Hitting the Books: Impressive Number of WSC Professors Have Published Works this Year
Oct. 15, 2009 -- Like most college professors, Lynn Sikkink has a large collection of books in her office. And now she has one of her own to add to the shelf.
Western State College faculty have some more reading material. Pictured here (l-r) are John Hausdoerffer, Duane Vandenbusche, Teresa Milbrodt, Anthony Miccoli, Lynn Sikkink, and Mark Todd. All of these professors have published books this year.
Sikkink, professor of anthropology at Western State College of Colorado, is one of several faculty members who have published a book this year.
Sikkink’s book, "New Cures, Old Medicines: Women and the Commercialization of Traditional Medicine in Bolivia," is the result of a dozen trips to Bolivia that she made over nearly 20 years. On these trips, which began as part of her doctoral dissertation, she became especially interested in their deep knowledge of healing and the economy of traditional plants.
“The medicines in Bolivia represent the culture itself,” Sikkink said. “It is a window into uses of plants that have been used in similar ways for a millennia.”
Sikkink returned to Bolivia in May to share the published book with some of the locals who were included in it. One shaman held a good luck ceremony to bless the book.
Also released earlier this year was John Hausdoerffer’s “Catlin’s Lament.” Hausdoerffer is a professor of environmental studies and philosophy at WSC. The subject is George Catlin, a 19th century artist, writer and activist who widely studied and presented about Native Americans and the American West.
“Catlin was a well-intended, complex human being who took on a very difficult problem: displacement of a people (Native Americans) and ecosystem loss,” Hausdoerffer explained. “My book reevaluates Catlin’s message, which was problematic for several reasons.”
One of the major reasons was Catlin’s assumption that Native Americans would vanish, leading him to memorialize their people and culture rather than fighting to protect it. One of prevailing themes is the deeply seeded concept of manifest destiny in the 1800s, even among critics. The audience for his book is largely academic, and he shared that he had his seniors at Western in mind when writing.
“Bully,” written by Teresa Milbrodt, professor of English, and illustrated by Nathan Kubes, 2005 alumnus of WSC, has quite a different audience -- junior high and high school students. The book was released this fall.
“Bully” is a graphic novel that teaches and promotes restorative practices and restorative justice in schools. The book depicts the stories of several high school students from the point of view of both the bully and the bullied.
In “Bully,” nearly every page is accompanied by illustrations from Kubes, who shared that he tried to make the images appropriate for the book’s intended age group.
The book was published by Life Skoolz, an organization operated by Gunnison’s Matt Kuelhorn, who is also a 2001 alumnus of WSC.
Another recent release from a WSC professor takes the reader into the depths of Colorado’s Black Canyon. Duane Vandenbusche, professor of history and legendary cross country coach, wrote “Black Canyon of the Gunnison,” which is his seventh book.
Vandenbusche has seen much of the canyon with his own eyes, before and after the Blue Mesa reservoir, which was created in 1965. “Black Canyon of the Gunnison” has a stunning array of photographs and text that describe the canyon.
Some of the topics covered in the book include: the railroad history, which ran in the canyon from 1881 until 1955; the Gunnison Tunnel, which runs out of the canyon to the Uncompagre Valley and has provided water to that valley for 100 years; and the many forms of recreation in the canyon from fishing to rock climbing and even ice skating.
Those who pioneered travel through the depths of the canyon in multi-day boating and hiking adventures (which includes Vandenbusche and friends) are also covered in detail.
Back down below the border Heather Orr, professor of art history, has published, “Blood and Beauty: Organized Violence in the Art and Archaeology of Mesoamerica and Central America.” Orr served as co-editor for this work, and has spent “countless” time in the region, living in Mexico for a couple years.
She shared that the approach to discourse on violence among indigenous cultures has shifted in recent scholarship, including a greater presence of indigenous voice and specialists. As a result of these recent shifts in Precolumbian scholarship, Orr and her co-editor brought together scholars of diverse backgrounds and approaches in this volume. On the process of editing a volume of work like this, “I’m writing a book on my own and comparatively it is a breeze.”
Christy Jespersen, professor of English has also recently co-edited a book. “The Anatomy of Body Worlds” is a series of critical essays on the plastinated cadavers of Gunther von Hagens. Von Hagen’s process of plastination shows preserved bodies posed to mimic life and art, ranging from a posed basketball player to a pregnant woman, complete with fetus in its eight month.
Jespersen reports that the book is the first on the exhibit to be published in English. To date the exhibit has been viewed by 25 million people. Jespersen’s writing in the book focuses on the gendering of von Hagen’s work.
Also on the horizon, three other WSC professors are closing in on having their works published. Daniel Schuster, professor of computer information science, will publish an introductory book on computer science using the arcade game programming approach. It is a technique he’s been using for the last couple of years in his teaching. A free version of the book is now currently available online.
Anthony Miccoli, professor of communication and philosophy, is putting the finishing touches on his book, “Posthuman Suffering and the Technological Embrace,” which will be released in December. The book, which will be used primarily in the academic setting, explores how human beings use technology as an expression of their own suffering.
Rob Fillmore, professor of geology, will publish “Geologic Evolution of Eastern Utah and Western Colorado, including San Juan River, Glen Canyon, Canyonlands and Arches areas”. Fillmore has spent considerable time in the areas both researching and recreating. The book will be published in the spring of 2010.
Mark Todd, professor of English, also has recently released a commemorative hardcover edition of “The Silverville Swidle,” a novel that he and his wife, Kym O’Connell-Todd published, last fall.
Hausdoerffer summed up the recent flurry of activity and creativity from WSC professors.
“I think it’s important to look at Western as a place that produces new ideas. In order to teach well, it helps to be creating something new.”
Jespersen added, “I teach writing all the time, and I teach much better when I am writing myself.”
Story by: Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations and communications