Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WC Art Professor Studies Early Christian Sculptures during Summer Research at Harvard's Dumbarton Oaks

Chestertown, MD, July 18, 2006 — For nearly two decades, Donald McColl, the Nancy L. Underwood Professor of Art History at Washington College, has immersed himself in one of art history's mysteries—the origins and function of a group of early Christian sculptures, called the "Jonah Marbles", representing Jonah and the Good Shepherd, which first appeared on the New York art market in the mid-1960s and now reside in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

"The sculptures are extraordinary works, and are exceedingly rare examples of pre-Constantinian sculpture in the round," says McColl. "Yet lingering doubts as to their authenticity, attributable in large part to their having no verifiable provenance—that is, either a verifiable archaeological context or a long and continuous record of ownership—to say nothing of the sheer exuberance of their forms, which recall pagan, Hellenistic art—have had the effect of excluding the works from important discussions of Early Christian art."

This June—courtesy of a 2006 Summer Fellowship in Byzantine Studies from Harvard's Dumbarton Oaks Library and Research Collection—McColl began to take stock of his decade-long researches on the origins of the sculptures, which have included travel to Turkey; isotopic analyses of the marble from which the objects were carved, conducted in conjunction with conservators from the Cleveland Museum and the Center for Archaeological Sciences, University of Georgia; and examining the papers of the late Ernst Kitzinger, former Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks and one of the most important scholars to have made a close study of the works.

The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, located in Washington, DC, is an international center for scholarship, providing resources for study and publishing scholarly works in Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies. Begun as a private collection by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in 1920, and given to Harvard University in 1940, the library and collections include art, objects, artifacts, manuscripts, and rare books.

McColl joined the faculty of Washington College in 1997 after receiving his Ph.D. in art history from the University of Virginia, and completing postdoctoral study at Northwestern University, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He holds a B.A. in art history and criticism from the University of Western Ontario (1986) and an M.A. in art history from Oberlin College (1992). His professional research focuses on the visual culture of northern Europe in the early modern period and on late antique/early Christian art and archaeology. He is currently working on a book titled Troubled Waters: Seeing the Samaritan Woman in the Reformation World.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

College Appoints Historian, Essayist Adam Goodheart to Head C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

Chestertown, MD, July 5, 2006 — Washington College has appointed historian and essayist Adam Goodheart as the new director of the College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the Office of the President announced Wednesday, July 5. Goodheart, who served as a visiting fellow of the Center during the past four years, succeeds Ted Widmer, a presidential historian and former speechwriter for the Clinton Administration's National Security Council, who directed the Center since its inception in 2000 and will now direct the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

"During his tenure as a C.V. Starr Fellow, Adam proved himself indispensable to the Center, helping to establish learning and research opportunities for our undergraduates, outreach and programs for the broader public, and an intense focus on the rich history of Chestertown and our region," said Baird Tipson, President of Washington College. "I am confident that as director Adam will continue to find new opportunities for the Center that enhance our student experience and break new ground in the study of American history."

"I'm honored to be asked to serve an institution I love, Washington College, in this new capacity," Goodheart said. "The Starr Center has accomplished some great things in its few short years of existence, but I think the best is yet to come. Right now more than ever, it is clear that a deeper understanding of our shared history is essential to the success of America's continuing democratic experiment. I hope that the Center—and Washington College as a whole—can play an ever-greater role in that urgent national conversation."

A historian, critic, and prolific essayist, Goodheart appears frequently in many national publications, including the New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and The American Scholar, writing on American history, culture, and politics. Throughout his career, his work has focused on drawing connections between the past and the present.

Goodheart was a founder, senior editor, and columnist at Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in its first year of publication.

He was appointed one of the youngest editorial board members in the history of The American Scholar, the Phi Beta Kappa Society's distinguished quarterly, where he continues to serve as a contributing editor. He is a contributing editor at Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and at Travel & Leisure, as well as a member of the Board of Incorporators at Harvard Magazine and the Board of Contributors at USA Today. He served as Deputy Editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page and remains a frequent contributor to various sections of the paper. He has appeared on National Public Radio, PBS Television, CNN, C-SPAN, and many other broadcast outlets.

Among the prizes Goodheart's work has received are the Lowell Thomas Award of the Society of American Travel Writers (2004) and the Henry Lawson Award for Travel Writing (2005); his essays have appeared in numerous anthologies—including the prestigious Norton Reader—and received numerous citations in the Best American Essays series. He is currently writing a book on slavery in early America, under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.

Since 2002, Goodheart has been a part-time visiting fellow and lecturer at Washington College, where he has taught courses in American Studies, English, and History. Through his affiliation with the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, he has created and implemented a wide range of successful programs, including the Senatorial Colloquy on American History and Politics (with former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh), the Frederick Douglass Fellowships, and the Chestertown History Weekend.

Goodheart is a 1992 graduate in American history and literature, magna cum laude, of Harvard College, where he won the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize and the Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship, among other honors. A native of Philadelphia, he now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Established in 2000 with a grant from the New York-based Starr Foundation, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience draws on the special historical strengths of Washington College and colonial Chestertown to explore the early republic, the rise of democracy, and the manifold ways in which the founding era continues to shape American culture through innovative educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach. In cooperation with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Center administers the George Washington Book Prize, a $50,000 annual prize recognizing outstanding published works that contribute to a greater understanding of the life and career of George Washington and/or the founding era.

News about upcoming events and programs sponsored by the Center is available online at