Five senate faculty retire from UCI School of Humanities

Five senate faculty retire from UCI School of Humanities

 Office of the Dean September 30, 2019

Please join us in celebrating the five senate faculty who retired from the UCI School of Humanities this spring

James T. Chiampi, professor emeritus of Italian, has taught in the School of Humanities since September 1973. His research interests include The Divine Comedy, Italian Renaissance literature, the modern Italian novel and the literature of the Holocaust in Italy. Chiampi earned his graduate degrees, an M. Phil. and a Ph.D. in romance languages from Yale. He is the author of Shadowy Prefaces: Conversion and Writing in the Divine Comedy (Longo Editore, 1981) and has published nearly 50 articles and reviews over the course of his career. He is a former Fulbright Fellow and a Fellow of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.

Chiampi has directed or read numerous master’s theses and has been an editorial board member of Rivista di studi italiani since 1996. A man of broad and profound interests, he’s taught at every level: from introductory courses on Dante’s Inferno (“To Hell with Dante”) to courses on Primo Levi’s experience of Auschwitz.

Beyond his academic career, Chiampi is known around campus as an enthusiastic and unwavering supporter of Anteater athletics, especially basketball and volleyball. He’s even been known to give extra credit to students who attend home games. Indeed, in 2014, Chiampi told an interviewer, “I told Coach Turner, ‘I’ve been coming to games since 1980. I’ve missed very few home games. Unless I’m at death’s door, my behind’s in that seat. So, before I die, can you please take us to the big dance? The first round of the NCAA? Then I can die a happy man’” (New University, 2014). His dream came true in 2015 (NCAA round of 64 against Louisville) and again this year when the Anteaters made the round of 32 beating Kansas State 70-64.

Chiampi is also well known for his dedication to his students. Not long ago, a former student (class of 1979), by now a complete stranger, approached him in the lobby of the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and asked his name. When Chiampi identified himself, the former student claimed to have recognized Chiampi’s voice. He regularly meets former students as they accompany their high schoolers on tours of the campus.   

Amy Gerstler, professor emerita of English, joined UCI six years ago as a core faculty member for UCI’s prestigious M.F.A. Programs in Writing. A prolific writer, she is an American poet and has published more than thirteen books of poetry. Her book Bitter Angel won the1990 National Book Critics Circle Award. Her book Medicine was a finalist for the Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award in 2000. Most recently, her book of poems Scattered at Sea was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the PEN USA Literary Award in 2015.

In addition to poetry, Gerstler writes fiction, nonfiction and articles and collaborates with visual artists. She wrote monthly reviews for ArtForum magazine for over a decade and her work has appeared in a variety of prestigious magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry, several volumes of Best American Poetry (she guest edited the 2010 edition) and The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry.

In 2018, Gerstler earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry to write a hybrid poetry/literature book that explores the idea of the feminine epic and in 2019 she was awarded the C.D. Wright Award for Poetry from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts.

Bonnie Kent, professor emerita of philosophy, has taught in the School of Humanities since 2001. Her research focuses on ethics, moral psychology, action theory, and especially medieval philosophy and theology. She is the author of Virtues of the Will: The Transformation of Ethics in the Late Thirteenth Century and has published over forty articles, reviews, encyclopedia entries and book chapters over the course of her tenure.

Kent’s expertise in the history of philosophy has been recognized for well over a decade in the Philosophical Gourmet Report, a well-known assessment of philosophy Ph.D. programs. The most recent edition of the Report (2017-2018) ranks UCI’s program among the top ten in the English-speaking world in medieval philosophy.

Kent has been active in the philosophy department, the university as a whole, and the wider professional world. She was the philosophy department’s placement advisor from 2008-2015, where she conducted workshops and provided individual advising for job-hunting graduate students and alumni. Her students frequently comment on her lively lectures, sense of humor and willingness to help. Kent served as the vice chair of the Humanities Executive Committee (2011-2013), as the representative from Humanities on the Graduate Council (2015-2018), and as president of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (2017-18).

Kent was a fellow of the American Philosophical Society and of the Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, University of St. Andrews. She has refereed for Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies, among many others, and continues as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the History of Philosophy.

Margaret M. Miles, professor emerita of art history and classics, joined UC Irvine 27 years ago. Trained as an archaeologist at Princeton, she learned to excavate at Corinth in 1977 and completed her Ph.D. in 1980 with a dissertation on The Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous. Since then, she’s done extensive field work throughout Greece and Sicily to examine artifacts and architecture of the past and explore their impact on today’s world. Her students frequently comment on her passion and enthusiasm for her field and the breadth of her knowledge as well as her personal anecdotes and stories that bring the past to life.

Miles has written extensively about her excavations and research on ancient sites. In addition to her first book, The Athenian Agora XXXI: The City Eleusinion (American School of Classical Studies,1998), she is editor of A Companion to Greek Architecture (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), Autopsy in Athens: Recent Archaeological Research in Athens and Attica (Oxbow Books, 2015) and Cleopatra: A Sphinx Revisited (University of California Press, 2011). Miles has also explored the controversies around cultural property with her book, Art as Plunder, The Ancient Origins of Debate About Cultural Property (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

At UCI, Miles served as the undergraduate advisor for the minor in archaeology since 2006, and undergraduate advisor for art history majors, and has served on many committees for the School of Humanities, UCI and on a national and international level. She also participated in the Classics Tri-Campus Ph.D. program.

During 2008-2014, Miles served as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the premier research institution abroad for classical studies. There she directed the academic program for North American graduate students, and taught on-site seminars throughout Greece.

An avid swimmer, Miles entered the World’s Oldest Swim in 2013 and raced across the Hellespont in Turkey, a treacherous channel subject to high winds and poisonous jellyfish. She finished first in her age bracket (61-65), winning a gold medal. She continues to swim with the Nova masters team in Irvine.

Steven Topik, Distinguished Professor emeritus of history, has been a force within the UCI School of Humanities since 1984. His research focuses on the history of Latin America with an emphasis on Brazil and world history through the lens of commodities. During his tenure at UCI, he has taught courses on Brazil, Mexico, Spanish America and world history courses that discussed issues such as international relations, colonization, race, slavery, immigration, gender and imperialism.

Topik is considered a leading expert on the history of coffee and has been interviewed by major publications like the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone. He is the author or co-author of five books and editor of seven books and journal issues as well as dozens of book chapters, articles and reviews in seven languages.

For over a decade, he co-wrote a column for World Trade magazine with Ken Pomeranz, University Professor of History at the University of Chicago which led to their book The World that Trade Created: Culture, Society and the World Economy, currently in its 4th edition. Topik’s latest project is a world history of coffee since 1500, which is under contract with Princeton University Press.

Topik was the chair of the history department from 1996-2000 and director of Latin American Studies from 1991-1996. Throughout his career, he advised numerous Ph.D. candidates and mentored them to successful teaching positions across the United States and Switzerland. This past June, they held a conference in his name to celebrate and honor his many accomplishments and contributions to the academic community and UCI.