LAWRENCE — Five University of Kansas professors have been selected to pursue special projects designed to develop their scholarship in a field while also fostering collaboration at KU during the 2019-2020 academic year.
Faculty members Peter Bobkowski, associate professor of journalism & mass communications; Sherry Fowler, history of art professor; Marcy Lascano, professor of philosophy; Benjamin Rosenthal, associate professor of visual art, and Paul Scott, associate professor of French, have been awarded Keeler Family Intra-University Professorships for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Keeler Intra-University Professorships provide faculty members an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of an academic specialty, to broaden or achieve greater depth in a defined field of study, or to achieve competence in a new area of scholarly endeavor. Their work also should lead to increased collaboration and synergy across disciplines.
Keeler Professorships have supported faculty development for tenured KU faculty since the early 1980s. Faculty members apply for the professorship with the endorsement of their department and dean. Selected faculty are relieved of departmental responsibilities for one semester, and their departments receive financial support to assist with meeting instructional needs. The Center for Faculty Development and Mentoring reviews applications and selects recipients.
“The center’s mission is to help faculty develop rewarding careers at KU, and the Keeler Professorship is central to building new and lasting interdisciplinary connections that fuel groundbreaking work after acquiring tenure,” said Chris Brown, vice provost for faculty development.
The Keeler Family Intra-University Professorship program is possible through a generous gift of the Keeler family in memory of W.W. Keeler, petroleum engineering alumnus and former president of the KU Alumni Association. Keeler served as president and chief executive officer of Phillips Petroleum Co. from 1967 to 1973, and he was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1949-1975, a position he was originally appointed to by President Harry Truman.
ABOUT THE RECIPIENTS
Peter Bobkowski, associate professor of journalism & mass communications, will spend the fall 2019 semester working with researchers at KU’s Achievement & Assessment Institute (AAI) and in the Department of Educational Psychology in the School of Education to advance a project that comprehensively defines data literacy and develops interdisciplinary materials for teaching and assessing data literacy. His Keeler Professorship will support research collaboration with Neal Kingston, University Distinguished Professor and AAI director; Gail Tiemann, AAI research project manager, and Michael Peper, KU Libraries head of Center for Faculty and Staff Initiatives & Engagement. Bobkowski joined the KU faculty in 2011.
Bobkowski noted in his application, “Given my prior career as a secondary school teacher, and my research expertise in journalism education, a collaboration with the AAI and the School of Education is a natural fit. Through my prior work on civic engagement and journalism education, I began to appreciate my field’s responsibility to equip students for engaged citizenship, regardless of the careers these students eventually pursue. Data literacy is a precondition of engaged citizenship in the 21st century, and journalism education is positioned uniquely to lead data literacy’s comprehensive integration across the disciplines.”
Sherry Fowler, professor of the history of art, will spend spring 2020 with the Department of Religious Studies to advance her knowledge of the theories and methodologies used in religious studies scholarship. Her Keeler Professorship will support collaborative research in East Asian religions and art history with Daniel Stevenson, professor of religious studies, and William Lindsey, associate professor of religious studies. Fowler joined the KU faculty in 2000.
“The university will benefit from our enhanced teaching and involvement in two proposed conferences and an exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art on East Asian art and religion,” Fowler said. “Through these avenues, our students, fellow faculty, the KU community and outside colleagues in East Asian studies will learn more about the rich resources related to Asian culture KU has to offer. Opportunities to discuss ideas with members of the religious studies department will provide new perspectives on ritual and religion as well as help on knotty Chinese and Japanese textual problems for the book I am writing on Japanese Buddhist temple bells.”
Marcy Lascano, professor of philosophy, will spend spring 2020 in the Department of English to improve her ability to analyze texts in the varying genres in which early modern women worked, such as plays, poetry and science fiction. Her Keeler Professorship will support the creation of an interdisciplinary course in English and philosophy on early modern women writers. The course will use the methodological tools of both literary studies and philosophy. She intends to collaborate with Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of English, on a digital humanities project involving women writers. Lascano is in her first academic year at KU. She previously spent 12 years at California State University, Long Beach.
Lascano noted that the creation of the interdisciplinary course will “give students the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge of each discipline’s methodology with respect to genre and provide a more expansive understanding of the texts. Finally, it is my hope that by including more women into my courses and by broadening the conception of what counts as ‘philosophy,’ I will be able to attract a more diverse range of students to my classes.”
Benjamin Rosenthal, associate professor of visual art, will use the fall 2019 semester to work with the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and KU Frontiers: Clinical and Translational Science Institute at KU Medical Center. He intends to explore how the arts can bridge seemingly disparate fields to develop new methodologies and forms of knowledge that are inclusive of marginalized voices, and destabilize existing forms of categorization. His Keeler Professorship will support him with his proposed project, “Fragmented Signals and Fractured Bodies,” which looks toward the evolving nature of queer sexuality — meditated through technology — as a site for theorizing a new kind of queer ‘technosexuality.’ Engaging experiences and theoretical frameworks that address LGBTQIA+, differently abled and other underrepresented communities, Rosenthal hopes to rupture ableist, white, cis-heteronormative assumptions about the nature of the body, desire and intimacy in contemporary and future conditions. Rosenthal joined the KU faculty in 2012.
“While the project will result in a body of artwork in a range of formats (interactive sculpture, immersive video installation, performance art and drawing), the nature of arts research is unpredictable, and I look towards the knowledge I will gain through my interactions with colleagues in all departments of inquiry,” Rosenthal said.
Paul Scott, associate professor of French, will spend spring 2020 in the Department of English to expand his working knowledge of science fiction and particularly contemporary interdisciplinary theory. The Keeler Professorship will support his research project, a monograph with the working title “Cognitive Cadavers: The Evolution of the TV Zombie.” It analyzes the development of conscious, humane zombies in television shows across the world, the depiction of the undead returning to communities but facing ostracization and rejection as a trope for immigration and identity, and the continuing role of the zombie as a barometer of cultural anxiety in providing a critique of social issues. Scott’s research focuses on the idea of television zombies as an evolved manifestation of a long-standing figure that dates as far back as the “Epic of Gilgamesh” and to as recently as “Game of Thrones.”
Scott joined the KU faculty in 2004.
Scott noted in his application that “the collaboration with the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction will consolidate the theoretical framework of my classes relating to science fiction and ensure methodological rigor in pedagogy and publishing. Second, it will enable me to better articulate the close link between science fiction and social critique, specifically relating to streaming television zombie shows and immigration and migration.”