Dr. Valenti presents the first biography of Sophia Hawthorne
Dr. Patricia Valenti’s newest book on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s wife shatters long-held held beliefs about the author and the woman who profoundly influenced his life and art.
Dr. Valenti’s book, “Sophia Peabody Hawthorne: A Life, Volume 1, 1809–1847,” holds the lives of Hawthorne and his wife up to the light of modern scholarship.
Dr. Valenti has studied Hawthorne and his family for most of her academic career. In her second book on the first family of American literature, she offers fresh insight into the private side of the author’s life.
An English professor, Dr. Valenti, is an outstanding scholar and teacher, winning the 2004 UNC Board of Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. She has been on the faculty since 1984.
Dr. Valenti’s first book, “To Myself a Stranger: A Biography of Rose Hawthorne Lathrope,” is about Hawthorne’s daughter. As a convert to Catholicism and originator of the hospice movement, Rose established herself as one of the most important women of the late 19th century.
Dr. Valenti’s work is no mere revision of scholarly truths. It is an explosion of the historical perception of Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
“She was 32 when they married, so there was this other life that she lived,” Dr. Valenti said. “There are thousands of pages of letters and journals to draw from.”
“Sophia has never been seriously studied,” Dr. Valenti said. “The only way we knew about her was the way her husband described her.”
Sophia Peabody Hawthorne is known almost exclusively in her role as
the wife of Nathaniel, who portrayed her as the fragile, ethereal, infirm “Dove.” The
image invented by Nathaniel served his needs but the reality was very
different from fiction.
“She changed the way he thought,” Dr. Valenti said. “It
was not acknowledged, but people now recognize the marital relationship
and the influence of a wife on her husband. Look at Nancy and Ronald
Sophia was born into a progressive home, in which women played strong roles. She was an ambitious and talented student, who aspired to become a professional painter.
While an 18-month journey to Cuba was a watershed event in the young Sophia’s life, by comparison, Nathaniel’s travels took him as far as Niagara Falls, Dr. Valenti said.
Nathaniel’s early life contrasted sharply with the experience
of the worldly woman who became his wife. Those differences resulted
in a creative tension that inspired his best writing during the first
years of their marriage.
The publication of the first volume coincides with the bicentennial celebration of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birth on July 4. Dr. Valenti, who is a consultant on the Hawthorne Museum in Salem, Mass., will be on hand for four days of festivities.
Dr. Valenti hopes the second volume will be published on the bicentennial of Sophia’s birth in 2009.The author said her job in the second volume is to carry the reader to the deaths of Nathaniel and Sophia.
“Sophia Peabody Hawthorne: A Life, Volume 1, 1809–1847”(0-8262-1528-9, $44.95 cloth) is available at local bookstores or directly from the University of Missouri Press. Individuals placing orders should include $4 shipping and handling for the first book and $1 for each additional book. For further publicity information contact Beth Chandler, University of Missouri Press, 2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, Mo., 65201.
Artist Tarleton Blackwell invited to the White House
Art Professor Tarleton Blackwell was invited to the White House on May 17 as the guest of First Lady Laura Bush to be honored for his participation in the Art in Embassies program.
It is the 40th anniversary of the program, and Blackwell, the Martha Beach Endowed Chair in Art, was also the guest of Secretary of State Colin Powell at a State Department reception.
President George W. Bush praised the program for spreading American ideals and values around the globe.
“This outstanding program places the art of hundreds of American artists into our embassies around the world,” President Bush said. “These works communicate the values and diversity of the people of the United States, as well as the aspirations and hope common to all people.”
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Howard Franklin Jeter requested Blackwell’s life-size group portrait, entitled “The Unity Series II: Sisterhood.” It is a large oil-on-canvas painting that was displayed in the ambassador’s residence in Lagos, Nigeria from 2001-03.
“Unity Series II” represents young girls dressed in costumes symbolizing four Pan Hellenic sororities in the setting of the historic Mann-Simons Cottage Museum of African-American Culture in Columbia, S.C.
This summer Prof. Blackwell’s works were on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and on a national tour, entitled “Thinking with Blood: Conflict and Culture in the American South.” The exhibition was in Asheville, N.C., for three months ending June 20.
The exhibition encompasses three decades of contemporary American art that explores issues of identity, racism and Southern stereotypes. The tour will be in New York City at the Dorsky Gallery, July 5 through August 30.
A Manning, S.C., native, Blackwell joined the faculty at UNCP in 2003 and teaches painting.
Girardot to lead physical plant and construction
David C. Girardot has supervised construction projects around the globe. His next challenge is to supervise the biggest construction boom in the history of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Girardot has accepted the job of assistant vice chancellor for facilities management. In this newly created post, he will supervise the offices of Facilities, Planning and Construction and the Physical Plant.
Girardot worked as a consultant on construction projects with UNCP for the past 18 months. He reports to Neil Hawk, vice chancellor for the Office of Business Affairs.
“I believe UNCP is very fortunate to attract a person with David’s background,” Hawk said. “He is very knowledgeable in each of the areas that he will direct and has the experience to move our physical plant operations up another notch.
“I see him developing more and better policies to help guide our operations, enhancing the beauty of our grounds and the cleanliness of our buildings, and providing a plan for physical plant operations that will lead us to even a higher level of service,” he said. “I am excited about our selection and look forward to working with David to bring about positive changes in our physical plant operations.”
Girardot served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 23 years, including assignments in Vietnam, South Korea, Libya, Ecuador and the United States. Among other posts, he served as senior Army advisor to the Mississippi National Guard, deputy commander and commander of Facilities Engineering in South Korea and deputy commander and commander of the Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Miss.
After leaving the Army, Girardot supervised construction and maintenance for 16 years at four universities, Ohio Northern University, Old Dominion University and UNC Wilmington. At UNCW, he was assistant vice chancellor for business affairs – facilities and was responsible for the planning, design and construction of $200 million in projects.
UNC Pembroke has more than $60 million in construction projects going on today, Girardot said.
“When you consider that our available staff at Facilities Planning and Construction is only five people, that is a lot of construction,” he said. “The enrollment growth at UNCP has been so rapid that construction is just now catching up.”
Girardot said new construction and renovation work at UNCP is both challenging and rewarding.
“My job is all about seeing this huge construction boom stay on track, within budget and on time,” he said. “The University received $57 million in North Carolina Higher Education Bond money, and the purpose of this program is to bring the University up to the level where we can effectively serve the needs of the people of North Carolina.
“I see UNCP growing into a beautiful and efficient mid-sized university,” Girardot said.
The Physical Plant Department at UNCP has about 80 employees and is also growing to meet the needs of a growing University.
“Our maintenance staff is evolving from serving a small to serving a medium size university,” Girardot said. “This presents many challenges for us as we play catch up.”
A San Francisco, Cal., native, Girardot received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla and a Master of Business Administration degree in financial administration and organizational behavior from Mississippi College.
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