2007-08 Sabbatical Abstracts

Karen Achberber, Department of German – Academic Year
Title: Germany’s Past in Literature and Film

I will spend the 2007-08 sabbatical leave in Northfield and Germany studying the ways that German literature and film have come to grips with the National Socialist past. Cinematic and literary representations of the Nazi years is also the subject of my most recent teaching: German 273: Nazi Past in Film (Spring 2006) and German 371: German Literature since 1945 (Fall 2006).

The process of making sense of experiences from 1933 to 1945 has moved from the generation of participants in Nazi society to that of their children and grandchildren, most of whom were born after World War II.

In the late Sixties, when children of the postwar generation began asking about their parents’ lives during the war, New German Cinema gained international attention for its probing inquiry into the often painfully guarded lives of those who had lived through the “Third Reich.” A comparable movement in literature witnessed a series of novels in which children probed into the lives of their parents.

Jolene Barjasteh, Department of Romance Languages – French – Semester I and Interim
Project title: “From Desire to Deceit in the Autobiographical Journal of Eugénie de Guérin”

Abstract: The proposed project, rooted in previous research for the Mellby Lecture I gave in Spring 2005, will focus on further elaboration of two major themes which emerge in the autobiographical writings of 19 th century French writer, Eugénie de Guérin: desire and deceit. I intend to prepare two scholarly articles for publication, one in which I explore more fully the author’s ambivalent desire to write (both impulse and will); the other article, a careful examination of Eugénie’s use of deceit (both deceiving others and self-deception) in her struggle to be recognized, will center on problems of authenticity and authorial voice in the autobiographical text.

Jo Beld, Department of Political Science/ARP – Academic Year
I propose to complete two projects during my sabbatical leave: (1) the development of a model for engaging faculty meaningfully with assessment results, and (2) the preparation of a research paper describing how states can use the periodic review of child support guidelines to improve support for low-income women. I will carry out the assessment project in partnership with the Council for Aid to Education and the Collaboration for the Advancement of College Teaching and Learning. I will carry out the child support guidelines project in partnership with Jane Venohr, an economist with years of consulting and publication experience in the child support policy field. These two projects will strengthen my contributions to utilization-focused evaluation research in higher education and in state child support policy. I am seeking external support from the Teagle Foundation, the Collaboration for the Advancement of College Teaching and Learning, and the Spencer Foundation.

Karen Cherewatuk, Department of English – Academic Year
Abstract of Sabbatical Proposal: A Year of Exploration in Middle English

I propose to pursue directions new to me in Middle English Studies by researching and writing two essays, one on the claims of mystical versus earthly marriage in the Book of Margery Kempe and a second on the pedagogy of teaching ethical approaches to Chaucer’s poetry. Simultaneously I will continue work in the field in which I am established, Arthurian studies, by co-editing a collection of essays, Death and Dying in the Arthurian World, and writing my contribution to that volume, an article tentatively titled “Dying in Uncle Arthur’s Arms” on medieval French and English versions of Gawain’s death scene.

Richard J. DuRocher, Department of English – Academic Year
Proposed Sabbatical Leave Project: Mapping the Emotions in John Milton’s Major Poems

During my requested sabbatical in 2007-2008, I aim to complete my current book proposal on “Milton and the Emotions.” In this book I aim to draw the “map” of the emotions held by the English poet and thinker, John Milton (1608-1674), a map reflected in his major poems. This project involves reconstructing the dominant accounts of the emotions current in Milton’s time, demonstrating Milton’s access to and awareness of them, and interpreting his literary works in light of those accounts. Beginning with Renaissance Humanist educators, continuing with Reformed theologians, and ending with Rationalist philosophers, early modern writers developed a wide range of theories about, and ways of dealing with, the passions during the 16 th and 17 th centuries. Given Milton’s proficiency in several languages and his encyclopedic reading, he is well known as the heir to the Renaissance, Reformation, and Rationalist traditions that survive in his day. As I hope to show, Milton embodies in his poems an emotional theory that borrows eclectically but purposefully from these three major traditions. Once the lens or map of Milton’s sense of the emotions is in hand, new interpretations of Milton’s major works–the epic Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), the “brief epic” Paradise Regained (1671), and the tragedy Samson Agonistes (1671)–become possible. I believe this cross-disciplinary project will thus enable me to make meaningful connections, not only among disciplines such as literature, philosophy, and psychology, but also across the St. Olaf curriculum with both colleagues and students.

Along with this book project, I have commitments to two continuing scholarly projects. During 2007-08 I will continue to translate Latin letters from the Commentarius Rinucinnianus, the Papal ambassador’s reports on Ireland during the 1640s-50s. Finally, I will continue to write annotations on Book 10 of Paradise Lost for the Milton Variorum Project, likewise an international project involving a team of dedicated scholars. Finally, in October 2007, I am scheduled to give the plenary address at The Conference on John Milton, and seek the College’s support to travel to that event. All the rest of my work can be done, through Bridge resources, in Northfield.

Mary Griep, Department of Art and Art History – Academic Year
I propose to continue the Anastylosis project, a series of large-scale drawings based on religious and cultural monuments from the medieval era. Three drawings have been completed to date: the west façade of Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France (2000, 14’ x 9’, Christian cathedral); the west façade of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia (2002, 32’ x 8’, Hindu temple); Thatbinyinnyu Temple in Pagan, Myanmar (2003, 8.5’x7’, Buddhist temple). I am currently working on a drawing based on The Palace of the Governors, in Uxmal, Mexico (14’x3’, Mayan ceremonial site), which will be completed in time for a show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in June 2007. Like the art historical term from which the series takes its name, the Anastylosis drawings capture correspondences and differences between buildings of different cultures and religious traditions; the relationship between the dreams and visions of the builders and restorers and the awe and wonder we experience as visitors to these sacred spaces; and between the multiple simultaneous perspectives that a drawing allows and the physical experience does not. Drawing at such a large scale (and over the course of a year per building) is also a meditative act, reflecting on the long and numinous lives of these monuments. During my sabbatical year, I intend to continue this project by continuing the research, site exploration and preparatory drawings of the Great Mosque of Divrigi, Sivas Province, Turkey.

Janis Hardy, Department of Music – Semester II
If my sabbatical is granted, I will use the time to complete two projects. The first is the reworking and refining of two original musical theatre works for children which I wrote for a Music-Theatre Camp at Plymouth Church in Minneapolis. I will join the Minneapolis Playwright’s Lab and hire an editor/dramaturg and a composer/collaborator to assist me. I intend to submit the revised versions of these works for publication.

My second project will be the creation of a videotape and CD on which I perform a series of original singing and dancing exercises designed to introduce young children to the concepts of rhythm, melody and harmony. My goal is to encourage parents and teachers to adopt my methods for instilling the highest standards of music in children from the beginning of their musical education. Children taught in this way will develop discipline, will excel in critical thinking and creativity, and will be inclined to regard music as a vital part of their lives.

Heather Klopchin, Department of Dance – Academic Year
Developing the Complete Dance Performer

The main focus and goal of my proposed sabbatical leave project will be the further development of my skills as a dance performer. Several smaller projects will lead to this goal including performing with the Minneapolis based dance company ARENA dances, pursuing opportunities to perform with other diverse Twin Cities based companies including Black Label Movement and Zenon Dance, organizing and performing an evening length concert of solo works entitled “Standing Alone – The Solo Project”, and furthering my dance technique by taking dance classes and workshops in cities such as Minneapolis, New York, Seattle, and London. Other sub foci of my proposed sabbatical leave project are the continued development of my own intermediate ballet technique course, developing my teaching skills and movement material in dance techniques other than ballet, and working on my own choreography.

Naurine Lennox, Department of Family and Social Service – Semester I and Interim
Abstract: Prepare to teach the Spring Semester program 2008, Social Work in a Latin American Context, by studying both the Spanish language and Comparative Social Policy – Mexico and U.S. – read widely, and prepare a presentation or publication on experiential learning in Mexico.

Timothy Mahr, Music Department – Interim and Semester II
Artistic Parallels between Short Story and Music Composition; Additional Projects in Composition, Conducting, Pedagogy and Recording Production

The sabbatical leave would provide time for work and completion on a number of projects rather than a single endeavor: creative work in music composition and writing, structured observations leading to course refinement and development, recording production, and various conducting opportunities. The primary project would involve studying the artistic parallels to be found between short story and music composition.

Donna K. McMillan, Department of Psychology – Academic Year
Positive psychology investigates the good things in life, exploring what helps human beings to lead meaningful, rich, happy lives. My research suggests that one such factor is engagement with nature and its rhythms, particularly as an antidote to modern society’s time-pressured, multi-tasking, and often materialistic pursuits.

Over the past few years my students and I have conducted a series of studies investigating aspects of the psychological significance of the natural environment. We have presented these at national and international conferences, but I have not yet written them up for publication. This writing project will be the primary focus of my sabbatical.

My research program has direct ties to my teaching, particularly my courses in Positive Psychology, Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park, and Psychology of Personality. An additional focus of my sabbatical will be to expand my ongoing explorations into how to enhance experiential learning in these courses.

Kent McWilliams, Department of Music – Semester II
I propose to study the piano music of Robert Muczynski.

Composer Robert Muczynski has had an illustrious career, having been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for his Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra and having been awarded the “Concours International” Prize in Nice, France in 1961 for his Sonata for Flute and Piano. His two-volume release, “Muczynski Plays Muczynski,” received a rave review in the New York Times. The critic praised Muczynski’s piano music as “… the most impressive piano music by any American since Barber.”

In March of 2007, I will be presenting a lecture-recital of Muczynski’s piano music at the national conference of the Music Teachers’ National Association. The work I propose to do during this sabbatical will build on this lecture-recital and deepen my understanding of this composer’s music.

During this sabbatical, I intend to do a careful study of all of Robert Muczynski’s piano music, with the goal of performing several of these works on upcoming recitals, both at St. Olaf College and at other venues.

Leon Narvaez, Department of Romance Languages – Spanish – Semester I and Interim
Middle Class Women in Costa Rica: Continuity in the Midst of Change

I will analyze the role middle class Costa Rican women play in sustaining a distinctive Costa Rican way of life in spite of Costa Rica’s economic dependence on the United States and the strong cultural influence of the U.S. I will employ participant observation, interviews, and published data.

David Nitz, Department of Physics – Academic Year
This is a two-part proposal. The first part describes a plan to work as a visiting scientist at the Mayo Graduate School on “Applications of Physics in Biomedical Science.” Since plans for the project are not yet definite, the proposal also includes a Plan B which I would carry out in the event that a leave at the Mayo Graduate School does not materialize. That proposal – “Fourier Transform Spectroscopy in Atoms of Astrophysical Interest” – involves fundamental research in atomic physics. This work would involve the analysis of laboratory spectra of the elements Cobalt, Titanium, and Chromium in order to determine parameters known as atomic transition probabilities, which are of interest to scientists who use spectroscopy to study complex gas phase environments like the atmospheres of stars.

Maggie Odell, Department of Religion – Academic Year
Your Brother’s Blood: Human Rights in the Old Testament

During my sabbatical leave, I plan to investigate the extent to which human rights are implicit in the Old Testament by addressing the following issues: the protection of human rights as a basis for civil order (Genesis 4, 19, Exodus 20-24, and Judges 19-21); limitations on the rights of the sovereign 2 Sam 11-20, 1 Kgs 1-2 (cf. 1 Sam 8; Deut 17:14-20); property rights and the sustainability of civil society; and rights of noncombatants, particularly women and children, in wartime (Amos 1). I am particularly interested in contrasting current conceptions of rights, which seem to tend toward individualism, with the Israelite and Judean understanding that rights are essential for a functioning society.

Jean Porterfield, Department of Biology – Academic Year
My goals for a one-year sabbatical leave are twofold. I will spend the first semester on campus, working on data gathering and dissemination of a continuing longear sunfish genetic diversity project. I will then work off-campus in a research laboratory to learn some new approaches that will complement and enhance my current work. The longear sunfish work will be professionally productive, and will complete my obligations to the grant funding the project, which ends in December 2007. The off-campus work fulfills a different need; I will learn some new methods in a fairly recent field called evolutionary-developmental biology (evo-devo). I am excited to bring these tools to St. Olaf, where they will not only complement my current research activities but also make my work competitive for a broader range of funding opportunities, and give me that renewed excitement for research that a fresh approach can provide.

Steve Reece, Department of Classics – Academic Year
The writers of the New Testament were surrounded by Hellenistic culture, and their lands were administered by Roman authorities; one can readily image Luke perusing the texts of Classical authors in the libraries Philippi, or Paul attending a performance of Greek tragedy in the theater of Caesarea. Nonetheless, not a single Classical author is mentioned by name in the entire New Testament, and signs of direct verbal dependence on Classical literature are very few and far between. If only a New Testament writer were to allude clearly and directly to a passage from a Greek novel or biography, or lift a phrase from a Greek history, a quote a snippet of a dialogue from a Greek drama, then an argument for Classical influence would be almost undeniable. I intend to comb the entire New Testament for verbatim quotations, looser verbal allusions on word-combinations, and even metrical patterns that may go back directly of indirectly to pagan Hellenic and Hellenistic literature. I hope to be able to add to the corpus of New Testament material attributable to Classical sources, and I hope also to ask, and perhaps venture an answer to, questions about what purpose the New Testament writers had in drawing from this deep well of Classical literature and what response they may have hoped to elicit from their audiences.

Matthew Richey, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Semester I and Interim
I propose to work on two projects during my half-year sabbatical. My primary activity will be to write a paper describing the evolution of Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods in applied mathematics and statistics. My secondary project will be to begin the development of curriculum materials for a course in statistical computing.

Matthew Rohn, Department of Art and Art History – Semester I and Interim
My sabbatical activity consists of work on 3 Grant Wood research projects. The principle project explores ambiguities found in Grant Wood’s paintings and how this relates to the modern, industrial ambitions and crises in Cedar Rapids. I will spend most of the semester-long sabbatical period completing background reading about this.

That research has revealed to me the overlooked importance of his mother’s influence on his art and the larger implications and problems posed by the study of the maternal side of an artist’s life. Work on this should generate an article by the end of the summer of my sabbatical year.

I will also continue to collect examples and sources of Wood’s writing and interviews for an anthology. I hope to have enough texts and sources for it that I can outline the structure of it and shop the idea with a publisher by the end of that same summer.

Edmund N. Santurri, Professor of Religion and Philosophy/Director of The Great Conversation – Interim and Semester II
Just War and the Christian Conscience: Niebuhrian Ruminations
The sabbatical period will be spent writing and reflecting on “just-war theory” from the perspective of a “Christian political realism” largely inspired by Reinhold Niebuhr.

I shall argue that just-war theory, in its typical expressions, fails to account for the moral costs, trade-offs and ambiguities that must be acknowledged in any adequate moral assessment of coercion and violence in a fallen world. I shall advance this position with particular reference to any number of the following issues: (1) terrorism; (2) just-war discussions of “supreme emergency”; (3) the morality of “reprisals” (4) the realities of combat, dehumanization of the enemy and the limits of applying ius in bello; (5) the ambiguities of rightful authority in ius ad bellum circumstances.

The project would advance earlier published work of mine on related subjects. At this point, I’m not sure about the precise scholarly yield of the time spent. I hope the work would issue in a published essay or two or lay the foundation for an eventual book, which would have to be completed sometime after the sabbatical period. The sabbatical work would support in a variety of ways my St. Olaf courses in theological ethics and moral philosophy.

Doug Schuurman, Department of Religion – Semester I and Interim
The Church, Christendom, and Vocation

The central question I want to explore is the impact that the breakdown of Christendom has for the mission of the Church in contemporary American society. Some Christian ethicists lament Christendom’s demise and call for its renewal (Oliver O’Donovan, Oxford U.); others accept the end of “compulsory Christendom” but call for a renewal of “cultural Christendom” (T.S. Eliot, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury); still others celebrate its demise as an occasion to renew genuine discipleship (Hauerwas/Yoder). Because Christendom’s advocates and critics often fail to define it, and seem to mean different things by it, I hope to gain clarity by developing a better understanding of the nature and history of western Christendom. Along the way I hope to gain greater clarity about the ways in which the political, economic, and cultural establishment of Christianity may have corrupted Christian faithfulness, on the one hand, or have been its flowering, on the other. I intend to study some of the arguments on these issues and make my own proposal based on my findings. The intuition guiding my thesis is that some form of cultural Christendom is both inevitable and desirable, and that minimal forms of legal/political support for Christendom is necessary but dangerous.

I did preliminary work on this topic during my last sabbatical, even to the point of having a rough draft of a chapter on this topic for what became my book, Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life (Eerdmans, 2004). The editors deemed the treatment too lengthy, dense, and complex for that book, and so suggested that I omit it from that publication. I intend to revise, deepen, and rework my earlier treatment of this subject.

Paul Zorn, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
I propose to spend my (full-year) sabbatical working on a textbook and related materials for a course in real analysis. This work builds both on my earlier experience (some of it in sabbaticals) in mathematical exposition and publication, and on my experience teaching courses n real analysis and related areas, such as multivariate calculus and complex analysis. The result should be useful in real analysis courses taught here at St. Olaf and, I hope, elsewhere as well.