2016-17 Sabbatical Abstracts

Steven Amundson, Department of Music – Semester II
My sabbatical will be focused in two main areas of professional activity. The primary focus will be composing for orchestra.  I plan to create a new work for the St. Olaf Orchestra’s 2017 fall tour.  I also hope to compose an additional work or the 2017 or 2018 Christmas Festival.

My second focus will be to observe several professional conductors in rehearsal and concert. I will observe conductors at the acclaimed Aspen Music School, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University (Larry Rachleff), and the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vanska).  I have also received permission to observe the instruction of the Conducting Fellows at the Aspen School.

Finally, I will attend annual conventions for the College Orchestra Directors Association and the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and do some guest conducting, including a trip to South Korea to conduct the National Youth Orchestra.

John Barbour, Department of Religion
The major project of my sabbatical is to write a novel about missionaries in China during the 1920s and 1930s. The novel will explore understandings of mission work, especially the meaning of conversion, during this critical period of history. It will dramatize the ambiguities of the mission movement, including the mixture of self-sacrifice, idealism, and courage with arrogance, ignorance, and links to American political and economic domination of China.

In addition, I will work on several smaller projects: a long article on Autobiography for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, teaching for two weeks at Beijing Normal University, leading a St. Olaf Alumni Tour on “Hiking Scotland’s Islands,” editorial work for a book series and journal, and the editing of “The Other German Work Camps,” a bilingual German and English publication of the diaries written by my parents during their participation in a 1948 project of reconciliation between former enemies.

Gwendolyn Barnes-Karol, Department of Spanish
My sabbatical project is to work on drafting several (tentatively 3) chapters of a book with the working title Foreign Languages and the Liberal Arts: Teaching and Learning in a Post-Communicative Context, to be co-authored with Maggie Broner.  The proposed book project situates the results of 15 years of collaboration in classroom-based research and classroom practice within the history of and recent scholarship in second language acquisition and in the teaching of language, culture, and literature with a special focus on aligning the goals of teaching foreign languages with the goals of a liberal arts education in an emerging type of instruction referred to as “post-communicative.”  Post-communicative teaching focuses on integrated content and language learning that helps students simultaneously explore intellectually stimulating content through texts produced by native speakers, develop critical thinking and analytical skills, and learn appropriate academic language.

Mary S. Carlsen, Social Work and Family Studies – February 2017 to January 2018
If my application for the Fulbright Specialist Program is successful, I will consult for periods of 2-6 weeks on social work and social welfare education and practice. If not, I will design a project with Dr. Jobson (Khulumani – South Africa), or Stacy Remke, hospice/palliative care specialist social worker and faculty member in social work at the University of Minnesota. I will complete the Fulbright application by September 10, 2015, and the Health and Aging Policy Fellowship by April 2016. Any one (two) of these opportunities will enhance my teaching in social work and ethics and my capacity to contribute to the campus efforts to globalize the curriculum and increase the diversity of perspectives and people on campus. If none of these opportunities come to fruition, and even if they do, I will carve out time to begin a writing project – narrative essays on advising students in decision-making and discernment.

Chris Daymont, Department of Exercise Science – Interim and Semester II
My sabbatical will be comprised of four distinct projects:
Anemia in Female Distance Runners
I will analyze hemoglobin and ferritin data collected over the past 10 years on the St. Olaf female distance runner to generate recommendations and a series of educational presentations for distance athletes.
Normalizing Exercise Physiology data
I will normalize data on aerobic fitness, anaerobic power, and body composition collected on physiology students over past 20 years.
Exercise Prescription
In collaboration with the IT staff, I will create a website for faculty and staff to indicate interest and access to the preliminary assessment forms.
Title IX and Gender Equity – My journey
I will put my training theories, coaching philosophy, and historical perspectives on women in sport into writing to. Having spent 40 years coaching women I am in a unique position to weave historical perspective into the practical applications of coaching collegiate women.

Michael Fuerstein, Department of Philosophy
I propose to use a 2016-17 sabbatical to producing a first draft of a book manuscript titled Democratic Experiments.  I will develop a novel account of moral progress in democracies by building on the foundational ideas of John Dewey.  I argue that the dominant contemporary account of progress – “deliberative democracy” – overlooks the epistemological significance of action, i.e., the significance of action as a basis for the reliable improvement of moral beliefs.  As an alternative, I propose that improving our moral beliefs hinges crucially on “democratic experiments”: practical interventions that alter our social norms, thereby enabling moral learning through emotionally transformative experience.  My view brings Deweyan ideas into dialogue with contemporary democratic theory and empirical psychological research, and bears significantly on how we think about the norms and requirements of democratic life.

Tim Howe, Department of History
I propose to use my sabbatical to research and write a second, revised edition of my book Pastoral Politics: Animals, Agriculture and Society in Ancient Greece.  This project will reexamine the primary source narratives and explore the modern scholarship that has been done in the past several years in order to provide a more nuanced discussion of land use, especially politicized land non-use. The revised and expanded book will center around three main questions: (1) why did wealthy (and even some non-wealthy) people in a dry, mountainous region like Greece prioritize the production of animals to such a degree that they removed some of the best land from cereal or other food cultivation; (2) how did these people justify taking much needed land away from subsistence food production in order to raise non-food animals such as horses; and (3) how did these animal production choices affect those individuals directly and not directly involved in animal production? This new edition will offer an opportunity to revisit these questions and the evolving conversation about animal-human symbioses in the Ancient Mediterranean and show once again that Greek choices about animal production and animal consumption affected ancient peoples at all levels of society in a multitude of ways.

Paul Humke, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
I plan to spend the fall working on several uncompleted papers that need to be submitted. I started the last sabbatical this way and it worked well.

In early October, I plan to travel to Budapest where I’ll be a visiting Scholar at both Eötvös Loránd University and the Rényi Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Science. While there I’ll work with Mik Laczkovich on a paper we started a year ago. Laczkovich and I also have some other unfinished work to ready for publication.

At the end of the first week January, I’ll attend the annual Joint Mathematics meeting in Atlanta where I’ll participate in the Pro Mathematica Arte annual Board meeting. Shortly after returning to Budapest and pending safety issues, I plan to fly to Gaborone, Botswana where I plan to spend about six weeks visiting the department there. I do not have a solid research connection there but agreed to give several lectures; the University of Botswana is also home to one of the best African mathematics departments outside of South Africa.

Shortly after returning to Budapest I plan to pack up and fly to Virginia where I’ll spend the remainder of the academic year working with two of the younger faculty at Washington and Lee University on problems stemming from our recent joint paper on Problem 57 from the Scottish Book.

Kristina MacPherson, Departments of Library and Asian Studies – Interim and Semester II
The St. Olaf Libraries’ successful program of research and instruction and our leadership in the field has been well documented in both written and conference literature, and through systematic assessment efforts over the last 6 years. With the substantive changes occurring in the world of information literacy and digital humanities recently, however, it is imperative to conduct an environmental scan of peer liberal arts college libraries to determine if and how they are redefining their missions for, and models of, research and instruction, and to design a program for St. Olaf, including assessment, to carry us forward. My sabbatical provides the opportunity to do the research and to provide leadership for the initial program design in collaboration with my colleagues and with the full support of the Director of Libraries and Head of Research and Instruction.

Ryota Matsuura, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Interim and Semester II
My main sabbatical goal is to continue the development of curricular materials aimed at secondary pre-service teachers that focus on mathematical habits of mind (MHoM). A growing evidence base points to the importance of MHoM—i.e., the specialized ways of approaching mathematical problems and ideas that resemble the ways employed by mathematicians—for students and for teachers of mathematics, particularly at the secondary level. This work is part of a five-year project that I recently proposed to the National Science Foundation.

My long-term career objective is to create materials that improve teacher preparation across the country. I aim to make a significant impact on teacher preparation and, ultimately, on high school mathematics education. If teachers have authentic mathematical experiences themselves, and are equipped to provide those experiences to their students, we can see real change in high school classrooms. My sabbatical work begins my efforts to achieve this goal.

Danny Munoz-Hutchinson, Department of Philosophy
During sabbatical leave I plan to write a monograph concerned with Plotinus’ doctrines on providence, freedom, and action. Plotinus holds an important position in the history of philosophy on the concept of human agency. On the one hand, he follows Plato in regarding a human agent as one who self-identifies with the rational soul, becomes one from many, and acts from reason. On the other hand, due to the view characteristic of the second century CE that fate causally determines the sensible world and sophisticated debates concerning freedom and determinism up to, and during, the second century CE, Plotinus develops Plato’s view further in an effort to meet the challenges posed by earlier determinists. The position he develops in the Enneads is a dynamic synthesis of Platonic, Peripatetic, Stoic, and Middle-Platonic theorizing on human causation that shows how one can be free even while living in a world governed by fate. In Plotinus on Agency, I approach Plotinus’ ethics in the larger context of his theories on providence and contemplation. I argue that the three principles of reality which are the source for the structure and organization of the natural world – One, Intellect, and Soul – are not simply goals we strive to achieve, but importantly regulative ideals that motivate us to care for other human beings and for the natural world. Once understood in this light, we can begin to see that Plotinus’ ethics is less otherworldly than scholars have supposed and that his model of the good life is one still worth living.

Jonathan Naito, Department of English – Academic Year
The first professional production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to employ African American actors was staged in 1957. My book project takes this short-lived production as its point of departure for the exploration of two subjects: Beckett’s famously difficult play and African American performance. In doing so, A Black Godot demonstrates the rarely acknowledged relevance of this play to black performance in the United States, by analyzing the original text, telling the story of this production, situating the production within the careers of the four principal actors (Earle Hyman, Mantan Moreland, Rex Ingram, and Geoffrey Holder), and considering each of their careers within the larger context of African American performance in the middle decades of the twentieth century (roughly 1930 to 1980).

Margaret Ojala, Department of Art and Art History – Academic Year
I am applying for a full-year sabbatical to work on three projects.

The first is to make a new body of landscape photographs for exhibition in 2017-18. I will do research on bogs and photograph bogs in northern Minnesota, fens in Canada, Scotland, and possible Finland. I will explore an ambiguous spatial illusion in my photographs to blur the boundaries between viewer and image.

The second project is two-fold: to work with the book as a form for my artwork and to develop a course called Book Work for the Department of Art and Art History.

The third project is to prepare to co-lead a study-travel program, “Hiking Scotland’s Islands” in May 2017. I will read philosophies of walking and literature related to walking, research artists who incorporate walking into their work, and learn more about the history, culture, and ecology of Scotland’s highlands and islands.

Diana Postlethwaite, Department of English – Semester I
A book-length cross-disciplinary exploration of connections between Victorian fiction and early American silent film, tentatively titled Moving Pictures: from George Eliot’s Romola (1864) to Henry King’s Romola (1924), in which I focus on George Eliot’s historical novel of Renaissance Florence and director Henry Kind’s feature-length silent film adaptation. Much has been written on adaptations of Charles Dickens’ fiction in early film, almost nothing on this first (and still the only) feature film, adaptation of a novel by the other great Victorian novelist, George Eliot. Juxtaposing these Romolas provides multiple “lenses” that shed light on a constellation of distinctive, but also interrelated, topics: film history of the early 20th century, film theory of the late 20th century, the proto-cinematic visually of the Victorian novel in an era of new technologies (photography, “magic lantern” shows, etc.), as well as (not least of all) reframing of Eliot’s critically neglected art-historical novel in light of its distinctive experiments with visuality.

Catherine Ramirez,  Department of Music – Semester I
My plan for a sabbatical leave in Fall 2016 includes three projects:  the study of opera excerpts for the flute, the production of a solo flute CD (with possible DVD), and the production of a chamber music CD (with possible DVD).  In addition to improving my knowledge and performance of a significant body of operatic repertoire, it is important, at this point in my career, for me to also disseminate more recordings as a performing artist. Through recent personal difficulties, I have found the core of my musical voice on the flute shifting away from the contemporary music focus on which I have built my emerging career toward a more vocally-oriented musical expression.  To nurture this shift, I plan to study opera excerpts with leading flutists in New York, Connecticut, and Minnesota, and, through the recordings, to preserve the expressions of this transformational period in my musical journey.

Barbara Reed, Departments of Religion and Asian Studies – Academic Year
I am interested in the ways that religion and higher education are interacting to prepare future leaders of Asia to face social and environmental challenges. Since the mid- 2oth century, new and reorganized universities in Asian have sought to redefine the ideal education for the modern world, from the Muslim universities in Indonesia, to the Buddhist universities in Japan, to the officially atheist universities in China. Some of the newest comprehensive Buddhist universities are found in Taiwan, where Buddhist virtues combine with internationalism and modern liberal arts and sciences to prepare students to serve in medicine, social work, business, arts, and a variety of other professions. I propose to spend the fall semester of 2016 doing research on Buddhist higher education and teaching courses on the interdisciplinary and comparative study of global religions at Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts (Jinshan District, Taiwan).

LaVern J. Rippley, Department of German Studies – Semester II
During a time frame when the United States as a host country grapples with pejorative immigration problems, theories, and border fences, it is useful to base solutions and legislation on micro studies of similar evil-perceived chain migrations from the past with identical push-pull (cause-effect) factors that impacted an earlier era. This study concerns two German provinces (Posen and Schlesien) from whence thousands of Polish-speaking German peasants between 1870 and 1914 for economic, national-allegiance and religious (Catholic vs. Lutheran) causes migrated to the Wisconsin counties of Trempealeau, Buffalo, Portage and Marathon, assimilating grudgingly but in the end successfully into American society.

Paul Roback, Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science – Academic Year
My sabbatical proposal involves two primary components. First, elements of data science and statistical computing have been increasingly entering my collaborative research projects; in fact, there has been an explosion of programs and jobs in “data science”. We have made initial steps in the St. Olaf curriculum to address this quickly-emerging area. Personally, I need to immerse myself in the gory details of statistical computing so that I can better perform these tasks myself and better lead students. I plan to work systematically through several excellent sets of online materials and books related to data science and statistical computing and apply these ideas to concrete research projects of mine. Second, Julie Legler and I made a textbook and all associated materials freely available online to encourage other undergraduate instructors to teach generalized linear models and multilevel modeling to their students. While the book has generated interest, it will need updating, and the sections on multilevel modeling may benefit from the inclusion of alternative analytical approaches.

Robert C. Smith, Department of Music
I propose to observe nationally prominent master teachers of voice within the larger spectrum of their departments or programs. The goal is to contrast their teaching methods and styles, observing how this relates to the larger program of which they are a part. I have the dual goal of improving my own teaching as well as being more fully informed regarding important graduate programs that would be potentially good fits for our St. Olaf graduates. As such, I will be looking at the total music graduate programs, course offerings, and professional connections. Three of the institutions I plan to visit have historical performance programs, tracks in the performance of early music, and voice teachers that specialize in these areas, so this will be a sub-focus.

Corliss Swain, Department of Philosophy – Academic year
David Hume is famous for his skeptical arguments, but recently scholars have debated the nature and scope of his skepticism. In previous work I argued that Hume’s skepticism is limited to metaphysical claims about ultimate realities, which he claims are impossible to now, and does not extend to natural science or common-sense. In this project I aim to show that Hume has principled reasons for confining his skepticism to certain topics: it is not just that the problems are too hard to solve given our current state of knowledge or limited cognitive capacities, instead, Hume argues that the problem space requires that we accept incoherent principles, so that it is unreasonable even to look for a solution. I will formulate and assess what I believe to be the best version of these arguments and relate Hume’s works to other widely accepted views about the limits of reason.

Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak, Departments of Political Science and Asian Studies
I propose to focus my sabbatical on two priorities.  First, I continue my research agenda addressing citizenship and education in Japan. I intend to revise and submit for publication two papers grounded in earlier research, which addresses how higher education in Japan shapes notions of good citizenship.  Second, I will continue to develop the Rural Immigration Network, which combines my interests in academic civic engagement, undergraduate research and immigration and citizenship.  RIN shares good ideas about welcoming immigrants and refugees to rural towns and cities via an online website.  It currently presents (1) original research reports about creative initiatives, events and programs that build community among foreign-born newcomers, their children and longer-term residents, and (2) three varieties of brief literature reviews, which share insights from scholarly research with a general audience concerned with immigration-related fields including schooling, health care and social services.

Mary Titus, Department of English – Academic Year
I am requesting a year-long sabbatical in 2016-17 for work on a new book project that will trace the shifting attitudes toward material accumulation in American culture, from Thomas Jefferson to the present, identifying dominant attitudes toward materialism in specific cultural moments, and exploring the ways in which these are expressed through object collections. The manuscript will be informed by theories about collecting and will be interdisciplinary, working with literary texts, institutional histories (especially of museums and libraries), social history and psychology, primarily through attitudes toward and images of collectors and collections; hoarders and hoarding.

Mary Trull, Department of English
The 2016-17 sabbatical will allow me to continue work on early modern literature and the history of science. The most important task will be completing a draft of my book manuscript, currently titled “Atoms and Void: Lucretius and Women Writers in Early Modern England.” Humanities scholarship has begun to explore how women writers, though excluded from official institutions such as England’s Royal Society, nevertheless contributed to and were affected by the challenges to traditional thinking the “new science” presented. My research focuses on four seventeenth-century poets and playwrights whose work engages atomist theories: Lucy Hutchinson; Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle; Hester Pulter; and Aphra Behn. To support completion of the project, I plan to visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, the University of Nottingham Manuscripts and Special Collections, and the Nottingham Archives.

Anne Walter, Department of Biology – Academic Year
I will complete two sets mathematical biology materials that I’ve been developing with Becky Vandiver (now at UNC-Ashville) for our Mathematical Biology Concentration, Mathematics of Biology (Math 236) and the math components for Animal Physiology (Bio 247). We plan to publish a manual of experiments and modules for both in math- and biology-focused forums. To facilitate this work, I plan to visit Becky Vandiver for about a month to focus on the manual and exercises. I plan to visit Harvey Mudd for one week to consult on animal physiology projects. I will join one of the QUBES on-line groups to explore new ideas and venues for sharing this work. I am scheduled to take Term in the Mediterranean Fall 2016 and plan to take interim and spring 2017 for sabbatical. However, I would like approval for the entire year in the event that TIM does not “go”.

Charles A. Wilson, Department of Religion
Book Abstract: Inventing Christic Jesuses: Rules and Warrants for Theology
The first comprehensive proposal how revisionist theology can deploy historical Jesus research, the study rejects positions that insulate theology from Jesus research.   By setting out theological methods, warrants and rules, in dialogue with an analysis of the Jesus historians of the Third Quest (c. 1980-2010), the study charts a quested christology positioned between categorical rejection and uncritical acceptance of historical results on Jesus.

The argument analyzes the methods and values of historical research on Jesus and identifies the retrojective activity of value production when historians invent images of Jesus, in conversation with historical sources.  Then it identifies apophatic, cataphatic and eminent contributions in such production, followed by an affirmation of the modern Narcissus effort to invent a self (and a community) through imaging Jesus.   The conclusion shows, within the parameters of the classic logic of incarnation, how theology can embrace results of historical study of Jesus of Nazareth.