Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature Jennifer Bajorek

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Professors Receive Grants and Fellowships for Summer Research

Awards support summer projects and development of new courses by Hampshire faculty members Jennifer Bajorek, Ira Fay, Becky Miller, Rachel Rubinstein, and Wilson Valentín-Escobar

Five Hampshire College professors recently received grants and fellowships for their research. Awards came from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, and Project Pericles. These awards will aid the professors in creating cutting-edge content for their respective courses.

Dean Rachel Rubinstein received a $5,900 Whiting Foundation grant for her project “Translating Cuba: Yiddish Literature in Cuba Between the Wars and Today.” Rubinstein will travel to the island nation to explore what its national archives can reveal of Cuban attitudes and Jewish immigration, and connect with the contemporary Jewish community, itself the object of a great deal of interest these days from American Jews. This research will enhance her teaching in Jewish, Yiddish, and American literatures, and will also help expand Hampshire’s existing curriculum in Cuban studies to incorporate material on Jewish materials.  

Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Game Design Ira Fay a $3,450 grant, also from the Whiting Foundation, for “Game Development and Live Video Streaming.” In March, Fay will hold a residency with a game development studio, Spiritwalk Games, in San Mateo, Calif., to gain insight into the emerging genre of digital game.

The studio is attempting to create a genre that integrates with Twitch, a website and technology platform designed for live streaming of video content. Such a residency is an atypical opportunity in the game-design field, and Fay will use what he learns to create a course entitled “Twitch Game Development.”  His goal is to stay abreast of the trends, technologies, and business strategies for games, as well as to maintain a professional network of game developers to facilitate connections with students for internships or full-time employment.

Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature Jennifer Bajorek received $5,816, also from the Whiting Foundation for her “Sanctuary Cities” project. Bajorek plans to look at concepts and practices of sanctuary in contemporary France, specifically in African diaspora contexts in two cities, Paris and Bordeaux. Her research will contribute to the development of two new interdisciplinary humanities courses on sanctuary cultures.

Wilson Valentín-Escobar, associate professor of sociology and American studies, was selected by Project Pericles for the Periclean Faculty Leadership Program. He will use his $2,000 stipend to support a new course entitled “Citizens(hip) and Colonialism in Our Backyard: Puerto Rican History, Civic Engagement, and Decolonial Social Change.” Valentín-Escobar is working with Hampshire’s Community Partnerships for Social Change (CPSP) to build on the ongoing collaborative partnerships between Hampshire and grassroots organizations in nearby Holyoke and Springfield, which have some of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the state. The proposed course will also supplement College and Five College efforts and programs, such as the Five College–sponsored Holyoke Bound (an orientation to the community of Holyoke) and provide a far-reaching perspective to better understand the economic and social histories of an invisibilized and virtually powerless Puerto Rican community.

Professor of Music Becky Miller has received a fellowship to attend the Schusterman Center’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies (SIIS) at Brandeis University. In addition to the two-week participation at the institute, the award provides a 10-day trip to Israel and a $2,500 stipend. Faculty from North America and around the world participate in seminars at Brandeis and in Israel that help them design courses in Israeli studies for their home colleges.

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