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Madness Comes to Mainstage Theatre Season

Each year, Fordham’s theatre program chooses a theme around which to build the season’s repertoire. According to Matthew Maguire, director of the theatre program, this year’s theme of “madness” should prove to be a box-office draw.

The season kicks off on Oct. 15 with The Day Room, a rarely performed play by Don DeLillo (FCRH ’59). The black comedy mocks our fears of hospitals, death and insanity as it blurs the lines between patients and staff at an insane asylum. DeLillo, an award-winning novelist who wrote White Noise (1985) and Underworld (1997), has attended rehearsals, Maguire said, and will also attend one of the performances.

The season follows up with Emily Mann’s Mrs. Packard, which explores the injustice of a system that allows husbands to commit their wives to asylums without consent; Irene Fornes’ Sarita, about a teenage girl’s violent love and madness; and Shakespeare’s famous tragedy about a mad prince, Hamlet.

“There are multiple refractions of madness across our season,” Maguire said. “The task was to find the right plays to complete the mosaic.”

In the spring, the theatre program will join with the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture to further explore all of the plays’ themes in a forum, “Religion and Madness: Spirituality and Pathology.”

—Janet Sassi

Fordham Welcomes New Endowed Professors

The Office of the President announced on Sept. 2 the academic appointments of three new endowed chairs.

Saul Cornell, Ph.D., has been named the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History. Cornell specializes in the American Revolution, the early republic, and legal/constitutional history. He comes to Fordham from Ohio State University.

Two visiting appointments have been made to the St. Ignatius Loyola Chair: R. Bentley Anderson, S.J., Ph.D., joins the faculty for the 2009-2010 academic year. Father Anderson comes from St. Louis University and is a scholar in race and religion in the United States and southern Africa, post-World War II. Thomas McCoog, S.J., Ph.D., holds the St. Ignatius Loyola Chair for the fall semester. Father McCoog is librarian and archivist to the British Province of the Society of Jesus and is on the staff of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Oxford University.

—Janet Sassi

Fordham University Press Rolls Out Blog

Fordham University Press recently debuted its blog, “Fordham ImPRESSions,” at The blog features entries by press authors, announcements and features on forthcoming books, among other items.

Fredric W. Nachbaur was appointed the press’s new director in January. The press publishes an average of 30 to 40 titles per year, with roughly $1 million in annual sales.

It publishes primarily in the humanities and the social sciences, with an emphasis on the fields of anthropology, philosophy, theology, history, classics, communications, economics, sociology, business, political science and law, as well as literature and the fine arts. Additionally, the press publishes books focusing on the metropolitan New York region and books of interest to the general public.

Students Perform Shakespeare on the ‘Very’ Small Stage

For the second straight year, Fordham theatre students brought Shakespeare from the stage to the street and, in so doing, made a statement about America’s public parks.

The event, in which the students performed The Taming of the Shrew on Sept. 18 in a parking space across the street from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, was part of National Park(ing) Day 2009.

Each year, students, artists and environmentalists take over parking spaces across the country and temporarily convert them into miniature parks. The day is designed to protest the automobile’s monopolization of urban street-space and to draw attention to the need for public parks.

Below, Fordham College at Lincoln Center freshmen Emily Stout and Chris Stahl perform a scene written by the Bard of Avon.

Joseph McLaughlin

Fordham’s Quinn Library Hosts Exhibit of Tolkien Manuscripts

Manuscripts from Marquette University’s renowned J.R.R. Tolkien Collection will be exhibited from Oct. 5 though Nov. 19 at the Gerald M. Quinn Library at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.

The exhibit, “The Beginnings of a Masterpiece: Original Manuscripts from The Fellowship of the Ring,” is co-sponsored by the two Jesuit universities.

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first book of Tolkien’s Middle Earth fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, first published in 1954. Tolkien was a professor of Old and Middle English language and literature at Oxford University whose epic works set the stage for a generation of high fantasy writers. His books inspired music, films, artwork and countless imitators.

“These manuscripts show how hard it was to write a great trilogy in days before the computer—and in this case, Tolkien was virtually inventing the new genre of epic fantasy,” said John Davenport, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, who has used Tolkien’s works in his classes.

“The emergence of characters in several handwritten and typed drafts is a case study in the development of a novel, and also shows how much of the plot and personalities may be undetermined when the writing process begins. Yet the result is a work of enduring importance; for example, Tolkien’s fiction is featured in two courses we offer at Fordham.”

The exhibit coincides with an assortment of Middle Earth programming in Midtown Manhattan, including an orchestral performance of the musical score composed for the motion picture The Fellowship of the Ring at Radio City Music Hall on Oct. 8 and 9. The exhibit marks the first time that the literary manuscripts have been exhibited in New York City.

Some highlights featured in the Fordham exhibition will include drawings and sketches, maps and calendars of Middle Earth, linguistic notes about the author’s invented languages, Hobbit family genealogies, detailed time schemes and other plot notes, and examples of Tolkien’s finest calligraphy.

Admission to “The Beginnings of a Masterpiece” is free. The exhibit is located on the first floor of Lowenstein Center, 113 W. 60th Street. Quinn Library will be open to visitors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. All visitors will be asked to show a valid photo ID to enter Lowenstein Center and Quinn Library.

This Month in Jesuit History…
Society Creates First School for Lay Students

Eight years after its founding, the Society of Jesus undertook a new type of venture that would become a central part of its ministry.

The early Jesuits were involved in education in various ways. For instance, members of the Society taught theology at the university level, and the Society operated residences for Jesuits who were studying at universities around Europe.

But it wasn’t long before their educational mission encompassed non-Jesuits as well. A turning point came in 1546, in Gandía, Spain, where the rector of a Jesuit college arranged public displays of philosophical disputations. Local families were impressed; at their request, the faculty offered courses in the humanities to the Gandían youth.

Then, in October 1548, at the request of the citizens of Messina, Italy, the Jesuits formally inaugurated a school for the city’s young people. It was the first of what would become a multitude of schools operated by the Society of Jesus for lay students.

—Chris Gosier

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