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Languages and Literatures

Adult Community Exploration Series offering free summer courses

Tuesday, Jun. 8, 2010 11:30 am | Contact: To register, send email to calendar@grinnell.edu; for questions, call 641-269-3178.

GRINNELL, IA—Grinnell College will offer the Adult Community Exploration Series (ACES) throughout the summer with courses taught by faculty in political science, English, and chemistry. The courses are free, and registration is requested to assist instructors in preparing for class needs. All ACES classes will be held on Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Pioneer Room of the college's Old Glove Factory, located at 733 Broad Street in Grinnell, unless otherwise noted. To register, send email to calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu; for questions, call 641-269-3178.

Courses for summer 2010 include:

“Can Technology Save Democracy?”

June 16, 23

Taught by Barbara Trish, associate professor of political science

The Internet age has created politics marked by abundant information and new paths and techniques for political actors to compete. Citizens, journalists, campaigns, and government also jockey to capitalize on Internet opportunities, seen by some as the key to political success and by others as the key to effective democracy. This course will explore the new Internet-based politics and consider the extent to which these developments are fundamentally new or the high-tech version of politics-as-usual, and whether technology can save democracy.

Barbara Trish teaches courses on U.S. politics, research design, and quantitative reasoning. Her scholarship focuses on political parties and campaigns, and she has most recently examined Organizing for America, the governing-era iteration of President Obama’s campaign organization. Trish is an administrator of the college's Program in Practical Political Education (PPPE) and is actively involved in Grinnell's long-standing relationship with Nanjing University.

“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”: Studies in the African American Sonnet Tradition"

June 30, July 7

Taught by Shanna Benjamin, assistant professor of English

Literary critics and historians have argued that prosody, the rhythm and intonation received from America’s colonial masters, faced a powerful insurgency in the 19th century with Whitman’s sweeping “Song of Myself” and Emerson’s declaration of artistic independence from “the courtly muses of Europe.” African American poets sought ways to imbue so-called “white” forms with the rhythm and imagery of black life. This course will examine representative poems by Claude McKay, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Wanda Coleman to understand how they adapt the sonnet to express the vibrancy and vulnerability of African American life.

Shanna Greene Benjamin teaches African American and American literature and culture and seminars on neo-slave narratives, black women writers, and black literature beyond race. A graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Benjamin serves as faculty coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program for students of color interested in college teaching.

“Mass Spectrometry and Magnetic Resonance: From CSI to MRI, the science behind ‘popular’ spectroscopy”

July 14, 21

Taught by Andrew Mobley, associate professor of chemistry

Please note: this course will be held in the Robert N. Noyce ‘49 Science Center, Room 2022

This course will cover the basics of the science behind the mass spectrometry seen on popular TV shows that feature forensic science such as “CSI,” “Law and Order,” or Mobley’s personal favorite “Bones.” The modern imaging technique called Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) will be covered from the standpoint of its chemistry equivalent, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). By the end of the course, participants should have a basic understanding of what these techniques can and cannot do, by analyzing data from Grinnell College instrumentation.

Andrew Mobley has taught organic chemistry at Grinnell since 1999. He received a B.A. from Carleton College and then worked with Professor Robert Bergman at the University of California at Berkeley where he received his doctorate. He became interested in his specialty, NMR spectroscopy of organometallic compounds, during a post-doctoral fellowship in Germany.


2010 Pulitzer Prize winner gives reading at Grinnell College

Wednesday, May. 11, 2011 11:30 am

GRINNELL, IA—Paul Harding, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, will read from his work in the final event of the Writers@Grinnell series at 8 p.m. on Thurs., May 6 in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts on the Grinnell College campus.

Harding’s first novel “Tinkers” was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. National Public Radio’s John Freeman includes Harding’s “devastating first book” in his list of the “few perfect debut American novels.” He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and has taught writing at Harvard University. He currently teaches at the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop and is teaching a six-week short course in fiction at Grinnell College.

On May 13 at 8 p.m. in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, student writers will read from their work in The Grinnell Review, the student-run literary and art magazine of Grinnell College. The winners of the Writers@Grinnell writing contests will be announced, with student literary prizes including the James Norman Hall ’10 Aspiring Writer Award, the Henry York Steiner Memorial Prize for Short Fiction, the Lorabel Richardson/Academy of American Poets Prize, and the Selden Whitcomb Prize in Poetry.

For more information about the Writers@Grinnell program, go to http://www.grinnell.edu/academic/english/creative/conference/. The Bucksbaum Center is located at 1108 Park St. and the Rosenfield Center at 1115 8th Ave. on the Grinnell College campus.

25 Years of Grinnell-Nanjing Exchange

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Grinnell College’s partnership with Nanjing University.

At the end of May, President Raynard S. KingtonDean Paula Smith, and other College officials travel to Nanjing, China — a city of about 8 million on the Yangtze River and some 250 miles west of Shanghai — to celebrate the anniversary and sign the next five-year agreement between the two institutions. While there, they also meet with Grinnell alumni in the region.

The Grinnell-Nanjing Exchange was a form of renewing the old “Grinnell-in-China” program, started in 1916 when the College provided financial support, teachers, and principals for two missionary-run high schools. That program ended with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

When the Grinnell-Nanjing Exchange was founded in 1987, it brought a Chinese language professor to Grinnell from Nanjing to support Grinnell’s nascent Chinese language program and sent a Grinnell College student to Nanjing after graduation to teach English at a Chinese middle school (the equivalent of an American senior high school).

Over the years, the exchange has grown. It now sends Grinnell faculty to teach in China each spring and brings Chinese scholars and language instructors to Grinnell. As part of the Grinnell Corps postgraduate service program, the exchange dispatches two new Grinnell graduates each year to teach English at a school affiliated with Nanjing University. The exchange also provides an annual scholarship to Grinnell for a high school graduate from Nanjing. The winner is selected from one of four high schools in Nanjing, including the school where Grinnell College graduates teach English.

The history of the program has its benefits. “I frequently feel the presence of Grinnell in Nanjing,” says Dylan O’Donoghue ’11, a 2011–12 Nanjing teaching fellow. “Since being here, I have randomly run into more than six Grinnellians, including current students, alumni, and former faculty. It feels like everyone has heard of Grinnell or knows a former fellow or someone related to the College,” she continues. “When I meet or hear of a Grinnellian in Nanjing, I get that ‘small world‘ feeling, and I know that if that person is a excited to meet me as I am to meet him or her, a relationship will develop. It’s the Grinnell-in-Nanjing way.”

The agreement signed in May represents the sixth five-year agreement between the two institutions and is in effect for the 2012–2017 period.

History of Russian Film Course

Wed, 2010-04-28 10:55 | By Anonymous (not verified)

Film has a curious way of bringing people together through emotion and storylines of ordinary human issues. Professor Galina Aksenova, a returning Department of Russian artist in residence, shared this interest and dedicated nearly half of spring semester to teaching “History of Russian Film: From Einstein to Tarkovsky and Beyond.”

Aksenova is chair of film studies and associate professor of film at the Moscow Art Theater School in Moscow, Russia. She has written scholarly pieces revolving around Russian Film and television and has visited Grinnell on several occasions. This semester’s visit was intended to advance the passion of studying film to students with the new course co-taught with Anatoly Vishevsky.

“Film is so vital to teach, especially when we are dealing with an age that is very visual,” said Aksenova.

Her zeal for teaching film was evident in her taking time off from her own school in Moscow to teach Grinnell students. The course, taught in English, examined the progression of Russian film from silent adaptations to more contemporary cinema. The class’s appeal stemmed from learning how films are indicative of Russian culture.

According to Phillip Brogdon ’12, the lectures and readings synthesized the disciplines of history and cinema studies. “Learning from her has been one of the highlights of my Grinnell academic experience thus far,” Brogdon said.

Aksenova emphasized the need for her students to identify and value the objectives of a film, the history of film, and overall how films are done.

“I would like them to appreciate film and how it can be distinguished as an art form,” said Aksenova. “I want them to understand how the meaning of a film changes through language, how politics use cinema strongly, and to know how the audience is being manipulated.”

The class wound up teaching both Aksenova and the students. A community was created, as Aksenova observed the students working together as a collective group to achieve a common goal of studying the significance of film.

“The course itself is ambivalent, however, the students made it clear that there was more to it,” Aksenova said. “They went everywhere together. I felt a part of the community that they built through the common interest of film.”

Stirrings in the Stacks

Tue, 2009-09-15 16:13 | By Anonymous (not verified)
cartoon illustration of Burling Library with single carrel lit on first floor

Illustration by Kelsey Morse-Brown '09 From "Poetry and Walking"

Wandering, reading, writing -- these three activities are for me intimately linked. They are all ways of observing both the inner and the outer weather, of being carried away, of getting lost and returning. I started to get serious about poetry in the late '60s when I was a first-year student at Grinnell College. I vividly remember how I used to walk out into the deep Iowa night to steady myself and think about what I'd read, to go over the words and repeat the phrases to myself. I was studying the English Metaphysical poets then (Donne, Herbert) and trying to learn something from the English Romantics, who were prodigious walkers.

Some nights I ended up on the edge of town ("I have been one acquainted with the night"), other nights I'd circle back and sneak into Burling Library just before closing. The librarians would turn off the lights, but 15 minutes later the cleaning staff would come in and turn them on again. I'd just wait in the dark and then spend the night in a cubicle poring over the texts.

I had stopped in the library but now my walks continued on another plane. I walked with Wordsworth at Cambridge ("I was the Dreamer; they the dream; I roamed/Delighted through the motley spectacle") and Eliot in London ("A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,/I had not thought death had undone so many"). I walked with the holy eccentrics of English poetry, such as Traherne ("To walk is by a thought to go;/To move in spirit to and fro") and Blake ("I wander thro' each charter'd street"). I was on fire with the movement of words. In the early morning, I'd step out into the breaking day, startled by the cold Midwestern light, suddenly alone again, exhausted, exhilarated.

Originally published in The Washington Post Book World, reprinted here with permission from the author

Originally published as an online web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Summer 2009