|Davidson Welcomes New Professors into the Fold
August 30, 2007
Contact: Bill Giduz
by Rachel Andoga
Davidson welcomes five new assistant professors into tenure-track positions this semester. Here are profiles of their careers and academic interests.
Caroline Beschea-Fache, a native of northern France, joins the French Department as a specialist in Métissage, the study of biracialism, multiracialism, and diversity as applied to literature, social studies, and political science. Her research and teaching interests also include modern Francophone literature, cinema, and the construction of identity in France for immigrants. Beschea-Fache holds a master’s degree in movie translation from the University of Lille, where she also completed her undergraduate work. In 2000, she began her pursuit of a master’s degree in French at Indiana University, where she wrote her dissertation on the representation of biracial characters in Francophone literature.
Beschea-Fache enjoys studying image and representation in the French world, especially as it relates to what she describes as a crisis of identity in modern France. “Immigration is a big issue in France—it’s an old country that’s defending its Old World identity without noticing the new elements being added,” she said. “France is a country that didn’t expect to be changed the way it has by its colonies.”
Beschea-Fache will be teaching two courses this semester: “Intermediate French” and “Portraits of Women.” She enjoys teaching her language to students because she “loves to see them go from mute to talkative and lose their shyness as they gain confidence.” Her “Portraits of Women” class will be an introductory literature course examining portraits of women in French literature, including a look at the evolution of Carmen.
Her current research interest involves the creation of an archive of African authors whose work has yet to be translated. Beschea-Fache spent a great deal of time with Senegalese author Boris Diop, who visited Davidson last April. “I hope to continue this research because these authors have something to say,” she said. “Some have even been exiled for their work. It’s amazing to see that this sort of thing still happens in the modern world. These authors are still alive, and available—and willing—to talk to, which is one of the reasons I love studying Francophone literature.”
Maria Fackler joins the English Department as a specialist in modern British Literature. Her research and teaching interests include the history of the novel, contemporary fiction, modern drama, and postcolonial studies.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Duke University, and her master’s degree from Yale University in English Literature, where she most recently taught. Fackler will receive her Ph.D. from Yale in December.
Fackler grew up in Surrey, England and moved to Florida with her family in 1994 at the age of sixteen. She loved her small high school and admires her parents for the courage it took to move to a new country, but also appreciates the cultural value her British upbringing brings to her academic field. “In the classroom it is helpful to be able to unpack cultural references in contemporary British literature for my students,” she said.
While looking at potential job openings around the country, Fackler was delighted to see a position at Davidson. She attended Yale with recent Davidson professor and alumna Emily Setina ’99, who encouraged Fackler to consider joining the English department at her alma mater. “Being from Florida and attending Duke as an undergraduate, I had many friends who went to Davidson and I knew the students here would be the type of students I’d want to teach,” Fackler said.
Fackler is teaching a “W” course in English entitled “Beyond Prince Charming,” which will look at the state of marriage in America and examine how the institution has been conceived of and practiced historically. She is also teaching a seminar on “Twenty-First-Century British Fiction,” which she describes as her “dream class.” “I love converting people’s pleasure reading into an object for critical study,” she said. “In my seminar, we’ll read some interesting authors that people won’t have engaged critically in the classroom yet.”
Academic pursuits aside, Fackler enjoys modern drama and is especially excited about the RSC residency. “I just missed out when I visited last spring—I left the day before the opening of Pericles, which is my favorite play!” she lamented.
Fackler’s current book project explores the role of the artist manqué in the development of postwar British fiction.
Thomas Pegelow Kaplan
Thomas Pegelow Kaplan grew up in Germany at a time when the country was wrestling with the implications of its Nazi history. The intense discussions over national guilt, and painful revelations of respected public officials as former Nazis, have led him toward scholarship into the cultural and linguistic history of genocide in the twentieth century.
| Thomas Pegelow Kaplan|
“To get to the level of targeting and killing people, you have to first define and conceptualize who you want to kill,” he noted, discussing the elaborate bureaucracy the Nazis constructed to assign classifications to individuals. Simple bureaucratic decisions about whether someone qualified through family tree or religious affiliation as a German or as a Jew spelled the difference between life and death. The Germans stubbornly maintained the bureaucracy even as their military position crumbled. “Even as the Russians were fighting on the city limits of Berlin in the last days of the war, the Nazi bureaucracy was working on classifying individuals,” Pegelow Kaplan said.
His first book, entitled “The Language of Nazi Genocide,” will trace the cultural and linguistic process of the classification system to its roots in the 1920s, when Nazi media first began vilifying classes of people.
His most significant publications to this point include an article last year in the journal “Contemporary European History” about the formalized process of petitioning the Nazi bureaucracy for a classification. Government officials only granted a fraction of the petitions by Germans of Jewish Ancestry who were among the 165,000 applicants. The machinations of those petitioners attempting to construct their “Germanness” and minimize their Jewishness were wrenching. People denied being related, and Jewish parents denied knowing their children in hopes of saving them.
Digging into Nazi history, and its remnants in modern day Germany, is a potentially dangerous line of research. Pegelow Kaplan said one colleague moved to America after being attacked for her story about the complicity of the Catholic Church in Nazi activities. He has also conducted difficult interviews with former Nazis, but so far has suffered no worse than being insulted as a “Communist pig.”
In addition to his scholarly interest in human rights, Pegelow Kaplan is active in political causes in that arena, and looks forward to finding local groups he can support.
Pegelow Kaplan began his undergraduate career at the University of Tuebingen in English and American studies, which allowed him to spend a year as an exchange student at the University of Oregon. He did graduate studies in Germany, then enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill to earn his Ph.D. in 2004.
He taught at Chapel Hill from 1997-2005, when he accepted a tenure track position in the history department at Grinnell College. He loved the interaction with students and collaboration between colleagues in different departments. But he began looking for an East Coast position to be closer to his wife, Ann, who does consulting work for arts organizations and museums in the Carolinas. During an interview in Virginia, he found out about Davidson’s search to replace retiring European historian Earl Edmondson. “I’m very excited to be here and have this great opportunity to work with sharp and able students, and the excellent body of scholars and teachers,” he said.
During the fall semester Pegelow Kaplan will teach two courses. One will be a survey course in European history since 1789. The other will be “Comparative Genocide,” covering occurrences from the Armenian genocide of 1915-16 to the contemporary situation in Darfur. He was thrilled to learn of the September 26 lecture here by journalist and Harvard professors Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” His class will study that book prior to her appearance.
Hilton Kelly joins the education department as a specialist in the sociology of education, and education in African-American history and culture. His other research interests include teachers’ work, lives and careers, social justice education, and historical and qualitative methodology. Kelly spent last year as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow teaching in the Denison University sociology/anthropology department.
| Hilton Kelly|
Born and raised in Sharpsburg, N.C., Kelly spent the majority of his formative years in eastern North Carolina, so he feels that Davidson is “like coming home.” He obtained his bachelor’s in history at UNC Charlotte, then earned a master’s degree in labor studies and a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels, including most recently at Amherst and Denison.
Kelly’s dissertation sought to highlight an often overlooked perspective in segregation-era education—fond memories of segregated schools in the midst of the Jim Crow period. “Typically, the role of teachers in racial uplift work and black social mobility during that period is overshadowed by the role of the church,” he said. He argues, however, “the work of former teachers in legally segregated schools for blacks was essential in at least four major ways: generating materials and supplies, situating curriculum and instruction, mobilizing “human resources,” and forging a double consciousness among students.”
He is teaching two classes. In a “W” course for first-year students entitled “Growing Up Jim Crow,” he will introduce students to how a generation of white and black southerners learned race and racism. He expects that it will be an emotional class. “The Jim Crow period is an era that no one likes to talk about,” he said. “It’s an era we want to forget. In order for students to work toward social change today, especially racial change, they have to study the Jim Crow period.”
His other class, “Reading, ‘Riting, and Race,” will explore social and historical forces which shaped the racial achievement gap in the United States, and introduce students to the fight for education among African-Americans across centuries.
Kelly hopes his classes will attract not only students interested in pursuing teaching as a career path, but also those who will carry its lessons into their lives and careers. “I also want to attract students who may go to law school or to graduate school in public policy, business, and administration,” he said. “Every Davidson student will be involved in some aspect of education, whether it is choosing the best school for their children or participating in local educational matters. I want students to think about education more broadly, and to understand the institution of education and the structure, processes, and interaction patterns within it.”
Kelly recently published an article in Educational Studies on racial tokenism in the school workplace. It examines how black teachers in overwhelmingly white schools evaluate their work experiences as both numerical and racial minorities. He is scheduled to present two papers at the American Educational Studies Association/History of Education conference this fall, and he is currently in the process of revising his dissertation for eventual publication.
Sarah Mason joins the Mathematics department as a specialist in combinatorics, which is a branch of pure mathematics that studies objects and the patterns they create. “Basically, it’s the art of counting,” Mason explained. An example of a combinatorical math problem would be finding the number of possible orderings in a deck of cards.
| Sarah Mason|
Mason obtained her bachelor’s in mathematics at the University of Georgia, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. A native of Georgia, she is excited to be returning to the Southeast. “I wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college where I can have close contact with my students,” she said. “I’ve always liked the idea of education not being isolated in a vacuum, and a liberal arts school fulfills that. I’m really interested in education of the whole.”
Mason discovered her love for pure mathematics when she was an undergraduate. Thanks to a tutoring position at her school’s Learning Center and a shortage of math tutors, she began tutoring math, and enjoyed the work. “I love that all I really need for the work I do is my brain, my pencil, and what I know,” she said. “I enjoy the concrete right answers offered in math—when you find one, you know. I find that exciting.”
After receiving her Ph.D. in 2006, Mason spent a year conducting research at the University of California Berkley, and then in Montreal, in conjunction with a special session in combinatorics. Her research explored mathematical formulas and how they can be illustrated using diagrams. Mason’s other research interests include academically-based community service. “I’ve taught classes in the past where we go into the community and do math in conjunction with service projects,” she said. I’m looking forward to doing something like that here,” she said.
Academics aside, Mason’s great love is for the outdoors. She enjoys wind surfing, mountain biking, and hiking, and is an avid triathlete. She tries to participate in three or four triathlons every year, and is currently training for October’s Pinehurst Triathlon, an Olympic Distance Triathlon comprised of a 1,500 meter swim, a 40 kilometer bike ride, and a 10 kilometer run.
This semester, Mason is teaching a class in introductory calculus, and another in discrete methods, which will provide students with an introduction to combinatorics and graph theory.