Faculty News

Dr. Brendan Prawdzik (Literature and Languages), the SOA’s Milton scholar, has been hard at work. He has two newly released publications and one forthcoming. The article “‘Look on Me’: Theater, Gender, and Poetic Identity Formation in Milton’s Mask,” was published in Studies in Philology, (October, 2013). An abstract is currently available online and the collection will be in print circulation later this month. His review of a book on Structures of Feeling in Early Modern Cultural Expression was published online and is due for release in print in the December issue of The Seventeenth Century. Also due in December in the journal Notes & Queries is his article “State-Building in Harrington’s Oceana and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Bks. I-II,”


Dr. Kristin Pruitt and Dr. Brendan Prawdzik

During the weekend of Oct. 17th, he also attended the biennial Conference on John Milton, in Murfreesboro, TN. While there, he met with CBU Profressor Emeritus and former SOA Milton scholar, Dr. Kristin Pruitt and presented his paper “Theater of Vegetable Love and the Occult Fall in Paradise Lost“. The conference is the premier Milton event in the U.S. Dr. Prawdzik presented at the previous conference in 2011.

Faculty from the Education Department have been busy traveling across the region attending and presenting at various conferences. Dr. Ric Potts, Dr. Cort Casey, Dr. Samantha Alperin, & Mrs. Rita Ranisczewski attended the Tennessee Association of Colleges of Teacher Education Meeting in Nashville on September 26th and 27th. Dr. Ric Potts & Dr. Samantha Alperin then presented at the Diocese Fall Professional Conference at Christian Brothers High School on October 18th.

Coming up, Dr. Wendy Ashcroft & Dr. Samantha Alperin will be presenting at a Special Education Inservice for Martin Institute at PDS on November 15th. And then Dr. Samantha Alperin will be presenting at and be on the steering committee at the Huether Lasallian Education Conference in New Orleans November 20th – 22nd.



Jana Travis (Chair, Visual and Performing Arts Department) has work on display at ANF Architects, 1500 Union Ave, as part of the River Arts Fest Invitational Exhibition. The show runs through Oct. 21st.



Dr. Emily Holmes (center)


Dr. Emily Holmes (Religion and Philosophy) was a panel speaker St. John’s Methodist Church for The Memphis Center for Food and Faith Presentation of The Spirituality of Eating with Dr. Norman Wirzba, Professor of Theology and Ecology Duke Divinity School.


Congratulations to Dr. Jeffrey Sable (Behavioral Sciences) for being recognized as the Outstanding New Academic Advisor for 2012-2013!

Dr. Neal Palmer (Chair, History and Political Science) presented a paper at the Ohio Valley History Conference in Bowling Green, KY on October 11th. The paper, called “The Nineteenth-Century Origins of the Supermax,” presents the basic argument that supermax prisons, now operating in over 33 states and several foreign countries, are typically presented as a new solution to the new problem of dealing with a violent and unruly prison population, but in truth both the solution and problem have precursors that date back to the early and mid-1800s. Knowing the true history of the supermax can move us towards seeing its true purpose, which is to cover up the widespread problems within the current prison system that spark prisoner disobedience and violence.

WLB_Distruptive_PatternNick Pena (Visual and Performing Arts) has an exhibit at Lyon College from November 4th – December 13th. In his recent series What Lies Beneath, Peña’s artwork culminates in a more serious, social or political inquiry about family structures and how society struggles to define and redefine what that structure looks like in an increasingly fragmented society. These inquiries culminate into paintings that strive to raise questions rather than provide answers and percolate with a mysterious abstract underlying component. The exhibition for Lyon College will showcase a series of paintings and a site-specific installation. Opening Reception is Thursday, November 14th, 5-7 p.m. Visit his website for more info.

Student News

1235134_314895665317150_1719407202_nStudents in Biological Psychology (PSYC 225) participate in the first course lab using psychophysiology equipment acquired during the summer. Shannon Joyce (Biomedical Science), Jes Schneider (Biology), and April Collins (Psychology) record electromyographic (EMG) activity from Kristian DeRidder’s (Psychology) forearm. This is the first of seven labs that are now part of the course. In future labs, students will record and analyze stomach contractions (EGG), brain activity (EEG), emotion (facial EMG), and stress (EDA and EKG).

MONW50thInstructor Eliza Warren (Literature & Languages) and 26 of her CBU students attended the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington at the National Civil Rights Museum on August 28. There were performers, bands, speakers–including a man who was at the March in ’63, a recitation of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and much, much more.

Study Abroad in Rome!

Study Abroad 14Religious Studies Trip • May 19 – 27, 2014

Join our walking classroom as we experience the sights and sounds of ancient, medieval, and modern Rome, the Eternal City. Experience the darkness of the catacombs, see the wonders of St. Peter’s Basilica, and appreciate the masterpieces of the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. Explore medieval streets and visit early Christian churches. Celebrate with Pope Francis, and reflect on the many martyrs, monks, pilgrims, and mystics who passed through Rome. Take your own pilgrimage on a day trip to the beautiful Umbrian towns of Assisi, home of Sts. Francis and Claire, and Foligno, home of Blessed Angela. Wrap up your week with optional visits to the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Villa Borghese Gardens, or the Roman Forum, and enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of Rome.

Study Abroad 2B

What does it mean to be “spiritual”? To be “religious”? What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? How are Christian beliefs put into practice? How do practices, and places, shape beliefs? This course examines the historical development and contemporary expression of Christian spirituality through four different ways of life: martyrdom, monasticism, mysticism, and pilgrimage. To deepen our understanding of these forms of Christian spirituality, we will read primary texts from the history of Christianity: martyrologies, the Rule of St. Benedict, the Memorial of Angela of Foligno, the works of Sts. Francis and Clare, and descriptions of medieval pilgrimage. The course will culminate with a (required) visit to the sites of our study in Rome, Foligno, and Assisi.

RS 294: Special Topics: Honors Christian Spirituality
RS 324: Honors Christian Spirituality
GER Pending • Open to non-honors students with permission of the Honors Program Director.

Requires permission of Honors Program director to enroll in honors sections. Questions about the courses offered should be directed to Dr. Emily Holmes at eholmes1@cbu.edu.

Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence – Daryl Stephens, ’14, Psychology

Daryl_Stephens_PicThis semester I am working as an undergraduate intern at the Exchange Club Family Center (EC) on Union Avenue, as part of the Psychology Practicum. The Exchange Club provides services for women and children victims of domestic violence, as well as anger management, life skills, and parenting classes. This past week my supervisor called me and asked me to join her on a special errand. A woman had been the victim of a nearly fatal domestic assault, and she and her child had to flee from their home and seek police protection. She was being housed at an undisclosed location while police officers looked for the offender, and because she was unable to leave, she was unable to get food for herself and her child.

Many of our domestic violence referrals come from the Family Safety Center, which is located not too far from the Exchange Club and is currently under the direction of Melissa Farrar, a licensed clinical social worker at EC. My supervisor was asked to go collect groceries for this woman because she was unable to do so, and I was fortunate enough to ride along with her and see how this process worked. We were sent by Melissa to a food bank-style setup housed in a church in Frayser. We presented a letter explaining our needs for the victim, and within twenty minutes we were given bags full of fresh produce and meats, canned foods, and other dry goods. We were told that their food was mostly provided by the Mid-South Food Bank, but they were also given free goods by local shop owners who could not sell them.

I was unable to help my supervisor deliver the groceries to the victim, but it was truly amazing to see that in a city so plagued by domestic violence against women and children we are still able to provide these types of services for the families. Although Memphis only has one women’s shelter for victims of violence and abuse, it was refreshing to see that other organizations throughout the city are willing to provide for these victims and help improve their lives in any small but meaningful way.

Melting Ice; Mending Creation

On October 3rd, Dr. Ben Jordan (Director of the Living Learning Communities) hosted an interfaith discussion group to talk about a Catholic approach to climate change in honor of this year’s Feast of St. Francis program highlighting the Pontifical Academy of Science’s Working Group report titled Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene. The program featured the photographic evidence of melting glaciers as documented by James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey. Balog is the science photographer behind the recently released documentary film Chasing Ice.

Whiteout Glacier, Alaska, June 13, 2008

James Balog, Whiteout Glacier, Alaska, June 13, 2008

“The mixture of students, Christian Brothers, staff, and faculty of different faiths made for an engaging discussion for the ‘Melting Ice, Mending Creation’ event,” Dr. Jordan said. “I was particularly intrigued by the comments that science’s data about glaciers melting and global temperature rising might help convince people that there is a climate change problem, but that linking those concerns to faith and spirituality can often do a better job of motivating more people to take action. The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, hosts a national event like this each year in honor of the Feast of Saint Francis for schools, colleges, and churches – so I look forward to another good event next year that allows CBU folks of different faiths to explore how spirituality shapes our understanding of the environment and sustainability”

logo_covenantAs the Catholic Climate Covenant states on their webpage, “Catholics are called to respect God’s creation and deal with environmental issues, particularly as they affect the poor. Vatican and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statements have highlighted the moral imperative for Catholics to care for God’s creation and its impact on those least able to respond. These statements are based on scientific evidence and public discourse which have converged in making climate change such an urgent moral imperative.”

Also in attendance for the discussion was Biochemistry major and Lasallian Fellow, Anna Birg. She had this to say: “For many, religion is a means to gain moral insight and to help one another. In this case, the moral issue at hand is rising environmental temperatures, which are causing glaciers to melt, promoting high and unsafe sea levels. Although I am neither Catholic nor a Christian, I do recognize that religion, spirituality, and faith can all be means for people to realize the negative effect pollution is having on the world and to make changes. For example, Catholic values encourage people to become more environmentally friendly because the religion emphasizes that the Earth is God’s creation and that society must care for and protect it to show their gratitude. Additionally, as the group discussed, the Lasallian values of faith, community, and service tie in to the need to improve the community’s surroundings, particularly through education, institutional practices such as recycling, and CBU’s September of Service.”

Students interested in studying this theme further may want to take Dr. Mary Leigh Pittenger’s new Spring RS 292 class on “Environmental Theology.” CBU also offers a Minor in Sustainability Studies.

Dr. Karl Leib Reflects On Constitution Day Discussion

Constitution Day arose from a 2005 law which requires colleges receiving federal aid to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution. CBU has honored the Constitution each year since with public seminars and guest speakers, which provides our campus community an opportunity to get reacquainted with our nation’s founding document. This year, I led a roundtable discussion entitled, “Why We Need a Constitution.”

Given the embittered political environment of the present day, we can easily ask if the Constitution matters at all. Do politicians and the public still care about, let alone understand, the intricacies of a document written sporadically by many hands over two centuries? Can we reach a consensus on the Constitution, its meaning, and what if any changes should be made to it?

The students and faculty who took part in Constitution Day this year explored many of these questions. It was an amicable but lively conversation. Given the debates in September over military action against Syria, it was perhaps inevitable the issue of war powers should arise. The Constitution divides that function, ambiguously, between Congress and the president. While Article I grants Congress the sole the power to declare war, this power has not been exercised since the Second World War. Article II in turn designates the president as “commander in chief” of the armed forces. How far does the president’s power to command military forces go before requiring Congressional action?  When does the president require a formal congressional declaration of war, or at least an “authorization to use military force”? Not surprisingly, presidents of both parties have read (and used) their powers broadly, often more broadly than their congressional critics.

Another topic at this year’s Constitution Day was the perennial issue of religion and politics. What exactly does the Constitution say about religion? Very little, though the mere 36 words devoted to the subject carry volumes of meaning. The Constitution forbids religious “tests” as requirements to hold public office (Article VI), bars the “establishment” of religion (Amendment I), and forbids restrictions on the “free exercise of religion” (also Amendment I). It is fair to say that those provisions leave considerable room for debate. How far does religious freedom extend? Surely not to acts deemed illegal in other contexts; human sacrifice is still murder. But how much “separation” between the institutions of government and the institutions of religion(s) is required by the Constitution? How neutral must the government be?

I mentioned that our conversation was lively, but we did not achieve full agreement, nor did I expect that we would. Definitive answers on these questions are elusive, as the sheer number of Supreme Court cases suggest. The framers of Constitution may have left us a Constitution perpetually “under construction.” It is perhaps more important that we continue to wrestle with these questions. This is the best way to fully appreciate the critical importance of the Constitution for our country. On to Constitution Day 2014!

The Spirit in Belgrade by Dr. James B. Wallace

Belgrade from the Sava River, with the steeple of Holy Archangel Michael Cathedral in the background.

Belgrade from the Sava River, with the steeple of Holy Archangel Michael Cathedral in the background.

The Balkans – and Belgrade in particular – have long been a meeting place of East and West. In the long and tragic history of conquest, subjugation, and revolt, this meeting has often been violent. But it has also led to more irenic blends of East and West, most obviously in Eastern Orthodox churches in Belgrade and surrounding areas. Like almost every Orthodox church, the Archangel Michael Cathedral in Belgrade contains an iconostasis (or wall of icons) that separates the people from the altar, where the clergy officiate. The style of the iconography, however, is thoroughly Western. The icons resemble Western paintings in their realism and detail, and are not like the more idealized images of saints typical of Byzantine and Russian iconography. And yet, one need not travel far to find Orthodox churches built in a different style.  The small chapel next to St. Sava’s Church – one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world – displays a return to more traditional forms of iconography.  Every inch of the interior walls, from floor to ceiling, is painted with icons more reminiscent of the Byzantine style.

St. Sava’s Cathedral, Belgrade, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world.

The author. St. Sava’s Cathedral, Belgrade, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world.

I was in Belgrade for another meeting of East and West. From August 25-August 31, I attended the Sixth International Symposium of New Testament Scholars. These conferences bring together Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox New Testament scholars to discuss a common theme.  This year’s theme was, “The Holy Spirit and the Church According to the New Testament.” For each session, the organizers paired a paper by an Orthodox scholar with a paper by a Western scholar on the same subject, such as “The Holy Spirit and the Church in the Gospel of John.” Although debates about finer points of interpretation always followed the papers, we often reached agreement in our interpretation of major points. It was said more than once that the “Western” paper was “more Orthodox” than the “Orthodox” paper. We were thus reminded that our constructs of “East” and “West” are often rather artificial.In the afternoons, we held three concurrent seminars. I was one of three co-chairs of the seminar, “The Spirit in Ancient Judaism.” During the Tuesday session, I presented my paper, “Spirit in The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” which explores a fascinating blend of Old Testament, Persian, and Stoic concepts of “spirit” in a non-canonical, Jewish text.

The Holy Spirit has often been regarded as the most difficult Person of the Trinity to write and speak about, even though, ironically, the Spirit is the Person most intimately linked in the New Testament with the human experience of the divine (especially in Paul’s letters) and the disciples’ ability to understand and interpret Jesus’s ministry (especially in John’s Gospel). Just as the Spirit eludes the grasp of language, the most profound dimensions of the Symposium resist easy formulations. The heart – indeed, the joy – of this conference was the opportunity to connect with colleagues from other parts of the world.

This image comes from the frescos that cover the interior of a small chapel at Kovilj Monastery. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and the book symbolizes Scripture. This icon was taken as the official symbol for our symposium.

This image comes from the frescos that cover the interior of a small chapel at Kovilj Monastery. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and the book symbolizes Scripture. This icon served as the official symbol for our symposium.

The hospitality of our Serbian hosts seemed boundless, and the collegial spirit of the Symposium made it one of the richest professional experiences of my life thus far. During the long, multi-course meals, I might find myself with a Belorussian colleague to my left, a Romanian colleague to my right, and a German colleague in front of me. While sitting outdoors at a restaurant in the countryside, surrounded by orchards and enjoying the copious amounts of food we were served, we discussed church life and our intellectual pursuits, as well as the challenges of balancing family life with our careers. We listened to Serbian folk music and enjoyed traditional Serbian food. I conversed with a Serbian bishop committed equally to the spiritual life of the Serbian Orthodox Church and to rigorous engagement with the Western intellectual tradition. These opportunities for learning from one another and exchanging ideas were where I felt the Spirit most fully.

Who Said Learning Can’t Be Fun?

TAS KingsleyAriel Kingsley is a senior graduating from the Behavioral Sciences Department this May. She recently presented her research on “The Effect of Metaphor vs. Declarative Narrative on the Reduction of Negative Affect and Stress Caused by Moderate Trauma” at the Annual Tennessee Academy of Science Conference. This research was conducted for the purpose of trying to discover if specific techniques of writing therapy may better help those suffering from negative affect, intrusion, and avoidance in regards to a specific moderate trauma, such as a bad break-up, failing a class, or having a confrontation with authority.

There were several interesting findings, such as that writing declaratively (lacking metaphor) might aid in the reduction of avoidance. Also, facilitating incubation (a flash of insight following putting a task out of one’s conscious thoughts for a period of time), especially if aided by a low cognitive task such as reading or writing, during a session focused on the reduction of these symptoms caused by moderate trauma might aid in this same reduction. Additionally, writing about an upsetting event with any technique may help in the reduction of negative reactions to the event, as was shown by the overall reduction of negative affect and intrusion of the trauma memories across the groups.

Throughout the semester, Ariel also served as a teaching assistant to Dr. Elizabeth Nelson in a special topics class she offered on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which broadly covers the symptomatology, risk factors, trauma characteristics, and therapies for those that survive trauma but develop PTSD as a result. Despite the, at times, gloomy subject matter, the class still managed to have fun through a scattering of upbeat final lectures, many of which involve an experiential activity to enhance learning.

PTSD Mask MakingAriel’s contribution was based on the use of Art Therapy for those suffering from PTSD. After covering the why’s and how’s of the subject, the class, including Dr. Nelson, got to experience one of the discussed methods of Art Therapy, mask making. Mask making is a commonly used, efficacious method for trauma survivors, as it can allow them to create a physical therapy goal, can allow for indirect communication with the therapist or group they are working with, or can allow them to express who they believe they have become because of the trauma they went through. While rocking out to Disney tunes, the class snipped, colored, and glued all manner of materials to their provided masks as they created their way to a better understanding of how Art Therapy can aid trauma survivors, and how they can have fun while doing it.

Ariel hopes to go on to a PhD program in Clinical Psychology in the next few years, and was recently hired at the Brain Imaging Research Center at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences. As a Research Coordinator in this lab, she will aid in work that is hoping to find the best mental health treatment for victims of trauma through the use of fMRI technology.

Her research experience and the knowledge gained through the Behavioral Science Department of Christian Brothers University has been an invaluable asset in the furtherance of her passion for helping those with post-traumatic stress and other anxiety and depressive disorders. She will be presenting this research several more times this semester, most recently at Arkansas Symposium of Undergraduate Psychology Students.

The Collegiate Life Investment Foundation by Brittany Jackson

RunwaySaturday evening of March 23rd, people filled the Grand Ballroom at Rhodes College by the dozens. The Collegiate Life Investment Foundation (C.L.I.F.) hosted its first fashion show entitled Distracted Runway 1.0. It was a benefit event to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving while showcasing local small businesses.

On February 1, 2012, Clifton B Gibbs, a Christian Brothers University graduate and member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, was critically injured in a car accident involving another car whose driver was driving distracted. On February 3rd, Clifton, 23, died from his injuries. As a result, his fiancé, Larissa Redmond, also a Christian Brothers graduate, decided to create C.L.I.F in Clifton’s memory in order to help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, whether it be texting, eating, talking on the phone, putting on make-up, etc. It is just not worth it.

runway2Attendees were able to see some up-and-coming designs from small businesses run by young adults. Those featured in the show were La’Belle Couture designed by Ashley, Team You are Bless designed by Garrison Green, FabGlam Accessories designed by Britney Jackson (me), Big Impressions designed by Demetrius Blade, and PREPared Fashion designed by Prep Curry. Even Clifton’s fraternity brothers were featured in the show as a tribute to him.

Morgan Hanna, a student at Rhodes College, and Essence Owens, Project Coordinator of the Collegiate Life Investment Foundation, helped to make Distracted Runway 1.0 possible. The event had its own special meaning to everyone involved, but the overall meaning mutually shared was making sure Clifton’s memory lived on and those everywhere know that driving distracted is just not worth it. Food was served courtesy of Davielle Boyce, owner of Davielle’s Dee-Licious Entrees, and there was a silent auction featuring the works of various artists around the city and products donated by the Memphis Grizzlies.

When asked briefly about the production and overall turn out of the show, Essence replied, “As Project Coordinator of the Collegiate Life Investment Foundation, Distracted Runway 1.0 was the first event I was given the privilege to oversee from beginning to end, being that it was the first event completely funded by the foundation. The amount of support we received from family, friends, strangers, and vendors was more than we had ever anticipated. I am humbled by the knowledge and experience I’ve gained and look forward to continuing to expose the dangers of distracted driving.”

For more information on C.L.I.F. or information on how you can get involved, please visit http://www.clif2012.org/

Written by Brittany Jackson, English for Corporate Communications, ’14