Mercyhurst faculty members publish a record six books last year

The humanities are not dead at Mercyhurst.

Professors in the humanities at Mercyhurst, including English, Philosophy, Religious Studies and World Languages have been particularly prolific this past year, producing six books, a record number for one year at Mercyhurst.

According to Jeffrey Roessner, Ph.D., a professor of English who co-edited Write in Tune: Contemporary Music in Fiction last year, those achievements directly benefit students in the classroom.

“Research and teaching are integrally linked and students benefit from having professors who model scholarly engagement,” he said.

Roessner’s publication addresses the way contemporary popular music provides a soundtrack for recent novels. The book offers “the first full-length study of the relationship between recent music and fiction,” Roessner said.

Allyson Hoover, a senior English major who is currently taking Roessner’s Postmodern Literature class, noted the benefits of learning from professors who are active contributors in their field.

“To have professors that bring this real-world experience into the classroom allows us as students to see the fruits of studying our disciplines and helps us to cultivate our own critical skills, enabling us to find and encourage new perspectives in our studies,” Hoover said.

Richard McCarty, Ph.D., a professor of Religious Studies, also contributed to the six publications in the humanities with his book, “Sexual Virtue,” which seeks to “promote sexual virtue within a broad Christian framework — inclusive of diverse sexual identities and relationships,” according to McCarty.

Mary Hembrow Snyder, Ph.D., another professor of Religious Studies, co-edited “Joan Chittister: Essential Writings” which was published July 2014. This collection of writings from Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister “captures and distills Chittister’s spirit and her message for women and men today,” Hembrow Snyder said.

The book “recently has been singled out as one of the top 50 spiritual books of 2014,” according to Hembrow Snyder. It will also be featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network in an interview with Chittister on March 1.

“America in the Thirties,” published earlier this year, is a collaboration of four authors, three of whom are humanities professors at Mercyhurst, including Marnie Sullivan, Ph.D., an associate professor of English, John Olszowka, Ph.D., an associate professor of History and Brian Sheridan, a lecturer in the Communication Department. The textbook grew out of an inter-disciplinary (IDST) course taught on campus. The Philosophy Department at Mercyhurst also played a part in the prolific year at Mercyhurst.

Tibor Solymosi, Ph.D., assistant professor of Philosophy, co-edited two books in the past year, “Pragmatist Neurophilsophy: American Philosophy and the Brain” and “Neuroscience, Neurophilosophy, and Pragmatism: Brains at Work with the World.”

The former explains why the broad tradition of pragmatism is needed now more than ever. His second text considers issues ranging from the nature of mental life to the implications of neuroscience for education and ethics.

“We have a dynamic, engaged faculty at Mercyhurst in general, and the humanities faculty is no exception,” said Roessner. “They’re incredibly dedicated teachers who strive to remain current in their disciplines and bring that knowledge back to the classroom.

“Although they [the professors] routinely present at academic conferences and publish essays and creative works, their accomplishments last year were extraordinary, given the number of books produced.”

Donna Heid, a sophomore English major, expressed her appreciation for the emphasis on humanities at the school.

“The Arts have been an integral part of my entire life,” said Heid. “Without my English major, Theater minor and participation in the musical ensembles at Mercyhurst University I believe my education would lack the creative inspiration that I live for. The Arts are essentially the air that I breathe.”