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Monday, June 7, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 146

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UH historian, artist named Moores University Scholars

Cougar News Services

UH history Professor Steven Mintz and art Professor Gael Stack have been named this year's Moores University Scholars. As Moores Scholars, each will receive a five-year annual $10,000 stipend.

The Moores University Scholars program was established to honor tenured, full-time faculty at UH who have made outstanding contributions in teaching, research and community service. There is an option to renew a Moores scholar position after five years, pending competitive review.

"I must confess that I feel utterly overwhelmed by this honor," said Mintz, who is also associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication.

"My view is that the Moores University Scholar award can be an extraordinary catalyst for innovation. My intention is to use the funds from the award to the benefit of our students and our institution," he said.

"I am especially interested in curricular, programmatic and collaborative research initiatives in areas that I feel are vital, such as the comparative study of the peoples and cultures of the Americas, slavery and race relations, families and children, and emerging technologies and teaching," Mintz added. "My plan is to bring speakers to campus, organize national conferences at UH, develop innovative courses and initiate joint faculty-student research projects."

During his tenure at UH, Mintz has received the Cooper Teaching Excellence Award, the college's Master Teacher Award and the University's Research and Scholarship Excellence Award. A leading authority on the history of the American family, he has written extensively on social reform, slavery, ethnicity and popular film.

He said his goal as an educator is to teach students to think "fourth-dimensionally" -- to understand that every aspect of life has a history and that our values, institutions and identities are a product of historical processes. Mintz received his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and his master's and doctoral degrees from Yale.

Stack said being named a Moores Scholar is more than just being handed a title. "I am most honored to have been named a Moores Scholar, and it is particularly gratifying when such a prestigious endowment selects an artist for this level of recognition and financial reward," she said. "I am proud that the University of Houston demonstrates a continuing awareness of the vital need to support the fine arts."

Stack's paintings and drawings have appeared in numerous exhibitions since 1972. Her paintings were most recently seen in solo exhibitions at the Condeso/Lawler Gallery in New York and at the Galveston Arts Center.

In 1995, her work was featured in a solo exhibition at France's Musee de L'Echevinage de Saintes. In 1996, the show was also exhibited in France at the Musee de Niort, and her work was part of a three-person show, Three Visions, which originated at Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Stack's work was also included in the 1997 Establishment and Revelationsat the Dallas Visual Arts Center. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois-Urbana and her master's degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

HFAC Dean Lois Zamora said both professors exhibit great talent and provide much to the University and the community.

"Mintz's books have set the standards and the terms for the academic discussion in his principal fields," she said. "(His) unusual influence stems from his interdisciplinary approach. He operates deftly in the realms in sociology, social psychology, constitutional law, pedagogical theory, among others."

"Stack is an internationally recognized visual artist," Zamora continued. "Her recent election as Texas Artist of the Year, and now a Moores University Scholar at the University of Houston, begins to signal what will surely be the lasting importance and influence of her painting."

Exhibit shows appeal of 19th-century travel writing

Travel writing has long inspired and offered insight into the unfamiliar. In The Occidental Tourist: Travel Writing in the Era of Western Imperialism, a new exhibit at the UH M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, audiences will get an opportunity to see how such writing affected people of the 19th century.

The exhibit, curated by UH librarian Anna Youssefi, will be on display on the library's main floor during normal operating hours until Aug. 27.

The exhibit displays travel narratives, both autobiographical and second-hand, principally from 19th-century Western writers.

Highlights of the exhibit include works by noted explorers Zebulon Montgomery Pike, Patrick Gass of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Henry Stanley and David Livingstone. Also displayed are accounts of travel by authors Mary Wollstonecraft, Oscar Wilde and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Not all the items on display are from the last century, however: a volume of Samuel Purchas' Purchas his Pilgrims, an earlier edition of which inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge to write his famous poem "Kubla Khan," dates from 1625.

Perhaps the most unusual item is a 13-volume edition of Matthew Perry's Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, bound in a variety of silk fabrics and enhanced with such items as a print attributed to Japanese artist Hiroshige, a signed letter from U.S. President Harry S. Truman and the front page of a World War II-era Japanese newspaper.

Travel writing has been the product of such diverse activities as governmental expeditions, naval operations, commercial ventures, missionary work, scholarly exploration and, increasingly common in the latter half of the 19th century, leisure trips and literary aspirations.

In the 19th century, tales of exotic foreign lands, unexplored territories rich in resources and "savage" people with "bizarre" customs captured the popular imagination and prompted others to travel and to write about travel.

Meanwhile, inventions like the steam ship and railroad enabled more people to travel, prompting more travel accounts to be published.

18th-century UH scholar receives teaching award

UH 18th-century scholar and Assistant Professor of English David Mazella recently received a Cooper Award for Teaching Excellence, an honor given to tenure-track faculty members who teach undergraduate core courses.

Mazella, who has been credited with making a significant impact on recent curricular reform in the Department of English, received both his master's and doctoral degrees in English from Columbia University, where he later taught briefly. Mazella came to UH in 1995.

"I am proud and pleased to receive this award," Mazella said. "I am grateful to all the students and faculty who recommended me for this prize."

As an award recipient, Mazella received a trophy and $3,000.

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mecougar@mail.uh.edu.
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