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July, 2019

‘Summer Postcards’ From Faculty Afield

CUA faculty members engaged in some fascinating work and visited some memorable places this summer  — from biking in the Swiss Alps to climbing the Dragon's Rock during a book-writing sabbatical. Following are very brief reports on how eight of them spent the summer:

Professor White lectures about the election to high school teachers.
Teaching the Teachers about the Election

Every presidential election year, Professor of Politics John Kenneth White teaches a CUA class about the election. This summer he taught the same subject, but to a different audience: high school teachers from the United States and abroad.

From June 26 through June 30, White lectured about issues such as campaign finance and the changing face of the electorate to 30 teachers gathered at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

While there, he also moderated a discussion with Robert Schlesinger, a U.S. News & World Report editor and author of the book White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters.

A former student of White’s, Lauren Cristella (B.A. 2005), works at the Philadelphia center as an education manager. She asked her former professor to participate in “Teaching the Presidential Election,” part of the center’s Annenberg Summer Teacher Institute.

“The highlight was to see a former student do so well and to know that our students really have a wonderful life after Catholic University,” White says. “It’s not often that we get to see them in that capacity. We plant seeds and we don’t know how they grow sometimes.”

From India to the Swiss Alps

Lourdes Alvarez, in the pink jersey right behind the motorcycle, biking in Europe.
Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures Lourdes Alvarez brought local middle school and high school teachers to India — or as close to that country as they could get while sitting in a lecture hall at the University of Maryland.  As part of the series “Crossing Borders/Breaking Boundaries: The Arts of India, 1556-1658,” Alvarez lectured on Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, and its strong cultural presence in India.  The weeklong workshop (June 23–July 1) was part of a series of multidisciplinary summer institutes for art educators, geared toward enriching high school and middle school curriculums.

Alvarez also found time to pursue another passion. A dedicated cyclist for more than 30 years, she spent three weeks of the summer cycling through the Swiss Alps and the German Black Forest. She averaged about 60 miles a day — often joining up with Swiss bikers en route. “Switzerland is definitely the best place I’ve ever been for biking,” says the professor. And she’s biked through plenty of terrain, including the French Alps and the Pyrenees.

Sharon Christman, back row, center, with singers at the Music Fest Perugia in Italy.

Singing With the Stars in Italy

Singers and musicians from around the world gathered in Italy for Music Fest Perugia from the end of July through mid-August. Associate Professor Sharon Christman, chair of the vocal department of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, and nine CUA vocal performance majors attended the festival along with musicians from the United States, Japan, Israel, England and other nations. CUA Associate Professor of Piano Ivo Kaltchev joined Christman as participating artists for the festival.

Students attend the festival to improve their musical skills under the tutelage of an international group of faculty and professional musicians. The CUA students enjoyed making their Italian debuts in some of the most prestigious and beautiful opera venues in Perugia, Assisi and Todi.

Luigi Alva, one of the foremost lyric tenors of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, taught two master classes to the CUA students. Christman was delighted that he sang with doctoral candidate Bridgid Eversole. “Since he has been retired from singing for many years and now teaches in Milan, it was a heart-melting experience,” she says.

Aquinas and Dragons in Germany

Michael Gorman and family visit Drachenfels.

Associate Professor of Philosophy Michael Gorman relocated to Cologne, Germany, from January through July with his wife and seven children, thanks to the grants he received from the Fulbright Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The grants enabled him to work on a book there concerning Thomas Aquinas’ understanding of Christ — how he is both divine and human while still being just one person. Gorman also taught a class on the same topic in German, which he speaks fluently.

“It wasn’t all work, however,” Gorman says. His family followed the European soccer championships, went on a short cruise on the Rhine and visited the mountain near Bonn where the legendary hero Siegfried is said to have killed a dragon. The family visited the ruined castle at the top of that mountain, called Drachenfels (Dragon’s Rock), and halfway up visited a shrine to Richard Wagner, the composer of the opera Siegfried.

  Professor Hedges plays a struggling veteran of the Iraq War.

A Stressed Out Warrior

Instead of taking it easy this summer, Assistant Professor of Drama Marietta Hedges experienced traumatic stress — vicariously at least. She played the role of Tammy, a soldier just back from two tours of duty in Iraq, burdened by post-traumatic stress disorder, a broken marriage and a custody battle for her child. In the play, Tammy gets interviewed for a documentary film and swings from rage to anxiety to manic exuberance. Hedges performed this role in the play The Warrior by Jack Gilhooley, at the New York International Fringe Festival and at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Fringe Festival. Newspaper reviews rated her performance as remarkable.

“Since coming to CUA a year after the Iraq War broke out, the bulk of my professional work has been connected to the war,” she says. “That’s not something I consciously set out to do. But I feel strongly about this war. Theater and art inherently carry a political or social message, which is one reason they are so crucial.”

A French sculpture of Joan of Art, pictured at left, was one of the subjects of a recent book by Nora Heimann.

A Command Performance at the Louvre

Invited to give a May 19 lecture at the Louvre Museum, Associate Professor of Art Nora Heimann was nervous as the date approached. The Louvre is France’s (and the world’s) largest museum, and she knew that some French art historians can be critical when American scholars take positions on French art. Heimann would be speaking authoritatively on 19th-century French sculptures depicting Joan of Arc, and in her fears conjured up humorous scenarios of someone in the audience standing up to denounce her lecture before sending her off to the guillotine.

Happily, the French art historians among the 150 people in the Louvre audience concurred with the conclusions she offered in her lecture, and the event was a success.

The CUA professor was invited to speak at the Louvre because of her book Joan of Arc in French Art and Culture and her co-curating a 2006 Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition of art depicting St. Joan.

Suzette Malveaux appears on “Art Fennell Reports."
Providing Legal Analysis to Tens of Thousands

Assistant Professor of Law Suzette Malveaux has spent part of the past three months in the limelight. She has appeared four times this summer as a legal commentator for “Art Fennell Reports,” a Philadelphia-based news and events show on Comcast CN8 television. She has commented on presidential power, the Supreme Court’s reduction of punitive damages for the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the constitutionality of the death penalty for child rape, and the Supreme Court’s overruling of Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban.

Malveaux has been a legal analyst for the show for a year. She first met Art Fennell at a legal conference on the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Fennell interviewed her for a documentary on the riot, and later invited Malveaux to be his program’s legal commentator. “It gives me great pleasure to make the law accessible and interesting to an even wider audience than the classroom,” Malveaux says of the experience.

Rev. Michael G. Witczak spent part of his summer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Spending a Week With the Bard

Rev. Michael G. Witczak, assistant professor of theology and religious studies and an expert in liturgy, spent a week in July brushing up on his iambic pentameter at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival. He has attended the festival in southern Ontario with a friend from Saint Francis Seminary near Milwaukee almost every summer since 1976.

This summer, after watching five of the Bard’s plays, Father Witczak says he was reminded that “our encounter with God and his grace emerges from the stuff of life that is portrayed on the stage.” He notes that his favorite play is probably The Winter’s Tale because it explores the theme of reconciliation, which is “near and dear to a liturgy professor’s heart. The liturgy is the arena where God is the principal player. Yet God always acts through intermediaries, and in the liturgy his grace is mediated through readings, prayers and the people who are the ministers and congregation.”

To read about more activities that faculty members engaged in during the summer, see the Notables column of this issue of Inside CUA.

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Last Revised 22-Aug-08 02:36 PM.