Home » Rigor and RelevanceSpring 2010


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Biblical Epic Eight Years In The Making

Daniel M. Patte isn’t directing a remake of The Ten Commandments, but his new book, The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity, is an equally huge undertaking. Patte, professor of religious studies, has spent eight years soliciting and compiling 3,500 entries documenting the beliefs and practices of Christians throughout history. More than 800 scholars from around the world contributed to the book, including 25 from eight departments in the College of Arts and Science. The book is scheduled for publication in August.

The Scarier, The Better

When Claire Sisco King was a little girl, she would sneak out of bed to watch scary movies. Today the assistant professor of communication studies examines the cultural implications of “bad” movies like slasher or disaster films.

“Millions of people love to watch these movies,” King says. “Even films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Night of the Living Dead often get noticed as powerful political allegories.”

Recently, she has studied films such as Poseidon and I Am Legend in relation to rhetoric about the perceived traumas of 9/11. “These films, whether intentionally or not, seem to speak to memories and fantasies and anxieties about a tragedy like September 11,” King notes. Her research will be the focus of an upcoming book tentatively titled Washed in Blood: Sacrifice, Trauma and the Cinema.

If You Must Multitask, Practice, Practice, Practice

René Marois, associate professor of psychology, and Paul E. Dux, former research fellow, discovered that practice makes perfect when it comes to doing two things at once. “We are lousy multitaskers because our brains process each task slowly, creating a bottleneck at the central stage of decision making,” Marois says. When study participants did the same task over time, however, practice enabled their brains to process each task more quickly, the researchers found.

photo credit: © iStockphoto.com/Roberto A. Sanchez

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