This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Faculty Tell Us What’s on Their Nightstands

Vassar professors do a lot of reading — teaching material, sources for their own research, and academic publications — but what do they read for fun? Three current professors let us know what’s on their nightstands.

Abigail Baird ’91, assistant professor of psychology: “The book currently under this week’s US Weekly magazine on my nightstand is What is Emotion: History, Measures, Meanings by Jerome Kagan. What is really fantastic about this book is that Kagan recounts data from psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, and a number of other fields to help us understand what emotion actually is, and how to think about it. It is an elegant and enthralling tour de force on the topic that takes evidence and examples from all facets of human existence. It is one of those books that has such good stories that you nearly lose sight of how much you are learning.”

Debra Elmegreen, professor of astronomy: “I’m currently reading Five O’Clock Lightning by Harvey Frommer. It’s a view of the 1927 New York Yankees, putting the team in its historical context of the era of Prohibition and the Jazz Age in New York City. It focuses in particular on Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. As a diehard Yanks fan who can’t wait to beat the Red Sox and everyone else this season, I am enjoying a little baseball glory through this book.”

Heesok Chang, associate professor of English: “Aside from some unread magazines and periodicals, there are two books on my nightstand. The first is a graphic novel a student lent me called Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware. I like looking at the pictures. The second is a novel titled Quinnehtukqut, by Joshua Harmon, who happens to teach at Vassar. I try to read a page or two of this beautiful and intricate text before falling asleep. Sometimes I manage only a sentence. I can't tell you for sure what it’s about because the narrative, and more so, the language, have entered my dream life.”

April 2008

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