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CAS - Compass E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

January 2017

Dean Lauren BentonDear Arts & Science community,

We have become familiar with reading warnings in the media about a “crisis in the humanities.” As society turns increasingly to the internet for news and entertainment, some fear the end of serious thought about literature, art, history, language, music, and philosophy.

I am happy to report that in the College of Arts and Science, research and learning in the humanities are alive and well. Rather than fearing the effects of technology, faculty and students are finding ways to advance the humanities using digital tools.

This month the College of Arts and Science celebrated the opening of the new Center of Digital Humanities. Situated in the middle of campus on the third floor of Buttrick Hall, the center will serve faculty and students pursuing scholarly problems and projects using advanced technology and media analysis.

Supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the center will be home each year to a cohort of faculty, postdoctoral, and student researchers interested in digital approaches to humanistic inquiry.

The inaugural group of Mellon Faculty Fellows are leading the way:

  • Professor Lynn Ramey (French and Italian) is developing “immersive 3D environments” in research and teaching on the Middle Ages
  • Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History Jane Landers  is constructing a digitized archive of endangered sources on the lives of slaves across the Americas
  • Professor Tracy Miller (History of Art) is applying digital tools to understanding traditional Chinese architecture
  • Professor Steven Wernke (Anthropology) uses advanced spatial analysis to enhance archaeological research in the Andes

The center also serves as a resource for faculty and students who want an introduction to digital humanities. Senior lecturer Madeleine “Mickey” Casad, who recently joined the faculty from Cornell, has developed a rich array of public workshops and lectures. In fall 2017, Helmut Smith , Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of History, will begin a three-year term as center director.

And there is more. The center helps support a new graduate program in Comparative Media Analysis and Practice. Led by Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of German, Cinema and Media Arts Lutz Koepnick ,  this innovative program will operate jointly with traditional humanities graduate programs to train students in media analysis and help prepare them to work in humanities-related positions in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.

Against the perception of a crisis in the humanities, I gladly cite the exciting work of our faculty and students, working every day to preserve and promote the critical faculties we all need to make sense of the world around us.

Best wishes,

Dean Benton Signature

Lauren Benton

Dean, College of Arts and Science

Nelson O. Tyrone, Jr. Professor of History

A&S in the News

Tennis World USA: A&S students rank No. 2 and No. 19 in the country in women’s tennis. Junior Astra Sharma is ranked 22 while senior Sydney Campbell is ranked 19.

Forbes: Two of three Vanderbilt alumni named to Forbes “30 Under 30” are from the College of Arts and Science. Andrew Barge, BA’09, is leading the effort to develop new ways to consume sports media. Emily Motayed, BA’10, co-founded Havenly as a way to make interior design affordable on nearly any budget.

New York Times: What did Neanderthals leave to modern humans? Some surprises
Geneticists tell us that somewhere between 1 and 5 percent of the genome of modern Europeans and Asians consists of DNA inherited from Neanderthals, our prehistoric cousins. Tony Capra, assistant professor of biological sciences, is interviewed about his research.

Brazil TIPs project may unlock key answers in health care delivery while creating immersive student research opportunities

Peter Rousseau wins inaugural ‘Journal of Political Economy’ prize

Arts and Science alumna is turning a love for literature into a career in art

$1M gift to support research and immersion experiences for Vanderbilt’s Earth and Environmental Sciences

Vanderbilt student named to second class of Schwarzman Scholars

A Vanderbilt romance: Alumni couple makes gift to Arts and Science

A&S gear on sale

Make a gift to Arts and Science

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