Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Newsroom


Summer Sojourns

  • News Image
    Art History Professor Patrick Hajovsky took this picture of the cathedral in Cuzco, Peru, where he is doing research this summer. The photo was taken during the celebration of Corpus Christi.
  • News Image
    Spanish Professor Laura Senio-Blair is going to Scandinavia this summer to study films made by Chilean exiles in Scandinavia (Photo by Carlos Barron).
  • News Image
    Education Professor Michael Kamen is going to spend two weeks in Russia this summer (Photo by Carlos Barron).

Faculty members are working on projects across the globe this summer

This summer will find Southwestern faculty members on almost every continent.  

Laura Senio-Blair, associate professor of Spanish, is going to spend three weeks conducting research in Finland, Sweden and Norway as a Fellow of the American Scandinavian Foundation.

Senio-Blair received a grant from the foundation to study the work of Chilean filmmakers who emigrated to Scandinavian countries in 1973 when dictator Augusto Pinochet came into power.

“From 1973-1989, the whole film industry in Chile didn’t function because of censorship,” Senio-Blair said. “Ninety-six percent of the films produced by Chileans were produced out of the country in exile.”  

Senio-Blair is particularly interested in a female Chilean director named Angelina Vazquez. Vazquez produced seven documentaries after moving to Finland, but very few people in Chile have seen these films because they are housed exclusively in Scandinavia.

Senio-Blair will use some of her grant money to digitize the films, which are currently located at a television station in Finland. She plans to take them to an archive in Chile when she goes there for a sabbatical in 2012.  

“I hope my work will help round out the archives of Chilean films that were burned during the Pinochet dictatorship or were never viewed because they were made in exile,” she said.  

Senio-Blair’s work this summer will also involve putting Spanish subtitles on the films, since they were originally subtitled in Finnish. She also will interview animators, producers and others who worked with Vazquez.  

When she goes to Chile in 2012, she will interview contemporary Chilean film directors. She hopes to write a book on the history of female film directors in Chile.   “There are lots of studies on Chilean films, but not much on women,” she said.  

Senio-Blair has used her research on Chilean film to teach a course on this subject in spring 2009. This spring she taught a course on Hispanic film.  

Senio-Blair is taking her family with her on the trip, and said her children will visit a reindeer farm, a Viking ship and ride a bullet train while she is conducting her research.  

Michael Kamen, associate professor of education, is going to spend two weeks in Moscow attending a program with some of the world’s leading scholars on Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky. The trip will include a visit to one of the “Golden Key” schools where teaching methods based on Vygotsky’s theories have been implemented.  

Much of Kamen’s teaching and scholarship is based on Vygotsky, who founded a field known as cultural-historical psychology.  

“Vygotsky died in 1934 and was published in English starting in  the 1970s,” Kamen said. “Some of his work was edited in Russia and only now is some of his unedited work being translated, so we can get more insight into what he actually wrote.”  

Kamen is the editor of the Electronic Journal of Science Education, and is planning to co-edit a special edition of the journal dedicated to Vygotsky. He has begun work on a book on teaching science using an instructional model based on Vygotsky’s research and theories.  

This is Kamen’s second trip to Russia to learn more about Vygotsky. On his last trip, in 2009, he got to meet both Vygotsky’s daughter and his granddaughter, who is the director of the Vygotsky Institute at the Russian State University for the Humanities.  

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor or religion, is spending two weeks in France visiting churches that may have animals depicted in stained glass windows. The trip will take her to 20 churches in Lyon, Rouen, Angiers and Chartres. The purpose of the trip is to begin research for another book on animals in religion.  

At the end of her two weeks in France, Hobgood-Oster will spend three days at the Vatican making plans for a future conference on nature in the Vatican’s religious artwork that she will be responsible for as president-elect of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture.  

Patrick Hajovsky, assistant professor of art history, is also studying artwork abroad. He’s spending a month in Cuzco, Peru, studying 17th-century painting at the Cuzco Cathedral, which has become a major repository of Cusco’s colonial art.  

Suzanne Buchele, associate professor of computer science, will be returning to Ghana for seven weeks to teach a class on Applied Cryptography and Computer Security at Ashesi University College and help with some administrative duties there. Buchele spent two years at Ashesi in 2006-2008 as a Fulbright Scholar. Ashesi is located in Accra, which is the capital of Ghana.

While she is in Ghana, Buchele will help dedicate a well at Methodist University College - Ghana that she and her husband helped raise money for. Several student groups at Southwestern contributed to the project as did members of St. Phillips United Methodist Church in Round Rock. The well is for a new set of dorms at Methodist University-Ghana, which is also located in Accra.

“In the part of town where Methodist University is, the city water doesn’t run very often and people need to carry their water or have it trucked in regularly,” Buchele said. “This well will let the students have access to water in the dorm without having to carry it or buy it.”  

Buchele said she is glad to be helping both colleges in Accra. “Ashesi and Methodist University-Ghana are both great places doing great things, but with very different missions,” Buchele said. “Ashesi aims for the top Ghanaian students and gives them a world-class education in Ghana, to help stem the brain drain and keep the brightest students in Ghana to then help solve the real problems that are there (like not having water inside the city).  Methodist University’s mission is to take in just about anyone and bring them somewhere along the path of education. Since I care passionately about higher education, it’s great for me to help both of these institutions.”  

Buchele’s husband, Steve, and youngest daughter, Anna, will be joining her in Ghana for part of the summer to do missionary work there.

Buchele said both she and her husband will be blogging from Ghana. You can read her posts at www.buchele.blogspot.com

Elisabeth Piedmont-Marton, associate professor of English, is spending six weeks in Vietnam, studying Vietnamese and conducting research for a book inspired by a school-building project in North Vietnam that she was involved with. She visited the school she helped build, and took them a television and DVD player. She is doing her studying and writing in Hoi An, along the central coast, and then plans to spend the last part of her trip visiting Saigon and the temple complex in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.