By Jack Goode | Monday, May 17, 2021
By Jack Goode
Monday, May 17, 2021
Letter from the Chair
Greetings from the virtual chair! Over the summer, in the middle of the pandemic, I took over the reins of the department from Professor Laetitia La Follette. La Follette is now serving as president of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Needless to say, we are living through challenging times. But we carry on. In fact, much to our surprise, we have l found a few silver linings in our enforced commitment to remote teaching via Zoom and have all become expert (well, sort of) at manipulating the polls, the break-out rooms, and the chats. The teaching of art history in the classroom has always been about looking at screens, albeit a bit larger than the ones on our computers. This does not mean, however, that we are not all greatly looking forward to being back in the classroom, not to mention viewing actual works of art and architecture on site and in museums!
The department has been busy on other fronts as well, particularly in responding to the challenge to diversify the discipline and advance anti-racism. Already last academic year, Graduate Program Director Gülru Çakmak created a new Graduate Diversity Fellowship (see article below). With the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the renewed movement to battle systematic racism, we convened a special meeting (socially distanced in my backyard in South Hadley) to craft not only a statement of response but also a concrete action plan to follow in the next years (see article below). In September, we organized a Town Hall meeting (via Zoom) with all faculty and students, graduate and undergraduate, in the program to discuss the statement and action plan. After listening to everyone’s input and incorporating feedback, we created the final product. The department also established a new Anti-Racism Committee, chaired by Professor Ximena Gómez, to spearhead our objectives. In this newsletter, and on our website, we publicize our commitment.
In the coming fall semester, we will have our first cohort for the Graduate Diversity Fellowship (admissions for the graduate program are under way), and we will also begin the programing for a fantastic grant awarded to professors Karen Kurczynski and Gómez for a Mellon Sawyer Faculty Seminar on “Race and Visual Culture in the Americas, 20th to 21st Centuries.” The award dovetails perfectly and fortuitously with our commitment to promoting diversity and anti-racism. The grant extends for four years and it will be an exciting time for us all. We very much hope that some of you are able to participate in these events either in person if you live nearby or virtually. We are always delighted to see our alumni in any format!
Wishing you all the best in getting through the rest of the pandemic.
Associate Professor and Chair