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Beloit College hires Arabic and Islamic Studies fellow

Thursday, May 10, 2012

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at dickinsonh@beloit.edu or 608-363-2849

Beloit College recently hired an Associated Colleges of the Midwest Mellon Fellow in Arabic and Islamic Studies who will join the faculty this fall.

Catherine Bronson will teach first-year Arabic and a course in Islamic Studies. A Ph.D. candidate in Early Islamic Thought at the University of Chicago, Bronson defended her dissertation, “The Eve of Islam,” this spring.  

“Beloit is renowned for its long and enduring commitment to teaching language and international affairs; I feel privileged to be able to contribute to this on campus,” Bronson said. “My interactions thus far with Beloit’s accomplished faculty and curious students make me eager to join this vibrant, intellectual community.”

Besides Bronson’s contributions, Provost and Dean of the College Ann Davies said a number of faculty from various disciplines will offer courses related to Arabic and Islamic studies.

“I'm hoping that this both offers some rich interdisciplinary opportunities for students and rewarding connections for the faculty involved, including Catherine,” Davies said. “Catherine's going to be a great addition to the faculty. During her campus visit, she demonstrated an enormous enthusiasm for teaching and an impressive ability to engage students immediately. Her approach seems to be, 'Look, you can do this,' and then she has fun with it.”

Beloit has successfully fielded a self-instruction program in Arabic for a number of years, but Davies said it seemed worthwhile to see what student interest and success would be like if Beloit was able to offer first-year Arabic as a regular course. When conjoined with the college’s Center for Language Studies (which is held during the summers) and the possibility of off-campus study, Davies added that this approach could offer students three years of Arabic training upon leaving Beloit.

Bronson was selected by a search committee that included Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures Sylvia Lopez.

"The search committee finds that Catherine, with her several years of teaching experience, is in a position to teach in such a way that she keeps students engaged through a variety of activities that address both culture and all four linguistic skills,” Lopez said. “We think she'll make an enthusiastic and excellent teacher of Arabic and offer Islamic Studies classes that students interested in religious studies, women’s and gender studies, and Islamic history and thought will find appealing and well-conceived.”