Faculty granted tenure in diverse areas of study

This year, Gettysburg granted six faculty members tenure—three hailing from the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, the others coming from diverse areas of study including history and Africana studies, biology, and English. Below, read about their research and learn more about the work that makes these professors passionate about Gettysburg.

Abou Bamba —Africana Studies

Avner Dorman — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Yeon-Su Kim — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Jennifer Powell — Biology

Stefanie Sobelle — English

Brent Talbot — Sunderman Conservatory of Music


Abou Bamba Abou BambaHistory / Africana Studies

Prof. Bamba’s work explores Ivory Coast development from the end of World War II through the 1970s, focusing on the influence of the United States and France on the area. His book, African Miracle, African Mirage, is scheduled for release from Ohio University Press in November. Before Gettysburg, Bamba taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and at Georgia State University.

“I have enjoyed being part of Gettysburg College. In particular, I have found it quite fulfilling to be among the group of educators who keep Africa on the mental map of Americans and who challenge students (and the larger public) to unthink their preconceived notions of Africans,” said Bamba. “For me, this is important for the promotion of diversity and social justice in a national and transnational context.”

In the near future, Bamba said he plans to develop a first-year seminar on the “social life” of coffee, chocolate, and tea.

“I envision the course to be an interdisciplinary look at the history, economics, and anthropology of those beverages within the frame of social justice and the global food system,” said Bamba.

As for his research, Bamba will look to expand the extant scholarship on French residents in sub-Saharan Africa: “This will allow me to complicate the current racialized scholarship on migration as I analyze French migrants and expatriates in Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Gabon through the lens of Whiteness studies, citizenship, and the politics of belonging.”

Avner Dorman Avner DormanSunderman Conservatory of Music

Prof. Dorman, originally from Israel, has now made his home in the United States, teaching music theory and composition at Gettysburg and enjoying work as an active conductor and music director of CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.  

“As teachers, we must have the courage to confront our students with what it takes to be successful,” said Dorman. “This is something we all have to face as artists—it’s not enough to work hard, you have to work super hard; and it’s not good enough to be good, you have to convince other people that you’re good.”

In addition to being a talented educator, Dorman is the consummate musician and conductor. His compositions have been performed by the most prestigious symphony orchestras, including the New York, Los Angeles, and Munich Philharmonics.

Read more about Dorman’s musical roots, growing up with a father who is also a composer.

Yeon-Su Kim Yeon-Su Kim — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Prof. Kim is an accomplished violinist who teaches and leads the string program at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. She performs actively as a solo and chamber musician and teaches masterclasses in Italy, Germany, Korea, and the United States. She was recently a visiting scholar at the Academy in Rome, where she continued her work on the Music and Mind concert series performing lecture recitals on music of contemporary composers such as Luciano Berio and Elliott Carter.

“To be able to study music at a high level like this, and to have the ability to broaden your horizons, provides the foundation for a very rich life,” Kim said of the conservatory.

Prior to Gettysburg, Kim taught at Amherst College and at the University of Massachusetts.

Watch a video about Kim’s work with a student in the Conservatory.

Jennifer Powell Jennifer Powell — Biology

Prof. Powell’s research focuses on molecular genetics, microbiology, and innate immune responses, specifically through the study of the nematode C. elegans, which is an established model for studying host/pathogen interactions.

In her time at Gettysburg, she has mentored many students interested in pursuing research in biology and genetics.

“What I enjoy most about Gettysburg is working with students and mentoring them in research — both semester-long research projects that students conduct as part of the courses I teach and long-term independent projects pursued by members of my research lab,” said Powell. “I love being part of their development from novices into independent scientists. Their enthusiasm and dedication are both inspirational and contagious.”

Read stories about Powell’s research with students Jennifer Giannini ’18 and Joe Robinson ’15.

Stefanie SobelleStefanie Sobelle — English

Prof. Sobelle’s work focuses on contemporary American literature and culture, and she teaches coursework in twentieth-century American fiction and poetry, including comparative approaches to the study of U.S. literature. Her book on the intersections between architecture and American literature is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

“As a professor of American literature, I have really enjoyed writing and teaching at a major historical site,” said Sobelle. “At Gettysburg, I enjoy showing students how literature can take many forms, and how ‘American’ can mean many things. I challenge students to push past their sense of their own creative and critical abilities, to find their own voice and to put it to work.”

This year, Sobelle will be sharing her decade-long experience writing and editing book reviews in a new course called “Writing the Review” for advanced writing students. “I have designed the course to be both a workshop for students who may want to write professionally, and a seminar on the history and practice of a major literary genre that they may not already know,” she said. She would also like to develop a first-year seminar on the history and future of higher education in the U.S.

In her new research, Sobelle will examine the contradictory, uncontainable, and seemingly endless space of the American desert. Reading 20th- and 21st-century engagements with the American desert (in literature, art, and architecture), she will argue for the material and conceptual space of the desert as a site for interrogating the state of humanity in the 21st century.

Brent C. Talbot Brent C. Talbot — Sunderman Conservatory of Music

Prof. Talbot’s research examines power, discourse, and issues of social justice in varied settings for music learning around the globe.

“We all have a responsibility to change the social and economic conditions in which we live,” said Prof. Talbot.  “Students and I work together to build a foundation of musical learning grounded in social justice.”

As just one example of that work, Talbot led a trip this summer to Bali, where Gettysburg students, alumni, and faculty from our own Gamelan Gita Semara—an Indonesian instrumental ensemble—conducted ethnographic field work and performed music and dance. At home, Talbot uses the gamelan in artistic and cultural programming with area school districts and also serves as the artistic director of the Gettysburg Children’s choir. Through these two ensembles, Talbot purposefully works with music education majors to connect Gettysburg programs to the surrounding communities. This fall, Talbot will put the finishing touches on two books, one on children’s songs and games from Bali that will be published by GIA Publications, and the other on marginalized voices in the field of music education that will be published by Routledge. Both books will come out in 2017.

Watch a video of Talbot talking about the music program at Gettysburg: