On Friday afternoon last week a group of faculty members gathered at Olin Library to celebrate the publication of books by humanities and arts professors over the last couple of years. Dean Krishna Winston (who herself has published five translations of major German writers in recent years) compiled the list of books and authors, and we raised our glasses together to salute the achievements of our colleagues. What variety! From Jonathan Best’s history of the early Korean kingdom of Paekche to Elizabeth Willis’s contemporary poetry, from Joel Pfister’s study of the education of the “Yale Indian” Henry Roe Cloud, to Jane Alden’s history of the Chansonniers of the Loire Valley, our scholar teachers are shaping the future of the fields in which they teach. I enjoyed the chance to talk with Uli Plass, one of our great young teachers of critical theory whose books on the philosopher Theodor Adorno and on Frantz Kafka were nicely displayed. Uli is already working on a study of Adorno in Los Angeles. And what a delight to see the new (and huge!) manuscript from historian of architecture Joe Siry, whose latest study of Frank Lloyd Wright will be published by the University of Chicago Press in the coming year. Soon you’ll be able to see these – and the dozens of others – on the Wesleyan website: a new “virtual bookshelf” will help make the work of all the faculty at the university visible to students, parents and alumni.
Dean Winston has been a strong advocate for the vitality of the arts and humanities programs at Wesleyan, and Friday afternoon we had another reminder that this sector of the university continues to do such strong work. I was proud to be at Olin surrounded by colleagues, books and good cheer.