News and Happenings | College of Liberal Arts | SIU

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News and Happenings

April 18, 2017

The College of Liberal Arts, besides being the largest on campus, is also one of the busiest. Nearly every week, departments within the college host lectures and workshops, theater productions and community activities, art exhibitions or music performances, demonstrations or community activities. In addition, faculty and students are constantly publishing creative work, presenting academic papers, and researching in the field, in the library and online.

Here are just a few highlights of recent accomplishments.


• Please welcome Andrew Balkansky, professor of anthropology, to the dean’s office, as the new associate dean for student and curricular affairs.

Timothy Ting, lecturer in paralegal studies, won the 2017 University-Level Teaching Excellence Award for Non-Tenure Track Faculty.

• These are the winners of the College of Liberal Arts Excellence Awards. Ryan Netzley, professor of English, received the Scholar Excellence Award. Jonathan Bean, professor of history, received the Graduate Faculty Mentor Award. The Teacher Excellence Award goes to Kevin Sylwester, professor of economics. Netzley also received the Distinguished Publication Award from the John Donne Society for his paper, “Learning from Anniversaries: Progress, Particularity, and Radical Empiricism in John Donne’s ‘The Second Anniversarie.’”

Scott A. Comparato, associate professor of political science, will be the Provost Faculty Fellow for the spring 2017 semester. The program’s goal is to provide part-time leadership experience and skill development to university faculty with an interest in academic administration. Comparato will be involved in regular operations and activities of the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. 

Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, professor of drawing and painting in the School of Art and Design, has a mixed-media painting, “Abstract Sankofa,” included in an exhibition that is travelling through China now through December 2018.

Roberto E. Barrios, associate professor of anthropology, has a new book from University of Nebraska Press titled “Governing Affect: Neoliberalism and Disaster Reconstruction.” The book is an ethnographic study of the aftermaths of four natural disasters: southern Honduras after Hurricane Mitch; post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans; Chiapas, Mexico after the Grijalva River landslide; and Southern Illinois after a Mississippi River flood. Barrios examines the ways people who live through disasters use emotions as a means of assessing the relevance of governmentally sanctioned recovery plans.

Allison Joseph, director of the master of fine arts degree in creative writing, is the recipient of the inaugural New Georgia Arts Award, presented by the New Georgia Arts Collaborative, a coalition of writers, educators and patrons sponsoring cultural events and community outreach in greater Atlanta. The prize honors a writer who exhibits exceptional talent as a published writer as well as showing meaningful social commitment in a public capacity, and includes a $10,000 award. Joseph won the award based on her published collections of poetry, frequent journal appearances and public readings, but also for her continued commitment to the Young Writers Workshop, a summer camp for high school aged writers. Young Writers Workshop also provides teaching and mentoring opportunities for graduate students, who work with Joseph as instructors and workshop leaders. Joseph is a prolific poet: in 2016 she published four collections of poetry: “Multitudes,” “Mortal Rewards,” “Mercurial” and “The Purpose of Hands.” She has three more collections due out in 2017, and another expected either in 2017 or 2018.

Gretchen Dabbs, associate professor of bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, was elected the first president of the Directors’ Consortium of Researchers in Taphonomy, an international organization formed to implement procedure and protocols for the growing number of human decomposition research facilities, of which SIU’s Complex for Forensic Anthropology Research is one of a handful.

• Faculty from the Department of Theater have been busy with professional presentations. Susan Patrick Benson, associate professor of voice and speech, has her paper, “The Inspired Voice: Healing Grief Through Storytelling and Song,” accepted for presentation at the international Voice and Speech Trainers Association, scheduled for this August in Singapore. Thomas Fagerholm, assistant professor, technical director and production manager, presented “Turning Heads: Automation on a Budget,” at the Southeastern Theater Conference in Lexington, Ky. Jacob Juntunen, associate professor playwriting, organized a festival evening preceding the Big Muddy New Play Festival -- “Big Muddy Shorts: The Future is Female.” SIU was one of 29 theater venues across the United States and Canada participating by creating theater on the same day.

Hale Yilmaz, associate professor of history, published “Becoming Turkish: Nationalist Reforms and Cultural Negotiations in Early Republican Turkey, 1923-1945.” Her book caught the attention of the Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey’s English language daily newspaper, and they conducted an interview with Yilmaz that appeared in January.

• Professor of French Véronique Maisier’s recent book “Violence in Caribbean Literature: Stories of Stone and Blood,” focuses on historical and cultural forces that influence violence in Caribbean society and appear in Caribbean literature. Award-winning Caribbean author Alecia McKenzie interviewed Maisier about her work for Southern World Art News.

• University Museum visitors may view “Triple Narratives: Landscapes/ Figures / Fish,” a retrospective exhibit featuring Kay M. Pick Zivkovich, professor of design. The exhibit runs through May 10.

Mont Allen, cross-appointed faculty teaching Classics in the Department of Languages, Cultures and International Trade, and teaching art history in the School of Art and Design, organized a presentation session on Roman sarcophagi for the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The colloquium session was “New Research in Roman Sarcophagi: Eastern, Western, Christian.”

Barbara Bickel, associate professor in the School of Art and Design and director of women, gender and sexuality studies, conducted two visiting artist workshops at the University of Alexandria in Egypt through the Freedom Centre for Creativity.

Shu-Ling Wu, assistant professor of Chinese, earned a Research Priorities Project grant from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Her proposal, “The Implementation and Assessment of an International Internship Program: An Action Research Case Study,” was selected for ACTFL’s research priority “Language Use in the Community.”

Jennifer Smith, associate professor of Spanish, is co-editor of “Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Nation in Fin-de-siècle Spanish Literature and Culture.” The essays in this anthology focus on the formation of the Spanish and Spanish colonial subject at a time of Spain’s imperial demise. The individual chapters study this phenomenon in popular culture, visual culture, and in the works of both canonical and lesser-known authors.

• The United States Holocost Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. selected Meghann Pytka, lecturer in women, gender and sexuality studies, to participate in the Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar.


Jordan “Jori” Bonadurer, a junior majoring in languages, cultures and international trade, won the top poster presentation in the humanities at the St. Louis Area Undergraduate Research Symposium, with her research poster on “The Many Masks of Melpomene: Repetition of Theatrical Masks on Roman Sarcophagi.” Bonadurer has added two more majors -- art history and English -- and she is a chancellor’s scholarship winner. The research she presented in St. Louis was developed while she was an undergraduate research assistant with Mont Allen. Bonadurer will also presented her work at the 2017 Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Forum at SIU in early April, and the annual meeting of the Missouri Classical Association in early March.

Emma Diaz, a graduate student in clinical psychology, was selected to the Society for Research in Child Development Millennium Scholars Program. This honor includes a sponsored appearance at the organization’s April conference in Austin, Texas and pairing with a mentor for a year-long formal association.

• The American Political Science Association named Naomi Tolbert, a junior majoring in political science, a Minority Fellow for 2017-2018. Tolbert is also a student trustee for SIU.

• Several doctoral students in liberal arts students were among the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholarship winners. They are: Trisha Crawshaw, sociology; Ann Johnson, sociology; and L. Shelley Rawlins, communication studies. In addition, these students won various awards at the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Fifth Annual Conference: Mick Brewer, paper presentation, “Good Ol’ Country Boys Playing on the Farm: Online textual performance of rural masculinities in craigslist personal ads,” graduate student in communication studies; Marilyn Chung, paper presentation “Hegemonic Masculinities and Transphobia.” graduate student in psychology; Brandon Kellum, undergraduate creative presentation “Omnirelevant Genocide and the 2016 Election,” psychology major; Amanda Patrick, paper presentation “The Stranger: cultural perceptions of women in higher education,” graduate student in sociology; and Gauri Pitale, paper presentation, “Sacred Villages and Profane Cities: On the importance of menstruation for the purity of food and being among Deorukhe women from Maharashtra India,” graduate student in anthropology.

• Some notable scholarship winners: Jacob Selsor, a junior majoring in political science, earned a Paul Simon Public Policy Institute’s Gene Callahan Internship at the Illinois State Capitol. He will be assigned to the House Republican issues staff, where he will gain practical experience of legislative and political processes. Adrian Rochelle earned the Stuart Fishchoff Excellence in Music Theater Award, which includes a cash scholarship of $1,000.