A fish crow visits a 'First-Year Writing' class. Photo by Joseph V. Labolito.

Wildlife attends writing class

Things got wild in Assistant Professor Dan Featherston’s First-Year Writing course this week, when two wildlife ambassadors from the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic made guest appearances. Michelle Wellard, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and the clinic’s assistant director, brought an Eastern screech-owl and a fish crow to Featherston’s class.

The theme of that course is human-animal relations. In it, students discuss, debate, read and write about animal ethics, the moral relevance of nonhuman animal capacities and the social construction of nonhuman animals.

“Having nonhuman animals in the classroom gives us the opportunity to see that the ideas and arguments we’re discussing have very real consequences,” he explained. “They give a face and a presence to how we consider each of them, which in turn makes students feel more accountable as critical readers, writers and thinkers.”

Kim Fischer

Franklin H. Littell, the “father of Holocaust education” in the U.S.

New collection in TU’s Libraries’ special collections research center documents the work of Emeritus Professor of Religion Franklin Littell

The life’s work of one of the world’s foremost authorities on Holocaust studies is now available in Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. Called the Franklin H. Littell Papers and the Franklin H. and Marcia Sachs Littell Library, the collection documents the work of Emeritus Professor of Religion Franklin Littell—who established many of the nation’s earliest programs in Holocaust studies (including a doctoral program at Temple)—and Marcia Sachs Littell, EDU ’71,’76, ’90, his wife and a prolific Holocaust-studies scholar.

Spanning roughly 70 years, the Franklin H. Littell Papers collection comprises hundreds of his writings; several hundred articles written by others; and his speeches, unpublished manuscripts and original correspondence. The Franklin H. and Marcia Sachs Littell Library comprises more than 3,400 of their personal books.

Pieces of the collection began arriving at Paley in July 2010. Because of its size, it took more than three years for Temple’s librarians and archivists to catalog and process its contents. Now they are available for research, and selected parts of the collection are digitized and available online. Researchers can delve into resources about peace and pacifism in the 1930s, the U.S. occupation of Germany in the 1950s, Christian congregants, contemporary sects and cults, McCarthyism, Communism, Nazism, fascist regimes, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, Jewish-Christian relations and much more. The papers were processed using funds from a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany Inc. and support from Norman Braman, FOX ’55.

“Nearly every box has something fascinating in it,” said Margery Sly, director of the Special Collections Research Center. She adds that some of the materials are “quite rare,” including Littell’s original correspondence with significant scholars and luminaries of the latter half of the 20th century, and the research material he mined to write his books, papers and articles.

Before Littell died in 2009, the couple decided to donate his scholarly papers and books to Temple. That final gift underscores a mission that began in 1939 when, as a religion scholar, Littell saw Adolf Hitler speak at a rally in Nuremberg, Germany. Sachs Littell said the event incensed him.

From then on, Littell made it his mission to educate others about the atrocities of the Holocaust. After World War II, he assisted with the denazification of Germany and established Holocaust studies programs at colleges and universities across the U.S. Littell came to Temple in 1969, and founded the Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and Churches while there. In 1976, he founded Temple’s Holocaust-studies doctoral program. He also served on the Presidential Commission on the Holocaust under presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Though other universities approached the Littells about obtaining the materials, Sachs Littell explained that they were confident that Temple would be committed both to the collection and to keeping it unified—issues that were important to them.

“I’m a Temple graduate, and all of my work was done there,” she said. “Because of the time we spent there, we always had a special place in our hearts for Temple.”

The collection opens Wednesday, April 9, with a discussion and reception in Paley Library. To learn more about both the collection and the event, visit Temple Libraries online.

—Christine McLaughlin

John Raines

The burglary that exposed illegal surveillance by the FBI

VIDEO PRODUCTION: Megan Chiplock and Gina Benigno

Kim Fischer

Temple’s John Raines, emeritus professor of religion, has been all over the national news lately. The New York TimesThe Philadelphia Inquirer, National Public Radio, NBCNews and more have all covered the story of the burglars—of which Raines and his wife Bonnie were two—who broke into an FBI office nearly 43 years ago and made off with numerous documents.

The stolen documents, mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters and government officials, revealed details about illegal surveillance and harassment techniques employed by the FBI against antiwar protesters and political dissenters.

“We knew the heavy-handed methods the FBI was using, but we had no documentation. That’s what we were trying to get,” Raines said.

The history of that episode, and the revelations the stolen documents helped expose, are covered in a new book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, byWashington Post reporter Betty Metzger.

While it is likely that no one who knew Raines suspected his secret, they also should not have been too surprised. During the course of his almost 50 years at Temple, Raines has devoted his personal and professional life to fighting gender, racial and social-class inequities.

“We knew the heavy-handed methods the FBI was using, but we had no documentation. That’s what we were trying to get.”
– John Raines, emeritus professor of religion

In 1961, Raines joined the Freedom Riders who challenged the status quo by riding public transportation in the South to defy local laws or customs that enforced segregation. Raines departed from St. Louis July 7 and when he arrived in Little Rock, Ark., July 17, he was arrested for breaching the peace.

“I had grown up in a privileged household in Minneapolis where I attended private school and was cared for by a governess,” he said. “This experience as a Freedom Rider educated me as to how the world worked when you were outside the circles of power and privilege.”

At Temple, Raines is a popular and award-winning teacher. For 20 years, at the request of the students, he has taught an Honors course titled Political Protest in the Culture of the 60s.

“Only recently have I been able to indicate how much I was involved in some of that activity,” he said.


Faculty Focus: Lori Pompa

Tauheedah Asad

In the latest installment of the Faculty Focus series, Lori Pompa—founder and director of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and criminal justice instructor in the College of Liberal Arts—discusses the growth of that educational program and the impact it has had since its inception in 1997.

“We never could have anticipated how powerful this experience would be and when I hear from people that it—this educational process—has changed their lives, I can’t imagine doing anything but this,” she said. “Temple has been a really wonderful home for Inside-Out—for where it has gone and where it will to go in the future.”

To learn more about Inside-Out, visit the program’s website.




Understanding how children make memories


Have you ever wondered why your child can’t remember much about that trip to Disney World?

That’s because remembering details about autobiographical moments relies on what psychologists call episodic memory, and it isn’t fully developed until age five.

Of course, children younger than five can remember facts, such as state capitals and the names of fruits or dinosaurs, but they don’t necessarily remember who gave them that information or where they were when they acquired that knowledge.

In the past, psychologists have had difficulty tracing the development of episodic memory in young children with standard memory testing that requires verbal reporting by subjects who are still learning to talk.

But now, Nora Newcombe—professor of psychology, James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow and co-director of Temple’s Infant and Child Lab—has developed a nonlinguistic way to test how well toddlers and preschoolers can remember contexts and experiences. Her study, “Two rooms, two representations: Episodic-like memory in toddlers and preschoolers,” was recently published in Developmental Science.

“We developed an experimental paradigm to document the transitions toward episodic memory and confirm what we know about its development,” Newcombe said. “Now, we can use what we have learned to study other factors.”

For the experiment, children aged 18 months to six years old are introduced to two different rooms. The rooms look differently and are described differently. And though each room contains the same four types of containers, even the containers are arranged differently within each room.

Each child is shown that a toy can be found in one of the containers in one room and that a different toy can be found in a different container in the other room. The test is to see at what age the child can remember where the toy is in each room.

Newcombe found that the youngest children could not remember where to find the toy, but by two years old, the children could find the toy when provided with a visual cue.

In fact, Newcombe was able to document a gradual progression in the children’s ability to remember, but it was not until age five that the children were able to master the task fully.

“Episodic memory is important for social interaction,” Newcombe said. “It’s also important for parents and teachers to understand that even if their toddlers and preschoolers don’t remember that field trip to the zoo, they have still learned from the experience of seeing the animals.”

Kim Fischer

Faculty of the Game: Istvan Varkonyi

Kim Fischer

Istvan Varkonyi, associate professor of German in the College of Liberal Arts, was honored with the “Faculty of the Game” award during the Temple men’s basketball game  Jan. 11. This past summer, Varkonyi taught a University Seminar course titled Tale of Two Cities: Paris and RomeHistories, Legends, Imaginations. The Temple men’s basketball team studied with Varkonyi while traveling and playing exhibition basketball in Europe.

Varkonyi has been teaching at Temple since 1989 and has served as chair of the French, German, Italian, Slavic Languages Department and director of the University Intellectual Heritage Program. In 2007, he was named Temple University Honors Professor of the Year. Varkonyi became director of the Temple University General Education Program in 2010.

Religion's Rebecca Alpert Honored at Outstanding Faculty Service Awards


Religion Professor Rebecca Alpert was honored with the 2013 Stauffer Faculty Award for distinguished faculty service at the Outstanding Faculty Service Awards Brunch held last week. The event, sponsored by the Temple University Alumni Association, is new to the university, but the award has been distributed for many years. Psychology Professor Larry Steinberg was also a recipient in 2010.

Rebecca Alpert receives Stauffer Award

Dr. Alpert received the 2013 Stauffer Faculty Award for distinguished service in honor of her many contributions to the university and the city.

Alpert was nominated for the honor by a group of faculty members led by Philosophy’s Miriam Soloman from throughout the College of Liberal Arts and the University Honors Program. Alpert’s service to the college and the university have been tremendous during her 25 years at Temple. She served as chair of the Department of Religion for six years and is currently the chair of the editorial board of the Faculty Herald. In her nomination, colleagues also praised Alpert for serving on a litany of committees outside the university, including the Mayor’s Commission on Sexual Minorities, the Family Planning Council and the Women’s Law Project. Most recently, Alpert was awarded the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.

Alpert teaches undergraduate courses related to contemporary religion with a focus on Philadelphia, sexuality, sport, and race. She teaches graduate courses on religion and public life, sexuality, and higher education teaching. She is a member of the rabbinic cabinet of Jewish Voice for Peace, a commissioner on the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission, and is currently at work on a case study book about religion and sport.