The University Record, September 5, 2000

Seven join Humanities Institute as visiting fellows

From the Institute for the Humanities

The Institute for the Humanities will host a varied group of visiting fellows in the coming academic year. During their residencies, the visitors will join the 12 U-M faculty and graduate student fellows (announced last April) in their weekly seminar, and will either give a public lecture or present their work in forums with Institute Associates.

Director Tom Trautmann notes that visitors enliven discussions within the Institute. “It is a pleasure to bring such distinguished scholars and artists to Ann Arbor, and we hope that many on campus will take advantage of their presence, visit them here, and attend their public programs.”

The visiting fellows are:

Svetlana Alpers, professor emerita, history of art, University of California, Berkeley, and visiting research professor, Department of Fine Arts, New York University. Alpers is a leading art historian and author of many articles and five books, including Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence (with Michael Baxandall) and The Making of Rubens (1995). In a review of The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century for the New York Review of Books, E. H. Gombrich admired Alpers’ “zest and erudition” in arguing that “what matters in Dutch art is what meets the eye.” He called the work “highly original” and praised her for having “the verve, the knowledge and the sensitivity to make us see familiar sights in a new light.” Alpers will deliver the winter term Marc and Constance Jacobson Lecture Feb. 7, and will participate in a related symposium the next day. She titles her talk “Velázquez’s The Spinners, or, What Are We Looking For?” In residence Feb. 7–10, 2001.

Massimo Bacigalupo, Department of Languages, University of Genoa. Bacigalupo is an Italian scholar of American literature, especially well known for his book on Ezra Pound and fascism, The Formèd Trace: The Later Poetry of Ezra Pound. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Rome and earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1975. Since then he has held faculty positions at the Universities of Catania, Udine and Genoa, and has held positions as visiting scholar at the American Studies Research Center, Hyderabad (India); Yale University; Columbia University (New York); and the Universities of Durham (England) and Krakow. In 1992, he was awarded the International Monselice Prize for Literary Translation. His publications, both books and articles, testify to his interest in English-speaking authors who visited Italy, including Pound, Herman Melville, Gertrude Stein and the English Romantic poets. In residence March 11–31, 2001.

Ping Chong, theatre director, choreographer, video and installation artist, New York, and Benjamin Bagby, director of Sequentia, ensemble for medieval music. Since 1972, Ping Chong has created more than 30 works for the stage in major venues all over the world. The range of his work is impressive, from “Undesirable Elements,” an ongoing series of works exploring the effects of history, culture and ethnicity on the lives of individuals living in particular communities, to “Kwaidan,” a puppet theatre work based on three Japanese ghost stories by Lafcadio Hearn. His collaborators have included Meredith Monk, John Ludwig and Mitsuru Ishii. While at the Institute as the Paula and Edwin Sidman Fellow in the Arts, he will be co-resident with Bagby.

Bagby is the founder and director of the internationally acclaimed ensemble that has, since 1977, combined vocal and instrumental virtuosity with innovative research and programming to reconstruct the living musical traditions of medieval Europe. Among the ensemble’s CDs are “Vox Iberica,” a Spanish music series, and “Canticles of Ecstasy,” a project to record the complete works of the German mystic and abbess, Hildegard von Bingen. Following their week of residency, Bagby and Chong will remain in Ann Arbor to collaborate on a workshop, “Curse of the Gold,” a piece based on myths from the Icelandic Edda. Co-commissioned by the University Musical Society, the world première will be in Ann Arbor April 25. In residence April 1–7, 2001.

Natalie Zemon Davis, history, Princeton University, and professor emerita and adjunct professor of history, senior fellow in comparative literature, and professor of medieval studies, University of Toronto. Davis is the author of The Return of Martin Guerre (1983). Her research activity and publications focus on the social and cultural history of 16th-century France and early modern Europe. In particular she has investigated the lives and values of peasants, artisans and women, and has analyzed their relation to other social groups and to power, property and authority. Her more recent work has taken her outside Europe’s bounds to colonial Quebec and Suriname. Davis will deliver the fall term Marc and Constance Jacobson Lecture, “Rethinking Cultural Mixture: The Travels of ‘Leo Africanus’” on Oct. 5, and participate the following day in a related symposium. In residence Oct. 4–8.

Felipe Ortega, artist and teacher, La Madera, New Mexico. In 1969, as a young man of 18, Ortega apprenticed with Jesusita Martinez to learn the traditional Jicarilla Apache coil-and-scrape method of making micaceous clay ware. Since then, he has excelled in his art, receiving recognition from the Smithsonian Institution’s American Folklife Festival (1992), America’s Reunion on the Mall (Bill Clinton’s Inauguration Celebration, 1994) and the School of American Research, Master Potter and Master Potter’s Convocation (1996). As both a potter and a teacher, Ortega has preserved the traditions of his ancestors, while developing and adapting the forms to contemporary tastes for woks, covered casseroles, rice steamers and even latte cups. For centuries, these vessels have remained the culinary ware of choice for tribes in New Mexico and southern Colorado because they are light-weight, durable and impart a better flavor to the food. “Water in micaceous clay vessels becomes sweeter,” Ortega says, “making even brackish water palatable.” As students in Ortega’s course sink their hands into micaceous clay, they will find themselves also up to their elbows in American Indian philosophy, aesthetics and culture. Ortega will talk on “Beauty Comes From the Earth” Oct. 13. In residence Oct. 9–Nov. 10.

Ruth Weisberg, dean of the School of Fine Arts, University of Southern California. Weisberg is a teacher, art critic and prominent artist who works primarily in painting, drawing and printmaking. Her work embraces imagery and ideas drawn from the past—antiquity, the Italian Renaissance, the Spanish Baroque—as sources of inspiration, memory and meaning. She is an internationally recognized leader among artists who seek a non-ironic relation with the art of the past and the layers of memory and meaning it embodies. During the fall term, the Museum of Art will display “Initiation,” one of her major works, in connection with an exhibition on the reception of the famous Roman fresco cycle in the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii. While here, she will participate in a conference titled “Ritual, Reception, Response: The Villa of the Mysteries Revisited.” In residence Oct. 22–29.