Professor Jeanne Larsen to Participate in Unique Ancient Greece Seminar on the “Odyssey”

larsenHollins Professor of English Jeanne Larsen is one of a select group of faculty members nationwide invited to participate in an Ancient Greece in the Modern Classroom seminar on the Odyssey.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Center for Hellenic Studies chose Larsen and 19 other faculty members from a pool of 66 nominees for “The Odyssey,” which takes place July 22 – 26 at the Center for Hellenic Studies’ Washington, D.C., campus. Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University, and Kenneth Scott Morrell, associate professor of Greek and Roman studies at Rhodes College, will lead the seminar, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Strengthening the teaching of the classics at colleges and universities is of critical importance,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The number of institutions that nominated faculty members to participate in the seminar is most impressive, and we believe that Jeanne Larsen will play a strong role in the seminar.”

“I gave Jeanne my highest recommendation for this because of her capacity for learning and for transmitting her enthusiasm for literature,” added Patricia Hammer, Hollins’ vice president for academic affairs. “Her commitment to the life of the mind is evident.”

Designed for non-specialists, the seminar will address the challenge of keeping alive in undergraduate education classical texts such as the Iliad, Odyssey, Homeric Hymns, poetry of Hesiod, and Histories of Herodotus that a generation ago were read and understood by every college graduate.

This seminar will offer an opportunity to examine the many dimensions of the Odyssey in its various historical contexts and explore how the poem (to be read in translation) can be studied in courses that address a variety of literatures and disciplines. Participants will study diverse topics that range from the exchange of luxury goods to the adjudication of disputes arising from athletic contests. Along with providing information and background for understanding Homeric poetry in its ancient contexts, the seminar will devote a substantial portion of each day to reading and analyzing the poem itself.


Carrie Brown Named Finalist for the Library of Virginia’s 2014 Fiction Award

brownDistinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing Carrie Brown’s most recent novel, The Last First Day, is one of three finalists for the Library of Virginia’s 2014 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction.

The library calls The Last First Day  ”an exquisitely written story of abiding love.” Kirkus Reviews describes the novel as “bittersweet with nostalgia, surprisingly sensual and sharply nuanced in its depiction of the strains and rewards that shape any long marriage.”

Brown previously won the Library of Virginia’s fiction prize in 2001 for The Hatbox Baby and in 2005 for Confinement. Her 2008 novel, The Rope Walk, was a finalist for the award.

The Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction will be announced on Saturday, October 18, at the 17th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration Honoring Virginia Authors and Friends.


Professor’s Study Suggests Background TV Harms Toddlers’ Language Development

pempekA new study co-authored by a Hollins University professor indicates that the presence of background television adversely impacts the development of children’s language skills.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Tiffany Pempek and fellow researchers Heather Kirkorian and Daniel Anderson conducted the study, “The Effects of Background Television on the Quantity and Quality of Child-directed Speech by Parents,” which was published in the Journal of Children and Media June 11. Parents of toddlers aged 12, 24, and 36 months were observed interacting with their children while they played during a 60-minute session. For half of that time, a TV program consisting of content designed for older children and adults played in the background. While the TV was on, the quantity of words and phrases spoken as well as the number of new words spoken by the parents was lower than when the TV was off.

Given that child language development and language used by parents are fundamentally linked, the study suggests that prolonged exposure to background TV has a negative influence. Since American children under 24 months have been found to watch an average of 5.5 hours of background TV per day, the effect may be significant.

“Our new results, along with past research finding negative effects of background TV on young children’s play and parent-child interaction, provide evidence that adult-directed TV content should be avoided for infants and toddlers whenever possible,” said Pempek. “Although it is impractical and probably not desirable for parents to play with their young child all the time, children do benefit greatly from active involvement by parents during play. Ideally, parents should play with their child without the distraction of TV in the background.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to warn against media exposure for children under two years of age. While foreground media exposure has been the focus of previous guidelines, the potential harm as well of background exposure, a form of media which parents may not be aware has any effect on their child at all, is now noted by recent reports.

Read the full article online here.

The Journal of Children and Media is published by the Taylor & Francis Group, one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks, and reference works.


Art Professor Jennifer Anderson Is Among the “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”

andersonNerdScholar, a financial literacy website for students that empowers them to make smart financial choices, has selected Assistant Professor of Art Jennifer Anderson for its inaugural list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire.”

According to the website, “These 40 inspirational professors were nominated based on their ability to captivate and engage students in the classroom, desire to interact with students outside of class, and collaborate on research projects. Nominations were collected through student and faculty recommendations, articles such as The Princeton Review’s Best Professors list, and other pieces highlighting universities with outstanding professors, supplemented by crowd-sourced review sites such as RateMyProfessors and CourseRank.”

Anderson, who will receive tenure and promotion to associate professor on July 1, is one of three professors from colleges and universities in Virginia to make the list (the College of William and Mary and Virginia Tech are also represented).

Anderson’s profile and the complete list of honorees can be found here.


Hollins Professor Wins Faulkner-Wisdom Competition Award

Marilyn MoriartyHollins University Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty is the winner of the 2014 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award in the Essay category.

Moriarty was honored for her essay, “Swerves.” Her novel-in-progress, The Book of Rivers and Cities, was also a finalist in this year’s Faulkner – Wisdom Competition.

Open to all writing in English, the competition is sponsored annually by The Pirate’s Alley Society, Inc., a non-profit literary and educational organization. Named for Nobel Laureate William Faulkner and literary scholar and collector William B. Wisdom of New Orleans, the competition is for previously unpublished work in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Book-Length Non-Fiction, Short Story, Novel-in-Progress, Essay, Poetry, and Short Story by a High School Student.

Poet, essayist, and literary editor Jane Satterfield, who judged the Essay category, said, “A compelling pilgrimage through the mysteries and histories that bloodlines, literature, and kinship bequeath to us, ‘Swerves’ reminds us of the heady work it takes to situate ourselves in time and place. Engaging tough questions about inheritance and nationality, this eloquent and skillful essay brings to readers a clear-sighted vision and the confident measures of a riveting, necessary voice.”

Moriarty has taught at Hollins since 1992. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Irvine, and her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Florida. Her book publications include Moses Unchained, which won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (A.W.P.) prize in creative nonfiction, and Writing Science through Critical Thinking, a textbook. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in The Antioch Review, The Kenyon Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere.

Moriarty and the other winners and finalists in this year’s competition will be recognized at the Faulkner Society’s Black Tie Annual Meeting on November 23 in New Orleans.