P R O F IT, B L AM E AN D
WHEN A CEO PUT A DOLLAR FIGURE ON THE HEALTH OF “DISTRESSED BABIES,” DEANNA FEI ’99 KNEW HE WAS TALKING ABOUT HER DAUGHTER.
H E R BABY
IN THIS ISSUE
Ì SPRING 2015 | VOLUME 67
16 INTERPRETING TERRAS IRRADIENT
Amherst has trained a large and influential cast of translators. A professor and two students went deep into the archives to find out why. 20 THE TODDLER BEHIND THE TALKING POINT BY NAOMI SHULMAN
4 COLLEGE ROW DRAMA in the Bunker, and romantic comedy too BEING IN PARIS during the January attacks A REPORT on the Day of Dialogue A MONET reunites with its peers AND MORE
A year ago AOL’s CEO blamed “distressed babies” for its benefits cuts. Deanna Fei ’99 is the mother of one of those kids. 26 MANSIONS IN OUR MIDST BY BLAIR KAMIN ’79
A Pulitzer-winning critic on the past, present and future of 13 underappreciated architectural gems. 32 REMEMBERING ROBERT STONE BY RAND RICHARDS COOPER ’80
Every fictionwriting teacher falls somewhere on the spectrum between The Mechanic and The Metaphsysican. Ì
ON THE COVER
Deanna Fei ’99 photographed by Beth Perkins, New York City, March 2015
SEVEN SENIORS on the most memorable moment of their Amherst careers
16 THE BIG PICTURE This is the reward for surviving February and March in New England (not to mention April)
37 BEYOND CAMPUS TOURS The biggest fan of Concord, Mass. PHYSICAL THERAPY A former professional dancer now treats other dancers BALANCE Ryan Park ’05 on lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsburg MUSIC Nat King Cole’s daughter brings music to schools that need it DISEASE In a generation, leprosy has become 97 percent rarer
43 AMHERST CREATES HOLOCAUST A survivor’s daughter combines memoir, history and sociology FICTION Shakespeare is in love; how to translate a thriller when you don’t speak the language PHOTOGRAPHY An astronomer turns his gaze to earthly scenes around him VIETNAM A historian contextualizes the war
5O CLASSES 113 IN MEMORY 120 AMHERST MADE The HPV vaccine exists in large part because of Douglas Lowy ’64
“Men have to embrace the joys and responsibilities of the domestic sphere.” PAGE 40
MORE NEWS l For his senior thesis in theater and dance, BRYCE MONROE ’15 wrote and starred in a one-man play inspired by Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The piece highlights “the harsh realities of living in America as a black man.”
l DAVID BERON ECHAVARRIA ’15 and Richard Altieri ’15 won Watson Fellowships to explore two basic products of human life: laughter and garbage. They’ll spend 2015–16 learning about, respectively, international waste management and world styles of standup comedy. AUDIO
l Listen to audio
interviews with authors Alexander Lobrano ’77, Ron Lieber ’93, Professor AUSTIN SARAT and other alumni and faculty members. These interviews are part of the Amherst Reads book club. BLOG
l Well Mixed, the
Amherst guest blog, features, among others, dating coach NEELY STEINBERG ’99 on “the comparison trap” and English major Molly Connolly ’17 on “the problem with waiting.” PHOTO SETS l Explore the recent SHEILA PEPE EXHIBITION at the Eli Marsh Gallery. Plus: see sports photos and scenic views of campus. Check back in late May and early June for commencement and reunion photos.
“Be pleased that I doubt I am the only ‘senior’ alumnus who has revised his misguided former opinions.”
CHANGED HIS MIND ON COEDUCATION ABOUT 43 YEARS AGO THE QUESTION was raised, “Should Amherst admit women?” Until then the question had not crossed my mind. My reaction was: Why would we do that? We had a good social life with Mount Holyoke and Smith nearby, the opportunity to participate in a fourcollege curriculum and a comfortable class size. I expressed my doubts and enjoyed a school trip down the Grand Canyon, including with the alumni secretary, who did spend a bit of the time lobbying. Well, the recent issue of Amherst arrived a few days ago. First it reminded me how much the magazine had improved in the past few years, and then it illustrated how shortsighted my doubts had been those many years ago. I confess to my lack of understanding that, in order to prosper, the College and the country needed to include women as a more active segment of our society.
THE PEOPLE IN THE PHOTOS The young man on page 49 of the winter issue is Chuck Brunie ’52, “one of the best, if not the best, pingpong players in DU at the time,” writes Art Porter ’52. Willie Wilson ’52 fills in the details: “The location is Delta Upsilon, year is 1951, name of the player is Chuck
Chuck Brunie ’52
about the men of Amherst.) Keep up the good work. And be pleased that I doubt I am the only “senior” alumnus who has revised his misguided former opinions. George Crockett ’57 PORTLAND, MAINE
On an island where apartments sell for $90 million, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen ’88 has an ambitious plan to make New York housing more affordable.
1/26/15 2:15 PM
We are blessed to see the growing female contribution to Amherst and the country. Reading the 12 articles on or by women in the Winter 2015 issue clearly illustrated the wisdom of the decision. Combined with the quality of the writing and the diversity and accomplishments of the featured students and faculty, the issue offered enjoyable and informative reading. (In fairness, there were 10 articles by or
Brunie ’52, probably playing Willie Wilson ’52. I was a Psi U and would walk across the common to play Chuck most every night—of course, after we did our homework.” David Schwartz ’65 recognized his own dorm room on page 61 of the winter issue: “The picture was taken at 310 Stearns, in the fall of 1961, in the room of trombonist Rushworth Kidder ’65 (left), William C. Tate ’65 (not pictured) and me, trombonist David Schwartz (right). “I surmise it is the whimsy of Dean [of Admission Bill] Wilson that placed two trombonists in room 310, and four trom-
TEACH KIDS ECONOMICS WHEN I BEGAN TO READ THE REVIEW BY Rand Richards Cooper ’80 of Ron Lieber ’93’s The Opposite of Spoiled (Amherst Creates, Winter 2015), I was hoping to find an argument for introducing a K–12 economics curriculum. If there is one subject that most Americans are utterly ignorant of, it’s our economic system. I tried to introduce such a curriculum when I was a member of the Monticello School Board in New York. We needed it then. We need it now. I knew more about economics when I was 8 and took my birthday money to the local bank than most adults know about it today. (“Bank interest? What’s that?”)
bonists on the third floor of Stearns dormitory in 1961–62. “That freshman winter, Rush felt we should not have to sing a cappella in the third-floor shower. One weekend he led a group of us to take the dorm’s basement piano up the stairs to the bathroom. The following
Monday a crew from Buildings and Grounds took the piano apart and threw it out the window to the courtyard below. Our parents wondered why college invoices at the end of the year added a few dollars for dormitory damage. “Sadly, Rush died in 2012.”
summer and especially in the fall.”
“Beautiful. I hope this is repeated in the
“So much nostalgia.” TIMOTHY CLARK ’12
RICHMOND AMPIAH-BONNEY (ACADEMIC MANAGER, CHEMISTRY)
JOVAN TANASIJEVIC/ABOVE SUMMIT
By far the most liked and commented-on post about the Winter 2015 magazine was a Facebook album of aerial drone photos of a snowy campus. One of those photos appeared in print, and we gave away 300 copies of it to interested readers. To see the giveaway image in the current issue, and to order a free print for your home or office, go to page 14. SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
AMHERST VOLUME 67, NUMBER 3
“As parents of a first-year boy from the Deep South, thanks for these winter wonderland photos.” CHRISTY MAJOR INABINETT
“One of the only good things a drone can do!” JULE WAVRICK ’88
Emily Gold Boutilier (413) 542-8275 firstname.lastname@example.org ALUMNI EDITOR
Betsy Cannon Smith ’84 (413) 542-2031 DESIGN DIRECTOR
Ronn Campisi ASSISTANT EDITOR
Katherine Duke ’05
Why don’t we integrate a universal K–12 economics curriculum into the horrors that have taken over our schools? Could it be that the plutocrats who have divided up America’s wealth to benefit the richest 1 percent don’t want us to know how economics works in this country? We remind me of the fourth child at the Passover seder, who is too ignorant to know he is ignorant. Most of America functions on that level when it comes to the world of economics, and I include myself among the ignorant. We’d much rather measure our students’ success by forcing them to take meaningless tests that fail the first criterion of a good test—a criterion that Professor Baird taught me at Amherst: A test must provide learning experiences while challenging the students’ imagination. We don’t do that. We could. Bob Rosengard ’61 SMALLWOOD, N.Y. TWO CHOICES: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT I READ WITH SHOCK AND SOME AWE THE College Row article “Valentine as Grocery Store” in the Winter 2015
magazine. The article begins with a statement about how it is “easy to fall into a pattern of choosing the same” food items for meals at Valentine. As I recall the meals at Valentine during my tenure, there were no choices. One either ate what was presented or chose not to eat, a decision often made on faith alone, as the meal itself did not necessarily comport with the menu description posted at the entrance. Fortunately, the snack bar was also in Valentine at that time and did a thriving business. From the pictures and recipes posted in this article, it appears that there are bona fide choices of healthy and delicious meals now. How far we have advanced as a community. G.D. Clamurro ’72 HOUSTON TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
Please go to amherst.edu/magazine to take a brief survey about the stories in this issue of the magazine. The survey won’t take long to complete (we promise), and your answers will be of great help to the editors.
MAGAZINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Lawrence Douglas Mark Edington Darcy Jacobs ’87 Ron Lieber ’93 Elizabeth Minkel ’07 Megan Morey Meredith Rollins ’93 WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU Ì WE Amherst welcomes letters from
its readers. Please send them to email@example.com or Amherst Magazine, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002. Letters must be 300 words or fewer and should address the content in the magazine. WWW.AMHERST.EDU/MAGAZINE
Amherst (USPS 024-280) is published quarterly by Amherst College at Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-5000, and is sent free to all alumni. Periodicals postage paid at Amherst, Massachusetts 01002-5000 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send Form 3579 to Amherst, AC # 2220, PO Box 5000, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 010025000.
Spring 2015 Amherst 3
NEWS AND VIEWS FROM CAMPUS
If you’ve appeared in an English-language play, you probably learned your lines from a Samuel French script book.
09 Reunited: Amherst’s Monet and other paintings from the same series
Drama IN THE BUNKER And romantic comedy, too
ARCHIVES U The treasure trove sits in an underground storage facility that is about as far a cry as you can get from the excitement and glamour of
live theater. This huge and largely undiscovered collection of history of the American stage has been growing steadily over the past half
century. Archivist Rosemary Davis spends much of her week in Amherst’s repository Bunker beneath the Holyoke Range, opening and examining
1. An unidentified actress in a 1910s promotional still 2. A poster for a 1912 G. Carlton Wallace show 3. An 1863 notice for a performance starring Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth 4. An autographed photo of famed Broadway actor Charles Dalton, dated 1898 5. An unidentified actress in a 1920s promotional still 6. Sheet music for the show that introduced the song “Mountain Greenery” Amherst Spring 2015
SAMUEL FRENCH CO. THEATER COLLECTION, AMHERST COLLEGE ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
06 Professor Rosbottom on being in Paris during the January attacks
archivists: nearly 200 cartons of historical material and 22 file cabinets filled with author contracts stretching back to the late 19th century. “We found about 10 boxes of plays that were published from about 1814 to the mid-1860s, and so far we’ve found 195 different authors just within these boxes,” says Davis, who was hired last year through a two-year “Hidden Collections” grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. The main collection includes pre-publication manuscripts from such authors as Lynda Barry, Lynn Redgrave, Wendy Wasserstein and Neil Simon. The collection also includes publicity photographs of actors, actresses and productions; playbills and theater magazines; costume design illustrations; musical scores; and more. Some of the older titles, while unfamiliar now, were hits in their day: Thalaba, the Destroyer: A MeloDrama, Animal Magnetism: A Farce, in Three Acts, and The Lost Diamonds! WILLIAM SWEET
STORY He was homeless. He came to Amherst. Then he told his story on stage. STUDENTS U “The last Grullón thing on my mind was that appeared at the Best of my own mother would pour Valley Voices olive oil on me, and for me Story Slam to scream, ‘Anny, Anny! I’m in April. burning! I’m burning! Please help me!’” With that phone message, Saúl Grullón ’15 caught the attention of New England Public Radio’s Valley Voices story slam. Some 70 other people pitched stories, and NEPR chose Grullón as one of 10 to take the stage at a Northampton restaurant. In front of an audience of strangers, he told of the time when, as a homeless teen, he visited his sister, Anny, to get her signature on a document testifying to their mother’s physical and verbal abuse. He flashed back to a scene in which his devoutly religious mother anointed him with olive oil, trying to rid him of the “curse” of being gay. She then held a piece of paper to the stove and threw it at him, setting his shirt ablaze. His sister “Because I had a challenging rushed to help and defend him. childhood, I always liked to release As Grullón began to speak on stage, that stress or that anxiety or anguish “you could hear people talking on through storytelling or through the first floor, but when I delivered speech and debate, which I did in the ‘Hail Mary’ and the ‘I’m burning’ high school,” he says. He enrolled in part, the whole bar was just silent—I Essex County College before transcouldn’t hear a thing—and it shocked ferring to Amherst. He’ll graduate me,” he says. “I kind of felt like the with a double major in English and whole world just stopped to listen.” Spanish. The listeners voted Grullón one of “I know so many great storytellers the evening’s most impressive storyhere,” says Grullón, who encourages tellers, earning him a spot at the Best classmates to participate in local of Valley Voices Story Slam on April public-speaking events, as he has. 18 in Northampton. “There is more to school, or coming Originally from the Dominican Reto a college like Amherst, than doing public, Grullón grew up in the Bronx, academically well, having straight N.Y., and Newark, N.J., living for a As and perfect SATs. Your story matwhile in an emergency shelter. ters.” KATHERINE DUKE ’05 ROB MATTSON
boxes containing one of the largest donated archives in the College’s possession, the Samuel French Collection. The name Samuel French may not be immediately recognizable, but if you’ve ever appeared in an English-language play, chances are pretty good that you studied your lines from an unassumingly plain script book published by Samuel French, Inc. Samuel French began publishing plays in New York City in 1854. Eventually, the company practically cornered the market for publication rights of many plays. So what’s the Amherst connection? M. Abbott Van Nostrand, class of 1934, made his way up from working in French’s mailroom to becoming the company’s president. Van Nostrand started the donations, which arrived at the College in annual shipments from 1964 until his death in 1995, and which continue sporadically to this day. The most recent donation astonished
l 7 AUDIO Grullón’s Valley Voices story at www.amherst.edu/magazine
WE WERE AT LUNCH WITH friends in a restaurant on the Left Bank when one of them read from her cell phone that there had been an armed attack near the Place des Vosges in the Marais, a neighborhood where we often walk and shop. We asked the waiters if they had more news, but they were as uninformed as we. My wife, Betty, and I decided nevertheless to go on to the Marais, where we had planned to spend the afternoon. We stopped in a café to see stunning news on TV: a dozen people, 10 of them journalists, cartoonists and staff for the Charlie Hebdo paper, had been gunned down just before noon. Amateur videos showed two masked killers jumping into a car, but not before shooting a wounded policeman in the head. The news spread quickly throughout the city, and everywhere we went Parisians
6 Amherst Spring 2015
were checking their phones for more information. It was a quiet bus ride home. Within hours, thousands had gathered spontaneously at the Place de la République, the square that has always served as a rallying spot for public support of the rights of man. We saw on TV hundreds of people holding signs that read “Je suis Charlie,” but, more poignantly, holding up pencils—their Bics, their fountain pens—in sympathy with those journalists who had joyfully, satirically and often “tastelessly” mocked the religious
and political opinions of the certain. The next day it was raining in Paris as crowds gathered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, and again at the Place de la République. The rain only reinforced the sense of mournfulness that covered that beautiful city. The 19thcentury poet Baudelaire wrote about such dismal times: “When a low, heavy sky weighs like a lid / Upon the city’s spirit moaning in injury, / And when, spanning the city’s horizon, / It pours down a black day sadder than our
IN MOURNING An expert on Paris during World War II was in the city during the January 2015 attacks. BY RONALD C. ROSBOTTOM
nights.” This is how Paris felt when I went out that morning to buy as many newspapers as I could find. Paris represents many things for Betty and me: a joie de vivre, that is, a deep belief that life can be pleasant, that being with friends over a slow meal is the height of sophistication, that just watching others enjoy the city is entertainment enough, that there are small daily actions one can take that add aesthetic comfort to existence. Yet these events and the response to them remind us of other Parisian traditions, those of tolerance, of belief in the curative power of intellectual engagement, of criticism as a healthy antidote to smugness and comfort. Liberty is not an empty ideal in the City of Light, but a palpable reality. Charlie Hebdo was not a great newspaper. Its most persistent impact came from its outrageous cartoons. Noth-
Illustration by Anthony Russo
Rosbottom is the author of When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940–1944, a 2014 National Book Award semifinalist. He is the Winifred L. Arms Professor in the Arts and Humanities and Professor of French and European Studies.
ARTS FEST A 10-day campus festival celebrated music, dance, painting and more. Among the events: ARTIST CONVERSATION
Conceptual artist Jonathon Keats ’94 talked about his effort to take a picture that lasts 1,000 years. What will Amherst look like in the year 3015? How will the Pioneer Valley landscape transform? Situated at the top of Stearns Steeple, Keats’ Millennium Camera aims to survey 1,000 years of change in a single continuous exposure. GLEE CLUB CONCERT
The Amherst Glee Club celebrated its 150th anniversary with a performance of sacred and secular music, songs of other nations, and spirituals. It also premiered the winner of its college song contest, “The Moose,” by Asa Goodwillie ’16. STUDENT ARTS PARTY
The Powerhouse transformed into a stage for studentmade music, film, theater, dance, splatter painting and performance art. FACULTY PERFORMANCE
The festival closed with a faculty performance of jazz, dance, opera and video. Pieces included works in progress, as well as new work created specifically for the festival.
What the committee liked: the digital press and the librarians.
ing was sacred; everyone’s beliefs were criticized. Most recently, the weekly had been relentless in targeting “radical Islam,” those who use one of the world’s oldest and largest religions for their own narrow purposes. In a formidable essay on Salon after the attack, Laura Miller wrote that “to kill someone for making fun of you is a tacit confession of your own impotence, a demonstration of the fragility of your self-respect and legitimacy.” Yet such felt impotence and fragile legitimacy do combine to create murderers. Two days after those events, four Jewish shoppers were shot down by a young French Muslim, an accomplice of the earlier murderers, in a kosher grocery on the outskirts of Paris. The accumulation of these violent acts has once again forced France to direct a dispassionate eye on what it means to be a citizen. Yet, thanks to the rich traditions of that great country, the light of reason will continue to show the rest of the world the way toward sanity. In one of those coincidences that make life so surprising, the day the cartoonists were murdered we had gone to the Marais to buy a Christmas gift I had promised myself: a beautiful fountain pen. I purchased it just a few hours after 12 people had died defending my right, as a critic, to use it.
Frost Library won a prestigious national award. LIBRARY U When a group of librarians set out in search of the three best academic libraries of the year, they landed on Frost. Frost won a 2015 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College & Research Libraries. The prize honors one college library, one university library and one community college library as “outstanding in furthering the educational missions of their institutions.” The other winners are the libraries of Purdue University and Santa Fe College. Frost “emerged as a clear example of what it means to hold oneself to high standards and to set the bar even higher,” says Temple University Librarian Steven Bell, who chaired the awards committee. He singled out Frost for creating, in 2013, the first entirely digital, open-access academic press in the United States. “While that alone would qualify Frost
Library for distinction,” he says, other efforts also impressed the committee, including Frost’s work to integrate the library into student learning. For example: Amherst librarians taught 221 class sessions last year. Some 86 classes (representing 45 percent of the student body) visited the College’s archives and special collections, housed within Frost. And several new courses are built entirely around archival holdings. The committee also cited, among other projects, groundbreaking work by Amherst librarians and the College’s IT department to collect, create and preserve digital information, as well as work with faculty, students and interns on digital scholarship. How did the library celebrate? College Librarian Bryn Geffert and his staff invited the entire campus to a party in the periodicals room. CAROLINE HANNA Spring 2015 Amherst 7
CROSSING ROUGH TERRAIN,
TOGETHER DAY OF DIALOGUE U Discussions about racism can be difficult, acrimonious or, perhaps worse, avoided all together. Wanting to bring the national discussion here, Amherst stopped everything on a winter Friday to consider race and racism in the United States and on campus. “The terrain we will cross is rough terrain,” said Melvin Rogers ’99, associate professor of political science and African American studies at UCLA, who spoke at a panel discussion that opened the Jan. 23 Day of Dialogue on Race and Racism. The College canceled classes and closed offices for the day. Some 1,350 people attended the panel in LeFrak, including 51 percent of the student body, 63 percent of the faculty and 27 percent of the staff. Next, more than 1,000 attendees broke off into small group discussions. “There is a national problem that we are not immune 8 Amherst Spring 2015
to,” says Briana Wiggins ’15, to allow people to travel with who, with other students, each other, but it did not say organized Black Lives Matter where they had to end up,” Awareness Week after grand says Provost Peter Uvin, who juries chose to not indict headed the planning compolice officers in the deaths mittee. of black men in Ferguson, Members of the panel— Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y. moderated by Danielle Allen, In the fall the Amherst students aptrustee and ↑ It was a full house in LeFrak proached the incoming dias 1,350 members of the administration rector of HarAmherst community attended the morning panel. “Today is and faculty to vard’s Safra just the beginning of an effort propose a Day Center for to open up conversation,” said of Dialogue. Ethics—spoke President Biddy Martin. “It’s not of ways in enough to which racism bring people together in a poisons society, and its ill efcollege community from diffects on education. ferent racial, ethnic and soRogers, for example, cioeconomic backgrounds,” quoted a former student of said President Biddy Martin his at Carleton College, who in LeFrak, referencing Amused travel as a metaphor herst’s diverse student body. for how empathy can be a “In order to make good upon frustratingly one-way street: our promise of access, com“I always needed to travel to munity and educational benwhere my white counterparts efit, we have to work against a stood, and they didn’t need to long history.” do the same in return.” The event advocated for no Racism can surface in obvisingle truth. “It was designed ous ways, such as slur-laden
graffiti, or it can bubble up in the form of comments that may not be intentionally offensive but are all the more painful if not confronted. Even worse is the assumption by some that racism is a thing of the past, speakers said. To David Eng, a panelist from the University of Pennsylvania, claims of society being done with racism are not simply ignorance or naiveté. “Color-blindness itself is the historical form in which racism manifests itself,” he said. Now, Uvin wants to ensure that Jan. 23 was the start of the conversation, not the end of it. Among other efforts, he’s invited faculty, staff and students to take part in intensive training in “dialogue for difficult subjects.” As Martin said in LeFrak: “Today is just the beginning of an effort to open up conversation and make it easier to talk about these issues.” W.S. AND E.G.B.
Amherst canceled classes to talk about race and racism.
TRAVELING MONET An exhibition reunited Morning on the Seine, Giverny with other paintings from the same series.
TOP: ROB MATTSON. BOTTOM: CLAUDE MONET’S MORNING ON THE SEINE, GIVERNY (1897)/MEAD ART MUSEUM/STEPHEN PETEGORSKY PHOTO
ART U Amherst’s Monet is back at the Mead Art Museum after a yearlong getaway to Oklahoma and Texas. Morning on the Seine, Giverny was part of the exhibition Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. This exhibition focused on the painter’s Mornings on the Seine series, a group of 28 paintings exhibited together only once— by Monet himself in 1898. The Philbrook and MFA Houston brought together a selection of the 28 from around the world. Morning on the Seine, Giverny is in the Mead’s
The Mead’s Monet is from a series that influenced the Water Lilies.
permanent collection, a 1966 bequest of Susan Dwight Bliss. Charles Morgan, the first Mead director, writes in his memoir of visiting Bliss at her house: She asked, “Would you like a Monet?” and showed him to an upstairs bedroom so drenched in sun that he could see little more of the painting than the frame. When the oilon-canvas first arrived at the Mead, Morgan was staggered to have received such an important work of art—part of the series that immediately preceded and influenced the famous Water Lilies. The Mead’s Monet is well-traveled. Five years ago the museum’s thendirector, Elizabeth Barker, escorted it to a show at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. From there it traveled to Paris for a Monet retrospective at the Musée d’Orsay. E.G.B. Spring 2015 Amherst 9
AT THE MOVIES An LJST professor picks her top 10 trial films.
CONFERENCES U This academic year Amherst convened “Trial Films on Trial,” a conference of film and law scholars discussing how movies shape and reflect ideas about the law. The conference organizer was Martha Umphrey, the Bertrand H. Snell 1894 Professor in American Government. This semester she’s teaching the course “Film, Myth and the Law,” which is listed in two departments: film and media studies and law, jurisprudence and social thought. What are Umphrey’s own favorite trial films? Her verdicts follow, in her own words. WILLIAM SWEET
TWELVE ANGRY MEN (1957) This is the most famous and obvious one, although there’s very little about the trial itself in the film. Henry Fonda takes over the role of the defense attorney and is able to raise enough reasonable doubt in that jury room to overcome an 11-to-1 initial vote.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) Partly derived from the classic novel, it captures a particular moment in American history and racial tensions around that moment, and the trial scene is a substantial part of the film. It shows the way law—and a kind of vision of law which is about the rule of law and equality—can be asserted in the face of obdurate racism.
INHERIT THE WIND (1960) This is a film about trials as public spectacle. It doesn’t accurately track the facts of the case particularly well: it’s all about showing the public watching a performance of a public debate about evolution and creationism. It shows the ways in which trial forums can be places to work through social dramas.
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957) The courtroom is packed, and the film is about acting and artifice, and trying to get at the truth and then duping the system. There’s a leitmotif about spotlights, and about vision and monocles and acting, that show the ways in which trials are public events.
JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG (1961) The question in this film is: Can you hold Nazi judges responsible for applying the laws as they were given to them? How do you put a regime on trial and make claims on behalf of civilization? Spencer Tracy basically says: You were guilty the minute you condemned one innocent man to death. It’s about the role of the judge in relation to justice. 10 Amherst Spring 2015
Illustration by John S. Dykes
ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959) This is brilliant film. Jimmy Stewart is the attorney who’s kind of down and out, and the case is about a guy who kills someone whom he thinks is his wife’s lover. That turns into a story about whether the defendant can fake a defense, an insanity plea. It’s about the ethics of lawyering and the ways in which lawyers coach defendants into telling particular stories.
MY COUSIN VINNY (1992) It’s funny, but it’s a really good trial film. By the ’70s you see more skepticism in film about the possibility of law doing justice. There’s more focus on corruption: Dirty Harry has no patience for constitutional rights. But then there are films that recuperate it, like My Cousin Vinny, where a guy manages, through the gift of his rhetoric, to make things work out.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS (2003) and THE THIN BLUE LINE (1988) Capturing the Friedmans is a documentary about a 1980s Long Island case involving alleged child sexual abuse. The film is built out of home movies that the family shot. It’s a classic example of a trial film. There’s a trial in it—you see the courtroom and the judge and so forth—but it’s really structured to be a trial, a back-and-forth presenting of evidence. Another example of this is The Thin Blue Line. You put the legal system on trial: Here’s evidence, here’s opposing evidence, there’s the line of argument playing forward.
THE FRENCH REINVENTION How two professors elevated a major RETIREMENTS U Two French professors, Leah Hewitt and Jay Caplan, are retiring after a 30-year run that reinvigorated their department after decades of low enrollment. In the early 1980s the two senior members of the French department both died. Two new members arrived in 1984—Hewitt and Rosalina de la Carrera. Caplan and Marie-Hélène Huet joined them a year later. “Between the end of World War II and 1985, there was an average of five senior majors each year,” says the current department chair, Paul Rockwell. “There was a profound change within a year of [Hewitt and Caplan’s] arrival: there have consistently been around 20 seniors majoring in French each year. One year, we even had 36 majors.” Rockwell gives Caplan and Hewitt much credit for bringing the department into more
Hewitt’s personal favorite course to teach: “War and Memory”
ROB MATTSON (2)
A FEW GOOD MEN (1992) Tom Cruise is this wiseacre who thinks he’s better than everybody else, who’s assigned this case and then turns into a phenomenal trial lawyer. He does it by understanding the psychology of questioning and by understanding the role of performance in lawyering. He bluffs his way into cracking the witness. For me this film is a bildungsroman about a lawyer who’s able to assert the values of justice and process.
modern times. Caplan was responsible for the adoption of a program that enables students to watch online lectures from their dorm rooms and conserves class time for practice. “I realized the most important thing in French is the possibility of dialogue,” says Caplan, who believes that language acquisition requires “live” dia-
In retirement Caplan plans to continue exploring French history.
logue with an instructor. “What I like best is to be in class,” he says, “playing and coaching.” Hewitt has taught courses ranging from Francophone studies to her personal favorite, “War and Memory.” She attributes the success of the French program to the close bonds formed among faculty members. “We work really well together, and I think the students can sense that,” she says. In retirement Caplan plans to continue exploring French history. Hewitt will move to Arizona, where she hopes to brush up on her Spanish. “I’m exhilarated at the prospect of new adventures,” she says, “but it’s going to be hard to leave here. It’s been my home for a long time.” WILLIAM HARVEY ’18 Spring 2015 Amherst 11
A mud-splashed victory. An undefeated season. A record-breaker. Seven members of the class of 2015 write about their most memorable experience as Amherst athletes.
Gabriel Wirz SOCCER We were playing Conn College at home in the NESCAC semifinals. It was homecoming, the weather was beautiful, and we had a huge crowd. We were the two seed and they were the eight seed, but within 15 seconds they scored one of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever seen. It could have been the knockout punch that ended our season. I made eye contact with Bubba Van Wie ’15 and Thomas Bull ’16. We smiled. Conn had just lit a fire under us, and we were about to hit back twice as hard. We went on to play the best half of soccer we’d played all season. I got a yellow card for excessively celebrating; I don’t regret it for a second.
Lizzy Briskin CROSS COUNTRY/TRACK AND FIELD Mud-splashed and panting from racing up the unrelenting Vermont hills, I took note of each of my teammates crossing the finish line at our NESCAC Championship meet at Middlebury on one of the windiest, rainiest Saturdays last fall. I silently recounted my team’s goals for the season: to send a team to nationals and to place in the top five at NESCACs. Today’s race could make or break our chances of racing at nationals. Nervous, we made our way back to our tent— which was miraculously still standing despite the headwinds—when our coach, Cassie Funke-Harris, shouted, “We came in third!” We dropped our clean, unworn warm-ups to the mucky ground and ran into a jumping, whooping huddle of joy. Looking at my teammates, three of whom I have raced with nearly every weekend for four years, I finally fully appreciated our team’s favorite saying, “The race is the reward.”
Chris Tamasi FOOTBALL Finishing the season undefeated and winning the NESCAC championship my senior year is a moment I will cherish forever. As we celebrated on Pratt Field after the game, I remember lighting up a cigar with my fellow seniors and never wanting to leave the field, knowing this was our last night in uniform. Though my athletic career ended that night against Williams, the relationships made with my teammates and coaches will last a lifetime. 12 Amherst Spring 2015
Phillip Nwosu FOOTBALL The most memorable moment of my Amherst athletics career would have to be the very first collegiate football game I played. This was special mostly because of the surrounding events: the question of whether or not I would be able to successfully walk-on the football team; the newness of being a first-year college student; the proposition of ending my soccer career. Thankfully, I not only made the team but was also able to contribute to a great season. The success compounded; with each successive year, I got better and better. However, the journey all started with that opening kickoff against Bates.
SOFTBALL My best memory is actually of my entire freshman season. I came to Amherst not knowing what to expect, especially on a team of 12 in which six of us were freshmen. We had an amazing run on our trip to Florida that season, going 12-0, and when we came back, we continued that streak to 22-0. We were the last undefeated team in all of NCAA softball (DI, DII and DIII). We went on to host NESCACs and NCAA regionals, which made our team so proud. That season, everything came together for us. In one of our games against Williams, we were behind by five or six runs going into the last two innings, yet we came from behind to sweep them in the series. That was what happened our entire season: We might have been behind by six runs, but there was no question we’d win the game. On the field and off, our chemistry was amazing.
Madeline Tank FIELD HOCKEY/ICE HOCKEY Junior year, our field hockey team hosted the conference tournament for the first time. That season we’d dropped our first two games in overtime, but we quickly kicked it into gear, going on a 13-game winning streak that included beating conference rivals Bowdoin, Tufts and Williams. We finished first in the league. Hosting the tournament felt like a well-deserved honor after the hard work we’d put in to string together those wins.
Greg Turissini CROSS COUNTRY/TRACK AND FIELD Track is often perceived to be an individual sport. Relay races prove otherwise. In indoor track and field, there are only two relay events, the 4x400-meter race and the lesser-known distance medley relay, or DMR. The DMR is one of track and field’s most intriguing events: Seldom do sprinters and distance runners get to compete on the same relay. The DMR consists of four legs: a 1,200-meter, a 400-meter, an 800-meter and 1,600-meter, handing off in that order. As the veteran miler, I took to running the 1,600-meter leg. In 2015, I ran the DMR with Romey Sklar ’15, Brent Harrison ’16 and David Ingraham ’18. Coming into the season, I felt as if the weight of last year’s 9th-place finish—missing All-American honors by 0.57 seconds—rested on my shoulders. In February 2015 we raced in the New England Indoor Championships. Going in, our best time was 10:06; our goal was to run under 9:55. At the end of that race, I had crossed the line in first place and the clock read 9:48.61—a new school and Division III record! That moment—and the euphoria that followed—was undoubtedly the apex of my Amherst athletic experience. Spring 2015 Amherst 13
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ROB MATTSON, MARK BOX/CLARUS STUDIOS, CHLOE MCKENZIE ’14, MARK BOX (2), GEOFFREY BOLTE/CLARUS STUDIOS, RYAN COLEMAN/D3PHOTOGRAPHY
THE LONG VIEW of springtime at Amherst. This is the hard-earned reward for surviving
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February and March (and, letâ€™s be honest, early April): leafy trees, freshly mowed grass and no more mud.
Photographs by ROB MATTSON
Spring 2015 Amherst 15
From the 19th century to today, Amherst has trained a large and influential cast of translators. A professor and two students went deep into the archives to find out how this came to be, and why it matters now.
IRRADIENT Illustration by Oliver Munday SPRING 2015 AMHERST
AMHERST IS SUPERB AT producing translators and spies. At least, that’s what Ilan Stavans heard before he joined the faculty 20 years ago. The College counts three former CIA directors among its alumni. The list of translators is perhaps even more illustrious, and it dates back to the College’s very beginning. Translation is the art of bridging cultures. It’s about interpreting the essence of a foreign text, transporting its rhythms to another language and becoming intimate with its meaning. But it’s also much more than that, Stavans insists: Putting any idea into words is an act of translation. So is composing a symphony, doing business in the global market, understanding the roots of terrorism. No citizen today can exist in isolation— that is, untranslated. Throughout this academic year, Amherst held a festival of translation sponsored by the Copeland Colloquium. Activities ranged from a theatrical adaptation of The Odyssey, to a symposium on Middle Eastern literature, to an NPRproduced oral history of local immigrants. The festival led one faculty member—Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture—and two of his students, Cedric Duquene ’15 and Rob Croll ’16, to the College Archives in search of the history of translation at Amherst. They tracked down letters, manuscripts, books and course catalogs spanning almost 200 years, and here they describe their discoveries.
BRIDGES TO OTHER COUNTRIES
Cedric Duquene In the early 19th century there was a churchwide initiative to export Christianity to all corners of the world. An overarching problem was the language of the sacred text. The Scriptures were widely available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and several aboriginal languages, but not in most other modern languages. This is where Amherst stepped in. Students in the 1820s were required to study Greek and Latin; they used these languages to translate Biblical passages. Ilan Stavans At Amherst’s founding, Protestantism was the organizing force in Western Massachusetts, and religion was the College’s center of gravity. Amherst trained young men in the art of living. Prayer played a role in that art. Duquene The Hebrew Bible had been largely written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Gospels in Koine Greek with portions in Aramaic. In 600 A.D., Latin was the only language allowed for the Scriptures. Translations into Anglo-Saxon became available in 995 A.D. The King James Version of the Bible appeared in 1611, five years before Shakespeare’s death—a fertile period in the consolidation of modern English. Rob Croll Amherst emphasized mission work and Christian moral instruction. Translation exemplified a deeply held religious side to the motto Terras Irradient. This principle of intellectual duty would alter in application over time. Yet in its inception, the concept of spreading knowledge, of enriching the life of the mind, used translation as its engine. Duquene The Amherst curriculum quickly expanded to include modern languages. Already then, students came from multiple backgrounds and spoke a variety of languages. With the tools taught to them, students were encouraged to translate the Bible into other tongues. Elias Riggs, Class of 1829, rendered the Bible into Bulgarian. He also aided in a translation into Armenian. Croll Another early graduate, David Oliver Allen, Class of 1823, supervised and contributed to the first Bible translations into the major central-Indian Marathi language. He was a missionary and leader of the Bombay printing establishment. Later, his work was updated by Ebenezer Burgess, a language tutor at Amherst. (Burgess also did early English translations of Sanskrit texts on astrology.) Isaac Grout Bliss, Class of 1823, broke new ground in 1844 with the first Bible translations into Kurdish. Stavans The objective was not to understand other cultures but to make them like our own—translators as linguistic evangelists. Croll Absolutely! To promote Christian beliefs, early alumni grappled with translating parables into new cultural contexts without altering their fundamental moral principles.
Croll Greek and Latin were mandatory at Amherst throughout the 1800s. Hebrew and Sanskrit were electives. While experiments in teaching modern languages showed up as early as 1827, the Department of Modern Languages did not become a mainstay until the 1880s. Duquene At that point significant changes in language learning took place. Being a native speaker was no longer enough; teachers needed to know how to motivate students. (Lack of interest in foreign languages is not new in America: Apathy was even stronger in the 19th century.) Students did not always see the need to learn a modern language other than English, unless they considered traveling to Europe. Stavans With the rise of nationalism in the second half of the 19th century, countries wanted to distinguish themselves through classic works that defined their uniqueness. The United States was committed to forging its own literary canon. Think of Hawthorne, Thoreau, Dickinson, Emerson, Melville and Poe. But think also of Washington Irving, whose interest in Spanish civilization allowed American readers to get acquainted with foreign cultures. Croll Amherst became instrumental in making other cultures accessible in English. This happened first in the political realm. After World War I, Harrison Griswold Dwight, Class The Supreme War Council, Versailles, 1919. An Amherst man was translator. of 1898, served as translator for the Supreme War Council at Versailles. It became clear to the College that, in the wake of global conflict, people versed in modern languages were of prime importance in diplomacy. Language courses now encouraged students to become bridges to other countries, to travel physically and intellectually. An exemplar of this trend was Parisian student André du Bouchet ’45, who studied at Amherst in order to evade the German occupation in World War II. He returned after the war to his home country, where he produced translations of Pasternak, Shakespeare and Faulkner, among others, into his native French. Richard Wilbur ’42—accomplished translator and former U.S. poet laureate—developed a serious interest in French translation as a result of his friendship with du Bouchet. They used to sit in Wilbur’s Cambridge apartment, translating each other. Wilbur says that du Bouchet made him sound as good as Baudelaire.
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Soon there was an Amherst translator at Versailles, as well as a new goal: to learn about other cultures.
THE RESEARCH TEAM ↓
ROBERT M. CROLL ’16
MAJORS: Spanish and Architectural Studies HOMETOWN: Asheville, N.C. ACTIVITY: Jazz Ensemble CEDRIC DUQUENE ’15
MAJORS: French and Economics HOMETOWN: Chapel Hill, N.C. ACTIVITY: Club Soccer ILAN STAVANS
Lewis-Sebring Profesor in Latin American and Latino Culture RECENT TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH: Pablo Neruda: All the Odes (Farrar, Straus, Giroux); The Underdogs, by Mariano Azuela (Norton, with Anna More); The Plain in Flames, by Juan Rulfo (University of Texas Press, with Harold Augenbraum)
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS
Missionaries had a problem. Early alumni had a solution.
CAPTURING VOICE AND STYLE
Can a translated work be better than the original? Croll Amherst welcomed and took part in a new era of artistic expression: the goal of translation refocused on capturing voice and style, a departure from the practical and ideology-based work of the previous century. Stavans I had a public conversation at Amherst with Gregory Rabassa, translator of One Hundred Years of Solitude, in the 1990s. He talked about rendering Gabriel García Márquez’s masterwork into English—and his reaction to García Márquez’s comment that Rabassa’s version might be better than the original. Croll Emeritus Professor Howell Chickering—author of one of the most successfully executed translations of Beowulf—presented his text in a dual-language edition with guides on pronunciation and recitation, explaining that “the greatness of the original” depends on its language, that it “cannot be duplicated in any other words.” Stavans Other translators on the faculty include Catherine Ciepiela ’83 from the Russian, James Maraniss from the Spanish, Donald White from the German and Laure Katsaros from English to French. Among alumni, Bruce Allen ’71 translated Ishimure Michiko, who is often identified as the “Rachel Carson of Japan.” Robert Fagles ’55 translated, among other classics, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid. Croll Fagles said translation “is meant to be a thing of love and homage.” Whereas Amherst, through translation, used to ask what of ourselves we might impose upon the rest of the world, it now ponders what we are able to learn from it. Stavans There is also Texaco, a lucid novel by French author Patrick Chamoiseau. Rose-Myriam Réjouis ’94 and Val Vinokurov ’94 translated it into English. Duquene Chamoiseau’s novel is about a shantytown suburb near Martinique’s capital. From the point of view of a daughter of a freed slave, it recounts her family history and the changes taking place in the town. In translating Texaco, Réjouis and Vinokurov provided non-French speakers the chance to delve into Chamoiseau’s postcolonial world of Martinique, where the social hierarchy between French and Creole was evident. Réjouis was a French and English major at Amherst; Vinokurov majored in political science. Croll In 2007 Adrian Althoff ’04 published his rendition of American Visa, by Juan de Recacoechea. To my knowledge, it is one of only two fiction books from Bolivia translated into English.
SOME ALUMNI AND FACULTY TRANSLATORS
ELIAS RIGGS The Bible
Bulgarian DAVID OLIVER ALLEN The Bible
Marathi EBENEZER BURGESS Astrology texts, Sanskrit
English ISAAC GROUT BLISS The Bible
Kurdish ANDRÉ DU BOUCHET Henry VIII, English
French RICHARD WILBUR The Misanthrope, French
English HOWELL CHICKERING Beowulf, Old English
Modern English CATHERINE CIEPIELA Poetry of Polina Barskova, Russian
English JAMES MARANISS The Sea of Lentils, by Antonio Benitez Rojo, Spanish
English DONALD WHITE The Island of Second Sight, by Albert Vigoleis Thelen, German
English LAURE KATSAROS Poetry of Franz Wright and Jack Gilbert, English
MAKING ACCESSIBLE THE INACCESSIBLE
To know a culture, become fluent in its language. Stavans When I arrived at Amherst in 1993, the objective of foreign-language teaching was to make students fluent. This had not always been the norm. Croll Course catalogs from the 19th century say that “no attention is given to the spoken language” in Italian and French instruction. Today that seems preposterous. What better key is there to understand a culture than to be fluent in its language? Stavans We exist in a Tower of Babel, one where disparate languages are always interacting. I don’t mean to suggest that polyglotism is a divine curse, as suggested by certain interpreters of the Bible. My own view is the opposite: Multilingualism is an opportunity to live life in different realms. Croll At Amherst I have translated authors Julio Cortázar, from Argentina, and Ana María Matute, from Spain, into English. Each translation has given me a window into another way of seeing, further insight into the choices through which we define ourselves. I love the singular feeling of being able to read and understand something in a second language that I cannot adequately express in my first. Stavans I was born in a Yiddish-language milieu in Mexico, but I was never attracted to translating until Amherst students encouraged me to translate from Yiddish, Hebrew and Spanish. I also translated portions of Don Quixote and other canonical texts into Spanglish. In the digital age it is easier—and faster—to disseminate translations. It is also more treacherous, with quality becoming a casualty. Maybe spies are the best kinds of translators: they seek to perform their job invisibly, and a successful career is defined by never having been caught. Croll The practical side of translation now defines Amherst in decisive ways. Take Zalmai Yawar ’06, an Afghani student who came to Amherst in 2003, after serving in the pivotal yet extremely dangerous role of interpreter during his home nation’s fight against extremism. Duquene Translation at Amherst is no longer bound to just books. Amherst strives to translate other cultures—to understand them better and look at the comparisons among them. In my view, one of the ways it does this is through the recruitment of international students. More than 50 countries are represented on campus. When international students come here, they are metaphorically translating American culture for themselves. Likewise, when non-international students interact with them, we have a feeling of “building a bridge.” Study abroad is similar. Students experience another way of life, another language. This allows them to reflect on their own environment, to make accessible the inaccessible. Isn’t this what translation is all about? k Spring 2015 Amherst 19
THE TODDLER BEHIND THE TALKING POINT A year ago AOL’s CEO blamed “distressed babies” for its benefits cuts. Deanna Fei ’99 is the mother of one of those children. By NAOMI SHULMAN Photographs by BETH PERKINS
Spring 2015 Amherst 21
“I’m grateful we had coverage. But coverage for a catastrophic event is the fundamental purpose of health insurance.” STARTED SUDDENLY, AS MEDIA FIRESTORMS DO. Thursday morning, Feb. 6, 2014, AOL chief executive officer Tim Armstrong held a company-wide town hall to explain why he had made cuts to the retirement savings plan even though AOL had posted its best earnings in a decade. Armstrong said: “Two things happened in 2012. We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were okay. … So when we had the final decision about what benefits to cut because of increased health care costs … I made the decision to basically change the 401(k) plan.” Boom. Thus began an Internet brouhaha. News sites picked up the quote, policy wonks dissected it, pundits analyzed its larger ramifications. For the next several days thousands of media outlets pumped out their own takes on the story—many with an ironic, detached stance, with “distressed babies” as a cruel punchline to a sick joke. The hashtag #distressedbabies floated across Twitter and Facebook. And then, as suddenly as it had started, the news cycle burned itself out. The spectacle died away as the collective Internet turned its attention to the next kerfuffle. And Deanna Fei ’99, the mother of one of those so-called distressed babies, was left blinking in the dust, holding her perfectly content baby, trying to process what had just happened.
MONTHS BEFORE, FEI, WHOSE NOVEL A Thread of Sky received multiple accolades in 2010, was focused on raising her son, Leo, then a year old, and was pregnant with her second child. On the evening of Oct. 8, 2012, all was quiet in her home in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Her husband, Peter Goodman, was packing to travel for his job as an editor at the Huffington Post, which is owned by AOL, and Fei was turning in for what she hoped would be a decent night’s sleep. But very early the next morning, she awoke to a sudden pain in her abdomen. It didn’t compute; Fei was only 25 weeks along, and her pregnancy had had no complications. “I could not understand what was happening,” she says. She took a handful of antacids and tried to go back to sleep. “It never occurred to me I could be in labor.” But the pain was insistent and growing worse. Half an hour after she awoke, she was on the phone with her doctor. As soon as she managed to get a neighbor to stay with Leo, she was en route to the hospital. She got hold of Goodman just as he was boarding his plane. His taxi broke down on the way to the hospital, but he arrived just as she did—only to discover that she was fully dilated. “The official time of my admittance to the hospital was 7:40; Mila’s birth was 8:00 on the dot,” she recalls. “That’s how quickly it happened.” The events
22 Amherst Spring 2015
happened so precipitously, in fact, that Fei was having trouble keeping up. “I told myself, I’m having a miscarriage,” she says. “I had no idea about the edge of viability, or what it meant for a baby to arrive at 25 weeks. I just knew I was nowhere near the point where a baby is born.”
THIS WAS NOT A MISCARRIAGE. IT WAS A birth. Mila arrived via emergency C-section, a 1-pound, 9-ounce speck of baby whose size was offset by enormous, crushing statistical odds. “When I first saw her, all I could think was, She’s not supposed to be here,” Fei says. “I thought, She looks like she’s suffering. And I don’t know how to be her mother. I didn’t know how to be the mother of a baby who might not survive one hour, let alone a day, week, month. Having to deal with this level of uncertainty almost felt worse than if she just hadn’t made it.” Mila was just barely alive—but she was alive, and perhaps inevitably, people began to refer to her as a miracle baby. They meant well, but Fei, a writer sensitive to every word choice, flinched at this one. “Here we were absorbing the shock and the terrifying odds she was facing, truly not knowing if she’d survive. But we were buffeted between these two extremes, the other being this talk of, ‘She’s a miracle child! She’s going to be a miracle!’” Fei tries to put her finger on why the term sat wrong with her. It almost reduced her daughter to an idea. “A miracle is an outcome you pray for. It’s not a person. I couldn’t fall in love with a mirage.” But later, when Mila’s neonatologist burst into tears while telling Fei and Goodman that their daughter had suffered a brain hemorrhage, Fei heard the word she felt she actually needed to hear. The word was catastrophe. “She used that word—‘when you have a birth as catastrophic as this’—and she started to cry at that moment. Her choice of words cut through the talk of miracles and allowed me to acknowledge that this is my reality, my daughter’s reality. No talk of blessings and prayers and inspiration would take that away.” In a sense, though, Mila’s time in the NICU was both miraculous and catastrophic. She was placed on a ventilator, received ultrasounds and transfusions, and had all manner of tubes inserted into her, including a central line that nearly reached her heart. But she clawed her way through the next three months in the hospital, doggedly defeating every set of odds before her, only to have them immediately replaced with another set of odds, and then another. As thrilled as Fei and Goodman were to take her home, they knew Mila brought her challenges home with her, too. “The nature of her injury meant we would never know the extent of damage until it manifested—or didn’t manifest,” Fei explains. “Every milestone—the day she smiled, sat up, rolled over, crawled—we truly didn’t know if they would happen until they happened.” When Mila hit 15 months, her develop-
“This was not only a breach of privacy,” says Fei, author of the forthcoming memoir Girl in Glass (Bloomsbury), “but also an issue of social justice.”
Spring 2015 Amherst 23
“I could not ignore the fact that my story exposed a vulnerability that many, many Americans share.” mental age was 1 year, and, as if on cue, she began taking her first steps, just like any typical 1-year-old. “This was a little revolution in our family. I began allowing myself to believe that maybe she really was defying the odds.” Fei felt herself begin to breathe. Perhaps Mila would be okay.
WAS IN THE AFTERGLOW OF THOSE FIRST STEPS that it happened. Two days after Mila began walking, Fei got an email from Goodman at work—with a strange header. Something about “distressed babies.” And then she got another. And another. “I couldn’t make sense of them. They were all a variation of ‘AOL CEO blames benefit cuts on distressed babies.’ I looked at one of the links, and the tone of the article was obviously critical of Tim Armstrong, but also ironic and knowing,” Fei says, “and there were already these tweets treating ‘distressed babies’ as a meme, making jokes about the whole situation.” Months before, Fei had found it hard to look directly at Mila’s pulsing body, too small and fragile to bear; now she found it hard to watch as the world tossed around her family’s experience as if it were a talking point. “I opened the link, I closed it, and for the rest of the day I didn’t turn on the television, and didn’t open any new sites. I hunkered down. It wasn’t until that night that I even was able to say to my husband, ‘I don’t understand what happened. What does this have to do with our family?’” On one level, it didn’t have anything to do with her family. Despite the fact that they were held up as an example (or a scapegoat), all the details were off. To begin with, those words: distressed baby. “It just sounded dehumanizing to me. Whoever came up with such a term?” It was too flippant a term to describe Mila as a newborn—and absolutely clueless about the roly-poly imp she had grown into. Armstrong referred to Fei’s pregnancy as high-risk; it had not been. In fact, it had been low-risk. She’d never had a miscarriage, was under 35, had no red-flag health conditions. “That’s one of the reasons this was so shocking,” Fei says. “There was no detectable underlying cause. We’ve never known why I went into labor and never will.” Armstrong also said Mila’s bills had cost the company “a million dollars,” a number that “seems to have been chosen for effect,” Fei says. “But let’s set that aside. I don’t doubt that my daughter’s care was expensive, and I’m hugely grateful we had the coverage. But coverage for a catastrophic event is the fundamental purpose of health insurance.” A premature birth is unforeseeable for any individual, but it’s predictable in any insurance pool. “My daughter had a right to the care that saved her life. The fact that Armstrong implied otherwise was the most painful part of the ordeal.” While Fei recognized little of her family in Armstrong’s remark, in the larger sense, his statement had everything to do with her family—as well as every other family working at the whim of corporate America. The realization hit after Fei
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wrote and published a response in Slate, “My Baby and AOL’s Bottom Line,” which quickly went viral worldwide. Almost instantly her inbox filled with emails from strangers offering their own stories of solidarity and support. “I found hundreds of messages saying, ‘This has happened to me, to my family members.’ There were stories about insurance reps saying rates are going up because someone had the nerve to have premature twins. Or, ‘The day that we got the diagnosis for my child, my husband was fired.’ These stories were hugely eye-opening to me. A lot of people were saying, ‘Our stories never got attention in the media—please continue to be a voice for people like us.’” Fei had never seen herself in such a role. She was not a journalist; she was a novelist. “I’m private person. I’m not an expert in these areas, but I could not ignore the fact that my story exposed a vulnerability that many, many Americans share.” In fact, potential privacy breaches abound. Government agencies, billing firms, data miners—when you put it all together, more than 4 million businesses have access to medical records, which can contain sensitive information about such private issues as sex, drug use, mental health, genetic anomalies and more.
BEGAN GETTING REQUESTS TO TESTIFY TO CONgressional committees, to be a keynote speaker at nonprofits, to hop on soapboxes of all kinds. “At first I felt like, I’m just trying to speak for my daughter! I didn’t know what causes we represented, because I didn’t understand the broader implications of the story.” As she learned more, she came to see “that this was not only a breach of privacy, of important psychological boundaries, and an exposure of a profound trauma for my family, but also an issue of social justice.” It’s commonly understood that health care costs have been on an upward trend; in 2009 the White House said premiums had risen between 90 percent and 150 percent over the decade prior, depending on the state. As new aspects of the Affordable Care Act go into effect in the coming years, many employers will have pressing new reasons to look for ways to cut those costs. Fei believes that employers may be increasingly motivated to look at their employees’ health expenditures—after all, in an employer-sponsored health care model, one family can and will cost an employer more than another. With identifying markers stripped away, looking at these expenditures is legal, and Fei’s case made clear that even if names are not named, it’s easy to trace that information back to a certain individual. “It’s not even hypothetical to think about how that can impact people. It’s embarrassing for their most intimate medical details to become public knowledge, but also it makes them vulnerable to being targeted for those medical bills, from public shaming to even being fired,” she says. “A lot of that can happen in a gray area of the law.”
Fei at home in New York with Leo and Mila
In an era when 150 million Americans rely on employers for health insurance, and health care costs continue to rise exponentially, this dynamic affects almost anyone who has both a body and a job—which is to say, practically everyone. “I’ve spoken to experts who say we’re living in a fool’s paradise if we think it can’t happen to us,” Fei says. Advocacy groups such as Patient Privacy Rights have been sounding this alarm for a decade, pointing out that more than a third of Fortune 500 companies have admitted to looking at employees’ health records in the process of hiring and promoting. “The actual percentage who do so is likely even higher,” Fei says. This goes well beyond the HIPAA legal guidelines, which allow for employers to access medical records stripped of identifying markers. As Fei puts it, what happened to her family “was a particularly cringe-worthy and shocking instance of something that we are all vulnerable to.” In the wake of the controversy, Fei did not testify before Congress or keynote at conferences. Instead, she’s done what a writer does: she’s written about her experience in the forthcoming memoir Girl in Glass (Bloomsbury, July 2015). And in a funny way, she says she’s grateful for Armstrong’s comments and the resulting firestorm, because before it happened, she hadn’t been able to write a word about her daughter’s birth. “I couldn’t even say the words ‘she was born.’ My son had been born at 40 weeks, 7 pounds and 10 ounces. I know how to tell that kind of birth story. But after my daughter arrived, it felt like she almost died as opposed to being born.” So much fear and anxiety accompanied Mila’s arrival—and lingered for so long—that Fei found the tale too difficult to relive. That was partly why Armstrong’s comments felt so violating; they were an exposure of great trauma. But the kicker, Fei says, is that the words reduced Mila’s existence to profit and loss. This was what Fei could not take. “It was putting a dollar figure on my daughter’s life. I just
couldn’t think in those terms. Instead what became clear to me was the power of telling her story. Writing the memoir finally helped me to confront the trauma of how she arrived and place her story in a broader social and historical context. Every detail, every night that she fought for her life in her isolette, every day I got terrifying calls from the NICU, every setback we thought she might not be able to overcome—it’s all part of her story, the story of a birth.”
NO ONE WOULD LOOK AT MILA AND think distressed. Try feisty. Or fearless. “She’s just a little firecracker of a person,” says Fei. “Anyone who doesn’t know her history would never suspect it.” The 2-year-old gobbles cookies doublefisted. She runs faster than her mother can sometimes catch her. She speaks—or shouts—in two languages. “For a long time every sentence began with ‘I want,’ laughs Fei. ‘I want a muffin. I want a mango.’” Among her first words was baobao, Chinese for “carry me.” “On that first day she was born, as I was honestly hardly able to look at her, I reached into her incubator and she held my hand,” Fei says. “I thought, Well, that’s only a reflex. But I think she’s made it clear at this point that that was her. Through everything that happened, she’s been the one showing me how to be her mother.” And so when Mila calls, “Carry me,” her mother leans forward and picks her up. k
Naomi Shulman is a contributing author to the anthology The Good Mother Myth. Her work has appeared in Yankee, Real Simple, The New York Times Motherlode blog and elsewhere. Spring 2015 Amherst 25
A CRITIC RETURNS TO CAMPUS TO TEACH A CLASS ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF 13 UNDERAPPRECIATED ARCHITECTURAL GEMS.
Mansions BY BLAIR KAMIN ’79
in ILLUSTRATIONS BY JULIETTE BORDA
SPRING 2015 AMHERST
HERE’S TODAY’S ARCHITECTURAL POP QUIZ: WHICH GROUP OF Amherst buildings a) exhibits consistently excellent design; b) forms a splendid transition between town and gown; and c) is widely underappreciated? If you answered “College Row,” the cluster of historic buildings crowned by Johnson Chapel, then guess again. The correct answer: Amherst’s 13 former fraternity buildings, which range from “A” (the former Alpha Delta Phi, now Hitchcock House) to “Z” (the Zu, nickname of Humphries House, the old Theta Xi) and from Greek-temple splendor to farmhouse modesty inspired by the surrounding croplands of the Pioneer Valley. As the 10 students in my January Interterm course discovered, the houses represent a treasure trove of architecture and campus lore. Take them away and there would be no mansion-like edifices, with blazing white columns, rimming the town common. Nor would there be brick and mortar that conjures memories of such notable alumni as Calvin Coolidge, Class of 1895, a Phi Gamma Delta brother. Without these houses, Amherst would lack such extraordinary interior spaces as the library of old Chi Psi Lodge (now Mayo-Smith House), where barrel-vaulted plaster ceilings soar above a fireplace that serves as a memorial to fraternity brothers who died in World War I. Erase the old frats, in short, and the College’s architectural patrimony would be poorer for their loss. It may seem like an inopportune time to make that claim, given that Amherst stopped recognizing fraternities 31 years ago and banned students from joining underground frats last year. For some, buildings like these symbolize elitism, sexism and privilege run amok. Yet perhaps the time is right to revisit these houses. That’s not only because some of them, now more than 100 years old, have stood the test of time. It’s also because they have much to contribute, socially and aesthetically, to an Amherst that is far more diverse than the Amherst that built them. As former Amherst President Stanley King recounts in his architectural history of the College, The Consecrated Eminence, Amherst’s earliest fraternities rented rooms in dormitories. Later, desiring both more room and less supervision from College au-
built new homes or renovated existing ones, endowing the College with luxurious living quarters that would have astounded the ministers in training who inhabited the primitive South College, Amherst’s first building, in 1821. The building frenzy anticipated the way colleges and universities now compete with one another by erecting fancy new dorms or student centers. Yet there was a crucial difference: At many colleges and universities (though not at Amherst), today’s campus buildings tend to reflect the individual “brands” of their star architects, who resemble players in a jazz band, one riffing off the other. In the Amherst of the 1910s and 1920s, the architects strove for harmony, not counterpoint. The most significant of them, in retrospect, is the littleknown Allen Cox, of the Boston firm Putnam and Cox. Psi U was such a triumph that Cox went on to design five more of Amherst’s 13 fraternity houses. (Putnam and Cox also designed six buildings at Mount Holyoke, including Rockefeller Hall and Clapp Laboratory). Nearly all of Cox’s Amherst fraternities were variations on a theme: a brick box, dressed up in neoclassical or neo-Georgian trim, with a projecting front porch and grand rooms for studying, partying and male bonding. There were, to be sure, a few architectural outliers, like Chi Psi, with its adventurous mix of Tudor and Renaissance Revival motifs. But whatever their style, these were designs of fine materials, handsome proportions and enduring architectural quality. They remain consistently meritorious, a claim one cannot make for the ubiquitous but decidedly uneven Amherst portfolio of the illustrious New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, which ranges from first-rate Renaissance Revival (Fayerweather Hall) to neoHoward Johnson (Chapin Hall). As appealing as they are as individual buildings, the old fraternity houses truly excel in their broader role as shapers of the campus as a whole. They harmonize beautifully with each other and with such impressive, classically influenced buildings as Converse and College Halls. They form an elegant western gateway to the campus. They create a series of partial quadrangles, called “half-quads,” that line the north side of College Street. Most important, their mansion-like designs both frame and ennoble the town green. We tend to think of Amherst as an inward-turning campus, centered on its quadrangles. Yet these houses remind us that Amherst also engages the outside
The buildings both frame and ennoble the town green, reminding us that Amherst engages the outside world. thorities suspicious of their doings, they took space in the business blocks in town. But a series of 1870s fires destroyed these buildings and drove the fraternities out. Late in the 19th century, many of the fraternities rented or built their own Victorian houses. Then, in 1912, when Psi Upsilon dedicated a neoclassical mansion (now Seelye House) at the corner of Pleasant and College Streets, an architectural arms race broke out. In light of Psi U’s splendid presence, the other frats were confronted with a choice: Either upgrade or watch pledges (and dues) disappear. From 1913 to 1940, the other 12 fraternities all 28 Amherst Spring 2015
↑ SEELYE [UNDATED]
THE HOUSES HAVE MUCH TO CONTRIBUTE, BOTH SOCIALLY AND AESTHETICALLY, TO TODAY’S AMHERST. Amherst’s 13 former fraternity houses constitute an essential part of the College’s architectural legacy and housing stock, accounting for nearly a quarter of its 1,830 beds. Eight of the 13 houses have been renovated since 2007. Here are capsule descriptions of these buildings, most of which were converted to dorms after the College stopped recognizing fraternities in 1984.
of brick hues evokes the weathered façades of Colonial architecture. The 2009 renovation removed the GOTE (“Gathering of the Elite”) room, a mini-Pantheon with a domed ceiling. Following their Psi U triumph, the architect designed five more Amherst fraternity houses.
provides a platform from which to view the sloping landscape. The grace of the building belies its sordid past. Known for its Dionysian parties, DUD was shut down by the College in 1982, according to an Associated Press account, after officials discovered a headless skeleton, two stuffed roosters and a motorcycle in the fraternity house, and a 6-foot-high phallic ice sculpture on the lawn. Once called Amherst’s “Animal House,” the building is now home to the College’s German and Russian theme houses.
02 NEWPORT HOUSE (PHI DELTA THETA, PHI DELTA SIGMA) BUILT:
01 SEELYE HOUSE (PSI UPSILON) BUILT:
Allen Cox → Newport successfully combines neoclassical elements, like the front porch that protrudes in a graceful semicircle, with such neo-Georgian features as massive paired chimneys on the building’s flanks. The stately façades conceal a graceless 1960s annex. Among the interior highlights: a memorial stained-glass window dedicated to Edson Alexander McRae, class of 1906, who was killed in World War I.
ARCHITECT: Allen Cox
2009 → This robust neoclassical design at the corner of Routes 9 and 116 set a new architectural standard for Amherst, ensuring that most of the College’s future fraternity buildings would resemble mansions, not ordinary houses. A monumental porch with grand Corinthian columns harmonizes with nearby buildings, while a medley RENOVATED:
03 PLIMPTON HOUSE (DELTA KAPPA EPSILON) BUILT: 1915
Lionel Moses → The library of this hilltop mansion is lined with wood panels shipped over from Oxford and Cambridge, England, and contains a fireplace by which Sir Isaac Newton is said to have read. Names of illustrious ARCHITECT:
↑ PORTER 
↑ NEWPORT 
04 PORTER HOUSE
(DELTA UPSILON DELTA)
(BETA THETA PI,
Allen Cox RENOVATED: 2007 → The symmetrical façade on the town green is enriched by carefully crafted details, from monumental Ionic pilasters to the projecting brick blocks, known as quoins, which articulate the building’s corners. A rear two-story porch echoes the pilasters and ARCHITECT:
↑ PLIMPTON [UNDATED]
DKE members, including former Amherst President Stanley King (class of 1903) and architect William Rutherford Mead (class of 1867), are inscribed on wood tablets. The stately exterior mixes neo-Georgian and neoclassical elements and other pieces of history, including flowery iron porches salvaged from a New York house that was destroyed to make way for a skyscraper.
BOLTWOOD HOUSE) BUILT: 1916
Allen Cox 2014 → Occupying the corner across Route 9 from Converse Hall, Garman is a model good neighbor that relates well to everything around it. Its one-story porches, characteristically modest, are human-scaled, ARCHITECT:
↑ GARMAN  Spring 2015 Amherst 29
not grandiloquently monumental. Visible along Route 9 is a rare (for Amherst) touch of architectural whimsy: grand chimneys that bisect third-story dormer windows and their swannecked pediments.
06 LIPTON HOUSE
(CHI PHI, HAMILTON
↑ SELIGMAN 
Allen Cox RENOVATED: 2007 → Lipton impresses, but on a budget. Its recessed central bay features a single-story portico ennobled by the presence of richly ornamented Corinthian capitals. The house enriches the campus as a whole, joining with Drew and Garman to enclose two half-quadrangles along Route 9. One of them contains a granite cenotaph memorializing Guy Levy-Despas, class of 1940, a Chi Phi brother and fighter pilot shot down over Malta during World War II. ARCHITECT:
07 SELIGMAN HOUSE (THETA DELTA CHI) BUILT: 1921 ARCHITECT:
2013 → Forgoing the model of the fraternity house as mansion, Cox drew inspiration from the agricultural lands of the Pioneer Valley and replicated the low-slung scale of a farm that grew over time around a central courtyard. Dormer windows and varied shades of brick, however, keep the house within Amherst’s architectural family. The 2013 renovation and expansion, by Shepley Bulfinch, adhered to the original, unpretentious design and preserved original interior details, like exposed hewn beams.
into a grand threestory structure in the 1920s. The monumental semicircular porch not only makes the building stand out but also turns it away from the bustle of Route 9. The building’s true importance, however, is more social than architectural. The Amherst chapter of Phi Alpha Psi was kicked out of its national fraternity when it pledged a black student, Thomas Gibbs ’51, in 1948. It is now, appropriately, Amherst’s theme house for black culture.
09 MAYO-SMITH HOUSE (CHI PSI) BUILT:
Wheeler 2008 → This house broke decisively from the Amherst fraternity mold of the neoclassical RENOVATED:
brick box fronted by an imposing, four-columned porch. The central wing features a Renaissanceinspired arcade, while the flanking wings flaunt such characteristic Tudor Revival details as mock half-timbering and elaborately sculpted brick chimneys. Inside, the lounge and library suite has barrel-vaulted plaster ceilings and a dark wood fireplace that memorializes fraternity members killed in World War I.
(ALPHA DELTA PHI)
2009 → Carrère and Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library, designed the Gilded Age fraternity house that was demolished for this one. When a 1924 fire destroyed an annex to that original edifice, Alpha Delta Phi built a new house on the same site that was fireproof as well as roomier than its earlier home. Briscoe’s austere, four-square design proved to be the sympathetic yet sober sidekick to the lavish neoclassicism of neighboring Psi U. The
↑ MAYO-SMITH [UNDATED]
GAMMA CHI )
11 (PHI GAMMA DELTA, PHI
→ Built by Amherst Professor (later President) Julius Seelye, class of 1849, as a two-story house, Drew was transformed
2009 renovation and expansion added a new wing that echoed the 1928 original.
(PHI ALPHA PSI, PHI
↑ DREW 
↑ LIPTON 
Karl S. Putnam → Once home to the fraternity of Amherst’s first and only U.S. president, Calvin Coolidge (class of 1895), this striking hilltop edifice evokes the grandeur of
↑ MARSH [1930S]
the Acropolis with its white exterior and fluted Doric columns. The building, which began its life as a private house, was later a preparatory school for girls. The fraternity remodeled it in the early 1920s, then turned to Putnam, a classically trained architect who taught at Smith College. Putnam had the red brick exterior painted white, added the west-facing templefront and expanded the rectangular house with
→ Written by Blair Kamin ’79, these descriptions are based on reporting by the students in his Interterm course: Elias Baez ’15, Alisa Bajramovic ’18, Craig Campbell ’15, Robert Croll ’16, Megan Do ’18, Ben Fiedler ’17, Brian Ingram ’15, Catherine Lowdon ’17, Katy Rose O’Brien ’17 and Takudzwa Tapfuma ’17—and by College archivist Peter Nelson.
an L-shaped floor plan. A house library, designed by Putnam and dedicated to Coolidge in 1938, is in a state of disrepair. Marsh is now Amherst’s arts theme house.
barrel-vaulted ceiling and knotty-pine woodwork, is at once impressive and informal, again differentiating Tyler from the formality of Marsh and Plimpton.
(DELTA TAU DELTA, KAPPA
J.D. Leland → Like Marsh and Plimpton, Tyler occupies Amherst’s “other hill,” yet unlike those buildings, its ARCHITECT:
↑ TYLER 
exterior is asymmetrical, with a three-story main building flanked on one side by an annex containing a common room. The neo-Georgian main building, topped by a steeply pitched gambrel roof, reveals its original incarnation as a fraternity house through such details as a medallion over the entrance that contains heraldic symbols whose meanings were known only to fraternity members. The two-story common room, with its
1940 REMODELING: C.H. Sherwood → Tucked away on a quiet street near Pratt Field, Humphries began its life as a frame house for Mrs. Stearns’ School for Young Ladies, a seminary run by the daughter-in-law of Amherst President William Augustus Stearns. The remodeling by Sherwood, a Theta Xi brother who had designed the fraternity’s Cornell University house in 1930, subsumed the old Victorian house into a T-shaped arrangement. Its two wide wings created a conventional neo-Georgian false front that belied the independent character of the house’s residents. The house is still known as “the Zu,” an alternate spelling of a nickname that originated in the 1960s, when Theta Xi houses around the country became known as “Zoos” for their partying and drug use.
↑ HITCHCOCK 
↑ HUMPHRIES [1980S]
world—not only at Memorial Hill, but also along the town green. The College has been a fine steward of this legacy. Since 2007 Amherst has renovated eight of the 13 houses, bringing them up to the latest building codes and living standards, and even adorning some of their rooftops with solar panels. In 2011 Amherst was one of 19 educational institutions in Massachusetts honored with the Paul E. Tsongas Award from the nonprofit Preservation Massachusetts, which recognized the renovation of many of the College’s residential buildings, including the old fraternities as well as dorms on the first-year quad. Still, there have been some painful losses of interior features, like the former GOTE (short for “Gathering of the Elite”) room in Seelye, a mini-Pantheon that was demolished to clear space for new bedrooms. At Mayo-Smith, the grand ballroom, which featured exposed timber beams and tiered, wagonwheel-shaped chandeliers, was also done away with for new bedrooms. While the interior spaces of some houses were preserved or enhanced, others remained nondescript or had the patina of time scraped away in the process of gut rehabs. These interiors, some complain, have all the charm of a Ramada Inn. With five of the old fraternities still to be renovated, the issue of preserving the past is far from academic. These buildings house such signature interior spaces as the paneled, neoclassical library dedicated to Coolidge in Marsh House (the old Phi Gam) or another library in Plimpton (the old Delta Kappa Epsilon) that harbors a fireplace where Sir Isaac Newton is said to have read. This isn’t just dead white male stuff. These spaces have the capacity to enrich the College’s social and intellectual life, providing an intimate complement to the all-campus parties held in the smartly renovated Powerhouse. Architecture, as the critic Lewis Mumford once said, makes time visible, expressing the values and visions of past eras like layers of geologic strata. Amherst can be proud of the way it has preserved its old fraternities. Just as College Row is one of the few remaining examples of the way American colleges were planned in the early 19th century, these houses stand out as vivid, visually enticing exemplars of college residential life in the early 20th century. Today, in the early 21st century and six years short of the College’s 2021 bicentennial, our tasks are to appreciate these buildings and to weave them into the fabric of vibrant College life. k Blair Kamin ’79 (who did not belong to a fraternity) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune. He is at work on an architectural guide to the College, scheduled to be published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2018. Spring 2015 Amherst 31
BY RAND RICHARDS COOPER ’80
Every fiction-writing teacher falls somewhere on the spectrum between The Mechanic and The Metaphysician. Stone’s approach was at the deep end.
32 AMHERST SPRING 2015
Spring 2015 Amherst 33
Robert Stone died this winter, and though he was a notably peripatetic man, he spent a chunk of his life living and teaching in Amherst, serving as visiting writer at the College in the 1970s and early 1980s. Among novelists of his generation Stone earned renown for his mordant renderings of American recklessness abroad and tumult at home. In a valedictory appraisal, New York Times book maven Michiko Kakutani judged him “one of the few writers to capture the apocalyptic madness of America in the 1960s,” praising his “dense, philosophical, baroque” prose for “conjuring the emotional temperature of a time and place with extraordinary intensity and fervor.” As a sophomore in 1978 I took Bob Stone’s fictionwriting class. At that point Stone was best known for his Vietnam novel, Dog Soldiers, and for his association with novelist Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, captured in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. One afternoon a week for three hours, a dozen of us would sit in a seminar room in Johnson Chapel, discussing our stories and monitoring our teacher’s intense and enigmatic presence. Every fiction-writing teacher falls somewhere on the spectrum between The Mechanic and The Metaphysician, and Stone, one might have said, was way off the deep end. He wasn’t the kind of teacher who gives writing prompts and covers your pages with red ink. His approach was lofty, his principles summed up in Joseph Conrad’s Introduction to “The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus,’” which he read aloud to us—in its 1,709-word entirety—at our first class meeting. Conrad’s majestic charge to writers begins by asserting that “art should carry its justifi-
We would sit in class, discussing our stories and monitoring our teacher’s intense and enigmatic presence. cation in every line,” and proceeds to describe the writer’s task as that of using “the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—[and] before all, to make you see.” All these years later I still clearly see Bob Stone himself, sitting at the head of the seminar table: motley beard and owlish eyebrows; graying hair pulled back in a ponytail; denim work shirt; cigarette. Just 40, he looked well over 50, and you got the feeling he had gone through a lot. He smoked 34 Amherst Spring 2015
Stone in his office at Amherst in 1975. When asked a question, he seemed to turn inward for a moment.
nonstop, inhaling with deep, emphatic need, and the smoke wreathed his head, amplifying the oracular quality of his utterances. When asked a question, he seemed to turn inward for a moment, as if composing an answer in his mind and inspecting it before offering it to you. The cigarette was a significant prop in this action. One afternoon I spent two hours interviewing him for a school literary magazine, and our conversation played out in exchanges like this: RRC: “What do you make of the widespread use of hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s?” RS: (inhale, ponder, exhale): “I view it as providing a reminder that our consciousness is not definitive.” Nothing Bob said sounded impulsive, even when it clearly was. In our interview, I brought up critic Penelope Gilliatt’s New Yorker diss of Dog Soldiers as “an excruciatingly poor novel which somehow won a National Book Award.” What did he make of that? “Well,” Bob said calmly. “Either she’s paying me back”—he explained that in a review he had panned a novel Gilliatt admired—“or else she’s got her head up her ass.” I looked up from my notebook. Could I quote him on that? Inhale, ponder, exhale. “Go right ahead.” Stone grew up poor in Brooklyn. His father had abandoned the family, and his mother suffered intermittent mental illness; when Stone was 6, she was institutionalized, and he spent four years in a Catholic orphanage. As a teenager he was kicked out of his Catholic high school for being “a terrible student,” he told me, “and because I belonged to an organization dedicated to going to school hav-
VISITING EXPERTS Robert Stone is not the only acclaimed author to have held the position of visiting writer in the Amherst English department. Here are some of the many others. 1976-77 HENRY BROMELL ’70 was a novelist and short-story writer who subsequently moved into television. He became the creative force behind such critically acclaimed TV series as Northern Exposure, Homicide: Life on the Street and Homeland, the last of which earned him an Emmy in 2012. 1981-83 DENNIS BRUTUS was a poet, journalist and anti-apartheid activist in his native South Africa.
ing drunk not less than four beers in the morning.” Stints in the Navy and the Merchant Marines followed, and a gig as a copy boy at The Daily News. For a time he worked at a National Enquirer-like tabloid, writing lurid headlines for made-up news stories. “We would get stoned and write horrendous, unutterable stories,” he recalled, laughing. His greatest work? “Mad Dentist Yanks Girl’s Tongue.” His counterculture credentials were impeccable, and he regaled us with stories of seamy New Orleans nightclubs, the coast of Mexico and his time in Vietnam as a journalist. Then there were the drugs. At Stanford in the early 1960s Bob had a writing fellowship and met Ken Kesey, who turned him on to peyote, acid and a lot more. His pharmaceutical intake, he hinted to me in that interview, had been epic. “I seemed to be ready to ingest whatever anyone gave me,” he recalled, ruefully. Though Stone knew Jack Kerouac, and though the personal stories he told, with their romance of inspiration, flamed-out youth and wanton travel, suggested a Kerouackian notion of the writing life, he was not a Kerouackian writer. His voice on the page was formal and controlled, and his narrative procedures hewed for the most part to the canons of traditional realism. He had a sensibility all his own, a caustic and ironic gravity marked by an affinity for the obscure word, as in these sentences from Outerbridge Reach: “At certain times Owen’s absconded presence obsessed her”; “By the standards of his sexual haruspication, it augured well.” Haruspication? Art, mind-expanding substances, violence,
1984-86 MARILYNNE ROBINSON is the author of Housekeeping (1981), which received the PEN/ Hemingway Award for best first novel, and Gilead, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. 1986-87 AMY CLAMPITT, a poet and author, was a 1992 MacArthur Fellow. 1990-91 CARYL PHILLIPS, a novelist, playwright and essayist, won the PEN Open Book Award for his 2006 novel Dancing in the Dark. 2000-02 CLAIRE MESSUD is best known for her novel The Emperor’s Children (2006), which won critical acclaim and became a New York Times bestseller. 2010-present AMITY GAIGE’s most recent novel, Schroder, was named one of the best books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications.
tabloid journalism, sinister politics, the military: Stone’s life served up material for the trenchant fictional treatises that became his oeuvre, including A Hall of Mirrors (1967), Dog Soldiers (1974), A Flag for Sunrise (1981), Outerbridge Reach (1992) and Damascus Gate (1998). Typically he set his novels in far-flung places—Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East—whose ill-fated denizens absorbed volatile combustions of American innocence and American power. But his forays into domestic places disclosed no less dire a view. The New Jersey setting Spring 2015 Amherst 35
of his 1996 story “Miserere” is “a city of racial minorities, in the late stages of passing from the control of a corrupt white political machine to that of a corrupt black one. Its schools were warrens of pathology and patronage. Its police, still mainly white, were frequently criminals.” Running deep beneath such baleful factuality, one senses always in Stone a current of outrage. His protagonists were wayward journalists, alcoholic screenwriters and errant professors, and he portrayed them sympathetically but pitilessly. “They lured each other,” he writes of the Yale professor Brookman and his student lover in Death of the Black-Haired Girl (2013), his final novel. “She did it probably out of impatience for real life. He had no excuse but greed.” In the stories I wrote for his
died, his friend and Amherst colleague Jim Maraniss perceptively noted that Stone was “Dionysian” by nature but also “a severe moralist.” That paradox says a lot about a novelist who engaged themes of anarchy in magnificently deliberate prose, and whose fictional characters faced the daunting choice between a universe that is meaningless and one that is downright malevolent. Stone could have been channeling Flannery O’Connor when he had one of his characters—a fierce believer—taunt her feckless priest: “Oh Frank, you lamb, what did your poor mama tell you? Did she say that a world with God was easier than one without him?” “I feel a very deep connection to the existentialist tradition of God as an absence—not a meaningless void, but a negative presence we live in terms of,” Stone said in a 1985 Paris Review interview. He had touched on the same topic when I interviewed him. “It’s not given to us to know God’s nature or God’s plan,” he said that day in his office. “I do hope that in the very long run we can come to terms with whatever transcendental destiny was designed for us.” Inhale, ponder, exhale. “It’s just a hope; it’s not really a belief.” A battered and indignant idealist was hunkered down there, behind the ramparts of cynicism. If you paid attention, you could see it, in the fiction and in the man. A friend who took Stone’s class with me emailed after he died. “I probably carry more of Bob Stone with me than I do of the rest of the Amherst faculty put together,” she wrote. “He somehow managed to show me how to be a better version of myself.” She recalled Stone reading aloud to us from Bleak House, and vowed as a tribute to read the novel again, with a glass of whiskey at her elbow. “It’s a long book,” she added, “so I’ll need a whole bottle.” For my part, when I finished taking all his classes, he offered a kind word. I was a good writer, he told me; now I had to go out and learn something about life. As for writing about whatever I might learn, he had lodged in my mind those exalted exhortations from his forebear, Joseph Conrad, calling on writers to restore “the magic light of suggestiveness” to “the old, old words, worn thin, defaced by ages of careless usage.” That set the bar high—as Bob himself did, by word and example. He wanted us to understand that literature mattered. We had spent our whole lives in school; we had no idea anyone believed it might not matter. That challenge would come later. And when it did, we would have the considerable advantage of having been taught, and inspired, by Robert Stone. k
His protagonists were wayward journalists and errant professors. He portrayed them sympathetically but pitilessly. class, Stone tried to talk me out of first-person narration, a device he almost never used himself. It’s easy to see why. A participant-narrator blocked his own narrating voice, impeding the clinical way he examined his characters existentially, the blunt assessment of their motives. To a writer, first-person point-of-view makes available the useful irony of an untrustworthy narrator. Stone wasn’t interested. His narrator was trustworthy. It was his characters who weren’t. They buckled beneath the burden of disenchantment he loaded on them. Nobody had it easy in a Robert Stone novel; that was more or less the point. He held that existence, if we are to be interested in it at all, is a predicament, often a harrowing and even humiliating one. His characters suffered accordingly. Stone was a serious political novelist, who focused the predicament of lost innocence through our country’s foreign-policy misadventures in Vietnam and elsewhere, creating narratives of harsh moral awakening. Disenchantment, both individual and collective, was his great theme. “We didn’t know who we were till we got here,” says a character in Dog Soldiers; “we thought we were something else.” It could be the epitaph for an era. As critics noted, his preoccupation with human fallenness was shaped by his early Catholicism. Indeed, his novels can be seen as vehicles for smuggling tenets from an eroded—or exploded—religious framework into the post-faith world. As John Updike delivered to the secular a sense of wonder at creation, so did Stone deliver the sense of sin. After he 36 Amherst Spring 2015
Rand Richards Cooper ’80 is the author of The Last to Go and Big as Life. Like Stone, he is a former Amherst visiting writer.
40 What Ruth Bader Ginsburg taught Ryan Park ’05 about fatherhood 41 Timolin Cole Augustus ’83 on the legacy of her father, Nat King Cole
Photograph by Adam Krause
ALUMNI IN THE WORLD
A former dancer, Michelle Rodriguez ’97 is now a physical therapist known for treating dancers and other performers.
Spring 2015 Amherst 37
Concord’s Biggest Fan His walking tour business challenges that old Yankee custom of looking down one’s nose at the newcomer. BY WILLIAM SWEET TOURING U One would
“It’s a great way on a weekend to get out and walk two to five miles. It’s a good way to meet people from all over the world, really interesting people, and each time I do it, I learn new things,” he says of his Concord Guides Walking Tours. He’s a Concord evangelist: “Concord is an amazing place.” During a two-hour tour “you can encompass really three revolutions: the American Revolution, the intellectual revolution of the middle 1800s with all these writers declaring their independence from Europe, and the Industrial Revolution. It’s kind of extraordinary— within a short distance you can see all these things.” His latest book, Literary Concord Uncovered, examines the heady atmosphere that produced within one generation the works of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller. For Andrews the tour business came about in part as a healing process, and in part to challenge that old Yankee custom of looking down one’s nose at the newcomer. A native of New York and formerly chief of the pulmonary section at New England Deaconess Hospital, he took time off in 1994 after the death of his wife, and as increasing stress at work took 38 Amherst Spring 2015
COURTESY JOEL ANDREWS
think that at age 77, Joseph “Joel” Andrews ’59 would be content with a part-time medical practice and a new book coming out. This spring, however, is his 19th year hitting the historyrich pavement of Concord, Mass., as a tour guide.
In the space of a twohour tour, Andrews can cover three different revolutions. “Concord is an amazing place,” he says.
Joel Andrews ’59 MAJOR: ENGLISH
He was a multitasker long before it became fashionable.
a personal toll. Once he sold his Newton, Mass., home to take up residence in Concord, his recovery took the form of diving into historical research. He surfaced having completed a book, Revolutionary Boston, Lexington, and Concord: The Shots Heard ’Round the World, and having passed a fairly rigorous test for a tour guide license. He started his own tour guide business after his offers to volunteer as a guide were repeatedly rebuffed by the local Chamber of Commerce. “They said, ‘Well, you haven’t lived here for 20 years,’ and basi-
cally I said, ‘To hell with you—I’ll do it myself.’ I called up eight other people in the same boat and we started our own little company.” Andrews was a multitasker long before it became fashionable. An English major at Amherst who was also pre-med, he bulked his schedule up with history, philosophy and sports, including crew and soccer. “Instead of four courses I would take six,” he says. “I was more efficient [when] I knew I had to get stuff done, so I did it and then I went on to the next thing.” William Sweet is a news writer at Amherst.
Physical Therapist to the Stars A former professional dancer, she now treats dancers and other performers. BY EMILY GOLD BOUTILIER MOVEMENT U When Natalie Portman won
an Oscar for her role in the ballet movie Black Swan, she thanked her manager, her family, her future husband—and Michelle Rodriguez ’97.
Rodriguez is a physical therapist who’s found a niche in treating dancers, actors and other performers. She helped Portman prepare for the 2010 role. More recently, Rodriguez has consulted with the Paris Opera Ballet, helping to redesign its dancer health program, and she’s worked on the Broadway show On The Town. Past clients include the New York City Ballet, the Alvin Ailey II dance company, the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. “Before Amherst I was a professional ballet dancer,” Rodriguez says. In college she took dance courses almost every semester and performed whenever possible, while at the same time studying everything from art history to biology. As friends in her science courses prepared for medical school, she set her sights on physical therapy. She is now founder and director of Manhattan Physio Group. While she treats many nonperformers, she says it’s uniquely rewarding to work with patients whose job it is to be experts in their own “It pushes your skills as a clinician to top level,” bodies. Rodriguez says of treating “I specialize in ordancers. thopedics and manual therapy,” Rodriguez says, which requires her to be a detective—to map out the body and figure out the root cause of a particular symptom. When someone knows his or her own body especially well—and needs to recover enough to turn and jump off one foot and dance en pointe—her work becomes a team effort. “It pushes your skills as a clinician to top level,” she says. Rodriguez works out of her Midtown office and on- site at theaters and TV and movie sets, where perPhotographs by Adam Krause
Rodriguez works out of her Midtown Manhattan office and on-site at theaters and TV and movie sets. She also goes to her patients’ shows.
Michelle Rodriguez ’97 MAJOR: PSYCHOLOGY
She worked on the Broadway show On the Town and helped the Paris Opera Ballet redesign its dancer health program.
formers sign up for 20-minute injury-prevention treatments, and where she responds to emergencies: Once she saw a dancer who’d ruptured his bicep tendon. Another time she treated a dancer who’d just broken his foot. Sometimes, only hours before the house lights go down, she has to be the bearer of the devastating news that a dancer is too injured to perform. (She says her psychology background has helped her to sensitively and confidently do that.) Rodriguez often goes to her patients’ shows. “It helps me pick up little nuances in their technique,” she says. “It also shows me areas of weakness. I try and sit back and enjoy, because it’s pretty exceptional talent on stage, but at the same time I’m pretty critical from a perspective of wanting them to get better and better.” Emily Gold Boutilier is editor of Amherst magazine. Spring 2015 Amherst 39
Swing Set Vote BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 BALANCE U Ryan Park ’05 has won a Fulbright, graduated from Harvard Law and clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices. So it might be surprising that he’s now most renowned for taking care of his kid. In a feature in The Atlantic in January, Park detailed the pleasures and challenges he faced when he transitioned from clerking for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to staying home with his then-1-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, while his wife, Eunee Park ’05, started her pediatrics residency. He described the pride and prejudice he found as a father taking on the role that society traditionally prescribes for mothers. “[M]y wife’s co-residents expressed wonder at my level of sincerity and involvement,” he wrote, while at other times he “encountered the assumption that I didn’t want to be doing this—that my presence at the playground was the product of a professional setback” rather than a conscious decision. The article—“What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught Me About Being a Stay-at-Home Dad”—presented Ginsburg as a personal example of working parenthood. In an accompanying video interview with Park, Ginsburg said that caring for her daughter while completing law school gave her “a better balance, a better sense of proportions and what matters.” She said she was “blessed with a husband” who wanted to be deeply involved in their children’s early development. In the article and interview, Park lauded Ginsburg’s work in support of legal equality for men and women. “[R]igid gender lines in the law hurt everybody: they hurt the woman as wage-earner, the man as parent 40 Amherst Spring 2015
Ryan Park ’05 MAJORS: ECONOMICS, POLITICAL SCIENCE
Some people “expressed wonder at my level of sincerity and involvement.”
and the baby,” she said, referring to a landmark case she brought before the Supreme Court in 1975 that gave widowed fathers equal access to Social Security benefits previously reserved for widowed mothers. She said that gender discrimination created “disadvantages that increasingly were out of sync with the way people were living their lives.” Park says of Ginsburg: “She’s always believed that gender equality is a two-way street. For women to be empowered, men have to embrace the joys and responsibilities of the domestic sphere.” Park rejoined the workforce in late 2014 as an associate at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, but “I now work primarily from home,” he says. “When I’m not busy I let the nanny off, and it is just like I’m still a stay-at-home dad. A huge reason—probably the biggest reason—I chose the law firm I did was that I knew they would let me do this.” The Atlantic feature began as a journal—“a letter to a future adult Caitlyn,” Park says. But then his friend Conor Clarke ’08, a former writer for The Atlantic, helped him pitch his story to the magazine. Park has received hundreds of supportive messages—many from fellow dads telling him how the article “firmed up their resolve to take paternity leave or other concrete steps to prioritize their families in some way. “I’ve also been recognized out and about in D.C. when I’m with Caitlyn,” he adds. “She hurt her elbow recently, and the ER doctor was a young father who kept on thanking me for writing the piece. I was like, ‘I really appreciate that, but can you take a look at her elbow, please?’” Katherine Duke ’05 is the assistant editor of Amherst.
FROM TOP: PAUL ROSENFELD/THE ATLANTIC; COURTESY RYAN PARK
When he moved from a Supreme Court clerkship to staying at home with his kid, many assumed it was not by choice. Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew better.
New York. The Cole twins have ambitious expansion plans: They want to replicate their efforts in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities. Augustus is particularly proud of the organization’s Summer Strings program, a partnership with the Palm Beach County School District and Lynn University. During the past three summers, the program has brought 320 elementary students to campus for a week of learning from the university’s music students. The camp culminates in a free concert performed by the students and their mentors. “It’s opening up their eyes to the world of music,” says Augustus. She plans to launch another summer program that trains students in digital recording. Whenever they bring instruments to donate to schools, Augustus and her sister talk with
Only 3 years old when her father died, Nat King Cole’s daughter is working to promote the values he embodied. BY KATHERINE GUSTAFSON ’01 MUSIC U Timolin Cole
Augustus ’83, daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole, was only 3 years old when her father died. She has worked throughout her life to exemplify and promote the values he embodied: courage, perseverance, humility and passion for the arts.
“Our dad was more than a voice.”
Katherine Gustafson ’01 is a Seattlebased writer. Nat King Cole with his twin daughters, Timolin and Casey. The sisters run a nonprofit that brings music education to schools.
THE COLE FAMILY COLLECTION
Early in her career in public relations, she handled the launch of sister Natalie Cole’s album Unforgettable… with Love. Now, in addition to serving as director of operations for King Cole Productions, Inc., Augustus is president of Nat King Cole Generation Hope, a nonprofit that brings music education to underfunded schools. Augustus founded the Boca Raton, Fla.-based organization with her twin sister, Casey, in 2008, after reading news about local cuts to music education in public schools. “It was like a call to action,” says Augustus. “It was in memory of our father, as well, and to keep his legacy alive. It’s all about providing music education to kids with the biggest need and the fewest resources.” Nat King Cole Generation Hope raises money to support music instruction, provide instruments, offer scholarships and create mentorship opportunities. So far it’s helped 30 schools and organizations in South Florida and one in
Timolin Cole Augustus ’83
students about their father. Many of the kids don’t know his name but instantly recognize his songs, especially “Unforgettable” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” The Cole twins explain that their father was a trailblazer in the music industry, breaking racial barriers to reach success. They talk about his persistence, passion and patience, characteristics they emphasize can be applied to anything one wants to do in life. “Our dad was more than a voice,” Augustus says. “He was an agent of social change. His legacy is not only musical excellence, but humility and goodwill.” Through his music, her father “brought harmony in a world of political and social disharmony.”
Spring 2015 Amherst 41
The Number Keeps Dropping In a single generation, an ancient, disfiguring illness has become 97 percent rarer. BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 DISEASE U In the mid-
Leprosy was recognized in ancient Egypt, Israel, India and China and has been written about since 600 B.C. Caused by bacteria and spread through droplets of water vapor from the nose and mouth, the disease can exist in a patient for up to 20 years without symptoms. Left untreated, it can permanently damage the skin, nerves and eyes and lead to loss of fingers, toes and limbs. For much of history, fear of deformity and contagion has led communities to ostracize and forcibly confine leprosy patients. Yuasa’s interest in the disease began in 1957, when he was recruited to teach English at the Aiseien leprosarium in Nagashima, Japan. Following in the footsteps of several noted leprologists, he earned a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh and then attended the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and learned reconstructive surgery at Hong Kong’s Hay Ling Chau Leprosarium. Working in Nepal for a Christian organization called The Leprosy Mission in the 1970s, he saw an urgent need for public health 42 Amherst Spring 2015
OMAR HAVANA/GETTY IMAGES
1980s there were 6 million registered cases of leprosy in more than 120 countries. Now there are fewer than 200,000 cases, according to the World Health Organization, and the number keeps dropping. In 30 years as medical director of Tokyo’s Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation, Dr. Yo Yuasa ’53 was a leader in the fight against the disfiguring disease. A woman with leprosy sits at a hospital in Nepal—one of several countries with laws in place that discriminate against people with the disease.
Yo Yuasa ’53 MAJOR: INDEPENDENT SCHOLAR
He championed multidrug therapy as a way to prevent drug resistance.
initiatives to find all patients who had leprosy, “rather than spending half a day in an operating theater to do reconstructive surgeries on a single patient,” which is what The Leprosy Mission had sent him to do, he says. Yuasa brought this public health approach to Sasakawa when he became the anti-leprosy organization’s first and only medical director in 1975. He launched a series of workshops on leprosy control in “capital cities of leprosy-endemic countries, like Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kathmandu,” he says. Starting in the 1980s, Yuasa championed “multidrug therapy”—the use of three different medications to cure the bacterial infection, as a way to prevent drug resistance. His pilot study on this type of therapy, conducted in two provinces of the Philippines, was so successful that the strategy went national, and then global. Before the pilot study, Yuasa says, the Philippines’ secretary of health advocated the supposedly more cost-effective strategy of quarantining patients and their families. Yuasa convinced him
MDT would save not only lives but also government money. Yuasa also published an “atlas of leprosy,” illustrated with clinical photographs of patients. Hundreds of thousands of free copies, in multiple languages, have been distributed to health workers. After two terms as president of the International Leprosy Association, Yuasa retired at age 80 in 2005, but not before earning, in 2002, the leprosy field’s highest recognition: the Damien-Dutton Award. Past recipients include John F. Kennedy and Mother Teresa. Today, 95 percent of leprosy cases are found in just 16 countries in South America, Asia and Africa. “Of course, the end of leprosy work is still far away,” Yuasa says. The stigma surrounding the disease, and the deformity and disability it can leave behind, still constitute challenges to survivors’ human rights and quality of life. But considering that Yuasa and other health workers have made an ancient, contagious illness nearly 97 percent rarer in a single generation, these challenges no longer seem insurmountable. k
45 There are (at least) two good reasons to begin a story with a dead body 48 A historian considers the lasting meaning of the Vietnam War
Photograph by George Greenstein
ARTS NEWS AND REVIEWS
This self-portrait by Profesor Emeritus George Greenstein was part of an exhibition at a New York City gallery.
Spring 2015 Amherst 43
A RELUCTANT WITNESS The daughter of a Holocaust survivor mixes memoir, history and sociology to examine how the genocide of European Jews came to be studied and recognized. | BY NAOMI SHULMAN
“I always knew about my parents’ history but didn’t quite know how to interpret it,” says Stein. “I didn’t have the vocabulary that we have today.”
44 Amherst Spring 2015
NONFICTION U Arlene Stein ’80 never took a single course on the Holocaust at Amherst. Not one. This is especially notable because she was a modern European history major—and her father was a Holocaust survivor. The events of World War II haunted her and her family, but they rarely spoke of it. “I always knew about my parents’ history, but didn’t quite know how to interpret it,” she says. “I didn’t have the vocabulary that we have today about the Holocaust, about survivors and trauma.” Of course, it takes time and perspective for history to be written and for fields of study to be codified, but Stein, professor of sociology at Rutgers and author of Reluctant Witnesses, thinks the delay was more complicated than that. The enormity of the information coming out of Europe in the 1940s was overwhelming; it would take decades for the world to begin to process the collective trauma. “A typical reaction on the part of the traumatized, and those around them, is distancing. People want to protect their sense of safety and security, and one way to do that is to distance yourself from the traumatic event,” says Stein. Even by the mid1970s, we weren’t fully ready to address the subject of the Holocaust head-on, as a culture. “I’m not sure there was such a thing as a Holocaust course per se—not just at Amherst, but anywhere.” It wasn’t until the early 1980s, shortly after she left Amherst for graduate school at UC Berkeley, that Stein learned of a support group for adult children of Holocaust survivors. “It was the first time I’d ever talked with people like myself about some of those experiences that were very, very difficult to talk about,” she recalls. She opened up about her father’s nightmares, and the way they impacted her entire family. Around the same time, she began to hear about other children of survivors “trying to come to terms with their hidden family histories.” Perhaps not coincidentally, it was just as this second generation began speaking that organized efforts to collect survivors’ testimony began to ramp up. “The Holocaust became much more publicly present in the 1990s, with the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and the release of Schindler’s List, both of which happened in 1993,” Stein says, “but I would say the 1980s was a pivotal era for the building of a public Holocaust memorial culture.” Stein’s Amherst days predated this Holocaust
consciousness, but that’s not the only reason she never studied it: “I’m sure it was because of my own denial. I didn’t want to go there. It’s funny— when I was at Amherst, I didn’t know of anybody else who shared my background. Later I realized that there were at least a few of us, but it was not something that brought us together. It was too heavy and too difficult.” As her book title suggests, children of survivors may be reluctant, but now that the first generation is passing on, their children are also bearers of crucial testimony. Taking a sociologist’s view, Stein’s interviews with survivors and their families, mixed with her own memories and a historical perspective, reveal how the trauma of the Holocaust made its way out of parents’ nightmares into monuments of the historical record—to help us remember it, and maybe, if we are vigilant, to help us avoid repeating it. Naomi Shulman has written for The New York Times, Yankee, Real Simple and other publications. COURTESY OXFORD PRESS
RELUCTANT WITNESSES: SURVIVORS, THEIR CHILDREN, AND THE RISE OF HOLOCAUST CONSCIOUSNESS By Arlene Stein ’80 Oxford University Press
WILL, THE FLIRT
THE TUTOR By Andrea Chapin ’82 Riverhead Books
Chapin has reverse-engineered Shakespeare’s poetry and imagined this story as its inciting incident.
FICTION U There are (at least) two good reasons to begin a story with a dead body. The first, more obvious reason is to get the blood flowing, to build in a reason for the reader to be concerned. The second, slightly more sophisticated reason is to embody in the corpse an entire way of life or historical moment, the death of which clearly signals that times are about to a-change. (See the dead Italian soldier on the lawn in Lampedusa’s masterpiece, The Leopard.) The body of the Catholic priest discovered on the first page of The Tutor, the debut novel by actressturned-editor-turned-writer Andrea Chapin ’82, accomplishes both. Lufenwal Hall, the ancestral home of the de L’Isle family in Lancashire, England, has fallen under the shadow of the times. It is dangerous to be Catholic in England in 1590; the religion is being officially repressed, priests are being kidnapped and murdered, and even the frescos in the family chapel have been whitewashed, according to new law. Along these halls walks Katherine, an intelligent and educated woman in her 30s, who, after she was widowed in her first marriage, has dedicated her life to reading and literary contemplation. Arriving soon on the scene is none other than a young fellow by the name of Will Shakespeare, who—in Chapin’s imagined version of events, transpiring within a lacuna of the real Shakespeare’s biography—has come north, hired as a tutor after spending time in London as both an actor (“player” in the parlance of the times) and a playwright. Katherine and the doggedly flirtatious Will find a connection over their love of poetry—she sees fit to critique his fledgling sonnets—and soon she finds herself in the role of muse, co-authoring, in her own way, Shakespeare’s narrative poem (one of only two he ever published) Venus and Adonis. “My poem,” Will says, “started, Kate, as such a lonely seed, but with your watering, with your sunlight, it has grown sturdy and strong.” And yes, Shakespeare is in love, but this is not Shakespeare in Love. Chapin’s world is more robustly realized, and her devotion to the subject matter of Shakespeare’s actual work more earned, and more satisfying. She has reverse-engineered his poetry and imagined this story as its inciting incident, rather than simply filched his character. It can be a somewhat backhanded compliment to call a historical novel “well-researched,” as it
Yes, Shakespeare is in love, but this is not Shakespeare in Love. | BY NICHOLAS MANCUSI ’10
doesn’t say much about the actual enjoyableness of the book. “Well-researched” would still apply if every few pages a character turns to another and recites correct facts about the world in which they live, e.g., “Verily, Alaric, it being the year 1649, surely you recall the recent Peace of Westphalia?” What’s so impressive about The Tutor is the manner in which Chapin has woven her considerable knowledge about both the history and zeitgeist of the time into the background of her world, and invited the reader to join in on the farthingalerustling fun. Nicholas Mancusi ’10 has written for The New York Times Book Review and many other publications. Spring 2015 Amherst 45
THROUGH A NEW LENS He used to study the night sky. Now he’s turned his gaze to earthly scenes around him. | BY RACHEL ROGOL
ICE & SKY: GREENLAND By Professor George Greenstein Soho Photo Gallery New York City
Greenstein’s visit to Greenland last summer was spurred by his fascination with extreme locations. The resulting exhibition of untitled photos is his second at the Soho gallery; the first was a collection of portraits.
46 Amherst Spring 2015
PHOTOGRAPHY U Since retiring as Amherst’s Sidney Dillon Professor of Astronomy, George Greenstein has reinvented himself as a fine art photographer. “Reinvented” is Greenstein’s word, although he did not wait until his 2012 retirement to begin taking photographs. He first picked up a camera in his early 20s and for decades approached photography as “a very serious hobby.” Now he’s had two exhibitions at New York City’s Soho Photo Gallery—a “community gallery,” he says, rather than a commercial one. His most recent show, Ice & Sky: Greenland, debuted in April and featured black-and-white landscapes he shot there last summer. His goal in photographing Greenland was to “capture the sense I felt there of a terrain gigantic,
solemn and inhospitable, and possessed of a stern, implacable beauty.” His trip was spurred by his fascination with extreme locations; he’s also visited and photographed Nepal, Patagonia and the High Arctic. His first show was a portrait series at the Soho gallery in 2014. Though astronomy has no direct influence on that exhibition, his knowledge and passion for science is evident in his written description of the portraits: “Evolution has made our faces objects of intense interest. Social animals that we are, we study each other’s expressions. I often find myself gazing upon portraits, seeking the essential natures of their subjects.” While teaching at Amherst, Greenstein frequented a little-known darkroom in the basement of the College’s Wilder Observatory. The
Observatory is home to what was once among the largest telescopes in the world, and when it was built in 1903, telescopes collected data via photographs. “Astronomy, of course, is the most visual of sciences,” Greenstein wrote in 2012, when the Town of Amherst Biennial featured one of his photographs. “All of us are thrilled by the lovely images I experienced of the cosmos returned by there a terthe Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories ... rain gigantic, but it is the earthly world, not solemn and the astronomical one, that inhospitable.” primarily fuels my interest in photography.” Though he denies that his scientific interests are directly related to his photographs, Greenstein is now dividing his time evenly between photography and science. He’s working on a series of photographs capturing “people in interesting encounters,” and he’s writing a book for the general public about mysteries in quantum mechanics.
l MORE OF GREENSTEIN’S PHOTOGRAPHS www.amherst.edu/ magazine
Spring has sprung, and so have new offerings of prose and music from Amherst alumni and faculty. | BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05 Once upon a time, there were Seven Fairy Tales: Retold by Peter Lobdell ’68, Senior Resident Artist in the Department of Theater and Dance, and illustrated by Don Carlos (CreateSpace). Then Walter Marks ’55 engaged in Dangerous Behavior (CreateSpace). Now Michael H. Rubin ’72 invokes The Cottoncrest Curse (Louisiana State University Press), and William J.C. Amend Jr. ’63 exposes Pretenders to the Throne: A Cautionary Tale (Xlibris). Hugh B. Price ’63 turns Strugglers Into Strivers: What the Military Can Teach Us about How Young People Learn and Grow (Small Batch Books). Meena Srinivasan ’02 reminds us to Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness in and out of the Classroom (Parallax Press). Antoinette Wills and John D. Bolcer ’92 present a history of the University of Washington (Arcadia Publishing), while Richard L. McCormick ’69 describes being Raised at Rutgers: A President’s Story (Rutgers University Press). Hugh Hawkins, the Anson D. Morse Professor of History and American Studies, Emeritus, offers The Escape of the Faculty Wife and Other Stories (Small Batch Books), as well as They Spoke, I Listened: A Life in Quotes (Mountain Miller Press). Daniel A. Cohen ’79 is editor of “Hero Strong” and Other Stories: Tales of Girlhood Ambition, Female Masculinity, and Women’s Worldly Achievement in Antebellum America, written by Mary F.W. Gibson (University of Tennessee Press). Editor Karen Bettez Halnon ’86 has woven Webbing Vicissitudes of Forgiveness (Inter-Disciplinary Press). And it wouldn’t be spring without Crazy Weather, composed by Scott Wheeler ’73 and conducted by Gil Rose (BMOP/sound). Maybe it’s time to plan a vacation, with Philip Pryde ’59’s fifth edition of San Diego: An Introduction to the Region (Sunbelt Publications).
Spring 2015 Amherst 47
WILLFUL AMNESIA A historian contextualizes the Vietnam War and contemplates the enduring struggle over its meaning. | BY RAND RICHARDS COOPER ’80 AMERICAN RECKONING: THE VIETNAM WAR AND OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY Christian G. Appy ’77 Viking
carpet bombing, free-fire zones and body counts. The war’s cruel toll on Vietnamese civilians triggered “a profound national identity crisis,” he argues, and “shattered the central tenet of American national identity—the broad faith that the United States is a unique force for good in the world.” In the disenchanted aftermath, the political right worked “to rebuild everything they thought the war had destroyed—American power, pride, prestige and patriotism.” To contextualize the war, Appy delves into political, military and cultural history, discussIAN KAYE
Appy’s view of the United States is grim, a “mass surveilance state” with a “permanent war machine.”
NONFICTION U It has been half a century since our military escalation in Vietnam set the stage for the world’s mightiest nation to be vanquished by an impoverished country of farmers. Historian Christian Appy’s broadside against American exceptionalism traces the political and psychological legacy of that defeat in the United States. American Reckoning recounts a litany of Vietnam atrocities, including the notorious massacre at My Lai. But to Appy our war policy was itself an atrocity, from napalm and chemical defoliants to mass forced relocations,
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ing popular songs and novels, TV, even Broadway shows. He unearths little-remembered events, such as Bloody Friday of May 1970, in which construction workers attacked antiwar protesters in Manhattan, four days after the shootings at Kent State. He evokes the toxic invective surrounding such emblematic figures as Dr. Spock, the liberal child-raising guru, and Jane Fonda, whose visit to North Vietnam was broadly viewed as treasonous. The book’s second half moves from the war itself to the ensuing struggle over its meaning. A chapter called “Victim Nation” outlines the “willful amnesia” that rewrote Vietnam as “a story of American victimhood.” Begun by Ford and Carter, the drive to rebuild American innocence reached its apotheosis with Ronald Reagan and his invocation of “morning again in America.” As Appy penetratingly observes, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial— erected in 1982—cast the war as a crucible of American suffering; “the focus,” he writes, “was on healing, not history.” The problem with healing as a prism for viewing war is that it substitutes honoring veterans for debating— or even understanding—the wars we send them into. As a result, by the 1980s we had embraced dubious notions regarding Vietnam: that our military would have prevailed if allowed to fight without constraint; that the shame of Vietnam was “not the war itself, but America’s failure to embrace its military veterans”; and that recapturing American greatness meant unabashedly exercising our military might once more. And so while Vietnam had been fought to bol-
Rand Richards Cooper ’80 is a fiction writer and essayist.
Swedish, Not So Much How do you translate a thriller when you don’t speak the language? Google. | BY KATHERINE DUKE ’05
In 2012 Swedish novelist and former Amherst Copeland Fellow Robert Karjel got a call from Yellow Bird, the company that produced the Swedish version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. They were interested in turning Karjel’s latest thriller into a TV series, but first they needed an English translation so they could team up with a Hollywood company. Karjel called a longtime family friend, writer Nancy Pick ’83, to help him translate and edit the novel. One problem: they had only a few weeks to do it. Another: the Swedish text “looked like complete gibberish” to her. So she used Google Translate, and he filled in the gaps. Today, Yellow Bird and 20th Century Fox still have the option of adapting the novel for TV. And HarperCollins will publish the English translation, under the title The Swede, this July. Editions in 11 other languages— some based on the English translation—are being released in Europe, Brazil and Israel. Pick, a French major at Amherst, spoke to Amherst about this unlikely project. I imagine Google Translate was not as useful in 2012 as it is today. It was a pretty blunt instrument. Google Translate is based on databases, so Spanish, French—languages that get translated all the time into English—are really sophisticated; Swedish, not so much. There were a lot of weird quirks. Every time hör (“hear”) came up, it became “whore.” Försvinna is the word for “disappear,” but it disappeared—it was not in the dictionary at all. How quickly did you work? I started at Thanksgiving. I got an Advent calendar, even though I’m Jewish, because my last chapter had to be done on Dec. 24. I did a chapter a day. I was totally exhausted, but I was very proud that we pulled it off. Halfway through, instead of totally relying on Google Translate, I began to decode Swedish. The syntax is very close to English; it has a very small vocabulary; it does not have complicated grammar. If it were German or Latin, I would have been in trouble, but Swedish was pretty approachable.
ster America’s reputation abroad— to show the world we were no “pitiful, helpless giant,” as Nixon fretted—now aggression was necessary to reinvigorate its confidence at home. “It’s a proud day for America,” enthused George H.W. Bush after the 1991 invasion of Iraq, “and, by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!” Decades later, despite the tortures and desecrations in Iraq and Afghanistan, American exceptionalism is alive and well, with 80 percent of us insisting that the U.S. is “the greatest country in the world.” But Appy’s view of our nation is grim, a “mass surveillance state” whose “permanent war machine” deploys drones that wantonly kill children abroad while its citizens embrace military hero worship. If there is any hope, Appy locates it in a different love of country: the critical and dissenting patriotism of left-leaning ’60s journalist I.F. Stone; of Sen. J. William Fulbright; of Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who protested outside George W. Bush’s house in Texas; and of historians Chalmers Johnson and Andrew Bacevich, disaffected former believers who argue that “overbearing projections of U.S. power and privilege” have estranged us from our best traditions. Attaining this different kind of patriotism won’t be easy; so much false history will have to be rewritten, and some deep resistance in ourselves rooted out. Appy quotes from a 1972 essay, “The Defeat of America,” by the eminent historian (and Amherst professor) Henry Steele Commager. “Why do we find it so hard to accept this elementary lesson of history,” Commager asked: “that some wars are so deeply immoral that they must be lost, that the war in Vietnam is one of these wars, and that those who resist it are the truest patriots?”
What changes did you make to the story? Robert was pretty satirical about certain Americans—in particular a bank guard. That sort of ridicule is fine in Europe; I thought it needed to be toned down for America. And we got into this huge mess, actually—the friendship almost blew up. There’s a Jewish character who does something really nasty to a Muslim. To Robert, it was just part of the plot, but I was really upset. He said, “In my mind, she’s half-Asian.” I said, “Okay, we’re going to put that she’s Jewish and Japanese.” One word, but for me, it took the heat off of this very fraught conflict. What’s the novel about? I could spin it a hundred different ways. It’s about an FBI agent who has secrets because of what she’s done for her country, and a Swedish security policeman who has secrets because of what he’s done for love. And it’s also a post-9/11 political critique. What is Karjel up to now? He’s finishing up the sequel to The Swede. This one is based on Robert’s experience as a helicopter pilot doing anti-piracy missions off the coast of Somalia. Will you help translate the sequel? It’s up to HarperCollins. I’m hoping they’ll realize that we actually do a good job. It’s a little odd to have a translator who doesn’t speak the language. However, I’ve been a writer forever, so I think our English version flows well. His agent certainly wants us to do it again. k Spring 2015 Amherst 49
Come Back FOR REUNION May 27–31, 2015
As Reunion 2015 draws near, take a look at these photos from Reunion 2014. Every year, reunion is a Àve-day opportunity to renew old friendships and kindle new ones. Alumni and their guests have the opportunity to attend more than 100 class programs, lectures, performances and other activities. For more details and to register, go to amherst.edu/reunion.
SHANA SUREK (6)
Last year’s reunion attendees enjoyed reminicing with classmates, attending lectures, and visiting centers and museums around campus. In between, they took in the natural surroundings of the college they love.
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HPV The vaccine that stops cervical cancer exists in large part because of Douglas Lowy ’64.
In the early 1990s Lowy and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute found that the proteins constituting the outer shell of HPV could form noninfectious particles similar enough to the original virus that they could trick the body into producing strong HPV antibodies. Using insect cells, Lowy’s lab developed techniques for largescale production of the viruslike particles. These became the basis for Gardasil and Cervarix. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved these vaccines in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
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Gardasil 9, a secondgeneration vaccine approved late last year, has the astounding potential to prevent 90 percent of cervical cancer cases. The key is making sure people actually get the vaccines, which can be expensive, and which typically require three doses. Lowy says the NCI is working with the Gates Foundation and vaccine manufacturers to make more affordable vaccines in developing countries.
And clinical trials are under way to determine whether young adolescents can develop immunity with only two shots. Following efforts to make the vaccines mandatory in certain U.S. states, some parents and conservative groups fretted that immunizing kids against HPV would encourage them to have more sex at younger ages. But subsequent studies give “no suggestion that vaccination changes people’s be-
havior” in that way, says Lowy. He echoes recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization: Children should receive the vaccine around age 11 or 12, well before they’re likely to become sexually active. This spring Lowy took over as acting director of the NCI from a fellow recipient of an Amherst honorary degree, Dr. Harold Varmus ’61. KATHERINE DUKE ’05
LAGUNA DESIGN/GETTY IMAGES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A molecular model of the protein that can trick the body into producing antibodies against HPV
MORE than 500,000 women globally are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than half of them will die of the disease. The cancer’s most frequent cause is human papilloma virus, the world’s most common sexually transmitted infection. But most cases of the carcinogenic types of HPV—and therefore most cases of cervical cancer—can now be prevented, thanks in large part to Dr. Douglas Lowy ’64.
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“THE LAST THING on my mind was that my own mother would pour olive oil on me.”
“I experienced there A TERRAIN GIGANTIC, SOLEMN AND INHOSPITABLE.”
Saúl Grullón ’15, Page 5
Professor Emeritus George Greenstein, Page 46
“Translation exemplified a deeply held religious side to the motto
“OUR DAD WAS
MORE THAN A VOICE.”
Rob Croll ’16, Page 16
Timolin Cole Augustus ’83, Page 41