Faculty prepare for sabbaticals

Amanda Loder

Next year, 30 Lawrence faculty members in numerous disciplines will be going on sabbatical for one or two terms, while two others will be working with study abroad programs. Among those taking a time-out from teaching to engage in scholarship are Hiram A. Jones Professor of Classics Daniel Taylor, Professor of Psychology Terry Rew-Gottfried, and Associate Professor of Music Michael Kim.Professor Taylor, the most senior of the three faculty members, has two options for what will likely be his last sabbatical. Taylor has applied to work at the Rockefeller Bellagio Study and Conference Center. This opportunity, Taylor said, is “extremely competitive.” Scholars who are selected to study at Bellagio live at the Center, a villa overlooking the Alps, for one month, and are required to have an academic project. If Taylor is selected, he would begin a rough-draft translation of Priscian’s Latin grammatical treatise in the United States, which would be completed, along his own brief commentary, at Bellagio. The project is short, Taylor said, because “I want to be able to walk away from there and say ‘finito,’ I’m done.” He would then have the final product published upon his return.

Should Taylor be unable to study at Bellagio, he plans on doing his translation work in Colorado because, he says, “the sun shines in Colorado in the winter.” Whether he is in Italy or Colorado, however, Taylor is enthusiastic about his new translation project, “I want to wake up in the morning, drink my coffee looking out at a snow-capped mountains, and translate my Latin,” he said.

Like Taylor, Professor Rew-Gottfried will also be enjoying mountainous terrain during his third term sabbatical in Trondheim, Norway. He will be working with a colleague from NTNU, which roughly translates as “Norwegian Science and Technical University.” His colleague, an American professor originally from southern Wisconsin, has been studying how Norwegians, who speak a language with some tonal variation of vowels, learn Mandarin. This study dovetails perfectly with Rew-Gottfried’s interest in Mandarin Chinese and how well English-speakers and musicians hear the vowel tones in Mandarin.

Together, Rew-Gottfried and his colleague will study the perception of vowels among Norwegian-speakers learning English and English-speakers learning Norwegian. Rew-Gottfried has applied for a grant to fund travel and living expenses. Meanwhile, he is learning about the Norwegian language in preparation for his research. Rew-Gottfried finds Europe a particularly good site for linguistic study given the wide variety of languages spread out over relatively small areas. “It’s a fun environment for people who are interested in languages and language acquisition,” Rew-Gottfried said.

While piano Professor Kim’s sabbatical will not take place at such far-flung locales, he will be busy both learning and performing. Kim will be performing with a variety of orchestras, such as the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, both of Canada, as well as performing in recitals in venues which include Madison, Chicago, and sites in Canada. When he is not performing, Kim plans to take lessons with some of his former music teachers as well as new teachers “not only in preparation for various performances in the next few years, but for the exchange and discussion of various pedagogical ideas and concepts,” Kim said.

He also hopes to sit-in on some of these teachers’ lessons as an observer. It is the studying aspect of his sabbatical that Kim is most excited about, “It’s just a way of renewing yourself, of practicing and getting back to the basics, practicing scales and to learn some new repertoire,” Kim said, adding “the sabbatical represents a wonderful opportunity for renewal, and continued growth as a teacher and artist.