Davis continues ‘telling stories’ in new novel with a twist to an old theme

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INDIANAPOLIS — Thomas J. Davis’ third and latest novel brings something new to the age-old tale of a man selling his soul to the devil.

In The Devil Likes to Sing (Cascade Books), Davis, professor of religious studies and associate dean for academic programs in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, tells the story of Timothy McFarland, a failed theology student who begins writing fiction. Feeling he’s a hack, McFarland strikes a deal with Lucifer, who offers to shape him into a success.

“The book is a look at self-identity,” Davis said. “How we think of ourselves, who we are, whether or not we accept ourselves. Within all of us we have these self-doubts, thinking there is a way to change who we are that will make us more acceptable to others.”

Struggling with self-identity and self-doubt often opens protagonists up to searching for change.

“That’s where the notion of temptation comes in—at what price is one willing to make changes . . .” Davis said. “Once you hit the notion of temptation—especially for me, because I’ve spent my scholarly life studying the history of Christianity—the devil becomes an interesting tool by which to explore temptation because the devil as an image has the benefit of representing both an external force as well as something deeper, an internal struggle.”

Bringing something new to the age-old concept of the deal with the devil story was the author’s challenge. How could his devil differ from interpretations such as Milton’s Paradise Lost, the German myth of Faust, contemporary portrayals such as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and even Saturday Night Live?

Davis’ solution is a devil who can be funny, witty and enjoy sublime Anglican church music as well as American rock and roll.

“The character needed balance—a balance of lightheartedness and darkness, gravitas and humor, familiarity and distance, friendship and contempt,” Davis said. “That was the hardest thing to maintain while writing the devil. He had to appear almost friendly, almost helpful, almost fun while currents of evil still ran beneath him. That had to leak out around the edges, but not too much.”

The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor wanted to be a storyteller long before his first foray into fiction, but he focused instead on his education and academic career. The professor’s jump into novel writing was eventually triggered by boyhood memories of stories told by his father.

“My father was grieving about the disappearance of a way of life in the north Georgia mountains that he had known as a boy,” Davis says. “He would tell stories about when he was a kid, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to capture my father’s sense of wonder in a novel and write about north Georgia through his perspective.’”

That exercise grew into his first novel, The Christmas Quilt (Rutledge Hill Press), a story about a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother’s final months of life. The book earned a Reader’s Choice award and was a selection in the Doubleday Book Club. “That book came from my need to pay homage to my ancestry,” Davis said.

Storytelling also plays a role in his classroom. “Much of what I teach is the history of Christianity, and it tends to be very narrative driven—I tell a lot of stories in class,” Davis said. “I’ve noticed that students tend to be drawn in with a good story.”

In Davis’ new novel, the devil also takes the storytelling approach, only he twists religious history to suit his needs. Davis warns that the epigraphs that open the book—selections from Milton, Blake, and the New Testament on the nature of the devil—are important for the reader. The book also ends with a warning that readers shouldn’t take the devil’s word on matters of Christian faith and practices at face value.

“He is, after all, somewhat biased,” Davis said.

APS Franklin Research Grants, including APS/British Academy Fellowship for Research in London and APS/Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Fellowship for Research in Edinburgh

UntitledThe Franklin program offers up to $6,000 to scholars for one to two months research.  It is particularly designed to help meet the costs of travel to libraries and archives for research purposes; the purchase of microfilm, photocopies, or equivalent research materials; the costs associated with fieldwork; or laboratory research expenses. In addition to the general grants, there are two specific programs for research in London or in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Deadlines

October 1, for a January 2015 decision for work in February 2015 through January 2016
December 1, for a March 2015 decision for work in April 2015 through January 2016

The Franklin grants are made to individuals, rather than to Indiana University on behalf of the scholar, so they will pay awardees directly. Even though it is not necessary to route proposals through the IU Office of Research Administration, please notify Associate Dean Jeff Wilson (jeswilso@iupui.edu) and Grants Analyst Edith Millikan (emillika@iupui.edu) if you intend to apply. For more information on the School of Liberal Arts procedure for fellowship applications, please visit our website.

For more information on the Franklin Grant click here

IUPUI to significantly bolster its journalism/public relations program

Indianapolis bachelor’s/master’s program moves from Bloomington-based School of Journalism management to IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

SLA at IUPUI logoINDIANAPOLIS — Graduate and undergraduate journalism and public relations students at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will have access to an array of new resources beginning July 1, when the long-established Indianapolis location of the IU School of Journalism shifts management from IU Bloomington to the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The program will be known as the IU Department of Journalism and Public Relations at IUPUI.

The move comes as the IU School of Journalism at Bloomington merges on July 1 with the Department of telecommunications and Department of Communication and Culture to form The Media School.

With the transition to local oversight, the IUPUI journalism department will now offer students and faculty additional resources in academic and career advising, curriculum development, research funding, alumni engagement, philanthropic support and more.

School officials also envision partnerships with other departments and schools on campus — such as telecommunications, informatics, event management, medicine and athletics — to further enhance journalism and public relations programs focusing on sports and health/life sciences, and to give students the versatility needed in a rapidly changing profession.

“We’re honored to have our roots in the 100-year-old IU School of Journalism,” said Jonas Bjork, who will become the first chair of the new department. “But as one of IUPUI’s smallest schools, we didn’t have the depth of resources we needed to take our program to the next level. This move — reinforced by unanimous support from our faculty and staff — will help us achieve that.”

Bill Blomquist, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, said the merger is tailor-made for an urban-serving institution in a capital city ripe with professional opportunities.

“The skills and thinking we teach in journalism and public relations –– the ability to search out and explain information — are much in demand among all kinds of employers,” Blomquist said. “Developing those professional skills, along with the versatility instilled by liberal learning, will help prepare our graduates not only for their first jobs but also for the careers that follow.

“What’s more, in this city full of sports, health, life science, government and other communication opportunities, our classroom learning is supplemented and complemented by real-world learning — internships, service projects, guest speakers and more — that you can’t match anywhere else in this state and in few places around the nation.”

Bjork said the name change — to include public relations — is a decision based on the changing nature of the profession and the marketplace.

“While journalists and public relations professionals are, in many places, treated as adversaries, many of the theories and practices we teach journalists and public relations professionals are, in fact, complementary,” Bjork said. “Often, the two groups of professionals must work together, so it helps that we teach them together here at IUPUI with faculty members who bring real-world experience to the table.”

The new Department of Journalism and Public Relations will offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and certificates in journalism and public relations with specializations available in sports journalism, health/life science public relations, advertising and other areas.

Summer course takes students into the world of Parisian Impressionism

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Paul Signac (French, 1863 to 1935), Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones and Tints, Portrait of M. Felix Fénéon in 1890, 1890-1891, oil on canvas, 29 x 36-1/2 in. Fractional gift of a private collector, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY. | PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS MUSEUM OF ART

A summer II session history course in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI will take students out of the classroom and into the Indianapolis Museum of Art to study firsthand the impact urban Paris played on Impressionist artists and the artists’ role in Parisian society.

Cultural History of Modern France-Impressionism begins Tuesday, July 1, and runs through Thursday, Aug. 7. The class meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9:15 p.m. and will include visits to the Indianapolis Museum of Art for guided tours of relevant galleries and the print vaults.

“The beauty of the French galleries at the IMA is you can watch French modern art evolve,” course instructor Kevin Robbins said. “By turning your head 90 degrees you can watch four decades of French culture go by.”

The course focuses on the origins and developments of Impressionism as a broad cultural movement based largely in Paris. The class begins with a look at Paris’ development under imperial urban renewal and the development of a leisure economy within the city. From there, the class expands to examine the many artists, patrons, and critics assembled in the Impressionist movement.

Students will examine Impressionist works from artists such as Monet, Degas and Renoir for evidence of how the artists saw and understood the Parisian urban world.

“Students are empowered as detectives,” Robbins said. “It turns every painting into a readable document that needs to be decoded. This makes paintings into a much more accessible, malleable subject matter for history students. You can read the images critically, you can read them using documentary analytical strategies developed in other classes and it makes the course more accessible to many people who don’t have training in art history or art.”

The class does not require any previous background in art or art history study and is open to all IUPUI students and students from other colleges and universities.

Robbins said the course will be beneficial to students with an interest in urban history, modern history and politics.

“This is not a standard art history course,” he said. “This is more about asking relentlessly: ‘Where does Impressionism come from as an urban historical phenomenon and an urban visual phenomenon?’ The emphasis is on how Paris becomes the essential incubator of Impressionisms.”

To help students gain a better grasp of Impressionistic influences, the course will also explore popular cultural events like ballet, opera and music.

“One of the things the Impressionists had in common was they were all passionate devotees of music in one form or another — be it dancehall music, popular song or classical music of the era,” Robbins said. “These were individuals who reveled in all the musical possibilities Paris presented.”

“This really is an intensive tour of all the various expressive art forms of Paris at the time.”

For more information about the course, contact Robbins at krobbin1@iupui.edu or 317-274-5819.

IUPUI center helping K-12 students master economics

389636_w296INDIANAPOLIS — Teacher training, classroom materials and student competitions sponsored by an IUPUI academic center are giving local students a grasp of how the American economy works.

The Center for Economic Education, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a member of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, works with K-12 educators to improve their understanding of economics and personal finance. It provides teaching strategies that can be easily integrated into classroom instruction.

A coach with a long history with the center recently had two teams of Carmel High School students place among the top four at a national competition testing their knowledge of economics.

“I have been involved with the IUPUI Center for Economic Education (and the Council for Economic Education) for almost 20 years,” said Michelle Foutz, coach of the winning Carmel teams. “I consider myself fortunate to be teaching economics in a state that places great value in economics education.”

One Carmel team placed second in the Adam Smith Division of the National Economics Challenge in May, while the second placed third in the David Ricardo Division. Advanced placement, international baccalaureate and honors students compete in the Adam Smith Division. The David Ricardo Division is open to students who have only taken a single-semester economics course.

The Carmel High School teams earned their way to the national event by winning the state championship competition hosted and coordinated by the IUPUI center in partnership with the Indiana Council for Economic Education.

“Economics Challenge, Commodity Challenge, Stock Market Simulation, Key Teacher Program and Econ Camp are fantastic center and council programs that have increased my enthusiasm for teaching and have also generated a lot of student enthusiasm for learning economics,” Foutz said.

“I would love to introduce Economics Challenge to all of my students. After participating in this competition, my students have a much greater appreciation for learning economics, and they have more confidence in themselves and in what they can accomplish. I can’t say enough about the benefits of this competition, and the positive impact on my kids.”

The Indiana Economics Challenge is one of two high school competitions the IUPUI Center for Economic Education, directed by Mohammad Kaviani, coordinates. The Center, in partnership with the Indiana Council for Economic Education, also coordinates the Indiana Personal Finance Challenge, an online competition that focuses on topics related to personal finance.  These competitions help ensure that Indiana students have a basic understanding of economics and the tools for making sound financial decisions.

More than 10,500 high school students from across the country competed in the national level of the Economics Challenge. Eight teams, including the Carmel students, completed exams and a critical-thinking round in the semifinals. Bellaire High School from Houston, Texas, and Hunter College High School from New York City were named first-place winners respectively in the Adam Smith and David Ricardo divisions following quiz bowl rounds for each final four teams.

CNBC has archived news coverage of the competition available online.

IUPUI liberal arts student curates photography exhibit that bridges physical, virtual spaces

389465_w296INDIANAPOLIS — A new photography exhibit curated by Aaron Pierce, a graduate student in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, brings together photographers from around the world in both a physical gallery space and a virtual space via Instagram and blogs.

Social Photography: Art in Progress” runs through June 27 at Indy Indie Artist Colony & Gallery, 26 E. 14th St. During the exhibit, photographers will share an Instagram account. The pictures they post will be projected onto the gallery’s walls, thus creating a worldwide, ever-changing art exhibit.

The exhibit seeks to create a dialog about the nature of photography in frequently changing social media environments.

Pierce, who also holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the School of Liberal Arts, is finishing a master’s degree in geographic information science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He describes the exhibit as a social experiment that is interactive and engages with the audience.

“We will be hosting a ‘Topic of the Day’ blog at our website where we will bring up topics that fit within the gallery themes, but each photographer’s photographic post will work as an individual pillar of conversation to build off of and connect with other topics, themes and ideas,” he said. “This will be a very fluid and active discussion; it could easily take us for completely unexpected spins.

“We are engrossed into virtual lives now, and this physical gallery serves as the place where we will get experimental with our space,” Pierce said. “We will be hosting artist talks through Google Hangouts from this location as well as interacting with both virtual and physical works hosted in the gallery.”

Pierce, a Carmel resident, said his interest in photography reaches back to childhood. He has also been able to incorporate photography into his academic work during study-abroad trips to Cuba and Morocco.

Pierce has also used social media platforms to showcase his photography, and he organized an IUPUI campus event where students could talk with Lauren Bohn, a journalist based in Cairo during the Arab Spring, via Skype. Bohn is among the photographers participating in the exhibit.

Other artists participating in the exhibit, some with ties to Herron School of Art and Design, include Milli Apelgren, Nabil Attia, Denise Conrady, Kevin Scott Davis, Juan Jerez, Amina Khazie, Sam Ladwig, Zun Lee, and Scott Witt.

“I saw this gallery exhibit as a way to not just show my work, but as an opportunity to use the space for a bigger role in exploring and discussing social media with photography through a collective of artists and an audience that is encouraged to engage with the exhibit,” Pierce said.

Social Photography: Art in Progress” can also be viewed on Instagram at @socphotogallery and followed via the #socphotogallery hashtag. Photo prints are available for purchase.

New Gifts Endow Economics’ Robert Sandy Seminar Series

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo gifts to the Department of Economics in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI have endowed the Robert Sandy Seminar Series, ensuring that economics students and faculty will continue to interact with some of the discipline’s brightest researchers.

The gifts were made by professor emeritus of economics Robert Sandy and economics alumnus David Driscoll.

The seminar series began as a means to make the economics department more visible, says Professor Emeritus Robert Sandy, who served as the economics department chair for 12 years before finishing his career as an administrator within the Indiana University President’s Office. “One way the seminar helped with the visibility of the department is we would invite faculty from nearby universities to give talks and then they would meet the department and see there were people here who were serious scholars. We built a reputation step-by-step through the seminar,” he says.

As an undergraduate student at IUPUI in the late 1970s, David Driscoll was in the department in its early years. He was aware of the growth of his undergrad program as he earned his master’s and then moved to Boston and began a career as an actuary.

Driscoll has made various gifts to IUPUI and the Economics Department, also helping fund the Robert Kirk New Economics Major Award. He says the Seminar Series is good for students who get to see how economists go about developing their ideas and researching their topics.

“It’s wonderful to imagine that over the past 30-some years the department has grown so much both in terms of the quantity and quality of the faculty, and that it’s expanded immensely in terms of teaching, the research it turns out, and its reputation,” Driscoll says. “To play a small part in helping facilitate that growth is something I’m very happy to have been able to do.”

“The department’s seminar series is aptly named for our colleague Bob Sandy who worked so effectively on behalf of the department to advance its research reputation,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “We’re very grateful to Bob and to our alumnus David Driscoll for their generosity which ensures the series’ permanence as well as its prominence.”

Today the Robert Sandy Seminar Series features presentations on emerging topics of interest to department faculty and students as well as specialized sessions on specific economics questions. The 2013-2014 seminars kicked off with acclaimed economist Dan Hamermesh from the University of Texas Austin.

IUPUI faculty and graduate students also present their research, says Professor Henry Mak, the Seminar Series coordinator. All are encouraged to present work-in-progress and use the feedback that comes through the Seminar to enhance their research products.

“In addition to the seminars, usually we have individual meetings between the speaker and faculty and the speaker and grad students,” Mak says. “So the faculty members can benefit from interacting with the speaker and the students can also benefit because they can talk about their own research and get some feedback.”

“We were pretty close to off-the-charts when the seminar began-near the bottom of econ departments around the nation,” Sandy says. “[Ten years later] we were competitive with Ph.D. programs around the nation. The culture of the department changed. The seminar makes a huge difference and with my and David’s gifts, I hope the department can draw an even wider circle of influence.”

IUPUI Africana Studies Program receives award from National Council for Black Studies

385606_w296INDIANAPOLIS — The Africana Studies Program in the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has received the Mary McLeod Bethune and Carter G. Woodson Award for Outstanding Service in the Promotion of Social Responsibility in Africana Studies from the National Council for Black Studies.

The award was presented at the 38th annual National Council for Black Studies Conference in March in Miami, Fla. IUPUI’s Africana Studies Program served as the local co-host of the council’s 2013 conference, along with IU Bloomington, Notre Dame and Purdue universities.

“This award acknowledges the collective efforts of Africana studies faculty, students and staff who played strategic roles in the local conference planning as well as their active participation in the NCBS conference that was held in Indianapolis last year,” said Bessie House-Soremekun, director of Africana studies and professor of political science and Africana studies. “We are deeply humbled to receive this prestigious award named in honor of two great exemplars of social responsibility, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and Dr. Carter G. Woodson.”

The 2013 National Council for Black Studies conference, at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, had the second highest attendance in the organization’s history. The conference, which featured more than 400 concurrent sessions, drew on the diverse talents of IUPUI Africana studies faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the Indianapolis community. Professor Monroe Little served as chair of the local arrangements committee, and IUPUI senior Kendrea Williams and graduate assistant Juhanna Rogers provided invaluable service as members of the local arrangements committee.

IUPUI and Indianapolis community members also presented papers and served as volunteers at the conference. House-Soremekun presented a welcome speech at the opening reception at the Madame Walker Theatre Center. Three IUPUI students — Stella Brown, Leon Bates and Gregory Efiom — were inducted into the National Council for Black Studies National Honor Society.

The National Council for Black Studies was founded in 1975 by African American scholars who believed in the importance of providing scholarly information on the historical contributions of Africa and the experiences of African descended people in the African Diaspora. It has emerged as one of the most respected professional organizations in the United States dedicated to engendering an ongoing respect for people of African descent.

IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI recognizes three with alumni awards

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAINDIANAPOLIS — Sheila Gilbert dedicates her life to helping the poor. Charity Counts brings educational opportunities to Indianapolis. Brian Denton puts his statistical skills to work in the medical field.

Their accomplishments are unique, but they are connected by their liberal arts education. And on May 9, Gilbert, Counts and Denton were honored with IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI Alumni Awards.

“Sheila Gilbert, Charity Counts and Brian Denton are three wonderful examples of liberal arts alumni making a difference,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts. “It’s a joy to recognize their career and community achievements and add them to the rolls of accomplished alumni of the school.”

Each year the Liberal Arts Alumni Association recognizes alumni and friends of the School of Liberal Arts for their achievements and service. The Distinguished Alumni Service Award recognizes outstanding alumni who distinguish themselves either professionally or by giving extraordinary service to the school/university. The Early Career Achievement Award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in a profession or for service to the school/university; graduates within 15 years of degree completion are eligible for this award.

Gilbert received the Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni Service Award for her work with people in need. Counts and Denton received the Early Career Achievement Award for success in their respective career paths and contributions to their alma mater. The awards were presented as part of the school’s annual celebration of its graduating classes, which took place at the Indianapolis Arts Garden.

Honorees were nominated by faculty, community members and alumni, and selection was made by the Alumni Association Board.

More information about the honorees:

Sheila Gilbert (BA sociology, 1978; MA public and environmental affairs, 1983)

Sheila Gilbert is the national president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She is a past president of the society’s Indianapolis Council and currently facilitates its educational program, Changing Lives, a 26-week training and educational program that helps low-income families exit poverty.

She was a St. Mary of the Woods College adjunct faculty member and previously served as director of Project CLASS, a career development and work experience program of Indianapolis Public Schools for more than 800 economically disadvantaged adults.

“She is the unpaid servant leader of an organization that yearly provides more than half a billion dollars’ worth of goods and services to people in need in the United States,” said Robert White, professor and chair of sociology. “I cannot conceive of an alumna who brings more honor to the IU School of Liberal Arts than Sheila Gilbert.”

Charity Counts (MA museum studies, 2008)

Charity Counts is the associate vice president of exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Since receiving her master’s degree, she has been active with the Museum Studies Program as a donor, guest presenter and internship mentor.

While a student, she published the article “Spectacular Design in Museum Exhibitions,” which became a cover story in Curator: The Museum Journal, the top peer-reviewed publication in the field.

“Ms. Counts embodies the spirit and purpose of the liberal arts and brings that knowledge to her everyday work,” said Elizabeth Wood, associate professor and director of museum studies. “Her attention and commitment to intellectual pursuits and leadership in the field indicate the strength of an early and distinguished career.”

Counts is credited for developing strong relationships for the Children’s Museum with content providers such as Lego, National Geographic and Nickelodeon, as well as negotiating exhibitions such as the Terra Cotta Warriors from Xi’an, China.

Brian Denton (BA economics, 2002; BA German/political science, 2003; MA economics, 2005; BS mathematics, 2009)


While working on his master’s degree, Brian Denton discovered a passion for statistics and computer programming. Since then, Denton has used his extensive training to build a career as a statistician.

He spent two years as a statistical research assistant at the prestigious Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York. While there, he helped develop new techniques to predict and classify genetic mutations and liposarcoma subtypes based on clinical and gene expression data.

“Brian has made impressive strides early in his career,” said Paul Carlin, professor of economics. “He has been and remains a strong supporter of the Department of Economics’ mission.”

Denton currently works as a computational statistician for Eli Lilly and Co, and serves on the Liberal Arts Dean’s Advisory Council.

 

Student-orgnaized exhibit opens documenting community history of Near Southside

Split but Not Separated: Recapturing the Legacy of the Near Southside, a new exhibit designed by students in the Museum Methods class, will open on Sunday, April 27, at the Concord Neighborhood Center, 1301 South Meridian.

This pop-up exhibit originates in a class taught by Professor Modupe Labode (History and Museum Studies), and was inspired by an earlier student research project. In 2010, Anthropology students from IUPUI began collecting oral histories, photographs, and other memorabilia from African American and Jewish elders who had grown up together on the Near Southside. This research is captured in the oral history book The Neighborhood of Saturdays, by Professor Sue Hyatt, which was published in 2013 by Dog Ear Press. The exhibit presents another view of the history of the community and moves the story into the future by involving the views of children who are currently participating in programs at the Concord Neighborhood Center. The exhibit is open from 2-4 p.m., and the program begins at 2:30 p.m.

For more information, please contact Modupe Labode, Assistant Professor of History and Museum Studies, mlabode@iupui.edu, 274-3829.