The University Record, September 9, 1998

Institute for the Humanities names 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, visiting fellows join the 11 U-M faculty and graduate student fellows announced last March in their weekly seminar, meet informally with faculty and student colleagues, and either give a public lecture or present their work at forums with Institute associates.

"It is a pleasure to be able to bring these scholars to campus," says Director Tom Trautmann, "and we hope many will take advantage of their presence to visit them at the Institute. This year's programs focus on 'Form and Pattern,' and our distinguished visitors will illuminate and enliven our explorations of that theme in important ways over the coming months."

The visiting fellows are:

Carol Bier (in residence fall 1998) has served as curator for Eastern Hemisphere collections at the Textile Museum of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., since 1984. She is completing a book about symmetry and pattern in Oriental carpets based upon research for a Textile Museum exhibition (viewable on the Web at A specialist in textile arts of the Islamic world, she is the author of The Persian Velvets at Rosenborg (1995) and editor of and contributing author to Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran (16th-19th Centuries) (1987). She teaches Islamic Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. During her residency as the Norman Freehling Visiting Professor, Bier will teach a course on "Art and Geometry: Circumscribing Patterns in Islamic Art."

Mary W. Helms (in residence Sept. 27-Oct. 17) is professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has conducted fieldwork among the Miskito peoples of eastern Nicaragua, and currently is studying the iconography of pre-Columbian Panamanian ceramic art. In other major research, she has focused on interpretations accorded by native peoples to geographical distance, foreign people, and exotic goods. Her recent publications include Creations of the Rainbow Serpent: Polychrome Ceramic Designs from Central Panama (1995), Craft and the Kingly Ideal: Art, Trade and Power (1993), and Access to Origins: Affines, Ancestors, and Aristocrats (in press).

Helen Vendler (in residence Jan. 10-23) is Porter University Professor at Harvard University, whose faculty she joined in 1985. Vendler's renown goes far beyond the academy; she has been poetry critic for The New Yorker since 1978, and has published more than 300 essays and reviews in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books, and many other journals, and is author and/or editor of 17 books. The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1997) is an illuminating poem-by-poem analysis of all 154 sonnets, each of which she learned by heart. Vendler believes that poems are a score for performance by the reader: "You don't read or overhear the voice the poem, you are the voice in the poem."

Victor Stoichita (in residence Feb. 14-27) is chair of the Department of the History of Modern Art at the Miséricorde campus of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He is interested in the history and rhetorics of images in Western culture and has published many books on this topic, including Visionary Experience in the Golden Age of Spanish Art (1995), A Short History of the Shadow (1997) and The Self-Aware Image: An Insight into Early Modern Meta-Painting (1997). At present, he is working with his wife on a book on Goya and the carnivalesque tradition.

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