It’s a Dean’s Life Vol. 17

This issue of “It’s a Dean’s Life” highlights the wonderful work of our faculty within the classroom, in the community, and in the field, reinvigorating a minor in Deaf Studies, engaging inmates in college courses at Santa Clara’s Elmwood jail, and saving a language from disappearing in Pakistan.  All of these activities highlight our college’s commitment to collaboration and community connection in faculty research and creative activity.   The chair of the Philosophy Department, Professor Janet Stemwedel, embodies this intellectual connection across fields; she was just elected as a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in the area of History and Philosophy of Science.

Dr. Stemwedel’s election as a Fellow recognizes her “for distinguished contributions to the philosophy of science and ethics, and for exceptional efforts to promote the public understanding of science and scientists in culture.”  Professor Stemwedel pursues interdisciplinary work that she communicates through “non-traditional activities like blogging, podcasts, and tweeting that bring my scholarship out of the ‘ivory tower’ and into contact with the wider world.” Her work exists at the intersection of philosophy and science, and the questions raised by the ethics of scientific experimentation.

These questions are at the heart of spring and fall programming that will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  The novel explores the implications of pursuing science without assessing the dangers that can result; in the case of Dr. Frankenstein, he building a “creature” out of human body parts that becomes a serious threat.  These very questions resonate with our location in the Silicon Valley, where new ideas, new projects, and new technologies are developed every day.

The College of Humanities and the Arts will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein in our classrooms and in programming for our students and the larger Silicon Valley.  Look out for a Fall musical piece based on Frankenstein, and a radio play of the novel that will air on October 31st.  In engaging this novel and the ideas that infuse it, we will be joining in a Bay Area celebration and exploration of these themes with institutions including Stanford University, Santa Clara University, and San Francisco State University.  Please consult the Frankenstein@200 page for further information in spring and fall of 2018.

This focus on collaboration is at the heart of the projects we are pursuing in the College of Humanities and the Arts.  Another wonderful collaboration between our Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies and Spartan Films is a production of the John Steinbeck short story “The Breakfast”; we will screen that film for the SJSU and San José community this fall.    And our commitment to collaborating with the community is expanding with every event sponsored by the College of Humanities and the Arts.  Recent Center for Literary Arts events in Hammer Theatre Center — Viet Thanh Nguyen — and Cafe Stritch — William Finnegan — were sold out events.  As a recent Metro article remarked, we are actively engaging and remaking the downtown San José environment.

And don’t worry if you missed these great events — we have more great collaborative events coming this month.  Join us at the Hammer Theatre Center on December 4th for a reading a new play by faculty member Scott Sublett, The Repeating Arms of Sarah Winchester, presented by our own students and the San José State Company.  We are invested in our collaboration with other arts agencies and the downtown, while showcasing our wonderful students.  Please join us in the fun!

shannon miller