Fall 2010 / Spring 2011

LAS News

Court Green 7
Court Green 7

English Department Releases Seventh Volume of Court Green

Following six past editions of creative, innovative, and thought-provoking poetry, the Department of English released the seventh volume of its award-winning publication, Court Green.

“The issue as a whole is a great mix of the quirky, serious, and fun,” said Tony Trigilio, Professor of English. “We never know what kind of poems we’ll get for each issue’s dossier section, and we love the surprises that come our way.” Trigilio edits Court Green with David Trinidad, Associate Professor in the Department of English.

The latest edition features poems about shifts in culture, politics, art, and sex in the U.S. in the 1970s. With the help of Columbia’s Creative Services office, the publication also underwent a redesign. “Literary magazines usually make design a low priority, but we try to make every issue a beautiful physical object in itself,” Trigilio said.

Court Green 7 features writing by a number of well-known, award-winning poets, including Sherman Alexie, D.A. Powell, and Alice Notley. Notley, for instance, has published more than two dozen books and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.


Court Green 7, to me, stands out as one of the best editions thus far,” said Deborah H. Holdstein, Dean of the School of LAS. “Since the publication’s inception in 2004, the faculty members and staff in the Department of English have done a wonderful job of producing this award-winning journal of contemporary poetry, highlighting some of the field’s most intriguing and talented poets.”

Court Green is one of four major publications in the Department of English: South Loop Review, edited by Professor Renee Hansen; Columbia Poetry Review, edited by graduate and undergraduate students; and Hotel Amerika, edited by Professor David Lazar. 

Court Green, which is named after property in England where Sylvia Plath lived and worked, is edited by the core Poetry faculty in the Department of English. It has received two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, and poems that have appeared in the publication have been featured in several volumes of The Best American Poetry, a prestigious compilation published annually by Scribner’s.

Copies of Court Green 7 are $10 and a three-year subscription is only $25. To order previous editions of Court Green, or to sign up for a three-year subscription, contact Cora Jacobs at 312.369.3212 or at courtgreen@colum.edu.

Joyce Rice's single panel illustration
Joyce Rice's single panel illustration

And the Winners of the Paula Pfeffer & Cheryl Johnson-Odim Political Cartoon Contest are…

More than 120 students submitted political cartoons for last year’s highly selective Paula Pfeffer & Cheryl Johnson-Odim Political Cartoon Contest. The eight winners represent multiple disciplines and majors at Columbia, ranging from Illustration to Television.

“The submissions we received show there’s an abundance of talent at Columbia,” Dean Holdstein said. “Students addressed a wide variety of very important and interdisciplinary-based issues in their cartoons, which suggests to me that our students are engaged with and more than merely aware of complex historical, cultural, and political contexts.”

Dean Holdstein announced the winners at a well-attended awards ceremony in Columbia’s library. The winners in the single panel category were Joyce Rice (First Place, senior, Illustration); John O’Connor (Second Place, senior, Illustration); Carl Zeller (Third Place,junior, Illustration); and Nick Widmont (Honorable Mention, senior, Illustration).

Rice’s First Place single panel illustration comments wryly on the effects of the bad economy on romance by featuring a man proposing to his girlfriend, who responds indecisively with, “I don’t know…what are your health benefits?” Rice self-publishes a ’zine called Bird Wizards!

The winners in the multiple panel category were Ben Zurawski (First Place, senior, Fine Arts); Katherine Leyh (Second Place, junior, Illustration); Anthony Sixto (Third Place, sophomore, Television); and Kevin Budnik (Honorable Mention, junior, Illustration). Zurawski’s First Place multiple panel illustration addressed the war on terrorism, the election of President Barack Obama, and a Toyota recall. He hopes to someday teach K-12 as an art teacher.

The contest was founded and endowed by Samuel E. Pfeffer, a lifetime trustee at Columbia, and is sponsored by Dean Holdstein and by the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences, in collaboration with the Columbia Chronicle, and the Departments of Journalism, Art and Design, and Film and Video.

Dr. Kadji Amin
Dr. Kadji Amin

Humanities, History, and Social Sciences Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

The Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences (HHSS) has hired two new tenure track faculty members, both of whom begin this Fall.

Dr. Rojhat Avsar fills the department’s new position in Economics. He earned his BS and MA degrees in Economics and recently received a PhD in Economics from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. His areas of interest include the rhetoric of public polices, the political economy of current economic issues, and the history of economic thought. His most recent published articles, “A Critique of Neoliberal Autonomy” and “On the Pro-Social Security Rhetoric,” appeared in the journal Forum for Social Economics. He is originally from Turkey, where he earned his BS and MA.

Dr. Kadji Amin comes to HHSS and a position in French Language and Literature with a diverse background in academia and the arts. Dr. Amin earned an MA and PhD in Romance Studies (French) from Duke University, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies, also from Duke. In the Department of HHSS, Dr. Amin will teach courses on the French language, Women’s and Gender Studies, LGBTQ studies, race, and culture. Dr. Amin is currently working on a book manuscript about French author Jean Genet, and, along with many other awards, is the recipient of a Mellon Fellowship for graduate study.

Dr. Carol Ann Stowe
Dr. Carol Ann Stowe

Dr. Carol Ann Stowe, Early Childhood Education Director: 1951-2009

The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) lost one its most beloved faculty members last year. Dr. Carol Ann Stowe died unexpectedly on October 4, 2009, due to complications from an ongoing medical condition. She was universally loved and respected as a colleague and teacher, and she was a force in progressive early childhood education.

In 1996, Dr. Stowe, a lifelong educator with a PhD in Educational Processes from Northwestern University, became the founding director of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program, now housed in the School of LAS. Her leadership and dedication brought critical grants to the progressive program, which trains new teachers in Chicago using the world-renowned Reggio Emilia approach, an arts-based, child-focused program regarded by many as the most successful in the world. The program Dr. Stowe put in place has grown to include more than one hundred student majors every year.

She leaves behind three daughters, two of whom are ECE teachers in the Chicago area, two grandsons, and her husband, Tim.

Dr. Jeanne Petrolle
Dr. Jeanne Petrolle

Spring 2010 Dean’s Lecture Televised

The 2010 Spring Dean’s Lecture on “Women, Creativity, and Madness” appeared on Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV). The cable television show reaches more than one million viewers in the city of Chicago through its five local, non-commercial channels.

A semi-annual event inaugurated by Dean Deborah Holdstein in 2009, the Dean’s Lecture was held in February and featured Dr. Jeanne Petrolle, Associate Professor of English at Columbia. Dr. Petrolle’s lecture explored the thin line between madness and creativity in women artists and addressed how madness may serve as an engine of creative production, personal survival, and historical change.

“Given the tremendous turnout at the lecture itself, and all the feedback I received after the lecture, it’s clear that the topic resonated with a lot of people,” Dr. Petrolle said, noting she has plans to publish a book on the subject in 2011. “The T.V. broadcast offer[ed] more people an opportunity to think creatively about this acutely disturbing facet of human experience.”

For the Fall 2010 Dean’s Lecture, Dean Holdstein welcomes renowned music critic Jim DeRogatis, who recently left his position at the Chicago Sun-Times to join the Department of English as a full-time lecturer.


Dr. Samuel Park
Dr. Samuel Park

Dr. Samuel Park Signs Book Deal

Associate Professor of English Dr. Samuel Park has signed with Simon & Schuster to publish his latest novel: This Burns My Heart. The book, which follows Dr. Park’s successful Shakespeare’s Sonnets, is a work of fiction that he became inspired to write after listening to his mother tell stories about her youth in Korea.

One story in particular captured Dr. Park’s imagination: “The day before my mother’s wedding, another man asked for her hand in marriage,” Dr. Park said. “The man was a handsome, kind young doctor, and I think my mother often wondered what would have happened if she’d married him instead of my father.”

Dr. Park spent nine months writing the first draft of the book and more than a year revising it. “I saw a lot of Korean films made in the ’50s and ’60s, and I read about foods, furniture, and art of the period,” he said. “I’d also call my mother at odd times, asking questions like, ‘Were there taxi cabs in Korea in 1964?’” This Burns My Heart is scheduled to release in the summer of 2011.

First-Year Seminar's new logo
First-Year Seminar's new logo

FYS: The Program Formerly Known as New Millennium Studies

The name of a course that’s required for all first-year undergraduate students at Columbia is changing. Starting in Fall 2010, New Millennium Studies: The First-Year Seminar will be referred to simply as The First-Year Seminar.

The decision to simplify the name was initiated by Dean Holdstein and Dr. Rob Lagueux, Director of the First-Year Seminar, to more accurately reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the course itself and to be more consistent with language used to describe similar college-wide, first-year courses throughout institutions of higher education.

Dean Holdstein Selects Winner of the 2009 / 2010 Cultural Studies Capstone Thesis Award

The second annual LAS Dean’s Award for Outstanding BA Thesis in Cultural Studies yielded a diverse collection of exceptional theses from students graduating from the Cultural Studies program this past academic year.

The 2009 / 2010 recipient is Samantha Hamlin, whose thesis is titled “‘Everything I See, I Own’: The Erotics of Empire, Imperial Photography, and Gendered Sexual Violence against Women at Abu Ghraib Prison.” Hamlin argues that “despite recent shifts in gendered regimes in the United States and other ‘Western’ imperial societies, the way in which American soldiers constructed representations of Iraqi women in the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison reveal that the visualization of colonized women remains a central component in contemporary imperial projects of domination.”

“Samantha is an exceptional student of numerous talents and considerable self-discipline,” said Dr. Jaafar Aksikas, Associate Professor of Cultural Studies. “She is highly intelligent, highly perceptive, and has incredible creative energies and a refreshing skepticism tempered only enough to accomplish what needs to be done. Her capstone is a first-rate piece that shows her at her best.”

Dean Holdstein created the award in 2008 to acknowledge and reward graduating seniors whose capstone theses best illustrate the Cultural Studies program’s commitment to cultural knowledge and that demonstrate excellent research, analysis, and writing. The 2009 / 2010 Honorable Mention winners were Bailey Kelley, Matthew McMunn, and Wille Stein. In addition to academic recognition, all winners receive a monetary award from the Office of the Dean.

Dr. Christopher Shaw
Dr. Christopher Shaw

Science and Mathematics Hires Two Full-Time Faculty Members

The Department of Science and Mathematics wrapped up two faculty searches shortly before the end of the 2010 academic year, hiring Christopher Shaw, PhD, and Timothy McCaskey, PhD. Both begin this Fall.

Dr. Shaw completed undergraduate work in Mathematics and Spanish Literature at George Washington University and received a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Maryland (UM) in 2008. From 2008 to 2010, he worked at UM as a research associate and the associate director of the Norbert Wiener Center for Harmonic Analysis. Dr. Shaw’s field of research is model theory, a branch of mathematical logic, and he continues to be interested in the connections between this discipline and literature. He will contribute to the department’s new Mathematics minor, as well as to the LAS Core Curriculum.

Dr. McCaskey received his undergraduate degrees in Math and Physics from Michigan State University and earned a PhD in Physics from the University of Maryland. His research area is student epistemology in introductory physics—specifically, ways of assessing student views about physics and physics knowledge, and using those assessments to aid in teaching. He has taught at both the high school and college levels and is interested in the development of physics tutorials and labs for non-science majors. Dr. McCaskey is also a musician; he plays acoustic guitar in a band called Might Could. He’ll be teaching “The Science of Acoustics” and “Physics for Filmmakers” at Columbia in the Fall.

Dr. Albert Sergio Laguna
Dr. Albert Sergio Laguna

Department of English Hires Two Faculty Members

The Department of English has hired two new full-time faculty members, and both begin teaching this Fall.

Dr. Madhurima Chakraborty comes to Columbia from Macalester College (St. Paul) and the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities). She teaches courses in writing and postcolonial literature, and her research interests include postcolonial theory and literature, cultural studies, critical theory, and nineteenth and twentieth century British literature. She holds an MA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Most recently, her essays have been published in South Asian Review and Contemporary Literature, and she was awarded the Ruth Drake fellowship for her dissertation, Resistance Literature and Social Justice: Postcolonial Writing and the ‘Idea at the Back of It.’ Her dissertation focuses on postcolonial literatures and their shifting relationships to independence movements.

Dr. Albert Sergio Laguna comes to Columbia from New York University (NYU), where he taught a variety of courses on American literature, Latino/Latina literature, and literary theory. He earned his graduate degrees at NYU, and his dissertation, The Politics of Pleasure and Play in Latino/a Literature and Performance, explores a wide variety of Latino/Latina cultural production. Before joining Columbia, Dr. Laguna spent time at Dartmouth College as the César Chávez Dissertation Fellow and at Wesleyan University as Visiting Instructor in the English Department, where he taught courses in Latino/Latina literatures and cultures.

Mollie Franklin
Mollie Franklin

Early Childhood Education Student Accepted into Teach for America

Congratulations to Mollie Franklin, a student in the Early Childhood Education program in the Education Department. She has been accepted to Teach for America, a two-year nonprofit teaching program dedicated to raising awareness about—and eliminating—educational inequality in the United States.

“As I started to student teach in Chicago Public Schools,” said Franklin, “I began to see [educational] challenges firsthand and how they affect schools, educators, students, and administrators daily. After time, I became aware [of] and passionately responsive to those challenges.”

Franklin is one of five Columbia students who were selected to be a part of the 4,225 new corps members to begin teaching this Fall. According to the Teach for America mission statement, the organization recruits “outstanding recent college graduates from all backgrounds and career interests” to fill these positions and to work toward equalization among American classrooms. It is rare for an institution the size of Columbia to have five students selected in the same year.

“It certainly speaks well of Columbia as an institution, but the real credit should go to these students whose hard work has paid off,” said Andrew Whatley, Academic Program Manager. With the leadership of Provost and Senior Vice President Steve Kapelke, Whately has been instrumental in developing the relationship between Teach for America and Columbia College Chicago.