Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

Faculty Books Reach Critical Mass, Earn Critical Acclaim

Story posted November 02, 2011

Bowdoin faculty members have published more than a dozen books during the 2010-2011 academic year, many of which have been hailed by critics as groundbreaking in their fields. The works span many disciplines, including economics, art history, sociology and Latin American literature.


Associate Professor of English Aviva Briefel, looks at the rise of terror and apocalyptic themes in horror films in the decade since the attack on the World Trade towers. Horror after 9/11: World of Fear, Cinema of Terror (University of Texas Press, 2011), which Briefel co-edited with Sam J. Miller, includes 11 essays by scholars writing on topics including psychological horror, political violence, "torture porn," and apocalyptic terror. Several essays focus on the horror film's unique ability to represent recent national trauma and political turmoil, including the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Iraq War and revelation of tortures committed at Abu Ghraib. The authors argue that the horror genre has emerged as a "rare protected space in which to critique the tone and content of public discourse." Read story.


Assistant Professor of African American Studies Tess Chakkalakal looks to fiction to help illuminate the history of "slave-marriage" in a new book, Novel Bondage: Slavery, Marriage, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Illinois Press, 2011). The book mines canonical 19th century novels by black and white authors, including Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Wells Brown, as well as archival materials, to give detail and context to an aspect of slave experience that was largely hidden from public view. As non-legal unions, slave-marriages departed in critical ways from the prevailing definitions, offering an aesthetic and affective bond that challenged the legal definition of marriage. Fictional representations of slave-marriages, she argues, played a role in reforming 19th century marriage laws. Read story.


Professor of History and Asian Studies Thomas Conlan offers a groundbreaking approach for understanding the great dynastic conflict that divided medieval Japan into two competing courts in his new book, From Sovereign to Symbol: An Age of Ritual Determinism in Fourteenth-Century Japan (Oxford University Press). The book suggests that Buddhist monks, not warriors, directed the course of rulership in this tumultuous century. The courts, he argues, were expressions of rival understandings of power, and Shingon Buddhist ritual became the orchestration, or actual dynamic, of power in itself. Based on extensive study of little-known documents, Conlan demonstrates how members of the monastic nobility who came to dominate the court used Shingon sacred rituals to uphold their bids for power, ultimately enabling Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu to assert sovereign authority. One reviewer described it as "a fascinating and persuasive new approach to the period."


Rachel Connelly, Bion R. Cram Professor of Economics, uncovered surprising findings on how American mothers are spending their time in a recent book, Time Use of Mothers in the United States at the Turn of the 21st Century (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2010), which she co-wrote with Jean Kimmel. Analyzing a data sample of more than 6,000 mothers with children under the age of 13, the authors show that 60 percent of women with young children are employed, that married women spend more doing unpaid work in the home than their husbands, and that men spend more time in the labor market. Interestingly, the research also shows that upper-income married mothers devote more time to primary caregiving than do their lower wage counterparts. Read story.


Economics Professor Rachel Connelly and Kristen R. Ghodsee, John S. Osterweis Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, recently published a book that offers step-by-step strategies for women scholars juggling the demands of an academic career and motherhood. Professor Mommy: Finding Work-Family Balance in Academia (Rowman Littlefield, 2011) includes anecdotes and statistics about women negotiating the sometimes slippery slopes of academia. Drawing from their experiences and on interviews with a variety of women in academia, the authors offer savvy advice for young scholars, including tips on selecting institutions that align with their career-family goals, and the impact of tenure considerations on timing for starting a family. Read story.


Associate Professor of Romance Languages Gustavo Faverón-Patriau's first novel, a psychological thriller titled, El anticuario (The Antiquarian) has been published in Lima, Peru, by Editorial Peisa, 2010. The novel is loosely based on a real story Faverón witnessed fifteen years ago. Daniel is an inmate in a mental institution, accused of the murder of his former fiancee. During his time there, another woman dies in the institution and Daniel is accused once again. He contacts an estranged friend, Gustavo, a psycholinguist, and asks him to conduct an investigation that will eventually lead to the unveiling of secret stories concerning both men's past. The novel, part psychological thriller, part gothic romance, is an allegorical representation of the aftermath of the war between the Peruvian state and the radical Maoist guerrilla known as the Shining Path, in the 1980s. "Faverón's first novel marks a new achievement in the literature of the Americas, finding a way to harmonize narrative traditions from South and North," wrote one reviewer.

Contra la alegoria

Associate Professor of Romance Languages Gustavo Faverón-Patriau has written a new critical work, Contra la alegoría: Hegemonía y disidencia en la literatura latinoamericana del siglo diecinueve (Against Allegory: Hegemony and Dissidence in 19th Century Latin American Literature), published by Olms Verlag in Zurich and New York (2011). In the study, Faverón-Patriau examines 19th century Latin American novels, the kind of literature that was being written from Mexico to Argentina during the decades immediately following independence from Spain. Usually, those foundational fictions have been understood by the critics as vehicles for the dissemination of nationalism and hegemonic ideas. Faverón's book proposes a new way of reading them (considering the multiplicity of the voices that intertwine within them) as spaces in which the Creole elites' nation-building projects were confronted and contradicted by alternative projects originated in other sectors of society.


Associate Professor of Art History Pamela Fletcher has co-edited a new book, The Rise of the Modern Art market in London 1850-1939, (Manchester University Press, 2011). The book, hailed by one reviewer as "a landmark volume in the field," is the first to investigate London's centrality in the development of the modern retail fine-art market. Fletcher and co-editor Anne Helmreich offer a cogent overview of the art market in late Victorian and early 20th Century London, tracking the rise of the commercial art gallery, exhibition cycles, the emergence of professional dealers, and international markets. Essays describe the changing cultural geography of the London art market; connections between the art market and art press; and the maneuvering of artists - including the Pre-Raphaelites and women artists - within this new cultural terrain. The volume includes a glossary of commercial art galleries and dealers, information never before assembled in one source.


Professor of Government Paul Franco has written a book on the Friedrich Nietzsche that sheds new light on the so-called middle period of the German philosopher's works. In Nietzscyhe's Enlightenment: The Free-Spirit Trlogy of the Middle Period, (University of Chicago Press, 2011) Franco offers a thoughtful reading and analysis of the three works from the period: Human, All too Human; Daybreak; and The Gay Science. These writings, he argues, reveal a rational Nietzsche and are a sharp departure both from Nietzsche's earlier, more romantic works and from the prophetic works of his late period, beginning with Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Franco concludes with a wide-ranging examination of Nietzsche's later works. "Paul Franco shows us ... a Nietzsche who is much more friendly to the Enlightenment and the humanist tradition that is generally imagined," wrote one critic, adding: "It is the best book I know of on this period of Nietzsche's thought."


Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies Kristen R. Ghodsee illuminatesthe lives of ordinary people negotiating the aftermath of communism in Eastern Europe in a new book, Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism (Duke University Press, 2011). The book includes ethnographic essays, short stories and personal anecdotes, and is based on her 20 years of research and ongoing fieldwork in the Balkans. "Contraband 1990" is the tale of Ghodsee's misadventures with five Yugoslavian smugglers in a train compartment from Istanbul to Belgrade. Her short story, "Tito Trivia," won the 2011 Ethnographic Fiction Prize from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association. "I wanted to write a book that put the lives of individual men and women first, and to capture why it is that so many people look back with fondness on what seems to us in the West as an oppressive totalitarian era," said Ghodsee. Listen to a podcast.

holt-sri lanka

John Clifford Holt, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of the Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies, has edited a new anthology that brings to life the epic history, cultural richness and political turbulence of the island nation of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Reader (Duke University Press, 2011) includes more than 105 classic and contemporary texts by and about Sri Lankans, including monastic chronicles, short stories, cutting-edge newspaper journalism and modern and ancient poetry. There are 15 new translations from Sinhala and Tamil that are being published in English for the first time. Holt introduces each section with an informative overview essay, and each individual entry with a brief description of its wider significance. Read story.


After two-term Maine Governor Angus King H'07 left office in 2003, he and his family packed up a motor home and road-tripped the country for almost six months. King, Bowdoin College Distinguished Lecturer, turned his notes from that journey into a new book, Governor's Travels: How I left Politics, Learned to Back Up a Bus, and Found America (DownEast Books, 2011). King describes the book as "part travelogue, part executive transition manual, and a long love letter to RVing." Interspersed with tales of their travels, he reflects on the transition from public office to private life and includes helpful information about selecting the right RV, a daily pre-drive checklist, and tips for handling a vehicle that large on the road. Read an interview.

maceachern book

Bowdoin Professor of Anthropology Scott MacEachern won the top prize among Africanist archaeologists for his book, Komé-Kribi: Rescue Archaeology Along the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline, 1999-2004 (Journal of African Archaeology Monograph Series, 2010). The co-authored book, published in English and in French, presents discoveries MacEachern and colleagues made during their eight years of research along 1,070 kilometers of the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. It is the longest archaeological survey ever undertaken in Africa and resulted in the discovery of 472 new sites, dating from the Middle Stone Age to the Iron Age. It was awarded the 2010 Book Prize by the Society of Africanist Archaeologists.


Bowdoin Professors Nancy Riley (sociology) and Krista Van Vleet (anthropology) have written a comprehensive study of adoption practices both in the U.S. and in other cultures. Making Families Through Adoption (Sage Publications: Contemporary Family Perspectives, 2011) provides a cross-cultural analysis of the political contexts, social and cultural beliefs, and economic transactions that underscore adoption in the U.S. and transnationally. The authors examine the influence of socioeconomic status, marital status and sexual orientation of potential parents on adoptions in the U.S., as well as issues of race, ethnicity and racism in adoption and fosterage systems. "Fostering is practiced throughout the world and sometimes is considered the best way to raise children. But it's almost always the case that when children are adopted or fostered by other families, there is a gradient of inequality," notes Van Vleet. "Kids move from lower to higher status families, from poorer to wealthier families or countries."


Edward Hopper's Maine (Delmonico Books, Presetel, 2011), by Bowdoin College Museum of Art Director Kevin Salatino, brings together new scholarship on works Hopper painted during fruitful summers he spent in Maine between 1914 and 1929. The volume features more than 100 paintings, watercolors, and drawings, many of which were included in the Museum's record-breaking 2011 Hopper exhibition of the same name. Text includes an essay by renowned Hopper scholar Carol Troyen; Salatino's "Hopper in Vacationland," and essays by Carter Foster, Curator of Drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art; poet and art critic Vincent Katz; actor/writer/art collector Steve Martin; and Bowdoin's Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow Diana Tuite.


Winkley Professor of Latin and Greek Barbara Weiden Boyd's new book, Approaches to Teaching the Works of Ovid and the Ovidian Tradition (Modern Language Association, 2010), offers a range of interdisciplinary interpretations and teaching strategies for incorporating the works of the Ovid into a variety of classroom settings. The text, co-edited by Cora Fox, includes 35 essays examining his life and legacy, treatment of religious subject matter, influence on the visual arts, history of translations of his poetry into English, and his afterlife in the Latin classroom. The book also offers pedagogical examples from instructors in many disciplines who have developed creative ways to incorporate his works into a broad spectrum of courses in the humanities. One reviewer hailed it for its "infectious emphasis on the real excitement and pleasures of teaching."

Read about other faculty books published in 2010.

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