Conversations About our Scholarly Lives
Spring 2013

Every Monday at noon, CASL provides Macalester faculty with an opportunity to learn about our colleagues’ scholarly work while joining together for lunch and informal conversation. Presenters have 20 minutes to discuss their research in progress, the excitement and challenges of doing research at a small liberal arts college, or their fully formed research products. The rest of the hour will be spent discussing the issues raised in the presentation. Bring your curiosity, collegiality, and your questions; we provide the lunch (no RSVP necessary). 12:000-1:00 at the CST, Room 338 in the Library.

February 4 – Lin Aanonsen, Biology, and Christy Hanson, Institute for Global Citizenship.  “Kenya: what elephants, mosquitoes and ground-breaking research have in common. Exploring a new model for scholarship, study away and experiential learning."
Lin Aanonsen, Biology and Christy Hanson, Institute for Global Citizenship, will present "Kenya: what elephants, mosquitoes and ground-breaking research have in common.  Exploring a new model for scholarship, study away and experiential learning." Aanonsen and Hanson traveled to Kisumu, Kenya over the January term to explore a novel semester away alternative for students.  The semester will include formal study, independent research and an internship with the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  They will describe how faculty relationships and scholarship with partner research institutions may be augmented to include formal study away alternatives for students.

February 11– Shilad Sen, Math, Statistics, and Computer Science.  "Understanding Wikipedia."
Shilad Sen, Math, Computer Science, and Statistics, will present "Understanding Wikipedia." Wikipedia's four million articles constitute the most widely read reference on the web. During my sabbatical last year Sen immersed himself in Wikipedia. He explored Wikipedia's article quality norms, measured the gender gap among editors, and mined semantic knowledge from Wikipedia to power his Macademia website. This talk will describe these projects, and tell the story of how Sen came to research Wikipedia. 

February 18 – Julie Dolan, Political Science. "Women Serving Women? The Role of Gender Consciousness in Delivering Healthcare to Female Veterans." 
This new research project engages an ongoing debate in the public administration literature: do public servants, such as physicians working for the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA), serve their clientele impartially, or do they sometimes take on an advocacy role to benefit certain segments of their clientele? Female veterans are the fastest growing segment of today's population of Veterans, yet the VA is struggling to provide optimal care to women seeking care in their facilities. My project explores the role that VA physicians' play in closing the gender gap in quality care. 

February 25– Katie Batza, History. "Doctors and Drag Queens: Building a Gay Medical Infrastructure in the Period Before AIDS."
Against the backdrop of gay liberation and a venereal disease epidemic, community activists, gay performers, and gay medical professionals fought to change the medical and political understandings of homosexuality in the 1970s. This talk will explore some of the innovative public health, medical, and political tactics they used to re-frame homosexuality as an identity rather than an illness during this time period. Batza will then examine how the resulting medical infrastructure and shifting understandings of homosexuality reacted to the emergence of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. 

March 4 – Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Art and Art History.  “Race, Danger and Distance in Japanese Images of 1930s Manchuria.”
This presentation will examine the ways in which Japanese media courted tourist interest in Manchuria by positing old, walled, Chinese cities as controlled zones of contact with exoticized Sino-Manchurian culture. Throughout the 1930s, Japanese tourist media heavily advertised the “Manchuria tour” to Japanese and foreign readers, casting the region known as Manchukuo (1932-1945) as both a modern urban paradise and a wild frontier of different cultures. Nowhere was the duality of this destination-branding more evident than in photographs of the old cities. Posited as noisy and chaotic repositories of “local color” by Japanese magazines, these urban spaces were cast as sites of danger. Here, it was advertised, tourists could experience the infamous “thieves markets,” an urban parallel to the Manchurian frontier where bandits were the scourge of Japanese settlements.

March 11– Fritz Vandover, ITS.  “Why We Build it, Buy it, Bend it, and Borrow it: Understanding the Instructional Technology Landscape at Liberal Arts Institutions.”
From Moodle to Blackboard, iPads to blogs, and innumerable other sites, software, and tools, instructional technology has become a ubiquitous part of the higher education pedagogical landscape.  How, though, do different institutions end up with different constellations of instructional technology tools compared to others?  Why do some institutions tend to build their instructional technologies, while others buy theirs, and still others “borrow or bend” theirs?  Please come for a discussion about these questions and many more regarding the field of instructional technology as Fritz Vandover presents the findings of his doctoral research on decision making among liberal arts institutions regarding instructional technology.

March 18 – No program.  Spring Break.

March 25 – Leslie Lavery, Political Science. “Lessons Learned: Parent Policy Feedback and No Child Left Behind.”
A growing body of work in political science suggests that policies teach citizens important political lessons about their place in politics and role in our political system. To date research has focused on highly visible policies with direct material influence on a specified target population. I propose an amendment to existing theory that applies across policy type and population by explicitly taking into account individual policy exposure and knowledge. This talk will focus on public school parents' school related and political attitudes in response to No Child Left Behind - a highly visible yet complicated policy with varying consequences for schools of different designation.

April 1– Katherine Splan, Chemistry.  “Beyond CHNOPS: The essential and harmful roles of metals in biology.”
Metal ions such as iron, copper, and zinc have unique chemical properties that make them essential for biological processes. However, many of these same properties also lead to the potential for toxicity, and elevated levels of metals such as iron and copper have been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This discussion will highlight both the beneficial and detrimental roles that metal ions play in biology.

April 8– Rebecca Heist, Theatre and Dance.  “Klatch, a Dance Documentary.”
Heist has been pursuing her interest in the relatively new art form of dance for the camera.  Along with her Macalester alumnus collaborator, Angus Reid, she has created a short documentary based upon the bewildering yet sure path to aging as a dancer.  The women of the klatch reveal their approaches to embracing the physical and psychological changes in the process of getting older while continuing to pursue the joy in dancing.

April 15– Julia Chadaga, German and Russian.  “Scene of the Crime: Policing, Performance, and Protest Art in Contemporary Russia.”
Blaspheming women in balaclavas. A 200-foot phallus painted on a drawbridge. A banned photograph of kissing policemen. The art coming out of Russia today is striking, confrontational, and vigorously persecuted by the authorities. This talk will provide a cultural and historical framework for understanding both the art and the official retaliation. Russian artists are seizing control of public space in unprecedented ways, and the contemporary clashes between art and the state can be seen in terms of a revival of aesthetic traditions and repressive strategies. At the same time, a new emphasis on the battle against gender-based domination suggests revolutionary developments on the horizon.   

April 22 – James Dawes, English.  “Evil Men.”
What turns average men into monsters? In the Second Sino-Japanese war, a group of Imperial Japanese soldiers committed the worst atrocities imaginable: torture, rape, murder, medical experiments on captured civilians. Their personal confessions to the author reveal the world through the eyes of the perpetrator. Their testimony allows us to explore the psychological and organizational roots of genocide. Their stories may also help us understand ways to prevent crimes against humanity.

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April 29– Susanna Drake, Religious Studies.  “The Gospel of Jesus' Wife (and what it has to teach us about Christian debates about marriage).”
The announcement of the discovery of "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" was met with protest, disbelief, and anger from many  Christian leaders and scholars.  We will discuss how this tiny gospel fragment--and the controversy that ensued--have something to teach us about the diversity (and instability) of Christian attitudes toward marriage and women.