Janet M. Powers -- Personal Web Page

Curriculum Vita

How to Find Me:

My office is 311 Weidensall, and you may leave mail for me in the office of the Religion and Philosophy Departments on that that floor. Because my appointment is interdisciplinary, the office administrators in the Office of Women's Studies (4th floor Weidensall) will also take messages and accept mail for me. There is an answering machine on my phone at home (717-334-3871) as well as my phone at the office (717-337-6790). On weekends, or in the evenings, it's best to call me at home. During weekdays, however, especially when classes are in session, you can reach me most quickly via e-mail:

jpowers@gettysburg.edu.

What I Teach:

It may seem odd that I teach in so many different departments: Interdisciplinary Studies, Women's Studies, English, and History; but I am first and foremost a scholar of literature and South Asian Studies, which means that my expertise crosses disciplinary boundaries. I also teach courses with a global focus in Women's Studies, as well as Peace Studies. My offerings include the following courses, but not all are taught every year. Please note the semesters and years designated for each course.

First Year Seminar 116-2SEEKING PEACE:ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENCE - Fall, random years

TRANSFORMATIVE TEXTS:LITERATURE OF ANGER AND HOPE - Spring, even years

IDS 229- SOUTH ASIA: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE - Spring, odd years

IDS 239 - SURVEY OF SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE Classical and modern literature in translation - Spring, even years

WS 219 - CONTEMPORARY WOMEN'S WRITING: CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES - Spring, every year

WS 120 - INTRO TO WOMEN'S STUDIES- Fall, random years

WS 226 - FEMINISM IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE- Fall, every year

ENG 355 - CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE OF INDIA in English - Spring, odd years

HIS 104 - HISTORY OF THE ISLAMIC WORLD TO 1800 - Spring, random years

My Research Interests

As you might expect, my research interests are rather widely distributed. Let me discuss them one by one: (1) My latest research involves the joint peacemaking work of Palestinian and Israeli women, and I have published on this topic: "Women and Peace Dialogue in the Middle East." Peace Review 15:1 (Spring 2003) 25-31. In a related effort,I am also researching the role of Palestinian and Israeli women in their respective political parties. In the summer of 2003, I was awarded a grant from UNESCO to document the work being done on behalf of Palestinian women as Phase One of a larger project. I look forward to involvement in Phase Two.

(2) Many of my published articles concern the work of Indo-English writers (i.e. South Asian writers who write in English) such as Raja Rao, who was the subject of my doctoral dissertation; Anita Desai,Kamala Markandaya, Bapsi Sidhwa and Bharati Mukherjee. Surely the most exciting English fiction today is coming from a younger generation of Indian writers, many of whom I teach in English 355, which deals with Indian Literature Written in English. My work with South Asian women writers seems to have led inevitably to an interest in women writers from other parts of the world, as well as minority women writers in the US. I read literature by women in the developing world almost exclusively, always on the lookout for new titles to teach in my Contemporary Women's Writing: Cross-Cultural Perspectives course. A novel by Leslie Marmon Silko, a Native American novelist, is the subject of my article, "Mapping the Prophetic Landscape in Dante and Almanac of the Dead," which appeared in a book of criticism about her writing,Leslie Marmon Silko (Albuquerque: U New Mexico Press,1999).

(3) As the result of an excellent NEH Seminar in which I was involved during the summer of 1995 at the University of North Carolina, I renewed my long-held fascination with Hindu bhakti and Muslim Sufi poetry. My research during the seminar concerned the metaphor of marriage which is unique to neither tradition but central to both, growing out of a shared civilization which has been knit together over many centuries. I am still hoping to publish my seminar paper as a monograph, updated and revised, of course. As new translations appear, I continue to gather grist for the project.


(4) In my visits to India, South Africa, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Haiti, I have made it a point to visit women's organizations and to examine the work that they are doing in the area of women's health, microloan projects, leadership training, assistance with domestic violence, development projects, and consciousness raising. From the work of the Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed, Maharashtra, and the Rural Network in South Africa, I discovered that it is truly possible for villagers to transform their lives and to turn around age-old attitudes toward caste, sanitation, illiteracy, and gender hierarchy through empowering women. Someday I may find time to write about it.

(5)I have been working for some years on a book about the Irish poet, W.B.Yeats, and the ways in which his work was influenced by Indian thinkers Mohini Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore, and Swami Purohit. My focus in this study, Rethinking Yeats and the Indian Strands, also involves the politics of literary criticism and the way in which Western critics have ignored Indian critics and developed a blind spot concerning the significance of Indian thought.

Activism

I've sometimes been accused of living several lives at once, which wouldn't be far from the truth. Deep commitment to issues of human rights has led me to a number of activist commitments both in Gettysburg and further afield. Perhaps a sentence about each will be sufficient.
1) I am a certified ESL Trainer for the Adams County Literacy Council, and give workshops several times a year to train tutors, who in turn teach English as a Second Language to immigrants in our area.
2) CRAGI is an organization of local educators and citizens commited to peace education and conflict resolution both locally and in a global context. Our International Curricular Peace Thread is an exciting concept with potential for changing the culture of violence in today's world.
3)I have completed two terms as an elected member of the the Peace Education Commission of the International Peace Research Association, which meets every two years in some corner of the globe to share information about grass-roots peace efforts.
4)In the local context, our peacemaking efforts take the form of alternative dispute resolution as offered by Mediation Services of Adams County.
5)In addition, I meet regularly with the Adams County Human Relations Council, which works behind the scenes to monitor and improve the climate for minorities in this rural Pennsylvania County.
6) Oh yes, along that line, I should also mention the fact that I helped to found and continue to carry on public relations efforts for the Adams County Heritage Festival, held each September, a celebration of our diverse population through music, arts, food, and crafts.
7)Last, but hardly least, is my small part in Project Gettysburg-Leon, a sister-city project which offers material aid to communities in and around the univerity town of Leon, Nicaragua.

Personal Interests

It's not always easy to separate the personal interests from the academic or the activist ones, but there are some things that I am passionate about which comprise a personal world. One of these is poetry. I write off and on, and someday hope to publish a book of poems, but it may be retirement time before I find time to get them properly organized and edited. Recently, I have combined this love of poetry with rediscovery of my Welsh heritage. So I commend to you the very wonderful fourteenth century lyrics of Dafydd ap Gwilym, who is almost completely unknown to American scholars, even to those who acknowledge only the traditional Western literary canon. A modern Welsh poet worth reading is R.S. Thomas, who feels strongly about the beauty of the Welsh countryside and the way it is being colonized a second time by English vacationers.

My grandfather was Shelby Corwin Jones, son of Thomas Jones, and I'm still trying to sort out who it was that emigrated, possibly Thomas's father, quite probably from Corwen, near Denbigh in North Wales, I made it a point to visit there on my 1998 summer hiking trip in Wales, and found it both incredibly lovely and surrounded by historical sites (iron-age ring fort, 6th c. chapel, 13th c. church, hand-painted 17th c. chapel) The pubs are great too, but you'll not find a mention of any of it in the guidebooks. But quite probably my favorite town in Wales in Newport (Pembrokeshire) from which it's possible to hike both the Preseli Hills and the Coastal Path. It's been a relief, I tell you, to discover that another great-grandfather came from County Donegal in Ireland. Now I understand that strong current of poetry, song, and green life which has been making war all these years with that stern and taciturn Norman conqueror named La Poere.

I'd be really remiss if I didn't mention sailing, something I began some years back while married, and which I've taken up once again, thanks to Womanship and also to the Wanderlusters Sailing Club, a group of mostly federal employees who sail on small boats (28-30 ft.) out of Annapolis. I've sailed all over the Chesapeake Bay, which is a wonderful place to drop anchor, gypsy-style, wherever you find a beautiful spot, and there are many of them. I've twice sailed out of Greenport, Long Island, including a four-day passage from there to the Chesapeake, and also in the turquoise waters of the Abacos (Bahamas). Earlier on, we chartered bareboat in the Virgin Islands and in the Greek Islands (out of Samos near Turkey). So I'm raring to try some new and exciting maritime venues.

Janet M. Powers
Global Studies Coordinator
Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary
and Women's Studies
Gettysburg College
Gettysburg, PA 17325
717-337-6790