Leaving Russia: A Jewish Story, a memoir by Professor of Russian, English, and Jewish Studies Maxim D. Shrayer has been released in a paperback edition. The first English-language, autobiographical and nonfictional account of growing up Jewish in the former USSR, Leaving Russia poignantly conveys the triumphs and humiliations of a Soviet childhood and expresses the dreams and fears of Shrayer’s family, who left the Soviet Union in 1987. The Shrayer family was among the veteran Jewish refuseniks who, during the dawn of Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, were granted exit visas to emigrate from the country. Narrated in the tradition of Tolstoy’s confessional trilogy and Nabokov’s autobiography, Leaving Russia offers a searing account of growing up a Jewish refusenik, of a young poet’s rebellion against totalitarian culture, and Soviet fantasies of the West during the Cold War. “It was important to tell this story because the Jewish experience in Russia—and especially during the Soviet period—is not fully understood in America,” Shrayer said, “this despite the fact that it’s now difficult to imagine the fabric of our communities without ex-Soviet Jews.” More from BC News.
David Montgomery and Anne Biklé, co-authors of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health (W. W. Norton & Company, 2015), will discuss their book on Feb. 9 at 3:15 p.m. in McElroy Faculty Dining Room. The book is on the relationship between microbial life, plants, and people. Montgomery is a professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and an award-winning author. Biklé is a biologist and environmental planner. Their book details how the creation of a garden lead to the discovery of the similarities between plant roots and the human gut and how cultivating beneficial microbes can benefit soil fertility and the fight against chronic diseases. Sponsor: Environmental Studies Program.
Bernard McGinn, considered one of the leading authorities on Catholic historical theology, will present the Candlemas Lecture, “Poetry, Prose and the Bible in John of the Cross,” on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in Devlin Hall, Room 101. McGinn is Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is the author of a biography of Thomas Aquinas and the forthcoming Mysticism in the Reformation (1500-1650), volume six in his seven-volume series on the history of Christian mysticism in the West, titled The Presence of God. Sponsor: Lowell Humanities Series.
Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose story was the basis for the movie “Concussion,” will give an address titled “The Mustard Seed Effect: How Small Steps Can Spark Major Change” on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.* in Gasson Hall, room 100. Dr. Omalu was born in Nigeria and spent part of childhood as a refuge. He went on to became a neuropathologist and was the first to discover chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players who had experience head injuries. His story was the subject of the book Concussion by journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas. Later this year, he will release his own book, written with Mark Tabb, Truth Doesn’t Have a Side: My Alarming Discovery about the Danger of Contact Sports. Sponsor: Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics, with the BAIC-BHM Committee. *Note: Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Historian Hidetaka Hirota, a Boston College alumnus, has published Expelling the Poor: Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy (Oxford University Press, December 2016), a groundbreaking work that fundamentally revises the history of American immigration policy. Historians have long assumed that immigration to the United States was free from regulation until the introduction of federal laws to restrict Chinese immigration in the 1880s. In his new book, Hirota shows that nativists in New York and Massachusetts—faced with the influx of impoverished Irish immigrants over the first half of the nineteenth century—built upon colonial poor laws to develop policies for prohibiting the landing of destitute foreigners and deporting those already resident to Europe, Canada, or other American states. This state-level treatment of destitute immigrants set precedents for the use of unrestricted power against undesirable aliens on a federal level. Hirota, who earned a doctorate in history at BC, was honored for his scholarship while a student. The Organization of American Historians presented him with the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award, given annually for the best essay in American history by a graduate student. His dissertation was awarded the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Prize from the American Society for Legal History.
In Go Into the Streets! The Welcoming Church of Pope Francis (Paulist Press, 2016), co-editors Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology Richard R. Gaillardetz and Thomas P. Rausch SJ, have collected essays by theologians exploring the ecclesial vision of Pope Francis. This volume considers the pope’s concern for a fresh reception of Vatican II, his efforts to move the church toward the periphery and accompany those who live on the margins of church and society, and the tension between the church universal and local churches, among other topics. In addition to Gaillardetz, contributors from Boston College include retired Theology Department faculty member Fr. Robert Imbelli and Fr. Richard Lennan of the School of Theology and Ministry.
Dr. James O’Connell, a founding physician and president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), will speak at BC on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in Gasson Hall, room 100. BHCHP, the nation’s first medical respite program for homeless persons, serves more than 13,000 individuals each year in two hospital-based clinics and in more than 60 shelters and outreach sites in Boston. This innovative program provides acute and subacute, pre- and post-operative, and palliative and end-of-life care. A graduate of Harvard Medical School, Dr. O’Connell began full-time clinical work with homeless individuals in 1985. He designed and implemented the nation’s first computerized medical record for a homeless program in 1995. Dr. O’Connell published Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor, a collection of stories and essays he wrote over 30 years of caring for homeless persons in Boston. It gently illuminates the humanity and raw courage of those who struggle to survive and find meaning and hope while living on the streets. Dr. O’Connell is a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award. Sponsor: Park Street Corporation Speaker Series.