Archive for the 'History, Culture & Society' Category

22
Jul
11

life and loss in the shadow of the holocaust

REBECCA BOEHLING, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND DIRECTOR OF THE DRESHER CENTER FOR THE HUMANITIES

While cleaning out her mother’s closet a few years ago, Suzanne Ostrand-Rosenberg, a professor of biology at UMBC, discovered a worn brown cardboard box covered with German writing and filled with wartime letters. Most of the letters were dated between 1938 and 1941 – after her mother had left Germany and come to the United States. Now, thanks to Rebecca Boehling and Uta Larkey, an associate professor of German studies at Goucher College, this extraordinary family story comes to life in a new book: Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust

This fascinating and deeply-moving account of Jewish family life before, during and after the Holocaust reveals how the Kaufmann-Steinberg family was pulled apart under the Nazi regime and left divided between Germany, the US and Palestine. The family’s unique eight-way correspondence across two generations brings into sharp focus the dilemma of Jews in Nazi Germany facing the painful decision of when and if they should leave the country.

Published by Cambridge University Press.

Advertisements
13
Jan
11

the costs of justice

BRIAN GRODSKY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

What motivates a new regime to pursue justice measures against previous human rights abusers, from condemnations to criminal prosecutions? What deters them?

In his new book, The Costs of Justice, Brian Grodsky (cv) draws on 250 elite interviews and media analyses from four post-communist countries to argue that transitional justice is a function of the new leadership’s capacity to provide goods and services expected by constituents.

“New leaders who come to power have to balance the desire for justice that they may have with the public’s perceptions of [their] efficacy,” Grodsky argues. In other words, politicians responsible for making sure electricity stays on, schools remain open, and the employment rate is stable “pursue justice to the degree to which they think they can get away with pursuing justice.”

This book speaks to students, scholars, human rights practitioners, activists and policymakers, helping them to understand, from a domestic perspective, how political leaders make important decisions impacting the international community.

18
Nov
10

mothering as everyday practice

BAMBI CHAPIN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY

What makes a good mother? Bambi Chapin has co-edited (with Kathleen Barlow) a new special issue of the journal Ethos on “Mothering as Everyday Practice.” The articles explore not just what mothers say about parenting, but what they actually do, and how they understand what defines a good mother. These ideas are far from natural or universal. Instead, they are informed by a diversity of value systems, social structures, traditions, habits and life circumstances.

Chapin undertook the research that inspired this publication while parenting her own child in the field, and she describes how others’ reactions to her mothering shaped her field relationships in unexpected ways. Likewise, her personal reactions to others’ mother-child interactions—feeling surprise or dismay—often prompted her most notable insights.

Bambi Chapin is co-editor of the December 2010 issue of Ethos on “Mothering as Everyday Practice.”

15
Nov
10

j.k. rowling’s medieval bestiary

SENIOR LECTURER OF ENGLISH GAIL ORGELFINGER

As did so many others, I read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books first for pure pleasure; it wasn’t until The Prisoner of Azkaban that my medievalist antennae began to tingle. My “aha” moment came when Harry’s patronus—a white stag—appeared across the lake to save him and Sirius Black from the Dementors. The white stag is a ubiquitous and multi-layered symbol in the Middle Ages. So that connection prompted my own research quest into whether the many animal allusions in Harry Potter’s world might resonate with what I knew about their appearance in medieval literature.

FBcover

Having written Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them under the pseudonym of Newt Scamander, Rowling signaled both her interest in and knowledge of the rich tradition of medieval animal symbolism. Fantastic Beasts is essentially a bestiary. In the Middle Ages, a bestiary was an illustrated manuscript that described both real and imaginary animals, with interpretations of them according to points of Christian doctrine. Early bestiaries had around 40-50 chapters, each typically beginning with a Biblical quotation, continuing with a précis of the creature’s natural history—some of it truly fantastic—and ending with an allegorical interpretation.

Continue reading ‘j.k. rowling’s medieval bestiary’

02
Nov
10

language variation in schools

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LANGUAGE, LITERACY, AND CULTURE CHRISTINE MALLINSON

As a sociolinguist, I study how and why Americans talk differently from one another, based on our diverse histories, identities, and cultures. Language variation can have concrete implications when it comes to the classroom, however. In educational settings, the language that students bring with them to school can significantly affect how they perform academically. Some students already speak the standardized variety of English that is viewed as being the most correct. Not surprisingly, these students are often more likely to succeed. But many other students come to school without already knowing standardized English and as a result may face linguistic hurdles.

In our book, Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools, published by Teachers College Press in the Multicultural Education Series, Dr. Anne Charity Hudley of the College of William & Mary and I provide essential linguistic information about the language patterns of culturally and linguistically diverse students. In our ongoing research, funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and from UMBC, we are also collaborating with educators in public and independent schools in Maryland and Virginia to explore best practices for integrating knowledge of language, literacy, and culture into classroom pedagogy. Through these partnerships, we are working to apply linguistic and educational theory to the real world, to help all students achieve academic success.


Christine Mallinson is the co-author of the forthcoming book, “Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools”

12
Oct
10

community response to bedbugs

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS DAWN BIEHLER

Since just before the year 2000, the U.S. has witnessed a resurgence of bedbugs, insects that had been mostly eradicated here in the middle of the twentieth century. In just the past few weeks, we have heard about infestations in an array of places: from federal government offices in Washington, to a public housing high-rise right here in Baltimore, to high-end Manhattan department stores. As bedbugs infiltrate public and private spaces alike, city governments, pest management professionals and regular people are scrambling to respond.

As a geographer and environmental historian, I look to our past experiences with bedbugs and other pests to reflect on responses to the current resurgence. History is an especially helpful tool for examining bedbugs because two generations of Americans have grown up with almost no exposure to these insects. Health officials and pest management professionals must reconstruct long-forgotten knowledge of bedbugs. My historical research on bedbugs and other pests reveals several key lessons for the way we deal with bedbugs today, and past experiences with bedbugs reinforce the importance of community involvement for successful bedbug control.

Dawn Biehler is the author of the forthcoming book, “Pests and the People: An Environmental History of Animals, Chemicals, and Health in the Home”

14
Jan
09

Guitar Hero III > $1Billion

olano_small.JPGVIDEO GAME DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM DIRECTOR MARC OLANO

Guitar Hero III has reached $1 billion in sales. To put that amazing number in perspective: in a little over a year, one video game made about 10% of the total money made on games software sales, music or U.S. movie box office for the entire year 2007.
BLOG/CONTACT




UMBC’s Faculty Experts Vlog

FOLLOW US ON

Latest TalkingHeads on Twitter