Faculty members awarded professorships

Bates College has awarded newly endowed professorships to faculty members Jane Costlow and James Parakilas, announced Donald W. Harward, president of Bates College.

Costlow, professor of Russian and East Asian languages and literature, is the inaugural Christian A. Johnson Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. Parakilas, professor of music, is the inaugural James L. Moody Jr. Family Professor of Performing Arts.The Johnson Professorship is funded through a $1.2-million grant from the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation of New York City. As Harward says, “it recognizes the ever-increasing connections among academic disciplines. It brings a new level of visibility and confidence in the value of taking research and teaching wherever they lead, even when beyond the boundaries of established fields of study.” The Johnson Professorship in Interdisciplinary Studies is held for a four-year term. The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation was incorporated in 1952 in New York with funds donated by Christian A. Johnson, a Swedish immigrant who eventually became a prominent financier and industrialist.

A member of the Bates faculty for 15 years, Costlow has been a full professor since 1999. She is the author of two books on Russian literature and was recently awarded a Phillips Faculty Fellowship funding her studies in Russia.

Costlow graduated summa cum laude from Duke University in 1976 and received her doctorate in Slavic languages and literatures from Yale University in 1987. She is the author of Worlds Within Worlds: The Novels of Ivan Turgenev (Princeton University Press 1990) and co-editor of Representations of the Body and Sexuality in Russian Culture (Stanford University Press 1998).

Costlow’s research includes examining the significance of the forest in Russian culture, as a source of legend and an economic resource, as well as an historic place of refuge and resistance. She is studying the role and representation of the forest in Soviet and World War II-era partisan activity in Bryansk Forest and in current projects to create a national park in a Taiga forest area of central Russia.

Her translation of The Tragic Menagerie, a recently rediscovered piece of Russian literature, received critical acclaim from both The New York Times and the New Yorker and garnered a 1999 prize for best translation from Russian/East European languages by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. Costlow’s introduction won the 1997 Heldt Prize for best essay in Slavic women’s studies. The Johnson Professorship is the only chair at Bates specifically devoted to interdisciplinary studies.

The Moody Professorship was established through a $1.5-million endowment gift from James L. Moody ’53, chair of the Board of Fellows at Bates and retired CEO and chairman of Hannaford Bros. Co. The professorship reflects the Moody family’s interest in the performing arts. James Parakilas has taught at Bates since 1979. He was chair of the Humanities division from 1996 through 2000 and is currently the chair of the department of Music. He graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1970, received his master’s degree in music history from the University of Connecticut in 1975 and his doctorate in musicology from Cornell University in 1979.

Parakilas is the author of many articles and four books on music, including Ballads Without Words: Chopin and the Tradition of the Instrumental Ballade (Amadeus Press 1992). Most recently, in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the piano, Parakilas co-wrote and edited Piano Roles: Three Hundred Years of Life with the Piano, (Yale University Press 1999).

An exploration of the musical and social roles played by the piano in its long history, Piano Roles received glowing praise from the New Yorker, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Parakilas, who teaches a Bates course “The Piano as a Culture Machine,” writes in the introduction to his book: “The piano is the instrument, the product, around which the modern entertainment industry was created.”

Parakilas’ essay “Nuit plus belle qu’un beau jour’: Piano, Song and the Voice in the Piano Nocturne received the 1999 Wilk Prize, awarded annually by the Center for Polish Music Studies at the University of Southern California.

There are more than 21 endowed professorships at Bates, recognizing the academic qualities of its faculty and the generosity of donors to the College.

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