Out-of-the-classroom Experiences This Spring

In an Emory News Center feature on innovative classes this semester, the work of several College faculty is highlighted, including those below.


Black Odyssey, Black Migration

Instructors: Dwight Andrews, associate professor of music theory and Mark Sanders, professor of African American studies and English and chair of African American Studies

Cool factor: Ties in with Michael C. Carlos Museum exhibit of Romare Bearden’s collages and watercolors based on Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey.” Also ties in with the related exhibit, “Southern Connections: Bearden in Atlanta” that features materials from Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

Course description: Examines artistic interpretations of African American identity through music, literature, film and the visual arts, notably including the campus exhibit of Romare Bearden’s Odysseus series and the related exhibit about the artist’s regional connections that draw on resources from Emory’s special collections. A meditation on the Western epic tradition and African American mobility, the series invites a broader examination of African American culture and issues of migration, escape, home and belonging.

Department: African American Studies; cross-listed in Music

Coastal Biology with Lab

Instructor: Leslie A. Real, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Biology

Cool factor: Field trip to study preserved areas of the Georgia coast.

Course description: Introduces students to coastal Georgia’s major ecosystems and to plant and animal communities through an intensive field experience on St. Simon’s, Cumberland, Blackbeard, Sapelo and Jekyll islands. Includes excursions in small boats to Blackbeard Island and on the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ research trawler, “Anna,” to study organisms in the sound surrounding the islands.

Department: Biology

Freshman Seminar: Vaccines and Society

Instructor: Elena Conis, assistant professor of history

Cool factor: First-year students study vaccines on the campus of a leading research university and in proximity to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Course description: Explores the history of vaccination against infectious diseases such as smallpox, polio and measles as well as the opposition among some groups to vaccines. Uses these case examples to think critically about the state’s interest in protecting public health and about the nature of medical controversies.

Department: History; cross-listed with Human Health Program

Risk & Resilience in Shaping Identity

Instructors: David Lynn, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Chemistry and Biology, and chair of chemistry department and Leslie Taylor, professor of theater studies and director of the Center for Creativity and Arts.

Also, graduate students Julia Haas, philosophy; Brian Dias, behavioral neuroscience and psychiatric disorders; Carolina Campanella, psychology; Constance Harrell, neuroscience; Ashley Coleman, religion; Daniel Pierce and Jillian E. Smith, chemistry.

Cool factor: Interdisciplinary capstone course, combining aspects of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, that helps seniors capture their liberal arts experience in a research university and allows them to present their lessons through novel artistic expressions.

Course description: Helps students ask, “What has made me a stronger, smarter and more resilient student at Emory University and what strengths have allowed me to successfully navigate college?” Provides them with an opportunity to develop a research idea for possible funding while being mentored on grant proposal writing and research design.

Department: Senior Seminar

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Leslie Harris Recognized by Faculty Peers

In recognition for her many contributions to the Emory community, Leslie Harris, an associate professor of history and African American studies,  has been chosen by her Emory faculty peers to receive the 2013 University Scholar/Teacher award on behalf of the United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

In addition to her groundbreaking research into the history of African American slavery and her teaching and mentorship, she led Emory’s Transforming Community Project (TCP), a five-year program designed to engage all sectors of the University in a process of discovery and dialogue about Emory’s racial history.

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Related Video

Meaning and Legacy of the Bey Portrait Series at Emory. With Mary Catherine Johnson, assistant director of Emory’s Visual Arts Department and Gallery, Leslie Harris talks about the meaning and legacy of the portrait series by Dawoud Bey. In partnership with the Transforming Community Project (TCP), the Visual Arts Department commissioned renowned photographer Bey to develop a series of portraits of the Emory community that communicates the University’s diversity.

Lawrence Jackson Writes Movingly of History and Family in New Book

Lawrence P. Jackson, Professor of English and African American Studies at Emory, talks about his new book, My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War (University of Chicago Press, available May 2012). The book, part detective story and part historical memoir, tells the story of his quest to learn more about his ancestral past, one tied to the history of slavery.

His previous book, The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960 received the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence in literature; a literary award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in the nonfiction category; and an award from the Modern Language Association of America.

Honoring Prof. Rudolph Byrd

Memorial Service
Thursday, November 10, 2011, 4:00 pm
Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church

October 21, 2011

From Earl Lewis, Emory Provost and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of History and African American Studies

I am saddened to write that this morning our friend and colleague Rudolph Byrd lost his fierce and long battle with cancer. For many of us Rudolph was not only a symbol of dignity, propriety, determination, elegance and stamina, he embodied what it meant to live with purposefulness and grace, even to the very end. As others have said more than once in the last few weeks, Rudolph remained the consummate teacher: he taught us to live and how to die.

Rudolph accepted his appointment to join the Emory faculty in 1991, after appointments at Carleton College and the University of Delaware. During his two-decade long engagement with this university he became an institution builder, a concept he coined and a position he honored daily. He did so first as a scholar, authoring or editing eleven books in the fields of African American Studies, literature, sexuality, and difference. Inside the academy he understood that credit originated from scholarly production and as a result he deeply valued being honored with a Goodrich B. White Professorship. But Rudolph found individual production an incomplete definition of scholarship and institution building. He understood all too well that advances in a field would stagnate if we ignored the next generation. As a result he helped develop and sustain the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program on the Emory campus and beyond. This program was created to produce the next generation of scholars prepared to join the professoriate.

After stints as chair of what became the Department of African American Studies, Rudolph imagined and founded the James Weldon Johnson Institute, which recently was renamed the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Race and Difference. That Institute focuses on the history and enduring legacy of the fight for civil and human rights. Most recently he helped inaugurate a partnership among Emory University, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and CNN, by formulating a community forum program on contemporary civic issues called CNN Dialogues. Through these myriad efforts, Rudolph sought to fuse his abiding belief that universities helped build civil societies by engaging broadly and vigorously. Inside and outside of Emory he pursued institution building.

He was the founding co-chair of the Alice Walker Literary Society with Beverly Guy Sheftall of Spelman College. His several awards and fellowships include the Thomas Jefferson Award from Emory University; the Governor’s Award in the Humanities; the Dick Bathrick Activist Award from Men Stopping Violence of Atlanta, GA; Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at Harvard University; the Dorothy Danforth Compton Fellowship at Yale University; and Visiting Scholar at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy.

Details of funeral and memorial services will follow in the next few days. As we await those announcements, we will find occasion to both mourn and celebrate the life that was Rudolph P. Byrd. Both are emotions that honor Rudolph.

See Atlanta Journal-Constitution news story (10/22/11)

College faculty featured in special Emory Report

The following College faculty are spotlighted in a special issue of Emory Report (Jan. 7, 2011) — representing just a few of the faculty helping the University achieve its level of excellence.

  • Carol Anderson, associate professor of African American Studies and author of the book Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2003) won the Gustavus Myers and Bernath Book awards. Her forthcoming book examines the NAACP’s role in revitalizing global freedom movements from 1941 to 1960.
  • Uriel Kitron, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies, is now working with more than a dozen Emory undergraduate and graduate students on a large-scale, federally-funded project to help determine why cities like Chicago, Detroit and Denver have a much higher incidence of West Nile Virus than places like Atlanta, New Orleans and Miami.
  • English professor Laura Otis is on a Fulbright Research Fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, where she is completing a book on visual and verbal thinking.
  • Deboleena Roy, associate professor of women’s studies and neuroscience and behavioral biology, bridges the divide between feminist theory and the natural sciences.

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