2008 Working Group Activities

Funded Corridor Activities by Cluster


The Linguistics Departments at the three research universities are very different, but they have still formed energetic scholarly partnerships. Moreover, all three universities have special foci in Computational Linguistics, with Syracuse and Cornell Linguistics departments possessing strengths in Syntax. Humanities Corridor projects include: Projects include:

  • Visits by Distinguished Research Collaborators from outside the consortium; these collaborators would not teach courses but would promote scholarly dialogue and would offer a series of lectures and classroom visits at all three schools during the semester;
  • Program for Humanities Corridor faculty to visit a consortial institution;
  • Technology investments critical to simultaneous teaching and research projects across the universities no matter what the weather; and
  • Selective use of both Mellon funds and the endowed Alice L. Hooker conference fund (Syracuse) to create occasional workshops and conferences with highly targeted goals of swiftly building cohesion in sub-areas such as ethics or semantics.

Coordinator: Jaklin Kornfilt (SU); Planners: Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (SU); Greg Carlson & Jeff Runner (UR); John Whitman (CU); John Bowers (CU); Gerry Greenberg (SU)

LIN: November 7-9, 2008: NELS 39, North Eastern Linguistics Society Meeting, Linguistics at the Interfaces, Cornell University
Highlights: Excellent attendance; Its diversity with respect to the languages whose analyses formed the core of the work presented, from Czech to Ojibwe, from Old French to Appalachian English, or from Bulgarian to Modern Greek. Jaklin Kornfilt, Cluster coordinator, noted that: “NELS 39 has helped us all in CNY by redirecting attention of the field to us and to our work, and we are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for having made this possible.” UR doctoral student Carlos Gomez Gallo, who attended NELS (his trip was made possible by Mellon funds… told me that he was finishing this year, that he was on the job market, and that one third of his dissertation was an extended version of the paper that he presented in the Spring 2007 Graduate Student Workshop at SU, funded by the Mellon Foundation.” In short, “his success is clearly one of the first constructive and direct results of the Mellon initiative.”


The study of the interplay of culture and religion is essential to an informed understanding of the contemporary world, especially as it factors into national and international politics, and a range of critical issues, from stem cell research to international terrorism. At the same time religions transcend national boundaries, though different cultural contexts shape discrete ways in which any religion is understood, practiced, valued, and even studied. The interplay of cultures and religions is an area of what former University of Rochester President Robert Sproull called “applied humanities”—it is valuable not only for its own sake, but also for its concrete relevance to cross-cultural understanding and effective public policy. The three universities possess distinctive collective resources for such a study. Syracuse and Rochester have strong and established departments of religion, and at Cornell religion is studied across a variety of departments. Syracuse has a well-known doctoral program in religion, and at Rochester religion is the second most popular undergraduate major in the Humanities. Both formal and informal interchange between the departments has taken place for years. Cornell’s strength in the study of religion in South and East Asia adds a distinctive overlap with the two departments that can be developed further – especially given the well established and longstanding partnership in South Asia with Syracuse. At Rochester, the study of the world’s literate religions is integrated with the study of the languages of their canons. Cornell also connects language study with the teaching of religion, and Syracuse and Cornell have collaborated on language instruction. Our library resources for this project in cultures and religions are exceptional. In addition to the strong collections at Syracuse and Cornell, Rochester’s recent acquisition of the library of the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School gives it perhaps one of the largest theological libraries in North America.

Coordinator: Ann Gold (SU); Planners: Tazim Kassam (SU); Emil Homerin & Thomas Gibson (UR); Ann Blackburn, Iftikar Dadi & Andrew Willford (CU); Philip Arnold (SU); Gerry Greenberg (SU); William Scott Green (UR); Viranjini Munasinghe (CU)

CR: April 18-20, 2008: Conference and Concert: Music Moves Religion: Performance Networks in Indian Ocean Cultures, Syracuse University
The interweaving of the religious, cultural and aesthetic ideas arising out of Islamic music performance genres will be the focus of the upcoming conference “Music Moves Religion: Performance Networks in Indian Ocean Cultures” at Syracuse University. Presented by the Cultures and Religions Cluster of the Central New York Humanities Corridor, this free, three-day event April 18-20 will examine how music has moved religion in regions linked by seafaring trade networks and coastal mainland migrations in the Indian Ocean, and will also feature public performances and panels focused on both classical and popular genres of music, including those that are performed in public settings as well as those circumscribed by religious ritual. Tazim R. Kassam, chair of the Religion Department in The College of Arts and Sciences and conference coordinator explains: “Musical performance traditions, in their voyage back and forth from the East coast of Africa to the far reaches of the Indonesian archipelago, offer an excellent avenue by which to appreciate the complexity of unity and diversity in Islam.” Conference participants will address a number of issues, including how music is involved in the transfer and transformation of religious ideas, practices and sentiments; how musical traditions effect and reflect religious, cultural and social change; how race, patronage and politics condition the social uses of music; and which social and political contexts encourage creativity and innovation, or inversely, draw sharper boundaries when distinct traditions of musical performances come into contact.

CR Concert, April 18, 2008: “Padhmashree Prabha Atre,” the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY
Public keynote concert represents classical genre of music in Indian Ocean cultures. Prabha Atre is an internationally acclaimed singer and composer of Indian classical music and will perform at the Everson Museum of Art in downtown Syracuse on Friday, April 18, at 8 p.m. Atre is one of the finest living exponents of the Kirana performance style, noted for its exquisite tonal purity and meditative melodic improvisation. Atre has received two of the most coveted awards from the government of India: Padmashree and Padmabhushan. Her musical compositions are known for their originality, poetic beauty and melodic intricacy.

CR: September 14-15, 2008: Workshop on Religious Pluralism, “Imagining Muslims/Imagining Others: South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Europe,” Cornell University
Scholars examined emergent global forms and imaginaries and blended perspectives from different world areas around three elements: positive images (good ‘others’), negative images (bad ‘others’), and historical context/causes (historical others). They explored how cultural imaginaries create these images and forms in different contexts, while avoiding narrow or simplified area comparisons in favor of the translatability of discourses across regional and cultural divides.

CR: October 3-5, 2008 Conference: Religion and Culture in the Indian Ocean, 1800 to the Present, Cornell University.
Concert, Rupayan: Music from the Rajasthan Desert, featuring musicians from the Langa and Manganiar communities of Rajasthan, India, Cornell University and Syracuse University
The Langas and Manganiars are groups of hereditary professional musicians whose music has been supported by wealthy landlords and aristocrats for generations and is a vibrant representation of the unique music of the desert land of Rajasthan. Though both communities are made up of Muslim musicians, many of their songs are in praise of Hindu deities and celebrate Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Holi. The hypnotic combination of rhythm and melodies sung and played by the Langas and Manganiars are part of the eternal appeal of this mysterious and wondrous land. Thanks to the efforts of the late renowned folklorist Komal Kothari, these musicians have performed in concerts worldwide. The Kalapriya Foundation is acting as the U.S. promoter of this rare art form. Kalapriya’s mission is to promote a better understanding of Asian Indian art and culture among the general population. The “Sindhi Sarangi” used by the Langas is made up of four main wires, with more than 20 vibrating sympathetic strings that help to create its distinctive haunting tones. The bowing of these instruments is a skilful exercise, often supported by the sound of the “ghungroos” or ankle bells that are tied to the bow to make the beat more prominent. Another remarkable bowed instrument is the “kamayacha” of the Manganiars with its big, circular resonator, giving out an impressive deep, booming sound. The music of Rajasthan is driven by pulsating rhythms created by an array of percussion instruments, the most popular of them being the “dholak,” a double-headed barrel drum, whose repertoire has influenced other Indian drums including the “tabla.” Other instruments include the double flute, “satara,” and the hypnotic Jewish harp or “morchang.”


The visual arts – and their cultural context and impact – are an area of intense interest within various schools and colleges at Cornell, Rochester, and Syracuse. Formidable developments in technologies of visual and digital reproduction and communication in the late 20th century have prompted the emergence of the new, interdisciplinary field of Visual Studies. At Syracuse, Rochester, and Cornell both institutionalized and informal collaborations in the area of Visual Studies are associated with many of the dynamic new trends in the humanities and are of broad interest to many humanities faculty. The University of Rochester has attained international prominence for its faculty in the Visual and Cultural Studies (VCS) program, which combines faculty from Modern Languages, Film Studies, Art, Art History, and Anthropology. A socio-historical perspective brings coherence to the collaborate work of these diverse faculties. This premier program and the acclaimed electronic journal Invisible Culture, now located at Rochester, command worldwide attention for their imaginative interdisciplinary approach to visual rhetoric. There are cognate programs at both Cornell (visual arts and culture) and Syracuse (art, architecture, and art history, as well as languages, anthropology, and other departments). These overlapping interests, which span several humanistic areas, constitute a significant regional opportunity to combine our strengths at the faculty and doctoral level.

Coordinators: Steve Cohan (SU); Planners: Roger Hallas, Linda Shires, Ann Demo, Kendall Philips, Joanna Spitzner, Brad Vivian (SU); Joan Saab, Allen Topolski & Sharon Willis (UR); Paul Duro (UR)

VAC: February 8, 2008: titled “Mrs. Croft: Angelina Jolie and the Straightening of the Female Action Genre”
Cristina Lucia Stasia, a doctoral candidate in English at SU, presented a lecture.

VAC: March 21, 2008: “Subtitling Can Be Disterbing: Film Translation of the Third Era”
Abé Mark Nornes, an associate professor in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures and in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan, presented a lecture titled “Subtitling Can Be Disterbing: Film Translation of the Third Era,” March 21. Nornes is the author of Forest of Pressure: Ogawa Shinsuke and Postwar Japanese Documentary Film (Minnesota UP) and Japanese Documentary Film: From the Meiji Era to Hiroshima (Minnesota UP), as well as many articles in edited volumes and journals such as Cinema Journal and Film Quarterly.

VAC: October 2-4, 2008: Visible Memories, Syracuse University
The conference examined the intersections between visual culture and memory studies, with particular focus on the ways in which memories are manifested and experienced in visible, material or spatial form. As part of the “Visible Memories” conference, academics from across the globe were invited to submit papers focusing on local sites of memory; memorials and archives; environmentalism and representations of nature; regional, national or global tourism; photography or cinema; digital media; and art installations. More than 100 registrants, several plenary speakers and keynote speaker New York-based conceptual artist Ernesto Pujol took part in conference activities. Films and exhibitions associated with Visible Memories:

  • Film screening and discussion with David Thorne, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse
  • Films: “We will live to see these things, or, five pictures of what may come to pass” and “It’s not my memory of it: three recollected documents”
  • Exhibition and keynote address: Ernesto Pujol. An exhibition of his work, “Walk # 1,” was displayed in the Light Work Gallery. Keynote address by Pujol, “Embodying the Memories of Others, “Watson Auditorium, Syracuse University


The Central New York region has an especially rich and ethnically diverse musical tradition, and accordingly the three universities have outstanding groups of faculty in music, musicology, and music history. The Eastman School of Music, affiliated with University of Rochester, stands among the very top-ranked programs in musicology in the country. At Syracuse, the School of Music in Visual and Performing Arts, emphasizing composition and performance, and the Department of Fine Arts in Arts and Sciences, with eminent music historians, have been identified as institutional priorities by both Deans and by Chancellor Cantor. Syracuse has in the past year developed the endowed Goldring Arts Journalism Program, hosted jointly by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the School of Architecture, and The College of Arts and Sciences, whose mission is to elevate the quality of reporting on the arts in America. Music is a central component of that initiative. At Rochester, the Sibley music library at Eastman is the largest academic music library in North America and contains numerous special collections, including the papers of composers Howard Hanson, Richard Rodgers, and Alexander Courage, as well as a significant collection of manuscripts by Kurt Weill (including an original manuscript for The Threepenny Opera). Sibley is also the repository for Carl Fischer, one of the most important American publishers for classical music. At Syracuse, the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive is one of the four largest archives of recorded sound in the country and is particularly rich in holdings from the early period of sound recording – holdings that have yet to be the subjects of serious scholarly inquiry. These include acoustic (pre-1925) recordings of Wagner, the so-called “race” records of African American artists during the 1930’s and 1940’s, Latin American music of the 1940’s, and many others. The Belfer also houses a large collection of early playback technologies, including Victrolas and cylinder machines – a collection that has great potential for study in its own right. The Cornell University Music Library has unusually rich holdings, including the library of the eminent musicologist Donald J. Grout, which contains an extensive collection of original scores and printed libretti extending from the seventeenth through the twentieth century. In summary, these audio, manuscript, and print archives form an exceptional scholarly resource in support of this cluster.

Coordinator: Andrew Waggoner (SU); Planners: Steve Meyer, Eileen Stempel, Amanda Winkler (SU); John Covach (UR); Patrick Macey (UR-Eastman); Kevin Ernste & Rebecca Harris-Warrick (CU); Gretchen Wheelock (UR-Eastman); James Webster (CU); Neal Zaslaw (CU)

MMH: February 2008: The Composer Apprentice Project, organized by CU composer Kevin Ernste, partnered composition students from CU and SU with the celebrated chamber ensemble Brave New Works (BNW).
The Musicology/Music History Cluster successfully embarked on the Composer Apprentice Project, spearheaded by CU composer Kevin Ernste, which partnered composition students from CU and SU with the celebrated chamber ensemble Brave New Works (BNW). The project gave concerts at both institutions, performed works by the students, and two students (one each from CU and SU) were commissioned by the BNW for an amount generously underwritten by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In addition to gaining insight into the creative process, students have learned how to prepare a piece of original music with a professional ensemble. The Cluster also expanded the project to pair student composers with student writers and librettists and with a professional ensemble to workshop new pieces involving text. Composition faculty at the three schools had their works performed and involved themselves in mentoring student composers through the collaborative process.

MMH: September 19-20, 2008: International Symposium and Concerts: Music and Globalization, Eastman School of Music
A two-day event including concerts and a symposium at the Eastman School of Music focused on issues of cultural self-representation through changing and overlapping musical styles. The conference approached the subject through both scholarly and creative work, with an emphasis on the music of Chinese-American composer Chen Yi.

MMH6: Reconstructing History: Research, Performance and ‘The King of Instruments’
October 16-20, 2008: Part I: A symposium on J. S. Bach and the Organ, as part of the EROI festival at which the new Casparini organ will be dedicated, U Rochester.
October 2008: Part II: Panel and Roundtable Discussion: The Berlin Organ Tradition, Cornell.
Spring 2009: Part III: Symposium: The Historical Organ and Improvisation across Three Centuries, Cornell.

MMH: November 17, 2008: Symposium: Music and the Common Good: Listening to Haudenosaunee Voices, Syracuse University
In a world of global musical flows, who determines access to and ownership of traditional musical knowledge? How can music serve the common good, and whose common good? Such questions hold special importance not only for Haudenosaunee communities in the United States and Canada, but for any community-based music cultures, all of which was examined in a special ethnomusicology event among Haudenosaunee cultural workers, Central New York educators and students, and Central New York arts organizers around issues of musical identity, the media and the common good.

MMH: Fall 2008: The Vocal Masterclass Exchange (including Judith Kellock. CU, Eileen Strempel, SU, Janet Brown, SU, Carol Webber, UR-Eastman, Karen Holvik, UR-Eastman) hosted two classes each year with visiting faculty on repertory or subject specific topics (i.e., “songs by women composers”, “American art song”, “breath management”, “contemporary extended vocal techniques”, “German Lieder”, Performance Practice). Structured to take advantage of the wide range of talent represented by the participating teachers and to benefit from each other’s pedagogical resources, this program encountered a breadth of perspective for students and the opportunity for the voice faculties to work together—especially to redress what can be an alarming insularity of thought and aesthetic among different camps in classical music education.

MMH: Fall 2008: Public Musicology: Ethno-musicality in Action Conference featured panel discussions that examined the music and creative encounters in transnational music networks by visiting ethno-musicologists and critics.
The featured speakers and their topics of expertise were:

  • Julia Banzi of Al-Andalus and Reed College: “Andalusian Women’s Orchestras: Seven Centuries of Silence”
  • Judith Becker of the University of Michigan: “Religious Ecstatics: Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian”
  • Birgit Berg of Voice of America International Broadcasting: “The Music of Arabs, The Sound of Islam: Arab-Indonesian Music and Islamic Expression in Indonesia”
  • Amy Catlin-Jairazhboy of UCLA: “How Sidi Music Moves Religion: African-Indian Sufi Embodiments in the New Trans-global Mendicancy”
  • James Chopyak of California State University, Sacramento: “Islamic Fundamentalism, Globalization, Technological Change and Music in Malaysia”
  • Michael Frishkopf of the University of Alberta: “Music Moves Islam in the Indian Ocean”
  • Christopher Lee of Canisius College: “Globalization Moves the Mushaira”
  • Anne Rasmussen of the College of William and Mary: “From Seashore to Department Store: Musics of Indonesian Islam”
  • Natalie Sarrazin of the SUNY College at Brockport: “Allah-Who?: Indian Cinematic Representations of Filmi Qawwali”
  • Ted Swedenburg of the University of Arkansas: “Fun^Da^Mental: Punjabi Folk, Post-Bhangra and Islamic Rap, From the Subcontinent to the Metropole”
  • Richard Wolf of Harvard University: “Responding to the sounds of Shiism in greater South Asia”