Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zumba Fitness Instructors Lead "Party in Pink" Fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research

CHESTERTOWN—A "Party in Pink" Zumbathon Fundraiser will raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Saturday, October 9 in Cain Gym on the Washington College campus in Chestertown. Styled like an open house, the event welcomes participants to drop in and exercise whenever they can between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in exchange for a $10 donation (cash or check made out to Susan G. Komen for the Cure).

More than 10 Zumba fitness instructors from the Delmarva area will lead the dances, which boost aerobic and strength fitness through dance movements set to a fun Latin beat. No experience is necessary. Participants should wear comfortable workout clothes—pink if possible—and aerobics shoes or non-marking sneakers.

All ages are encouraged to attend, and spectators are welcome.

The event is sponsored by the Washington College Office of Campus Recreation. For information, call Aundra Weissert at 443-480-5603 or visit the event Facebook page.

Photo above: A previous Zumba fundraiser in Cain Gym raised money for Haitian earthquake relief.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poet Charles Bernstein to Read from His Work October 5 at Rose O'Neill Literary House

CHESTERTOWN—The poet Charles Bernstein will read from his work Tuesday, October 5, at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College. He has titled the reading “Recalculating: Poetry, Poetics, Performance.”

The prolific Bernstein is the author of 40 books, ranging from large-scale collections of poetry and essays to pamphlets, libretti, translations and collaborations. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania as the Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature.

His most recent full-length book of poetry is All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems, published this year by Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Writing in the New York Times, reviewer Daisy Fried identified Bernstein as one of the “language poets” who emerged in the 1970s with a focus on the materiality of language. “Their work is often most subversive when both joining and satirizing that weary old, dreary old genre, poetry about poetry,” she wrote. “Early Bernstein can be opaque, annoying those who see difficulty as elitist and who want poetry to be cuddly and educational. But everyone should love the later Bernstein, a writer who is accessible, enormously witty, often joyful — and even more evilly subversive.

“This calculating, improvisatory, essential poet won’t tell you the truth wrapped up in a neat little package,” Fried concluded in her review of All the Whiskey. “He might show it to you when you’re least expecting it.”

Among the more than 20 earlier volumes of poetry by Bernstein are Girly Man (2006), With Strings (2001), Republics of Reality: 1975-1995 (2000), Dark City (1994), Rough Trades (1991), The Nude Formalism (1989), Stigma (1981) and Parsing (1976).

He has authored three books of essays—My Way: Speeches and Poems (1999), A Poetics (1992), and Content's Dream: Essays 1975-1984 (1986)—and edited many anthologies of poetry and poetics, including Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word (1998) and The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (1984, with Bruce Andrews).

In addition, Bernstein has collaborated on several other major projects. He is co-founder and co-editor with Al Filreis of PENNsound, editor and co-founder with Loss Pequenño Glazier of The Electronic Poetry Center, coeditor with Hank Lazer of Modern and Contemporary Poetics, a book series from the University of Alabama Press, and host and co-producer or the radio series LINEbreak and Close Listening. The New York City native received his B.A. from Harvard College.

The Rose O'Neill Literary House is located at 407 Washington Avenue on the Washington College campus. The October 5 reading is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee and is free and open to the public. To learn more about the Sophie Kerr lecture series, visit

photo credit: Jemimah Kuhfeld

Washington College Stages Moliere's Health-Care Comedy "The Imaginary Invalid"

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College’s Department of Drama will present a timely comedy about health care, Moliere’s 1673 masterpiece The Imaginary Invalid, October 7, 8 and 9, at 8 p.m. in Decker Theatre.

The play fills the stage with outrageous characters and comic shenanigans as it follows the tale of Argan, a hypochondriac who wants his daughter to marry a physician so he can have a doctor in the family. Unfortunately for him and his health anxieties, she much prefers to marry someone else.

As the plot unfolds, we also meet Argan’s personal physician and apothecary, charlatans out to financially bleed their patient; his wife, who is out to dupe him out of his money; and his saucy maid and reasonable brother, who try to show him how foolish he is. The play ends with a parody of a typical French induction ceremony through which a student becomes a physician; and in this farce, the new doctor in the house is none other than Argan!

“Poking fun at 17th-century medical practices can make it a bit easier to take modern-day headlines about fraud and malfeasance in the health-care, insurance and drug industries,” says associate professor of drama Jason Rubin, who is co-directing the play with colleague Polly Sommerfeld, a lecturer in drama.

The play also explores the psychology of the hypochondriac through Argan, Rubin adds. “He is healthy as an ox but views every slight physical and mental discomfort as the beginning of his end. Why does someone like Argan, who has a stunning wife, two adoring children and enough money to make his life comfortable, think that if he does not take his medicine or purge himself he will die? On a superficial level, he simply wants attention. But like all well-developed characters in theater, he also is asking the big questions: Who am I and what is my place on this planet?”

Juniors Michael Zurawski and Alyssa Velasquez lead the 22-member cast as Argan and his maid Toinette. Professor of dance Karen Smith is choreographer, and senior Susanne Vaughn has designed the scenery as part of her Senior Capstone Experience for the Department of Drama.

For the opening musical number, “the Shepherdess,” Washington College lecturer in music Anthony Harvey, a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, arranged the original melody by Marc-Antoine Charpentier to be recorded by his Baltimore-based ensemble, Charm City Baroque, on recorders, cello and theorbo, a 17th century instrument that resembles a lute. Soprano Anna Burress, a Washington College student, will sing the Shepherdess song live during the production.

For reservations call 410-778-7835 or email Students and senior citizen tickets are $3, general admission is $5.

Bill Schindler's Study of Stone-Age Weapons and Armor Hits a Bull's-eye in Danish Media

Assistant professor of archaeology Bill Schindler spent a week in Denmark this past summer doing research on early stone-tipped weaponry and the effectiveness of possible forms of armor from the Stone Age. Schindler was working on a grant from Sagnlandet Lejre, or “Lejre: Land of Legends,” a research center and educational tourist attraction established in 1964 in the Danish town of Lejre. While there, Schindler was interviewed for a feature in the Danish weekly Weekendavisen, a publication his hosts compared to the American Time magazine. The following is a translation of the article by Mette Løgeskov Lund.

Deadly Flint

How far do arrows penetrate into a human body? Stone Age weapons technology tested by American anthropologist

It is almost like taking a step back in time. Nature is still wild and there are winding gravel roads and trails. Butterflies and dragonflies flap around in a paradise of wild plants, while flies buzz around the eyes of wild Aurochs. In a small pavilion of rough hewn logs there is a very happy man cradling a bowl he has just removed from the fire.

The sticky substance in the bowl turns out to be homemade glue made from the hides of animals. The man, Bill Schindler, is an assistant professor of anthropology at Washington College in the USA. He is here in Denmark for a week conducting research at Lejre: Land of Legends (formerly known as Lejre Experimental Research Center) in Lejre. He is here to test the effectiveness of Stone Age flint-tipped arrows in warfare.

Lejre: Land of Legends is the perfect place for these experiments. The 43 hectares of land is home to the Stone Age, Iron Age and Viking Age, where everything is replicated from scratch authentically based on archaeological evidence. This is how Bill Schindler conducts research as well. Everything he needs for his experiment he makes completely from scratch using the same materials and technologies utilized in the past. This helps to ensure that the data derived from the experimental research is as authentic as possible. All that remains is that he clothe himself in old animal skins to get into the role. But Bill Schindler conducts his research while wearing worn jeans and a Washington College T-shirt.

Bill Schindler began working with flint 12 years ago. He has always had interest in the outdoors and is skilled in many primitive technologies. "Flint is very predictable. When I strike the rock I can predict the size and shape of the flake that will be removed," says Schindler, and then he demonstrates the claim to perfection. But like so much else, it is a craft that takes time and patience to learn. With his long experience, he is now able to make an arrowhead in half an hour from his first strike of the stone.

When they are finished, he glues the stone tips solidly to the foreshaft, a small piece of wood that can be pushed into the tip of an arrow shaft. Bill Schindler's father and 4-year-old son actually made the rivercane arrows for the experiment. He made the glue from boiling animal skins. It is a very strong glue, which he inadvertently demonstrates when he accidentally glues his finger together after having shown how an arrowhead is affixed to the shaft.

To really test an arrow’s effectiveness in war, you should should it into something resembling human flesh. To accomplish this, Bill Schindler has made blocks of ballistic gel specially formulated to mimic human flesh. The gel is transparent, so he can accurately see and measure how far into the “flesh” the arrow penetrates and how much damage it would cause in the body.

With a replica of a 2,000 year-old longbow, Bill Schindler shoots at a gel blocks from 15 feet away. This corresponds to shooting at a naked man, he explains, and the arrow penetrates 18 centimeters into the body. "It will certainly result in the certain death, "notes Schindler, assuming the shooter has hit a vital place.

Now it is time to test whether different types of clothing or armor can protect against stone-tipped arrows. He covers the blocks with a variety of materials: linen fabric and animal skins from different animals, tanned in different ways and in different thicknesses.

He has tanned one of the skins, the buckskin, using the brains from the animal itself. "Every animal has enough brain mass to tan their own hides,” he says with a smile. It is a laborious process in which a combination of brains and water are worked into the hide. The skin must be worked continuously until completely dry. Then it must be smoked over rotten wood. The result is a very soft leather suitable for clothing. Schindler also has a vegetable tanned cowhide. This process makes the leather hard and rigid and may have been used to create a form of armor.

Just as Bill Schindler has expected, neither the vegetable or brain tanned leathers are very effective against the arrows. In fact, the arrows shot in these tests penetrated only a few centimeters shy of the arrows shot into the uncovered gelatin. “An arrow shot into a human wearing a body covering made of either type of leather, if shot into the right place, would still cause traumatic injuries and certainly lead to death," Schindler believes.

A bigger surprise awaits when he tests the effectiveness of multiple layers of fabric. "There is some evidence that people in the past used layers of fabric as a protection against the arrows," he says. To test this, he performed tests with various layers of linen. The final test using 8 layers of linen was the most surprising, and almost completely stopped the arrow. The tip of the arrow only penetrated 0.7 centimenters through the fabric and would have only caused a small flesh wound.

Clearly, further experiments are necessary to obtain a better understanding of all the factors involved, but it is a good start, Schindler notes with excitement. Although his results are preliminary, he is optimistic about the hundreds of similar experiments he will be conducting during his sabbatical in the spring at his home in the U.S.; he will test all the factors that may impact the penetration of stone-tipped projectiles including size, shape, material choice, hafting style, and distance. "Researchers have been curious about the effectiveness of prehistoric weapons,” says Schindler. “Instead of just making assumptions, we can go out and actually perform tests. Combined, the results from all of these tests will provide a more accurate picture of the effectiveness of the prehistoric projectiles.”

For information on Lejre: Land of Legends: (

View more photos of Schindler's work in Denmark.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Talk Focuses on John Muir, Environmental Writing

Dr. Mark Long, Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Keene State College in New Hampshire, will focus on the man called “the Father of the National Park Service” when he discusses writing about the environment Monday evening, September 27 at Washington College. The talk, “John Muir and the Mountains of California: Prospects for Environmental Thinking and Writing” will start at 7:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall of the John S. Toll Science Center.

John Muir was a botanist and environmental pioneer who co-founded the Sierra Club. Long serves on the executive council of ASLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, and on the editorial advisory board of its journal, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment. He is the co-editor of the recently published book Teaching North American Environmental Literature. His talk is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee and is free and open to the public.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Historian Puts America's Current Economic Woes in Context with Past Crashes and Crises

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Historian Scott Reynolds Nelson, author of a forthcoming book on America’s history of financial implosions and collapses, will put the current one in perspective when he visits Washington College Thursday, October 7. In a 7:30 p.m. talk in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, Nelson will illustrate how issues torn from today’s newspapers—mortgage meltdowns, easy credit, insider trading—are hallmarks of almost every American financial disaster over the last two centuries. “Crash: A History of America’s Financial Disasters” will compare the recent economic crisis and its lingering effects to crises that came before, including the Great Depression, the Panic of 1873, and the lesser-known crashes of the 19th century.

“As we continue picking up the pieces from the latest crash, we’re all looking to understand what happened,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, a co-sponsor of the event. “Scott Nelson offers the long view, reminding us that previous generations have weathered similar experiences, drawing from them lessons that might be valuable for our own age.”

Scott Reynolds Nelson is Legum Professor of History at the College of William & Mary, and is spending the academic year 2010-11 as a Charles Warren Fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of several books on American history, including Iron Confederacies: Southern Railways, Klan Violence, and Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press, 1999) and the award-winning Steel Drivin’ Man: John Henry, the Untold Story of an American Legend (Oxford University Press, 2006). Singer Bruce Springsteen applauded Steel Drivin’ Man as “a tribute and requiem to the real steel drivin’ men who built this country.”

Nelson is also the author of Ain’t Nothing But a Man, a book on John Henry for young adult readers, co-authored with Marc Aronson. As a scholar and writer, he is known for his ability to trace the interconnections between economics, politics, and culture.

Nelson’s new book, Crash: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, is under contract with Alfred A. Knopf. The project began with an October 2008 article about the Panic of 1873, “The Real Great Depression,” which predicted that the current crisis would more closely resemble the 1873 disaster than the 1929 one. The article was first published in the Chronicle of Higher Education and later translated and published in six languages.

Scott Nelson’s October 7 presentation is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Department of Business Management at Washington College.

About the C.V. Starr Center

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history – and particularly the legacy of its Founding era – in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. For more information on the Center and on the Patrick Henry Fellowships, visit

Expert on Nuclear Security and Terrorism To Share Experiences in North Korea

CHESTERTOWN—International security expert Jim Walsh will visit Washington College Wednesday, October 6, to share his experiences as an analyst discussing nuclear issues with North Korean officials. The talk, “Inside the Hermit Kingdom, Nuclear Weapons, Alcohol and What I learned in North Korea,” will be held at 4:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the College campus. Sponsored by the Political Science Department, the event is free and open to the public.

Walsh is a Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Security Studies Program, where he specializes in topics involving terrorism, nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. He is one of only a handful of Americans who have traveled to both Iran and North Korea to talk with officials about nuclear issues.

Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss got to know Walsh through his own research and policy work on terrorism and nuclear issues. “Jim Walsh is a first-rate scholar who supplements his academic expertise with real-world investigative zeal,” he says. “His visit will be a great treat for students, faculty and members of the community."

Walsh’s experience and research make him a highly sought-after expert in the media. His comments and analyses have been published in numerous national and international media, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Times of London. His most recent writing has focused on Egypt’s nuclear future and the challenges of dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He is working on a new book about North Korea’s nuclear issues to be published by Yale University Press.

He also has made more than 700 appearances on television and radio news programs since 2001, including more than 300 appearances on CNN.

Before joining MIT, Walsh was executive director of the Managing the Atom project at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a visiting scholar at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Earlier in the day, Walsh will meet with Dr. Christine Wade’s “Revolutions, Violence and Terrorism” class to talk about his experiences in Iran, including meetings with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Poetry and Project Runway Mix Tuesday, September 28 at Washington College

CHESTERTOWN—Haute couture meets half-rhyme on Tuesday evening, September 28, at 7 p.m. when the Rose O’Neill Literary House brings acclaimed fashion designer Andrae Gonzalo and Harvard University professor Stephen Burt to Tawes Theatre for a playful program titled “Poetry and Project Runway, or How to Take Criticism.”

Gonzalo, who won fame during Season 2 of the Bravo TV show, “Project Runway,” is designing four new looks to be modeled by Washington College students. Burt, New York Times poetry critic, will be on hand to discuss the work of Washington College creative writing students who will also walk the runway to perform their own poems. Burt’s recent essay “Poetry and Project Runway: Should book critics take their cues from Tim Gunn?” inspired the event, says Literary House director Mark Nowak. “This unique runway show will open a space for us to dig deep into the heart of how we take criticism … as artists, as designers, and as people prone to voice our ideas and opinions.”

The event is free and open to the public. The Rose O’Neill Literary House supports the creative writing culture at Washington College through programs that cross disciplines to connect students and faculty to the wider culture of literature and the creative arts. It collaborates with the English Department, the Sophie Kerr Committee, and the PEN World Voices Festival to host readings, lectures and student-centered workshops with writers from across America and around the globe.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two WC Seniors Participate in CNBC's Town Hall Event on the Economy with President Obama

Photos: Participants await check in early Monday morning. John Harwood introduces the President. On TV screen shot, W.C. students Waldeck and Lawson appear at top left edge of audience.

Washington College seniors Lauren Lawson and Chris Waldeck got an insider's view of a major media event Monday, Sept. 20 when they took part in the CNBC Town Hall Event on the economy with President Obama, broadcast live from the Newseum in Washington. The invitation for Washington College to participate came from CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood, an honorary alumnus and long-time friend of the College, who moderated the Town Hall Event.

Waldeck and Lawson were selected to represent the College by their professors in business management and economics. They survived the advance security checks and vetting by network producers and were among 227 people of varied ages and occupations seated in the Newseum's studio for the noon broadcast. They also prepared questions for the President in hopes of being one of the few audience members invited to the microphone.

Lawson, a double major in economics and business management, wanted the president's outlook on the job market for spring 2011 and his advice on how new graduates can find jobs.

Waldeck, an economics major, wanted Obama's ideas on how to get American businesses to stop sitting on nearly 2 trillion of financial capital and invest it in the nation's economy.

Neither would have the chance to ask their question. But both were satisfied just to be in the audience, four rows away from Harwood and Obama, for the hour-long production. "The feeling of being in the room with the President did not wear off," says Waldeck, who is the treasurer of the Washington College Republicans. Being so close to the President did not convince him to switch parties, but he says he was "extremely impressed with how quickly Obama could carefully word his responses."

Lawson, who describes herself as an Obama supporter who has been disappointed with the effectiveness of the president's policies so far, did get her 15 seconds of fame earlier in the day: While waiting in line outside the Newseum, she was interviewed for CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," which aired live from 9 to 11 a.m.

CNBC rebroadcast "Investing in America: A CNBC Town Hall Event With President Obama" that evening at 8 p.m., which gave Lawson and Waldeck the chance to see what the TV audience saw.

Lawson enjoyed being able to compare how the event came across from both inside and outside the intimate studio. "I thought that both the questioners and Obama made some powerful arguments, though there is much left to be considered," she says. "Of course, it was fun to spot Chris and myself in the audience!" For more on the event, including slides and video, go to:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Washington College to Install President Reiss October 2 with Ceremony and Special Events

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College will install Mitchell B. Reiss as its 27th president Saturday morning October 2 on the College Green with traditional pomp and ceremony. Beginning at 11 a.m., a brass quartet, an academic procession and welcoming remarks from representatives of campus and state-wide constituencies will lead up to remarks from the new head of campus. The installation ceremony will be the centerpiece of a weekend filled with special activities, speakers and panels designed to celebrate the academic excellence, artistic creativity and athletic prowess of the College.

Reiss, who began his tenure as president on July 1, is a scholar and diplomat best known for his work negotiating with North Korea over nuclear issues and moving Northern Ireland toward a peaceful resolution of “The Troubles.” He received the rank of Ambassador as President George W. Bush’s Special Envoy for the Northern Ireland Peace Process from 2003 to 2007. For two of those years he served concurrently under then-Secretary of State Colin Powell as Director of the Office of Policy Planning in the U.S. Department of State.

Reiss and his family—wife Elisabeth, son Mathew and daughter Michael—moved to Chestertown from Williamsburg, VA, where for nearly a decade he served the College of William & Mary in a variety of teaching and administrative positions. Those posts included Dean and Vice Provost of International Affairs, Director of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies and, most recently, Diplomat in Residence.

A cum laude graduate of Williams College, Reiss went on to earn a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, a law degree from Columbia Law School, and a D.Phil. in international relations from Oxford University. He has written and spoken extensively on international security. His newest book, Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists, was released earlier this month by digital publisher Open Road Media as its first original e-book.

To celebrate the inauguration, the College has planned a variety of offerings that range from Irish music and dance to speakers on Revolutionary history and the value of the liberal arts. All events are free and open to the public. For a full listing of events, please visit The following are select highlights:


“The Founding Fathers of 1787: Lessons in Political Leadership,” a lecture by historian Richard Beeman, 5 p.m., Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts.

Winner of the prestigious 2010 George Washington Book Prize for Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House, 2009), Beeman teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and is a trustee of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. In Plain, Honest Men he explores the passionate intellectual and political conflicts that arose when the Founders met in Philadelphia over the summer of 1787 to design a radically new form of government.

(CANCELLED --- A Poetry Reading by Erika Meitner originally scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House has been cancelled.)


Making History: A Public Conversation on the Historian’s Craft, 9:30 a.m., Center Stage, Hodson Hall Commons.

Plain, Honest Men author Richard Beeman joins C.V. Starr Center director Adam Goodheart for an informal discussion and Q&A on how history is written. The talk also will focus on how the Founders’ view of the Constitution they created in 1787 compares to the ways Americans view the document today.

“History on the Waterfront: A Journey into Chestertown’s Past,” Audio tours, noon to 4, from the Custom House, corner of High and Water Streets.

A multimedia program created by the C.V. Starr Center in collaboration with Washington College and the wider Chestertown community, the 30-minute tour offers a walk back in time, into an era when the streets of this port town bustled with revolutionaries and convicts, slave traders, British soldiers and heroes of the Underground Railroad. The audio tour begins at the c. 1746 riverfront Custom House and extends along Chestertown’s historic waterfront.

W.C. Men’s Soccer vs. McDaniel College, 2 p.m., Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium

The Girls from Galway, Irish music and dance, 8 p.m. Martha Washington Square.

The College, in cooperation with the Mainstay in Rock Hall, presents popular Irish singer Carmel Dempsey along with percussionist and guitarist Michelle Mulhaire and button accordion player Éilís Egan of Riverdance fame. Also joining the fun will be two master Irish dancers.


Marc Castelli: The Art of the Waterman – The Simison Collection, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Kohl Gallery, Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.

This special exhibition features more than 20 paintings of working watermen and their boats by beloved Chesapeake Bay artist Marc Castelli. Seventeen of the paintings are on loan from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s. Tilghman Island collector Diane Simison donated them to the museum at her death.

Curated by Lindsley Rice, the exhibition is co-sponsored by the Maritime Museum and the College’s Center for Environment & Society. It will continue during Kohl Gallery hours through October 30. (Gallery hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 5 p.m.; Fridays noon to 6 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)

Inauguration of Mitchell B. Reiss, 11 a.m., Campus Lawn (Rain location: Benjamin A. Johnson Lifetime Fitness Center).

Dignitaries expected to bring official greetings include U.S. Congressman Frank Kratovil; national Phi Beta Kappa Society secretary John Churchill; Chestertown mayor Margo Bailey; and Notre Dame College of Maryland president Mary Pat Seurkamp, Chair of the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association.

Speaking on behalf of campus constituencies will be Student Government Association President Andrew Antonio, Career Center counselor Vicky Sawyer, Alumni Board chair Timothy Reath and drama professor Michele Volansky.

The chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors, Edward Nordberg, will bestow the presidential medallion on Mitchell Reiss, who will then deliver his inaugural remarks.

Leadership and the Liberal Arts: Perspectives from the Alumni, 2 p.m., Litrenta Lecture Hall, John S. Toll Science Center.

The Washington College chapter of the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa invites four alumni to talk about the skills and talents they honed as undergraduates and about other ways Washington College prepared them for leadership roles in their workplaces and communities. Panelists include Barry Drew ’70, Chris DePietro ’87, Michele Volansky ’90 and Kim Last ’07. Michael Harvey, Associate Professor of Business Management, will moderate.

Roundtable Discussion on Religion and Politics in Europe, 2:30 p.m. Hotchkiss Recital Hall, Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts, sponsored by the Goldstein Program’s Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics and Culture.

Led by Washington College political science professor Joseph Prud’homme and guest speaker Stephen Strehle of Christopher Newport University, this discussion will focus largely on the rise of Nazism and its lingering effects on European politics and religion. Strehle, author of numerous publications on religion and politics in Western culture, will address how the Nazi ideology displaced traditional religious views in Europe from the 1920s through the 1940s.

Prud’homme, who directs the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics and Culture, will update how the Nazi tragedy continues to influence religion and politics in Europe today. Two Junior Research Associates of the Institute, Washington College students Beverly Frimpong and Nicholas Paridon, will weigh in with what they learned studying religion and politics at Oxford and at Charles University (in Prague) over the summer of 2010.

Founded in the fall of 2009 as part of the Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture is dedicated to the objective study of religion and its influence on political and cultural affairs. It stresses respect for differences, openness to argument, and sensitivity to contending viewpoints. Programs include a distinguished speakers series and a new book series: Washington College Studies in Religion, Politics and Culture.

Reprise of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) presentation at the 2010 National Exposition, 3:30 p.m., Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall.

SIFE is all about using the power of business to make a better, more sustainable world; hence their slogan: “A head for business. A heart for the world.”

The Washington College SIFE chapter will showcase the presentation that earned its members the Regional Championship title last spring and took them to the national competition in Minneapolis in May. Competitors were required to focus on six areas: market economics, success skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, environmental sustainability and business ethics.

Among the projects that will be presented is “Shoes For Ghana.” Students will explain how 600 pairs of running shoes donated by the Washington College community ended up funding a sustainable family farm in Ghana, a farm that feeds its own family of five plus others in the community.

Presenters will include current SIFE officers Brittany Dunbar, Liam Delap, Joshua Tex, Andrew Antonio and Nicholas Longworth.

Open House Events, 2 to 4:30 p.m. throughout campus.

In downtown Chestertown, the College’s research vessel Callinectes will be docked at the High Street Public Landing, and the Public Archaeology Lab on the ground floor of the Custom House will be open for informational tours.

On main campus, student art will be exhibited in the Gibson Center for the Arts, Inaugural Greetings will be on display in Miller Library, and Alumni House will showcase a photographic history of the College. The Washington College bookstore will offer a special display of books and other publications by faculty and staff. And the Rose O’Neill Literary House will demonstrate its letterpress by printing Inaugural Bookmarks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Prize-Winning Historian Beeman to Discuss the Leadership that Created the U.S. Constitution

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Author Richard Beeman, whose Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution won the 2010 George Washington Book Prize, will deliver the Book Prize Lecture Thursday, September 30 at Washington College. Hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the Prize, the event begins at 4:15 with a book signing in the lobby of the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts. Following at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre is a special performance of the National Constitution Center’s live multimedia program “Freedom Rising.” Beeman’s talk, “The Founding Fathers of 1787: Lessons in Political Leadership,” begins at 5:15 p.m. in the same theater.

At 9:30 a.m. the following morning, Friday, October 1, the celebration continues in Hodson Hall Commons with “Making History,” an informal public conversation between Beeman and Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center. The two historians will probe the relationship between the way the framers of the Constitution viewed the document they created and the way modern Americans approach and understand it today. They will also discuss the process of writing history and take questions from the audience. “Making History” will take place in Center Stage, on the first floor of Hodson Hall Commons. All events are free and open to the public.

“We invite all members of the Washington College community to join us in honoring Dr. Beeman’s important book and exploring the history that it recounts,” Goodheart said. “Almost 225 years after the delegates to the Constitutional Convention closed the doors of Independence Hall behind them, Plain, Honest Men opens their secret proceedings to view, casting new light on decisions that continue to shape our laws, our politics, and our national identity.”

Richard Beeman is professor of history and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a trustee of the National Constitution Center. He has written five other books on revolutionary America, including Patrick Henry: A Biography (McGraw-Hill, 1974), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His prize-winning Plain, Honest Men is a dramatic and engrossing account of the men who met in Philadelphia over the summer of 1787 to design a radically new form of government. In exploring the daily debates of the Constitutional Convention, Plain, Honest Men reveals the passionate intellectual and political conflicts among the Founders.

“There has been a tendency among all Americans to regard the Founding Fathers as these mythic, carved-in-marble or cast-in-bronze figures,” said Beeman. “I wanted to make them real human beings. But I wanted to make them 18th-century human beings, not 21st-century human beings. I think that they approached the task with a humility that would be valuable in our present-day times.”

The jury of scholars who chose Beeman’s book as a finalist from among 62 nominees described it as “the best modern account of the Constitutional story,” noting that the book’s skilled narration of an event too many consider inevitable “restores that most fragile component of history – contingency.” Plain, Honest Men has received praise from innumerable reviewers and readers, including the eminent American historian Gordon Wood, who called it “the fullest and most authoritative account of the Constitutional Convention ever written.”

For more information about the George Washington Book Prize, which is co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and George Washington’s Mount Vernon, visit the Starr Center website at, or call 410-810-7165.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zero Hour Theatre Brings Spotswood Play "7 Lessons on Suicide" to WC Campus

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Zero Hour Theatre will present Stephen Spotswood’s dark comedy “7 Lessons on Suicide” Friday and Saturday, September 17 and 18, at Washington College. The production will be staged Friday at 9 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Tawes Theatre of the Gibson Center for the Arts.

The play unfolds as a young man struggles to dissuade his ex-girlfriend from committing suicide. His task is complicated by four quirky acquaintances intent on ending their own lives. The show runs approximately 60 minutes and contains profanity.

The show’s director, Tess Pohlhaus ’03, says the show is very, very dark but is ultimately about choosing life. “It deals with very serious issues in a deeply comedic way and with a lot of heart. We want the audience to leave the theater with a lot to think and talk about.”

Spotswood is an award-winning playwright who earned his undergraduate degree at Washington College in 1999, and the Zero Hour troupe consists largely of W.C. theater graduates. After holding a workshop reading of the play at Washington College in the late spring, Zero Hour premiered “7 Lessons On Suicide” to good reviews at the Capital Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C. this past July. DC Theatre Scene gave it four out of five stars and described it as “morbidly fascinating.” According to the Washington City Paper, “the premise is clever, and surprisingly humorous.”

Admission to the play is free and open to the public; a suggested donation of $2 is welcome. For more information, visit


PEN American Exec. Director to Remember Journalist Murray Kempton in Sept. 20 Talk

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Steven Isenberg, executive director of PEN American Center, will present a tribute to the late journalist Murray Kempton when he delivers the Harwood Lecture in American Journalism on Monday, September 20 at Washington College. The talk, titled “Another Sage of Baltimore: An Appreciation of Murray Kempton,” will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, and will be followed by a reception.

Isenberg took the helm of PEN American Center in August of 2009. The largest branch of the world’s oldest international human rights organization, PEN American Center has a membership of 3,400 writers, translators and editors. Basing its programs on the belief that free expression is an essential component of a healthy society, the Center promotes writing and literature, defends writers from persecution and opposes censorship around the world.

Earlier in his career, Isenberg worked in journalism, academia, government and law. He has been interim president of Adelphi University, publisher of New York Newsday, an executive of the Los Angeles Times and chief-of-staff to New York Mayor John Lindsay. He also has taught at numerous colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin (where he received a 2007 Teaching Excellence Award), Berkeley, Yale and Davidson.

The subject of Isenberg’s talk was a colorful character known for his sense of fairness, his intellectual curiosity and his elaborate prose. Murray Kempton grew up in Baltimore and attended Johns Hopkins University, where he was editor of the student newspaper. His 50-year career as a reporter, columnist and editor played out in New York City, starting with the New York Post and ending with Newsday, where he won a Pulitzer Prize.

Isenberg, who worked with Kempton as publisher of New York Newsday, believes the quality of the writer’s character and work is instructive today. His talk will include excerpts from Kempton’s columns and books and the principles that guided him. “My goal is that, after hearing my remembrance, anyone who has never read Murray Kempton will be curious to do so,” says Isenberg. “And those who have read him in the past will be reminded of his achievement and his meaning for today.”

The Richard Harwood Lecture Series was established in honor of the late Washington Post editor and columnist Dick Harwood, who taught and mentored student journalists at Washington College in the 1990s after moving to Chestertown. The event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Historian Striner to Read from New Book, "Lincoln's Way," Sept. 23 at Washington College

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Historian Richard Striner will read from his new book, Lincoln’s Way: How Six Great Presidents Created American Power, and discuss presidential leadership Thursday, September 23 on the Washington College campus. The reading, sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room of the Miller Library and will be followed by a reception and book signing. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Published by Rowman & Littlefield, Striner’s book explores the power of the U.S. presidency to create sweeping and positive changes throughout the nation and the world. Scheduled for release on September 16, it has earned praise for combining scholarship and depth of knowledge with an engaging and clear style of writing. Blending intellectual history and presidential biography, it creates a valuable lens for viewing the present.

Striner explains how Abraham Lincoln set the stage for America’s global superpower status by using his federal authority in shrewd ways, borrowing from both ends of the political spectrum. It was a powerful, centrist way of leading that was adopted by five subsequent presidents: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

These presidents denounced the idea that government was “always the answer” but did believe it was “sometimes the answer” when it came to necessities. “They believed in the value of coordinated national life—in teamwork,” Striner writes in his introduction.

Lincoln’s Way earned advance praise from two well-known fellow historians and authors, James MacGregor Burns and James M. McPherson. Burns called Lincoln’s Way “an unforgettable book” and “must reading for lovers of American History—a fresh and spirited presentation of some of our greatest leaders, with special emphasis on key ideas, presented in a broad intellectual framework.”

Noting Striner’s “remarkable range of knowledge,” McPherson wrote: “Drawing on a lifetime of scholarship, the author writes with great clarity for a general audience beyond the academy, while at the same time offering original insights that deepen and broaden our understanding of how the government promoted greater justice and equity in the American socioeconomic order during the century from the 1860s to the 1960s.”

Striner’s earlier book, Father Abraham: Lincoln’s Relentless Struggle to End Slavery, was published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. A professor of history at Washington College, he is also is a senior writer for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Committee.

For more information on the reading, visit or call the Starr Center at 410-810-7161.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Musician/Historian Ned Sublette Presents "An Evening in New Orleans" September 21

CHESTERTOWN, MD— Ned Sublette, the 2010-11 Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at Washington College, will explore the cultural heritage of New Orleans in a performance titled "Kiss You Down South: An Evening of Music and History” September 21 at 6:30 on the College campus. Combining musical performance and history in a coffee-house setting, the event will take place in Center Stage, an intimate space in Hodson Hall Commons. It will include a book signing at 6 p.m.; admission is free and open to the public.

Sublette will share stories of America’s most unique city, home to a vibrant cultural heritage that has endured in the face of crippling poverty, endemic racism, and rising floodwaters. New Orleans' history is, in many ways, best told through its music, a product of centuries of interaction between diverse groups: Africans, West Indians, Creoles, Native Americans, Cubans, Haitians, and European-Americans. Through that diversity, the city has birthed or nurtured many of America’s great musical traditions, including jazz, blues, gospel, zydeco, hip hop, funk, Cajun, and rhythm & blues.

Sublette is an internationally renowned musician and cultural historian who brings a special perspective to the study of early America. A native of Texas, he has spent most of his working life in New York City. He is the author of several well-received books, including The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleans (2009) and The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square (2008), both published by Lawrence Hill Books, and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo (Chicago Review Press, 2004).

The Guardian (U.K.) has called his writing “astonishing work that explains much about our modern world,” and the Boston Globe has lauded The World That Made New Orleans as “an energetic and fascinating read … the best argument yet for why we need to save New Orleans.”

The Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship, provided by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and supported by the Rose O’Neill Literary House (the College’s center for literature and creative writing), offers a yearlong residency to authors doing innovative work on America’s founding era and its legacy. It is permanently endowed as part of a $2.5 million challenge grant package that the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded through its nationwide “We the People” initiative.

Sublette will use his residence at Washington College to continue work on a history of the American “slave coast” and the vast but little-known black migrations that shaped American history and culture from the 18th century to the present. Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center, describes Sublette’s approach as “groundbreaking,” and explains that, “while several excellent monographs have chronicled the role of specific mid-Atlantic port cities in the oceangoing domestic slave trade, none have explored the region as a whole as a ‘slave coast,’ similar in character and function, if not in scale, to the West African coast.”

As part of the fellowship, Sublette and his wife, the writer Constance Ash, are living in a restored 1735 house in the heart of Chestertown's colonial historic district. Sublette will co-teach a course at Washington College in the spring.

He is a previous recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University. He is also a classically trained guitarist and a songwriter. His albums as composer and vocalist include Cowboy Rumba, Monsters from the Deep and the forthcoming Kiss You Down South. He has been a producer for Public Radio International’s Afropop Worldwide, co-founding that program’s scholarly Hip Deep series, and was co-founder of the record label Qbadisc, which distributed Cuban music in the United States.

About the C.V. Starr Center
The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history – and particularly the legacy of its Founding era – in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students

photo credit: Constance Ash

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Novelist Colum McCann to Visit Campus Sept. 16

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Novelist Colum McCann leads off the 2010/11 Sophie Kerr lecture series at Washington College on Thursday, September 16 at 5 p.m. in Tawes Theater, the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.

A native of Ireland who now teaches at Hunter College in New York, McCann is the author of five novels and has been published in 30 languages. His most recent book, Let the Great World Spin (Random House, 2009), was praised by the New York Times as “an emotional tour de force” and became one of the most talked about books of the decade. Set in New York City in the 1970s, it has been described as an allegory of the city's resilient post-9/11 self.

The novel begins in August 1974 as tightrope walker Philippe Petit makes his way through the dawn light across the World Trade Center towers, committing the “artistic crime of the century” and stunning thousands of watchers below. Using the true story of Petit as a pull-through metaphor, McCann crafts a portrait of the city and a people, weaving together seemingly disparate lives.

Let the Great World Spin won the National Book Award and was chosen as Amazon's top Book of the Year. It placed McCann—whose remarkable previous books include Zoli and Dancer—at the very top rank of contemporary novelists.

Born in Dublin in 1965, McCann was named Esquire's Writer of the Year in 2003 and was awarded a prestigious French Chevalier des arts et lettres in 2009. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The Irish Times.

Sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee, McCann’s reading is free and open to the public. For more information on the author, visit To learn about other literary events at Washington College, please visit