May 24, 2021
Contact: Kenny Gerling, firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the pandemic, University of Missouri Arts and Science faculty continued publishing groundbreaking work covering topics from archeology to Brazilian soccer. However, the usual celebratory book launches, performances and readings were swapped for more understated and COVID-safe activities.
To honor their achievements, the College of Arts and Science, in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Economic Development, recently hosted a Celebration of Arts and Humanities Research — a virtual event bringing together 20 faculty members from those disciplines to present most of the 28 books and CDs published in 2020.
In his opening remarks, MU President Mun Choi said the humanities remain essential to addressing the urgent challenges facing society. “These books, recordings and performances really do reveal a greater understanding of ourselves and our world,” Choi said. “They make us more empathetic, more imaginative and more human.”
A high achievement
Alexandra Socarides, associate provost for faculty success, said that book or recording publication is one of the highest scholarly feats for arts and humanities faculty. She said the event was designed to recognize the scale of that accomplishment. “We acknowledge other research achievements on campus — whether it’s receiving a big grant, a patent or entering into a national society,” she said. “We wanted to add book production and recordings and make them more visible.”
The idea originated from monthly meetings between arts and humanities department chairs, the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Economic Development. Socarides was one of four administrators who organized the celebration, along with Susan Renoe, assistant vice chancellor for research, extension and engagement; Wendy Reinke, associate vice chancellor for research; and Stephanie Shonekan, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science.
Juanamaría Cordones-Cook presented two recent books at the event. Cordones-Cook, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Spanish, Catherine Paine Middlebush Professor of Romance Languages and an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, said the pandemic disrupted her work as a documentary filmmaker — she was scheduled to fly to Cuba the day after a travel advisory was issued — but the research was its own reward and consolation. “During this pandemic period, in addition to my teaching via Zoom, I was able to complete a manuscript for a testimonial book,” she said. “Mizzou has been fantastic and allowed me the flexibility to do this work.”
A vital, creative community
Linda Reeder, associate professor, Spitz Faculty Fellow and Chair of Women's and Gender Studies, also shared two books. Reeder said hearing from fellow faculty members was inspiring and suggested new collaborations in the future. “It made me feel part of a vital and creative community,” she said. “People here are thinking hard about difficult subjects and trying to understand where we are in the world, what it looks like and what possibilities we can imagine.”
Socarides said the celebration was also an opportunity to recognize the challenges navigated by faculty in the last year. “To publish a book or CD in 2020 was, in many ways, to publish a work that was not seen as much as in prior years,” she said. “We wanted those faculty members to feel seen.”