Faculty Digest

The jacket of Visiting Instructor of English Erin Belieu's first book quotes poet Hayden Carruth as saying her "poems have a sophisticated urban chic that is both attractive and deceptive."

"I get teased a lot about that," says the Nebraska native. "I think it's hilarious--being from Omaha. It's like Omaha urban chic."

Funny or not, it's true: Belieu, not just her poetry, is chic. Dressed in a black leather jacket and wearing sunglasses, she shows that it's possible to be an academic without forsaking style. But Belieu's sense of fashion is easily eclipsed by her ability to articulate her passions for films, food, poetry, and teaching in way that's engaging and down to earth. She's a Midwesterner and proud of it.

Upon winning the prestigious National Poetry Series in 1994, her "chic" manuscript, Infanta, was selected by Carruth for publication by Copper Canyon Press. "I won a kind of lottery," Belieu says of the award. "I didn't have to spend years trying to get a manuscript out."

A 1989 graduate of the University of Nebraska with a B.F.A. in creative writing, she came to Kenyon for a two-year position after teaching at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, for a little over a year. Prior to that, Belieu was working on her M.A. in creative writing at Boston University, where she was a lecturer and teaching fellow.

So how does this stylish woman find life in rural Ohio? "I'm really happy here," she says with a look of sincerity. "If I'm going to live in a city, I want to be in a place like New York or Paris. Otherwise, you can live so much more nicely in a small town."

She's not new to Ohio, having attended Ohio State University (OSU) for two years while completing course work toward a Ph.D. in English, something that happened mostly by accident, causing a lot of stress but ending happily. After Belieu was wait-listed for the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, a friend convinced her to enter a creative writing program being formed at OSU. Upon her arrival, she learned that the program had fallen through and that the best alternative was for her to enter the doctoral program in English.

"I almost had a brain hemorrhage," says Belieu, who uses her hands as an integral part of her conversational style. "I was actually shaking. I had no background in that kind of work, and here I was preparing to enter this program. I decided I'd pour myself into it. I had a chip on my shoulder because I was seen as the `poet' taking critical-theory courses. What I wanted to prove was that creative-writing types could be interested in scholarly work, too."

In the end, Belieu says she was exposed to literature she had never read, broadening her background and thus helping her as a teacher.

"My whole life has been like living in a pinball machine, in terms of starting one thing and actually doing another," she says.

One of her favorite pastimes is watching old black-and-white films. But that doesn't mean just catching Casablanca on the late show or owning a few videotapes. In fact, Belieu has an entire library of films, spanning 1912 to 1960, that she discusses and dissects with the same kind of enthusiasm she has for poetry.

"I defy you to name a movie within that time period that I don't have," she says, boasting that she owns every Alfred Hitchcock film made--both the American and British versions. She also has three versions of the Marlene Dietrich classic The Blue Angel. "I want to watch other people watch a movie," she says of her desire to share her favorite films. "I show movies in the same way I want to share poetry."

Like many thirty-something professors, Belieu is tired of her nomadic lifestyle. She's ready to plant flower bulbs and watch them bloom. She's ready to settle down. And while her two-year appointment at Kenyon doesn't hold promise for watching flowers bloom for many seasons, Belieu does think she can find a lifetime of pleasure in teaching.

"I know I sound like a real cheeseball, but it's amazing to me that I get paid to tell people about the things I love," says the self-described evangelical teacher. "I'm not one of those writers who just teaches on the side. I find that teaching writing spurs my own writing."

Belieu, who is working on her second book of poetry, which she describes as much darker than her first, lives in Gambier with her partner, Jeremy Countryman, and her dog.



Asale Ajani has joined the department as a visiting instructor of anthropology. A minority dissertation fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, Ajani specializes in cultural studies. Marla Kohlman has joined the department as a visiting instructor of sociology and minority dissertation fellow. A doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, Kohlman specializes in critical legal theory, race and ethnic relations, social problems, the sociology of gender, and the sociology of law. John Macionis and his family spent the summer at their vacation home on Lake George at Hague, New York. His summer project was to complete the revision (fifth edition) of his Society:The Basics and to work on another version for use in Canadian colleges and universities. In August, Howard Sacks participated in the Michigan Folklife festival at Michigan State University in East Lansing, presenting on a narrative stage devoted to farming traditions in the state's Thumb region. Also, on October 13, he delivered a public lecture at Kenyon, "When Cork was King: Blackface Minstrelsy in Heartland America," drawing on research conducted during his recent sabbatical. In December 1997, an essay by Kenneth Smail, "Beyond Population Stabilization: The Case for Dramatically Reducing Global Human Numbers," received extended treatment in the journal Politics and the Life Sciences (Volume 16, number 2). His "target article" was followed by commentaries from a group of sixteen international scholars and public-policy analysts, with the discussion being brought to a close by Smail's response, entitled "Population Growth Seems to Affect Everything But is Seldom Held Responsible for Anything."

Art and Art History

On August 25, Janis Bell gave a paper entitled "Zaccolini and Poussin: Reflections on the lake in The Calm" at the new J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California. "The museum complex is awesome, grandiose, like an Italian hill town built into the ruins of ancient Rome," says Bell. "It seems to fit perfectly into the dry, hilly landscape northwest of Los Angeles, which is reminiscent of Tuscany." This fall, Claudia Esslinger prepared a new installation, "Civil Divination," for the Morgan Gallery at the College of Wooster. The exhibit opened October 23. Martin Garhart was invited to be a guest artist, doing three workshops and a slide lecture, for the Minnesota Community College Fine Arts Festival and Symposium at the end of September. From October 26 to December 11, he and Barry Gunderson presented a two-person show, with lecture, at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Garhart will also be one of eleven artists participating in "Ucross: An Invitational Exhibition of Fellowship Artists" at the University of Wyoming from January 30 to May 16, 1999. Karen Snouffer has rejoined the department as a visiting assistant professor of art. Snouffer holds an M.F.A from Ohio State University and specializes in foundations and sculpture, along with painting and drawing.


Siobhan Fennessy has joined the department as an assistant professor of biology. A specialist in aquatic ecology, Fennessy (a daughter-in-law of Professor Emeritus of Psychology Charles Rice) holds a doctorate from Ohio State University. Raymond Heithaus worked with two Summer Science Scholars, Melisa Holman '99 and Michelle Santangelo '99, this past summer. Holman studied factors that affect development of new queens in ant colonies, and Santangelo examined whether genetic variation contributes to the success of fish under temperature stress in headwater streams. A highlight of the summer for Heithaus was the official dedication of the Kokosing as a State Scenic River on June 6. He has been president of the Kokosing Scenic River Association for the last two years. Joining the department this year as visiting assistant professors of biology are Robert Mauck and Diane Sklensky. Mauck, who holds a doctorate from Ohio State University, specializes in animal behavior and behavioral ecology, while Sklensky, who holds a doctorate from Cornell University, specializes in agronomy, botany, plant molecular biology, and plant physiology.


Scott Cummings presented an all-College talk entitled "Harvesting Light: Chemical Technologies for the Twenty-first Century" on May 16, during Kenyon's Commencement Weekend. The following weekend, he presented a paper entitled "Photoinduced Energy and Electron Transfer Reactions of Platinum(II) Terpyridine Complexes" at the American Chemical Society's Thirtieth Central Regional Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. On June 26, Cummings presented a poster on his research activities with honors students Karen Downey '98, Sarah Hobert '97, and Mauricio Cortes '99 at the Council on Undergraduate Research Seventh National Conference in Los Angeles, California. Finally, he attended a special symposium on photochemistry at the Two-Hundred Sixteenth Chemical Society National Meeting held in Boston, Massachusetts, in August. While at the meeting, Cummings was pleased to see chemistry alumna Sophia Safafidou '97, who is doing chemistry research at Yale University. Anthony Watson has joined the department as assistant professor of chemistry. Watson holds a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and specializes in organic chemistry.


Robert Bennett, who is on sabbatical this year, will study the friendship of two famous fourth-century Christian writers, Basil the Great and Gregory of Noisiness. He read a paper entitled "Family Drama and Greek Monasticism: Basil of Caesarean and His Siblings" at the Ohio Classical Conference, held this year in Athens, Ohio, in October. Joining Bennett at the conference was the newest member of the department, Assistant Professor of Classics Carolin Hahnemann, who read a paper entitled "Nothing to Do with History? Two Variations on a Thebian Myth." Hahnemann, who holds a doctorate from Brown University, specializes in comparative epic (Greek, Roman, and Germanic), Greek tragedy, and textual criticism. Before moving to Gambier, she attended a late-June seminar in Sassoferrato, Italy, on Latin elegy.

Dance and Drama

Amy Wittrock has joined the department as a visiting assistant professor of dance. She holds an M.F.A. from Ohio State University and specializes in ballet technique, choreography, and jazz technique.


Joining the department this year as an associate professor of economics is William Melick, who holds a doctorate from Ohio State University. Melick specializes in basic and applied research in quantitative financial economics and also in macroeconomics.


New to the department this year are visiting instructors Erin Belieu, Joseph Clarke, and James Kimbrell, along with Shuchi Kapila, an assistant professor. Belieu, who holds a master's degree from Boston University, specializes in creative writing. Clarke, a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University, specializes in Anglophone African literature, Anglophone Caribbean literature, twentieth-century African-American literature, and twentieth-century British literature. Kapila, who holds a doctorate from Cornell University, specializes in colonial history, eighteenth-and nineteenth-century British fiction, the postcolonial novel, and theories of narrative. A doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri, Kimbrell specializes in poetry and fiction writing and contemporary British literature. His poem "On the Road above Jo-Yang Beach" was published in the May 1998 issue of Poetry magazine. During the last week of May, he was the featured poet of the week on Poetry Daily, the online poetry magazine (www. poems.com). Kimbrell's volume of poetry, The Gatehouse Heaven, released by Sarabande Books in June, was chosen by this year's Pulitzer prize winner in poetry, Charles Wright, as the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton prize. Also, on July 15, he was featured on National Public Radio's Writers Almanac, hosted by Garrison Keeler, who read Kimbrell's poem "At Greer's Grocery with Mrs. Thibodeau." The Persistence of Poetry: Bicentennial Essays on Keats, edited by Robert M. Ryan and Ronald Sharp, is scheduled for a November 1998 release. The collection of essays, including one of Sharp's own, was selected from papers presented at the 1995 Keats Bicentennial Conference at Harvard University, which Ryan and Sharp directed. Sharp, who has assumed his new position as associate provost, still found time to teach in the Summer School-College Articulation Program and directing a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar for teachers on Wordsworth and Keats.


Reed Browning spent the summer serving as faculty mentor to Kara McClurken '99, the recipient of a MacGregor Fellowship to study the life of Bishop Charles McIlvaine, a president of Kenyon, and completing the draft of a biography of Cy Young, "the winningest pitcher in major-league history." Clifton Crais spent two months in South Africa this summer researching a project entitled "Ritual, Representation and Rebellion in Colonial Africa." He organized a double-panel session, "State Formation and Popular Culture in Southern Africa," for this year's meeting of the African Studies Association in Chicago, Illinois, in October. Crais is also part of a working group on "Acts of Knowledge in Africa," based at the African Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The group will produce a book on epistemological and conceptual issues in productions of knowledge on and about Africa. He will contribute a chapter on race, power, and productions of South African history. Ellen Furlough, who has begun a three-year term as chair of the department, spent the first part of the summer writing the introduction to a collection of essays she has coedited, entitled Consumers Against Capitalism? Consumer Cooperation in Europe, America, and Japan, 1840-Present, currently in press at Rowman and Littlefield. She spent the latter part of the summer in Paris doing research on tourism and French colonialism for her book on tourism and consumer culture. In November, Furlough presented a paper at the Western Society for French History meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, and in June 1999 she intends to direct a workshop on gender and consumption at a conference at the University of Umea in Sweden.

Modern Languages

Santiago Buigues Dura has joined the department as a visiting instructor of Spanish. A doctoral candidate in anthropology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Buigues Dura specializes in Hispanic culture and history and contemporary Spanish and Catalan literature. Linda Metzler spent five weeks this summer in Bolivia. She traveled to La Paz, Lake Titicaca, and Sorata, and, as a volunteer with Andean Rural Health Care in Montero, she helped a team of twenty members begin construction of an addition to the Red Cross clinic there. While in La Paz, she says she had a delightful chance encounter with students Fernando Ramirez '99, who was doing research for his senior exercise in La Paz, and Jessica Walker '99, who had been studying in Argentina and traveling with her father. Metzler's essay on Spanish poet Maria Victoria Atencia, who recently won Spain's Premio Nacional de la Critica, was published in Spain in March in the book La Poesia de Maria Victoria Atencia: Un acercamiento critico, edited by Sharon Keefe Ugalde. The essay was translated into Spanish by Paula A. Arriagada '96. An article by Clara Roman-Odio entitled "From Writer to Producer: Conflicting Voices in `Like Water for Chocolate'" was published this summer in Cine-Lit III: Essays on Hispanic Film and Fiction, edited by George Cabello-Castelet, Jaume Tartii-Olivella, and Guy H. Wood. The essays were selected from the proceedings of the February 1997 International Conference on Hispanic Film and Fiction held at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Roman-Odio has also been involved in the completion and testing of a multimedia application for the study of Spanish language and culture entitled "Ingenio Romance y Protesta en la Musica Popular Hispana." The program, developed last year by Kenyon Spanish faculty members, will be tested in several courses. Nobuko Taguchi has joined the department as a visiting instructor of Japanese. Taguchi, who holds an M.A. from the University of Arizona, specializes in Japanese linguistics. Joining the department as a visiting assistant professor of Chinese is Xiaoqi Wu, who holds a doctorate from Ohio State University. Her specialties are Chinese linguistics and literature and Chinese culture and intellectual history.


Theodore Buehrer '91 has joined the department as visiting assistant professor of music. He is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, specializing in music theory and skills, jazz studies, and composition. Over the summer, Camilla Cai continued her research in Norway to find the roots of the various traditions of Norwegian music that survive in the United States. The work was made possible by her fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. In June, she spoke at the second German Edvard Grieg Conference in Arnsberg, Germany, on "Edvard Grieg's Music in America: The Influence of Individuals, the Lutheran Church, Male Choruses, and Some American Reactions."


Ulf Nilsson presented a paper entitled "Cultural Pluralism and Political Alienation: Thinking with Hegel about Culture, Agency, and Freedom" at the Fifteenth International Conference on Social Philosophy at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams in August. Andrew Pessin spent a productive summer doing research, primarily in the history of modern philosophy. He drafted three articles developing a new interpretation of the philosophy of Nicolas Malebranche, the most prominent seventeenth-century French philosopher after Descartes, who believed that no finite objects, either minds or bodies, have any genuine causal powers. In addition to these, Pessin drafted an article exploring some aspects of the contemporary debate on free will.


Thomas Greenslade traveled to Ireland shortly after Reunion Weekend to visit and photograph collections of early physics apparatus at St. Patrick's College in Maynooth (just west of Dublin) and Galway. At the National University of Ireland in Galway, he gave a seminar on "Physics at Kenyon College." Later, he visited Birr Castle in central Ireland to photograph the newly restored Rosse Telescope, built by the great-nephew of the Countess of Rosse, who contributed to the establishment of Kenyon. After returning to Gambier, Greenslade spent a week in Canton, Ohio, teaching elementary-school teachers about simple machines and then wrote several articles about the Rosse telescope. He spent the rest of the summer printing photographs of early apparatus at Ohio colleges for exhibit at the centennial meeting of the American Physical Society in Atlanta, Georgia, in March 1999. Joining the department this year as a visiting instructor of physics is Eric Holdener. He holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois and specializes in environmental geology, historical geology, paleoecology, and paleontology. Timothy Sullivan reports his sabbatical year at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, has started very well. He writes, "I'm in a definite learning phase as I come up to speed in the area of colloidal crystals. It's an exciting place to be, with an intense research pace and a long history of breakthrough results. My first time in the New York City area has also been a kick, as I come face to face with cultural icons this West Coaster has only seen in books." Sullivan invites alumni in the New York City area to visit him in New Jersey and see the first transistor. Paula Turner traveled to Mount Lemmon, outside Tucson, Arizona, in late October to gather astronomical images at near-infrared wavelengths of a colliding galaxy system that she and Kenyon Summer Science Scholar Ryan Depew '00 studied last summer.

Political Science

Lilly Goren '87, the College's 1998-99 Bradley Fellow, has joined the department as a visiting instructor of political science. A doctoral candidate at Boston College, Goren specializes in American political thought and literature, the American presidency, and Congressional politics and policymaking. Joseph Klesner presented a paper with Chappell Lawson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on "Who Votes in Mexico?" at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Boston, Massachusetts, in September. Three weeks later, Klesner gave a paper entitled "Electoral Alignment and the New Party System in Mexico" at the international congress of the Latin American Studies Association in Chicago, Illinois. For that conference, he also organized two panels, "Mexico's New Electoral Politics" and "Rethinking Latin American Studies." Lorna Knott, who holds a doctorate from Boston College, has joined the department as a visiting assistant professor of political science. Her specialties are political theory and American politics. Steven Van Holde, on sabbatical this year, will be living in Sweden, where his wife, Michelle Mood, holds a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Lunde.


Hewlet McFarlane has joined the department as an assistant professor of psychology. A specialist in experimental psychology, McFarlane holds a doctorate from Syracuse University. Sarah Murnen and Linda Smolak, along with Anne Rubble '98, presented a paper entitled "Female Athletes and Eating Problems: A Meta-analysis" at the International Conference on Eating Disorders in New York City in April. A longer, updated version of the paper has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Eating Disorders. Smolak has signed a contract with the American Psychological Association to coedit a book with J. Kevin Thompson of the University of South Florida. The projected title is Body Image in Children and Adolescents. She and colleague Michael Levine will cowrite two chapters for the book.


A chapter written by Joseph Adler entitled "Response and Responsibility: Chou Tun-I and Neo-Confucian Resources for Environmental Ethics" appears in Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans, published in June by Harvard University Press. President Robert Oden Jr. is serving this autumn on the North Central Association's reaccreditation teams for Carleton and Grinnell colleges. With other members of the four-person reaccreditation teams, he spent four days at Carleton in mid-September and four days at Grinnell in mid-November. Oden's audio- and videotaped lectures on the religion of ancient Israel and on comparative religion continue to be available from The Teaching Company. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly's Monograph series recently reprinted the volume The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos, cotranslated and coedited by Oden with Harold Attridge. Oden continues to serve as a trustee of Columbus Academy and of the American University in Cairo. From June 19 to July 14, Royal Rhodes traveled and conducted research in Israel, using a Kenyon Teaching Initiative grant to help him prepare an upcoming course to be called "Millennial Centers of Christianity: Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem." A serendipitous arrangement allowed him to stay the entire time in Israel at the Benedictine lodge, Terra Sancta, in the village of Ein Karem, the legendary birthplace of St. John the Baptist and only a short bus ride from the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition to Christian sites, whenever possible Rhodes visited cemeteries, ruins, and synagogues and mosques associated with Judaism, Islam, the religions of ancient Israel, and monuments of Greco-Roman cults. His research included an investigation of current liturgical and iconic remembrances of early female transvestite saints and Christian role models. Donald Rogan, who has been a mainstay in the department since religion was first offered as a major in 1965, will retire at the end of this academic year.

Women's and Gender Studies

In March Laurie Finke gave a lecture at Kent State University on "The Politics of the Canon: Christine de Pizan and the Fifteenth-Century Chaucerians," and in July she delivered a paper entitled "Christine de Pizan and the Fifteenth-Century Chaucerians: The Aesthetics of Emergent Nationalism" at a New Chaucer Society conference at the Sorbonne in Paris. With Martin Schictman, professor of English at Eastern Michigan University, Finke coedited a special issue ("The Sexual Economies of Arthurian Romance," Volume 8, Summer 1998), of the journal Arthurian that included their essay "No Pain, No Gain: Violence as Symbolic Capital in Malory's Morte d'Arthur." She and Schictman also collaborated on "The Mont St. Michel Giant: Sexual Violence and Imperialism in the Chronicles of Wace and Layamon," published in Violence Against Women in Medieval Texts by the University of Florida Press in May.

Back to Top