Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

Professor productivity: assorted news for the spring

Peter Harmer, exercise science professorPeter Harmer, exercise science professor

Peter Harmer's study chosen as a top story by Journal Watch Neurology

Exercise science professor Peter Harmer’s publication in The New England Journal of Medicine has been selected as a Top 10 story of 2012 by Journal Watch Neurology.

Harmer’s study, "Tai Chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease," was also recognized by the American Academy of Neurology as the most important advance in movement disorders research for 2012.

His accomplishment resulted from a 24-week study, which was published in the Feb. 9, 2012 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Harmer and his colleagues found that patients who participated in a tailored Tai Chi program experienced improved balance and functional capacity. The study compared the effects of Tai Chi, resistance training, and stretching on patients. The researchers discovered that the Tai Chi group performed consistently better than the other groups in maximum excursion and directional control.

They also found that Tai Chi lowered the frequency of falls among the patients more than stretching and was more effective at increasing stride length than resistance training.

The New England Journal of Medicine is the most widely read and cited general medical periodical in the world, with more than 600,000 readers in 177 countries each week and more citations in scientific literature than any other medical journal. As the oldest continuously published medical periodical, the journal provides physicians with peer-reviewed research at the intersection of biomedical science and clinical practice.

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Scott Nadelson credits the writing of his new book to teaching at WU

For assistant English professor Scott Nadelson, 2004 was a memorable year.

His fiancée left him a month before their planned wedding. He moved into a drafty attic. His car’s brakes went out, and he learned his cat was dying.

Nearly a decade later, Nadelson writes about the lessons he learned from that time in his new memoir, “The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress.”

“The book revolves around a particularly challenging period in my life following a difficult breakup, but also explores episodes from childhood and young adulthood,” Nadelson says. “What I discovered above all in the process of writing the book is how slippery identity can be, how elusive.”

Nadelson says he didn’t set out to write a memoir. But after beginning with a nugget of his autobiography, he found himself sticking closely to his own experiences.

“What I found while doing so was a sort of giddy nervousness that emerged from the process, as if I were shouting secrets from a rooftop,” Nadelson says. “I ended up laughing a lot as I wrote, which was a new experience for me.”

Nadelson describes his book as an investigation of identity, adding that he probably wouldn’t have written it if he hadn’t started teaching a creative nonfiction class at Willamette University several years ago.

“I often talk with my students about my own process, how I approach my material, what I struggle with in crafting my work,” he says. “And helping them through their own challenges always feeds my writing.”

“The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress,” is published by Hawthorne Books, an independent literary press in Portland. Nadelson will read excerpts of his work March 18 at 7 p.m. at Grass Roots Books in Corvallis and at 7:30 p.m. March 29 at Powell’s City of Books in Portland.

The book will be available for sale in the Willamette Store beginning this month.

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Transcribed stories about post-war Japan shared in Ron Loftus' book

Ron Loftus, professor of Japanese studies at Willamette University, published a new book detailing the lives of women in post-war Japan.

“Changing Lives: The ‘Postwar” in Japanese Women’s Autobiographies and Memoirs,” presents translations from memoirs and autobiographies by Japanese women.

The women who appear in the book are far from household names, even in Japan. They include Okabe Itsuko, a nonfiction writer and cultural critic; Shinya Eikô, a stage and screen actress; and Yoshitake Teruko, an activist and historian.

Jan Bardsley, an associate professor of Japanese humanities at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says Loftus’ translations give an “immediate and vibrant sense of life in postwar Japan.”

“‘Changing Lives’ reveals how women came to terms with war, defeat and occupation, and their determined struggles against persistent gender inequality,” she says.

“Loftus situates each memoir within the author’s life, the women’s movement, and the broader history of post-war Japan. Above all, ‘Changing Lives’ offers portraits of courage and stubborn resilience. It is a book that will inspire students and instructors alike.”

Students in Loftus’ history class, "Postwar Japan: Protests and Feminisms," are reading the book. Research for “Changing Lives” was funded in by the Center for Asian Studies, which Loftus directs.

Loftus’ first book, “Telling Lives: Women's Self-Writing in Modern Japan” was published in 2004 and won a prize from the Western Association of Women Historians in 2006 for the Best Book on Women’s Autobiography.

WU professor discusses her award-winning drama, "Antarktikos"

“Antarktikos,” a play written by visiting English professor Andrea Stolowitz, is making its world premiere at the Pittsburgh Playhouse March 21-April 7.

Nominated for an Oregon Book Award in the drama category, “Antarktikos” is about saying goodbye to those one loves and reaching closure when people die. Award winners will be announced April 8.

The play has already received the 2012 Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama.

In this recent interview, Stolowitz talks about her writing process and the inspiration behind “Antarktikos.”