As a young girl growing up in Chicago’s Puerto Rican neighborhoods, Professor Mérida Rua took ”field trips” every Sunday after church to study her family’s history. Her father steered their Buick through the struggling neighborhoods of his 1950s childhood to the “places of his aspirations”—the skyline of Lake Shore Drive and the imposing walls of the University of Chicago.
Since 1998, Antonia Foias, chair and professor of anthropology at Williams, has directed multifaceted archaeological research at Motul de San José in Guatemala. Now, with a grant from the National Science Foundation, she and an international team of scientists will return over two summers to explore the causes of the political dynamism of Maya states.
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28 was a dramatic moment in the history of the Roman Catholic Church and of the papacy, and few people know that history more deeply than does Williams President Emeritus Francis Oakley. An esteemed scholar of medieval political thinking and church history, Oakley shares his views on the current news as seen through a historical lens.
Few people have given as much thought to how bird songs change over time as Heather Williams, the college’s William Dwight Whitney Professor of Biology. In a recent paper in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour, she and her co-authors examine how and why Savannah sparrow songs have evolved over a period of 30 years.
Even before classes began last fall, more than 40 faculty and staff met with first-year students to host discussions about Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, this year’s selection for the Williams Reads program. The book recalls the writer’s attempt to understand poverty in America by spending the year working in low-wage jobs and living on her own in cities across America.
Growing up watching war films with his military father, Brian Joseph Martin says he saw how soldiers survived the hardships of combat by “relying on the affectionate care of their buddies and comrades in the trenches.” Later, studying French language and literature during the “gays in the military” debates in the early 1990s, he began to recognize these “bonds of soldier friendship” as a “ubiquitous and self-evident fact of military life,” from medieval texts to contemporary film.