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Swarthmore in the NewsMarch 25, 2011


States News Service

Longtime Faculty Member Entwisle Named Vice Chancellor For Research

March 24, 2011

Dr. Barbara Entwisle, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology who has been a leading researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 26 years, has been appointed as the vice chancellor for research.

The appointment, effective Friday (March 25), was approved today (March 24) by the Universitys Board of Trustees. Entwisle has been the interim vice chancellor for research and economic development since last August.

"Barbara has been a great addition to our administrative team and already has effectively championed the University's research enterprise in her interim role," said Chancellor Holden Thorp. "She brings extensive experience in leading the Carolina Population Center, one of our most distinguished research units. She understands multidisciplinary research a hallmark of this University -- extraordinarily well and has the skills and insights we need to help keep Carolina competitive nationally."

A native of Springfield, Mass., Entwisle grew up in Baltimore, Md., and graduated from Swarthmore College. She earned masters and doctoral degrees in sociology from Brown University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. She served as assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College before moving to UNC.

The Associated Press

Holland wins 3rd term on Del. high court

March 24, 2011

The state Senate has confirmed Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland to a third term on the state's highest court.

With Wednesday's confirmation, Holland becomes the first Supreme Court justice in state history to be appointed to a third term.

Holland was first appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 at the age of 39, becoming the youngest person ever to serve on the court. He already is the longest serving Supreme Court justice in Delaware history.

Holland is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In addition to serving on the court, he has authored and edited several books on the history and practice of law. (Blog)

A Potential Death in the (Language) Family

Mark Moncaster

March 23, 2011

I admittedly know little about Yiddish. My great-grandmother spoke it. My grandma can understand it. I used to get called a chazer (pig) on account of my messy room. But I had to pause when I saw this interview with K. David Harrison. A linguistics professor at Swarthmore College, he had this to say about disappearing languages:

"Only some cultures erect grand built monuments by which we can remember their achievements. But all cultures encode their genius in their languages, stories, and lexicons.

Each language is a unique expression of human creativity...We would be outraged if Notre Dame Cathedral or the Great Pyramid of Giza were demolished to make way for modern buildings. We should be similarly appalled when languages-monuments to human genius far more ancient and complex than anything we have built with our hands-erode."

In regards to Yiddish, which is undoubtedly on the decline, Harrison's eloquent explanation gave me a new perspective. Never had I really considered the inherent value of words. They give us meaning, but they also represent entire cultures. That is what makes their disappearance tragic. ...


The New York Times

Giving Literature Virtual Life

By Patricia Cohen

March 22, 2011

BRYN MAWR, Pa. - Prof. Katherine Rowe's blue-haired avatar was flying across a grassy landscape to a virtual three-dimensional re-creation of the Globe Theater, where some students from her introductory Shakespeare class at Bryn Mawr College had already gathered online. Their assignment was to create characters on the Web site and use them to block scenes from the gory revenge tragedy "Titus Andronicus," to see how setting can heighten the drama.

...Students like Ms. Cook are among the first generation of undergraduates at dozens of colleges to take humanities courses - even Shakespeare - that are deeply influenced by a new array of powerful digital tools and vast online archives.

...Many teachers and administrators are only beginning to figure out the contours of this emerging field of digital humanities, and how it should be taught. In the classroom, however, digitally savvy undergraduates are not just ready to adapt to the tools but also to explore how new media may alter the very process of reading, interpretation and analysis.

...Bryn Mawr's unusually close partnership with Haverford College (essentially across the road) and Swarthmore College (a short drive away) has enabled the three institutions to pool their resources, students and faculty. In November students from all three participated in the first Digital Humanities Conference for Undergraduates. Hosted by Haverford, the student-run two-day symposium also attracted undergraduates from Middlebury, Brown, Cornell, Hamilton and the University of Pennsylvania, who shared their own projects and discussed other ways in which undergraduates could use new technology for research.

...Doing research that lives outside the classroom is also what drew Anna Levine, a junior at Swarthmore, to digital humanities. Over the summer and after class, she and Richard Li, a senior at Swarthmore, worked with Rachel Buurma, an assistant professor of literature there, to develop the Early Novels Database for the University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which enables users to search more thoroughly through fiction published between 1660 and 1830. (more)


The New York Times

In a Tragedy, A Mission To Remember

By Steven Greenhouse

March 20, 2011

''I grew up with this story, and I've always wanted to do something about it,'' Ruth Sergel said. ''It's like a black hole in your heart.''

In 2004, Ms. Sergel started doing something about the story she grew up with: the Triangle Waist Company fire, which killed 146 garment workers in 1911, almost all of them Jewish and Italian immigrants. She had just read a book about the fire, to distract herself from worrying about the premiere of a short film she had directed at the the Tribeca Film Festival.

At the end of the book, Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, was a list of names and addresses of the victims, and Ms. Sergel was moved to discover that many had lived within blocks of her apartment on East Third Street. Eager to do something about the story that had created a black hole in her heart, she hit upon what she called ''the schmaltziest idea.''

On March 25, the anniversary of the fire, she and a few dozen friends put her idea into action: they divided up the names and addresses, and fanned out across the Lower East Side, the East Village and Little Italy, armed with sidewalk chalk. In front of each building where a victim had lived, they chalked a name, age and cause of death - in white, green, pink and purple, often with drawings of flowers, tombstones or a triangle.

...That first year, they chalked 140 names, plus the word ''unidentified'' six times, in front of the old factory building, just east of Washington Square.

...Year by year, the chalking project has multiplied, attracting mothers and daughters, teachers and schoolchildren, and, increasingly, the descendants of Triangle victims. This year, it is one of more than 100 events scheduled to commemorate the centennial of the fire. Ms. Sergel has helped organize many of the events as head of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, which she founded in 2008.

...The daughter of Judith Treesberg, a poet and artist, and Christopher Sergel, a playwright whose adaptations of To Kill a Mockingbird and Winesburg, Ohio were Broadway hits, Ms. Sergel grew up in Lower Manhattan. After majoring in political science at Swarthmore College, she worked as a camera assistant on several films and then directed some shorts, including  Bruce,  about a dancer with cerebral palsy, and  Belle, about an 86-year-old retiree. (more)


The Press of Atlantic City (NJ)

Linwood expanding arboretum after receiving national praise

By Rob Spahr,  Staff Writer

March 20, 2011

When the decision was made to create an arboretum on the site of a former electrical substation across from the Belhaven Avenue Middle School, officials hoped the significant investment would pay off.

After being open for less than a year, city and county officials are singing the arboretum's praises and are already working to expand it.

City Councilman Ralph Paolone said the city is in the process of attempting to incorporate a small triangular property, north of the arboretum, into the garden and the adjacent bike path.

"I think it is a natural progression," Paolone said. "This has truly become a jewel for the entire county and here is an opportunity to make it even better."

The city hopes to pay for the estimated $10,000 expansion with grant money.

Allen Lacy, the volunteer curator of the Linwood Arboretum at Belhaven, said a possible expansion wasn't even a consideration when the arboretum opened last April. And it only surfaced after the influx of positive feedback the arboretum received from local residents, as well as experts from around the country.

...Andrew Bunting, the curator of The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, recently sent a letter to City Clerk Leigh Ann supporting the city's application for the $10,000 grant to expand the arboretum.

"The Linwood Arboretum ... is a botanical institution which educates the public and garden enthusiasts alike by displaying and interpreting a wide range of ornamental woody plants that are adapted to the soils and climate of your area. The fact that it is free and very publicly accessible only adds to its value in the community," Bunting wrote. "The goal to develop the Linwood Azaleas collection at the Linwood Arboretum is an example of a local institution taking on a project which will have a national significance."

Lacy said this kind of praise has attracted visitors to the tiny arboretum from hundreds of miles away.

"We are the newest and smallest in the country," he said. "But this can be the nucleus of turning the entire city into an arboretum." ...