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FIRE (Faculty Inquiry, Research, and Exploration) talks are intended to feature the great work our many faculty do across campus. Each talk is intended to last no more than 20 minutes, including 5 minutes for Q&A.  See below for the abstracts of this year's talks.

Subjects of Belief: Modernism, Global Literature, and Postsecularism

Jack Dudley, Ph.D.Dr. Jack Dudley
Department of English

How has modern and contemporary literature sought to legitimize and question our beliefs and the idea of belief itself? My current research challenges the dominant reading of European literary modernism as an accelerant for global secularization. In the prevailing account, modernist literary experiments have been presumed to be secular, to be fundamentally incompatible with religion and its forms of belief. Against this alignment of secularism and modernism, I explore how modernist writers such as James Joyce and T. S. Eliot selectively turned to their religious pasts to imagine the human subject through new forms of belief. I show how this European, modernist revision of religion changed as it became global in writers such as Jean Rhys, J. M. Coetzee, Ian McEwan, and Junot Díaz. My FIRE talk will focus particularly on my presentations at the 2016 International James Joyce Symposium, a trip funded by a Faculty Summer Grant.

Chaplains, Churches, and Religious Diversity

Kim Hansen, Ph.D.Dr. Kim Hansen
Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

Summarizes past and outlines future directions in the study of military chaplaincy.  Interviews conducted with active duty military chaplains reveal both high degrees of tolerance and some sharp fault lines in their approaches to work in religiously pluralistic settings.  Examples of these will be provided and explained in terms of legal and institutional imperatives that often leave the chaplain's roles poorly defined.  This lack of clarity about what chaplains are supposed to be and do raises interesting questions about the relationship between America's churches and its armed forces.  A strategy for future research will be outlined and the audience invited to weigh in with ideas.

Voices from Within: Relationship between Muslim Integration and Discrimination

Pratibha Kumar, Ph.D.Dr. Pratibha Kumar
Department of Communication

This paper delves into the issues of integration and assimilation of American Muslims and Muslim immigrants in American society from the intercultural perspective of acculturation (Berry, 2005). It takes into account the uniqueness of American immigration processes and policies from a Muslim standpoint. This study employs a mixed methods approach to examine the hypothesis that higher perceptions of integration by Muslim participants would result in lower perceived discrimination. The researchers used established and adapted quantitative scales of acculturation (Barry, 2001) and perceived religious discrimination (Lee et al., 2009; Sirin & Katsiaficas, 2011). Qualitative interviews will be conducted in summer with Muslim participants from local mosques in order to understand Muslim views of acculturation and its efficacy. This study has implications for enhancing Muslim and non-Muslim relationships in the U.S. and devising integration strategies, which are sensitive to Islamic cultural practice and preservation.

Reading Chaucer in Tudor England: Clues from Rychard Pynson's Editions

Sean Lewis, Ph.D.Dr. Sean Lewis
Department of English

Tudor (16th-century) England was the period in which Chaucer became firmly canonized as the Father of English Literature.  How, though, did people in Tudor England interpret Chaucer? One way to answer this question is to investigate how Chaucer was presented to Tudor readers.  This talk will examine the under-appreciated Pynson editions of Chaucer's works (1526), arguing that they both codify and encourage a variety of period reading strategies through textual and visual editorial apparatus. Ultimately, this talk will reveal the role editors and editions can play in how we read literature.  (This research will be published in Ennaratio, a journal of medieval studies.)

Reading the Summa Theologiae as Holistic Formation

John Love, S.T.D.Dr. John Love

Over the past 9+ years at the Seminary, I have developed a tradition of learning the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas by reading 60% of his monumental work, Summa Theologiae, during the academic year.  The consistent response of students in these demanding classes over the past 45 years is an overwhelmingly positive appreciation for the holistic formation that this intense exercise produces.  Students report that they learn personal discipline and time management, intellectual concepts and structures, spiritual insights and exhortations, and pastoral strategies and tools from listening to the sage counsel of Aquinas.  I presented at an international conference about this remarkable educational experience , and published a chapter in a Cambridge volume.  Next year, I will have a 2-semester sabbatical in Oxford University to transform my class notes into a commentary so that we can export the rich goodness of the Mount that we have treasured for decades.

Dr. Kurt BlaugherDr. David McCarthy Saving the World and Healing the Soul

David McCarthy, Ph.D.
Department of Theology

Kurt Blaugher, Ph.D.
Department of Visual & Performing Arts

Saving the World and Healing the Soul, by Drs. David Matzko McCarthy and Kurt Blaugher, is about how four sets of films (Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy; the Jason Bourne “set of five;” the Twilight films; and the Hunger Games series) attempt to put order to the worlds they portray to the audience, and how the heroes of these films (literally or figuratively) save their worlds from destruction, while at the same time achieving inner and personal restoration and renewal. In film, when romance and action come together, our personal battles can be transformed into community action; our own breaking down of social and cosmic bonds and barricades can be converted into a public movement, and we can go a long way to saving our world.

Using Novel Scientific Instrumentation to Answer a Variety of Questions

Garth Patterson, Ph.D.Dr. Garth Patterson
Department of Science

The use of scientific instrumentation to solve specific problems has increased as development of novel techniques expands.  The process of creating instrumentation will be discussed, and a variety of specific applications developed at the Mount will be described.  In one application, students have been able to detect the chemical signature of a fingerprint and were able to track movement of an individual as they touched a variety of surfaces.

Peace Through Song: The Jerusalem Youth Chorus

Andrew Rosenfeld, Ph.D.Dr. Andrew Rosenfeld
Department of Visual & Performing Arts

The Jerusalem Youth Chorus is an ensemble, founded by an American musician, that brings Israeli and Palestinian youth together to learn and perform choral music, as well as engage in moderated dialogue.  I had the chance to observe this ensemble in person recently at rehearsal in Jerusalem, and will share insights about the musical and human interactions, and the role of the choir as a uniquely successful experiment in the peace process.

Wind Me Up Chuck: An Introduction to the Life and Legacy of the Godfather of Go-Go Music

Tim Wolfe, Ph.D.Dr. Tim Wolfe
Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice

Chuck Brown (1936-2012) was a musical pioneer and community hero to many, especially Black Americans in the DMV (DC-MD-VA region).  He helped create a musical style indigenous to the region known as go-go.  Brown’s sound combined elements of funk, jazz, Latin, and hip-hop into a non-stop and interactive dance music.  His life's journey from convicted felon to the Godfather of go-go and his musical legacy provide insights into issues of race, gender, social class, social mobility, and community-building, as well as the power of music and musicians to inspire.  Chuck's musical message encouraged love and respect of self, love and respect for others, and commitment to hard work and excellence.  His approach to music making, lyrics and personal example have inspired legions of fans to live a more "beautiful life."  Research on Chuck Brown’s life and legacy—including interviews with family, fellow musicians, and fans—is presented in this talk.

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