For drama professor Tom Turgeon, the focus is on the imagination
T he office of Professor of Drama Thomas S. Turgeon is the quintessence of what might be expected for a college professor. Tucked in the dark recesses of the College's Shaffer Speech Building, with a tiny space heater humming in the corner and a cool breeze coming through a cracked window, the office makes a person wonder if Turgeon might just offer a spot of tea. But he doesn't. In fact, there's little in his tidy office or demeanor that hints of the theme that runs through his life and his twenty-five years of teaching at Kenyon: Imagination.
While Turgeon grants that the power of the mind is a little elusive, he mentions it often when he speaks of his teaching and directing career at Kenyon. "Our business is to offer kids a way to focus their imagination," he says. "I'm not sure if it's a thing or a process, but I do know when it's working."
It's apparent that much has worked in the life of this soft-spoken professor with a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a doctorate from Yale University. The recent publication of his book Improvising Shakespeare: Reading for the Stage represents a milestone in his career.
The Turgeon name is one synonymous with education--and cooking. Turgeon's father taught at Amherst for forty-three years, and his daughter, Sarah Turgeon Perry '89, teaches psychology there now. His mother, Charlotte Turgeon, is a celebrated cook, writer, and editor who attended cooking school in France and counts Julia Child among her close friends. The cooking tradition continues with Turgeon himself and his wife of thirty-two years, Peggy, who, with her friend Joyce Klein, runs the famed Friday Luncheon Café at the Church of the Holy Spirit Parish House, a weekly community event in Gambier for more than twenty years. The Turgeons' son, Charles G. Turgeon '93, works for The Boston Company on a risk-management team. "And I have no idea what that means," the elder Turgeon admits.
Turgeon began teaching at Kenyon in the fall of 1972, the same academic year the first full class of women graduated from the College. He's seen a lot of changes in the student body, but he thinks much has stayed the same. "The constants are more evident than the differences," he says. "We're teaching students who are just beginning to pass over the self-conscious stage of life. They are just on the edge of beginning to look at themselves."
According to Turgeon, it's standing at that edge that makes a person an actor. "That's what you have to do in theater, get away from yourself; that's where the imagination comes in," he says. To let the imagination flourish, Turgeon tries to restrict it. By giving it limits, or focus, he believes, more can be produced. "I think that's true in every discipline," he says.
Teaching is not something Turgeon stumbled upon. It's what he set out to do. At Yale, he was funded by a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, an award for those who planned to become teachers. Before coming to Kenyon, he taught at Mary Washington College, then a branch of the University of Virginia. Turgeon says the job was one he felt lucky to get, because he came out of Yale in the middle of the Vietnam War when graduate schools were overflowing with students.
"I find the work I'm doing here is what I'd hoped to do," he says. "Kenyon is a remarkable place. The theater department is a strong operation. We're not on the fringes; we have a richer and more broadly talented department than any college of our size."
The introduction to Turgeon's book says the book is not about Shakespeare but rather about reading--reading and imagining for the theater.
"What goes on in a text is a very different kind of imagining," says Turgeon. "But this is what leads to performance, not literary criticism." In the most basic terms, his book tells how to read a play and then make a stage production out of it. That sounds like a pretty simple approach to tackling something as heady as Shakespeare, but according to Turgeon, that's the point. "People are intimidated by Shakespeare," he says. "Students come to my classes thinking, 'This must be good for us,' like Geritol. They think of it as a collection of obscure words. It's a common prejudice."
It's only when people learn how to read the story, how to make the play, that they realize how recognizable the story is. "When you look at the events that make up the story, it becomes exciting, funny, sexy," says Turgeon. "One of the books I assign actors explains it like this: 'By fun we don't mean the sort of thing that
makes you laugh, but something that is truly compelling to you.' You have to hook into the imagination; that's when it all ceases to be intimidating."
Turgeon says people often write to discover what it is they believe. Part of what he believes, part of the message of his book, is that interpreting theater is not, nor should it be, part of his repertoire He doesn't assign meaning to things. He says it doesn't work for his imagination.
Looking back over the years, Turgeon does not wax nostalgic. "I don't have any big claims or messages," he says. What he does have, what he exudes, is a love for his craft and an appreciation of the enjoyment it has brought his way.
Stories of enchanting dinner parties at the Turgeon homes in Gambier and Maine abound on campus, with tales of Turgeon weaving outrageous anecdotes long into the evening. But when pressed for details of shenanigans in the theater over his years at Kenyon, he claims to come up a little dry. The stories are there, you sense; he's just not telling them. According to colleagues, he's not a man who believes in promoting himself. He's a man who wants to leave the stories to your imagination.
Rita Kipp, who was on sabbatical for the 1997-98 academic year, spent six weeks in September and October at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden, the Netherlands. In November, she participated in the seminar on Theories and Practices of Religious Toleration/Intolerance at the Advanced Study Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In both Leiden and Ann Arbor, Kipp gave presentations entitled "Ambivalent Neutrality: Religion and State in Colonial Indonesia," which is a chapter from a book she is writing about Indonesian Christians and the concept of civil society. Her trip to Europe included a stop in Berlin, Germany, where she stayed with former Kenyon history faculty member Joan Cadden, now a professor at the University of California at Davis, who was with the Max Planck Institute for the year. In Ann Arbor, Kipp visited Julian Murchison '95, a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Michigan. She also gave a paper, entitled "Sowing Secularization: Colonial Missions and the Nationalist Awakening Among Indonesian Christians," at the American Anthropological Association meeting in Washington, D.C., in November. John Macionis published a new book in January, Cities and Urban Life. In February, he made a presentation to the Texas Two-Year College Teachers' Association on using new information technology in the classroom, and in April, he led a session on the consequences of new information technology for social change at the North Central Sociological Association (NCSA) meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. At the April 18 NCSA Awards Luncheon, Macionis was honored with the 1998 NCSA Distinguished Contribution to Teaching Award for the "unusual reach" of his sociology textbooks, which are used throughout the world. Edward Schortman and Patricia Urban presented a poster symposium at the Society for American Archaeology meeting in Seattle, Washington, in March. The symposium was based on excavations done in Honduras in 1996 under the supervision of undergraduates on the Kenyon-Honduras semester and then used as raw data for a course, about how archaeologists study ancient households, offered in the spring of 1997. This past academic year, several of the students from the class continued to work on interpreting the site as well as displaying the material in the form of posters for the meeting. Two of the students, Frances Black '99 and Neville Handel '99, also attended the meeting in Seattle to assist with the symposium.
Art and Art History
Claudia Esslinger presented her four-part multimedia series "Fragile Armor" at the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Museum of Art from May 30 to August 16, 1998, as part of the Fort Wayne Biennial. She also has a one-person show scheduled at the College of Wooster for October through December of 1998. "Red Whistle and the Angel of Mercy," by Martin Garhart, is reproduced in the March/April issue of The Other Side. The sixty-by-forty-six-inch oil on canvas was part of his exhibit at the Flanders Contemporary Art Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October and November 1997. Digital photography by Gregory Spaid was exhibited in three shows during the months of March and April: "The Manipulated Photograph" at the Fine Arts Center in Taos, New Mexico; the "1998 Digital Photography" exhibition at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and the "Water Tower Annual" at the Louisville Fine Art Association in Kentucky, where his work won a merit award. Kay Willens exhibited a video installation, entitled "Mirage," at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the exhibition "A Change of Place," held from January 26 to April 1, 1998. A catalog of the exhibition has been produced by the Ohio Arts Council. During March and April, Willens displayed another video installation, "Gnatland," at the McDonough Museum in Youngstown, Ohio.
Patricia Heithaus has created a web site for the Kenyon Center for Environmental Study. To reach the site, log on to the Kenyon home page at www.kenyon.edu, select "Visitor Center," then select "Kenyon Center for Environmental Study." David Marcey spent most of his sabbatical in Gambier, working with research students Dan Denning '98, Stephanie Levi '98, Brian Gibney '99, Michael Ward '99, Aaron Downs '00, and Bill Ward '01 and also setting up new microscopy equipment purchased with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Biological Sciences Education Program at Kenyon and a National Science Foundation grant for use in biology-department teaching and research. In October, he traveled to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to participate in the advanced microscopy course at the Marine Biological Laboratory and in December to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual American Society for Cell Biology meeting. While in Washington, Marcey and coauthors Greg Hannahs '97, Derrick Johnson '97, Denning, Levi, and Gibney presented a paper, "Concentration-dependent effects of peroxide on Drosophila cell proliferation, apoptosis, and necrosis." In February, Marcey spent a week in the laboratory of Peter Cherbas at Indiana University in Bloomington working on new techniques of genetic transformation in Drosophila. Marcey has also been collaborating with Ryn Edwards and Ken Eward '90 on creating a web tutorial on the cell. Eward, who did his biology honors research in Edwards's laboratory, has moved his Biografx business to Mount Vernon, Ohio.
In January, Scott Cummings attended the Winter Conference of the Inter-American Photochemical Society in Clearwater Beach, Florida, where he presented research results from the work he has done with Sarah Hobert '97 and Karen Downey '98.
Cliff Weber has had an article accepted for publication in the journal Studies in Philology, which is devoted mainly to work on English literature.
Dance and Drama
Harlene Marley taught a voice and speech class at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico, in June. Margaret Patton reports she was very pleased with December's Fall Dance Concert. A number of her former students returned for the event, including Julia Hermann '96, Corinna Cosentino '97, Melonie Nance '97, and Catherine Mayer '96 and Meida McNeal '97, who are graduate students in dance at Ohio State University in Columbus. In January, Patton went to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, to choreograph The Gondoliers, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. The production opened in Athens at the end of January and in Parkersburg, West Virginia, in February.
David Lynn has reading and speaking engagements in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, and at the Harvard Club of New York in July, at the Thurber House in Columbus in August, and in West Bloomfield, Michigan, in September. In addition, he will serve on an editor's panel at the Sewanee Writer's Conference in July. His story "Rivalry" will appear in the summer issue of Triquarterly, and an extended essay on India, "Monkeys, Firecrackers, and Dust," will be published in the fall issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review. In February, Kim McMullen presented a paper entitled "'That the Science of Cartography is Limited': Mapping History, Gender, and National Identity in Eavan Boland's 'Writing in a Time of Violence'" at the Twentieth-Century Literature Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. McMullen completed her three-year tour of duty as departmental chair in June. An article by Ted Mason entitled "The African-American Anthology: Mapping the Territory, Taking the National Census, Building the Museum" appeared in the Spring 1998 volume of American Literary History, a journal published by Oxford University Press. In April, Mason presented a paper at NARRATIVE: An International Conference held at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The title of the paper was "The Memory of Jazz: Al Young's Musical Memoirs."
Rita Kipp, on sabbatical for the 1998-99 academic year from the anthropology-sociology department, visited Joan Cadden last fall in Berlin, Germany, where Cadden, formerly a member of Kenyon's history faculty and now a professor at the University of California at Davis, was with the Max Planck Institute for the year. In April, Clifton Crais delivered a paper to a workshop on South African history at the African Studies Center of Boston University. He spent all of June and July in South Africa conducting research for his new book on political culture in South Africa, Not in Distant Time. While there, Crais presented papers at the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, the University of Natal in Durban, and the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. His article "Of Men, Magic, and the Law" will appear in the fall 1998 issue of the Journal of Social History. Crais, who is also organizing a series of panels for the 1998 African Studies Association meetings scheduled for November, will continue to direct the Kenyon Seminar, a forum for faculty members to present work in progress. Former history faculty member Msgr. Frank Lane has been elevated to the position of vice rector/vice president of the College of Liberal Arts at the Pontifical College Josephinum, effective July 1, 1998. Lane, a priest of the Diocese of Columbus, taught at Kenyon from 1989 to 1992. Peter Rutkoff, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Distinguished Teaching Professor of History, saw his first published short story, "Golemby's Running," this year in Crab Orchard Review. He spent three weeks in May and June as the scholar-in-residence at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, doing research and writing for his next project. In May, Rutkoff and Will Scott, also NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor of History, traveled with their NEH seminar class to do a special presentation of the class World Wide Web project, "North by South," at John F. Kennedy High School in Cleveland, Ohio. The project may be accessed through Yahoo at "North by South." Liberating the Family?: Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823-1853, by Pam Scully was published in November 1997 in the Social History of Africa series of Heinemann Press. (See the review on page 47 in this issue of the Bulletin.)
In March, Jianhua Bai was invited by the Department of Eastern Asian Languages and Literatures of the University of Michigan to run a day-long workshop on integrating computer technology into the Chinese curriculum. His manuscript Liang-an Duihua: Twenty-two miniscripts for developing advanced listening skills has been accepted for publication by Cheng and Tsui Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Jane Cowles received notification in December of a small grant awarded by the Five Colleges of Ohio Foreign-Language Consortium to create a multimedia project on Brittany, France, entitled "La Bretagne: Pays de Mythes." She traveled to Brittany during spring break to take photographs and collect documents for the project. In late March, Cowles participated in a conference on off-campus study at Albion College in Albion, Michigan. Linda Metzler presented a paper at a symposium on "The Poesis of Politics and the Politics of Poesis," held March 19-21 at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Clara Roman-Odio and Ming Yang, language technology specialist for the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium, have created a CD dictation template that allows students to listen to a song from a CD in French, German, Italian, or Spanish and to transcribe what they hear, line by line. The program allows instructors to offer feedback and to include short exercises to test listening comprehension. Roman-Odio has also recently completed a Spanish site on the World Wide Web, which is intended to be a center of learning resources aimed at enhancing cultural awareness and language skills. To visit the site, go to Kenyon's web page at www.kenyon.edu and work down through "Academics," "Academic Departments," and "Modern Languages and Literatures" to Spanish. In February, Hideo Tomita led a one-day workshop at Mount Holyoke College on "Web technology and teaching/learning of Japanese" for faculty members who teach Japanese at the Five Colleges of Massachusetts Consortium. In March, he was awarded a courseware development fellowship from Project 2001, a nationwide project sponsored by the Mellon Foundation and administered by Middlebury College. As director of the three-year project, Tomita will develop authentic Japanese materials in the form of digitized video with two colleagues at Middlebury and Mount Holyoke colleges.
Benjamin Locke left for South Africa on May 12 to observe the Libertas Choir, a mixed-race choral ensemble based near Capetown, in rehearsal and performance. He intended to collect as much choral music as would be appropriate for Kenyon choirs to perform. Locke, who hoped to have the opportunity to guest-conduct the group in a piece or two, planned to remain in South Africa until the end of June. For twenty-six seasons, Bailey Sorton has been an English hornist in the Roanoke (Virginia) Symphony, often performing solos with the orchestra. In October 1997, she was featured in a performance of Aaron Copland's "Quiet City" at the Homestead Hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia, which will be repeated as a regular subscription concert with the symphony in January 1999. Sorton has also performed extensively throughout the United States and abroad with an ensemble called OBOHIO, the Double Reed Consort, since its founding in 1990. Her primary instrument in this ensemble is the oboe d'amore.
Juan DePasquale was recently appointed to serve a three-year term as a member of the Committee on Hispanics of the American Philosophical Association. He has also served for a second time on the review panel for the Ford Foundation Disseration Scholarships and Post-Doctoral Fellowships, which convened in March at the National Research Council Center in Washington, D.C.
George Christman, Kenyon's head athletic trainer and corrective therapist, was inducted into the Ohio Athletic Trainers' Association Hall of Fame at a May banquet in Strongsville, Ohio. A member of the College's physical education and athletic department since 1966, Christman was cited as "a most compassionate athletic trainer, a respected educator and lecturer, and a caring family man."
In January, Thomas Greenslade presented an invited paper on "The Rise of Student Laboratory Work in Physics" at the winter meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in New Orleans, Louisiana. Much of the material was drawn from Kenyon catalogs from 1880 to 1910. To his surprise, Greenslade discovered that the College had the equivalent of a physics major by the 1906-07 academic year. His article "Galvanometers," published in a winter issue of The Physics Teacher, shows a tangent galvanometer from Kenyon's collection of historical physical apparatus, and his article "Ultrasonic Interferometers" in the April 17, 1998, issue of the same journal reports on work done with students in a sophomore-level physics course. Benjamin Schumacher was a visiting lecturer for four weeks during May and June at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, offering a graduate-level course of lectures in quantum information theory. Experimenters at the University of Innsbruck recently made headlines by demonstrating "quantum teleportation" of a photon polarization across their laboratory. In November, Paula Turner, along with Ellen Stoltzfus, assistant professor of psychology, and Rachael Galli, visiting assistant professor of psychology, accompanied six women students from the College to the Battelle Institute in Columbus, Ohio, for a conference called "Women Succeeding in Science," sponsored by the Association of Women in Science. Turner displayed a poster outlining the successful middle-school lab experiences program she and Stoltzfus developed with the help of many women scientists in the Carolinas-Ohio Science Education Network.
In March, Harry Clor participated in a Liberty Fund conference in Charleston, South Carolina, and in early April, he served as an evaluator for the Department of Political Science at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. A paperback edition of his recent book Public Morality and Liberal Society was published in December 1997. Kirk Emmert delivered a paper entitled "Churchill's Political Defense of Marlborough" at a symposium on "Churchill's Life of Marlborough," held May 14-17 at the Duke of Marlborough's ancestral home, Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, England. Joseph Klesner has completed a major review essay, "An Electoral Route to Democracy?: Mexico's Transition in Comparative Perspective," which appeared in Comparative Politics (volume 30, number 4) in July. Klesner will serve as chair of the faculty for the 1998-99 academic year.
In January, Andrew Niemiec served on an Instrumentation and Laboratory Initiative grant review panel for the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Undergraduate Education. He reviewed proposals for programs aimed at improving undergraduate education in neuroscience. Jon Williams attended the Winter Park Conference on Animal Learning and Behavior in Winter Park, Colorado at the end of January. While there he gave a paper on "Pre-exposure to a Natural Predator Trimethylthiazoline (TMT) Disrupts Spatial Working Memory in Rats," based on research done with Kenyon students Catherine Baez '98 and Katherine Hladky '98.
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