Feb. 7, 1997

Three selected for Keeler family professorship awards


Three KU faculty members have been selected to receive the 1997-98 Keeler Family Intra-University Professorship awards.

Lisa M. Bitel, associate professor of history and of women's studies; Elizabeth A. Kuznesof, professor of history; and Iris L. Smith, associate professor of English, will receive one semester free of departmental responsibilities to pursue professional development.

"This is one of our major faculty development programs," said Sandra W. Gautt, assistant provost. "The purpose of the award is to aid midcareer faculty members in pursuing areas of academic interest or team-teaching opportunities in other disciplines."

Bitel plans to spend the spring 1998 term studying art history. She will take a course in medieval art, audit a course in Spanish medieval art and meet with Marilyn Stokstad, Judith Harris Murphy distinguished professor of art history, in tutorial sessions.

Bitel plans to focus on Celtic and Anglo-Saxon art, art by and for women, and images of women in medieval art. "A Keeler professorship will allow me to learn basic methods of the history of art, begin to familiarize myself with the canon of medieval images and become acquainted with some of the historiography of medieval European art," she wrote in her proposal for the professorship.

She hopes the semester will enrich her medieval-history courses, increase her facility with the techniques of art historians and improve her familiarity with certain medieval images in her research on medieval women. Her work on medieval women will be published as a book by Cambridge Medieval Press, probably in 1998.

Bitel earned a bachelor's degree in history at Smith College, Northhampton, Mass., and master's and doctoral degrees in history from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Smith plans to take two courses in play directing in the Department of Theatre and Film: a first course in directing for theatre majors and a graduate course that involves readings, lectures and practice. "My purpose in studying directing," Smith wrote in her proposal, "is to gain hands-on experience, invaluable for teaching modern and contemporary drama."

Smith taught a course with Delores Ringer, associate professor of theatre, in 1992. Teaching the course exposed her to "performance-based skills," she wrote, which she has applied in her own literature courses. "Participating in directing courses will offer additional interactive teaching techniques that I hope to adapt to make the play come alive for literature students."

Smith has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Cincinnati and master's and doctoral degrees in comparative literature from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Kuznesof will spend the fall 1997 semester working with Joane P. Nagel, professor of sociology and other members of the sociology department to find common ground on issues of gender, race, ethnicity and nationality. She also will do work in anthropology and political science.

She will contribute to SOC 970: Seminar on Special Topics in Social Conflict and Change: Political Sociology, which incorporates the politics of ethnicity and gender into a larger sociology of the state.

Kuznesof also feels that the professorship will contribute to the "theoretical underpinning and methodology" of a book she is writing on the history of the family in Colonial Spanish America.

In her proposal for the professorship, Kuznesof wrote that she wished to "work on conceptual theory and approaches to issues related to race, gender and nationality. Recent scholarship on Latin American history has `rediscovered' gender, race and ethnicity as dynamic explanatory components of identity and politics but without identifying a theoretical framework which allows their social constructions to be analyzed and understood."

Kuznesof has a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Washington, Seattle, and master's and doctoral degrees in Latin American history from the University of California, Berkeley.

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