12 Receive Tenure
Oberlin’s Board of Trustees has approved recommendations to reappoint with continuous tenure 12 assistant professors and promote them to the rank of associate professor. The newly tenured associate professors are:
- Laura Baudot, English
- Jack Calcut, Mathematics
- Julia Christensen, Art (studio)
- Janet Fiskio, Environmental Studies
- Amy Margaris, Archeological Studies and Anthropology
- Mohammad Jafar (Amir) Mahallati, Religion
- Greggor Mattson, Sociology
- Emer O'Dwyer, History and East Asian Studies
- Tracie Paine, Neuroscience
- Viplav Saini, Economics
- Claire T. Solomon, Hispanic Studies
- Natasha Tessone, English
Laura Baudot is an open book about eighteenth-century British literature, art, and book history for her students. Her classes often include “lab sessions”—rare in literature courses—which take place in the Oberlin College Library Special Collections, the Letterpress Studio, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Baudot's research engages with eighteenth-century literature in the context of print culture, visual art, the history of science, and intellectual history. She has published articles in journals such as Eighteenth-Century Studies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and SEL: Studies in English Literature. Currently, she is completing her book manuscript, Vain Things: Books, Voids, and the Transforming Vanitas in the Eighteenth Century, which places the vanitas in conversation with developments in print culture, experimental science, and literary culture. Her book's central claim is that recovering the complexity of the vanitas as a philosophical and artistic engagement with matter and emptiness offers fresh insights into the development of modern selfhood.
Jack Calcut has taught a number of mathematics courses since coming to Oberlin in 2010, including calculus I and II, linear algebra, geometry, and topology. Calcut’s primary research interests include low dimensional topology, geometric topology, and real algebraic topology. He has authored more than a dozen publications and has delivered research talks at universities across the country and at Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia. He has coauthored two publications with Oberlin students. Calcut says he works hard to deliver lectures that motivate the material and promote conceptual understanding while maintaining rigorous mathematical definitions and logical reasoning.
Julia Christensen is a multidisciplinary artist in the studio art department. Her current research focus is electronic waste and reuse, for which she earned a Creative Capital arts grant in 2013. Her project follows the trail of discarded e-waste, such as cell phones and computers, as it is stripped down and shipped around the globe. This spring, her work is featured in a solo show, "Burnouts," at 21C Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and her piece "The Chuck Close Tapes" has been on view in the group exhibition "Wave & Particle" at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts Gallery in New York City. She is currently working on an exhibition in France, set to debut in fall 2015, that will include work from her "Big Box Reuse" project. Christensen teaches introductory and advanced interdisciplinary media art courses, which focus on video, sound, installation, performance, and interactivity. From 2007 to 2011, as the Henry Luce Visiting Assistant Professor of the Emerging Arts, she additionally taught in the Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA) department while building the current media program in the studio art department. She has also served on the Environmental Studies Program Committee.
Janet Fiskio attended Earlham College for her undergraduate studies and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in environmental science, studies, and policy at the University of Oregon. She came to Oberlin in 2009 committed to interdisciplinary work, environmental justice, and community-based learning and research, and since arriving, has particularly focused on food justice in the rust belt as well as climate change. Her research methods combine textual analysis and critical race theory with participant-observation and community collaboration. She has published essays in venues such as American Literature, Race, Gender, and Class, and The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Environment. She has found that her students are her most compelling interlocutors, with as much insight and inspiration to offer her as she does them. Dialogue with her students has led to her current book project on activism and utopia, Counter Friction: Poetics, Politics, and Performance of Climate Justice. For Fiskio, being an educator is her way of bridging the gap between the realms of academia and activism: “I believe teaching is a force for social change, and I have faith in my students’ abilities to make a difference,” she says.
In 2006, Amy Margaris ’96 returned to the campus where she earned her undergraduate degree, ready to experience Oberlin through a new lens. As Oberlin’s anthropological archaeologist, Margaris’ teaching and research reflect her deep interest in human-object relationships. She regularly offers courses on archaeology, human evolution, hunter gatherers, and colonialism, and has published papers in such journals as Museum Anthropology, Ethnoarchaeology, and the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. Margaris’ research combines elements of fieldwork, lab experimentation, and the analysis of museum collections. Students have joined her in each of these endeavors, from excavating a colonial-era Native Alutiiq site in Kodiak, Alaska, to investigating the design and use of prehistoric tools from hunter-gatherer communities. Her current research examines 19th-century natural history museums and their legacy for object-centered teaching at Oberlin today.
Mohammad Jafar (Amir) Mahallati
Mohammad Jafar Mahallati achieved his multidisciplinary and multicultural peace-building experience through work at the United Nations in the field of conflict resolution for a decade, teaching international relations at the graduate level (Columbia and Georgetown Universities) for another decade, and eight years of teaching Islamic studies at Oberlin College. During his diplomatic career, he played a key role in ending the Iran-Iraq war in 1989. His research has focused on the ethics of peacemaking in Islam in the context of comparative religions. His future project, Ethics of Apology and Forgiveness in Politics: A Christian and Muslim Perspective, investigates ethico-religious arguments that aim to end current wars and prevent future ones. Besides his scholarly interests in religious studies, Mahallati enjoys pursuing his interests in Islamic arts and literature, specifically Sufi poetry and sacred calligraphy. He has co-translated into English two published volumes on the poetry of the contemporary Iranian poet Sohrab Sepehri.
Greggor Mattson teaches courses in urban sociology, the sociology of sexuality, law and society, and seminars on alcohol and prostitution. Mattson is currently working on three research projects on the state, sexuality, and racial classification. He has a paper forthcoming in Urban Studies on gentrification and sexuality. He is finishing production on a book, The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reforms, scheduled for release in October 2015. The book analyzes recent European conflicts over prostitution and human trafficking in Germany, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. His research was funded in part by a Fulbright Scholarship to the European Union and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He has involved Oberlin students in the project by training them to work with recorded interview data and to construct databases to track legal changes across countries and international organizations. Mattson is also interested in Nordic nationalisms. His first paper on Swedish racial science appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History in 2014.
Emer O’Dwyer teaches Japanese history with research interests in imperial, urban, political, and social history. Her book Significant Soil: Settler Colonialism and Japan’s Urban Empire in Manchuria will be published by Harvard University Asia Center Press in June 2015. A forthcoming book project explores Japanese experiences of the immediate post-defeat period, 1945-1947. O’Dwyer earned a bachelor’s in East Asian studies from Harvard University and a PhD in history and East Asian languages from Harvard. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies during the 2010-11 academic year and a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress from 2011 and 2012. She will be an academic associate at Harvard’s Program on U.S.-Japan Relations for the 2015-16 academic year.
Tracie Paine is a behavioral neuroscientist whose research uses a combination of behavioral and molecular biological techniques to investigate the neurobiology of cognitive functions such as attention and impulse control. She was recently awarded a National Institute of Mental Health Academic Research Enhancement Award for her research investigating the contribution of cortical GABA function to schizophrenia-like changes in attention. Paine, along with an Oberlin student, have published in Psychopharmacology, Neuropharmacology, Behavioral Brain Research and Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. Paine teaches introduction to neuroscience and neuropharmacology courses and laboratories in addition to mentoring students.
Viplav Saini's research is in the field of industrial organization, a branch of economics that studies the business strategies of firms, often using tools from game theory. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from John Hopkins University in 2009, and was a visiting scholar in economics at the University of Michigan during 2012-2013. Saini currently teaches courses on industrial organization and microeconomic theory. He has published papers in various economics publications, including the RAND Journal of Economics, Economic Inquiry, and Economics Letters. Saini has also served as a referee for publications such as the International Journal of Industrial Organization as well as for the National Science Foundation. One of his current projects studies the behavior of firms bidding for road construction contracts in Nepal under a novel e-bidding auction design.
Claire T. Solomon
Claire Solomon teaches all areas of modern and contemporary (19th-21st century) Latin American literature and culture, as well as courses in comparative literature, literary analysis, and theory. Solomon’s research interests include 20th and 21st century Latin American and comparative literature; literary and cultural theory; North and South American Yiddish theater; popular and avant-garde theater; pop culture; continental and American philosophy; music and music theory; Gender Studies; and Diaspora Studies. In 2014, Solomon’s book, Fictions of the Bad Life: The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880-2010, was published by The Ohio State University Press. Solomon’s students describe her as “amazing,” “energetic,” and “wonderful” and say her passion for Latin American literature and culture is evident in and outside the classroom.
An expert in British Romanticism, Natasha Tessone has taught at Oberlin since fall 2010. The courses she teaches range from Introduction to the Advanced Study of Literature; to Victoria’s Secrets; to Jews, Gypsies, and Others in Nineteenth-Century Literature. A class with her ensures a new understanding of the Romantic canon, as well as English, Irish, and Scottish literature. Tessone’s research and teaching also cover the topics of the Scottish Enlightenment, nationalism in literature, and postcolonial theory, which has led her to write several journal articles on such topics. Tessone’s book, Disputed Titles: Ireland, Scotland, and the Novel of Inheritance, 1798-1832, which examines the importance of the fiction of inheritance for the growth of the Scottish and Irish novel in the Romantic period, is forthcoming from Bucknell University Press.