Greetings from the third floor of Stager Hall! Spring is here, and American Studies is pleased to welcome 18 newly declared majors from the class of 2014. The class of 2012 is busy with job searches, and underclassmen are setting up internships and summer jobs. Thanks to all the AMS alumni who are helping our students to connect with opportunities!
AMS is pleased to announce the inaugural group of inductees to the American Studies Honor Society of the Eastern American Studies Association, Epsilon Alpha Kappa. The Honor Society accepts juniors and seniors who have a GPA within the major of 3.4 or higher and have produced high-quality, creative work. The new members of Epsilon Alpha Kappa are Matthew Latessa ('12), Emily Felber ('12), Abigail Milspaw ('12), Jill Schwartz ('12), Leslie Lindeman ('13), Amanda Loh ('13), Amanda Oliver ('13), and Alexis Teevens ('13). The March issue of “Active Voice,” the Writing Center’s newsletter, features articles by two of our inductees in a series on how professors write. Alexis Teevens discusses AMS Professor Carla Willard for "Unfolding Sentences," and Amanda Loh interviews Biology Professor Kathleeen Triman in “What’s ‘It’ to You?.” Congratulations!
Dr. Edwin Martini, Associate Professor of History at Western Michigan University, came to Franklin & Marshall on February 9 to speak about “Agent Orange and the Global Environmental Imaginary.” AMS and the New College House sponsored his visit, which included a dinner for majors in the House. Dr. Martini's research focuses on “the intersection of political, cultural, and diplomatic history, with an emphasis on the American War in Vietnam.” His upcoming book Agent Orange: History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty explores the chemical war waged by the United States in Southeast Asia.
As usual, there is plenty of good AMS news to report. Read on and keep in touch.
Chair, American Studies Department
Becky Snyder Fawcett (’92), a distinguished AMS alumna, returned to campus to give the keynote address at the inaugural Council for Women of F&M luncheon for women leaders on February 18. She discussed her path from F&M to executive director of Helpusadopt.org, a foundation she co-founded with her husband, Kipp Fawcett (’93). Here is an excerpt from her inspiring talk:
F&M gave me three very important relationships in my life that impacted me in ways I never imagined they would. When I graduated in June of 1992 I thought I just graduated with a very expensive piece of paper. I had no idea of what my Franklin and Marshall education actually meant until I was much further down the road.
And what have I done since I left? I’ve had a successful advertising career, I’ve launched a magazine, I’ve been Director of Marketing at Philadelphia Magazine, I had my own PR firm, The Fawcett Group PR and Marketing, for ten years, but the most important thing I’ve done in the past twenty years is that I overcame unpleasant obstacles that I didn’t really think I could and I BECAME A MOTHER -- twice.
But before all that happened I met three very important people who I am happy to say are still in my life (twenty years later). And before I met these three important people, I was a girl who had no idea where she was headed and was convinced she was middle of the road.
The first meeting happened by chance because there was only one course that would work with the others and would also meet a requirement and that was Introduction to American Studies. Little did I know that this would become my major and the professor would not only be my advisor but would push me to be better than I ever thought possible. The most significant moment in my memory was later that year when I handed in a term paper. At the next class David pulled me aside and handed me my paper. “Why don’t you really try to write this and I’ll grade that one.” With that simple act and the meetings that followed suit -- because of course I had no idea what he meant -- I learned how to ask why -- I mean really ask why. I learned how to say “there has to be more to it” and to back up that statement with the research to prove it. And I learned how to push myself for an A rather than stop short and accept the B (which would have been perfectly fine) but it was the difference between being good and being great. And that was something I knew I wanted to be and I was willing to put in the work.
Becky has received national acclaim for her efforts, including recognition as a CNN "Hero." You can read more about Becky's work as reported on CNN.com by clicking here.
When Dr. Eliza Reilly realized that many items in the Phillips Museum of Art’s extensive collection were not yet documented, she developed a course that would allow students to participate in this exciting research process. She designed the course with the help of Dr. Philip Zimmerman, a nationally known museum and decorative arts consultant and curator whose in-depth knowledge has been crucial to the identification and organization of the museum’s American collection.
“Museum Mysteries” provides students with the unique opportunity to research items from the museum’s vast collection. Students learn how material objects can be identified and studied based on the materials, workmanship and style used in their construction. When asked how the class was going, Reilly responded, “Very exciting! Objects that have been sitting on shelves or in drawers for decades are now being rediscovered and telling their stories.”
So far, the 13 students in the inaugural class have selected a variety of objects to research, including table silver, ladies’ fans and a Japanese WWII flag. Reilly expects that most of the student research will be presented in exhibitions or public presentations. In the future, she hopes to “continue linking my teaching in history and American Studies to the collection and educational work of the museum.” "Museum Mysteries" will be offered again in Fall 2012.
Professor Louise Stevenson is writing a new book about the "global Lincoln." Her research focuses on the global implications of his far-reaching social and political thought. Most scholars, for example, overlook the global significance of his famous Gettysburg Address in 1863. In the concluding sentence of his address, the president explained why the loss of each of the approximately 3500 soldiers had mattered to the nation and to the world. They had "died that the nation might live." They had fought so that a republican government, one "of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." For Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War would determine the fate of republicanism both nationally and globally, in 1865 and for all time.
Professor Stevenson has made many other discoveries about Lincoln's global impact. Upon hearing of the president's death, the Argentine government named a town 100 miles west of Buenos Aires "Lincoln." In the winter of 1863, 12,000 working men in Birmingham, England, signed and sent the president a petition of appreciation. A Hungarian revolutionary partially inspired Lincoln to grow the beard that he sprouted between his election and his inauguration. And, finally, a book about Barbary captives and slavery in north Africa convinced the president of the evils of slavery and solidified his commitment to end slavery in the United States. Through these connections -- large and small -- Professor Stevenson captures Lincoln's impact on the United States and the world.
American Studies is pleased to welcome our new departmental coordinator, Ann Wagoner. She replaces Peggy Bender, who retired in January after 28 years of dedicated service to the College. Ann comes to F&M after working as a newspaper copy editor, a managing editor at Stackpole Books, and, more recently, the Assistant to the Communications Director at the Evangelical Free Church of Hershey. She has a B. A. in history and communications from Grove City College and notes that she especially enjoyed studying American history and literature while in college and continues to be interested in American topics. She has been busy with the organization of job searches, several student prizes, and new initiatives in communications and social media, as well as the day-to-day running of the office. She has quickly established herself as a knowledgeable, valuable member of the department. She's happy to help with any questions. Our new refrain is "Just ask Ann."