Thursday, October 28, 2010

Washington College a Kiplinger "Best Value"

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College is one of the 100 best values among private liberal arts colleges, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. The publication’s annual list, released October 28, looked at data from 600 private universities and colleges before selecting the 100 universities and 100 liberal arts colleges that best combine a high-quality education with an affordable price.

To determine its combination of quality and affordability the survey considered such statistics as freshman test scores, student-to-faculty ratio and graduation rates, then determined the actual cost of tuition and fees after need-based aid and merit scholarships were considered.

The Best Values in Private Colleges list will appear in the December 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine and will be available at

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WC Hosts Talk on Watermen, Chat with Captains During Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown

CHESTERTOWN—As part of Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown, Washington College will celebrate the maritime traditions of the Chesapeake Bay with a Saturday lecture on the waterman’s culture and a Sunday forum with the captains of several visiting ships.

Saturday, October 30, a talk and reception will mark the closing of the exhibition “Marc Castelli: The Art of the Waterman, The

Simison Collection,” which has been on display in the Kohl Gallery of Art since October 2.

Beginning at 4 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Pete Lesher, chief curator at the Maritime Museum, will talk about the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay watermen. He will include words from the watermen themselves, mined from the oral history archives at the Museum. Afterward, the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College will host a reception in the Kohl Gallery. Students from the CES’s groundbreaking Chesapeake Semester will be on hand to share their experiences with guests.

The 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. The exhibition has been co-sponsored by the Maritime Museum and the CES. Prior to Saturday’s closing event, it will be on display during Kohl Gallery hours (Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday noon to 5 p.m.).

Both the Kohl Gallery and Decker Theatre are located in the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts, on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. The events are free and open to the public.

Captains Forum, Sunday 2:30 p.m., Custom House

Sunday afternoon Michael Buckley, program manager with the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, will moderate an informal forum with the captains of several visiting ships. The public is invited to attend this free Captains Forum to ask questions and learn what it’s like to command a tall ship in the 21st century.

The forum will take place between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. in the Washington College Custom House, 101 S. Water Street, downtown Chestertown. Buckley will record the discussion for “Voices of the Chesapeake Bay,” the popular radio series he hosts each Sunday morning on WRNR-FM radio, 103.1. The taping will be broadcast on the November 6 show, between 7 and 10 a.m.

Established in 2001, Downrigging Weekend marks the close of the Chestertown-based schooner Sultana’s sailing season and the beginning of “downrigging” for many of the region’s tall ships and traditional sailing vessels. The weekend offers the public opportunities to view, board and sail on the assembled fleet and to join in celebrating the maritime heritage of the region. The fleet of “tall ships” and historic vessels scheduled to participate in Downrigging Weekend 2010, include the 1812 privateer Lynx; the tall ship of Delaware, the Kalmar Nyckel; Maryland’s goodwill ship, the Pride of Baltimore; and a fleet of historic Chesapeake Bay buyboats.

Photo: Captain Jan Miles at the helm of Maryland's goodwill schooner, The Pride of Baltimore.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Author David Stewart to Recount the Tale of Aaron Burr's Western Expedition and Conspiracy Trial

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Historian, author and constitutional lawyer David O. Stewart will explore the convoluted and sensational tale of former Vice President Aaron Burr’s Western adventures in a talk at Washington College on Thursday, Nov. 11. Stewart's talk, "Aaron Burr: The Man Who Would Have Been Emperor," will begin at 5 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, located on W. Campus Avenue.

View photos of the event.

Stewart will share material from his forthcoming book, scheduled for release in November 2011 from Simon & Schuster. The book explores Burr’s audacious 1805 expedition to invade Spanish territories and incite secession of the nation’s Western lands. Burr’s venture climaxed in an 1807 treason trial before Chief Justice John Marshall, producing a powerful story that blends high adventure, political scheming and an essential turning point in the life of the nation.

David Stewart spent the summer of 2010 working on the book in residence at the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. As Washington College’s inaugural Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellow, he is the first to benefit from a new partnership between the Starr Center and the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.

Founded with a $1 million endowment from The Hodson Trust, the new Hodson-Brown Fellowship supports recipients working on significant projects related to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. “David Stewart’s project on Aaron Burr exemplifies the sort of work the Hodson-Brown Fellowship exists to support,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the Starr Center.

Stewart spent last spring conducting research at Brown University, with full access to the rich historical collections of the John Carter Brown Library. Then he came to Chestertown, where he lived in the restored 1730s Patrick Henry Fellows’ Residence and worked in a Starr Center office in the 260-year-old Custom House.

Stewart has long combined his legal training and his interest in history and writing. He has clerked for Justice Lewis F. Powell, argued cases before the Supreme Court, reported for a Staten Island newspaper, written a monthly column for the American Bar Association Journal on the Supreme Court, and had a short story nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His first book, The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, was a Washington Post bestseller in 2007. His second, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy (2008), was also widely praised.

Stewart’s November 11 talk is free and open to the public.

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Schiff's Travel Slides and Research Trace the History of the Jewish Population in France

CHESTERTOWN—Dr. Gary Schiff, an adjunct professor of history at Washington College, will present a slide-lecture on his recent trip to study the Jewish communities of France on Thursday evening, November 11, at 5:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, located in Hodson Hall on the College campus. Entitled “In Search of Tsarfat: Seeking Jewish Roots in La Belle France,” the talk is free and open to the public.

Jews have been living in France (Tsarfat is the Hebrew name for the country) since Roman times. Numbering more than 600,000 today and living in all parts of the country, French Jews constitute the largest Jewish community on the European continent.

Schiff visited a wide array of communities on his trip this past summer. He researched and photographed synagogues and other Jewish sites in the largest cities—Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, and Marseilles. And he trekked to smaller towns like Troyes, Montpellier, Avignon and Pezenas where, during the Middle Ages, Jews sometimes lived in walled ghettoes. “I was amazed that Troyes, the capital of the Champagne region and home to the renowned 11th century Jewish scholar Rashi, still looks like a medieval town,” he observes. “It still has period half-timbered houses, Gothic towers and cobblestone streets only a few feet wide. Nor has the 14th century Jewish ‘juiverie,’ or ghetto, in the walled town of Pezenas in the South of France changed very much physically either. Both seem frozen in time.”

In his talk, Schiff will share the ways in which France was heroic and democratic in its treatment of the Jews, and also how it fell into tragic anti-Semitism. During its own Revolution, in 1791, France was the first country to specifically grant equal rights to all Jews. In appreciation, the design and décor of many synagogues reflect a patriotic devotion to the country, says Schiff. An example is found over the main entrance to the original Great Synagogue of Paris, built in 1819, he notes, where the usual Biblical Hebrew phrase of greeting is replaced by “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there have been waves of destructive prejudice. The trial of Army Captain Albert Dreyfus, who was convicted of treason in 1894 but later exonerated, led to decades-long hostility toward Jews among many French. And under the Nazis, the Vichy government participated in the same persecution and genocide of the Jews that took place throughout Europe. About a quarter of France’s Jews, or 77,000 people, died in the Holocaust.

Schiff’s historical tour stopped at the sites of major concentration camps and also at smaller places that played a role in the Jews’ history, such as a chateau in the remote mountain village of Izieu where 44 Jewish children were hidden for a year before being arrested and sent to their deaths in Auschwitz.

This will be the fourth in Schiff’s series of public lectures on his visits to historic Jewish communities in Europe. Previous trips and talks focused on Spain, Germany and Poland. His experiences in Poland will be documented in a book that is scheduled to be published in 2011 by the Peter Lang Publishing Company under the imprint of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics and Society at Washington College.

Image: Dr. Gary Schiff, wearing his George Washington style sunglasses, poses in front of the Arc de Triomph in Paris.

What Kills Terrorism? Expert from National War College to Offer Answers in November 2 Talk

CHESTERTOWN—Audrey Kurth Cronin, an expert on terrorism and conflict resolution, will visit Washington College on Tuesday November 2, to offer her views on “How Terrorism Ends.” She will speak at 5 p.m. in Hyson Lounge of Hodson Hall on the College Campus, 300 Washington Avenue. Presented by the Goldstein Program in Public Affairs and the William James Forum, the talk is free and open to the public.

Currently Director of War and Statecraft and professor of strategy at the National War College in Washington, D.C., Cronin will base her talk on research from her 2009 book, How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns. The book, which was supported by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Peace, examines terrorist campaigns and their downfalls throughout history, and then outlines a strategy for speeding the demise of Al Qaeda.

Cronin wrote her book over two years she spent at Oxford University as Academic Director of Studies for the Changing Character of War program. She joined the National War College in the summer of 2007 as a full professor. Prior to that she was on the faculty of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she created a graduate course on political violence and terrorism that became well known long before the attacks of September 11th. She also has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland and Columbia University.

In addition to her 20-year career as a professor, Cronin holds extensive experience applying her research for government and military groups. She has served in various positions within the U.S. Government, with the Navy and the Department of Defense. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, she also advised members of Congress as Specialist in Terrorism at the Congressional Research Service.

Her earlier books include Ending Terrorism: Lessons for Defeating al-Qaeda (Routledge, 2008) and Attacking Terrorism: Elements of a Grand Strategy, co-authored with James M. Ludes (Georgetown University Press, 2004).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Junot Diaz to Read at Washington College

CHESTERTOWN—Junot Díaz, whose first novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won nearly every major literary prize for fiction, will read and discuss his work at Washington College on Monday, November 8, at 7 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. A book signing will follow.

Published in 2007, Díaz’s story about an overweight, nerdy Dominican immigrant growing up in New Jersey was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Mercantile Library Center’s John Sargent Prize for First Novel, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. It also was judged the best book of 2007 by many major newspapers, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.

Set in both the United States and the Dominican Republic, the novel explores the complexities of living in two cultures at once. The NewYork Times characterized the language as “so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.”

Washington College chose The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as the First-Year Book for the Class of 2014. The freshmen were encouraged to read it over the summer and arrive on campus ready to discuss it with classmates, faculty and staff.

Junot Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and came to the United States with his family at age 6, settling in New Jersey. His first book was a best selling collection of short stories titled Drown. Like his novel, those stories dealt with young Dominican immigrants assimilating into American culture.

His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), in Pushcart Prize XXII and in The O'Henry Prize Stories 2009, and he has received numerous awards and fellowships. He teaches creative writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is fiction editor at the Boston Review.

The November 8 reading at Washington College is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by The Rose O’Neill Literary House and the Dean’s Office.

Founder of WC's Literary Program Featured in "Chestertown Spy" Video Profile

CHESTERTOWN—Robert Day, Washington College professor of English emeritus, is the featured video interview this week in the online Chestertown Spy. In the interview, filmed by Kurt Kolaja (father of Karly Kolaja ’11), Day talks about his Kansas roots, the earliest days of the Sophie Kerr lecture series and his founding of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and the Literary House Press at Washington College. Day spent nearly four decades at the College, retiring in May of 2007.

In introducing the video profile, the Spy summed up Day’s contributions to Washington College and Chestertown this way:

“Students and colleagues have described Washington College professor and writer Bob Day as incorrigible, controversial, impossibly stubborn, radical, and egomaniacal. It’s also common for the same people to say he is an exceptionally gifted educator and writer, who is brilliantly persuasive, entrepreneurial, genuinely funny and quite ‘real’ in contrast to the rarified world of higher education academic life.

With almost forty years of living in and around Chestertown, the best-selling author and teacher delights in telling stories of battles won and lost with college presidents, English departments, and colleagues in his field of literature. But there is no greater proof of his unique impact on the community than his founding of the creative writing program at Washington College, and the creation of the O’Neill Literary House and Literary Press on Washington Avenue.

With a potent mixture of funding from the writer Sophie Kerr and Kansas chutzpah, Day made Chestertown a literary destination for such writers as Alan Ginsburg, Katherine Anne Porter, William Stafford, Toni Morrison, Joseph Brodsky, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Anthony Burgess, Edward Albee, poet Billy Collins and William Kennedy. The end result of his effort and vision has left Washington College with one of the most distinguished writing programs in the country. His most recent essay, ‘We’ll Always Have McSorley’s’ currently appears in American Scholar magazine.”

To watch the video, click here.

World Famous Performer Benjamin Bagby Brings Epic Poem "Beowulf" to Vivid Life at College

CHESTERTOWN—A performer with a booming baritone voice, a theatrical flair and an authentic medieval-style harp will bring the heroic epic poem Beowulf to spellbinding life when he visits Washington College Thursday, November 4, for a 7:30 p.m. performance in Decker Theatre, Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.

The way Benjamin Bagby performs the Anglo-Saxon epic in its original language, accompanying himself on the harp, has enthralled audiences and dazzled critics around the world. The Washington Post reported: "A seated Bagby held his audience spellbound for 75 uninterrupted minutes with just his voice, face and a few gestures with one arm. He keened, growled, sang and emoted, all within the poem's precise metrics, constantly changing tone, pacing and character."

"Mr. Bagby comes as close to holding hundreds of people in a spell as ever a man has,” wrote the New York Times. “When he has finished, you leave with the overwhelming impression that you know the anonymous poet who created Beowulf more than a dozen centuries ago, that you have felt the man's personality touch you."

Benjamin Bagby has devoted his adult life to medieval music and literature. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Oberlin College and the Oberlin Conservatory, he moved to Europe and in 1977 co-founded the medieval music group Sequentia with the late soprano Barbara Thornton. He still leads the group today from his home in Paris, where he teaches in the master’s program for medieval music at the Sorbonne.

No one knows when Beowulf was first created—theories range from the sixth century to the early eleventh century, when the manuscript was found. Bagby is certain, however, that the story of the Danish hero Beowulf and his battles with monsters has its roots in the art of the scop, or story-teller, whose recitations in song and speech were important to tribal gatherings in early medieval England.

With English subtitles projected behind him, Bagby recites Beowulf while playing a 6-string harp. The “bardic” instrument is modeled after the remains of one excavated from a seventh-century nobleman’s grave near Stuttgart, in Germany. On his web site, Bagby explains that the instrument provides a musical matrix of six tones “upon which the singer can weave both his own rhetorical shapes and the sophisticated metrics of the text. … In the course of the story the bard may move imperceptibly or radically between true speech, heightened speech, speech-like song, and true song. The instrument acts as a constant point of reference, a friend and fellow-performer, a symbol of the scop and his almost magical role in the community of listeners."

Professor Corey Olsen, a Tolkien specialist who teaches English at Washington College, says that in our modern age, when reading literature is primarily a silent and solitary experience, “Bagby’s performance brings audiences back into the ancient literary experience, which was oral, social, and communal. This is a unique opportunity to experience medieval poetry as it was meant to be enjoyed,” he adds.

The November 4 event, sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee, is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Former Risk-Management Exec Examines Leadership Failures in U.S. Financial Crisis

CHESTERTOWN—Clifford Rossi, a professor at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, will explore the key lapses in ethics and leadership that contributed to America's financial and economic crisis and suggest lessons for the way forward. Titled “A Crisis of Leadership: Lessons from the Financial Meltdown,” the talk will take place Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, on the Washington College campus.

In his analysis, Rossi will focus on the decisions made in both business and government. “Clifford Rossi has a unique perspective on America's financial meltdown,” says Washington College professor Michael Harvey, chair of the Department of Business and Business Management, which is sponsoring the lecture. “He draws on real-world experience and academic understanding of the complex intersections of finance, law, and leadership in times of uncertainty.”

Rossi is a Tyser Teaching Fellow and Managing Director of the Center for Financial Policy at Maryland's business school. Prior to entering academia, he spent nearly 25 years in banking and government. He held senior executive roles in risk management at several large financial services companies. His most recent position was Chief Risk Officer for Consumer Lending at Citigroup, where he was intimately involved in TARP funding and stress tests performed on the firm. He also was responsible for overseeing a $200 billion global mortgage portfolio and directing 700 employees.

Previous positions included Chief Credit Officer at Washington Mutual (WaMu), Chief Risk Officer at Countrywide Bank, and senior risk-management positions at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. In addition, he worked for a number of years at the Treasury Department and Office of Thrift Supervision, focusing on key policy issues affecting depositories.

Rossi was an adjunct professor in the Finance Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business for eight years before taking on the current full-time position. He holds a Ph.D. in financial economics from Cornell University

The Nov. 9 talk is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Literary House Director Mark Nowak Joins Al Jazeera for Coverage of Chilean Mine Rescue

CHESTERTOWN—Writer and social critic Mark Nowak, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, was invited to the newsroom of the Al Jazeera English network in Washington, D.C. Tuesday evening, October 12, to offer extended commentary on the rescue of 33 miners trapped for 69 days in the collapsed San José copper and gold mine in northern Chile.

Through his book Coal Mountain Elementary and his ongoing Coal Mountain blog , Nowak reminds everyone that tragedies occur almost daily in unsafe mines around the globe. The story from Chile has fascinated the world because of the record amount of time the men survived in their dark cavern while industry experts designed and executed a high-tech rescue. During his four hours in the Al Jazeera studio on Tuesday evening, test runs of the missile-like capsule were performed and the first miner was lifted to the surface. Nowak was featured in three separate segments during the rescue operations.

Nowak said he was honored to help narrate the historic mine rescue for millions of Al Jazeera English viewers across the globe (the network serves 220 million households in more than 100 countries). And he emerged deeply impressed with the network and news anchor Shihab Rattansi.

“I am typically quite critical of the major media’s coverage of the mining industry–the trend of sensationalizing the ‘miracle narrative’ while neglecting the almost daily death toll in the industry,” he notes. “But I was fortunate to see that another kind of media coverage was possible. I watched the critical consciousness of a news anchor at work as Rattansi critically pushed his guests and the on-site Al Jazeera reporters.”

Nowak observed as Rattansi furiously multi-tasked in typical anchor fashion—questioning the newsroom researcher who was following Twitter feeds from the rescue scene, reading and highlighting wire feeds, asking off-camera questions of the reporters on the ground, listening to information through his ear bud and taking cues from the cameraman.

“What was atypical was the way in which Rattansi processed this information when the camera was on,” Nowak said. “On multiple occasions throughout the night, he probed his interviewees about the media coverage of the event, particularly the seemingly staged presence of Chilean President (and former TV mogul) Sebastían Piñera.

“During each of my three segments that night, I felt engaged by someone who was not simply processing the tweets and the wire stories and the ear bud messages for the most heart-wrenching human interest stories (and the best Nielsen ratings), but someone who was processing all that information in order to simultaneously tell the story and question how the story is being told.”

Images: Top, poet Mark Nowak, director of the Literary House at Washington College, offered commentary on Al Jazeera English newscasts led by anchor Shihab Rattansi, bottom.

College Hosts Congressman Kratovil and Challenger Harris to Discuss the Political Process

CHESTERTOWN—The Goldstein Program in Public Affairs and the William James Forum will host talks by U.S. Congressman Frank Kratovil and his Republican challenger, anesthesiologist and state senator Andy Harris. The appearances come a day apart and are accompanied by receptions. The public is welcome.

Congressman Kratovil, a Democrat serving his first term in Congress, will speak on the topic “Reclaiming A Middle Ground in Washington” at 2 p.m., Wednesday, October 20 in Hynson Lounge of Hodson Hall. A reception will follow.

The following day, October 21, Harris will address the topic “Restoring the American Dream” at 3 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center. A reception will precede the talk at 2:30 in the McLain Atrium.

The Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs was established in 1990 to encourage students to enter public service by introducing them to exemplary leaders, both in and out of government. The William James Forum was established in 1963 to perpetuate philosopher William James’ interest in the value of ideas.

Images: graphics by Ray Noll

Monday, October 18, 2010

Author to Explore Leadership Skills Of Explorer Shackleton and Captain Bligh

CHESTERTOWN—Best selling author Caroline Alexander will compare two men she knows intimately, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Captain William Bligh, when she delivers a Downrigging Weekend Lecture Friday, October 29th at 7 p.m.

Titled “Shackleton and Bligh: Two Legendary Open-Boat Voyages and a Contrast of Leadership Under Crisis,” the talk will take place at The Prince Theater, 210 High Street, Chestertown.

Alexander’s 1999 book, The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, recounted how, after a failed attempt to be the first explorer to cross the Antarctic by foot in 1914, Shackleton led his crew on an icy 800-mile voyage back to civilization in open life boats, saving every life.

For her next project, she researched the real story of the famous 1789 mutiny on the HMS Bounty. She discovered that much of what she and the public thought was true was maliciously false, a product of early spin-doctoring by friends and family of mutiny leader Christian Fletcher. Her 2003 book The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty portrayed Captain Bligh as a competent, considerate and strong leader who, after being set adrift in a small lifeboat with 18 crew members, led that craft and crew through a 48-day, 3,600-mile voyage to safety.

Recounting stories from both Shackleton’s and Bligh’s rescue voyages, more than 100 years and oceans apart, Alexander will explore how these two very different leaders held their men together through extraordinary circumstances.

Free and open to the public, this lecture is sponsored by the Sultana Projects, the Van Dyke Family Foundation and the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College. It is one of many events planned to celebrate the Sultana’s annual downrigging for the season (For information, visit


Renewable Energy Firm Launches Statewide Wind-Power Study at Washington College

ANNAPOLIS–Seven Seas Energy, a renewable-energy developer based in Annapolis, has partnered with Washington College as part of the company’s 12-month wind study to determine the feasibility of placing micro wind turbines throughout Maryland. Beginning in October, the study will determine the feasibility of installing micro turbines for use by homeowners and small businesses.

“Recently there have been several advances in micro turbines which allow for more energy production at lower wind speeds,” says Teris Pantazes '03, who created Seven Seas with Washington College classmate Drew Frank '03 in 2007. By working with Washington College and other sites across the state, his company hopes to redraw wind maps in Maryland and establish a set of new boundaries where wind energy is possible.

The smaller turbines are usually overlooked by larger utility-scale energy developers. “We’re in a different world when it comes to micro turbines,” says Teris. “Turbines as small as 6 to 10 feet can be installed on rooftops and vacant ground to help save energy costs and offset the carbon footprint of businesses and homeowners alike. They also can provide a financial benefit; we are working to determine just how significant that can be.”

In addition, Seven Seas Energy will eventually set up a web-based monitor in order to make data from the research available to Washington College for academic and research purposes. In 2007 Washington College signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), and is constantly looking into ways it can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Briggs Cunningham, who is the Climate Action Coordinator at the College’s Center for Environment & Society, says that “it will probably take a number of different renewable energy systems to drastically reduce the College’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory; and working with Seven Seas to look at wind data is one positive step toward that goal.”

Seven Seas Energy is an Annapolis-based developer of renewable energy that focuses largely on solar and wind systems with commercial and utility applications. Seven Seas Energy first sparked public notice by creating the development plan for the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park, which is being negotiated with city officials.

For more information on the anemometer’s installation at the College, visit

Photo: Briggs Cunningham, Climate Action Coordinator for the Center for Environment & Society, helps to coordinate campus and community sustainability projects. If the anemometer shows enough windpower in this location, Washington College might begin to invest in vertical-axis turbines to generate electricity.

Friday, October 15, 2010

CES Sponsors Harvest Moon Paddle Oct. 22

CHESTERTOWN – Watch the sun set to the west and the full moon rise in the east during a “full moon float” at Eastern Neck Island on Friday, October 22, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Meet at 5:30 p.m. at Bogles Wharf, a public landing on Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, for gear check and instructions before heading out on the water. Previous paddling experience necessary. Bring your own canoe or kayak, life vest and flashlight.

Some would say we are “lunatics,” say trip leaders Gren Whitman and JoAnn Fairchild. “But the setting sun creates an amazing canvass of contrasting and blending colors across the sky and reflecting in the river,” says Whitman. “Great photo opportunities arise,” adds Fairchild, and paddling by the light of the moon brings you closer to the magical sounds of ducks and geese rafting in the marsh.

Free and open to the public, this event is sponsored by the Friends of Eastern Neck and the Center for Environment & Society (CES) at Washington College. To register, or for more information, contact or 410-778-7295. In case of foul weather, the paddle will be cancelled. To learn more about recreational opportunities through the Friends of Eastern Neck, Inc. visit or call 410-639-7056. For landlubbers, there’s a shoreline cleanup at the Refuge on Sunday, October 24th, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Books-into-Film Event at Washington College To Screen and Discuss "The Color Purple"

CHESTERTOWN—Miller Library at Washington College will host a Books-To-Film event Wednesday October 27th at 6 p.m. in the Sophie Kerr Room of the library. The subject of the free movie screening and literary discussion will be The Color Purple, Alice Walker’s novel about the life of black women in rural Georgia in the 1930s, and the 1985 film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. Alisha Knight, an associate professor of English at the College, will lead the screening and discussion.

The event is part of a statewide project sponsored by five college libraries and the Maryland Humanities Council through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. On its website, the Humanities Council describes the “Books into Film” program as an effort to “sustain the value of literature and the written word in handling complex themes and promoting deep thinking, while celebrating the immediacy of film in contemporary culture and its ability to engage audiences with powerful images. … The screening and ensuing discussion will uncover critical insight into literary and film devices such as story line (plot), characterization, and setting, as well as how mood, tone, and other subtleties of language are reinterpreted through images, music, and sounds.”

Faculty, staff, and students of Washington College as well as members of the community are invited to attend the Oct. 27 event. To encourage participation, The Friends of Miller Library has purchased 25 copies of the book to be given to the first 25 persons who register for the event.

Other Maryland colleges hosting screenings and faculty-led discussions of other novels and their screen adaptations this fall include Stevenson, Hood, Goucher, Notre Dame and Loyola. The series will continue in the spring at dates to be announced. For the spring event, Washington College has selected Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories “Short Cuts,” and the 1993 Robert Altman film adaptation by the same name. That screening and discussion will be led by Dr. Christopher Ames, Provost and Dean of the College, at a date still to be determined.

To sign up for the Color Purple event, please contact Ruth Shoge at or 410-778-7292. For more information go to: or

Photos: A recent paperback edition of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel. Washington College English professor Alisha Knight will lead the post-screening discussion.

Experimental Poet Ken Chen to Read October 28 at Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College

CHESTERTOWN—Ken Chen, a young poet praised for emotionally piercing, often wry poems that chronicle his relationship with his immigrant family, will read from his work Thursday, October 28 at 4:30 p.m. at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College.

Chen’s collection Juvenilia won the 2009 Yale Younger Poets competition, the oldest annual literary award in the United States. Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Louise Gluck, one of the competition’s judges, wrote that Chen’s writings “have isolated and dramatized the profound dilemma of the adult’s relation to childhood in poems of riveting intelligence and sharp wit and profound beauty.” The poet “manages to be both exhilaratingly modern (anti-catharsis, anti-epiphany) while at the same time never losing his attachment to voice, and the implicit claims of voice: these are poems of intense feeling,” she added. “Like only the best poets, Ken Chen makes with his voice a new category.”

In reviewing Juvenilia (Yale University Press, 2010), Publishers Weekly described Chen as “experimental in the best and broadest sense of the term.”

A graduate of the Yale Law School, Chen is director of the Asian American Writer’s Workshop in New York. He has been published in Best American Essays 2006, Best American Essays 2007 (Notable Essay), Boston Review of Book and The Wilson Quarterly,

Chen’s reading is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow.

Scholar to Discuss How Travelogues from Persia Shaped Europe’s Perceptions of "the Oriental"

CHESTERTOWN—The 2010 Conrad M. Wingate Memorial Lecturer in History will explain how the travel writing of a 17th century German scholar created an image of “the Oriental” for his European readers that would have lasting implications. Speaking Thursday, October 28, at 7:30 in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, on the Washington College campus, Dr. Elio Brancaforte will base his talk largely on his 2003 book, Visions of Persia, Mapping the Travels of Adam Olearius (Harvard, 2003).

Chair of German and Slavic Studies at Tulane University, Brancaforte is an expert in the history and sociology lessons to be gleaned not only from Persian travelogues, but also from the images of the region made by baroque cartographers. In 2008, he and a colleague from the University of Seville co-curated two exhibits at Harvard University: “From Rhubarb to Rubies: European Travelers to Safavid Iran, 1550-1700” and “The Lands of the Sophi: Iran in Early Modern European Maps, 1500-1700.

The relationship between word and image is an underlying theme in much of his research and informs his current book project on representations of Safavid Iran in early modern European travel accounts.

Brancaforte has published articles on other European travelers to Iran, including Engelbert Kaempfer and Pietro Della Valle. He also contributed a chapter on German cartographic depictions of the Persian Gulf in the Atlas Historique du Golfe Persique (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles)/Historical Atlas of the Persian Gulf (16th to 18th Centuries) (Brepols, 2006).

Brancaforte teaches a wide range of classes on language, literature and culture in Tulane’s German studies program and has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad. He holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.A. in French from Johns Hopkins University. He earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University, specializing in early modern German literature, with minors in French and English.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Re-dedication Ceremony Recalls History Of Folk Painting on Display in Bunting Hall

CHESTERTOWN—After a brief residency at the Custom House on the waterfront, the early painting “A View of Chestertown from White House Farm” is back in Bunting Hall. A re-dedication ceremony held in late September brought professor emeritus of art and art history Robert Janson-La Palme back to campus to recall the history and significance of the painting.

The intimate gathering at the rededication reception included local descendants of the man who commissioned the painting sometime in the 1790s, a well-to-do landowner named Simon Wilmer. They and other guests were able to examine the folk painting up close in the executive reception area; the clear plexiglass box that normally protects it was removed temporarily.

Cherished as the only known painting of Chestertown during the town’s boom as a busy port of call, it is also the only known painting of the College’s original building. A panoramic view of Wilmer’s farm on the outskirts of town, the scene shows the row of buildings along High Street in the background and, prominent on the horizon, the original three-and-a-half-story Washington College building that housed classrooms, faculty and students in the 1790s.

Simon Wilmer is shown in the foreground astride a black horse while his wife sits on the stoop of their simple brick home and slaves work the wheat fields. A servant pulls a baby carriage, and a three-masted ship plies the Chester River in the background.

Created with oil paint on wood and measuring about 64 by 26 inches, the artwork was originally installed over the mantel at White House Farm, now known as Stepney Farm. It was removed when the farmhouse underwent a major renovation in the 1850s. After being handed down from one generation of Wilmers to the next, it eventually ended up in the possession of the Rev. Dr. Richard Hooker Wilmer, a former dean of the Yale divinity school who had retired to Pittsburgh.

“He pulled it out of a closet for me,” recalls Janson-La Palme, who visited the Rev. Dr. Wilmer in Pittsburgh. The painting was covered in soot and two centuries of grime. Janson-La Palme worked with two presidents of Washington College—Douglass Cater and Charles Trout—in encouraging the Wilmer family to donate the painting to the College and working out the details of how it would be displayed. After 17 months of restoration work by an artisan in Baltimore, the painting was installed in Bunting in January 1993. “We promised it would be on permanent display in a central place on campus,” says Janson-La Palme.

The College-owned Custom House, the historic building where the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Center for Environment & Society are based, now displays a canvas reproduction of the painting over the mantel of its first floor parlor.

Images, above: The restored 220-year-old over-mantel painting shows the College's original building high on its hill on the horizon. Professor emeritus of art and art history Robert Janson-La Palme worked with the Wilmer family to bring the painting back to Chestertown as a gift to Washington College.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Chapter Honors Excellence in Chemistry

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College will be home to the newest chapter of a prestigious honor society for chemistry students. Anne Marteel-Parrish, chair of the Department of Chemistry, says the National Chemistry Honor Society Executive Council unanimously approved the application to establish a chapter of Gamma Sigma Epsilon on the Chestertown campus.

Gamma Sigma Epsilon has more than 50 active chapters in 20 states and has inducted more than 13,500 members since its inception in 1919 at Davidson College. Its purpose, as described by founding father Malcolm Ray Doubles, is to “unite those men [and women] with a high scholastic grade in Chemistry, in Class A colleges, in order to foster a more comprehensive and cooperative study of that great branch of Science and its immediately allied studies.”

Candidates for membership must complete at least 20 hours of chemistry courses and maintain minimum grade-point averages of 3.3 in chemistry and 3.2 overall.

Marteel-Parrish says it is an honor having Gamma Sigma Epsilon on campus. “There was no National Chemistry Honor Society when I started [teaching at Washington College] seven years ago,” she recalls. “It became annoying to the students and myself. Last year two highly motivated chemistry majors, Samantha DeCarlo '10 and Sarah Macht '10, worked with me to write the constitution and complete the application procedure. Now everything is in place for the students to be recognized in their efforts to do well in chemistry.”

The new chapter will be known as the Gamma Eta Chapter and will induct its first members in the spring. For more information, contact Dr. Marteel-Parrish at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scholar Offers Literary Look at Virgin Queen

CHESTERTOWN—Eric Griffin, Associate Professor and Chair of English at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, will lecture on “The Burden of Comedy: England, Spain, and Our Romance With Elizabeth Tudor,” on 4:30 p.m., Monday, October 18 in the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College. He will argue that our culture’s 400-year-old romance with the Virgin Queen internalizes the features of dramatic comedy as scripted by the Elizabethans themselves, making it impossible for us to consider her with historical objectivity. He also will discuss the Anglo-Spanish conflict of the late sixteenth century and its relevance for U.S. and U.K. relations with the Hispanic world today.

Griffin, who also directs Millsaps’ Program in Latin American Studies and teaches in the Living in Yucatan Program, has written in numerous journals, including Representations,English Literary Renaissance, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies and in Envisioning an English Empire: Jamestown and the Invention of the North Atlantic World edited by Robert Appelbaum and John Wood Sweet (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

His recent book, English Renaissance Drama and the Specter of Spain: Ethnopoetics and Empire (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), explores Anglo-Hispanic literary and cultural relations from the late fifteenth through the early seventeenth centuries.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Smithsonian Curator to Discuss Native Americans of the Chesapeake Region

CHESTERTOWN—Dr. Gabrielle Tayac, a curator at the National Museum of the American Indian, will discuss the lives of the Native American peoples of the Chesapeake region when she visits Washington College on Tuesday, October 19.

In “The Algonquian Peoples of the Chesapeake,” Tayac will describe the lives of the Nanticoke, Powhatan, and Piscataway nations Chesapeake. The talk will take place at 5 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall.

A member of the Piscataway Indian Nation and Tayac Territory, Tayac co-founded the League of Indigenous Sovereign nations. Her grandfather, Turkey Tayac, was the last traditional Piscataway chief and medicine man.

Gabrielle Tayac is a graduate of Cornell and earned her PhD at Harvard, where she researched the history and collective identity of the Piscataway people from the 1500s through 1998. She is the author of Meet Naiche: A Native Boy from the Chesapeake Bay Area, a children’s book that follows the daily life of a contemporary 11year-old Piscataway/Apache boy.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. For information contact Darnell Parker at

"Best Actress" Winner Kitty Winn to Attend Movie Screening at Washington College

CHESTERTOWN—Kitty Winn will visit Washington College on Tuesday, October 19 for a special showing of the movie for which she earned Best Actress at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. The Panic in Needle Park, in which she plays Helen opposite Al Pacino’s Bobby, will be shown at 4 p.m. in Norman James Theatre, followed by a Q&A session.

A veteran performer who has appeared in dozens of movies, stage plays and television episodes, Winn is best known for that winning portrayal of Helen, a young homeless woman who falls in love with a handsome hustler and follows him into the depths of drug addiction. Played out on the streets of New York, the grim love story has been praised for its realistic presentation of the drug culture and the psyche of the junkie. Directed by Jerry Schatzberg and produced by Dominick Dunne, the film was based on the book by James Mills, with screenwriting by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne.

In addition to the Cannes honor, Winn’s performance as Helen made Premier Magazine’s 2006 list of the “100 Greatest Performances of All Time.” Other roles included Sharon in The Exorcist, and Marianne Whitman in Mirrors. She also appeared as Ophelia in a well-known 1972 New York production of "Hamlet" that also starred Stacy Keach, Colleen Dewhurst and James Earl Jones.

Hosted by the Drama Department, the movie and discussion are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ellis Island Author Puts Today's Immigration Conflicts in Historical Perspective

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A scholar with a keen knowledge and understanding of America’s immigrant past will offer historical perspective on today’s immigration conflicts when he visits Washington College on Wednesday evening, October 20.

Vincent J. Cannato, a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Boston and author of American Passage: The History of Ellis Island (HarperCollins, 2009) will speak about immigration in the early 20th century and how it relates to the immigration issues sparking political, social and economic discord a century later. The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, John S. Toll Science Center, and is free and open to the public.

“In the current immigration debate, it's often hard to find a broader perspective amid the political soundbites,” said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which is sponsoring the event. “But we can look to the past for context, and perhaps even wisdom. We’re not the first generation to argue about issues of citizenship, assimilation, and immigrant workers.”

Cannato will explore the politics and prejudices surrounding one of the largest mass migrations in history, and share stories of the some 12 million people who entered the U.S. through the Ellis Island portal. He also will focus on how a better knowledge of our past as a nation of immigrants can help us analyze and understand the controversies of today.

"The nation's immigration law was predicated on the idea that a self-governing people could decide who may or may not enter the country,” he writes in the introduction to American Passage. But that idea “conflicted with the idea that the rights guaranteed in the Constitution were universal rights. How could the Declaration of Independence's basic creed that all individuals were created equal mesh with the idea that some immigrants were desirable and others undesirable? That conflict between American ideals is central to an understanding of why Ellis Island was created in the first place."

Cannato’s book has received rave reviews. The Boston Globe called American Passage “a finely honed account that encompasses both the human story of the immigrant experience, often a sad one, and the political and bureaucratic responses.” The New York Times noted that, “Anyone with a stake or even a fleeting interest in the overhaul of the nation’s immigration policies should read American Passage.”

As a compliment to Cannato’s talk, the Starr Center will lead a free student road trip the following weekend to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. “American Passage: Ellis Island,” is co-sponsored by the Starr Center and the Washington College Office of Multicultural Affairs.

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