Archives for Honors + Awards

Christopher Hager Awarded Frederick Douglass Book Prize

At a January 29 ceremony, Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition recognized a “profoundly original” work by Trinity’s Christopher Hager, associate professor of English, with the 16th annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Word by Word was selected last fall from a field of over 90 books about slavery, resistance, and/or abolition.

Gilder Lehrman Center Director David W. Blight (Right) presents Christopher Hager with the Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Photograph by Don Pollard Photo.

In Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing, Hager studies the various writings of everyday slaves, including letters, diaries, and petitions by freedmen. Through them, he examines the relationship between literacy and freedom. For his research, Hager was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2009.

“Christopher Hager’s Word by Word presents a profoundly original, illuminating approach to reading texts by and about enslaved African Americans,” the jury said of their choice for the $25,000 prize.

“The emancipation of American slaves was not only a social and political revolution but also a singular moment in the history of written expression,” Hager said. “Untold thousands of African Americans who had been deprived of literacy gained unprecedented access to education at the same time they achieved their freedom.”

Other finalists for the prize were Camillia Cowling’s Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro and Alan Taylor’s The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832. Word by Word was also a finalist for the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

“The Frederick Douglass Prize was conceived to encourage and enrich the study of slavery,” said Hager while accepting the award. “This year we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the 13th amendment, but even 150 years after slavery was formally abolished, many of the central concerns of slavery studies remain all too current—from racism and the exploitation of labor to the definition of freedom and citizenship.”

NEH Grants Support Ambitious Research by Trinity Faculty

Zayde Antrim moderating one of the academic symposia during the inauguration of Joanne Berger-Sweeney

Zayde Antrim, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of History

For their research on the mapping of the Middle East and the uniqueness of the Torah, respectively, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded grants of $50,400 each to Zayde Antrim, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of History and International Studies, and Seth Sanders, associate professor of religion. Each will use their fellowship to continue research and complete their most recent books.

Antrim’s project, Mapping the Middle East, emerged from her previous scholarship on ideas of place in the early Islamic world as well as two courses she developed at Trinity: “Mapping the World” and “Mapping the Middle East.” Her book uses a set of representative and compelling maps to trace a history of the ways in which people have visualized and asserted power over the Middle East during the last millennium.

“My research for Mapping the Middle East has taken me to libraries and archives in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the United States,” said Antrim. “I will be using my fellowship year to visit other archives in the Middle East and Europe and to finish writing the book. I am thrilled to have the additional time and resources to devote to this ambitious project.”

Seth Sanders, associate professor of religion

Seth Sanders, associate professor of religion

Sanders will finish researching and writing his third book, Why We Can’t Read the Torah, theorizing the literary values of the Torah in order to understand its place as one of Western history’s most fruitful (and unique) pieces of literature. With each major event in the Torah happening in multiple ways, it is unlike any other major piece of ancient literature.

“Religious people have struggled with the Bible’s contradictions since people first read it, and scholars have used them as a window into how it was created. What my project can explain is why those contradictions were put in the text in the first place,” Sanders said.

Sanders, who has experience working with sources in Hebrew, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Ugaritic, will draw on Near Eastern evidence to understand the uniqueness of the Torah’s form and how it fits into literary history. He intends to conduct his research at the University of Chicago, which has the most extensive Near Eastern Studies library in the United States.

Christopher Hager Wins 16th Annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize

Of more than 90 books about slavery and abolition, Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition has chosen a “profoundly original” work upon which to bestow the 16th annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize: Word by Word, by Trinity’s Christopher Hager, associate professor of English.

Christopher Hager (right) with filmmaker Steven Spielberg. Christopher Hager was a finalist for the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

In Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing, Hager studies the various writings of everyday slaves, including letters, diaries, and petitions by freedmen. Through them, he examines the relationship between literacy and freedom. For this research, he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2009.

“The emancipation of American slaves was not only a social and political revolution but also a singular moment in the history of written expression,” Hager said. “Untold thousands of African Americans who had been deprived of literacy gained unprecedented access to education at the same time they achieved their freedom.”

This summer, the book was named a finalist for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, along with Camillia Cowling’s Conceiving Freedom: Women of Color, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro and Alan Taylor’s The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832. Word by Word was also a finalist for the 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.

“Christopher Hager’s Word by Word presents a profoundly original, illuminating approach to reading texts by and about enslaved African Americans,” the jury said of their choice for the prize.

“It’s a great honor to win the Frederick Douglass Prize,” said Hager. “I began working on Word by Word around the time I arrived at Trinity in 2007, and my research generated not only the book but also a class I teach, ‘Literacy & Literature.’ I owe a debt to the Trinity students who have taken that class with me, and to our discussions of some of the material that went into Word by Word.”

The Frederick Douglass Book Prize was jointly established by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The $25,000 prize will be presented to Hager at a ceremony in New York in January 2015. For more information, visit the Gilder Lehrman Center’s website.

Kevin J. McMahon’s Nixon’s Court Wins Prestigious Griswold Prize

The Erwin N. Griswold Prize isn’t awarded every year. Instead, the Supreme Court Historical Society names a winner when a book on Supreme Court history stands out enough to merit this prestigious honor. For just the seventh time, and the first time since 2009, the Society has named a winner: Nixon’s Court, by Kevin J. McMahon, John R. Reitemeyer Professor of Political Science.

Many scholars have held that President Richard Nixon failed in his efforts to challenge the liberal approach of the 9780226561196Warren court. In Nixon’s Court, McMahon maintains that Nixon’s strategy was in fact a success from both a legal and political perspective. He argues that Nixon was able to earn the Supreme Court’s endorsement of his highest priorities while simultaneously laying the foundation of an electoral alliance that would dominate presidential politics for a generation.

The 2011 book, published by the University of Chicago Press, was previously named the 2012 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. McMahon also won the American Political Science Association’s Richard E. Neustadt Award for his 2004 book, Reconsidering Roosevelt on Race: How the Presidency Paved the Road to Brown.

As the winner of the Griswold Prize, McMahon will deliver a lecture on his book in the chamber of the United States Supreme Court in early 2015. He will be introduced by a current Supreme Court Justice.

The prize is named for Erwin N. Griswold, former Solicitor General of the United States, Dean of the Harvard Law School, and Chairman of the Supreme Court Historical Society. McMahon is joined by just six fellow scholars who have received this award: David Currie, Gerald Gunther, Andrew L. Kaufman, Edward A. Purcell, Jr., George Martin, and Melvin Urofsky.

Cruz-Uribe Wins NSF Grant for Research on Harmonic Analysis on Weighted Lebesgue Spaces

Hartford, CT, September 30, 2014 – The research by David Cruz-Uribe, professor of mathematics, can be difficult to understand if you don’t also have a Ph.D. in mathematics. Recently, though, Cruz-Uribe was inspired by the work of a colleague to collaborate with his undergraduate students. He’s now doing just that, and has been awarded a grant of $105,772 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his work.

Photo by Pablo Delano

Cruz-Uribe’s research is a continuation of the approach taken by 19th century French mathematician Joseph Fourier, who used who used simple functions with smooth graphs to approximate the graphs of complicated functions with sharp corners while studying the flow of heat in solid objects. Exploring this approach, mathematicians have developed powerful tools and discovered solutions to differential equations that arise in various branches of science. With the support of the NSF, Cruz-Uribe hopes to continue that trend.

“My work is devoted to developing new tools within the field of harmonic analysis, and then applying them to the study of more abstract differential equations,” he says. “This kind of mathematical research deepens our understanding of a wide range of mathematical ideas and these in turn can have surprising and unforeseen applications in many different areas.”

The grant from the NSF, in addition to supporting the continuation of Cruz-Uribe’s research into weighted norm inequalities and partial differential equations, will support him engaging advanced undergraduate students to join in his research.

Scott Rodney, an associate professor of mathematics at Cape Breton University in Canada, is a colleague of Cruz-Uribe who has successfully involved undergraduate students in his research, something that can be a challenge for researchers in pure mathematics. Inspired by this, Cruz-Uribe has sought to do the same thing.

“When students used to ask me what I did, my standard answer was to tell them to go to graduate schools, and when they had passed their qualifying exams to come back and ask me again!” he says. “However, this year my senior thesis student, Philip Cho ’15, is writing his thesis on Sturm-Liouville theory, an area I want to learn more about. And I am currently working on a project with Greg Convertito ’16, that is related to my research.”

Brooklyn Borough President Recognizes Achievement of Trinity-in-Trinidad Professor

Photo by Pablo Delano, professor of fine arts.

Photo by Pablo Delano, professor of fine arts.

Trinity students who have studied in the Trinity-in-Trinidad program undoubtedly know Tony Hall, the professor and award-winning playwright and director. In Hartford, visitors to the Austin Arts Center will recall last year’s presentation of Miss Miles, one of Hall’s recent works. On August 17, many more became familiar with Hall and his work when Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams declared the day “Jean & Dinah ‘The Salty Ladies’ Celebration Day.”

Hall’s play, Jean and Dinah, was first produced in Trinidad in 1994; Brooklyn is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The United States premier of Jean and Dinah was in 1998 at Trinity’s Goodwin Theater. It was most recently produced in Brooklyn this summer by Sapodilla Sisters and Lordstreet Theatre.

The proclamation, signed by Adams on August 17, 2014, says that “it is a time-honored tradition to celebrate the outstanding cultural institutions of our borough that contribute to our enjoyment of talented and creative artists and performers, and to encourage the broadest public appreciation of the arts through outreach, education, and entertainment, thereby enhancing the quality of life of all our residents.”

The titular characters, Jean and Dinah, come from a 1956 calypso by Trinidadian calypso singer and guitarist Mighty Sparrow. The song, about two prostitutes who formerly thrived when the American military had a presence in Trinidad, was the first hit for Sparrow, who went on to be known as the “Calypso King of the World.” The play gives the characters an opportunity to provide some context for the song that made them famous.

In addition to teaching in Trinity’s Trinidad program, Hall taught filmmaking and playwriting at the College’s campus in Hartford as artist-in-residence for 10 years. He has won awards for his writing and directing. In addition to being recognized by the Brooklyn Borough President, Hall received citations marking Jean and Dinah’s 20th anniversary from Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and New York State Senator Kevin S. Parker.

Colleagues, Grants Support Stefanie Chambers’ Research on Somali Americans

For her newest book, Stefanie Chambers, associate professor of political science, is comparing the incorporation of Somali Americans in the Twin Cities and Columbus, Ohio. It’s an effort that she acknowledges was made possible by the support of many others: her colleagues, a Trinity alumnus, and most recently the American Political Science Association.

Stefanie Chambers speaking at Connecticut's Old State House in 2012.

Stefanie Chambers speaking at Connecticut’s Old State House in 2012.

Chambers started this research when she was writing a chapter on minority mayors in majority-white cities. At the suggestion of Abigail Williamson, assistant professor of political science, Chambers wrote a conference paper on Somalis in Columbus. She enjoyed the research experience so much that she decided to make it her next book project.

Chambers collaborated with several colleagues who were able to offer their expertise in immigration, Islam, and other areas. In addition to Williamson, she worked with Anthony Messina, John R. Reitemeyer Professor of Political Science; Diana Evans, professor of political science; and Zayde Gordon Antrim, Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of History and International Studies.

While preparing for her field work, Chambers came across a book called Somalis in Minnesota. She soon learned the author was a Trinity alumnus: Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, IDP ’97. She later connected with Yusuf, who became an enormous asset to her work in the Twin Cities, connecting her with trusted individuals in the Somali American community who helped her build credibility.

“I’ve had people say to me, ‘I wouldn’t have met with you if it wasn’t for someone vouching for you,’” she said, pointing out that some in the community suffered from what she called “research fatigue.”

In addition to the help from Yusuf and her colleagues, Chambers’ research was supported by Trinity’s Faculty Research Committee and the American Political Science Association. These grants allowed Chambers to conduct 43 interviews in Columbus and another 40 in Minneapolis.

Chambers plans to write the bulk of the book, Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, during her Spring 2015 sabbatical.

Faculty Members Reinvigorate Trinfo Café Community Garden, Connect Courses to Neighborhood

When Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, saw the community garden at Trinfo Café, she saw an opportunity to beautify a Trinity space, provide the neighborhood with access to healthy food, and engage Trinity’s students and faculty in their community. With the help of a Mellon Grant, faculty members, students, and the Trinity neighborhood, Masino has reinvigorated a centerpiece of the College’s engagement with its community.

“Because faculty members have so many demands on their time, something like this is hard to keep going [with just one faculty member],” Masino said. “But with an academic focus and multiple faculty involved, it can thrive.”

The project – called Fresh Food, New Connections – was awarded a Mellon Grant to execute this model: a rotating group of faculty members maintaining and utilizing the community garden and incorporating an academic focus. The faculty members involved come from a variety of disciplines: psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, language and culture studies, and economics.

Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, speaks to the crowd at the opening of the Trinfo Cafe Community Garden.

Susan Masino, Vernon Roosa Professor of Applied Science, speaks to the crowd at the opening of the Trinfo Cafe Community Garden.

While studying the economics of farmers markets, students in Carol Clark’s ECON 101 course helped to get the community garden up and running, as did eight students pursuing an independent study. In the coming academic year, students in Dario Del Puppo’s “Food in Italian History, Society, and Art” course will spend time utilizing and maintaining the garden. Participating faculty members have set up a four-year schedule that will help to sustain the garden and interact with the community.

While working on the garden, Masino discovered that a neighboring unused parcel was also owned by Trinity. She worked with the College to clean up the space, which will be used as an outdoor classroom and sculpture garden featuring the work of Trinity students.

On July 10, the community celebrated the opening of the garden and the outdoor classroom. Dozens of members of the Trinity community and the neighborhood explored the space, enjoying food, live music, dancing, and conversation with friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Joanne Berger-Sweeney, President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience, was among those in attendance.

“This is a real sign of the liberal arts reaching beyond the hedges and into the community,” said Berger-Sweeney. “I am so proud to be a part of this effort and a part of this College.”

To view more photos of the July 10th community garden opening, click here. Photos by John Atashian.

Temple University Honors Leslie Desmangles with Distinguished Alumnus Award

Leslie Desmangles, professor of religion and international studies, has long been recognized by his students and colleagues for the high caliber of his teaching and research. In November, his alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia, joined those heralding his accomplishments when its department of religion presented him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award. Desmangles is just the third recipient of this award in the department’s 50-year history.

Desmangles graduated from Temple with his Ph.D. in anthropology of religion in 1975 and joined Trinity’s faculty in 1978. He was honored by Temple at the November 2013 meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Baltimore.

The Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Desmangles in honor of his entire body of work, which includes decades of exemplary teaching; his award-winning 1994 book, The Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti; and many other publications on the anthropology of religion, with a particular focus on the Caribbean.

“This is the last thing I thought would happen to me,” said Desmangles of the award. “I was humbled when I received this letter to come to the American Academy of Religion meeting to receive this award. You get involved in your work and plow through things, and then this comes as a great surprise.”

Currently, Desmangles is working on a book about the ritualistic use of food in the Caribbean and researching the history and development of Judaism in the Caribbean.

 

James Trostle awarded Fulbright grant

James Trostle, Charles A. Dana Research Professor of Anthropology, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to teach a graduate seminar at the University of Chile in Santiago. The Fulbright, which will run from March through July 2014, will also allow Trostle to lecture at different sites in Chile, and conduct research on the health impact of road development.

A medical anthropologist with training and experience in epidemiology and public health, Trostle was seeking an opportunity to travel to a country where he could continue his research on the health effects of social change.

Chile, as it turns out, will afford him a chance to do just that. As Trostle wrote in his Fulbright proposal, “Chile offers a number of benefits for this project: it has a long and creative history of community public health, it has undergone rapid rural and urban social and economic development, and it has a strong educational system.”

Trostle’s teaching and research will emphasize an interdisciplinary approach, making use of collaborations between social scientists, epidemiologists, health-care specialists and even ecologists and geographers.

A member of Trinity’s faculty since 1998, Trostle will teach a course from among the following: “Introduction to Medical Anthropology,” Anthropology and Epidemiology,” or “The Anthropology of Global Health.” He has experience teaching similar courses in Spanish at the graduate level in both Mexico and Argentina.

As for his research, it has been directed toward using anthropological and epidemiological methods and theories to explore issues such as adaptation to chronic disease, use of medications, transmission of infection disease, and the health effects of rapid social change.  In Chile, Trostle will seek to work with research teams that are engaged in studies of the health and social changes prompted by development projects such as inter-city roads or other construction projects.

Trostle’s work in Chile will build on the 12 years of research that he has done in Ecuador that has examined how construction of a new two-lane paved road in a previously road-less border region in that coastal South American country has changed the residents’ social lives and disease transmission. In essence, Trostle has asked the question: “What happens in terms of social, environmental and health changes when a road gets built in a place where no road existed before?”

Although it might seem that a road would not cause upheaval, in the area in Ecuador that Trostle studied, most people and goods had previously traveled by horse or boat. The road was a catalyst for the movement of valuable natural resources and population growth.

In his Fulbright proposal, Trostle explained, “The research [in Ecuador] is interdisciplinary and longitudinal. Its methods and results are relevant to many other types of construction projects (so-called ‘linear intrusions’: railroads, canals, pipelines, electrical transmission lines) that change how people, products, and pathogens move across landscapes.

In Chile, Trostle will be exploring similar themes, such as do changes to the environment foment social change and affect public health, the transmission of disease, diet and the movement of pathogens.

Read more. 

 

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