculty, and staff attended the group’s throat singing workshop. Thomas Michael, the event’s organizer, said that “the audience was shocked and delighted to hear multiple pitches emanating from a single singer’s voice.”
Michael discovered the Alash Ensemble after reading Ted Levin’s Where Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond.
Later, at 5:30pm, about 165 students, faculty, and staff filled the GSU Conference Auditorium for the group’s performance. The opening song, “Kozhamyktar,” told of a nomadic summer camp among forest animals. In all, there were fifteen pieces which expressed “sorrow at life’s hardships, the joy felt when riding a fast horse, and all of the changing tides of fortune that come with nomadic life and connection to the earth,” according to Michael. Following the performance was a Question and Answer session and a short reception.
It was clear that the Alash Ensemble wowed its crowd. The group clearly expressed the experiences of an entirely different culture and lifestyle to its audience through its uniquely talented singing style. Attendance was high, and the audience wsa amazed. Overall, it is clear the event was a great success.
90.9 WBUR has recently published an audio recording of a recent event in the humanities at Boston University: a lecture by Gottfried Wagner, great-grandson of the late composer, entitled “Opera and Politics: Richard Wagner – A Minefield.”
Six supplemental volumes to Neue Pauly, the most comprehensive dictionary of the clasical world, have recently been added to the Boston University Library as digital resources. These volumes, which provide research materials such as chronologies, maps and atlases, authors and texts, and histories of classical scholarship, are an invaluable tool for scholars and students of the classics. This aquisition was made possible by Jeffrey Henderson and a grant from the Boston University Center for the Humanities.
The WBUR program World of Ideas records Boston University lectures for broadcast and posterity. Three recent humanities events have been featured by World of Ideas: “The Poetry of Suffering and Waiting” and “Physician-Assisted Suicide and End-of-Life Issues” from the Institute for Philosophy and Religion’s series, “Suffering: Contemporary Perspectives;” and “African Migrants in Post-Soviet Moscow: Adaptation in the Time of Radical Socio-Political Transformations” from the African American Studies Lecture Series. If you missed these events, or simply wanted to revisit them, we think they are worth hearing.
Charles Rzepka, the author of Being Cool: The Work of Elmore Leonard and a former BUCH fellow, recently contributed an article to WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog: “Circumference Everywhere: Considering Elmore Leonard’s Legacy.” In his piece, Rzepka remenisces on Leonard’s sensability, work ethic, and legacy. The late author “respected good writing” and hated “pretentiousness.” Leonard once told interviewer Lawrence Grobel, “I’m a serious writer, but I don’t take it seriously. I try and relax and swing with it.” Of Leonard’s legacy, Rzpeka says it takes two parts. For readers, Leonard left “a well-trained ensemble of gangbangers and dopedealers and clownish but terrifying psychopaths; cops honest and crooked, high-divers and low-riders, U.S. marshals and Delta mobsters.” For writers, he left his “mastery of free indirect discourse — that dialogue derivative that makes us feel we are ‘listening in’ to a character’s thoughts… [which] he succeeded so well in making it ‘invisible.’” Rzepka’s kind words following the author’s passing ease the pain of his disappearance and remind us that he continues to live on through his wonderful body of work.