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Anything But Plain

Photo courtesy of Nicholas D. Lombardi, S.J., Ph.D.

Though modestly described in some literature as “plain wooden doors,” the University Church’s 19th century doors can only be called “plain” in the sense that Horace used the term simplex munditiis, or perhaps “simply elegant.”

Recently restored, the three outstanding elements no longer fade into the woodwork. The tympanum (the top of the doors) goes back to the 1800s, where Mary, the Mother of God is depicted with a torch and sword on either side. The Latin inscription just below it, illi autem sunt in pace (“they, however, are in peace”) was added in 1948 when Francis Cardinal Spellman, then both military vicar and archbishop of New York, dedicated the new Fordham University war memorial.

The memorial can be found just inside the vestibule, where the names of Fordham alumni who gave their lives in service of their country during World War II are carved in oak panels.

What the doors’ recent restoration reveals is the third element, previously obscured by time and weathering: the four military service emblems: Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. The “plain wooden doors” are now truly a jewel of history at the landmark University Church.

—Gina Vergel

Fordham University Hosts Scholars for Weekend of Woolf

Tamar Katz, Ph.D., speaks at Woolf and the City, a four-day conference held at Fordham.
Photo by Janet Sassi

More than 200 scholars from around the world converged on Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus from June 4-7 for “Woolf and the City,” the 19th Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf.

Through four days of discussions, plenary sessions and performances related to Woolf’s writings, scholars explored the enigmatic author and feminist’s complex relationship to her beloved London.

Attendees were treated to a performance of the 2004 play Vita and Virginia, written by Dame Eileen Atkins and directed by Matthew Maguire, director of Fordham’s theatre program.

“Woolf today, in the 21st century, has emerged as not just a woman writer, but as a great writer,” said Anne Fernald, Ph.D., associate professor of English, director of writing and composition at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, and organizer of the conference. “She speaks to so many people—politically, socially and artistically.”

Tamar Katz, Ph.D., associate professor of English and urban studies at Brown University and one of the plenary speakers, said that critics examining Woolf’s urban writings see her role as a flaneur—a narrator who wanders through the city to observe and experience it.

In her talk, “Pausing, Waiting,” Katz referenced two of Woolf’s novels set in London—Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and The Years (1937). Both novels, she said, illustrate the author’s use of time and rhythms in urban life—particularly those moments that her characters spend pausing and waiting—as a means to develop larger themes and questions about the human condition.

“If there is an optimism to the narrative model that Woolf figures to the city, it is one in which we are always pausing, waiting and looking,” said Katz, author of Impressionist Subjects: Gender, Interiority and Modernist Fiction in England (Illinois Press, 2000). Such anticipation, said Katz, is a form of suspension that leans forward toward a future revelation that can be horrific or pleasing.

— Janet Sassi

Future Ailey Stars Hit Fordham

Children of employees and faculty members got a taste of the Fordham experience on April 23 at Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The young guests had the chance to sample some of the University’s finest offerings—from a dance class taught by students in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program to a mock trial at Fordham Law. Although the day is a tradition at Fordham, sponsored by the Fordham University Association, this marked the first year that events were held at the Lincoln Center campus as well.

—Joseph McLaughlin

IPED Students Claim Fellowships

Several students in the International Political Economy and Development program (IPED) will take prestigious positions with aid groups this fall, according to Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., IPED’s director.

Bridget Bucardo Rivera, who will receive her master’s degree in August, has been named an International Development Fellow by Catholic Relief Services, and will be assigned to Nicaragua in the fall. Through an IPED International Peace and Development Travel Fellowship, Rivera is currently working in El Salvador with Catholic Relief Services on a four-country initiative that assists 7,100 small-holder coffee producers in Central America and Mexico.

John Briggs, also an August graduate, also has been named an International Development Fellow by Catholic Relief Services, and in the fall will be assigned to Uganda. He is currently working in Honduras with Catholic Relief Services on a project that will offer at-risk youth options for meaningful and sustainable livelihoods through vocational training. Briggs is also an IPED International Peace and Development Travel Fellowship recipient.

Catholic Relief Services uses its International Development Fellows Program to recruit the best and brightest from among the graduates of the leading graduate programs in international development, according to Schwalbenberg, who says out of a thousand applications, only about 20 are chosen. Given the small size of the IPED program, Schwalbenberg said he is very pleased to account for about 10 percent of all successful applicants.

Chengguang Zhao, although not officially selected as an International Development Fellow, has been offered a contract to continue his work with Catholic Relief Services in Sierra Leone. Through an IPED International Peace and Development Travel Fellowship, Zhao has helped to implement a U.S. Department of Agriculture school feeding program.


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