CLP Tues.: A Behavioral Econ. Perspective, Early Childhood Devel.

4 p.m., Tues., Mar. 3, Hartness Pav. Riley Ctr. presents L. Gennetian, Ph.D., researcher, NYU Institute for Human Devel. & Social Change.

Preucil and Ransom perform March 2

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Violin at Furman University William Preucil will perform with pianist William Ransom, D.M.A., in recital Monday, March 2 at 8 p.m. in Daniel Recital Hall on campus.

The recital is free and open to the public.

Preucil and Ransom will perform sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven, Schumann, and Grieg.

Preucil, celebrating 10 years as a member of the Furman faculty, was appointed concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1994. Prior to joining the orchestra, Preucil performed seven seasons as the first violinist of the Grammy Award winning Cleveland Quartet. As a member of the quartet, he performed more than 100 concerts each year in the world’s major musical capitals and recorded for Telarc International the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 17 string quartets, as well as a variety of other chamber works. Previously, Preucil served seven years as concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony, after earlier holding the same position with orchestras in Utah and Nashville.

Actively involved as an educator, Preucil is Distinguished Professor of Violin at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and has previously held positions as professor of music at the Eastman School of Music, Artist in Residence at the University of Maryland School of Music, and Distinguished Lecturer in Music at the University of Georgia.

will-ransom-spotlightPianist William Ransom has appeared in recital, as soloist with orchestras, and as a chamber musician in around the globe. He has performed in New York’s Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Town Hall, and Merkin Hall; in Orchestra Halls in Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta; and at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. among others. He has performed for the American Ambassadors to Japan and Ireland, and his performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio and Television in the United States, Japan, Korea, Argentina, and Poland. His recording of “Enoch Arden,” by Richard Strauss, “The Music of Alfredo Barili,” and “Chamber Music of Johannes Brahms” were released on the ACA label. Ransom can also be heard on “Heartkeys,” from Rising Star Records.

Ransom is currently the Mary L. Emerson Professor of Piano and head of the piano faculty at Emory University in Atlanta. He is founder and Artistic Director of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta and has collaborated with such artists as cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Steven Isserlis; clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, and many others.

For more information about the event, contact the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086.

Harvard’s Diana Eck to speak March 3

Diana Eck, sizedHarvard Divinity School Professor Diana L. Eck, Ph.D., will deliver the Charles H. Townes Lecture on Faith and Reason Tuesday, March 3, at 7 p.m. in Younts Conference Center on the Furman University campus.

Her lecture, “The Turbulence of Religious Difference: The Challenge of Religious Pluralism in India and America,” is free and open to the public, and is also part of Furman’s World Religions Symposium taking place through April. The lecture is a Cultural Life Program event.

Dr. Diana Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard Divinity School, Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society, and Master of Harvard’s Lowell House.

Her academic work has a dual focus—India and America—and in both cases she is interested in the challenges of religious pluralism in a multi-religious society. Her work on India includes Banaras: City of Light, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, and India: A Sacred Geography. Since 1991, she has headed the Pluralism Project, which now includes a network of some 60 affiliates exploring the religious dimensions of America’s new immigration.

The Charles H. Townes Lecture on Faith and Reason is named for the Greenville native and Furman graduate who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his work on the maser and laser. The lecture is funded through gifts from Townes and the John Templeton Foundation.

For more information, contact the Furman University News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.

Thinkers from right and left tackle Christianity and politics

Robert P. George, Ph.D.

Robert P. George, Ph.D.

Robert P. George, Ph.D., and Cornel R. West, Ph.D., two prominent thinkers on the right and left, respectively, will speak on the Furman University campus about Christianity and politics Thursday, March 5 at 5 p.m. in Watkins Room of the Trone Student Center.

“A Conversation About Christianity and Politics” is presented by Furman’s College Republicans, College Democrats, Endowed Lecture Series, and Tocqueville Program. The event is free and open to the public, and is part of the university’s Cultural Life Program.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. His recent honors include the United States Presidential Citizens Medal and the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland.  In July, 2013, George was elected Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School, he earned a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University. He is author of In Defense of Natural Law, Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality, The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion and Morality in Crisis, and Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism, and co-author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics, and What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.

Cornel R. West, Ph.D.

Cornel R. West, Ph.D.

Cornel West is Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his MA and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

West has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his new memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.  He appears frequently on the Bill Maher TV show, “Colbert Report,” CNN and C-Span as well as on the “Tavis Smiley” PBS TV Show.  He can be heard weekly on public radio with Tavis Smiley on “Smiley & West.”  He has appeared as Councillor West in two “Matrix” films and has done hip hop, soul, and spoken word recordings. His work seeks to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.

World Religions Symposium set to begin Feb. 26

World Religions SymposiumFurman University will hold its annual World Religions Symposium beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Johns Hall 101 on the Furman campus.

The symposium, “Hinduism, A Living Tradition” is free and open to the public, and includes a series of lectures and other programs that run through April 20. All events are part of Furman’s Cultural Life Program except the March 3 lunch talk, and the final event, “Priesthood on Campus,” whose CLP status is pending.

The World Religions Symposium seeks to provide a forum for religious traditions to tell their own stories, no matter how complex or challenging they may be. The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the Chaplains, Furman’s Religious Council, Association of Hindu Students, Departments of Religion and Asian Studies, Anthropology Program, Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, Mere Christianity Forum, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Furman Interfaith Youth Core, and A.S.I.A. Club.

Opening the symposium 5:30 p.m., Feb. 26 is Furman Religion Professor Lisa Knight, Ph.D., who presents “Hinduisms: Debating Tradition and Origins.”

Other speakers and programs for World Religions Symposium are:

Dr. Lisa I. Knight is Associate Professor of South Asian Religions and Anthropology at Furman University. She researches everyday religious lives among a small religious group in South Asia, and some of her research was published in Contradictory Lives: Baul Women in India and Bangladesh (Oxford University Press, 2011). Her more recent work examines intersections between NGOs concerned with addressing societal ills and the songs Bauls compose and perform at NGO-sponsored educational functions. She is also writing about ethnographic representations of religious meaning.

Dr. Diana Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society, Harvard College Professor, and Master of the Lowell House. Her academic work has a dual focus—India and America—and in both cases she is interested in the challenges of religious pluralism in a multi-religious society. Her work on India includes Banaras: City of Light, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, and India: A Sacred Geography. Since 1991, she has headed the Pluralism Project, which now includes a network of some 60 affiliates exploring the religious dimensions of America’s new immigration.

Dr. Kalyani Menon, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, is an anthropologist whose research focuses on the intersection of political ideology and religious practice in India. Much of her work has examined the religious politics of the Hindu Right in India. This research culminated in her book, Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is currently focusing on how Muslims residing in Old Delhi respond to the exclusionary and violent politics of the Hindu Right by constructing their identity, community, and national belonging in Modern India.

Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar is a Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Associate Professor of Obstetrics-Gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine. As an innovative teacher, he has won the Evangeline Papageorge award, the School of Medicine’s highest teaching award, and the Dean’s Award for outstanding teachers. Majmudar, faculty adviser to Emory’s Hindu Student Council, previously served 30 years as a Hindu priest to the Emory community.

For more information about the symposium, contact Maria Swearingen in the Office of the Chaplains at (864) 294-2133, or

What’s in a name?

paul-thomasThere has been a debate at Clemson University about whether the name of an iconic building on campus, Tillman Hall, should be changed. The building’s namesake, Benjamin Tillman, was a former South Carolina governor (1890-94) and a well-known white supremacist. Furman education professor Paul Thomas weighed in on the debate in a post on his blog, The Becoming Radical, which was then published on the “Answer Sheet” of The Washington Post.

Lyric Theatre presents double bill: “Dido and Aeneas” and “The Medium”

lyric theatre Dido and Aeneas, sizedThe Furman University Music Department will present a double bill of classic operas Dido and Aeneas and The Medium Thursday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on campus.

Directed by Furman Professor of Voice Grant Knox, D.M., the operas are open to the public. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students.

Dido and Aeneas is co-presented with the Furman Chamber Choir and conducted by Furman Music Professor Bill Thomas, D.M. The opera features music by Henry Purcell and libretto by Nahun Tate. Based on the love story from Virgil’s Aeneid, this English baroque masterpiece features magnificent music, powerful drama, and striking intensity. Premiered in 1689, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is one of the greatest operas composed between Monteverdi’s lifetime and Mozart’s.

Dido and Aeneas is the story of the legendary Queen of Carthage, Dido, and the Trojan prince, Aeneas. When Aeneas and his crew become shipwrecked in Carthage, he and the Queen fall in love. In the meantime, witches plot Dido’s destruction and a Sorceress has one of her followers impersonate Mercury who tells Aeneas he must leave Dido and found the new Troy. Forced to choose between passion and duty, Aeneas and his sailors prepare to leave, much to the witches’ delight. Dido, who cannot live without him, is absolutely heartbroken and awaits her death.

lyric theatre The Medium, sizedFurman Music Professor Hugh Floyd, D.M.A., conducts Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium. Composed in 1946, the psychologically disturbing and ghostly chamber opera tells the story of Baba, who, as “Madame Flora,” conducts bogus séances with her daughter Monica and a gypsy deaf-mute named Toby to extract money from bereaved parents. At a séance, she feels a pair of hands around her throat and panics. Has the spirit world come to punish her, or was it merely Toby, whom she treats abusively? Unable to get an answer to this question, she retreats to the bottle. At the end of the opera, startled from her stupor, she shoots the banished Toby, mistaking him for a ghost. “Was it you?” she rasps over his dead body.

For more information about the double feature, call the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086, or email the Music Department at

‘House of Cards’ writer has Furman connection

Beau Willimon needed some color for his hit Netflix series, “House of Cards,” so he decided to borrow from the story he knew best: his own.

The Oscar-nominated writer and producer, legally named Pack Beauregard Willimon, has a legacy of family history in the Palmetto State, with ancestors who have called South Carolina home for centuries.  His connection with Furman goes back to his great-grandmother, and then to his grandfather, who became a well-known attorney in his hometown of Greenville.

hoc“House of Cards,” which launched its third season on Feb. 27, tells a very different story of prominence, the story of a ruthless Congressman from Gaffney named Francis “Frank” Underwood, played by Academy-Award winning actor Kevin Spacey.

Frank and Furman come together in episode three of the first season, when Frank leaves Washington, D.C., to make an appearance in his home district, where a teenage girl, Jessica Masters, has tragically died in a car accident. The 17-year-old, a rising star, scholar and athlete, had been accepted to Furman on a full volleyball scholarship. After a sticky dispute with town fathers, Underwood tells her parents he’s spoken with the president of Furman and together they decided to establish a new scholarship in their daughter’s name.

Though it’s been more than 100 years since his first relative graduated, Willimon said his family’s ties to Furman stuck in his mind.

Willimon’s great-grandmother, Maud Pack Willimon, earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1902 from Greenville Women’s College, which later became part of Furman University. Her son, Henry Pack Willimon Sr., graduated from Furman in 1931 with a bachelor of law degree and went onto practice law in Greenville well into his eighties.

“My grandfather loved Furman,” Willimon said in a phone interview. “He loved Greenville.”

Willimon’s father, Henry Pack Willimon Jr., also grew up in Greenville prior to joining the U.S. Navy and becoming an attorney in St. Louis, Mo. He played a key role in establishing Underwood’s roots on “House of Cards.”

Beau Willimon thought Frank Underwood needed to come from a relatively small town in South Carolina, so he asked his father, Henry, for ideas. “What about Gaffney?” his father replied.

After visiting Gaffney and meeting with the mayor and county administrator, Willimon’s mind was made up and Frank’s hometown was settled.

Due to production costs, crews weren’t able to come South for the taping, he said. Instead, Gaffney scenes were shot in Maryland, in Aberdeen and in Havre de Grace, a town on Chesapeake Bay.

Still, Willimon’s ode to the South comes out strong in the series, with pitchers of sweet tea and plates of barbecue popping up regularly. There’s even a framed picture of the Gaffney peachoid water tower hanging in Frank Underwood’s office in Washington, D.C.

“I’m thrilled by the response to the series,” Willimon said. “We’ve gotten great response from people all over the world.”

Willimon’s play, “Farragut North,” became the basis for the motion-picture screenplay, “Ides of March,” with George Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ryan Gosling, which earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Much of “Ides of March” and “House of Cards” was inspired by Willimon’s work on political campaigns for Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Bill Bradley and Howard Dean. Willimon, a St. Louis native, earned a master’s degree in playwriting from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2003.

Despite his growing fame, Willimon’s connection to Greenville has stayed strong. His family keeps a goat farm just outside Greenville, along with two donkeys, Jack and Jenny, which Willimon visits regularly.

“I love my iced tea. I have been known to eat grits,” said Willimon, who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. “And I have to admit I have a fondness for barbecue…”


Education professor wins award for essay collection

paul thomas book cover, sizedDe-Testing and De-Grading Schools, a collection of essays co-edited by Furman University Education Professor Paul Thomas, Ph.D., has been named an Outstanding Academic 2014 title by Choice magazine.

Each January, Choice publishes a prestigious list of the best in scholarly titles reviewed during the previous calendar year. Thomas’ book was chosen based on overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form, originality or uniqueness of treatment, value to undergraduate students and importance in building undergraduate library collections.

De-Testing and De-Grading Schools: Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization is Thomas’ 15th book. It was co-edited by Canadian educator Joe Bower and published by Peter Lang USA.

A.L. Hsu, chair of the Childhood Education and Literacy Department at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, described the book as a “must-read for anyone in the field of education.”

“Bower and Thomas have edited a powerful volume that criticizes testing and the quantification of education. A selection of contributors with wide-ranging experiences in both K-12 and higher education offer diverse perspectives on the dangers of standardized testing and the utilization of grades to sort, classify and compare students,” says Hsu.

With the increasing number of state assessments and the elaborate systems of accountability in education, this volume inspires readers to focus on the primary goal of learning and how that can be achieved, beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through graduate school studies,” adds Hsu.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is the premier source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to scholars and students in higher education. It is a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association.

Before joining the Furman faculty in 2002, Thomas taught high school English in rural South Carolina. He earned undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from the University of South Carolina.

He is a column editor for the English Journal, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, and series editor for Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres (Sense Publishers), in which he authored the first volume—Challenging Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels. He has written commentaries for the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Education Week, The State, and The Greenville News.

Read Thomas’ blog here, and visit the publisher’s book site at For further information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107.

Furman to host Chinese Environmental Film Festival

chinesefilm4Seven filmmakers from China and the United States will converge at Furman University Thursday, Feb. 26 through Saturday, Feb. 28 for the university’s first Chinese Environmental Film Festival.

The festival features three days of experimental, documentary and feature films with environmental themes, together with expert commentary and question-and-answer sessions following each film. All films are free and open to the public. Showings will be held Thursday and Friday at Furman University’s Burgiss Theater at the Trone Student Center, and on Saturday at McEachern Lecture Hall, Room 214, Furman Hall.

Films, which range from short, 12-minute films to full-length features, include up close and personal interviews with Chinese families, discussing the effects of tourism, development and pollution on their way of life. The films also highlight little known aspects of Chinese culture, such as the Na ritual specialists from the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of southwest China and their use of incantations to protect the environment.

Filmmakers participating in the event include: Onci Archei and Ruheng Duoji of Moso Folk Museum, Yunnan, China; Jenny Chio of Emory University; Fuji Lozada and Antonia Giles of Davidson College; Emily Yeh of the University of Colorado-Boulder; and Asian Studies Assistant Professor Tami Blumenfield of Furman University.

“This dynamic festival will provide a unique opportunity to bring filmmakers and scholars together to share newly completed works with both Furman students and the Greenville community,” says Blumenfield, also the festival’s organizer. “With China having some of the most serious environmental problems in the world, expanding discussion about the issues and spotlighting some solutions is extremely important.”

The festival is supported by Furman University and a Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment grant, designed to encourage innovative interdisciplinary teaching, research and programming on Asia’s environment.

For more information, contact the Asian Studies Department at (864) 294-2545. A schedule of showings follows.

Chinese Environmental Film Festival Schedule
February 26-28, Furman University


Thursday, Feb. 26:  “Narrating Environmental Challenges,” Burgiss Theater, Trone Student Center, Furman University.

  • 7 p.m. Film screening of Ying Liang’s The Other Half, a brutally frank portrait of the social and environmental problems plaguing contemporary China. An opening night reception follows.

Friday, Feb. 27:  “Resource Transitions: Food, Energy and Livelihoods,” Burgiss Theater, Trone Student Center, Furman University.

  • 9-10:30 a.m. Film screening of Gary Marcuse’s Waking the Green Tiger, the story of an extraordinary campaign to stop a huge dam project on the Upper Yangtze River, featuring archival footage never seen outside China.
  • 11:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m. Film screening of Beijing Besieged by Waste by Wang Juliang, a documentary showing hundreds of legal and illegal landfills around China’s capital city and the migrant workers who rely on garbage-picking to survive.
  • 7-8:45 p.m. Film screening of Peasant Family Happiness, the story of two rural ethnic tourism villages in contemporary China, including commentary by the filmmaker Jenny Chio of Emory University.

Saturday, Feb. 28: “Filmmaker Showcase: Native Media and Rituals,” McEachern Lecture Hall, Room 214, Furman Hall, Furman University.

  • 9:30-10:30 a.m. Film screening of Badzu Village with commentary by filmmaker Tami Blumenfield of Furman University and Onci Archei and Ruheng Duoji, both of the Moso Folk Museum in Yunnan, China, followed by Shielding the Mountains with commentary by filmmaker Emily T. Yeh of the University of Colorado-Boulder.
  • 10:45-11:45 a.m., Film screening of Environmental Protection Values in Daba Rituals, a look at the environmental consciousness of Na ritual specialists who beseech ancestors and spirits of the mountains, trees and waterways in southwest China. Commentary by filmmakers Onci Archei and Ruheng Duoji of Moso Folk Museum.