U. celebrates published faculty authors
University faculty from various academic disciplines displayed their latest work at Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus yesterday as a part of the opening event of a month-long exhibition.
The published works cover a wide range of subjects such as education, social movements, history and historical fiction.
Fernanda Perrone, the University library’s archivist and curator, said the books published for this exhibition will be on display for approximately one month. They will then become part of the library system, since the faculty donated them.
Ann Jurecic, the event’s keynote speaker, said her book “Illness as Narrative” explains how the illness narrative emerged as a genre. Documents of people’s struggles with disease became popular in the late 20th century.
“When I researched the literature about the illness narrative, I was shocked to have found nothing about the 1918 flu, which killed about 50 million people — except for one book about an American girl with a cough,” said Jurecic, a professor in the English Department.
This trend of silence about illness drastically changed in recent decades, particularly with the emergence of AIDS in the early ’80s.
“Now, there are books on cancer, chronic pain and much more,” she said.
While researching for her book, Jurecic noticed how the role of experiencing pain affects how the narratives are written.
“For decades, people bought the theory that pain made language impossible, so that pain was impossible to empathize with,” she said. “However, I found that for people with chronic pain, their struggle is not to find words to express it, but how to make the audience receptive to them.”
Jurecic said literature should have a greater role in the medical profession.
“Health-science students need to study the humanities,” she said. “They need to be reading more and writing more.”
John Bushby, the chief operations officer for the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials, said he wrote a historical fiction novel titled “The Warszaw Express.”
Bushby said his novel portrays a fictional character named Harry Braham, a World War I veteran who decides to stay in Europe after the war because he was an orphan as a child — and therefore had no family in the United States.
Braham then decides to fight in the Polish Air Force to defend Poland from a Russian invasion. Bushby said Russia at the time became communist under Vladimir Lenin, who wanted Poland back after losing it at the war’s end.
The novel centers on Braham’s experiences in the battle known as “The Miracle of the Vistula,” where Poland managed to secure its independence by turning away the Russian Army.
Even though Bushby said his characters were fictional, he based the situations on historical events.
“I am, in essence, a child of World War II — so I like to explore what it’s like to live in the middle of earth-shattering experiences such as these,” he said. “I hope readers learn a little bit about the [historical] events in the book.”
Andrew Parker, a professor in the French Department, wrote a novel called “The Theorist’s Mother,” which explores how the mothers of philosophers influence the way philosophers think.
Parker said his novel mentions how philosophers disregard their mothers’ influence on their thinking and how they write about motherhood.
“Mothers may, in fact, have a philosophical perspective, since philosophers and mothers both teach — so what I wanted to explore is how they are similar and how they are different,” Parker said. “One question to think about is: In what way are mothers also thinkers and philosophers?”
The exhibition originated as an event for “The Year of the Academic Press,” where colleges across the United States hosted exhibitions of their faculty member’s publications, Perrone said. The original event was a success, and the University now holds it annually.
“The faculty had such a good time interacting with each other that we decided to repeat this on an annual basis,” she said.
Lila Fredenburg, the University Library’s director of administrative services, said this was the 10th annual exhibition. This year’s exhibition displayed 95 publications — six being from John Yau, an associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts.
“It’s a great picture of University scholarship and scholarly output,” Fredenburg said.
Marianne Gaunt, University librarian and vice president of Information Services, said the exhibition helps faculty members interact across the disciplines and helps the University plan its future scholarly projects.
“This event helps us think strategically about where we are going as a university,” she said.