Humanities scholar shares cultural knowledge with Missouri S&T and Rolla community

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On August 31, 2020
Dr. Marie Lathers, Missouri S&T’s Maxwell C. Weiner Distinguished Visiting Professor of Humanities

From analyzing the role of women in American space culture, to enlightening inquiring minds on the historical significance of pandemics, Dr. Marie Lathers is ready to share her more than 35 years of interdisciplinary humanities studies with students and faculty of Missouri S&T and with the Rolla community.

Lathers, the Elizabeth M. and William C. Treuhaft Professor of Humanities and French at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, has been named the Maxwell C. Weiner Distinguished Visiting Professor of Humanities at Missouri S&T for the 2020-21 academic year. The visiting professorship, which is filled every other year, was established in 1999 by an estate gift. Lathers is collectively hosted by the arts, language and philosophy; English and technical communication; and history and political science departments at S&T.

Lathers’ research focuses on 19th-century French literature and art. Her work includes an extensive study of artists’ models from that era and their representation in art, literature and society. Lathers’ research also covers modern cultural topics that connect gender, science and technology, such as how women are characterized in films about outer space and what that portrayal means to society.

“The complexity of an issue is never immediately obvious to humanities scholars,” says Lathers. “A society’s cultural products emerge from several associated, and perhaps even contradictory, events and influences.”

Lathers says analyzing the historical influences that go into producing a work of art aids in understanding the world at a particular point in time.

“That understanding can give us insight into the human experience going into the future,” she says. “Knowing that 19th-century astronomers in France, among others, believed there were man-made water canals on Mars helps us understand the way Mars has been represented in literature and film.”

During the spring semester, Lathers will teach an undergraduate course on pandemic literature, present two virtual public lectures and lead a seminar on campus for early career faculty in the humanities. She will also work with Missouri S&T’s Center for Science, Technology and Society.

Lathers says she also wants to serve the Rolla community, and she is working with the Rolla Public Library on plans to host a virtual book club on the topic of pandemic novels.

Lathers authored three published books: “Space Oddities: Women and Outer Space in Popular Film and Culture, 1960 – 2000,” “Bodies of Art: French Literary Realism and the Artist’s Model,” and “The Aesthetics of Artifice: Villiers’s ‘L’ Eve future.’” She also translated Gilbert Doho’s “People Theater and Grassroots Empowerment in Cameroon” from French into English.

Lathers has also authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries pertaining to 19th-century French literature and art, the relationship between literature and the visual arts, feminist theory, and world literature. Her newest area of research is children’s literature.

Lathers with Case Western Reserve students during 2018 service learning trip in Montreal.

Lathers joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve in 2001 and chaired the modern languages and literatures department from 2002 to 2004. She was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Dschang in Cameroon in 2008–09, and worked with Engineers Without Borders to develop a clean water distribution system in the village of Batula. Lathers now leads Case Western Reserve’s spring break service learning trip to Montreal.

Prior to joining Case Western Reserve, Lathers was a professor of French at Iowa State University, where she began teaching in 1989 as assistant professor.

Lathers holds a Ph.D. in French studies from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; master of arts degrees in English from Case Western Reserve University and in French studies from Brown University; and a bachelor of arts degree in French from the University of Maryland in College Park. She is currently completing a master of fine arts degree in children’s literature at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. She has received multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, including a fellowship and summer stipend, as well as a residency grant from the Camargo Foundation.

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3 thoughts on “Humanities scholar shares cultural knowledge with Missouri S&T and Rolla community”

  • Luce Myers says:

    What an awesome journey of studies and accolades! Dr. Marie, you might be interested in the International Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, if you are not already a member. (SCBWI)
    Welcome to Missouri S&T! What an asset of depth and diversity you bring.
    Luce Myers

  • Worth Hayes says:

    Please send me reading list on pandemics aired during interview on STL NPR radio.

    • mm Delia Croessmann says:

      Mr. Hayes,

      Thank you for your interest. Below is the reading list of pandemic literature addressed in Dr. Lathers’ NPR interview.

      Al-Malaika, Nazik, “Cholera,” poem, Iraq, about plague in Egypt in 1947
      Alma, C.C. The Little Dog in the Big Plague.
      Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake.
      —. The Year of the Flood.
      Bellatin, Mario. The Beauty Salon, 1994
      Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron (Intro. to First Day)
      Brooks, Geraldine. Year of Wonders, 2001.
      Brooks, Max. World War Z
      Camus, Albert, The Plague. La Peste (1947), Trans. Robin Buss.
      Chen, Mike. A Beginning at the End
      Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One.
      Crichton, Michael. The Andromeda Strain
      Cronin, Justin. The Passage.
      Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year, 1722.
      Giono, Jean. The Horseman on the Roof. (Le Hussard sur le toit, 1951) (and film)
      Heller, Peter. The Dog Stars
      Kasichke, Lauren. In a Perfect World
      Keller, Teddy. “The Plague,” 1961.
      King, Stephen, The Stand
      London, Jack, “The Plague Ship” (short story)
      London, Jack, “The Scarlet Plague” (novella)
      London, Jack, “The Unparalleled Invasion” (short story)
      Luknavich, Lydia. The Book of Joan
      Ma, Ling. Severance
      Mandel, Emily St. John. Station Eleven
      Mann, Thomas. “Death in Venice.” (Visconti film)
      Manzoni, Alessandro. The Betrothed (1840-42)
      Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend (1954)
      Maxwell, William. They Came Like Swallows
      Mullen, Thomas. The Last Town on Earth.
      Norton, Andre. Plague Ship.
      O’Nan, Stewart. A Prayer for the Dying
      Pahmuk, Orhan. Nights of Plague (forthcoming)
      Poe, Edgar Allan, “Masque of the Red Death”
      Poe, Edgar Allan, “King Pest” (1835)
      Porter, Katherine Ann. Pale Horse. Pale Rider.
      Power, Rory. Wilder Girls (YA)
      Procopius, (l. 500-565 CE) on plague of Justinian in his History of the Wars, Book II. 22
      Saramago, José, Blindness, 1995
      Shelley, Mary. The Last Man
      Stifter, Adalbert, “Granite” (novella) (In Colourful Stones, 1853)
      Vandermeer, Jeff. Annihilation
      Vargas, Fred. Have Mercy on us All, 2003. Trans. from the French by David Bellos (Pars vite et reviens tard, 2001). Also film Have Mercy on us all (AKA Seeds of Death), dir. Régis Wargnier, 2007.
      Walker, Karen Thompson. The Dreamers
      Whitehead, Colson. Zone A
      Willis, Connie. Doomsday Book, 1992.
      Wright, Lawrence. The End of October, 2020
      Ibn al-Wardi, “An Essay on the Report of the Pestilence,” 1348. (Syria)
      Wilder Girls
      Ibn Abi al-Dunya, The Book of Pestilences, 9th century, Iraq (medical)
      Poem: Night Visitor, the ode by Iraqi-Syrian poet al-Mutannabi (915-965) to fever, is widely considered one the masterpieces of classical Arabic poetry.

      Delia Croessmann