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Faculty Scholarship
by Bob Shade

Faculty Scholarship

Whether it takes the form of books, poetry, articles, papers, research findings, exhibits, special projects or presentations at professional conferences, scholarly work by Albright faculty makes an impact on the College’s campus and beyond. Following is a snapshot of recent scholarly activity at Albright.

Guillaume de Syon, Ph.D.
Before the advent of the elevator, hotels often had trouble filling upper floors because patrons didn’t want to trudge up all those stairs. Elevators not only eliminated the problem, they made it possible for hotels to actually charge more for rooms on their upper floors because of the panoramic views to be found there.

This example of technology changing preferences can be found in Science and Technology in Modern European Life by Guillaume de Syon, Ph.D., associate professor of history. The book offers a glimpse into European life and how Europeans have adjusted to new technologies. “It’s not about how the machine works,” de Syon says, “it’s about how people accept it.”

In the book, which is intended for a college or late high school audience, de Syon writes on topics such as “The Rail in all Its Expressions,” “Navigating the Earth and Heavenly Seas,” and “Technology in the Home and Office.” Published by Greenwood Press in 2008, the book is part of the publisher’s“Daily Life Through History” series of textbooks.

De Syon patterned his book after a “History of Technology” course he taught for Albright’s Degree Completion Program a few years ago. “It’s a series of essays rather than an overarching treatment of the topic,” he says, noting that he drew on published sources from the various periods covered in the book. “As a teacher I found it to be a learning experience. I knew some things, but there was a lot I didn’t know.”

In 2002, de Syon published Zeppelin! Germany and the Airship, 1900–1939, a history of the zeppelin and how it affected German culture and society.


Marian Wolbers
What do you do when you want to teach a college-level course that combines two disciplines, but you can’t find a textbook that covers it all? If you’re Marian Wolbers, you write the book yourself.

“The Fashion and Communications Departments had been talking about doing a class that brought together the two disciplines,” says Wolbers, who teaches writing courses in the English, English as a Second Language, Communications, and Fashion Departments.

When looking for a text, Wolbers turned to Fairchild Books’ catalogue. “Fairchild is the textbook subsidiary of Conde Nast, which puts out Vogue and GQ and many other major fashion and style magazines,” Wolbers explains. Not seeing what she was looking for, Wolbers called a Fairchild rep. “He said, ‘No, there’s nothing. Would you like to write something for us?’”

Building on her background as a photographic and cosmetics model, a writer for several large publishers, and the CEO of a tennis wear company, Wolbers wroteUncovering Fashion: Fashion Communications Across the Media, published in April 2009.

When writing the book, Wolbers kept in mind its intended audience. “The key to putting it together had a lot to do with learning from my teaching experiences, especially from my students at Albright,” Wolbers says. “I thought about everything I would want to study if I were a student. I’d want the text to be lively, and I’d want it to be contemporary, fresh and relevant to my life.”

Wolbers also wanted her readers to learn from the experiences of professionals in the field. So her book features profiles and interviews with writers, curators, small-business owners, retailers, photographers and designers, including Albright alumni like R. Scott French ’87, a highly successful designer of men’s and women’s sportswear.


Jon Bekken, Ph.D.
Jon Bekken, Ph.D., has developed a reputation as an authority on both the history of labor and the history of journalism in the United States. An associate professor of communications, he’s written 10 books and book chapters on the subjects, as well as numerous articles published in refereed journals. When M.E. Sharpe, Inc., a publisher of reference books and textbooks, set out to compile The Encyclopedia of Strikes in American History, Bekken was asked to contribute the chapter on strikes by newsboys. The book was published in March 2009.

Before he earned his doctorate, Bekken worked for the Industrial Workers of the World, serving as editor of the union’s newsletter and co-authoring its official history. Several years ago the organization asked him to contribute a chapter to a German publisher’s book about significant strikes around the world.

Bekken wrote about a strike at McKees Rocks, Pa., in 1909. “They wanted to look at what happened in the strike, the social backdrop, and the implications,” Bekken says. His work was translated into German for the book, published by Unrast in 2008. The book title’s English translation is Major Strikes in the Class Struggle

In the past year, Bekken also wrote the foreword to a new edition of Dynamite – The Story of Class Violence in America, written by Louis Adamic and originally published in 1931.

“It has sort of a sensationalist title,” Bekken explains, “and there are places where the author suggests that there has to be violence to accomplish useful social change. There is a romantic sense of violence in the book, but I’m not inclined to think of violence as a romantic subject.”


Ethan Joella
Ethan Joella has been writing fiction and poetry for as long as he can remember. “I used to write poems when I was seven,” he says, “and my aunt would get them published in our local newspaper. I loved seeing my work in print even then.”

Most recently, Joella saw his work published in Best New Writing 2008, the latest in a series of anthologies featuring the best new fiction and creative nonfiction by writers from around the world.

Joella’s submission, “Removing All Wickedness,” is the story of a man dealing with loss and trying to cope by experimenting with his faith. It was chosen for inclusion in Best New Writing after Joella received the prestigious Eric Hoffer Award, created to honor the memory of American philosopher Eric Hoffer by recognizing writing of significant merit.

Joella, assistant professor and chair of the English as a Second Language Program, also teaches creative writing. He’s also an assistant editor at Narrative Magazine, where he reviews fiction submissions and contest entries. In recent months, he had a poem and another short story accepted by Perigee: A Publication for the Arts. His work has also appeared in literary publications such as The International Fiction Review, Stickman Review, SNReview, Tiferet, Paradigm, and Retort.

“Best New Writing 2008 blew me away,” Joella says. “I was very proud of the story, and I believed in it, but I never thought it would make it that far because I knew how many people entered that particular contest. But I kept receiving notices that it had made it to the next round and then the next. Finally, it made it to the collection, and I was elated!”.

More Scholarly Works

Here are other examples of scholarly works recently produced by Albright College faculty.

Richard Androne, Ph.D., professor of English, contributed the chapter “Never the Right Food: Eating and Irony in John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom Saga” to You are What You Eat: Literary Probes into the Palate (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008)

Barbara Fahy, Ph.D., professor of history, had a review of Early Modern Confraternities in Europe and the Americas (Ashgate Publishing, 2006) published in Sixteenth Century Journal. (Volume 39, 2008)

Victor Forte, Ph.D., assistant professor of religious studies, contributed the chapter “Reflections on the Ethical Meaning of Shiran’s True
Entrusting” to Buddist Roles in Peacemaking: How Buddism Can Contribute to Sustainable Peace. (Blue Pine Books, 2009)

Betsy Kiddy, Ph.D., associate professor of history, chair of the History Department and director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, contributed the chapter “Quem é o rei do Congo? Um novo olhar sobre os reis africanos e afro-brasileiros no Brasil” to the Brazilian book Diáspora Negra no Brasil. (São Paulo: Editora Contexto, 2008) Kiddy’s translated work was originally published as “Who is the King of Congo? A New Look at African and Afro-Brazilian Kings in Brazil” in Central Africans in the Atlantic Diaspora, 1500-1850. (Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Lawrence Morris, Ph.D., associate professor of English, served as general editor for Daily Life through World History in Primary Documents. (Greenwood Press, 2009) Morris and his team of editors compiled more than 500 primary documents on cultural studies to create the reference book.


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