college of liberal arts

Public conference on religion and politics of China held Oct. 26-27

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Some of the top experts in religious issues in China will gather at Oregon State University for a two-day conference on topics ranging from Buddhist nuns in Taiwan to the re-emergence of underground churches in Shanghai.

The free, public conference is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, at OSU’s LaSells Stewart Center.

Designed as a series of panel discussions, the conference will explore the link between religion and politics in modern-day China. Conference organizer Hung-Yok Ip, an associate professor of history who specializes in modern Chinese history, will lead a panel discussion on Oct. 26 on how the monk Xuyun was influential in securing a space for Buddhism in China in the 1950s.

Other speakers will address topics such as the experiences of Chinese Christian prisoners in Maoist China, political dissent in contemporary China, and how faith-based charities in contemporary China often resist the nation’s authoritarian system.

This conference is sponsored by the Chun and Jane Chiu Foundation, the Horning Endowment for the Humanities, Asian Studies, and Center for the Humanities at OSU.

For more information, go to:


Media Contact: 

Hung-Yok Ip, 541-737-1260

Oregon Latinos retaining Spanish language more than previous generations

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Mexican-Americans in Independence, Ore., are retaining Spanish at a rate much higher than previous immigration waves, according to in-depth interviews of 120 Latino families.

These initial research findings, part of a larger study being conducted by Oregon State University researcher Susana Rivera-Mills, will be presented on Friday, Oct. 12, at the Linguistic Association of the Southwest conference.

Rivera-Mills, interim director of OSU’s Center for Latin@ Studies and Engagement, or CL@SE, is also a professor of Spanish and diversity advancement at OSU. She is an expert on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society, particularly that of the Spanish language.

She has spent several years interviewing families in Independence, where Latinos are 35 percent of the total population. Rivera-Mills said this is one of the first studies to look at language retention of fourth- and fifth-generation immigrants.

“I found that children of immigrants are either retaining the Spanish language, or going back to reacquire it,” she said. “This is a completely new trend. Fifteen years ago, we saw the same pattern in the Latino community as you did with early European immigrants – the native language was almost completely erased by the third generation.”

Rivera-Mills said the reason for this language retention was two-fold, a desire for cultural preservation by fourth- and fifth-generation Latinos; and in the case of more recent immigrants, economic and cultural benefits of being bilingual.

“These fourth- and fifth-generations are going back to acquire their roots and fighting against language loss,” Rivera-Mills said. “They feel a need to recapture the loss they experienced as children who primarily spoke English.”

Rivera-Mills said these young people were often descendants of braceros, who came to Oregon in the 1940s to work in the Emergency Farm Labor Program. More than 15,000 workers came from Mexico to Oregon during this period.

“I also spoke to children of more recent immigrants who were learning Spanish for communication purposes and to further themselves by becoming competitive for jobs that require bilingual skills,” she said.

Rivera-Mills said these are initial findings from her detailed interviews with families in Independence. More detailed results will be published next year.

In addition to her presentation, two OSU graduate students studying with Rivera-Mills will present at the conference. Maralisa Morales Ortiz will discuss how second-generation Latinas who have grown up within their heritage cultural value system, but also exposed to U.S. education system, are redefining what their sexuality means to them. These interviews with college-age Latinas indicate that the women are becoming empowered through their exposure to the United Stated education system, but feel pressured to respond to accepted social parameters that tell them to stay virgins until they are married.

Another graduate student, Michelle Ofelt, will discuss her paper on Latinos and television viewing. Her findings conclude that children of Spanish-language speakers do not continue to watch Spanish language television once they leave the home. Importantly, her study participants were more critical of Spanish programming, and said they felt the content and entertainment value was higher for English programming.

“Future generations of Latinos are in danger of losing their own cultural knowledge if they continue this pattern of not watching Spanish programming,” Rivera-Mills said. “Interestingly, she found that any consumption of Spanish programming was based on the collective, so there was a much greater chance of choosing Spanish TV when there was a large group instead of an individual.”

Both Morales Ortiz and Ofelt are considering these studies as possible exploratory research for future dissertation work.

Media Contact: 

Susana Rivera-Mills, 541-737-4586

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Susana Rivera-Mills

Susana Rivera-Mills


Mexican workers from the Bracero program on Horst ranch in Polk County, Ore., taking empty baskets for hop picking. Photo: OSU Archives

OSU creative writing professor reads from new short story collection on Oct. 12

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A widow discovers her new friend is married to a past lover. A man collects memories of his five ex-wives. A mother of three young children is left reeling by a divorce. Susan Jackson Rodgers’ new collection of 19 short stories explores how the past can bubble up into the present, and how we deal with the tension between our past identities and who we have become.

“Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6” is the new short story collection by Rodgers, associate professor of creative writing at Oregon State University. It is distributed by North Carolina-based publisher Press 53.

Rodgers will speak on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the Valley Library on the OSU campus. The talk is sponsored by the OSU School of Writing, Literature and Film’s Literary Northwest reading series. Info: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/wlf/

The stories in “Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6” chronicle various characters’ sometimes real, sometimes imagined encounters with ex-lovers, old friends, deceased family members, and former versions of themselves.

Stories from “Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6” have appeared in New England Review, North American Review, and Midwestern Gothic, among other places. Before the collection was picked up for publication by Press 53, it was a finalist for the prestigious Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

“Think Flannery O’Connor meets ‘Desperate Housewives,’” said Susan Shapiro, author of “Overexposed and “Five Men Who Broke My Heart.” “A poetic, hilarious, and haunting collection.”

Rodgers’ previous short story collection, “The Trouble With You Is,” (2004) won the Mid-List Press First Series Award for Short Fiction. She lives in Corvallis with her husband and three children.

Her website is http://www.susanjacksonrodgers.com

Media Contact: 

Susan Rodgers, 541-737-1658

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Susan Rodgers

Ex Boyfriend on Aisle 6

"Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6"

New “Center for Latin@ Studies and Engagement” at OSU kicks off inaugural week

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As Oregon's Latino population continues to rise, a new center at Oregon State University is working to address issues crucial to the history, politics, and culture of this diverse group of people.

OSU’s new Center for Latin@ Studies and Engagement, or CL@SE, will celebrate its arrival with a week of events Oct. 8-11. CL@SE is designed to meet the research and outreach needs relating to Oregon’s Latino population, which accounted for nearly half of the state’s growth over the last decade.

A keynote address by Juan Andrade Jr., president of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute and one of few Latinos in history to receive a Presidential Medal, will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the CH2M Hill Alumni Center Ballroom on campus. Andrade will speak on “The Global Implications of Latino Population Growth and the Search for Common Ground.” He has been recognized four times as one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America.

Other events during the week include a panel discussion on the history of Latinos in Oregon on Oct. 8, and an art exhibit and reception for Corvallis resident and third-generation Chicana painter Analee Fuentes on Oct. 10. A full schedule of CL@SE inaugural week events can be found at: http://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/content/highlights

Susana Rivera-Mills, interim director of CL@SE, is also a professor of Spanish and diversity advancement at OSU. Rivera-Mills is an expert on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society, particularly that of the Spanish language.

“There are many challenges facing our Latino communities, and these are challenges that affect us all directly or indirectly, such as issues surrounding education, access to health care, immigration reform, and economic development,” said Rivera-Mills. "CL@SE will help connect various groups, both academic and non-academic, with different perspectives, who can work together to develop solutions and move our communities forward.”

Joining Rivera-Mills as part of the new CL@SE team are Maria Chavez-Haroldson, associate director for outreach and engagement, and Daniel López-Cevallos, associate director of research. Chavez-Haroldson is new to academia and previously worked for the nonprofit CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates, an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in the judicial system. López-Cevallos earned his Ph.D. in public health at OSU and has worked in various public health projects in Ecuador and Oregon (primarily with Latino communities).

Media Contact: 

Susana Rivera-Mills, 541-737-4586

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Susana Rivera-Mills

Susana Rivera-Mills


Juan Andrade Jr.

OSU creative writing program named one of top 25 in country

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is among the top 25 in the country, according to the 2013 MFA Index reported in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers magazine.

The ranking is based on data collected from the previous year’s MFA applications throughout the country, and weighs factors such as popularity, selectivity, class size and funding. OSU’s program, which was established in 2002, appeared on the list for the first time this year at No. 22.

“We’ve definitely gotten the word out to future applicants that OSU’s MFA program will give them the mentoring and literary training, supportive community, and inspiring environment they need in order to realize their potential as writers,” said Karen Holmberg, the program’s director.

Poets & Writers magazine is published by the nonprofit organization Poets & Writers, Inc., the nation's largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction and creative nonfiction writers.

The ranking comes after the Huffington Post named OSU’s program one of the most underrated in the nation in 2011, and just months after Joyce Carol Oates received the inaugural Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in May 2012.

OSU was one of only two universities in the Pacific Northwest that ranked in the top 25.


Karen Holmberg, 541-737-1661

Auditions for ‘Oedipus Rex” held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Open auditions for the Oregon State University Theatre fall production of Sophocles’ tragedy, “Oedipus Rex,” will be held Sunday, Sept. 30, and Monday, Oct. 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on the main stage in Withycombe Hall, 30thStreet and Campus Way.

This classic Greek drama is a story of pride, ambition, and fortune gone awry. The production calls for at least five adult males, two to three adult females, two younger girls and a large chorus. All interested performers from the community are encouraged to participate.

The play is scheduled for Nov. 8-10 and 15-16 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.

For information, contact director George Caldwell, 541-737-4627 or george.caldwell@oregonstate.edu

Media Contact: 

George Caldwell, 541-737-4627

Film festival brings German cinema to Corvallis Oct. 8-12

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A free film festival of German language movies will show in Corvallis Oct. 8-12.

“Biber Blick I – German Film Festival," is sponsored by Oregon State University’s School of Language, Culture, & Society, with support from the Goethe Institut. The festival celebrates both recent releases and a retrospective of films from the 1970s and 1980s by East German filmmaker Iris Gusner. The Gusner retrospective will be the West Coast premiere of the movies.

The festival is free and open to the public, although seating is limited.

Sebastian Heiduschke, assistant professor of German at OSU, said two classes, GER 199 and GER 299, will be taught during the festival. He said the classes have no pre-requisites and no books required. Students enrolled in one of these courses will be guaranteed seating at the festival.

All films are subtitled and will play at the Darkside Cinema, 215 S.W. 4th St., Corvallis. The schedule is:

Monday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m.:Winter's Daughter” (Wintertochter ) 2011. Eleven-year-old Kattaka is celebrating Christmas with her parents at home in Berlin when an unexpected phone call turns her world upside down. She begins an unusual road trip through Eastern Europe to find her real father.

Tuesday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m.: Baikonur,” 2012. An unusual love triangle in a small village among the local residents who collect the space debris that falls from the nearby Baikonur space station.

Wednesday, Oct. 10, Iris Gusner Retrospective.

7 p.m.: “The Blue Light” (Das blaue Licht) 1978. A farmer who is being sent to war goes on a magical journey that includes meeting a beautiful princess, a dwarf, a witch and a king, who holds his life in his hands. Subtitles to this film created by OSU students.

8:30 p.m.: “All my Girls” (Alle meine Mädchen) 1980. A film student making a documentary about a brigade of women workers gets to know the personalities in the lamp factory, including brazen Susie, reprobate Kerstin, lonely Anita, single Ella, withdrawn Gertrud and the superior forewoman.

Thursday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m.:Combat Girls” (Kriegerin) 2011. An angry young woman with hatred of foreigners and outsiders meets an Afghan refugee and begins to have her worldview changed.  Adults only.

Friday, Oct. 12. 8 p.m.:Lessons of a Dream” (Der ganz große Traum) 2011. In 1874 a young teacher in Germany experiments with a highly contested way of teaching English to his students: by introducing football despite the protests by the community.

For more information on the films and the festival, go to http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/german/

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Combat Girls

“Combat Girls” (Kriegerin) 2011. Shows Oct. 11, 2012 as part of the OSU German Film Festival.

Winter's Daughter

“Winter's Daughter" Shows Oct. 8, 2012 as part of the OSU German Film Festival.

Free screenings of American indie romantic comedy shown Sept. 28 in Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two screenings of an American independent film will be shown in Corvallis on Sept. 28.

Must Come Down” is on a short Northwestern tour and will show at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at the Darkside Cinema, 215 S.W. 4th St. The screenings are sponsored by Oregon State University’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film and are free and open to public.

Jon Lewis, film professor at OSU, will introduce the film and moderate a question-and-answer session with the director of “Must Come Down” following the screenings.

After premiering at Cinequest San Jose, “Must Come Down” went on to show at the Phoenix Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, and Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.

Written and directed by Kenny Riches, “Must Come Down” was shot on location in Salt Lake City. It was produced by actor Patrick Fugit (“Almost Famous,” “We Bought A Zoo”) and producer Dominic Fratto. It features actors and musical talent from the Salt Lake City area.

“Must Come Down” follows a quirky girl and guy trying to get through their early 20s. Holly and Ashley share misadventures as they stumble through life’s final bout of growing pains.

Film critic Ray Schillaci wrote that “Everything about this film echoes independent and cult, and it is a refreshing journey after so many studio driven rom-coms that we have all been subjected to.”

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Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ opens Aug. 8 at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. – One of William Shakespeare’s most controversial comedies, “The Taming of the Shrew,” will be performed in the Memorial Union quad on the Oregon State University campus starting Wednesday, Aug. 8.

OSU Theatre’s annual Bard in the Quad performances are scheduled Aug. 8-12 and Aug. 15-19 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The plot focuses on a wealthy young man, Lucentio, who wants to marry the coquettish Bianca. She is forbidden to marry however, until her older sister Kate finds a suitor. Lucentio convinces his friend, the clever playboy Petruchio, to woo Kate, who is stubborn and witty and must be “tamed.”

Some elements of the play have been interpreted as misogynistic by modern critics, yet the play has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, and musical theater; perhaps the most famous adaptation being Cole Porter's musical “Kiss Me, Kate.”

Director George Caldwell said he is embracing the pageantry and color of Renaissance England in his interpretation of what he called “Shakespeare’s ultimate battle of the sexes.”

The cast features Corvallis resident Erin Cunningham in the lead as Kate and OSU Theatre graduates Jamie Bilderback as Bianca, Rowan Russell as Petruchio and Alex Johnston as Lucentio. The rest of the cast includes OSU students Karla Badeau, Chris Peterman, Cassie Ruud, and Ellianne Smith; local community members Phil Allen, Craig Currier and Brenna McCulloch; and OSU faculty members Charlotte Headrick and Travis Roth.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for OSU students. Tickets are available for online purchases now at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/theatre or call 541-737-2784.

This is an outdoor performance and no seating is provided. Patrons are encouraged to bring low lawn chairs and/or blankets. Seating begins at 6:30 p.m.

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The Taming of the Shrew

Oregon’s Paisley Caves as old as Clovis sites – but not Clovis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study of Oregon’s Paisley Caves confirms that humans used the site as early as 13,200 calendar years ago and perhaps as early as 14,700 calendar years ago, and the projectile points they left behind were of the “Western Stemmed” tradition and not Clovis – which suggests parallel technological development of early inhabitants to the Americas.

The study, published this week in the journal Science, could have a major impact on theories of how the Western Hemisphere was populated. The research was funded by multiple organizations, including the Keystone Archaeological Research Fund, the Bernice Peltier Huber Charitable Trust, and the National Science Foundation.

Lead author Dennis Jenkins, from the University of Oregon, and second author Loren Davis, from Oregon State University, were part of a large multidisciplinary team that spent much of the past two years combing through deposits and collecting more than 100 high-precision radiocarbon dates from Paisley Caves, located in south-central Oregon’s Summer Lake basin.

What cemented the authors’ findings was a thorough examination of the stratigraphy in the caves, which confirmed that coprolites containing human DNA were definitely associated with layers of sediment ranging in age from 2,295 to 12,450 radiocarbon years ago (which is roughly 2,340 to 14,700 calendar years ago) – and were not contaminated by humans or animals at later dates. The researchers last year also found additional Western Stemmed projectile points.

“The Western Stemmed and Clovis traditions include different technological strategies,” said Davis, an associate professor of anthropology in OSU’s School of Language, Culture and Society. “The Western Stemmed artifacts from Paisley Caves are at least as old – and may predate – the oldest confirmed Clovis sites, indicating that the peopling of the Americas was at least technologically divergent, if not genetically divergent.”

The projectile points were found in deposits dating back 12,960 to 13,230 calendar years ago, and thus were not quite as old as the oldest coprolites. But DNA from coprolites of that era was similar to that found in the oldest coprolites, Davis pointed out. “They were from the same genetic group,” he said.

The difference in technology between Clovis and Western Stemmed projectile points revolves around how they were attached to spears, which relates to the strategy of finding and shaping pieces of rock in the first place. Clovis artifacts have a distinct notch at the base, where a piece has been removed. The tool builder starts with a large rock and reduces it considerably.

Western Stemmed points and Clovis points primarily differ in the construction of their hafting portions, Davis said. Stemmed points bear constricted bases, while the hafting element of a Clovis point is thinned through the removal of a large flake from the base. Western Stemmed points are also often made by modifying smaller flakes in a different way than Clovis peoples manufactured their spear points.

“These two approaches to making projectile points were really quite different,” Davis said, “and the fact that Western Stemmed point-makers fully overlap, or even pre-date Clovis point makers likely means that Clovis peoples were not the sole founding population of the Americas.”

Clovis technology has only been found in the New World, while Western Stemmed technology can be related to archaeological patterns seen in northeastern Asia.

“We seem to have two different traditions co-existing in the United States that did not blend for a period of hundreds of years,” said the University of Oregon’s Jenkins.

Past studies of Paisley Caves also have reported on human coprolites with ancient DNA, but questions arose about whether those samples could have been contaminated, and whether they were found in context with artifacts from the same era. So the researchers did an exhaustive examination of the stratigraphy, which is one of Davis’ specialties.

Davis conducted microscopic analysis of the soil structure using a petrographic microscope to eliminate signs of liquid – such as water or urine from humans or animals – moving downward through the soil. The team also carefully analyzed the silt lens where the stem points were found and bracketed above and below those layers to see if radiocarbon dates synchronized.

“The stemmed points were in great context,” Davis said. “There is no doubt that they were in primary context, associated with excellent radiocarbon dates.”

The earliest models for peopling of the Americas suggest that the first inhabitants arrived from Asia via a land bridge at the end of the last Ice Age and fanned out across the continent. However, those models can’t explain the presence of two separate and distinct stone tool technologies at the end of the last glacial period.

“Given these recent results from Paisley Caves, it’s clear that we need to come up with some better models,” Davis said.

Media Contact: 

Loren Davis, 541-602-4142