2010-11 Sabbatical Abstracts

Mary Carlsen, Department of Social Work and Family Studies – Academic Year
My sabbatical work will focus on the intersection of social work practice, ethics, and global aid efforts. This is a ripe area for examination and writing, both for the profession of social work internationally and for my teaching at St. Olaf. The synthesis of my work will result in a new course and original work in either (or both) the social work or social development literature.  I plan to travel to England, India, and Norway for study. Two previous sabbaticals included research on end of life care and on international social work. Each sabbatical resulted in publications; a peer-reviewed journal article, a co-authored book, and several small publications. This sabbatical will build on those contacts and body of knowledge.

Sylvia G. Carullo, Department of Romance Languages, Spanish – Academic Year
The focus of this sabbatical is to continue to expand and deepen my knowledge on the iconographic representation of the female model in Spanish-American literature.  This research will build upon previous studies undertaken during my prior sabbatical leaves.  Its starting point will be the traditional view of woman as sinner and symbol of lust, and as angelical and inspirational.  This study will focus on the literary representations of strong, unorthodox women in some novels by the Ecuadorian writer Alicia Yánez Cossío.  It will contribute to the understanding of how, through the portrayal of good and bad women—reflection of the traditional model—, this writer has worked to deconstruct the patriarchal discourse to inspire women to believe in and respect themselves, to work with men for social justice, for equality between men and women.   It will also provide insight on her work because it clearly applies to the critical concerns of Latin America and connects with other areas of its contemporary thought, such as the development of democracy, social justice, religious and secular ethics.

David Carter, Department of Music – Interim & Semester II
In my previous sabbatical (01-02) I concentrated on developing new skills that I would need to continue my teaching and performing career as a blind person.  While this was enormously satisfying on a personal level, and helped me with techniques to continue to be an effective teacher, it did not address my musical progress as a cellist. I propose in this upcoming opportunity to focus on three musical goals: to investigate the leading graduate programs in music by visiting and observing master teachers, to expand my teaching repertory by learning a significant body of new music, and to investigate baroque and classical era performance practice. While I will continue to reside in Northfield during this time, the project will involve trips to the major graduate programs in the country and observation of the leading cello teachers.

Irve Dell, Department of Art and Art History – Semester I and Interim
I have several projects lined up to support a new direction in my work that is taking a firm hold of much of my creative energy.  Father (working title) will exist as both an installation and a full-length performance work. This piece with explore the complexity of the relationships my father had with others given his challenging personality and medical journey.  I will also be working on the next stage of development for Force Matter with Kira Obolensky and Shawn McConneloug.  Force Matter is a visceral speculation on the nature of time, love, relativity and gravity – Einstein, physics and interpersonal relationships.  Force Matter is a hybrid performance work combining text, movement and visual objects.  I will also pursue a significant travel experience or overseas residency, likely in the spring of 2011.  In addition, I also plan to participate in a few shorter workshops in physical computing and electronic/digital media.

Andrea Een, Department of Music – Academic Year
The primary project of my sabbatical for the academic year 2010-11 is to develop a well-structured book proposal tentatively entitled: “Transmission of the Hardanger Fiddle Tradition from Norway to the Upper Midwest: An Historical and Cultural Re-imagining”. This book would combine the story of my fieldwork in Norway learning Hardanger fiddle from 1979 to the present, with the larger historical context: 1) the emigrant fiddlers who settled in the United States, 2) those fiddlers who worked here and returned to Norway, and 3) the history of the two organizations that promoted the Hardanger fiddle in America — the Hardanger Violin Forbundet of America (1914-1943) and the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America, founded in 1983.  I have an interested publisher, the Norwegian-American Historical Association.

Two smaller projects: supporting the preservation of rural Lutheran churches by giving Hardanger fiddle benefit concerts and visiting Cremona and Naples, Italy, the birthplace in 1760 of my Gennaro Vinaccia violin.

Robert Entenmann, Department of History – Semester II          
During my sabbatical leave I intend to complete a manuscript on the social history of Chinese Catholics in Sichuan province, Southwest China, from 1640 to 1844, focusing especially on the period in which Christianity was prohibited in China, from 1724 to 1844. My research examines Chinese Catholics within the context of Chinese society. Although clandestine European missionaries directed the Church, by the late eighteenth century Catholic communities depended on indigenous leadership. In many ways Catholicism became a popular religion competing with indigenous sects.  My study will further the understanding of Christianity as a popular religion and its relationship with Chinese society. It will further our understanding of how alien religions become indigenized within different cultures. Based in history but drawing as well from the perspectives of anthropology and religious studies, it will be interdisciplinary in nature.

Karl J. Fink, Department of German – Semester I
After completing a rigorous two-year reading program (2008-10) in Great Conversation this coming Spring Term, my plans are to revise several research papers given since my last sabbatical in 2002-03. The goal for the first half of my sabbatical is to revise these talks from perspectives gained in readings these past two years and to publish them as essays. These include a talk on “Luther’s Language of Inclusivity” (2005), “Herder’s Self-organized Human Being” (2006), “Weimar Scientific Art” (2006), and “Kleist’s Justice beyond Tears” (2007).  During the second half of my sabbatical, I plan to begin work on a “Faust Reader in English.”  Plans are to write an introduction to the reader that follows the story line from Germanic mythology to film entertainment, and secondly to prepare a reader that includes versions of the Faust story across mediums, including autobiography, folk art, puppet-plays, illustration texts, drama, opera, movies, and video games. Plans are to prepare the reader in digital form for flexible media environments, and to focus the anthology on those elements of the story line unique to the Faust epic.

Jeanine Grenberg – Department of Philosophy – Academic Year
I want to understand freedom, a difficult task, since freedom is not an empirically accessible object, and self-deception easily infects our pursuit of it.  In the face of these obstacles, I articulate what freedom is and the extent to which finite beings have and know it. I situate my project within an interpretation of Immanuel Kant’s work, revealing the image of Kant as an excessively rationalistic philosopher to be false.  Instead, using a phenomenological method, Kant provides a philosophically compelling picture of the limited knowledge humans have of their finite freedom, accessed via a common, felt experience of conflict between happiness and moral obligation.  Ultimately, because knowing oneself to be free involves avoiding self-deception about this conflict, the epistemological task of knowing freedom also involves becoming a moral person.  Reflection on freedom thus ultimately reveals that a specifically human moral life must begin with attentive reflection on one’s moral limits.

Olaf Hall-Holt – Computer Science – Academic Year
My sabbatical proposal is to do research in shape acquisition methods for 3D video-conferencing.  I have been doing research in shape acquisition for many years, beginning with real-time range scanning systems, and progressively moving toward passive camera based systems.  My most recent work on image segmentation is now ripening to the point that it can be used in applications like stereo correspondence and model fitting. The proposal is to continue this research, with special attention to tracking human expressions in real-time video streams.  I would like to capture both the details of human faces involved in conversation, as well as their surroundings, in such a way as to make possible realistic re-renderings.  This work has many potential applications, both in the field of computer vision (in 3D reconstruction, matching, and similar areas) as well as downstream applications of telepresence research, such as delivery of educational content.

Bruce Hanson – Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Semester II
I plan to spend the spring of 2011 pursuing two projects:
1. Research in Quasiconformal Analysis and related areas.
Areas of investigation include the linear dilatation of a quasiconformal function, negative curvature on metric spaces and dimension distortion by quasisymmetric functions. In the first area, I would be finishing up and expanding on earlier research connected with work done by Pekka Koskela and Sari Kallunki at the University of JyvÄaskylÄa in Finland. The last two topics would require significant background preparation and could involve collaboration with Stephen Buckley at the University of Maynooth in Ireland.
2. Maple Modules for Multivariable Calculus
Maple is a powerful software package that is used extensively in some of the middle level courses in our department. My plan is to develop a suite of modules using Maple that are integrated with the curriculum in Math 226 (Multivariable Calculus). The end product would be made available for use in the MSCS department.

Carol Holly – Department of English – Academic Year
My sabbatical leave will be devoted to two inter-related projects: 1) I wish to complete my research on the nineteenth-century New England writer Rose Terry Cooke by writing two articles on Cooke and the question of vocation. The first will consider Cooke’s views on women’s work and the work of the woman writer by examining the essays she wrote on the subject at different points in her career. The second will be a more detailed examination of the ways in which Cooke understood the relationship among the idea Christian calling, women’s vocations, and the work of the woman writer. 2) I will also begin doing research on the discourse of Protestant consensus in nineteenth-century American periodicals. Growing out of my work on the periodicals in which between 1850-1890 Cooke published her writing, I am interested in exploring the extent to which both religious and secular journals shared a consensus on the nature and value of what Harper’s Monthly Magazine called the “national Religion.”

Robert W. Jacobel – Department of Physics and Environmental StudiesAcademic Year
During this sabbatical I propose to continue my research on problems of global climate change and ice. Currently I have two ongoing NSF-supported projects, both involving research in Antarctica.  During the first part of this sabbatical in the summer of 2010 I will be working with students in my research group completing the publication phase on the first of these.  Field work in Antarctica for the second project and analysis of the data we acquire will then become the focus of my activities.  After returning from the ice in January 2011, I will be a Visiting Scientist at the Center for Antarctic Studies and Research, University of Canterbury in Christchurch, NZ.  During this time I will be analyzing data until returning to the US where I will continue this work with students in my research group in the spring and summer of 2011.

L. Henry Kermott – Department of Biology – Academic Year
I propose to remain on campus. My projects in order of importance:
Finish a book on house wrens, a species I have been studying for some 20 years. Work on some unpublished data on house wrens, with the intention of publishing. Work up a new full credit course at level one, with general education credit. Bring my regular courses up to date reflecting the latest information. Attend selective lectures and seminars at the University of Minnesota. Attend national meetings in animal behavior and ornithology. I intend to apply for the additional 20% to my salary as I will have no outside funding. Mary Richards’ Apartment: Mainstreaming the Revolutions of the Sixties Through Seventies Popular Culture

Judy Kutulas – Department of History – Academic Year
This work will explore the ways the “revolutions” of the 1960s (sexual revolution, women’s movement, student movement, counterculture, anti-war movement, rejection of authority) enter the mainstream during the 1970s via television, music, movies, popular novels, magazines, and advertising.  Popular culture smoothes radical edges; the result by the end of the 1970s was an emerging set of values we continue to associate with Baby Boomers, particularly an  ambivalent attitude toward authority, respectability, tradition and family.

Elizabeth Leer – Department of Education – Academic Year
My proposed full-year sabbatical leave project is composed of three parts: secondary school teaching, research and writing, and reading. To enhance my effectiveness as a teacher educator, it is imperative that I refresh my experiences as a middle- or high-school teacher and remain “in touch” with what teaching in the public school is really like. Thus, I will secure an English teaching position during the fall semester. In the spring I plan to continue research I’ve begun into the achievement of English language learners in writing classrooms where a student-centered, process-approach to writing is the dominant pedagogy, and I plan to write up my findings in a publishable article. Finally, I intend to fill remaining time digesting scholarly literature on multicultural education and on English education, specifically the teaching of reading. I will also update my knowledge of the young adult literature genre.

Anthony Lott – Department of Political Science – Semester II
The proposed single-author monograph project explores the historical developments of an international legal order in which international relations are conducted.  The purpose of the book is to connect seemingly distant historical events and ideas to certain institutional structures and political events.  The book tells the story of how local laws and political compromises in ancient Rome, medieval England, Amazonia during the Spanish conquest, and the United States during prohibition, have created a complex web of laws that govern states around the world today.

Kris MacPherson – Department of Interdisciplinary and General Studies – Semester II
The St. Olaf College program of information literacy (formerly bibliographic instruction) is well known and respected among our peer institutions.  Several small projects assessing those efforts have been undertaken, but a coordinated program of assessment has yet to be outlined or implemented.  Over the period of my sabbatical I will (in consultation with my colleagues) research, design and recommend such a program.  The exact form of the project will be dependent on material and techniques learned at an upcoming institute on library instruction assessment, and on consultation with the College Librarian and my department members on the most pressing need in this area closer to the sabbatical.  Two potential projects are outlined in the proposal, one involving overall program assessment and the other on developing learning outcomes for all three levels of courses, and summative goals for graduating seniors.  The sabbatical is tentatively scheduled for Semester II and summer, 2010.

Justin Merritt – Department of Music – Interim and Semester II
I propose to continue work on the composition of my new opera The Depths. I will spend my leave both in Northfield and in artist colonies working on the libretto, score, and engraving of this work. The piece is scheduled to be premiered at St. Olaf in the 2011-12 season by the Lyric Theatre, Janice Hardy, and Jim McKeel. This project will be of benefit both my artistic development and my teaching. As an artist, I am working to expand my creative output into larger forms and especially works for the stage. As a teacher, I frequently have students that are interested in composing for opera and musical theater, and my continued work in this area can serve as a model for their development.

Gary Muir – Department of Psychology – Academic Year          
My sabbatical goals are: 1) to continue and expand my current research program examining the neurobiology of navigation to include new experimental lab techniques; 2) to learn software programming in LabView for the generation of custom data analysis programs; 3) to complete manuscript and grant writing projects; 4) to conduct further planning of an Interim abroad course on the History of Psychology and Neuroscience.

Gregory W. Muth – Department of Chemistry – Academic Year
This sabbatical leave project will provide the professional development necessary to launch new research into the area of sustainable fuels. The first goal of the sabbatical is to establish methodology and determine feasibility of algae based biofuels research here on-campus and in Minnesota in general.  This aspect of the research will be carried out during the first six months of the sabbatical and will involve growing various algal cultures under a wide variety conditions and measuring total oil output.  The second six months of the sabbatical will be used to determine if alternative fuels research is welcome and needed in the rural agricultural practices of a developing nation.  To make this determination I intend to spend six months in Costa Rica as both a field research supervisor for the ACM Field Research in the Environment, Social Science and Humanities spring semester program and with CATIE, an institution dedicated to creating sustainable and just agricultural practices.

Diana Odland Neal – Department of NursingAcademic Year
The plan for my sabbatical leave includes: investigation of the education of nursing students in Tanzania, East Africa.  I will be collaborating with Marycelina Msuya, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing at Tumaini University, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC), to examine the educational preparation of undergraduate nursing students in Tanzania and compare it with the preparation of undergraduate nursing students in the United States.  To this end, I will be learning about current Tanzanian nursing education practices from the Dean and faculty at KCMC, sharing nursing education practices used in the United States, completing curriculum design for teaching undergraduate Tanzanian nursing students, and assisting to strengthen the design of nursing curriculum at KCMC.  I will also conduct research related to undergraduate Nursing Education in Tanzania with Dean Msuya with the purpose of identifying factors that promote student learning and those that detract from learning in nursing education.

Mark Pernecky – Department of Economics – Academic Year
The book I am writing relates to the “Economics of Religion,” which applies neoclassical microeconomic theory, including utility maximization, to religion.  “Utility maximization” contains important flaws.  Humans cannot cognitively process the amount of information it assumes, nor do they universally exhibit the type of corresponding hedonism.  Also, their behavior lies subject to constraints not recognized by neoclassicals.  Theologically, humans lack the God-like knowledge, omniscience, and providential power that neoclassicals portray.  Still, utility maximization can provide a useful theoretical construct in understanding Christian behavior and doctrinal acceptance.  Defining utility maximization as information-bounded rationality, where autonomy remains subject to God’s Providence, and hedonism as capable of reflecting delight in God, can prove useful in utilizing theologically-based economic theory to examine issues concerning Christian behavior.  Delineating the “end” which the utility seeks, the nature of the utility or satisfaction, and the variables in the utility function (including their endogeneity or exogeneity), proves key.

Kay Smith – Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
My sabbatical project for the 2010-11 academic year consists of two parts: writing three expository articles and studying geometry.  The topics for the three articles are applications of graph theory to conservation biology, mathematicians and war, and codes for the alphabet.  To develop greater expertise in geometry, a subject I teach, I want to study the transformation group approach, which unifies the treatment of different geometries, and learn more about projective and computational geometry to decide if those topics should be included in the geometry course.

Mary Titus – Department of English – Academic Year
On this sabbatical I will work on a group of essays on collecting, revising five conference papers, writing an introduction, and drafting additional essays.  In the process, I will gather materials for and formulate the general outlines of a class on museums, collecting and democracy.  I hope to be able to send a book proposal to a publisher by the end of the year. I will also write an essay on portfolios and interdisciplinarity, summing up the wisdom I have gained in my six years as Director of the Center for Integrative Studies.  Finally, I will make a first effort at writing creative non-fiction.  I will spend most of the year in Northfield.

Tom Williamson – Department of Sociology/Anthropology – Semester I and Interim
My primary project is a book manuscript titled “The Possibilities of Running Amok in Malaysia.”  During my sabbatical I will also present at conferences, give talks, and revise course syllabi as I normally
do.  Though I will spend the majority of my sabbatical writing in Minnesota, in October I will travel to London for two weeks of archival research with funds from the Nygaard Foundation.

Charles A. Wilson – Department of Religion – Academic Year
I plan to complete substantial portions of a book-length manuscript, Inventing Jesus, which interprets how Christian theology can employ the results of historical research on the figure of Jesus of Nazareth in a Christology.

Karen Peterson Wilson – Department of Theatre – Semester II
Collaborate with Todd Boss, author of the award-winning book, Yellow Rocket, the Minnesota Playwrights Center, and a professional playwright to create an original play based on the book.  I am currently applying for various grants to assist with this project.  The long-term goal is to include a production of this work in the St. Olaf College Theater season as part of our New Plays on Campus collaboration with the Minnesota Playwrights’ Center.

Secondary Projects:  Course Revision – Rework the Who Owns the Arts: Censorship, Sponsorship and Artistic Freedom class to incorporate more current case studies.  Rework course material for the large Introduction to Theater class.