What are Faculty Shop Talks all about?


A Call for Papers


Fall 1997 Schedule

Spring 1998 Schedule



Fall 1997 Schedule

 Due to scheduling conflicts, the talks will be conducted

at a variety of locations --- please take note.

Presenter: Charles Niederriter

Title: A Preview of Nobel Conference XXXIII®, Unveiling the Solar System: 30 Years of Exploration

Time and Place: September 19, 1997 at 4:30 pm in Olin Hall of Science Room 103


From the beginning of time, human beings have pondered their origins. While the early Greeks were perhaps the first to develop models of the solar system, it wasn't until 17th century scientists Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton proved their theories on motion and gravity that credible analysis of the universe began to emerge. As recently as 30 years ago, our ability to examine space was limited to ground-based telescopes and short Earth-orbital observations by astronauts in a fledgling space program. Today, however, with deep space probes and the Hubble Telescope, we have been able to explore even the outer reaches of our solar system, mapping the some of the planets in as much detail as some parts of the Earth have been. Much of what has been discovered is consistent with the condensation of a dark spinning cloud of space debris. But anomalies, such as the existence of our Moon and the backward rotation of Venus, remain unexplained. This preview of Nobel Conference XXXIII®, Unveiling the Solar System: 30 Years of Exploration, will provide some background in planetary and solar system studies and will introduce the participants in this year’s conference.

Presenter: John Cha

Title: Contemplating Emptiness: A Buddhist Path Toward Non-Conceptual Wisdom

Time and Place: October 3, 1997 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


The term "non-conceptual wisdom" in the Buddhist contemplative traditions signifies the highest state of awareness: an awareness free from all conceptual constructions. It also means the direct perception of Reality, or Emptiness (i.e., that every existence is empty of an inherent nature). However, "non-conceptual wisdom" is not, as many assume, a mere absence of thought or cognitive function; nor is it achieved by controlling our mental activity. In its most fundamental sense, "non-conceptual wisdom" means the transcending of all dualistic structures inherent in our ordinary modes of language and cognition. It also means that Emptiness, as the true nature of all things, is disclosed as an absolutely immanent reality.

This paper seeks to explicate this two-fold theme of epistemological transcendence/ontological immanence in at least one school of Buddhist thought, the Yogacara (lit: those who practice yoga/meditation). Included here will be a discussion of the necessary conditions -- doctrinal, philosophical, ethical, etc. -- for the attainment of this wisdom, as well as the dialectical process toward the awakening of Emptiness. 

Presenter: Regina West

Title: Fashion as Metonymy: The Case of the Argentine Comb

Time and Place: October 17, 1997 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


In nineteenth century Argentina, legally enforced dress codes enabled bystanders to "read" a person or group in the same way that a twentieth century North American might read the "suits" on Wall Street. This slide presentation will focus on the case of the outrageous head-dress worn by the women of Buenos Aires in the early 1800s, the "peineton." The peineton, spanning three yards in height and width, became a referent of the woman who participated with more freedom in the public sphere. Fashion magazines highlighted the increased visibility of the "peineton" at numerous social events and political meetings. Several authors and artists of the period, however, shaded this newfound mobility of the "peineton" in a degrading light. Appropriating fashion as metonymy in order to bar women access from critical public events, popular poetry and caricatures reminded women that their fashionable crowns granted them reign over their domestic obligations and not over the streets of Buenos Aires.

Presenter: John McKay and Michael Jorgensen

Title: Brahms' only song cycle, Romanzen aus Tieck's Magelone

Time and Place: October 31, 1997 at 4:30 pm in the Three Crowns Room


Brahms started writing the work in the early 1860's after he had collaborated with baritone Julius Stockhausen in a series of concerts in which they presented various other song-cycles by Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann. Brahms' work is very different from these. Brahms' songs are longer and more complex in structure and require a voice of greater power (and stamina!) with a wider variety of tone colors than the earlier song-cycles. Also, the texts of the songs do not tell the whole story of the cycle so some means is needed to "fill in the gaps". We, and other recent interpreters, have used a female narrator. As you know, we have asked Hayden Irvin to provide the narration.

Although Brahms wrote these songs for his friend Stockhausen who was a baritone, they were first published in a tenor key, which, I believe, was the custom. In this case, the songs were transposed up a minor third. However, when a second edition appeared, even in Brahms' lifetime, in a lower key, the songs were not all transposed down an equal distance, resulting, in my opinion, in some jarring relationships where Brahms had originally planned very smooth ones. From the beginning of our work on this, Michael and I decided to respect the original key relationships, which meant that I had to transpose about half the songs into various other keys. We were both very pleased with the result, and would like to show our colleagues the difference between the original baritone version and ours.

Presenter: Colleen Jacks

Title: Reverse Genetics Used to Study Gene Expression and Function in Arabidopsis thaliana, A Plant Model System

Time and Place: November 14, 1997 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Traditionally, geneticists have used mutants to understand the normal processes of an organism. The geneticist identified a mutant with an abnormal appearance and determined which gene was altered and therefore responsible for the observed change. The advent of gene cloning provided geneticists with many genes of unknown function. To study the function of a cloned gene, "reverse" genetics is used - the cloned gene allows the geneticist to work "backwards," blocking expression of this gene in the organism by one of several possible techniques. I will describe my application of this reverse genetic approach to study the function of several genes, including the genes for a DNA-binding protein, histone H1, in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Arabidopsis is a model system regarded as the plant geneticist’s "fruit fly." 





Spring 1998 Schedule

Presenter: Donald Palmgren

Title: Solitary at the Counter

Time and Place: February 20, 1998 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Within the framework of a personal childhood experience of an image of Gary Cooper in the cowboy movie, "Along Came Jones," the paper explores the power of an image in the psyche’s growth and the value for liberal arts students in retreiving such an image. It describes the creative relationship between memory and imagination: the experience of living within, as a well as with, an image, and of letting the image live and grow on its own terms within the person. The paper is an amplification of the phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard’s idea that the imagination deforms images rather than forming them, that the value of an image is in its imaginary potential to release a cascade of other images. It gives examples from in-class writing and drawing and proposes that working with memory images helps students bridge the radical gap between childhood and adolescence (including that extension, the college years).

The presentation includes some spiffy digital scenes from the film.

Presenter: Patricia Kazarow

Title: Hildegard's Art of Melody

Time and Place: March 6, 1998 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), whose 900th anniversary of birth is celebrated this year, was a remarkable medieval woman. Her spiritual journey as artist and poet, theologian and Benedictine abbess, musician and mystic, author, scientist, and counselor has gained considerable attention in the past decade. This Shop Talk will focus on her music, specifically her unique art of melody, which stands in stark contrast to that which surrounded her, principally in the form of plainsong. Instead of employing centonization, the process by which chants were composed by assembling melodic formulas, Hildegard used the "new" precise pitch notational system developed by Guido d'Arezzo (ca. 991-after 1033) whose innovation forever changed the course of Western music. Hildegard's works were perhaps the first to utilize this new method. Musical examples will be drawn from her seventy-seven liturgical songs and morality play Ordo Virtutum, which constitute the largest body of medieval music written by a composer of a known identity.

Presenter: Jennifer Ackil

Title: The Consequences of Pressing Witnesses to Fabricate Misinformation

Time and Place: March 20, 1998 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


Numerous studies have demonstrated that exposing children and adults to misinformation about a witnessed event can lead to false memories for the suggested details. The present study extends this finding by identifying forced confabulation as another potent suggestive influence. Specifically, participants from three age groups (first-grade, third/fourth-grade and college age) witnessed video events and subsequently were forced to create responses to questions about events that clearly never happened in the events they saw. Despite results indicating that participants had knowingly fabricated details they would not have provided without coercion, one week later participants of all ages evidenced false memories for the very same details. In addition, there were age differences in the tendency to commit this error such that children were more likely than adults to misidentify their forced confabulations as having originated from the video.

Presenter: Mark Kruger, Mark Lammers, and Richard Fuller

Title: An Interdisciplinary Research Program on Musical Performance

Time and Place: April 17, 1998 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


In the last several decades the field of biomechanics has produced an important body of information that has enhanced performance in athletics and many other areas of human locomotion. Our presentation will summarize the work we have done over the last seventeen years on the biomechanics of trombone performance. We will emphasize the work we have done in the last five years since receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation. The research compares professional, college, and beginning trombone students. All performers played a series of musical exercises and excerpts at fast and slow tempos. An ultrasonic ranging system was used to test the hypothesis that professionals would move the slide faster than student performers. Electrogoniometers were used to assess movement of the wrist and elbow during performance. Discussion will focus on the implications of this research for trombone pedagogy, models of skilled performance, and the nature of interdisciplinary study.

Presenter: Ellis Bell

Title: Structural Biology in the Real World

Time and Place: May 8, 1998 at 4:30 pm in the Interpretive Center


While the amazing advances in molecular biology over the past 20 years have led to many significant advances in diagnosis of disease and drug design, the true potential of the "Human Genome Project" awaits a solution to the question "how does the gene sequence govern the final structure of the protein it codes for?". Structural biology is starting to provide glimpses of the answer to this question, which when fully understood will unleash the full power [terror] of molecular biology. During this talk I will outline the experimental approaches and results that I and my students are using to understand how a protein assumes its active three dimensional structure and how we are using this type of information to "understand" the structure and function of proteins whose true biological function is currently unknown. Among the proteins that will be discussed is a protein in saliva that helps protect teeth from decay and a viral protein that may be related to how certain viruses cause tumors.





What are Faculty Shop Talks all about?

Faculty Shop Talks provide a serious (though not solemn) forum for the presentation of original research and artistic creation by Gustavus faculty. The meetings are generally Friday afternoons at 4:30 and last no more than an hour, though some may come earlier or stay a bit later. The audience is limited to Gustavus faculty and their guests. The actual presentation should be no more than 30 minutes, and those who run over may find themselves interrupted in mid-sentence. The model should be a "conference" paper adapted to a non-specialist academic audience. Shop Talks aim to speak both to departmental colleagues and those in completely different disciplines. Wine, soft drinks, and snacks are available for a small fee.





A Call For Papers

The self-appointed Shop Talk organizing committee (Stewart Flory and Paul Saulnier) would like to solicit abstracts for the Shop Talk series. These 20-30 minute presentations will allow Gustavus scholars to share their research/art and enthusiasm. A title, brief abstract (electronic format), and A/V requirements should be sent to Paul (psaul@gac.edu) or Stewart (sflory@gac.edu). If the current Shop Talk schedule does not have any vacancies do not hesitate to contact Stewart or Paul to reserve a future date. We look forward to hearing from you.