Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Goodheart to Read from Best-Selling History, Tuesday, May 3 at Hynson Lounge

CHESTERTOWN, MD—On Tuesday, May 3, at 4:30 p.m., Washington College’s Adam Goodheart will give a reading from his new book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening, which was published three weeks ago by Alfred A. Knopf and is already a New York Times Best Seller garnering wide critical acclaim. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. A book signing will follow. Goodheart's reading is sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee, the Rose O'Neill Literary House, and the Washington College Department of History.

In a publishing year in which the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has sparked a flood of new books about the conflict, none has received more positive press and critical praise than 1861. In a front-page review in the April 24 issue of the New York Times Book Review, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Debby Applegate described Goodheart's account of the secession crisis as "exhilarating" and "inspiring," praising the author for his ability to combine the journalist's eye for telling detail with the historian's rigorous research and the novelist's ability to make readers care about his characters. "1861 creates the uncanny illusion that the reader has stepped into a time machine," Applegate wrote.

The new work of history, which Knopf describes as "a sweeping portrait of America on the brink of its defining national drama," was also excerpted in the New York Times Magazine on April 3. Goodheart has recently appeared on panels with filmmaker Ken Burns and noted historians James McPherson of Princeton and David Blight of Yale, and will be giving talks and readings at universities and cultural institutions across the country in the months ahead. (For a listing, visit http://www.adamgoodheart.com/events.) He has been a guest this month on CNN, Fox News, and the nationally broadcast public radio shows "Fresh Air," "Here and Now," and "Studio 360," among many other venues. (Click here to listen to the Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross.)

Praise for the book has been effusive from the start. Kirkus Reviews called it "beautifully written and thoroughly original—quite unlike any other Civil War book out there," and Pulitzer-winning historian McPherson wrote that "Adam Goodheart is a Monet with a pen instead of a paintbrush." The Boston Globe's reviewer wrote, "Hardly a page of this book lacks an important insight or a fact that beguiles the readers. ... Goodheart shows us that even at 150 years' distance there are new voices, and new stories, to be heard about the Civil War."

Goodheart is the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. Based at the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Starr Center supports the art of written history and explores the nation's past—particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. For more information, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sports Journalist Frank Deford to Address Washington College Class of 2011 May 22

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Class of 2011 at Washington College will hear words of wisdom from a journalist and commentator who has been called “the world’s greatest sportswriter.” Frank Deford will receive an honorary degree and address the College’s 228th commencement ceremony Sunday morning, May 22, on the campus green. During the same ceremony, Dr. Tadataka Yamada, President of the Global Health Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will receive an honorary degree and deliver brief remarks.
The official procession that kicks off commencement will begin at 10:30 a.m.
A native of Baltimore and a graduate of Princeton, Frank Deford has authored 16 books and is Senior Contributing Writer at Sports Illustrated. He also is a regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and a senior correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
This diverse resume has gained Deford some of the most prestigious recognitions in his career fields. He has been elected to the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Sportscasters and Sportswriters, selected by his peers six times as Sportswriter of The Year, and twice named Magazine Writer of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review. As a broadcaster, he has earned both an Emmy and a George Foster Peabody Award.
Two of his books—the novel Everybody’s All-American and the nonfiction Alex: The Life of a Child—have been made into movies. The latter is Deford’s memoir about his young daughter’s death from cystic fibrosis. Deford served for 16 years as the national chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Deford’s most recent book, the historical novel Bliss, Remembered, published last July, is the story of a young swimmer from the Eastern Shore who is swept up into the drama of the 1936 Olympics and a romance with a German man. Publishers Weekly called it “a poignant story, utterly charming and enjoyable.”
Dr. Tadataka “Tachi” Yamada, a scientist and scholar in gastroenterology, has been the President of the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2001. In that role, he oversees more than $9 billion in grants and leads the foundation’s efforts to develop and deliver low-cost, life-saving health tools for the developing world.
Before joining the foundation, Yamada spent more than 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry. His last position before joining the Gates Foundation was chairman of research and development at SmithKline Beecham. Earlier, he was chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and physician-in-chief at the University of Michigan Medical Center. He is a master of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science in the United States and the Academy of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom. A native of Japan, Yamada was educated in the United States, with a B.A. from Stanford, and medical degrees from New York University and UCLA.
As Washington College continues its celebration of the International Year of Chemistry, alumni James P. Bonsack ’53 and Kenneth M. Merz ’81 will receive Alumni Citations in recognition of their significant contributions to the field of chemistry.
James Bonsack, an industrial chemical engineer, holds 17 U.S. patents and 59 foreign patents relating to the manufacture of titanium dioxide products. After working for the J.T. Baker Chemical Company, he spent 32 years in the engineering department of Cristal Global Chemical in Baltimore, retiring as Senior Scientist. He also served for two years in the military, stationed at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. Bonsack’s wife, Rosemary Hatem, is a 1955 graduate of Washington College.
Kenneth Merz is a professor of chemistry and co-director of the Quantum Theory Project at the University of Florida. Throughout his career and research, he has received multiple honors, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has achieved international recognition with prestigious visiting professorships at institutions such as the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (Spain), École Polytechnique (France), and University of Florence (Italy).
The College will recognize outstanding 2011 graduates with the annual awarding of prizes, including the George Washington Prize, the Casey, Catlin and Clark-Porter Medals, and the Louis L. Goldstein ’35 Award. The Sophie Kerr Prize for literary ability and promise will be officially awarded, along with a check for more than $61,000, although for the first time in 44 years the winner’s name will not be a surprise. This year, the Sophie Kerr Committee will name up to five finalists and the winner will be announced May 17 at a special event at Poets House in New York City.
General seating will be available on the lawn. In case of rain, the event will move to the Benjamin A. Johnson Fitness Center and admission will be by ticket only.

Historian Austin Explains How Superman Helped Fight the Japanese inWorld War II

CHESTERTOWN, MD— On December 8, 1941, the day after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. As the men and women of the U.S. armed forces marched off to war, America’s favorite superhero, the Man of Steel, marched by their side. For the duration of the war, Superman battled alongside his readers – in the comics pages of newspapers and on the radio – for what his creators saw as truth, justice, and the American way.
On Wednesday, May 4, historian Allan W. Austin will explore Superman’s wartime exploits in an illustrated talk at Washington College, “Superman vs. Japan: Fighting World War II in Popular Culture.” Sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, Austin’s talk is free and open to the public, and will begin at 4:30 pm in the College’s Litrenta Lecture Hall, John S. Toll Science Center.
Though Superman battled all of America’s wartime enemies, sinking Axis tankers and submarines and once abducting Adolf Hitler, his encounters with the Japanese are a particularly rich and relatively untapped source for historians. “Like much of wartime popular culture, Superman cartoons reveal key American beliefs about the nation, the Japanese and the ultimate meaning of the Second World War,” said Starr Center director Adam Goodheart. “They also reveal the racism that sometimes underlay anti-Japanese propaganda.”
Allan Austin is Associate Professor of History at Misericordia University, where he teaches courses on American ethnic history, immigration history, and film & history, and has pioneered a course on comic books and graphic novels, “Race and Graphic Narrative in the Postwar United States.” Students in this course apply a critical eye to a series of comics collections and graphic novels, learning to dig below the surface for the ideas and ideologies they reveal.
Austin is the author of From Concentration Camp to Campus: Japanese American Students and World War II (Illinois, 2007), and co-editor of two books, Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television (McFarland, 2010) and Asian American History and Culture: An Encyclopedia (M.E. Sharpe, 2010). He is currently working on a book about early 20th century civil rights activism among American Quakers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Washington College Announces Acquisition Of Chester River Field Research Center

CHESTERTOWN, MD, April 22, 2011—Washington College today announced that it has acquired the Chester River Field Research Center (CRFRC), the nonprofit corporation that leads and facilitates scientific research and environmental studies at Chino Farms in Queen Anne’s County.
The CRFRC was founded in 1999 by conservationist Henry F. Sears, a retired surgeon and the owner of Chino Farms, a 5,000-acre property on the Chester River. Under an agreement reached with the board of directors of the CRFRC, and with financial support from anonymous donors, the College’s Center for Environment & Society will take over all operations of the Research Center, coordinating the study projects underway there. The College acquires no Chino Farms land in the agreement.
The research center’s two full-time field biologists, Dan Small and Maren Gimpel, will join the staff of the Center for Environment and Society (CES). Founding scientific director Douglas E. Gill, a professor emeritus of biology at University of Maryland, will serve as a consultant. And Jim Gruber, a retired Natural Resources officer who volunteers his time and expertise as the director of the bird-banding operation at Chino Farms, will become an Associate of CES.
Sears sees the transfer of operations to the College as the next step in the growth and stability of the CRFRC. “This gives the investigations part of the Research Center a broader base, a broader scope, and longer legs,” he says. “And it provides institutional longevity—a future beyond the lives of the current participants.”
He says he has been following the growth of the College’s Center for Environment & Society over the past few years. “I appreciate the interest and enthusiasm the CES staff has shown for the kinds of conservation and farming techniques we’ve been exploring at Chino Farms,” he says. “And I couldn’t be more excited about the commitment Washington College has shown for maintaining the community’s rural and agricultural heritage.”
“This is exciting news for all of us at Washington College,” says President Mitchell B. Reiss. “We expect this acquisition to bring a quantum boost to the environmental field work our faculty and students can conduct. We are grateful to Dr. Sears and the CRFRC board for the trust they have shown in our Center for Environment & Society and its ability to maintain and expand the research on farm practices, habitat restoration and wildlife happening at Chino Farms.”
The CRFRC is best known for its work in grassland restoration and migratory bird banding—it has successfully restored 246 acres of Atlantic prairie grasses, creating one of the very few large-scale coastal grasslands on the Eastern Seaboard, and has banded more than 150,000 new birds at its Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory.
Washington College has been involved in a limited way in programs at Chino Farms over the past several years. A handful of students have worked at the bird banding station as part of their paid internships with the CES, and professor Leslie Sherman has conducted research on soil chemistry there. The acquisition of the CRFRC facilities will enable those who work in environmental studies to think and dream big when it comes to grant-funded research and environmental study.
“This opens up unparalleled hands-on field opportunities to our own students and faculty, and to scientists and educators from other schools and organizations as well as state and federal agencies,” says John Seidel, the director of the Center for Environment & Society. “We can expand research projects into the other rich habitat areas at Chino Farms, including forest habitat, wetlands and seasonal wetlands, and farmland. We’ll be the portal to this wonderful resource and all its rich habitat areas.”

Washington College senior Rachel Field, an Environmental Studies major from West Chester, Pa., knows first-hand the kinds of opportunities the CRFRC can bring to students. As a CES intern she has spent two summers and much of the spring semester at Chino Farms mapping Grasshopper Sparrow territories, banding birds at the Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory, and studying mate selection in Blue Grosbeaks. “As a scientist, this experience has been invaluable,” she says. “I have gained practical experience in conducting field experiments, designing experiments, completing bird surveys, and banding migratory birds. And, as an individual, my time at the Chester River Field Research Center has helped me to become more confident and independent.”

All 5,000 acres of Chino Farms are protected under conservation easements, making it one of the largest easements in Maryland history. Three thousand of those acres are farmed commercially by Evan Miles of Bluestem Farms, who uses a mixture of precision agriculture and organic methods.
Other subjects now under study through the CRFRC include wild turkeys, songbird communications, bobwhite quail, breeding birds in managed grasslands, and nutrient recycling in soil.
Gill, who led the grasslands restoration, is glad to see Washington College take on the work of the research center he and Harry Sears created 12 years ago. “It has been a somewhat private affair led by Dr. Sears’ vision and my expertise as an ecologist,” he says. “It makes sense to have a top-quality academic institution like Washington College, so close to the research station, take it on and make it available for teaching and research. It’s what I always envisioned should happen. And John Seidel at the CES will provide superb leadership.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

College Co-sponsors Spring Clean-up at Eastern Neck Island Saturday, April 30th

CHESTERTOWNThe Friends of Eastern Neck, US Fish and Wildlife, and Washington College are sponsoring a shoreline clean-up at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, April 30th, from 1 to 3 p.m. Trash bags, gloves, bug spray, sunscreen, bottled water and snacks will be provided for all volunteers who come out to E. Neck Island to pick up trash and debris. This activity is free and open to the public. Meet at the Refuge Office and Visitor Center, located at 1730 Eastern Neck Road in Rock Hall. Contact jfairchild2@washcoll.edu or call 410-778-7295.

The Friends of Eastern Neck, Inc. is a non-profit organization that supports the missions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge through financial support, advocacy, and volunteering. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Eastern Neck, visit www.fws.gov/northeast/easternneck/ or call (410) 639-7056.
Photo by Terry Willis.

Watch video from last years' cleanup:

Annual Exhibition at Washington College Showcases Works by Studio Art Majors

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Two exhibitions running April 22 through May 12 will showcase the thesis works of senior Studio Art majors and selected works from other Washington College art students in gallery areas inside the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.
An Opening Reception in honor of the artists will be held Friday, April 22 at 5:30 pm. The gallery show and reception are free and open to the public.
The senior Studio Art majors show, "Liminal States-Evolving Boundaries," will fill Kohl Gallery with the work of 11 graduating students in the Department of Art and Art History. Exhibition curator Monika Weiss, assistant professor of art, says the student artists have worked across disciplines in a fluid manner, merging traditional techniques with New Media and incorporating painting, installation, video, animation, sculpture, sound and photography.
Weiss gives an overview of the works in her curatorial statement:
“ ‘Liminal States-Evolving Boundaries’ combines works by eleven artists exploring physical and conceptual states of passage and transition. While some of the artists focus on the body and its biologically and socially fragile envelope (Kristin Tremblay, Kristina Kelley), others explore its physical and mental limits (Susanne Vaughn), or the visually anthropomorphic qualities of animal body (Kathryn E. Johnson).
“Science becomes a point of reference in some of the new media work (Joe L. L. Yates), while abstraction is once again redefined through the discussion of embodiment (Allison Mae Schellenger). Artists in this exhibition invite the viewer to experience journey and change as a form of meditation, dealing with time and loss (Elizabeth Claud) while also exploring personal geographies and revisiting ancient cultures and their lost relationship with nature (Caroline Amelia Knuth, Shannon Davis). Internal and external spaces are being examined as a continuous negotiation between the place (Sarah Cannon) and the self (Michael Powell) through mapping out inner and outer territories of experience.”
The Annual Exhibition of Selected Works by Studio Art Students will be installed in the William Frank Visual Arts Hallway adjacent to the Kohl Gallery. Curated by visiting professor of art Ricky Sears, the show will include works from various divisions of the studio program, including drawing, painting, photography, video and sound, ceramics, and design.”
This year’s exhibition jurors are art dealer Carla Massoni, artist and art critic Mary McCoy, and artist Randi Reiss-McCormack. The Gibson Center for the Arts is located on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. Kohl Gallery hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m., Friday noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Participating students include:

Senior Thesis Exhibition "Liminal States-Evolving Boundaries":
Sarah Cannon
Elizabeth Claud
Shannon Davis
Kathryn E. Johnson
Kristina Kelly
Caroline Amelia Knuth
Michael Powell
Allison Mae Schellenger
Kristin Tremblay
Susanne Vaughn
Joe L. L. Yates

Selected Works by Studio Art Students:
Wesley Bill
Tory Banknell
Tara Barber
Gabie Batista
Anna Black
Mallory Blessed
Katie Bradley
Bryan Botti
Kat Cohen
Chelsea Collison
Kristine Cunningham
Posey Daves
Shannon Davis
Thor Deegan
Kang Dong
Rettie Duke
Brittany Dunbar
Melissa Erdman
Gary Fenstamaker
Jamie Frees
Courtney Gowland
Katherine Greenlee
Darby Hewes
Masaya Kato
Tara Keefe
Caitlyn Klein
Emmy Landskroener
Sophie Laessle
Katy Laury
Lauren Lawson
Laura Lazenby
Rachel Levin
Paige Martin
Anthony Martino
Hailee Marsh
Ryan Mulhearn
Kendall Mulligan
Martha O’Neill
Catherine Pavis
Alison Payne
Vincenzo Piccinini
Gabby Rojas
Sarah Roy
Leah Sbricia
Amy Shaw
Chris Soper
Tracy Spielberger
Thomas Stattel
Eric Swenson
Katy Ulrich
Erica Walburg
Andrew Wallace
Erica Ward
Emily Willen
Alex Woodworth

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Washington College Announces Plans for Sophie Kerr Prize Events in Chestertown and NYC

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College has announced major changes in the way its famous Sophie Kerr Prize, the largest undergraduate literary prize in the world, will be awarded this spring. Changes include the first-ever naming of finalists; a special reception for those finalists in New York City, where an internationally prominent novelist will announce the big winner; and a simultaneous party in Chestertown where the local community can watch the announcement live on a big screen.
The excitement begins Friday morning, May 13, when the Sophie Kerr Committee meets in secret to discuss student portfolios and select as many as five finalists for the Prize. The names of the finalists will be announced that day at a 2:30 p.m. press conference for local media.
On Tuesday, May 17, the finalists will meet in New York at an evening reception at Poets House, a literary center on the banks of the Hudson River. The celebration will feature a keynote talk from Colum McCann, winner of the 2009 National Book Award for his novel Let the Great World Spin. McCann, whose book award came with a check for $10,000, will then announce the winner of the Sophie Kerr Prize, this year valued at more than $61,000.
The reception at Poets House will begin at 6:30 p.m. At the same time, Washington College will host a wine and cheese reception in Chestertown, at which the campus and community will watch a simulcast of McCann’s talk and the announcement of the winner in real time on a big screen. The party will be held in the Casey Academic Forum on campus, 300 Washington Avenue, and will be free and open to the public.
Come May 22, the Sunday of Washington College’s 228th Commencement, the Sophie Kerr Prize and a check for $61,062.11 will be officially awarded to the winner.
The members of the Sophie Kerr Committee say the new plan will relieve the stress and emotional angst the prize has caused at past graduations for students and their families. “If you have 30 students who applied, one will be ecstatic when the winner is announced,” says English professor Rich Gillin, interim chair of the Sophie Kerr committee, “but the other 29 are going to leave the last day of college feeling pretty miserable.”
In addition, the selection of finalists and the announcement in New York spreads the glory and gives the finalists a memorable experience in the publishing capital of the world. According to Sophie Kerr’s will, the college cannot disaggregate the prize money, but it can disaggregate the prestige and give more students, as finalists, the chance to add an impressive achievement to their resumes.
“I just think that this can be an enhancement of a wonderful tradition at Washington College,” says President Mitchell Reiss. “It’s a way to benefit more students while showcasing our writing program and our rich literary heritage to a wider audience.”
Photo: Sophie Kerr, whose short stories were published in the major women's magazines of her day, specified that half the income from her generous bequest to Washington College be awarded each year to the graduating senior who showed the most literary ability and promise.

Monday, April 18, 2011

International Writer and PEN Fellow Leila Aboulela to Read at Literary House on April 25

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Rose O’Neill Literary House will host one of the 2011 PEN World Voices Festival Fellows, Leila Aboulela, on Monday, April 25. In a program titled “New Writing from the New North Africa,” the author will read from her acclaimed work beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the enclosed porch of the Lit House, 407 Washington Avenue. The reading is free and open to the public.
Born in Cairo, raised in Khartoum, and now splitting her time between Abu Dhabi and Aberdeen, Aboulela writes short stories, novels and plays. Her novel The Translator was nominated for the Orange Prize and was one of the New York Times’ 2006 Notable Books of the Year. BBC Radio 4 has broadcast adaptations of her novels and short stories in addition to her radio plays The Mystic Life and The Lion of Chechnya.
Although she has lived and worked in Egypt, Jakarta, Dubai, London, and Scotland, Aboulela says that in her Islamic faith she has something she “can carry with me wherever I go.” Islam plays a major role in her life and the lives of her characters; she says of them, “They are not ideals or role models. They are, as I see them to be, flawed characters trying to practice their faith or make sense of God’s will, in difficult circumstances.”
Founded in 1921, International PEN is a worldwide association of writers that advocates for freedom of expression and emphasizes the importance of literature in the development of a world culture. Now in its seventh year, PEN’s annual World Voices Festival of International Literature brings together prominent writers from around the globe. This year’s festival will be held April 25 through May 1 in New York City.
For more information on “New Writing from the New North Africa,” visit http://lithouse.washcoll.edu. For more information on the International PEN World Voices Festival, visit http://www.pen.org/festival.

An Evening with Professor Emeritus Robert Day at the Smithsonian, April 21

On Thursday, April 21, in Washington, D.C., Robert Day, Washington College professor emeritus of English and active University of Kansas alumnus, will discuss his travels around the world in a talk entitled "Bar Art: John Sloan's McSorley's Old Ale House Paintings, a Vargas Girl behind the Bar at Ruby Red's in New Orleans, The Luncheon of the Boating Party on the Kansas Prairie, and Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère in Paris—plus e.e. cummings, Bob Dylan, and Joseph Mitchell—A Travel Memoir with Pictures." The talk will take place at 7 p.m. in the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

A bus will depart from the Casey Academic Center at 4:30 p.m. for those interested. Cost is $23 per person. For reservations, please contact Patsy Will at 410-778-7813.

The lecture is part of two April Art Talks in collaboration with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and is also sponsored by the 1782 Society as well as the Kent County Arts Council.

Adam Goodheart will present the second lecture about his new book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (Knopf, 2011), on Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. For more information, please visit: http://washingtoncollegenews.blogspot.com/2011/04/civil-war-at-smithsonian-starr-center.html.

Both talks are free and open to the public.

Goodheart's New Civil War History Garners Early Critical Acclaim and Media Interest

CHESTERTOWN, MD, April 18, 2011—In a publishing year in which the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has sparked a flood of new books about the conflict, none has received more positive press and critical acclaim than 1861: The Civil War Awakening, written by Adam Goodheart, the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College.
Goodheart’s book was released April 11 by Alfred A. Knopf and is already in its fourth printing. The narrative actually begins in 1860, with Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for president, and ends July 4, 1861, when President Lincoln sent a message to Congress outlining his plans for prosecuting the war.
This new work of history, which Knopf describes as “a sweeping portrait of America on the brink of its defining national drama,” has been excerpted in the New York Times Magazine (April 3) and will be featured on the cover of the April 24 issue of the New York Times Book Review. In that upcoming review, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Debby Applegate describes Goodheart’s account of the secession crisis as “at once more panoramic and more intimate than most standard accounts, and more inspiring” and admires how he combines the journalist’s eye for telling detail with the historian’s rigorous research and the novelist’s ability to make readers care about his characters.
Goodheart, who also regularly contributes to the popular “Disunion” blog about the Civil War on NYTimes.com, has recently appeared on panels with filmmaker Ken Burns and noted historian James McPherson. In the months ahead, he will be doing readings and talks across the country. (For a listing, visit http://www.adamgoodheart.com/events.) He’s also been a guest on the nationally broadcast public radio shows Fresh Air, Here and Now, and Studio 360. (Click here to listen to the Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross.)
Praise for the book has been effusive from the start. Kirkus Reviews called it “beautifully written and thoroughly original—quite unlike any other Civil War book out there,” and historian McPherson wrote that “Adam Goodheart is a Monet with a pen instead of a paintbrush.” Award-winning literary critic Anne Fadiman weighed in this way: “1861 isn’t merely a work of history; it’s a time-travel device that makes a century and a half fall away and sets us down, eyes and ears wide open, in the midst of the chaos and the glory.”
As Goodheart explains in 1861’s prologue, it was a student’s discovery that first inspired him to write the book. In April of 2008, he and his “Chestertown’s America” history class at Washington College were exploring Poplar Grove, an old plantation house in Queen Anne’s County, when Jim Schelberg, a U.S. Marine veteran attending Washington College on a Hodson Trust Star Scholarship, ventured into the attic and discovered there, buried beneath canvas and dust, a treasure trove of family papers going back some 13 generations.
Goodheart writes that, for him, the most intriguing find among the family records and documents was a small bundle “wrapped in paper and bound tightly with a faded yellow silk ribbon that clearly had not been untied in more than a century.”
On the outside of the wrapper was a date: 1861. And inside were letters written between a U.S. Army colonel stationed out west in the Indian Territories, and his wife and brother back East, in which the colonel weighed his allegiances and agonized over which side to take in the nation’s growing schism. A Southerner, a member of a slave-owning family, and even a good friend of Jefferson Davis, he also had reservations about the institution of slavery and felt a great loyalty to the U.S. Army, which he had served since enrolling as a cadet at West Point.
“It is like a great game of chance,” his wife, a Northerner, wrote in one of her letters. Ultimately, the Poplar Grove colonel decided to stick with country over region, and Goodheart decided to write a book that would show how, for millions of Americans like this colonel and his family, the coming conflict was “a great game of chance in which everything was on the line and no one could know the final outcome.”
Goodheart is a 1992 graduate of Harvard and a founder and senior editor of Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress. Since arriving in Chestertown in 2006 to become director of the College’s C.V. Starr Center, he has taught courses in American Studies, English, history, anthropology, and art.
Based at the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown's colonial waterfront, the Starr Center supports the art of written history and explores the nation’s past—particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. For more information, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Washington College Dance Company Presents Mix of Styles in Spring Concert April 28-30

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College Dance Company, under the direction of Professor Karen L. Smith, will present its annual Spring Dance Concert at the College's Decker Theatre in the Gibson Performing Arts Center, Thursday through Saturday, April 28-30. The concert, held during National Dance Week, commences with a special matinee for local school children on Thursday, April 28, at 1:15 p.m. Subsequent performances are Friday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m.
This year’s program will feature a variety of dance styles-classical and contemporary ballet, pointe, modern dance, jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical, and pom-performed by 29 students.
Ensemble dances include “Jungle Drum,” “Shadows in Time,” and “Boardroom Fantasy” choreographed by Rachel Dittman ’11; “La Campanella,” “The Tempest,” and “Carabousse's Beginning” choreographed by Grace Swanson ’12; “Saved in Every Way” choreographed by Megan Gentry ’12; “Church” choreographed by Elle O’Brien ’12; “Winter Song” choreographed by Jessica Hohne ’12; “Waka Waka” choreographed by Emily Hordesky ’12; “How to Save a Life” choreographed by Veronica Spolarich ’12; and a tap number, “In the Mood,” choreographed by Virginia Long ’12.
The show also will feature two dances from the repertoire of Sho’ Troupe, the Washington College Dance Team, titled “United State of Pop” choreographed by Elle O'Brien ’12, and “Jai Ho” choreographed by Emily Hordesky ’12.
Choreographers Grace Swanson, Jessica Hohne, and Emily Hordesky will each perform solos. Megan Gentry, Rachel Dittman, and Sarah Hartge will dance as a trio in “Sometimes a Nightmare.”
In addition to the choreographers, performers in the concert include seniors Ally Happel, Jenny Hobbs, Kelly Topita, and Sara Prickett; juniors Alyssa Velazquez, Ryan Adams-Brown, and Emily Simpson; sophomores Sophia Braunstein, Aubrey Hastings, Ji Sook Kim, Melanie Mavins, Rebecca Sussman, Zoe Woodbridge, Kimberly Zepeda, Beilin Zia, and Elizabeth Menzie; and first-year students Kristin Hammond, Chelsea Garzione, Carrie Hall, and Courtney Gowland.
The Spring Dance Concert also will feature a raffle for a chance to win themed baskets, with $1 tickets available at each performance. The winners will be drawn at the end of the Saturday performance.
The Spring Dance Concert is open to the public. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For more information, call 410-778-7237.
Photos: Images from the Spring 2010 Dance Concert in Decker Theatre.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Influential Historian of Slavery to Explore Little-Known Winslow Homer Painting

CHESTERTOWN— In Winslow Homer’s 1866 painting, Near Andersonville, a group of tired, dusty men in blue are marched down a country road toward the infamous Confederate prisoner of war camp at Andersonville, Georgia. In the foreground, an enslaved woman stands at the door of her cabin, watching and waiting.
On Thursday, April 28, in an illustrated talk at Washington College, distinguished historian Peter H. Wood will use this image – one of Homer’s most striking, yet least-known works – to discuss the tumultuous final two years of the American Civil War. Sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, and co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History and the Black Studies Program, “Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War” is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow the talk, which will begin at 5 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, John S. Toll Science Center, on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.
Wood, one of this generation’s most influential historians of the African American experience, will be in residence at Washington College April 23-30 as the Starr Center’s 2011 Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow. An emeritus Professor of History at Duke University, he is the author/editor of six books, including Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. Originally published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1974, Black Majority remains a landmark book, credited with setting the stage for a new generation of scholarship on American slavery.

More recently, Wood has turned his attention to visual representations of African Americans in the artwork of Winslow Homer, authoring three books on the subject. The third installment in this trilogy, Near Andersonville: Winslow Homer’s Civil War, was released by Harvard University Press in 2010. Acclaimed Civil War historian James M. McPherson called the book “powerful and compelling,” and Harvard University’s John Stauffer raved, “part detective story, part history, and part art criticism, this book is a masterpiece.”
Unknown to art historians for nearly a century, Near Andersonville languished in a New Jersey attic for years before being donated to the Newark Museum in 1966. “This is undoubtedly one of Winslow Homer’s most complex images,” said Starr Center director Adam Goodheart. “In placing the Union troops and the enslaved woman side by side, it sheds new light on the ambiguities of 1864.”
A graduate of Baltimore’s Gilman School, Peter H. Wood earned his doctorate at Harvard University and has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University. His other books include Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America (2002), Winslow Homer’s Images of Blacks: The Civil War and Reconstruction Years (1989), and Weathering the Storm: Inside Winslow Homer's Gulf Stream (2004).
Established through a generous gift from Maurice Meslans and Margaret Holyfield of St. Louis, the annual Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellowship brings to campus an individual engaged in the study or interpretation of African-American history and related fields. Besides providing the recipient an opportunity for a week of focused writing, the fellowship also offers Washington College students exposure to some of today's leading interpreters of African-American culture. During his week in Chestertown, Wood will speak with students and faculty about his research on visual representations of African Americans, and his experience interpreting African American history to a broad public.
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large. For more information on the Center, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.

International Expert on Invasive Species and Parasites to Lecture April 18

CHESTERTOWN, MD—One of the world’s leading experts on invasive species and parasites, David Bruce Conn, will present “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Planet: Parasites and Invasive Species on the Move” when he visits Washington College Monday afternoon, April 18. The talk will begin at 4 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, the Toll Science Center on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.
Conn will share research on some of the most interesting and threatening invasive species, their ingenious strategies for catching a ride, and the environmental consequences of their success. Sponsored by the Joseph H. McLain ’37 Lecture Series, the talk is free and open to the public.
Dr. Conn is Dean of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at Berry College and an Associate in Invertebrate Zoology at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. As a Jefferson Science Fellow he serves as an advisor to the Office of International Health & Biodefense at the U.S. Department of State.
Conn’s research related to parasitic diseases and biological invasions includes international collaborations in Poland, Canada, Ireland, Spain, and Australia, as well as the Czech Republic where he has worked as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. He has lectured around the globe, authored more than 300 publications and served on the editorial boards of four international journals. He is past president of two international scientific societies—the American Microscopical Society and American Society of Parasitologists, an organization of scientists from 50 countries who study parasitic diseases.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Men will Again Don Red High Heels to March for an End to Sexual Violence

CHESTERTOWN—It takes a big man to wear a woman’s high heels, and on Thursday afternoon, April 28, an event at Washington College will provide the perfect proving ground. Organized by the Office of Student Development and student interns, the second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event will send men in bright red four-inch heels wobbling down Washington Avenue to raise awareness of sexual violence issues. Through registration fees and donations, the march also will support the Rape Crisis Center at For All Seasons, a nonprofit that provides mental-health services throughout Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The event kicks off at 4:30 in Martha Washington Square on the College campus. The actual march begins at 5 p.m., and ends about 20 minutes later in Fountain Park. Organizers stress that, while the heels will be issued only to the male participants who register in advance, everyone is welcome to don sensible flats or sneakers and accompany the men on their perilous walk. Supporters also can gather in Fountain Park to await the marchers’ arrival.
To register for the event, email Director of Student Development Beth Anne Langrell at student_affairs@washcoll.edu or call the Student Affairs office at 410-778-7277.
A $5 fee is required, with all proceeds going to For All Seasons. Each registered walk participant—male, female, heels or no heels—will receive an event T-shirt. Deadline for registering to walk in heels is April 18, however, registrations will be accepted until the start of the walk. (Rain date for the event is May 5.)
The Walk-A Mile events were started 10 years ago in California by Frank Baird, a volunteer with a rape-crisis center who labeled it “The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence.” There are now dozens of walks held in communities across the country.

College Community to Walk through the Night at "Relay for Life" Fundraiser for Cancer Society

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College community will join the fight against cancer this Saturday, April 16, in the Johnson Fitness Center with the first Relay for Life event to be held on campus. More than 400 participants, including students, faculty, staff, and President and Mrs. Mitchell Reiss, are expected at the fundraiser, which takes place overnight, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.—because cancer never sleeps—to raise awareness and money for the American Cancer Society. To date, organizers have raised $21,500 of their $35,000 goal. To make a donation to the WAC Relay for Life team, visit http://www.relayforlife.org/washingtoncollege.
The evening will begin with the Survivors Lap, a chance for cancer survivors to make a group “victory lap” in celebration of beating cancer. After dark, participants will take time to honor lost loved ones and their families with a Luminaria Ceremony, walking a lap in silence while holding a candle and the name of a person taken by the disease. The event concludes with the Fight Back Ceremony, when “Relayers” will each make a personal commitment to save lives by taking up the fight against cancer.
In addition to these three ceremonies, Relay for Life will have ongoing events within the event. They will include on-site team fundraisers such as bake sales, games, and silent auctions. Centreville salon Cottage Cuts will be on hand to cut the hair of 10 women who want to donate their tresses to Locks of Love. Attendees can participate in fun competitions throughout the night, all set to the live music of Coastal Vibrations.
Prior to the event, at 5 p.m., a Survivor’s Dinner will honor anyone who is a cancer survivor. If you would like to attend or learn more about the dinner, contact Megan Kummerlowe at mkummerlowe2@washcoll.edu.
Relay for Life is open to anyone. The registration fee of $10 includes entrance to the event and a T-shirt. Some family members and Chestertown residents have signed up to join the College community on Saturday. Participants can register that night, or sign up in advance on the website (http://www.relayforlife.org/washingtoncollege). For information not found on the website, contact Relay for Life Co-chairs Caitlyn Riehl (717-283-6037; criehl2@washcoll.edu) and Devin Reilly (443-804-1887; dreilly2@washcoll.edu).

Monday, April 11, 2011

For WC Students, Building a Home for Habitat Is "the Very Best Way to Spend Spring Break"

CHESTERTOWN—Twenty-eight members of the Washington College community spent their spring break week building a house in Columbus, GA, as part of Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Program. This was the College program’s 12th alternative Spring Break trip, and its largest team of participants yet: 25 students and one alumnus (Charles Grigg ’10) were joined by staff member Maria Hynson and economics professor David Wharton, both of whom were making their fourth Habitat trip.
During the Week of March 14-18, the volunteers partnered with NeighborWorks of Columbus and Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity to erect a home at 2055 Cusseta Drive for future owners David and Tomeka Grayer and their children Kayla, 13, and Brandon, 9. They worked through sun and rain, and slept on the gym floor of St. Mark's United Methodist Church, which has hosted Washington College for four years running. In their off hours, the volunteers took advantage of free movie passes, ice cream and hockey-game tickets provided by Columbus merchants.
The students returned full of satisfaction about a job well done. “Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Grayer read the notes we wrote on the wall really touched my heart. It made me feel like I was actually helping a family in need rather than just building a house and having fun,” sophomore Katie Bradley told the campus newspaper, The Elm.
“Once again the Spring Break Habitat for Humanity trip has provided me with one of the best weeks of my life. It is the very best way to spend spring break,” added junior Amanda Whitaker.

Senior Kris Kelley, a resident of Chestertown and a three-year veteran of Habitat, shared a scene from the trip with the Elm’s Aubrey Hastings. “As we passed the worksite on our way home I saw the Grayers walking into their new home for the first time,” said Kelley. “This image will forever be with me. There are few things that can fill my heart with this much happiness.”

This year was extra special for returning Habitat for Humanity members, because the group went to a home it had built for a family last spring and was able to see the family living there.
In addition to Kelley, Eastern Shore students who volunteered for the week included Sarah Billmyre ’11 of Oxford, Courtney Burton ’12 of Salisbury, Taylor Goss ’13 of Denton, Aubrey Hastings ‘13 of Seaford, DE, Devin Hayward ’14 of Townsend, DE, Kristina Kelley ’11 and Amanda Whitaker ’12 of Chestertown, Darcy Klinedinst ’13, of Dagsboro, DE, Billie Ricketts ’13 of Crumpton, and Jacob Startt ’13 and Steve Stranahan ’12 of Easton.

The Washington College crew poses with the owners of 2055 Cussetta Drive in Columbus, GA.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Dirty Life" Author Recounts Move from City Girl to Sustainable Farmer in April 13 Talk

CHESTERTOWN – Washington College hosts author Kristin Kimball to discuss her new memoir, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love, on Wednesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall in the Gibson Center for the Arts. (This event was originally scheduled for February but was postponed by incluement weather.)

Kimball and her husband, Mark, farm 500 acres on Essex Farm, near Lake Champlain in northern New York. They met when she was a free-lance travel writer living in a studio apartment in New York and he was working on a farm in Pennsylvania. What began as an interview for an article on sustainable farming would soon take a romantic turn.

"Against all odds, I fell deeply for him, and for farming,” says the author, whose book was published in October of 2010 by Scribner. “At the end of the first growing season, we got married in the loft of our shabby red barn. We've farmed here for seven years now, and have become parents to two little girls."

The Kimballs raise almost everything they need for a year-round diet, including 50 kinds of vegetables, herbs, grains, and fruits, plus pigs, chickens, and dairy and beef cattle. They use no pesticides or herbicides, and most of the work is done with draft horses instead of tractors. The farm feeds 150 people, who come each week to pick up their share of our produce, flours, milk, meats, and eggs.

A graduate of Harvard University, Kristin Kimball grew up near Rome, NY, where she didn't even have a garden as a child. Prior to farming, she wrote, taught writing and worked for a literary agent. “Farming asks a lot of a person, physically, emotionally, and intellectually,” she comments. “It keeps you close to the dirt and humble. I've gained many skills on the farm that I couldn't have imagined needing in the city. But the best lesson farming has taught me is the deep pleasure of commitment—to Mark, to our farm, to a small town."

The program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by The Center for Environment & Society, The Joseph H. McLain Program in Environmental Studies, The Sophie Kerr Committee, and Farm Dinners on the Shore. For more information, call 410-778-7295.

Word Girls Convene in Chestertown for an Evening of "Full Frontal Poetry"

CHESTERTOWN—It’s something called Full Frontal Poetry, and it’s being billed as a one-night show for “adults only (exceptional children excepted).” What it will deliver is a reading by The Word Girls, three nationally recognized—and eminently respectable—poets and friends with strong connections to Chestertown. The Compleat Bookseller, 301 High Street, is hosting this literary event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29th, the last Friday of National Poetry Month.

Appearing as “The Word Girls,” each reading from a newly published book of verse, are:

Jehanne Dubrow, author of three poetry collections, most recently Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2010). Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, and The New England Review. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Washington College.
Website: www.jehannedubrow.com

Meredith Davies Hadaway, author of two collections of poetry, The River is a Reason (Word Press, 2011) and Fishing Secrets of the Dead. She is a frequent contributor of book reviews to Poetry International and serves as poetry editor for The Summerset Review. Hadaway is currently Vice President for College Relations & Marketing at Washington College. Website: http://mdh.washcoll.edu

Erin Murphy, author of four books of poetry, most recently Word Problems (Word Press, 2011), and co-editor of Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets. Her poems and essays have been featured in numerous journals and anthologies and on Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac." A 1990 graduate of Washington College who taught English at her alma mater for several years, she is now an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State Altoona. Website: www.erin-murphy.com

For more information, contact the Compleat Bookseller at 410-778-1480.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Civil War at the Smithsonian: Starr Center Sponsors Free Road Trip to Washington

CHESTERTOWN, MD— This month, the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of America’s defining drama. To mark this milestone, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Washington College Department of Art & Art History will sponsor an exciting day of Civil War exploration in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April 23.

A free bus will depart Chestertown at 11 a.m. and leave Washington at 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required; please contact Jenifer Emleyat 410-810-7161 or jemley2@washcoll.edu. Those interested in meeting the group in Washington should also contact Jenifer Emley to make arrangements.

The program will include a tour of Civil War-era art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum led by Professor Donald McColl and Smithsonian art historian Barbaranne Liakos, a 1998 alumnus of Washington College. Members of the group will have an opportunity to explore a building that hosted Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball and sheltered a Union army hospital where Walt Whitman tended injured soldiers.

At 2 p.m. Starr Center director Adam Goodheart will give a public talk on his new book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (Knopf, 2011), in the museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium. Jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, Goodheart’s talk will be followed by a book signing.

Participants will also receive a special guided tour of Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office. During its two years of operation (1865-1867), the Missing Soldiers Office helped families and friends track the fate of the thousands of men missing in action at the end of the Civil War. Located directly across the street from the building that houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the building housing the Missing Soldiers Office is under restoration, and is not regularly open to the public.

There will even be an opportunity for dinner in the house where Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was plotted—a building that now houses a Chinese restaurant! “When we think of Civil War history, we often think of the Shenandoah Valley, or the battlefield at Gettysburg,” says Goodheart. “But our nation’s capital has its own remarkable Civil War story.”

Space on the bus and tours is limited, so those interested should contact the Starr Center immediately. Goodheart’s lecture is open seating; for more information, visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum events calendar.

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Based in the Custom House along the colonial waterfront, the College’s C.V. Starr Center fosters the art of written history and explores our nation’s past—particularly the legacy of its Founding era—in innovative ways, through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. For more information on the Center, visit http://starrcenter.washcoll.edu.