Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

The thrill of discovery

Humanities students unlock a secret in 10th century poem

Professor Michael Drout poses a question to team members in the Lexomics lab at Wheaton.

Professor Michael Drout poses a question to team members in the Lexomics lab at Wheaton.

With the help of computer analysis, a team of Wheaton scholars has uncovered a 1,200-year-old secret about an Old English poem.

English professor Michael Drout’s summer research students discovered in June that the author of the 10th century poem “Christ III” created the work not out of whole cloth, as previously believed, but by dividing an older poem into two pieces and then inserting new material in the middle. This discovery led the scholars to further insights about the nature of the historic text.

“Using computer programs written by Wheaton students and techniques developed at Wheaton over the past four summers, the team was able to figure out what was sitting on an anonymous author’s desk over a millennium ago,” Drout said. “We determined that the unknown author had a written source, that it was in the form of poetry rather than prose, and that the source was already old when our author adapted it.” [Read more...]

Recipes for recovery

Alumna and daughter publish benefit cookbook

Cheryl Pembridge Larkin ’73 and daughter Kate Kurelja show off Chef David Burke’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Vegetables and Tomato Vinaigrette.

Cheryl Pembridge Larkin ’73 and daughter Kate Kurelja show off Chef David Burke’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Vegetables and Tomato Vinaigrette.

Three days after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey’s coast in October 2012, Cheryl Pembridge Larkin ’73 and her husband, John, drove from their inland home in Basking Ridge to check on their summer cottage in Point Pleasant Beach. Power outages throughout the state had cut off most news reports, but the Larkins had heard Governor Chris Christie speaking on their car radio.

“The shore as we know it is gone,” he said.

When they reached the coast, the Larkins were relieved to find their cottage intact, but shocked at the surrounding wreckage.

“Broken, crumpled buildings stood or half stood,” Larkin recalls. “Some were washed away. Sand dunes had been re-created in the streets. Wires were down. Garbage and debris were scattered everywhere. The boardwalk was gone.”

Larkin asked herself, “What do you do to help?”

[Read more...]

Lessons from South Africa

South Africa-Botswana

Students listen to a presentation by a tour guide at Langa Township.

Having read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Shiwei Huang ’15 knew about the “dom passes” that black South Africans were required to carry during the apartheid era. But when she visited Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum and saw an exhibition on black South Africans’ fight for citizenship, she truly understood their plight.

South Africa-Botswana

Students visit the Old Fort Prison Complex, where political activists, including Nelson Mandela, were once detained.

“You can learn history from a book, but at the museum, you saw it, in videos, documents and pictures,” she said. “It had a big impact on me.”

That was one of many lessons that Huang and 15 other Wheaton students learned when they visited Cape Town and Johannesburg for the January course “Witnessing Contemporary African Society and Culture,” an interdisciplinary program launched in 2008.

The one-credit winter-break course, taught this year by professors James Freeman (economics) and Marcus Allen (political science), focuses on “trying to understand the culture, the sociology, the politics and the economics of post-apartheid South Africa—sort of witnessing the evolution, if you will, of a society reborn,” Allen said. [Read more...]

Traveling scholars

Juniors win Gilman awards to study abroad

Three Wheaton juniors this winter won awards from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to study abroad during the spring semester in Egypt, Spain and Brazil.

Maya Ennis, of Brooklyn, New York, traveled to Egypt with a $4,000 scholarship. Gilda Rodrigues, of Boston, went to Brazil with a $4,500 award, and Alexis Nieves, of Brooklyn, headed to Spain with an award of $3,000.

The Gilman Scholarship program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad, as well as the countries and regions to which they go, by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate because of financial constraints. Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the program is intended to help prepare U.S. students to play meaningful roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world. [Read more...]