Tenured Faculty Selections
Each spring when Stark Campus faculty earn tenure from Kent State University, they are asked to select a book that influenced them personally or professionally. The library purchases two copies of the book. One is available for use and placed in the general collection and the other is signed by the recently tenured faculty member and placed in the library's archives for posterity. In addition, the faculty are asked to provide a brief statement on why the book was important to them. The following is a list of the books selected by faculty along with their statements (click on the title to see more information about the book in KentLINK).
There are no children here: the story of two boys growing up in the other America. Alex Kotlowitz
New York: Anchor Books, 1992.
"I first read this book as an undergraduate student in a sociology course. Having grown up in a rural area of Pennsylvania, I had little to no real understanding of urban poverty. This book helped form my social perspective on poverty, racism, and social policy. Perhaps the focus on the children was a pull on my heart-strings. As I read, I wondered how people (generally speaking) can care so little that we allow children to grow up in such an environment and then blame them when they fail as adults. I continue to ask this question of myself and the students in my classes."
... Katrina Bloch (Sociology)
Racism without racists : color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 
"Bonilla-Silva’s work on color-blind racism helped me find my way to critical theory, and has been instrumental in both my research and teaching."
... Deirdre Warren (Sociology)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain
New York: SoHo Books, 2010.
"These were the first books I read in English when I lived in Peru. The storyline was so engaging and humorous, at least in my view, that it inspired me to major (BS) in English as a foreign language (EFL). Eventually, this decision paved the way for me to attend graduate school and teach my native language, Spanish, in the United States. I do not teach EFL at the current time, but I continue to read and publish in Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain) language."
... Daniel Castaneda (Modern & Classical Language Studies)
On combat : the psychology and physiology of deadly conflict in war and in peace. Dave Grossman with Loren W. Christensen
[Illinois?] : Warrior Science Pub., c2008.
"Shortly after beginning work on my master’s degree in 2003, I was searching for reading material at the Kent Free Library, when I found a fascinating book called On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society written by Lt. Col. David Grossman. This book addressed the negative consequences of being exposed to distressing and traumatic events common among police officers, which piqued my interest in the topic. As part of my master’s degree program, I also completed a career counseling class instructed by Dr. Mark Savickas at the KSU Kent campus. During this course, Dr. Savickas provided personalized career counseling to me and recommended I become involved in providing clinical services to police officers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and other work-related distress. Both of these experiences solidified my career goals of working to ease the suffering of police officers experiencing mental and physical distress. In 2008 I met Lt. Col. Grossman at a seminar titled “Bulletproof Mind” he was conducting for police officers, at which time he gave me a signed copy of his more recent book On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace. In addition to promoting my interest in the area of police officer health, these books have also been instrumental in motivating me to conduct and report the results of empirically sound research, as many commonly accepted beliefs regarding police officer mental health have been based on faulty and invalid research. Since starting as a professor at Kent State University at Stark, I have been committed to conducting research meant to both aid in the development of programs to reduce the risk of developing posttraumatic distress and enhance the treatment of police officers experiencing posttraumatic distress."
... Brian A. Chopko (Justice Studies)
Cytokines : stress and immunity. Edited by Nicholas P. Plotnikoff
Boca Raton, FL : CRC/Taylor & Francis, c2007.
"Since Ader and Cohen first discovered that the immune system could be influenced by classical conditioning in the 1970s, health psychologists have investigated mind-body interactions. The initial wave of research in the field of Health Psychology concerned the impact of stress on the immune system. I remember being fascinated by research on this topic as an undergraduate, which then motivated me to pursue graduate studies in Health Psychology. During my graduate training, I was introduced to a second wave of research in the field, focusing on the impact of immune system activity on psychological health and well-being. This research revealed that activated cells of the immune system release cytokines, which alter a variety of behaviors and mental processes (e.g., fatigue, lack of appetite, anhedonia, etc.). Cytokines have been studied in the context of many different psychological disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, among others. I selected “Cytokines: Stress and Immunity” as an introduction to the mind-body interactions that have inspired my own scholarly research."
... Julie Cremeans-Smith (Psychology)
The presentation of self in everyday life. Erving Goffman
London : Penguin Books, 1959.
"This classic book set the stage for one of the areas of research that has affected every aspect of my life – my research and teaching, as well as my personal and professional relationships. The notion that we are all actors on a stage, portraying a role through our verbal and nonverbal communication, was intriguing to me during my education, but it has become paramount to the research and teaching that I have conducted since joining the faculty here at Kent State University at Stark. Whether it is through one’s social media presence, in an interview setting, engaging another in conflict, or navigating the dating world, we are always portraying a particular “self” to others whether we realize it or not. I find this concept fascinating! The murky, messy nature of our social world demands exploration, and from my perspective self-presentation is a foundational concept of communication studies… one that every person should consider. I invite the reader to consider his/her self-presentation strategies in order to become more aware and command more control over how others perceive you. Enjoy!"
... Erin Hollenbaugh (Communication Studies)
A Brief History of Time. Stephen Hawking
New York : Bantam Books, 1998.
"I read this book for the first time when I was in high school. To be frank, I didn't really understand any of it. But it sure sounded intriguing. So I picked physics as my major in college.
Now as a professor and educator, I admired Dr. Hawking's approach of using only a single equation E=mc^2 to explain such a complex subject. I've been trying to use as few mathematical equations as possible in the introductory physics courses, "Frontiers in Astronomy" and "Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe". It is way harder that I thought."
... Ran Li (Physics)
Asking Questions in Biology : a guide to hypothesis-testing, analysis and presentation in practical work and research. Chris Barnard, Francis Gilbert, Peter McGregor
Harlow : Pearson Education, 2007
"This book with a deceptively simple title ‘spoke to me.’ This book explains how to choose questions, how to test them, how to analyze the results, then how to present them. In essence, it briefly and succinctly explains how to do science. The book has applications beyond biology and even beyond science. This book, coupled with my innate curiosity, has shown me how to explore the world around me. It makes me want to do science."
... Robert Hamilton IV (Biological Sciences)
The lecturer's tale. James Hynes
New York : Picador USA, 2001
"Things could hardly be worse. Nelson Humboldt’s career is in free fall. His post-doc is being terminated. His research is yawn-inducing. His department -- English, as it turns out, not history -- is a war zone where high-flying faddists battle the remaining apostles of a status quo last in vogue ca 1970: in this fight-to-the-finish, the heavies of both sides regard neutrals or would-be peacemakers, like Nelson, as morally degenerate. But, due to a freak accident, there is hope ... This tale is dark fantasy in the manner of E.T.A. Hoffmann, brought forward into the 21st century and set in the groves of academe. Like Hoffmann’s characters, our anti-hero Nelson -- because the maelstrom of events pushes forward so fast -- barely comprehends his situation and is reduced to perceiving the world through a hallucinatory haze. When this world comes into focus, it emerges as the unforgiving world of postmodernist critique. The humanities are on a rampage, bloodthirsty and militant. There is no stopping them: Derrida gets to deconstruct Elmer Fudd. Nothing is sacred, not even Elvis. The rules of this game are defined by the tender mercies of Nelson’s academic co-stars, and so we meet in their full glory pedants, posers, plodders, prima donnas, elbowing one another out of the way for the chance to showcase their enormous egos. You may not be sure whether to laugh or cry, but squirm you will. I squirmed -- while trying to repress tears of laughter. If you are as short on time as I was during the tenure-track process, if you have room for only one novel, let this be it. As a chronicle of the night terrors of the fledgling academic, it is faithful to its subject. As a parody on the self-inflicted wounds of the humanities, it is clever. As vade mecum and a source of solace, it works: in comparing your case to that of poor Nelson, you realize that, yes, indeed, things could be worse. Much worse."
... Ralph Menning (History)
Speak. Laurie Halse Anderson
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999
"As a naïve pre-service teacher, I had visions of myself teaching classic literature to my future middle school students: Twain, Shakespeare and the like. A wise professor opened my eyes to the world of young adult literature; the first book she had us read was Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson’s dark story, told through the anguished voice of a teenager, woke me up to the possibilities of reaching students with books that spoke their language. I knew that if I had this visceral of a response to this book, intended for young adolescents, that my future students would, too. Years later, I am getting the chance to open up pre-service teachers’ eyes to the wonders of young adult literature. I watch as they exclaim over the writing, the issues, and the stories and help them realize there is literature beyond the traditional canon that can make them and their future students become readers."
... Lori Wilfong (Education)
Collected Works. Flannery O'Connor
New York : Published by The Library of America, 1988.
"I remember reading the stories of Flannery O'Connor, and about the life of Flannery O'Connor when I was an enthusiastic and impressionable young graduate student. For me, she created a powerful first impression because she is the quirky "peacock lady," brilliant in her gothic southern storytelling, and shocking in her exploration of the gradations of the dark side of all of our human natures. More important to me, however, as an avid reader of O'Connor, is the way her stories and characters stay with me long after reading. From Joy/Hulga, to the Misfit, to Tom Shiftlet, to many, many others, her characters remain in my mind as vibrant, all-too-humanly flawed explorations of the challenges of human existence. These characters are often caricatures, yes. Their stories are frequently grotesque and sometimes offensive, yes. But they communicate piercing truths about human experience and prejudice, the close relationship between good and evil, and the universal search to attach purpose to one's life. Once read, O'Connor's stories reverberate and multiply connections in the mind in deep and meaningful ways; indeed, their echoes are more strong for me than those of the texts of any other writer I have encountered."
... Mary Rooks (English)
Their eyes were watching God. Zora Neale Hurston.
New York : Published by Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006.
"The book that has probably had the greatest influence on me is Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. I read it for the first time as an undergraduate; and on a personal level, I connected with Hurston's protagonist, Janie Crawford, a young African American woman pursuing life and love on her own terms and struggling to establish her place within the community as an autonomous, competent and fully-developed individual. Professionally, the opportunity to read, study and share my knowledge about literature of this caliber reinforced my childhood goal to be an English teacher."
... Brenda R. Smith (English)
Physics for entertainment. Ya. Perelman.
New York : Published by Hyperion Books, 2008.
"I read this book long ago in Russian. It inspired me so much that my first choice of profession was Physics. I have a BS degree in Physics from Yerevan State University. After graduation in Physics I changed my profession to Mathematics because I figured out that I like mathematical explanation of physics more than physics by itself."
... Gro Hovhannisyan (Math)
Our Bodies, Ourselves : a new edition for a new era. The Boston Women's Health Book Collective.
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2005.
"I would like to live in a world where everyone has access to this book. My sister gave me it to me in my first year of college, and from there on, it has continuously proved to be an endless source of healing and productive knowledge. A woman knowing her body is a radical act, and this book continues to be revolutionary."
... Carey McDougall (Art)
Loose Sugar, Brenda Hillman.
Hanover, NH : Published by University Press of New England [for] Wesleyan University Press, c1997.
"I came to study English as a poet, because of poetry, and so I chose a collection of poems to remind me of how I began this journey. I chose Brenda Hillman's Loose Sugar because Brenda is one of my favorite living U.S. poets, and she is also a generous and supportive voice from within the world of poetry. This collection marks her most daring break from traditional lyricism. She embraced an experimental poetics that has launched her into exciting and unknown territory as a writer. Her new journey parallels the one that I embark upon now."
... Andrea Adolph (English)
Fundamentals of Musical Composition, Arnold Schoenberg.
London : Faber and Faber, 1970.
"I picked this book because, while Schoenberg represents avant-garde creative expression, he was a traditional teacher who believed in engaging students through the study of the masters."
... Sebastian Birch (Music)
The Language of the Muses : the Dialogue Between Roman and Greek Sculpture. Miranda Marvin.
Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, c2008.
"The Language of the Muses: The Dialogue Between Roman and Greek Sculpture, by Miranda Marvin, published this year, goes right to a question that vexes historians of ancient Roman art. To what extent does Roman art "copy" the art of Athens in the fifth century BCE? Marvin's book takes the tack that Roman art 'dialogues' with classical art-copying 'yes' but more importantly using Greek art as a springboard to new imagery that speaks to Roman interests, tastes, and subjects. Marvin's book includes chapters on the dialogue between ancient art and the great collectors of the Renaissance through the 19c and the ways in which modern collectors and, yes, the 18c art historians assumed the superiority of classical service over the derivative Romans. This misconception continues to the present day, although among historians of Roman art and museum curators, focus is on the innovations of Roman art and the ironic and playful ways in which the Romans used and abused their Greek models, creating a rich dialogue which engages Marvin and readers of her book."
... Molly Lindner (Art)
The Bhagavad Gita, translated with a general introduction by Eknath Easwaran, with a chapter by Diana Morrison.
Petaluma, CA : Nilgiri Press, c1985.
"This book, The Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important Hindu writings, has been significant in my life in many ways. Its messages affected my personal life, my musical compositions, my teaching, and my relationships. The Gita came into my life when I had to teach it in the fall of 1997. At first, it was just a book. That following summer, I read it while walking and I "heard" it for the first time. Indeed, the title means "Song of the Great Lord" and, like a song, it cannot be explained. One can cite its passages, but they only have meaning as part of the whole. Its perspectives led me to begin the yogic healing of my body and spirit, and to discover many other wonderful Indian traditions and stories. It also provided a bridge between my life interest in religion and my research in the field of rhetoric, embodied in my latest publication concerning Nyaya, an Indian method of argumentation. Most of all, however, it helped me to perceive myself and my students as expressions of the very essence of life. There can be no greater gift than this."
... Keith Lloyd (English)