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What’s in a Language? Anthropology Professor Speaks on the Origins of Language

Lowell Gustafson“The Science of Humanity: Tongues, Stones, and Bones” is the theme of this year’s Anthropology Lecture Series hosted by Falvey. Lowell Gustafson, Ph.D., professor of political science and associate dean of social sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, will host the first lecture with his presentation, “Speaking Up: The Origins of Language” on Tue., Feb. 10, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the first floor lounge of Falvey.

Linguistics, or the study of language, is one of the main sub-fields of anthropology. It is also one of the most important things that define what it means to be human. Many languages are spoken around the world, and which language we speak, be it French, German, Chinese or Arabic, can often serve to divide us. However, the fact that we have language is common to virtually all human beings.

But what is language? When and how did it originate? How did it reach the highly sophisticated level it is at today such that it significantly distinguishes humanity? Why did human beings start to speak up in the first place? Dr. Gustafson will offer insights and answers into these questions.

Dr. Gustafson has been teaching at Villanova University for the past 23 years. He offers classes in political anthropology, Latin American politics and international relations. His research interests focus on the same areas

This is the first of three presentations that make up the Anthropology Lecture Series for the spring semester.


Folklore: An Unconventional Way of Interpreting African New World Fiction

Chiji AkomaFolklore in New World Black Fiction: Writing and the Oral Traditional Aesthetics, the recent book by Chiji Akoma, Ph.D., focuses on his new readings of African folklore. Dr. Akoma will present his scholarship on Wed., Feb. 11, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. in the first floor lounge of Falvey.

His talk, open to all, will be of special interest to those in Africana Studies, as well as those intrigued by investigations of orality and literacy in black fiction.

In his book, Dr. Akoma offers a different perspective for approaching the African New World novel, one which focuses on folklore. Rather than identifying African cultural references in the narratives of some New World writers of African descent, Dr. Akoma contends that these writers may, in fact, be reconfiguring the aesthetics of African oral performance. (more…)


Behind the Scenes: Managing the Piles of Books Returned!

Clare sorting books

What happens to borrowed books after you return them to the circulation desk or drop them off in the book drop after library hours? These books somehow appear back on the shelves, waiting for the next person to check them out again.

Not surprisingly, there is a very methodical process for the discharging of books and how they get back to their respective places on the book shelves. The process is known as stacks management.

“There has always existed a stacks management operation, responsible for shelving returned books, shifting the stacks when it was needed and shelf-checking for out-of-place volumes,” says Falvey Stacks Manager Domenick Liberato. (more…)


"Jesus for President": Authors Call for Creativity, Faith and Activism

They called the lecture “Jesus for President, Unplugged, Librarian Style,” and while authors Chris Haw and Shane Claiborne discussed their book Jesus for President, the Psalter Singers injected the lecture with refugee-inspired songs.

The lecture, an adaptation of their lecture presented on tour in 21 cities last summer, focused on imagination, creativity and alternative ideas in everyday life. Drawing from their book, Claiborne explained how “Jesus was teaching not just a way of believing, but a way of living.” The authors reiterated the need for human beings themselves to be the answer for what they want in the world, and urged people to live out their opinions everyday. (more…)


Marriage, Sex and Theology: Professor Examines Role of Sexual Difference in Marriage

Are there theological reasons why the two main characters in a marriage are traditionally a man and a woman? What is the role of sexual difference in a marriage?

These were some of the questions raised by Christopher C. Roberts, Ph.D., during the Nov. 18 discussion of his book, Creation and Covenant: The Significance of Sexual Difference in the Moral Theology of Marriage. (more…)


Christianity Before Christ: Simone Weil’s Interpretations of Greek Literature

In 1938, agnostic philosopher and political activist, Simone Weil experienced a mystical encounter with Christ. While the experience revealed the realm of the supernatural to her, it also offered her a new understanding on reality and on Greek literature in particular. Weil, a deep and intense thinker, now started seeing Greek classics as the embodiment of an authentic Christian spirit.

On Nov. 13, Marie Cabaud Meaney, D.Phil., offered an insight into these various Christian perspectives on Greek literature. Drawing from various publications that look at the work of Weil, Dr. Meaney presented Weil’s Christological readings of the Iliad and Sophocles’ “Antigone.”    (more…)

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Election Series Continues: Dr. Barrett Relates the Importance of National Security Issues

Speaking to an audience of approximately 45 people, David Barrett, Ph.D., discussed the significance of national security issues in the current presidential elections.

David Barrett

“National security issues are important in the presidential election and campaign and should be considered by voters, but the current economic crisis has overshadowed this concern,” said Barrett.

His talk “National Security and the Election,” that took place on Oct. 23, was the third in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election series.

Dr. Barrett, professor of political science, has been teaching at Villanova University for the past nineteen years. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of national security policy, U.S. intelligence and the U.S. presidency. In recent years, his research interests have focused on the U.S. Presidents, Congress and the CIA.

Drawing from his book, The CIA and Congress: The Untold Story From Truman to Kennedy, Dr. Barrett explained how candidates can present some issues as more important than others to voters. It is easier to talk about illegal immigrants than it is about restructuring the way intelligence agencies work or don’t work.

Dr. Barrett talked about how national security challenges and issues such as Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran are very hard to solve, which is why candidates tend to either oversimplify or over promise solutions. As a result, “national security issues are not a top concern for voters in this election,” he said.

Photograph by Jen Cywinski, ’10


Thanks to Senior Class Gift, Falvey Improves Printing Services


Until this academic year, Falvey Memorial Library was experiencing difficulties with its printing services. The main printer broke down constantly, resulting in down time and frustration for students and library personnel. Students were frequently unable to print their documents since the printer had been temporarily shut down. Despite the problems, Falvey’s printing operations continued to be popular with students and remained one of the busiest printing sites on campus.

However, all of that changed this year when the graduating class of 2008 decided to give its senior class gift to the Library for improved printing and computing facilities.

The 2008 senior class gift committee consisted of twelve seniors. Although the committee narrowed the options down to a few recipients, the graduating class overwhelmingly decided, through an online vote, to give its gift to Falvey. With 84% of the graduating class participating in the vote, students raised over $27,000 for the gift.

Library Director Joe Lucia explained that one third of the gift money was used to upgrade Falvey’s first floor public printer to a faster, more reliable machine. The remaining funds were spent to install new computers throughout the library building. Lucia said that, with the help of the gift, Falvey was able to install 90 new public computers.

Second-year communication graduate student Amy Lupisella, a regular user of Falvey printing, says “I’m really glad they have this new facility. I find myself spending less time standing in line in front of the printer waiting my turn. Plus, I haven’t once seen the printer out of order. I’m happy because, overall, it’s a time saver both for students and the library staff members who always had to be called on to fix it!”

When asked about the new computers, Lupisella said, “They look great, and I like the addition of Macs this year.”

Lucia is pleased that the students wanted their gift invested in the Library. “It’s reassuring to see that library services remain highly valuable to the students,” he noted.

Photograph by Natalie Tomasco


Political Science Professor Discusses Latino Vote and the Presidential Election

Catherine Wilson, Ph.D.On Oct. 1, Catherine Wilson, Ph.D., discussed “Competing for the Latino Vote” in light of the current U.S. presidential election. Her presentation was the second of four in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election series sponsored by Falvey Memorial Library. The event also kicked off Hispanic Cultural Heritage Month at Villanova University.

In her talk, she focused on the need to understand the political behavior of Latinos and their involvement in the elections. As the largest minority in the United States, Latinos are fast becoming a key voting population to which current and future presidential candidates will need to be more attentive. Drawing from her recently published book, The Politics of Latino Faith: Religion, Identity and Urban Community, Dr. Wilson discussed the importance of Latinos’ political involvement in the United States.

Dr. Wilson teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American government, immigration politics, effective nonprofit management, and religion and politics. Her research interests pertain to issues of religion and politics, Latino politics, immigration politics, and nonprofits and social service delivery. Dr. Wilson is an assistant professor in the department of political science and the Center for Liberal Education. She is also the nonprofit course coordinator of the Master of Public Administration program.

Photograph by Jack Ansley

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Last Modified: November 2, 2008

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