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November 11, 2002

UMBC's New Faculty

Michele Osherow Helps Bring the Bard to Life

Michele Osherow is in love with William Shakespeare. He is her passion, he demands her focus. These are two things that she gives unwillingly. These are also the reasons why Osherow came to UMBC without a moment's hesitation. Filling the rather large shoes of Executive Director of the Shakespeare Association of America (SAA) Lena Orlin, currently on sabbatical, Osherow is by no means a slouch. This is a decorated academic who has molded her professional life around one single subject and became something amazing.

Osherow went to Carnegie Mellon as an undergrad, majoring in professional writing and literary and cultural studies, and minoring in drama. While there, she won numerous awards and later continued her education at the University of Maryland College Park, studying English Literature for her master's degree, and both English literature and Renaissance literature for her doctorate. Osherow's dissertation looked at how biblical women challenge the notion of female silence and ends discussing the feminization of the biblical character David, describing him as a "model for early modern women."

While completing her graduate studies, Osherow was first a teaching assistant, and then a lecturer at the University of Maryland College Park. Since this time, her attention has been turned more towards her family - she recently had a baby. Having taught at Seneca Valley High School, Osherow is now devoted to SAA and is looking forward to teaching Introduction to Shakespeare as a visiting assistant professor this spring. Something else to look forward to next year - her article "A Poore Shepherde and his Sling: A Biblical Model for a Renaissance Queen" will be published in the book Elizabeth I: Always Her Own Woman.

Osherow is not confined to the classroom or academics; she is also the dramaturg for the Folger Theatre. She has recreated countless roles - from Hermia in A Midsummer's Night Dream to Lusia in Barbara Lebow's Shayna Maidel to her most recent performance as Sonya in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Her awards are not restricted to academics either. Osherow has also won several awards for her stage work, including two for outstanding performance from the Maryland Theatre Association and two for outstanding performance from the Eastern States Theatre Association.

This lover of the Bard feels she brings something different to her classroom because of her extensive theatre training. "I love Shakespeare. I come at Shakespeare from a performer's point of view and I think that shows in the way I teach," she comments, adding, "Shakespeare is written for performance."

Photo of Michele Osherow by Nate Smith

David Johnson Teaches the Ancients in Modern Day

Professor David Johnson is new not only to the Catonsville area, but also to UMBC's philosophy department, having lived the majority of his years on the West Coast. Growing up in Los Angeles, Johnson went to nearby UC Berkeley majoring in philosophy and history. It was in these halls that Johnson found his true passion -- ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. "I had a professor who showed me how interesting studying ancient culture is," Johnson says.

Jumping across the Atlantic Ocean, Johnson traveled to England's famed Cambridge University, where he completed his M. Phil., studying the classics in a program that specialized in philosophy. "By this time I knew I wanted to study philosophy seriously." Which is exactly the path he took. After taking a year off to work and study Greek and Latin, Johnson enrolled in Stanford's Ph.D. program. Johnson's dissertation focused on Plato and Aristotle and the development of practical reason and moral theory. "My first professor was the one who convinced me that this is a wonderful field," Johnson relates, adding, "and he was on the board that reviewed my dissertation."

Johnson's role in the department is two fold. First, he teaches ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Also, he works a great deal with contemporary ethics and the philosophy of action. Although he taught classes at Stanford while completing his Ph.D., this is Johnson's first full-time academic position. This semester he is teaching History of Ancient Philosophy and Introduction to Moral Theory, two subjects that Johnson is extremely well versed in.

Next semester in addition to Introduction to Moral Theory, Johnson will be teaching a seminar, which will focus on Plato and Aristotle. "Although the seminar will be focused on ancient philosophy, we'll be reading a lot of contemporary articles that use Aristotle as a resource," he says. "Studying ancient philosophy, we'll have one foot in the contemporary debates about ethics," Johnson states, elaborating, "One reason why I'm in ancient philosophy is because I think it has a lot to say, especially about ethics."

- Jennifer Leigh Gibson

Posted by dwinds1 at November 11, 2002 12:00 AM