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Two Alums elected for American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Paul Theroux (BA English 1963) and Natasha Trethewey (MFA Poetry 1995) were accepted into the Literature section of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Sopheap Pich's work being shown in the Financial Center in NYC

Sopheap Pich holds a BFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts (1995) and his recent work is largely sculptural and being shown all over. Recently at an exhibit on display at the Brookfield Place Financial Center in New York City Pich created a miniature bamboo city made of sustainable bamboo and titled, "Compound." The work comments on a massive construction boom in his home city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia which has caused the depletion of many of the natural resources in the region. Pich's work is also being incorporated into a Cambodian dance in which he created rattan crocodiles that the dancers use, his work is also being displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (, April) (New York Times, Met)

Wendy Evans '79 co-curated Larry Poons Exhibit

Wendy Evans, owner of Wendy S. Evans Fine Arts Inc. in New York City co-curated an exhibit at the Herter Art Gallery with Trevor Richardson, curator at the Herter Gallery. The exhibit features selected paintings from 1975 to 2012 and will run from March 6th to April 6th.

Two alumns nominated for NAACP Image Awards for poetry

Two recent books of poems by MFA Program alums—Arisa White and Natasha Trethewey—have been nominated for NAACP Image Awards. The 2013 NAACP Image Awards will be presented live on NBC, Friday, February 1 at 8pm.

Bill Meissner wins Midwest Book Award

1972 UMass MFA grad Bill Meissner won the Midwest Book Award for his first novel and seventh book Spirits in the Grass. Bill Meissner has won numerous awards for his writing, including PEN/NEA Syndicated Fiction Awards. He is the author of two previous books of fiction, Hitting into the Wind and The Road to Cosmos (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006) and four books of poetry, including American Compass (University of Notre Dame Press, 2004). He is director of Creative Writing at St. Cloud State University. This is his first novel. To learn more about Bill Meissner and his books, please visit his website here.

Karen Skolfield wins First Book Award for Poetry

Karen Skolfield (MFA '98) has won the First Book Award for Poetry from Zone 3 Press, out of Austin Peay State University. Nancy Eimers was the final judge. Skolfield's manuscript Frost in the Low Areas will be published fall 2013. Austin Peay

Communications and Afro-Am alum named editor in chief at Brides magazine

Keija Minor, BA 96, dual major: Communications and Afro-American studies was named editor in chief at Brides magazine, becoming the first African American to ascend to the top spot at Conde Nast, which also owns the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ and Vogue.

David Hodgkins vocal group wins prestigious Alice Parker Award

David Hodgkins, BM’84, is the Artistic Director of Coro Allegro, a vocal group that just  won the prestigious Alice Parker award. Coro Allegro, a Boston-based ensemble, is a chorus for members and friends of the LGBT communities that enriches the lives of its members and the broader community through the presentation of outstanding performances of classical choral music. David serve is a member of the UMass Amherst Music Alumni Board. (Award Info)

Music Alumni wins National Conference

Andrew Garland (BM'00) won first prize in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS)on June 29 in Orlando, FL. in conjunction with the NATS' 52nd National Conference. He will receive prizes including $5000 in cash, a $2500 Winner’s recital at the 2014 National Conference in Boston, and $2500 towards personal expenses for a New York City Solo Recital Debut sponsored by Distinguished Concerts International. Garland, a baritone, also receives a full tuition scholarship to AIMS in Graz, Austria and a $1,000 gift certificate for music from Hal Leonard Corporation. At UMass Amherst, he studied with Professor Paulina Stark, now emeritus.

Steve Schwankert, Chinese major ‘91 writes about quest to discover the mystery behind a lost submarine

A lifelong scuba diving obsession led Steven Schwankert to the tale of the HMS Poseidon and the startling discovery that the British submarine, which sank off the northeastern coast of China in the 1930s, had been raised by the Chinese in 1972.That revelation lies at the heart of Schwankert's upcoming book, "The Real Poseidon Adventure: China's Secret Salvage of Britain's Lost Submarine" and an accompanying documentary film chronicling his search for answers about what became of the sunken vessel.(mass live)

Rosa Ibarra has new exhibit at Springfield Museum of Fine Arts

The paintings of alumna Rosa Ibarra are featured in an exhibit called “Sisterhood: Mixed Media Paintings by Rosa Ibarra” at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield. It is part of the museum’s first ever Hispanic Heritage Month Exhibit in partnership with WGBY. (Republican, 9/22/12)

Alumna Natasha Trethewey named U.S. Poet Laureate


Natasha Trethewey (MFA '95), a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, has just been named as the U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress. Tretheway, 46, was born in Gulfport, Miss., and is the author of three poetry collections, including "Native Guard," winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. She will be the 19th poet laureate, and is currently also serving as the poet laureate of Mississippi.

Read the New York Times article here, and the Sun Herald article here.


Zac Bissonette '11 in The Washington Post

Zac Bissonette '11, Art History alum and author of two books, the latest being "How to be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents." His latest book has been selected as the Color of Money Book Club selection for May and was recently reviewed by a national business columnist. Read the article here.

Heather Christle '09G wins The Believer's 2nd Annual Poetry Award

MFA Program for Poets & Writers alum, Heather Christle '09G has been awarded The Believer Poetry Award for 2012 for her newest collection of poetry The Trees The Trees. The Believer says her poetry creates "powerful, living experiences —poems that echo everywhere with the skittery pulse of contemporary life." More...

Dr. Trimiko Melancon '05G awarded Woodrow Wilson Fellowship

Dr. Trimiko Melancon '05G, Afro-American Studies, has been awarded a prestigious 2012 Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Career Enhancement Fellowship. This fellowship provides her with a year-long sabbatical as well as a fall retreat, mentoring, and financial support. More...

Anita Mannur '02G, Comparative Literature, awarded Early Career Award

Anita Mannur who graduated in 2002 with a Ph.D in Comparative Literature has been awarded the Association for Asian American Studies' inaugural Early Career Award. The award will be presented in Washington, D.C. in April at the annual meeting of the Association of Asian American Studies. More...

Music Alum Named Distinguished Teacher

Music alum, David Pope '95, has been named Distinguished Teacher of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University for 2012-2013. He has been on faculty at JMU since 2000 and he recently presented a recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Michael Braidman in The Gazette

Michael Braidman, an alum of the English department, recently had an article titled "A Teacher's Voice" published in The Gazette. He teaches at Hampshire Regional High School and is a teacher-consultant with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. In it, he talks about running his high school's drama company and the opportunities it has brought to both the participants and the coach.

MFA Alums in The Valley Advocate

Two alums of the MFA Program for Poets & Writers were recently featured in The Valley Advocate. James Grinwis '00G has two books of poetry forthcoming, The City from Nome and Exhibit of Forking Paths. His poems "zing with surprise, with slantwise looks at the everyday..." according to this article in The Valley Advocate. Corwin Ericson '00G has a novel forthcoming from Dark Coast Press titled Swell which will be released Dec. 11th. The Valley Advocate says, "'s Ericson's off-kilter prose that propels the novel and makes the whole thing fall nicely through the cracks of easy expectation." Read the full review here.

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Faculty News

Alex Carter selected for the 2013-2014 Fulbright Award

Alex Carter has been selected for the United States Fulbright award to Australia for the academic year 2013-2014. His project explores the connections and influences between Afro-Americans and Aboriginal Australians during the Black Power and Black Arts movements. He will be affiliated with Professor Maryrose Casey of Monash University in Clayton, Victoria. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.Approximately 310,000 "Fulbrighters," 116,900 from the United States and 192,800 from other countries, have participated in the Program since its inception more than sixty years ago. The Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

Hanlyn Davies exhibit to open at Hampden Gallery

Retired art professor Hanlyn Davies is showing a solo exhibition of his new paintings titled, "Shelf Life." The exhibit will open April 7th and run until May 2nd.



English professor Dara Weir's new poetry collection published

Dara Weir's new poetry collection, "You Good Thing," was recently published by Wave Books and reviewed in Publisher's Weelkly. (Weir, April)






Professor John H. Bracey awarded by the College of Wooster

The College of Wooster awarded Afro-Am professor John H. Bracey with the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his accomplishments as a distinguished social historian and pioneer of Africana Studies and his commitment to and influence on the study of the history of race, identity, and gender.


Presidential Plenary Lecture given by Dean Julie Hayes

Julie Candler Hayes, Professor of French and Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, gave the presidential plenary lecture at the 2013 meeting of the American Society for 18th-Century Studies. Hayes was elected Vice President of ASECS in 2011 and has served as the organization’s president in 2012-13. The topic of the lecture, which stems from an ongoing book project on 17th and 18th-century women writers, was “Philosophical About Marriage: Women Writers and the Moralist Tradition.”

Music faculty has concert reviewed

The Swiss-born American pianist Gilles Vonsattel, a Honens laureate, has an impressive array of awards and an extensive concert track-record in the United States and Europe. This was his recital debut at Wigmore Hall, although he had performed there as an accompanist a couple of years ago. (Wigmore Hall – Beethoven, Holliger, Ravel)




English professor's poem published in The New Yorker

“Crustaceans,” a poem by Peggy O’Brien, was published in The New Yorker. (The New Yorker, 4/8/13)





David Toomey's writing on biodiversity is reviewed

“Weird Life,” an exploration of biodiversity by David Toomey, English, is reviewed. (Washington Post, 4/7/13)





Two UMass faculty members contribute to Vox Germanica

Vox Germanica: Essays in Germanic Languages and Literature in Honor of James E. Cathey was Edited by Stephen J. Harris(English), Michael Moynihan, and Sherrill Harbison(Germanic studies), the book is an interdisciplinary Festschrift dedicated to Germanic philologist and Scandinavianist James E. Cathey, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the author of highly respected textbooks in Old Icelandic and Old Saxon. This broad and highly engaging collection of 19 essays is divided into two main sections: language and literature.




Eric Poehler named a 2013 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellow

Eric Poehler, Assistant Professor of Classics was named a 2013 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellow for his project titled, The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Resource. The project interweaves a bibliographic database, online GIS, and user interface to create a novel research environment for ancient Pompeii, gathering the diaspora of source material for the first time in a single, central location.

Chinua Achebe acclaimed author and former UMass professor has died

Chinua Achebe, the internationally celebrated Nigerian author, UMass Professor, statesman and dissident who gave literary birth to modern Africa with "Things Fall Apart" and continued for decades to rewrite and reclaim the history of his native country, has died. He was 82. (Associated Press,Mass Review)

James Young comments on artist Charles Kraft

James Young, English and Judaic and Near East studies, comments in a story about how Seattle artist Charles Krafft has been exposed as a white nationalist and Holocaust denier and how that revelation has had an impact on his reputation. Young says when artists use Nazi imagery, it raises questions about whether the use of such troubling images ultimately makes them easier to view and in some ways affirm them and their negative power. (New Yorker, 3/24/13)

José Angel Hernández wins the William M. LeoGrande Prize for his new book

José Angel Hernández was honored for his new book, "Mexican American Colonization during the Nineteenth Century: A History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands." It received the William M. LeoGrande Prize for the Best Book on U.S.-Latin American Relations by the School of Public Affairs and Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University (San Antonio News).





Max Page looks at the architecture of UMass

A column by Max Page, art, architecture and art history, looks at buildings on the UMass Amherst campus that were constructed in the late 1960s and 1970s, many made of poured concrete and designed by modernist architects of the era. Page says while some people view the buildings as ugly, others have come to appreciate them as a reflection of a time of campus expansion fueled by an underlying commitment to expanding and supporting public higher education in a modern era. He says the buildings were meant to signal that UMass Amherst wasn’t just another New England campus, but a vibrant and growing research university. (Globe, 3/24/13; (News Office assistance)

Svati Shah named a Fulbright Scholar

Her project is entitled "Economic Class and Equality in India's Emerging LGBTQ Movement." Her project examines the discourses of economic class and urbanization among LGBTQ organizations and networks in several Indian cities. This analysis will provide comparative context for understanding the vibrant discourses of materialism and enfranchisement among LGBTQ movements throughout the Global South.

Angie Willey is named Rice University Humanities Research Institute Fellow

Angie Willey will be a Rice University Humanities Research Institute Fellow in a year-long seminar on "Materialism and New Materialism Across the Disciplines."  At Rice she will be working on a project entitled "Feminist Genealogies for New Materialism."  The project aims to disrupt a story that positions what has been termed "new materialism" as an intervention in feminist and critical theory and instead charts its genealogies within those traditions. This summer Angie will be a Dartmouth Leslie Center for the Humanities Fellow at an institute called "Towards a Global History of Sexual Science, 1880-1950."   At Dartmouth, Angie will be working on a project entitled "Anti-Islamism and the Making of Sexology: Coupling and Nationalism in Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis."  The project is a close reading of intertwined themes of nationalism and coupling in Psychopathia Sexualis in light of Krafft-Ebing's legacy in the making of modern sexual subjectivities.

Joseph Levines new column questions Israels right to statehood

Joseph Levine, philosophy, writes a column where he questions whether Israel really has a “right to exist” and whether this right extends to also being a Jewish state. He says there is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic state and says this issue needs to be debated in the open on its merits free from charges of anti-Semitism. (New York Times, 3/9/13)

Olga Gershensons new book about Soviet-era films is covered in a feature story

A feature story looks at Olga Gershenson, Judaic and Near Eastern studies, and a recent presentation she made in Israel about her new book on Soviet-era films on the Holocaust. The book, “The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe,” will be published later this year. ([Israel], 3/5/13)

Philosophy professor writes column

Joseph Levine, philosophy, writes a column about how a recent performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” reminded him that all people who are forced from their homes suffer injustice and trauma. (Gazette, 3/1/13)

David Toomey's new book looks at the search for life elsewhere

The book Weird Life by David Toomey, English, looks at the search for life on other planets and what strange things are likely to be found beyond our earthly environment. (Globe and Mail [Toronto], 3/1/13)

Tanisha Ford was a panelist on a symposium

Tanisha Ford, women, gender, sexuality studies, was a panelist on “The Politics of Black Women’s Hair Symposium,” held March 1 at the University of Pennsylvania. (Philadelphia Tribune, 3/5/13)

Catherine Portuges Comparative Literarture professor is interviewed about the Multicultural Film Festival

A feature story looks at the UMass Amherst Multicultural Film Festival that is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Catherine Portuges, the festival founder, curator and director, is interviewed. (Gazette, 2/28/13)

History professor to speak in Faculty Lecture Series

Daniel Gordon, professor of History and associate dean of Commonwealth Honors College, will speak on "The Fatal Truth: The Cult of Violence in Western Political Thought" on Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. The event is part of Commonwealth Honors College’s Faculty Lecture Series.

Afro-Am professor writes column about abolitionists

Manisha Sinha, Afro-American studies, writes a column in the Opinionator blog about how and why abolitionists are often either left out of, or barely discussed when contemporary Americans talk about the Emancipation Proclamation and the political figures who supported it. She says Abraham Lincoln and others were promoting policies that were already being pushed by a whole movement, but that movement is often overlooked because it was considered quite radical then, and in many ways, still is considered radical. (New York Times, 2/24/13)

Art History professor presenting research at International Workshop

Monika Schmitter, associate professor of Art History, has been invited to present at the International Workshop on Early Modern Painted Facades in Italy (15th to 17th centuries) being held March 7-9 at Villa Medici in Rome. Schmitter will discuss her research on the patronage of painted facades.

Laura Briggs awarded James A. Rawley Prize

Laura Briggs Chair, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies was awarded the James A. Rawley Prize, given annually by the Organization of American Historians to the author of the best book dealing with the history of race relations in the United States.  Her book, Somebody's Children: The Politics of Transracial and Transnational Adoption  was published in 2012 by Duke University Press.The prize is given in memory of Professor James A. Rawley, Carl Adolph Happold Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The award will be presented at the 2013 OAH Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, in April.

History professor to present photographs from her new book

Barbara Krauthamer, history, will give a presentation this week at the Free Library of Philadelphia on the collection of photographs from her new book, “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” co-authored with Deborah Willis. (, 2/5/13)

Classics professor discusses archaeological discovery from ancient Italy

Anthony S. Tuck, classics, discusses infant bones that have been found on the floor of a workshop from ancient Italy that suggest they were discarded along with bones from slaughtered animals. He says it may have been that the infant, who died shortly after birth, belonged to slaves or workers with low social status whose lost infants might get little sympathy. It might also signal that infants who died shortly after birth in that society weren’t considered worth mourning, Tuck says.

Tom Roeper's Roast

On Monday, January 25, there was a congratulatory toast and roast event at the weekly LARC/Language Acquisition Lab meeting for Tom Roeper in celebration of his becoming a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America this September. Tom joins several other UMass faculty ---  Emmon Bach, Barbara Partee, Lisa Selkirk, John McCarthy, Alice Harris and Angelika Kratzer --- on the roster of LSA fellows. 

Manisha Sinha featured on PBS and in lecture series

Afro-American Studies professor Manisha Sinha will speak on “Race and Equality in the Age of Lincoln,” at the annual Lincoln Lecture at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, on Feb. 6. Recently, Sinha was a featured commentator on “The Abolitionists,” part of the “American Experience” series on PBS. Sinha consulted on the script and was featured on screen discussing the era and her upcoming book on the abolitionists.

History professor Barbara Krauthamer discusses emancipation in her new book

The new book, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery, by Barbara Krauthamer, history, and Deborah Willis, is reviewed. (, 12/25/12)

Afro-Am Professor discusses legacy of Ida B. Wells

John Bracey Jr., Afro-American studies, was one of three scholars who met in Philadelphia on Feb. 2 to discuss the life and legacy of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells. (Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 2/3/13)

UMass Classics lecturer member of archaeological team making discoveries in Jordan

A team of international archaeologists, including Cecelia Feldman, a classics lecturer at UMass Amherst, says it has found evidence of terrace farming and water management in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. They say there is evidence of dam construction to provide water to areas outside the city where terrace farming provided wheat, grapes and perhaps olives. (Red Orbit, 1/3/13)

UMass jazz program recognized by NPR

A story on the history of jazz education in the U.S. notes that the UMass Amherst program begun by Fred Tillis included key jazz players Max Roach, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef and Billy Taylor and still includes a summer jazz camp founded in 1982. (, 1/8/13)

Blank Professor makes appearance on PBS

Martín Espada recently appeared on Moyers and Company on PBS.  His reading of a Frederick Douglass poem and interview can be found at.

Music Professor's opera premiering at Festival

Insectaphobia, an opera by Salvatore Macchia, professor of contrabass and composition in the Department of Music and Dance, will premiere in March at the New Music Festival of the East Carolina University School of Music in Greenville, N.C.

Near Eastern Studies professor awarded a senior grant

Associate professorAviva Ben-Ur of the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies has been awarded a Senior Grant in History from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute for her book project “Eurafrican Identity in a Jewish Society: Suriname, 1660-1863.” The grant will further advance Ben-Ur’s archival research in the Netherlands, where she will be a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences during the spring 2013 semester.

Audrey L. Altstadt presents a paper to the Azerbaijan Acadamy of Sciences

History professorAudrey L. Altstadt presented a paper to the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences on Oct. 22 during an international conference commemorating the 130th birth anniversary of poet and playwright Huseyn Javid, one of the most celebrated literary figures of early 20th century.

Barbara Krauthamer writes opinion piece on the film Lincoln

The Chronicle review asked history professor Barbara Krauthmer and several other scholars to weigh in on the historical accuracies of the new movie Lincoln. The article was written by Barbara Krauthamer, an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is the author, with Deborah Willis, of Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,just out from Temple University Press.

Architecture faculty featured in gallery exhibit

Three Architecture faculty members have projects in the "Be Local Build Local" exhibit, on view through Dec. 15 at the A.P.E. Gallery, 126 Main St., Northampton. The show features work by professor Sigrid Miller Pollin and assistant professors Caryn Brause and Carey Clouse.

Afro-American Studies recognized by American Historical Association

The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies is being awarded this year’s American Historical Association's Equity Award recognizing success in training and placing nearly 100 percent of its minority historians in academia. The award was announced in the November issue of Perspectives on History, and will be presented on Jan. 4 at the AHA annual meeting in New Orleans.

Book signing for Jack Coughlin

Professor emeritus of Art Jack Coughlin, will sign his books at White Square - Fine Books & Art in Easthampton on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 5-7 p.m. Limited edition signed prints from Coughlin's extensive portrait collection of literary figures and musicians will also be for sale.

James Young chaired a roundtable discussion on Jewish Culture

Distinguished University ProfessorJames Young, of English and Judaic Studies, chaired a roundtable discussion on “What is Jewish Culture?” on Nov. 28 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The event was part of the launch of The Pozen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization: An Anthology in Ten Volumes, of which Young is the editor-in-chief.

Laura Lovett co-edits anthology reflecting on the 40th anniversary of Free to Be You and Me

Laura Lovett associate history professor recently co-edited an anthology documenting, Free to Be…You and Me-the groundbreaking children's record, book, and television special that debuted in 1972. In When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made, 32 contributors explore the creation and legacy of this popular children’s classic. (UNC, 2012)

David Fleming to Receive MLA Prize

The Modern Language Association of America today announced it is awarding its thirty-second Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize to David Fleming, of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for his book From Form to Meaning: Freshman Composition and the Long Sixties, 1957–1974, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

History Professor wins Cundill Prize

Stephen Platt, history, has been awarded McGill University's Cundill Prize in History for his book, "Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War." The award, which includes a $75,000 prize, was announced Nov. 29. (Gazette)

Director of Italian Studies discusses new book on Renato Poggioli

Robert Ludovico, director of the Italian Studies Program and co-editor of "Renato Poggioli. An Intellectual Biography," discussed the research presented in the book during panels in Florence and Bologna on Oct. 29-30. The work is co-edited by Lino Pertile and Massimo Riva.

Felipe Salles new CD reveiwed

Music Professor Felipe Salles recently released his new CD Departure which was reviewed by Rob Young of Young says of Salles' work, " No question, I’m amazed and fascinated not only by his cohesive playing but his compositional prowess, tenor and arrangements are simply timeless assets to pursue."

English Professor discusses Junot Diaz's new book

Sabina S. Murray, English, writes about the author Junot Diaz and his new book “This is How You Lose Her.” She says Diaz is actually a feminist and strongly supports women. (Salon, 11/22/12)

Manisha Sinha took part on a panel for the National Constitution Center

Professor Manisha Sinha of Afro-American Studies took part in a panel on the National Constitution Center's traveling exhibition "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War" on Nov. 7 at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. The panel included professor James F. Simon of the New York Law School, professor J. Ronald Spencer of Trinity College, and prize-winning Lincoln biographer professor Michael Burlingame of the University of Illinois.

Emeritus professor Jean-Pierre Berwald awarded title of Chevalier in the Order of Palmes Academiques

The Ordre des Palmes Académiques was founded by Napoleon in 1806 to honor educators and scholars and since 1866 has been open to foreign nationals for their contributions to French culture. Anne Miller, Cultural Attache at the French Consulate in Boston, decorated professor Jean-Pierre Berwald with the presitigious award for his ability to inspire others with his love of the French language.

History professor interviewed about popular childrens book from the 70's,

Laura Lovett, history, is interviewed about the 1970s era book, children’s television special and record Free to Be…You and Me, noted for bucking gender and racial stereotypes. Lovett is the co-editor of a new book, When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back and at a Children’s Classic And the Difference It Made. (New Hampshire Public Radio, 11/5/12)

History professor Stephen R. Platt one of three finalist for 2012 Cundill Prize

A history of the Taiping rebellion by Stephen R. Platt, associate professor of History, is one of three finalists for McGill University’s 2012 Cundill Prize, the world’s most lucrative award for a non-fiction book. “Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War,” published earlier this year by Alfred A. Knopf, was chosen from among 143 works submitted by publishers from all over the globe. The competition, now in its fifth year, features a $75,000 U.S. grand prize.

Professor of Comparative Literature releases articles and a film review

Articles by Catherine Portuges (Here) , professor of Comparative Literature and director of the Interdepartment Program in Film Studies, have been published recently in books issued by Wayne State University Press, University of Minnesota Press and Wiley-Blackwell. Portuges also contributed a film review essay for a DVD release of István Szabó's 1979 film “Confidence/Bizalom” in the London-based Second Run DVD.

Professor Christopher Krueger releases CD

The Aulos Ensemble, with flutist Professor Krueger, released the fourth CD in its Baroque Chamber Music series on the Centaur Record label.  The Telemann Album, now joins the Bach Family Album, In Dulci Jubilo, Baroque Music for Christmas, and Jean Philippe Rameau, Suites from Les Indes galantes and Les Fêtes d’hébé. The ensemble performs Baroque music on period instruments and receives outstanding reviews from major publications such as the New York Times, American Record Guide, High Fidelity/Musical America, Alte Musik Aktuell and the San Francisco Examiner. The CD will be available on and iTunes.

Department of Music & Dance professor Jeffrey W. Holmes CD release

Of One's Own, the CD of the Jeff Holmes Quartet, was released by Miles High Records. The CD includes acoustic jazz quartet music featuring five original works by Professor Holmes (Director of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at UMass), reworkings of the standards Poinciana and So Long Farewell (from the Sound of Music), as well as arrangements of contemporary and more traditional straight ahead jazz with Latin and Gospel influences.  The CD is available locally at Turn It Up, Barnes & Noble, Newbury Comics, Amherst Music House and Gerry’s Music, and on, itunes and cduniverse.

Music professors quintet releases CD

All of the music on Departure was composed by Professor Felipe Salles for his quintet, which includes internationally known jazz trumpeter, Randy Brecker. In this, Salles’ fifth CD as leader of an ensemble, he blends elements of Brazilian music, jazz and pop, while exploring 20th century classical music’s 12-tone rows, symmetric modes and super-imposition of poly chords. A review of the CD on @Critical Jazz said, “Fresh compositions cutting new ground, haunting and cutting a wide musical path through a variety of genres, Salles has seemingly taken a musical road less traveled with tunes that range in influence from Bartok to the blues and from Hermes to straight ahead jazz, always bearing down on what is becoming known as the Salles style and groove.” The CD, on the Tapestry label, is available at

History professor publishes journal articles

Daniel Gordon, History professor and associate dean of the Commonwealth Honors College, published two journal articles in September. "The Confidence Factor in Liberal Education" appeared in Liberal Education while "On the Edge of Solidarity: The Burqa and Public Life," co-authored with Peter Baehr, was published in Society.

Art professor talks about higher education

Max Page, art, gives a radio commentary on the need for a new Morrill Act to support public higher education. Max Page is a professor of architecture and history at UMASS Amherst and co author with Dan Clawson of "The Future of Higher Education." (WFCR, 10/12/12)

Retired Dean of HFA has interesting lawn decoration

A feature story looks at the small, house shaped free library that has been installed in front of the home of Peggy and Murray Schwartz of Amherst. Murray is a retired dean of humanities and fine arts at UMass Amherst. (Gazette, 10/10/12)

Marla Miller history professor discusses the importance of Betsy Ross

Marla Miller, history, says Betsy Ross is an important historical figure because she represents the thousands of women who participated in the American Revolution. She also says that Ross didn’t gain major fame until the U.S. Centennial in 1876. At that time, she says, the flag had become a symbol of national unity, so Ross’ role in creating it became highlighted.(, 10/7/12)

Architecture and Design Director quoted in article

Steve Schreiber quoted in an article by the American Institute of Architects about a new course.(American Institute of Architects) AIA Western Massachusetts partnered with the University of Massachusetts – Amherst to help fill a gap in graduate architecture training. The Chapter used AIA National’s Component Assistance Leadership Grant to help support a semester-long course that covered theoretical and practical frameworks of civic and professional leadership.

Music professor Charles Bestor releases new CD

A new CD of the music of Professor Emeritus, Charles Bestor, has been released by Albany Records.  The Sound of Time, Bestor’s first CD to include all compositions with electronics, also includes Eric Berlin, Professor of Trumpet in the UMass Amherst Department of Music & Dance, as featured trumpet soloist.  Bestor is a former Department of Music & Dance Chairman and Professor of Composition. His many works have been published by G. Schirmer, Elkan-Vogel, General Music Publishers, International Editions, Dorn Music and Media Press, and recorded by Serenus, Orion, Capstone and the ASUS Recording Series. He received commissions to compose music for the Utah Symphony, Composers String Quartet, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Peter Britt Music Festival and the Music Teachers National Association.  Professor Bestor studied with Paul Hindemith, Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin receiving a B.A. from Swarthmore, a B.S. from Juilliard, an M.M. from the University of Illinois and a D.M.A. from the University of Colorado. Prior to joining the UMass Amherst Department of Music and Dance in 1976, he was Assistant Dean at Juilliard, Faculty and Dean at Willamette University, and Faculty and Head at the Universities of Alabama and Utah. The CD is available through Amazon.

History faculty co-authors article on Chinese government

Stephen Platt, history, co-authors a magazine story about how the Chinese government has frequently defied predictions that it is about to crumble, even when it is beset by strong internal divisions, corruption, or even revolutionary movements. The authors say this pattern has been evident for centuries and holds through various types of government, from imperial families, dictators, and now the Communist Party. (The Atlantic, 8/30/12)

Julio Capó writes about same-sex marriage in the Democratic Party

Julio Capó, Jr., history, writes about how the Democratic Party platform that calls for supporting same-sex marriage is the result of efforts that began in 1972 at the party convention in South Florida. (USA Today, 9/4/12) (Miami Herald, 9/2/12)

History professor writes a column about gender equality and campus safety

Laura Lovett, history, writes a column about how the attitudes students have about women play a fundamental role in directing some of the rowdyism and misbehavior that takes place on college campuses. She says college should be a safe and rewarding experience for both men and women and that colleges have a responsibility to work toward greater gender equality and sensitivity. (Gazette, 9/18/12)

History lecturer publishes article in Journal of Sport History

Brian D. Bunk, senior lecturer in History, published an article in the most recent issue of the Journal of Sport History titled "Harry Wills and the Image of the Black Boxer from Jack Johnson to Joe Louis."

Laura L. Lovett history professor comments on bullying

Laura L. Lovett, history, says there has been a significant cultural shift in the last decade in the way society views bullying. She also says this has happened before. Her comments are in a story about how finding facts about bullying is becoming increasingly difficult because various interest groups now use the word for their own purposes and it has become a buzzword in education that is losing its meaning. (Christian Science Monitor, 9/24/12)

Lifetime Achievement award given to Art History professor


The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. will honor Walter B. Denny, professor of Art History, for lifetime achievement in textile arts with its George Hewitt Myers Award on Oct. 11. The Myers Award, named for the museum’s founder and given by its board of trustees, will be presented during a special reception at the Turkish Embassy Chancery. The award is recognized as the highest accolade in the field of textile arts. Denny is a scholar, author, educator and widely recognized expert on Islamic art, ceramics of the Ottoman Empire and oriental carpets.

Linguistics teacher comments on modern communication

Alice Harris, linguistics, comments in a story about how many people believe that modern communication via e-mail, texting and Twitter is helping cause an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace and in society in general. Harris says that all languages change all of the time and people complain about it. "When we first hear these things, we bristle, or sometimes we think they're funny. Not all of them become the norm, of course, but that's just the way language changes," she says. ( Forbes , 6/22/12)


History professor elected as lifetime fellow

The Massachusetts Historical Society on May 16 elected History professor Barry Levy as a lifetime fellow in recognition of his work and in anticipation of his active support of the society. Levy concentrates his research on American social history since the middle of the 17th century. Dance faculty news:Click Here

Dance professor presents newest creations

Thomas Vacanti, assistant professor of Dance, presented two of his newest creations, Rinforzare and The Crimson Petal, in Vacanti Ballets on Friday, July 13, and Saturday, July 14 at the Boston University Dance Theater. Set to the music of Michael Torke, Rinforzare takes a contemporary look at the structures and manners of baroque court dances. The Crimson Petal, which premiered at the performance, is a collaborative venture between Vacanti and video designer Mark Piaget ballet exploring current and personal interpretations of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal.

Daniel Gordon delivers keynote speeches


History professor Daniel Gordon, delivered one of two keynote addresses at a conference on “Changing Universities: Changing Sociologies” held June 27-30 in Dublin, Ireland, under the auspices of the International Sociological Association. Gordon’s address, “New Disciplines, New Indulgences: The American University Since 1945,” focused on tensions between the university’s rising standards of disciplinary research on the one hand, and the need to serve a massively growing student body on the other.

8 Named Lilly Teaching Fellows

Congratulations to the HFA faculty who received the 2012-2013 Lilly Teaching Fellowships! Out of the 8 fellows, 3 are from the College of Humanities & Fine Arts: Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies Britt Rusert, Assistant Professor of Music Felipe Salles and Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Angela Willey. More...

Linguistics Professor Comments on Language in Nature

Professor Thomas Roeper of the Linguistics department comments in a story about a debate underway on understanding the language of a small group of people in the Amazon. The difficulty is that much of the information about this language comes from one person, and another scientist is now disputing some of that person’s findings. More...

Angelika Kratzer Selected As 2012-2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow

Professor of Linguistics, Angelika Kratzer has been selected to be a Radcliffe Institute Fellow for 2012-2013. She is among only 5 percent of applicants who were accepted to pursue independent projects in the humanities, sciences, arts, and social sciences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. More...

Stephen R. Platt in the New York Times

Professor Stephen R. Platt, History, writes about how the turmoil created by the beginning of the Civil War in the United States played out for Americans living in China at a time when that country was undergoing its own massive civil war in the Opinionator. Read the article here.

Jewish cultural history in ten volumes

Professor James E. Young, English and Judaic and Near Eastern studies, is the editor-in-chief of a new 10-volume anthology that covers more than 3,000 years of Jewish cultural artifacts, texts and paintings. It is being published by Yale University Press and the Posen Foundation and will be called the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization. It will start at the end with Volume 10 coming out in November. More...

A Day of Dance at UMass' University Museum of Contemporary Art

More than three-dozen Springfield high school students enjoyed a sampling of the arts at the University Museum of Contemporary Art on April 26. The Museum's Curator of Education Eva Fierst and dance professor Billbob Brown were among the faculty members who helped students gain first-hand experience in areas such as photography and dance. The students were from the High School of Commerce and the High School of Science and Technology. More...

University Museum of Contemporary Art Awarded National Endowment for the Arts grant

The University Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in the Fine Arts Center, has been awarded an NEA grant of $100,000 in support of the exhibition Du Bois in Our Time, to take place in fall of 2013. This is the maxiumum amount awarded by the NEA to any one museum and the largest in the University Museum's history. Du Bois in Our Time will be the landmark exhibition project, focusing on an exploration of the intersection of art and the major causes and values promoted by W.E.B. Du Bois.

College of Humanities & Fine Arts Receive 2 of this year's Faculty & Staff Campaign Awards

The College of Humanities & Fine Arts is tied with the School of Nursing for Second Highest Participation  for a School or College with a 26% Participation rate. CHFA's English Department received the award for Highest Participation for a Department or Area with Greater than 100 Employees with a 35% Participation Rate. The Faculty & Staff Campaign Celebration will be held on Wednesday, April 25th at the Renaissance Center. Congrats!

Professor Berkman on the career of Bill Baird, Crusader for Birth Control and Abortion Rights

Professor of History, Joyce Berkman, was quoted in an article by the Associated Press about the career of Bill Baird, the crusader for birth control and abortion rights beginning in the 1960s in Massachussetts. She says there were few men who championed the women’s movement in the 1960s and says having Baird as an advocate for women’s sexuality made many women suspicious. In 2008 Berkman had some of her students put on an original theater production based on Baird’s activism. More...

Assistant Professor of Dance awarded Distinguished Teaching Award

Assistant Professor Thomas Vacanti of the Dance department has been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award from UMass Amherst for 2012. This highly competitive award recognizes his tremendous impact on students at the university and his contributions in teaching.

Assistant Professor of Music, Eric Berlin in the news

Assistant Professor Eric Berlin of the Music department is also the principal trumpet player of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. In tribute to Professor Berlin's trumpet playing, the Albany Symphony Orchestra had commissioned their composer-in-residence to write a new trumpet concerto, True Colors, which Berlin premiered the weekend of March 24th in two concerts. Read about his story in The Saratogianand the

Associate Professor of History Receives a Starred Review

Stephen R. Platt, Associate Professor of History, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly for his book Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: china, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War. Publishers Weekly calls it a "splendid account" and a "superb history of a 19th-century China faced with internal disorder and predatory Western intrusions." More...

Read The New York Times review here!

Read The San Antonio Express-News review here!

Read The Daily Beast review here!


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Staff News

College of Humanities & Fine Arts Receive 2 of this year's Faculty & Staff Campaign Awards

The College of Humanities & Fine Arts is tied with the School of Nursing for Second Highest Participation  for a School or College with a 26% Participation rate. CHFA's English Department received the award for Highest Participation for a Department or Area with Greater than 100 Employees with a 35% Participation Rate. The Faculty & Staff Campaign Celebration will be held on Wednesday, April 25th at the Renaissance Center. Congrats!


2010-2011 Staff Award Recipients

Congratulations to all award recipients and thanks to the CHFA community for sharing in the celebration of our colleague's accomplishments!

Distinguished Staff Service Award: Jean Ball, History

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Student News

Kathryn Campbell Julian awarded a Fullbright Fellowship

Congratulations to PhD student Kathryn Campbell Julian who just received word that she has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct her dissertation research on "The Socialist Devout: Religious Communities and the Sacred in East Germany, 1945-1961." 

Congratulations to the 2012 CHFA Scholarship Awards Recipients!

College of Humanities & Fine Arts Achievement Award
Elizabeth Adewale, English & Psychology
Rachel Aylward, Marketing & Dance
Shamiram Barooshian, English & History
Gregory Blair, Music
Julie DiGiusto, Accounting & Theater
Robin Garabedian, English
Nathan Hoffman, History
Timothy Katz, History & Legal Studies
Elana Kleiman, History & Psychology
Ilia Kurenkov, Linguistics
Rachel Levine, Communications & Theater
Melissa Mahoney, English
Alissa Mesibov, Theater & Journalism
Michaela Miragliotta, Political Science & Spanish
Nicole Mitchell, English
Lindsay Ormond, English
Kara Rancourt, Linguistics
Alyssa Stenson, Middle Eastern Studies & Political Science
Anna Sternfeld, Psychology & Spanish
Tylar Anne Suckau, English
Clara Wool, Environmental Design & Middle Eastern Studies
Daniel Yuan, Math & Philosophy
Zachary Zuber, History & International Affairs, Security & Diplomacy

Frank Prentice Rand Scholarship
Julie DiGiusto, Accounting & Theater
Michah Maurio, Music
Rachel Levine, Communications & Theater

Ellsworth and Mary Barnard Scholarship
Clara Wool, Environmental Design & Middle Eastern Studies

Humanities & Fine Arts Opportunity Award
Shamiram Barooshian, English & History

Henry & Jean Hall Humanities & Fine Arts Scholarship
Rachel Aylward, Marketing & Dance
Alyssa Stenson, Middle Eastern Studies & Political Science
Nicole Mitchell, English

Luise Bronner Scholarship
Anna Sternfeld, Psychology & Spanish

Class of 1933 Scholarship
Michaela Miragliotta, Political Science & Spanish

Class of 1940 Creative Writing Award
Justine DeCamillis, Fiction
Allison Burnett, Poetry

Class of 1945 Merit Scholarship
Gregory Blair, Music

Class of 1976 Humanities Scholarship
Daniel McDonald, History & Political Science

Robert D. and Nancy M. Gordon Scholarship in the Fine Arts
Luke Egan

Sumner Greenfield Memorial Scholarship
William Kearney

Oxford Summer Program Scholarship
Donna Boles
Caryne Fernandez
Rebecca Griffing
Alexandra Haslett
Annelise Nielsen


Declamation Day 2012

Congratulations to this year's Declamation Day winners! Christian Tyler Hoots won First place with "The Curtains Are Waving and People Walk Through The Afternoon Here and In Berlin and In New York City and In Mexico" by Charles Bukowski and Colin MacDonald won Second as well as the Audience Choice Award with "Like Lilly Like Wilson" by Taylor Mali. You can check out the list of this year's entries here and see photos here!


The Domestic Sphere Goes Pop

April 4, 2012 - May 6, 2012

A new exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art investigates what happens to unremarkable objects when they are elevated to the status of art. The Domestic Sphere Goes Pop examines works on paper from the 1960s and 1970s and focuses particularly on the ways artists manipulate color, form, scale, context, and technique to defamiliarize the everyday. This exhibition is co-curated by Rebecca Bernard and Kristen Rudy, Masters in Art History candidates, 2012 as the culmination of their Curatorial Fellowship. You can read an article about the process here!

Congrats to the University Chorale!

The University Chorale were finalists in WGBY’s “Together in Song” competition. This competition celebrates the choral traditions of western New England. The Chorale was selected as the best choir in the collegiate category and performed in both the semifinal and final performances at The Paramount Theater in Springfield. More…

UMass Minuteman Marching Band To Perform at 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The award-winning University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band has been chosen to perform in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a nationally televised event that draws more than 50 million viewers and 3.5 million live spectators. At a special meeting held April 3 at the George N. Parks Band Building at UMass Amherst, officials from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade surprised band members with the news of their selection to play in the annual holiday spectacular. The band’s high-profile appearance in the parade comes as UMass Amherst celebrates its sesquicentennial next year. “Being selected for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a great honor for the Minuteman Marching Band,” said Timothy Todd Anderson, director of the 350-strong ensemble. More...

History Grad Student Honored At White House

Beth Behn '12G, a Lieutenant Colonel in the army and History Ph.D. student was recently honored at the White House for her contribution in serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. In this interview, she talks about the support she received from her family and friends in Iowa as well as the high points of her military career so far. More...

MFA Student Wins Award for Best Graduate Film

Congratulations to MFA student, Charissa Owens, English, who won the award for Best Graduate Film at the 2012 Five College Student Film and Video Festival for her film "Don't Blink." It will be screened along with the other winners on Wednesday, April 4th at the Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton.

Linguistics Undergrad Wins Honors Grant

Undergraduate student Christopher Garry '13 has received a $1000 research grant from the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Commonwealth Honors College for building a system to record vertical movement of the larynx during speech. Chris is a computer engineering major who came to the Phonetics Lab last spring with an interest in getting practical research experience. He will present the results of this project at the Undergraduate Research Conference later this spring. Linguistics Professor John Kingston is his mentor in this research project. More...

Two Music Students Chosen to Participate in the Mentor Program of the Jazz Education Network

Jeffrey Schneider and Micah Maurio have been selected to participate in the Mentor Program of the Jazz Education Network (JEN). This new initiative, starting in 2012, is designed for aspiring student jazz artists nation-wide. The JEN Mentor Program will pair worthy college/university jazz students who are on a serious track toward a career in music performance, education or the business of music & the arts with experts in their chosen field. The resulting mentor/student relationship will provide the student with an advisor and sounding board for one year.

Both students are taking a Master of Music in Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Jazz & African-American Music Studies Program of the Department of Music & Dance. Jeffrey Schneider is in his first year and Micah Maurio is in his second year of the degree program.


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