Academic News (News2Note) — April 2017

News2Note, the academic newsletter of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is published monthly during the academic year by Debra Stoudt, associate dean for academic policies and procedures. Academic news can be submitted to her directly at

Academic News

Several College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members received Curriculum Globalization Grants from Virginia Tech’s Global Education Office and Outreach and International Affairs.

Vanessa Diaz, an instructor in the Department of Human Development, and Anisa Zvonkovic, a professor and head of the Department of Human Development, will develop a new course titled “Immigrant Families: Child Development and Acculturation.”

Sharon Johnson, an associate professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and director of women’s and gender studies, received a grant to develop a new course, “Gender and Sexual Violence in a Global Context.”

Brett Shadle, a professor in the Department of History, received a grant for efforts to globalize the curriculum through a new course titled “A History of Refugees.”

Vinodh Venkatesh, an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, was honored for his efforts to globalize the curriculum through a new course, “Spanish for the Natural Sciences.”

Each award was for $5,000. The award winners were celebrated at a reception at the Hahn Horticultural Garden on March 30.

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students and faculty were recognized at the 17th Annual Graduate Education Week Awards Banquet on March 30.

Carmen Bolt, History, received the William Preston Society Outstanding Thesis Award for Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities. Human Development faculty member April Few-Demo was recognized with the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Mentor Award. Francine Rossone de Paula, ASPECT, received the Outstanding Dissertation Award for Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Outstanding Graduate Student Awards went to Daniel Newcomb, a master’s student in history, and Shekila Melchior, a doctoral student in counselor education. Ricky Mullins, Curriculum and Instruction, received the Graduate Teaching Excellence – Assistant Award. Honored as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges were Samantha Fried, Science and Technology Studies, and Erin Lavender-Stott, Human Development. 

Erin Hopkins published “The Importance of Incentives and Grants for Green Buildings,” Handbook of Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development in Higher Education – Volume 4, ed. Walter Leal Filho, Ulisses Azeiteiro, Fátima Alves, and Petra Molthan-Hill (New York, New York: Springer, 2017), pp. 429–39. Hopkins is an assistant professor of property management and real estate in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management.

Thirty-five graduate students gave presentations at the 2017 ASPECT Graduate Conference. Titled “Aesthetics, Politics, and Ethics in Fractured Times,” the conference took place March 31 to April 1.

Among those presenting from ASPECT (the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought) were: Judson Abraham, “Trump in World-Systemic Perspective”; Caroline Alphin, “Cyborg Neoliberalism: Problematizing the Body/Insecurity/City Nexus through Genre”; Amiel Bernal, “Truth in Epistemological and Philosophical Discourse”; Nada Berrada, “Agency under Hogra and Dispossession”; Claudio D’Amato, “A Non-Liberal Account of Global Development”; Taulby Edmondson, “Cultural Contestation on the ‘Field of Angels’”; Tim Filbert, “Cultural Governance, Energy Development, and Standing Rock: The Aesthetics of Resistance”; Rob Flahive, “Asymmetric Lines: World Heritage and the White City Imaginary”; Claire Gogan, “The Last Klezmer? Authenticity, Community, and Intergenerational Connections in the Life and Music of Peter Sokolow”; Johannes Grow, “Empire Redux: The EU and Violence at the Margins”; Hirbohd Hedayat, “The Birth of Transitional Regimes: An Analysis of Taxation, Transition, and Accession in Postcommunist States”; Darren Jackson, “Rancière’s Misreading of Deleuze’s Cinema 1and Cinema 2”; and Mario Khreiche, “The Hypernormalization of Anti-Semitism in American Mediascapes.”

Also presenting from ASPECT were Jordan Laney, “White Performances of a Diverse South: Unpacking the Cultural Politics of Early Bluegrass Festivals”; Leigh McKagen, “Space: The Final Sublime? Aesthetics of Space in Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica”; Galen Olmsted, “On How Consolidation States and Security States Relate”; Mary Ryan, “Social Imagination, Poverty, and the Role of American Theater”;  Melissa Schwartz, “Enacting Response to the ‘Other’: Jorie Graham’s Poetics of Sensing”; Ezgi Seref, “Assessing the Threshold of Life: The Limits of Emergency Decree Laws in Turkey”; Katy Shepard, “Why Can’t We Just Let Art Die? What It Is to Forget and to Be Forgotten in Terms of Art”; Faith Skiles, “A Look at Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique of Violence’ through a Gendered Lens”; Emma Stamm, “Tactics for Cybernetic Sovereignty”; Alex Stubberfield, “On ‘Deplorables’: ‘The People’ in Donald Trump’s Populism”; Anthony Szczurek, “Timing the Politics of Climate Change: India and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”; Dana Volk, “Passing: Intersections of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Class”; and Shelby Ward, “The Hospitality of Street Food and Television: Re-Mapping the Liminal Table in the (Ethni)City.”

Graduate student presenters from the Department of Political Science included Julia Eggleston, “Theorizing Political Protests through Feminist Theory”; John Huennekens, “‘Only Unity Saves the Serb’: Normalizing Nationalism in Serbian Politics”; Patrick Salmons, with faculty member Scott Nelson, ”The Political Economy of a Trust Culture”; Elizabeth Schwartz, “The Necessary Procedures of Manhood: A Feminist Intervention in the Liberal-Communitarian Debate”; Ben Taylor, “(Re)Mapping the City: A Foucauldian Analysis of Inner-City Practices of Gang Territorialization”; and Madison Tepper, “(Un)Orthodox Religion: The Role of the Russian Orthodox Tradition in Modern Russian Nationalism.”

Pratama Pradheksa, a graduate student in Department of Science and Technology in Society, presented “The Relationship between the Formation of Indonesia’s Nation-State Identity and the Development of Nuclear Technologies, 1954–1966” in collaboration with Tiara Noor Pratiwi of Airlangga University.

Finally, Rachel Wurster, a graduate student in the Department of English, presented “Her World Her Way? An Exploration of Racial Depictions and Stereotypes in Seventeen Magazine.”

Kelly Cooper, a history major, was one of six students selected to represent Virginia Tech at the 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Meeting of the Minds Conference. Cooper presented “The Illumination of the York Minster and St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Two Preservation Approaches.” The conference was held March 31 to April 2 at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Students from each of the 15 ACC member schools send representatives. The conference is funded in part by revenue from ACC athletic events.

Experts in human development — including Rosemary Blieszner, Alumni Distinguished Professor in the Department of Human Development and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; Nancy Brossoie, senior research associate in the Center for Gerontology; Emma Potter, doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development; and Karen Roberto, University Distinguished Professor and director of the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment — published “Decisions, Decisions: African American Families’ Responses to Mild Cognitive Impairment” in Research on Aging (2017;39:476–500).

Mario Caraccioli, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and ASPECT, published “The Learned Man of Good Judgment: Nature, Narrative and Wonder in José de Acosta’s Natural Philosophy,” History of Political Thought 38.1 (Spring 2017): 44–63.

María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, Foreign Languages and Literatures/Spanish, served as the guest editor for the December 2016 special issue of Hispanófila titled “Beyond Violence (Criticism) in Contemporary Hispanic Narratives and Cinemas.”

Robert Denton, Jr., W. Thomas Rice Chair and head of the Department of Communication, received the 2016 Carl Couch Center Director’s Service Award from the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research at the University of Iowa. The award was presented at the Annual Convention of the National Communication Association, Political Communication Division, which was held November 10–13, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Brett Jones, a professor in the educational psychology program of the School of Education, and Ming Li, a doctoral student, published “A Cross-cultural Validation of the MUSIC® Model of Academic Motivation Inventory: Evidence from Chinese- and Spanish-speaking University Students,” International Journal of Educational Psychology 6.1 (2017): 366–85, with Juan Cruz.

Robert Denton, Jr., W. Thomas Rice Chair and head of the Department of Communication, published Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy: The End of the Social Contract (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), with coauthor Benjamin Voth.

Charlene Eska, an associate professor in the Department of English, was elected to a Visiting Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford University, from October 1 to December 31, 2017. She will be pursuing work on her current book project, a critical edition and translation of the medieval Irish legal text, Anfuigell ‘Wrong Judgment.’

Brett Jones, a professor of educational psychology in the School of Education, published Essentials of Educational Psychology: Big Ideas to Guide Effective Teaching, 5th edition (Columbus, Ohio: Pearson, 2017), with Jeanne Ellis Ormrod.

Three graduate students from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences were inducted into the Virginia Tech chapter of the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. Recognized with membership were Adrien DeLoach, Higher Education; Jordan Laney, ASPECT; and Jennifer Turner, Sociology.

The society was established in 2005 and named for the first African American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States; it “seeks to develop a network of scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy – exemplifying the spirit and example of Dr. Bouchet.”

Virginia Tech is one of 13 Bouchet Society chapter institutions.

Eight College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students presented at the 2017 Dennis Dean Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Conference.

Presenting papers were: John Chandler, Music, Jonathan Elmore, Music, and Allison Harris, Mechanical Engineering and Music, National Opera Association Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition;Kelly Cooper, History, “The Illumination of the York Minster and St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Two Preservation Approaches”; Rhiannon Hasenauer, Human Development, “The Future of Honduras”; Alec Masella, Literature and Language, “First Contact: The Influential Exchange between the American Fireside Poet and the Arab Mahjar Poets”; and David Snyder, Communication, “Sheppard v. Maxwell: Revisited.”

Presenting posters were: Rachel Beisser, Literature and Language, “Master of Deceit: The Malicious and Cunning Nature of Mephistophilis in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus,” and A. Slough, Human Development, “Attention in Infancy: Links to Childhood Attention and Academic Achievement.”

The Virginia Tech Office of Undergraduate Research selected several of the presenters to receive awards. John Chandler, Jonathan Elmore, and Allison Harris won for Best Performance; their faculty mentor was Ariana Wyatt, an assistant professor of voice in the School of Performing Arts. Kelly Cooper was named an ACC Meeting of the Minds awardee for Oral Presentation; her faculty mentor was LaDale Winling, an assistant professor in the Department of History.

The winning presentation from each category received $500, and ACC Meeting of the Minds awardees presented their projects at the conference of the same name.

The conference was held February 20–23 at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.

The 2017 College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Faculty Awards Reception and Ceremony took place in Owens Banquet Hall on March 14. Presenting this year’s awards were Interim Dean Rosemary Blieszner, Associate Dean for Graduate Study and Research Tom Ewing, and Joseph Pitt, Philosophy and chair of the College’s Honors and Awards Committee.

The Diversity Award winner was David Cline, History. Yannis Stivachtis, Political Science, garnered the Excellence in Administration Award. The winner of the Shannon Award was Paul Heilker, English. Gerard Lawson, School of Education, was recognized with the Land Grant Scholar Award. Recipients of an Excellence in Advising Award were April Few-Demo, Human Development, and Richard Hirsh, History.

Certificate of Teaching Excellence Award winners were: Jennifer Barton, English; María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, Foreign Languages and Literatures/Spanish; Christine Labuski, Sociology; Richard Phillips, Foreign Languages and Literatures/Classics; Helen Schneider, History; and Ashley Shew, Science and Technology in Society.

Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Awards were presented to Nicholas Copeland, Sociology, and Phillip Olson, Science and Technology in Society. Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Awards were presented to Brian Britt, Religion and Culture; Billie Lepczyk, School of Performing Arts; Erika Meitner, English; and Carol Mullen, School of Education.

Several students in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences participated in the 33rd Annual Graduate Student Assembly Research Symposium and Exposition. Those who gave oral presentations were: Matt Prater, Creative Writing, “‘Friend of the Devil’: A Performative Reading”; Tanner Upthegrove, School of Performing Arts, “Acoustic Simulation of Real and Virtual Spaces with Real-Time Third Order Ambisonics Convolution”; Brandon West, English; “Climbing the Ladder, Descending into Darkness: On Nightmare Fiction and Escaping the Dreamworld”; and Rachel Wurster, English, “Her World Her Way?: An Exploration of Racial Stereotypes and Depictions in Seventeen Magazine.” Presenting a poster was Kasey Richardson, Curriculum and Instruction, “Teaching, Talking, Tech: How Curiosity and Sex Ed Curricula Drive Informal Learning.” The event was held March 29 in the Graduate Life Center.

The 20th annual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference — held March 18–19 at the University Club and the Graduate Life Center — featured 23 presentations by students from 11 U.S. institutions, including Virginia Tech.

Presenting papers were the following master’s students in History: Mason Ailstock, “Making Their Mark: World War I Memorial and Commemoration Formation by Veterans in Johnson City, TN, 1918–1999”; Kevin Caprice, “No True Veteran . . .: Constructing a Hierarchy within Union Veteranhood”; Earl Cherry, Jr., “Training Virginians: Rural Training Schools of Virginia’s Segregated Education System, 1895–1955”; Grace Hemmingson, “The Battle in Richmond: Catawba Sanatorium and Virginia’s ‘War on Tuberculosis’”; Chris Keller, “Bluegrass by Flatt and Scruggs: Sophisticated and Nostalgic”; Jonathan MacDonald, “Reel Guidance: Midcentury Classroom Films and Adolescent Adjustment”; Jenny Nehrt, “The Opportunity in Disaster: Securing White Supremacy in Memphis during the 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic”; Daniel Newcomb, “‘Living in a New World’: World War One and the Decline of Military Tradition at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 1916–1923”; and Rebecca Williams, “‘Weird Old Figures and a New Twist’: Cultural Functions of Halloween at the Turn of the 20th Century.”

Department of History graduate students organized the conference and faculty members served as discussants.

Appalachian Studies Program faculty members Anita Puckett and Emily Satterwhite, and English faculty member Serena Frost, served as conference chair, program chair, and local arrangements chairs respectively for “Extreme Appalachia,” the 40th annual Appalachian Studies Conference, which was held on the Virginia Tech campus March 9–12. This was the first time the conference was held in Blacksburg since 1994.

In addition to academic presentations, the program included public performances; fiber arts exhibits curated by Kathy Combiths, English; photography exhibits (Katie White, Material Culture and Public Humanities, assistant curator); a series of documentary screenings; a plenary co-organized by Barbara Ellen Smith, Sociology; and training sessions and workshops.

College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students presented and participated in a range of sessions. Judson Abraham, ASPECT, presented ‘‘How Marcuse and Bloch Contribute to a Critical Appalachian Utopianism’’ and participated in the “Exploring Critical Theory for Appalachian Scholars and Activists” roundtable. Katie Brooks, Rhetoric and Writing, presented “‘What’s the Catch’: Strategies for Recruiting Central Appalachian High School Teachers for University Partnerships to Promote College Access.” Rachel Hargrave, Creative Writing and Literature and Language, presented with faculty member Abby Walker, English (and , “/z/-devoicing: A Feature of Appalachian English”? (co-authored with Amy Southall, Professional and Technical Writing). Christopher Keller, History, presented “Flatt & Scruggs and Martha White: Complicating Nostalgia in Bluegrass TV.”

Robert Kitchens, School of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts, presented “Murder by Dynamite and Other Stories: Visions of Staging Contemporary Appalachian Performance. Jordan Laney, ASPECT, participated in the “Examining Feminism in Appalachia through Contemporary Issues: A Discussion of Intersections and Place” roundtable. Ricky Mullins, Curriculum and Instruction, presented “Coal Power: Four Stories of How the Coal Industry Affected Individual Lives in Central Appalachia.” Micah Untiedt, School of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts, “The Crockett House, Circa 1840: Endangered Appalachian History in Seven Mile Ford, Virginia.” Shelby Ward, ASPECT, presented ‘‘The Appalachian in Exile: Redrawing Regional Boundary Lines with the Poetic Imaginaries of a Wandering, Mountainous Body.’”

In addition, the following master’s students in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, under the direction of Danille Christensen, Religion and Culture, as curator, designed #HandsOn: Skill and Creativity in Southwest Virginia, an exhibit of their fieldwork: Elizabeth Howard, Danielle Lewandowski, Kendall Lucy, Heather Lyne, Martina Svyantek, Sarah Taylor, Drew Walton, Moriah Webster, and Elizabeth Wells.

Numerous faculty from across the university presented papers and served as discussants, contributing to the largest Appalachian Studies conference ever, with 1,045 registrants, approximately 500 attendees at public events, and more than 210 sessions.

A. Roger Ekirch, a professor in the Department of History, delivered the keynote address, “The Modernization of Sleep,” at a conference of the Royal Society of Medicine, Sleep Medicine Division, held February 7 in London.

Ekirch’s recently published book, American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution (New York: Pantheon, 2017), was selected in February as a “Featured Book” of the History Book Club and as a Publisher’s Weekly “Book of the Week,” and he gave a talk about the book in Durham, North Carolina, which aired on Book TV (C-Span 2) on March 19. His essay, “How the Bloodiest Mutiny in British Naval History Helped Create American Political Asylum,” appeared on the Smithsonian Magazine website on March 24.

Ekirch was interviewed about his research for the February issue of Ça M’Intéresse (Gennevilliers); the Daily Mail (London) on February 7; the Times (London) on February 11; the February 23 issue of the Duke Chronicle; the Roanoke Times (Q&A, Book Review Section) on March 19; and the March issue of Monocle Magazine. In addition, Ekirch was appointed to the Board of Editors of Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.