Public Humanities

November 9, 2017

photo of six panelists at table

Six College of Liberal Arts faculty members presented on UNH’s innovative public humanities fellows program at the National Humanities Conference, held Nov. 2-5, 2017, in Boston, Mass.

The UNH Center for the Humanities annually awards up to three fellowships of $5000 each for publicly engaged humanities projects. The awards enable individual humanities scholars or teams to undertake collaborative projects, partnering with community or other public organizations, bringing humanities scholarship to bear in the context of advancing democracy, civic life and the public good.

Learn about the projects funded by the public humanities fellows program.

The faculty presenting at the Conference, pictured above, left to right, were Eleanor Harrison-Buck (anthropology), Christina Ortmeier-Hooper (English), Alecia Magnifico (English), Burt Feintuch (English and the Center for the Humanities), Nick Smith (philosophy) and Svetlana Peshkova (anthropology).

The conference, co-hosted with the Federation of State Humanities Councils, was the second in a series of three joint national meetings that bring the humanities community together as whole to consider how, by leveraging strengths, they can achieve broader public impact and showcase the fundamental role the humanities play in addressing both local and global challenges.

Nick Smith presenting

Professor Nick Smith

Svetlana Peshkova presenting

Professor Svetlana Peshkova


Passing: John E. Limber

May 2, 2017
photo of John E. Limber

John E. Limber

John E. Limber, associate professor emeritus of psychology, passed away on April 26, 2017. A memorial service will be held on May 26, 2017 at 5 p.m. at Three Chimneys Inn in Durham.

On Wednesday, April 26, John Edward Limber died peacefully at his home in Durham, N.H., surrounded by his daughters, Kristin and Alexandra McGraw.

Born on Chicago’s South Side, John earned his undergraduate and honors graduate degrees at the University of Illinois, and was forever tied to the hapless Fighting Illini football and basketball teams. A win, at least every now and then, made John a happy member of Illini Nation.

In 1971, following post-doctoral work in psycholinguistics at Wesleyan University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, John became a member of the Department of Psychology of the University of New Hampshire, where he continued to teach undergraduate and graduate students and supervise their research until his retirement in 2009.

His graduate students became his lifelong friends and, especially in his later years, reminded him of the powerful influence he had on them, personally and professionally. A common refrain was that he taught, and led, by example.

John was also an innovator. At the beginning of each class and then periodically throughout the semester, he warned students that while all views were welcome, they needed to be data-based and cogently argued. He never tolerated, he said, “B.S.” He brought out a rubber stamp and a red ink pad and illustrated what he would add, as needed, to papers turned into him. Note: the rubber stamp did not use the abbreviation. Neither did John. Any number of students can testify that this was not an idle threat, but they can also testify that it was always done with charm and flair, to move their thinking along.

John’s views were not always taken as gospel by friends. For decades, John was an active member of the Psyclones — the slow-pitch softball team fielded by members of the psychology department. John was the team’s main pitcher, and for decades he insisted he was able to throw a slow-pitch curve ball. Knowledgeable people (including a former minor league major baseball pitcher) denied the very possibility of such a pitch. But John scoffed at skeptics, as he explained the physics of why the ball had to curve when released it just so!

John was a charter member of the “Applied Probability Group” in Durham — otherwise known as the monthly poker game. John was often the big winner of the night and at the last meeting he attended just a couple of months ago, he maintained his winning style.

John Limber was kind, nurturing, smart and pragmatic. His was a life well lived. At John’s core was his love of family. In the view of family and friends, John always found (and gave) the essentials: love, perspective, humor and kindness.

A memorial service to honor John’s life will be held at 5 p.m., May 26, 2017 at Three Chimneys Inn in Durham. His family and friends request that if you attend, you come with a story about John to share with the group. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in John’s name to a charity of your choice.

—Edited from a longer piece written by the Limber family


Simic Awarded International Poetry Festival’s Golden Wreath

April 25, 2017

photo of Charles Simic

Charles Simic, professor emeritus of English, has been named the 2017 Golden Wreath award winner of Struga Poetry Evenings.

Struga Poetry Evenings is an international poetry festival held every August in Struga, Macedonia since 1962. Over 5,000 poets, book reviewers, theoreticians, publishers and literature promoters from over 100 countries and all continents have taken part in the festival since its inception. During the event, the Golden Wreath award is given to an outstanding poet for her or his body of work.

The managing board of Struga Poetry Evenings chose Simic’s work for its “original poetic voice that through a surrealistic experience, gradually evolves as a distinctive observer of the modern, with strong moral and philosophical questions; extremely clear, serious but fun at the same time. This award values his outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry, which is a passionate and lucid testimony of modern time, intriguing, provocative, shocking, meditative, full of insights of ironic humor.”

“I was delighted to hear that I’m to be awarded The Golden Wreath Award…,” said Simic, as reported in Versopolis, a European publication that reviews poetry, books and culture. “A number of past winners were my friends and I know how deeply honored they were to receive this award and so am I today. The list of your past recipients is so distinguished that I don’t know of another poetry prize anywhere in the world that can equal it. I have fond memories of Struga Poetry Evenings in 1972 and my visit to Skopje afterwards and on another occasion in 1982. I look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. Thank you all.”

Simic is widely recognized as one of the most visceral and unique poets writing today. His work has won numerous awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and, simultaneously, the Wallace Stevens Award and appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate. He has published over twenty books of his own poetry, seven books of essays, a memoir, and numerous books of translations of French, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, and Slovenian poetry. Simic, who was born in Yugoslavia and immigrated to the United States as a teenager, taught English and creative writing for over thirty years at the University of New Hampshire.

The Golden Wreath award will be presented to Simic at this year’s festival, to be held August 23-28, 2017.


Talking Art at the Capitol

April 14, 2017
Nancy Pelosi addressing advocates

Raina Ames snaps a cell phone shot during Nancy Pelosi’s address at Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.

Thirty-six delegates from the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), representing sixteen states, attended Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., last month, among them Raina Ames, associate professor of theatre at UNH. Ames is a member of the Association’s New Hampshire board and one of only five members nationally to receive the EdTA’s Hawkins Award this year. The $1,000 award is intended to encourage member advocacy efforts by defraying the cost of attending the annual event.

The 2017 Arts Advocacy Day, sponsored by Americans for the Arts, had record attendance, convening more than 700 people from cultural, civic and grassroots organizations across the country to push for strong public policies and financial support for the arts. The advocates were welcomed on Capitol Hill by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others, and met with State legislators to discuss the importance of the arts.

“People from both sides of the political divide have a stake in saving the arts, and that was so uplifting,” says Ames, who directs the theatre education program at UNH.

For Ames, one of the highlights of the experience was civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis’ address to the advocates.

“It was inspiring to see that after all he has been through, his integrity and sense of social justice still emanate from his entire being. If John Lewis could survive all that he has in his life and remain a stalwart defender of what is right, I can go visit my four state legislators and talk about the arts!”

The Educational Theatre Association is a national nonprofit organization with approximately 100,000 student and professional members dedicated to shaping lives through theatre education.


Rivard Awarded PEN/New England for Poetry

April 12, 2017

photo of David Rivard

David Rivard has been named winner of the 2017 PEN/New England Award for poetry for his 2016 book, “Standoff.” Rivard is a professor of English at UNH.

American poet Jericho Brown selected “Standoff” for the honor, which recognizes a book by a New England writer judged as best in its genre.

“I feel so deeply honored by this recognition from PEN/New England, touched really, especially when I think of the astonishing community and tradition it represents,” says Rivard. “Last year was, as always, a banner year for books by poets from this region, among them some by my dearest friends in this life — I can’t imagine having written the poems in ‘Standoff’ without their examples and affection in mind.”

Also recognized this year are Matthew Desmond in the nonfiction category for “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” and Robin MacArthur in the fiction category for “Half Wild.”

The awards ceremony was held at the Kennedy Library in Boston, Mass., on April 2, 2017.

Rivard recalls: “As Jennifer Haigh said at the 2016 awards ceremony, ‘For as long as there’s been an America, New England has been home to writers. We are the land of John Updike and John Cheever, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, Frederick Douglass and Henry David Thoreau. To say a book is the best by a New England writer is saying a great deal indeed.’ It’s sort of amazing when you think about it that way.”

Past winners of PEN/New England awards include E.B. White, Louise Gluck, Sebastian Junger, Mary Oliver, Tracy Kidder, Donald Hall and Reginald Dwayne Betts.

PEN/New England awards, established in 1975, celebrate New England’s long and illustrious literary tradition by recognizing outstanding fiction, poetry and nonfiction by New England authors.

Rivard is the author of five other books of poetry: “Otherwise Elsewhere,” “Sugartown,” “Bewitched Playground,” “Wise Poison,” winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and “Torque,” winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. He teaches poetry writing to undergraduates and to graduates in the M.F.A. in Writing program at UNH.

photos of Rivard at awards ceremony

TOP: David Rivard receives PEN/New England Award for poetry from poet Jericho Brown. MIDDLE: Awards luncheon program. BOTTOM: Rivard pictured with daughter, Simone Rivard ’16, and wife, Michaela Sullivan, at the awards luncheon at the Kennedy Library on April 2, 2017.


New Associate Dean Named in COLA

April 5, 2017

photo of Reginald Wilburn

Reginald Wilburn, associate professor of English, has been selected to serve as associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts. His appointment begins July 31, 2017, when Associate Dean Mary Rhiel steps down. Rhiel will rejoin the College’s German program.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Reginald Wilburn to the Dean’s Office in his new role,” says Heidi Bostic, dean of the College. “To this position, Dr. Wilburn brings strong leadership and communication skills, a demonstrated commitment to student and curricular development, and experience building effective partnerships across campus and beyond. He has been actively engaged in recruiting students to the College of Liberal Arts and to UNH. Dr. Wilburn’s colleagues deeply respect his achievements and professionalism. His interdisciplinary interests and vision mean that he is uniquely well-qualified to advance our Grand Challenges for the Liberal Arts Initiative. Dr. Wilburn is going to be an excellent part of our liberal arts team as we work to support faculty, staff and students, and to advance the mission of the College and UNH.”

Wilburn’s responsibilities will include oversight of key undergraduate and graduate areas including student academic matters, student recruitment, study abroad, student conduct, student scholarships, career and professional success, and curriculum.

“I consider it a high honor to serve my colleagues and students in the College of Liberal Arts and UNH more broadly,” says Wilburn. “Dean Bostic and her leadership team continue to do exemplary work in leading us forward, upward and onward, and I’m excited to support the vision and hard work that remains a hallmark of our collective worth ethic. My aim is to continue a commitment to ensuring every student at UNH enjoys the benefits of a premium education. For me, the College of Liberal Arts contributes something supremely valuable to this educational commitment. Our College is that truly special place where each of us comes to teach, advise and offer service excellence in support of students, confident in the unparalleled value and worth of the thousand daily miracles we perform by educating the hearts, minds and souls of today and tomorrow’s innovative visionaries and leaders.”

Wilburn brings many years of service to the University including providing key leadership for the recent Women’s Studies Program search, which resulted in three finalists from multiple disciplines accepting job offers; UNH Research and Engagement Academy co-chair; Office of Multicultural Student Affairs faculty advisor; and other service on multiple professional and UNH boards, committees and organizations.

Wilburn holds a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. His teaching and research focus on literature and African American studies, Milton and intertextuality studies, gender studies and pedagogy. Wilburn is the author of “Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt: Appropriating Milton in Early African American Literature” (Duquesne University Press, 2014), which won the College Language Association’s award for Creative Scholarship and the John T. Shawcross Award from the Milton Society of America for a distinguished chapter on Milton in a monograph.


New Book Examines Hollywood’s Hawaii

April 3, 2017

book cover

Delia Malia Caparoso Konzett has published the first full-length study of the American film industry’s fascination with the Pacific in “Hollywood’s Hawaii: Race, Nation, and War.” The book is part of the War Culture Series from Rutgers University Press.

“Hollywood’s Hawaii” presents a history of cinema from 1898 to present that examines Hawaii and the Pacific and its representation in film in the context of colonialism, war, Orientalism, occupation, military buildup and entertainment.

“My family is from Hawaii and I’ve grown up in Hawaii partially,” says Konzett. “For my family, the representation of Hawaii in Hollywood always appeared at odds with the reality of our experiences. This discrepancy stirred my curiosity about Hollywood films set in the Pacific. My father, who also served in the military, steered my interest towards Pacific war films and I began to see two identities that Hollywood attached to Hawaii, namely a leisure paradise and a geopolitical site of military interest. My book tries to explore this complex relation between two seemingly contradictory identities and its relevance for the national imagination and its representation in Hollywood film.”

In “Hollywood’s Hawaii,” Konzett highlights films that mirror the cultural and political climate of the country — from the era of U.S. imperialism through Jim Crow racial segregation, the attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII, the civil rights movement, the contemporary articulation of consumer and leisure culture, as well as the buildup of the modern military industrial complex.

Gary Y. Okihiro, author of “Island World: Hawai`i and the United States,” writes of Konzett’s book:A marvelously comprehensive gaze at cinematic representations of Hawaii, this insightful study shows how those fictions constitute and are constituted by U.S. imperialism, Christian capitalism and white nationalism. Moreover, the imagined South Pacific is not a distant, fleeting pleasure but an imminent, durable presence.”

Konzett is associate professor of English, cinema and women’s studies at UNH. She is the author of “Ethnic Modernisms: Anzia Yezierska, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, and the Aesthetics of Location” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).

“Hollywood’s Hawaii” is available from the publisher and major online retailers.


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