2018-19 Sabbatical Abstracts

Scott Anderson, Department of Music
The primary focus of my sabbatical will be on restoring and developing my own performing skills. While I feel confident in my teaching abilities, I would also like to incorporate new pedagogical ideas into my work. Towards these ends, I will work with distinguished clarinet pedagogue Yehuda Gilad, both on my own playing and observing him teach.  I will also study with contemporary music “extended techniques” specialists Robert Spring and Eric Mandat, and resume study of the Alexander Technique.

Secondarily, I will work with instrument performance pedagogue Burton Kaplan on his next book/video project. (I edited his previous book before coming to St. Olaf.)  I will also co-teach at least one seminar with him. He is now in his eighties, and I want to contribute to a thorough documentation of his pedagogy, work that I find unparalleled in terms of its effectiveness and enduring value.

Christopher Atzinger, Department of Music
The primary goal for my upcoming sabbatical leave (Interim and spring, 2019), is to learn Sergei Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto, Op. 26.  This difficult work for piano and orchestra is approximately 30 minutes in length and is a mainstay of the 20th century piano concerto repertoire.  Studying it for upcoming performance will allow me to continue to refine my technique and musicianship while helping to fill gaps in my current contemporary concerto offerings.  Moreover, the specific piece in question is a colorful work that is incredibly popular with orchestras and audiences alike, so I feel optimistic about the possibilities for dissemination through live performance in future concert seasons.

Jolene Barjasteh, Department of Romance Languages – French
“Literary Medical Narratives: Anorexia as Creative Force in Delphine de Vigan’s Jours sans faim

During a half-year sabbatical leave (Fall 2018-Interim 2019), I will continue my research on literary medical narratives, specifically autobiographical and fictional accounts of anorexia, in order to prepare an article on the relationship of anorexia to the notion of creative force in Delphine de Vigan’s Jours sans faim. In my writing project, I draw on critical works such as   L’Anorexie créatrice (2006) in which Isabelle Meuret suggests that the medical discourse used to talk about the nature of anorexia has exhausted itself and that literature may indeed offer new ways to interpret and analyze the condition.  In retelling the story of the successful treatment of her anorexia many years after the fact, Delphine de Vigan engages in a creative act that allows for both personal therapeutic effect and wider imprint on a community of readers.  In this article, I argue that, as de Vigan writes about her memories of anorexia in order to process lived experience more fully, she creates a new space for reflection on the multiple motivations for self-starvation and the long-term process of healing.  I will submit the completed article to an interdisciplinary journal for publication.

Linda. M. Berger, Department of Music
Highly Effective 21st C. Teachers: Comparing and Contrasting Program Entrance Criteria and Resulting Efficacy in Finnish vs. American Teachers
Finland excels in identifying and educating excellent teacher candidates who express satisfaction with their careers and remain in the field.  In Minnesota, the percentage of teachers leaving teaching after one year is 15.1% and 25.9% after three years.  While teaching at the University of Turku, I will research Finnish teacher preparation from the inside, comparing it with U.S. practices.  I will use the Ohio State University Teacher’s Sense of Efficacy scale to measure and compare the efficacy of students at Turku vs. those at St. Olaf College.  I will also study the criteria for entrance to teacher education in both countries to determine how psychological/dispositional screening helps identify teachers who will thrive.

James Bobb, Department of Music
I plan to spend my first sabbatical studying improvisation, from historical and pedagogical perspectives, with William Porter and Edoardo Bellotti at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Many well-known organists who improvise, have simply developed a personal style that is often challenging to teach, but Porter and Bellotti have studied, and practiced, the information in historic sources/treatises on the theory and teaching of improvisation. This will greatly expand my own ability to improvise, which I currently do in a limited way, while enhancing my ability to teach improvisation and to teach the standard organ literature, much of which is grounded in the art of improvisation. Although I already have many ties to the Eastman School of Music, neither of these teachers nor their curriculum were available during my years of study at Eastman, so this will be a new experience.

However, an important secondary goal of an uninterrupted semester at the Eastman School will be to complete a lecture-recital, the only remaining task to completing my Doctorate of Musical Arts degree.

Brian Borovsky, Department of Physics
My research focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of friction, from the atomic scale to the macroscopic scale. My approach uses experiments in controlled conditions that mimic the mechanical contacts in practical devices, from the bearings in a wind turbine to the microscopic adjustable mirrors inside a digital video projector. My primary apparatus is a needle-like force probe called a nanoindenter that presses onto the surface of a quartz crystal moving back and forth at high speeds. During my sabbatical, I will collaborate with Prof. David Burris at the University of Delaware. I have received a Research Opportunity Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to join Burris’ NSF-sponsored project A Direct Experimental Link Between Atomic-Scale and Macroscale Friction. I will spend the summer of 2018 as a visiting researcher in Prof. Burris’ laboratory. During fall and interim, I will continue the collaboration by performing experiments at St. Olaf building on results from the summer. My work at St. Olaf will also include analysis, assessment of findings, and manuscript writing. Prof. Burris and I will disseminate our findings in a peer-reviewed publication and at professional meetings.

Kevin Crisp, Department of Biology
A Device to Influence Microglial Migration in Damaged Nerves?

Microglia play an important role both in inflammation and healing after injury.  These cells express voltage-gated ion channels in their membranes.  Many cell types that express these channels show changes in chemotaxis in response to benign electrical currents, although this has not yet been demonstrated in microglia.  This raises the possibility that a device might be developed that uses benign electrical currents to influence the movements of microglia and hence control the degree of inflammation at a damaged nerve site.  The medicinal leech presents a uniquely accessible opportunity to explore the effects of imposed electrical fields because the central nervous system contains long stretches of axon bundles devoid of neuronal nuclei where the only mobile nuclei are those of the microglia.  During my sabbatical, I propose to conduct a preliminary study on the effect of electrical currents on microglia migration with an eye toward determining whether or not it will be feasible to develop an electrical device that uses such currents to modulate inflammatory processes attributed to microglia.

Kosmas Diveris, Department of MSCS
The primary goal of this sabbatical is to conduct research on representation theoretic properties of rings and their modules.  In two separate projects I will examine which modules over various classes of rings have only trivial self-extensions. I will identify restrictions that the existence of such modules impose on the shapes of Auslander-Reiten quivers, and identify bounds on the size of the modules themselves.  These projects, which build on my earlier work on self-extensions, are motivated by a conjecture of Auslander and Reiten, as well as a related problem of Huneke and Wiegand.   A third project aims to classify the hypersurface rings which admit indecomposable self-syzygy modules by examining matrix factorizations of polynomials.  This will build upon work from my undergraduate research program where algorithms were developed to explicitly construct matrix factorizations.  These results will shed new light on the nature of singularities of hypersurfaces.

Tracey Engleman, Department of Music
I propose to spend my sabbatical researching vocal pedagogy and voice science associated with techniques of contemporary styles of vocalism used in non-classical singing. These include techniques used in rock, pop, contemporary music theater, jazz, gospel styles, and “belting technique” often referred to as CCM (Contemporary Commercial Music).  I will explore the latest scholarship on the voice science and acoustic properties of these types of vocalism, the latest pedagogical approaches towards teaching healthy technique for contemporary styles, and research the vast repertoire from the contemporary music theater genre composed in the past decade. I will be taking weekly lessons with Broadway veteran, Melissa Hart, to hone my own belting skills and allow me to model more efficiently for my students.  I will attend the Contemporary Commercial Music Vocal Pedagogy Institute for two weeks in July of 2019, spend a week at the Berklee College of Music in Boston observing faculty member Maureen McMullen and a week observing Dr. Stephani Thorp, Christina Dyrland-Smith, and Dr. Michael Olson (teachers of voice, musical theater and music industry, respectively) at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Kristina Garrett, Department of MSCS
Pattern-avoiding permutations are permutations which do not contain certain sub-patterns of increasing or decreasing numbers.  A classical result in the study of such partitions is that 123-avoiding permutations, those with no subsequence of three numbers which increase from left to right, are counted by the very famous Catalan numbers which were originally discovered and studied by MacMahon. My work focuses on an open question posed by Mei and Wang.  In their works, they were considering an infinite family of pattern-avoiding permutations, L(n,k,I), that encompassed several well-studied sets of permutations in the literature.  The authors conjectured that certain subsets of the permutations defined above seem to be equal in size to others. We plan to find a bijection between L(n,k,l) and L(n,k,I’) which would establish the conjecture and may reveal the underlying structure of these families of permutations.

Ashley Hodgson, Department of Economics
Project Title: Developing an inpatient and outpatient Specialty Intensity Score for Use in Evaluating Care Coordination

Project Abstract: This project develops a Specialty Intensity Score, which is an estimate of the degree to which a patient needs coordination across different specialized doctors.  The U.S. health care system often shuffles patients between many specialist doctors, which increases the chance of medical mistakes, conflicting advice, and miscommunications.  The score I plan to develop would give a way for researchers with access to publically available data sets to identify which populations are most vulnerable to coordination problems. Despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act prioritizes improvement in care coordination through the promotion of Accountable Care Organizations and Medical Homes, few measures exist for assessing the quality of coordination within an institution.  Moreover, the measures that do exist require access to specialized and confidential data that is not broadly accessible to the health services research community.

Amy J. Kolan, Department of Physics
1/f noise was first observed by J.B. Johnson in 1925 and William Schottky attempted the first theoretical explanation the following year. Since then, there has been tremendous interest in this type of noise in that it occurs in a huge variety of systems; there have been investigations of 1/f noise in biology, language, music, seismology, economics, and psychology as well as physics. I propose to work on the theoretical explanation for 1/f noise in magnetic systems in collaboration with Dan Dahlberg at the University of Minnesota.

Karen Marsalek, Department of English
In a sabbatical for the 2018-19 academic year I will complete drafting and revisions to my monograph-in-progress, and begin submitting the project to presses.  Tentatively titled The Remains of the Play: Bodies and Revenants in the King’s Men Repertory, the study examines how several plays written for Shakespeare’s own company, the King’s Men, stage spirits and corpses.  I focus on plays by Shakespeare and his prolific contemporary, Thomas Middleton, and argue that the practical techniques and material elements used in these representations are often themselves revenants: sometimes technology recycled from medieval performance practices, sometimes props repurposed from one play to another in the company’s repertory.   While my primary discussion is of the medieval and early modern staging practices, I also address how some twentieth and twenty-first century productions have met these staging challenges.  Middleton’s writing has enjoyed renewed scholarly attention since the publication of his Collected Works (eds. Taylor and Lavignino, Oxford 2012); my book contributes to this burgeoning area of scholarship, as well as to repertory studies and historical and contemporary performance studies.  It will also strengthen my application for promotion to full professor, my next professional goal.

Jason Marsh, Department of Philosophy
This book is about the vast amount of suffering in our world and how it relates to our decision to create new persons. Part one explores two questions for secular procreative ethics. In particular, should the threat of climate change and overpopulation lead us to seriously limit the number of people we collectively create? Do we have strong reasons to genetically select children who will suffer less harm, in particular disease? I argue that the answer is yes on both fronts. In the second part of the book I explore an overlooked connection between procreative ethics and the problem of evil in the philosophy of religion. In particular, I argue that the common and deep conviction that procreation is morally permissible, despite the world’s evil, is in tension with the common idea that this same evil undermines the reasonability of belief in God and divine creation.

James McKeel, Department of Music
I am proposing a two-part Sabbatical Project involving research of and creative improvements to the song recital format and the revision, publication, and performance of three operas and one choral song cycle that I have composed. The project would take place from September 1, 2018 – January 31, 2019 in Northfield and would involve collaboration from three student recitalists and a future performance by the Manitou singers. Since 1976, my recital and composition work has run parallel to my teaching, performance, and stage-directing careers. This work has been profoundly integral to my development as a singer/actor, director, and private/classroom teacher. Both facets of this project would enhance my professional competence in the work I do with a wide variety of recitalists and lyric theater singers/actors/composers/directors. No internal or external funding will be required.

Kristina I. Medina Vilariño, Department of Romance Languages – Spanish
“Narratives of Life: A post-Maria interjection in colonial Puerto Rico” is a yearlong sabbatical proposal on the topic of cultural identity politics post hurricane Maria in and about Puerto Rico. My sabbatical project consists of an ethnography comprised by theoretical and empirical research, such as on-site interviews and a literature review, which aims to address this need. I propose an ethnographic approach through the lens of Caribbean cultural studies to investigate narratives of cultural displacement, colonialism, and belonging, as cultural artifacts. I will compare: (a) oral histories on Puerto Rican political identity before and after Hurricane Maria, and (b) literature and art discussing the relationship between colonialism, diaspora, natural disasters, and cultural identity before and after Hurricane Maria. I will complement these sources with interviews to Puerto Rico local residents and archival research.

Xun Pomponio, Department of Economics
During academic year 2018-2019, I propose to engage in three research projects.   The three projects are related to my academic teaching and research field, international economics, development economics and China economics.  The first project is entitled “Attracting Foreign Direct Investment: Chongqing”, a municipality in southwest China; the second “Sustainable Development in Gansu, China”, the northwest area of China; the third project is entitled “Financial Crises – Lessons for China”.

Marju Purin, Department of MSCS
This sabbatical project focuses on algebra. In linear algebra, the objects of study are vector spaces. In my research I work with modules. These generalize the notion of a vector space. The goal of my research is to determine how complicated modules can be.

The project has two broad components: reduction of complexity and the Auslander-Reiten Condition. I will build on my previous experience with homological algebra to approach the two objectives. As both involve studying the behavior of extensions of modules, there is synergy between the topics that I plan to use in making advances on the questions.

A key conference and workshop that I will attend at the very start of the sabbatical year is the 18th International Conference on Representations of Algebras (ICRA 2018) in Prague, Czech Republic. This two-week long meeting brings together experts in my field from all over the world. Participation at this extended conference and workshop provides opportunities to have deep interactions with colleagues who share my interest in homological conjectures. I will use it as a platform to build collaborations both for this and for future projects.

Anantanand Rambachan, Department of Religion
I am applying for a Full-Year Sabbatical Leave (2018-2019) to prepare a book manuscript for publication. My manuscript will focus on interreligious dialogue, with special attention to Hindu-Christian dialogue. Over the course of more than three decades of interreligious work, I have given numerous keynote addresses, presentations and reflections.  Some of my work on interreligious dialogue has been published in various edited volumes and in journals.  Much remains unpublished.  I propose, therefore, to use my sabbatical leave to revisit my significant unpublished and published material on interreligious dialogue and to revise a selection of these for publication in a single volume.  Although my interreligious dialogue work has been multireligious in nature, it has focused in a special way on Hindu-Christian relations and I anticipate that this focus will provide the thematic unity of this volume.

Jason Ripley, Department of Religion
Tentative Title: “Bend it like Socrates—Genre Bending and Jesus Death in the Gospel of John”

This project employs genre analysis to explore the question of the distinctiveness of John’s triumphant portrayal of Jesus’ death in John. Harold Attridge’s programmatic essay “Genre Bending in the Fourth Gospel” has opened exciting new approaches to familiar problems in the Gospel of John.  While many passages in the main body of the narrative have been explored through the lens of genre criticism, the passion narrative has received less attention.  Understanding genre as involving content, form, and social function, I will argue that John’s unique portrait of Jesus’ death is in part a result of John’s blending of genres. I contend that the Evangelist combines content from the rhetoric of noble death and adapts the form of a “Death of Socrates” type-scene to transform Jesus’ ostensibly shameful death at the hands of Rome into a heroic act of faithful, non-violent resistance to tyranny.

Regarding the content of the genre, I apply Jerome Neyrey’s synthesis (in “The ‘Noble Shepherd’ in John 10: Cultural and Rhetorical Background”) of Greek funeral orations with Aristotle’s guidelines for epideictic oratory to the whole of John’s Gospel, demonstrating John’s uptake of the issues central to the rhetoric of noble death. Moreover, building on the arguments of Gregory Sterling (“Mors philosophi: The Death of Jesus in Luke”) and on the notions of genre prototypes discussed by Carol Newsom (“Spying Out the Land: A Report from Genology”), I construct a constellation of features associated with the narrations of the death of Socrates (with a particular focus on aspects that are taken up by later authors in the portrayal of subsequent heroic deaths, such as the Roman republican Cato and the Maccabean martyrs), applying them to John’s portrayal of Jesus’ death. Details especially evocative of Socrates are John’s emphasis on Jesus’ divine sign indicating the nature and course of his impending death (John 12:27-33), Jesus’ comforting of his disciples in the Farewell Discourses, his resolve in the face of death and his resistance toward attempts to escape his execution (18:1-11), his participation in the process of his own death in the form of carrying his cross by himself (19:17), the emphasis on the unjustness of his death (18:28-32, 38), his dialogical interrogation of Pilate and insistence on testifying to the truth despite the consequences (18:33-38), and finally Jesus’ making of arrangements for his family in the midst of his death (19:25-27). Lastly, in terms of social function, by “bending” the genre of Socrates’ noble death around the crucifixion of Jesus, the author also engages other Jewish and Roman utilizations of the type-scene in a way that highlights Jesus’ way of the cross as the divinely authorized path of resistance to unjust imperial pressures. Taken together, this genre analysis sheds new light on the content, form, and social implications of John’s distinctive portrayal of Jesus’ death.

Susan Smalling, Department of Social Work
I will spend my sabbatical updating my literature review and then collecting and analyzing data on the recruitment and retention of indigenous, American Indian and/or First Nation faculty in social work academia.  In my previous research, I completed a small-scale study (n=9) of American Indian social work faculty investigating their experiences obtaining the requisite degrees and their experiences in academia after receiving their credentials.  I would like to continue this research by increasing my sample size for United States faculty and expanding the scope of my sample to indigenous faculty outside of the United States.  I will focus recruitment on faculty in Canada and Australia- contexts where there have been significant efforts to indigenize the social work curriculum.  I hope to build enough of a sample to be able to do cross-country comparisons of the experience of faculty.    Additionally, I would like the sample to include faculty from diverse academic contexts- e.g. research focused universities, small liberal arts colleges, tribal and community colleges to do additional comparisons about these contextual differences.  I will produce at least two papers from this data including a descriptive piece on the experiences of American Indian faculty as a whole and a comparative piece looking at contextual differences.

Carlo Veltri, Department of Psychology
I have three broad goals for sabbatical: (1) draft the sixth edition of a graduate level textbook on the MMPI-2 family of instruments; (2) wrap up my initial research projects undertaken at St. Olaf and prepare to expand upon these efforts through a new series of studies; and (3) hone my professional clinical skills. I plan to initially focus on my textbook by updating most of the existing chapters and drafting one or two new chapters. Then, I will draft a manuscript describing a meta-analysis of the MMPI-2-RF validity scales I’m completing in collaboration with Dr. Danielle Burchett at California State-Monterey Bay as well as plan a new series of studies investigating maladaptive perfectionism and maladaptive persistence. Interspersed throughout, I plan to spend 10-15 hours a week honing my clinical skills through the practice of psychotherapy and/or conducting forensic psychological evaluations.

Ka Wong, Department of Asian Studies
Enmity and Empathy: Race, Internment, and Japanese Americans in the Midwest during World War II
For my sabbatical, I propose the aforementioned book project Enmity and Empathy, which explores the challenging experiences and complicated politics enabling Japanese Americans, amid pervasive wartime racism, to leave internment camps and relocate to the Midwest. There were three main channels through which internees could be exempted from confinement: college, military, and employment. To accomplish release they needed support on multiple levels—legal, political and financial—from their dominant white fellow citizens. These collective efforts provide a new angle to analyze racial discourse in America. Drawing from critical race theory and informed by evacuees’ own voices, this project examines the intersections among race, class, gender, and power as the Japanese Americans struggled to regain their freedom. Unpacking this past becomes ever more important today as the internment history echoes many of the concerns on race, immigration, national security, and civil liberties that the country still continues to face.