Writers House Expands Guest List
   Three distinguished—and varied—voices in contemporary literature will visit campus as Kelly Writers House Fellows this spring. Short-story writer and essayist Grace Paley, novelist John Edgar Wideman C’63 Hon’86 and poet Robert Creeley will participate in the second year of the program, according to Writers House faculty director Dr. Al Filreis, the Class of 1942 Professor of English.
   The program is taking a somewhat different approach than last year, when journalist Gay Talese led a creative-writing class at the house. This time around, each writer will visit the house for a day and a half of activities, and their appearances will be linked to a seminar on "Contemporary American Writing" that focuses on their work taught by Filreis.
   "We were very pleased with the results of the semester-long course taught by Gay Talese as the first Writers House Fellow," says Filreis. "This year we wanted to try a series of fellows—to enable the students in the seminar to study a range of contemporary writers. Working with Grace Paley, Robert Creeley and John Wideman, the students in the seminar will study three significant but distinct aspects of the contemporary writing scene: Paley’s dense, edgy, political but finally comic short fiction; Creeley’s own masterful version of the ‘new poetry’; and Wideman’s novels with their urban settings, allegorical figures and tragedies."
   On the first day of their visit, the writers will participate in Filreis’ class, answer questions informally for an hour on the Writers House "green couch," read from their own works and attend a private dinner at the house. The second day’s events include a live interview and brunch. Creeley is scheduled to visit on April 10-11 and Wideman, April 24-25. Paley is expected to appear in late February or early March.




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Researchers Seek Answers After Gene-Therapy Patient Dies
On September 17, four days after being injected with corrective genetic material, an 18-year-old participant in an experimental gene-therapy trial at Penn’s Medical Center died. Continued...


But Will They Ever Sleep?
   Perhaps nothing can truly ease the pain of cramming for finals or racing to crank out a term paper, but at least students can suffer in style–pretty much around the clock–in two study spaces that opened in September.
   The first phase of renovations to the Rosengarten Reserve Room in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library has transformed a space that, as President Rodin remarked at the ribbon-cutting, was one of the few places at Penn that hadn’t changed at all since her undergraduate days in the 1960s. The Undergraduate Study Center (above), which will be open all night, has attractive lighting and carpeting and is furnished with solid-cherry tables and chairs; it’s also fully wired for laptop computers and equipped with PC and IMac work-stations. In addition to glass-enclosed suites for group study and distraction-free reading, it has open reading and lounge areas and an assistive-technologies study room for students with disabilities.
   The new Silfen Study Center, adjacent to Williams Hall, is the latest phase of the Perelman Quadrangle project to be completed. Designed for late-night study, the facility includes meeting rooms and an open reading area–and a café serving coffee and other beverages, sandwiches and light fare. (A proposed Library Café will have to wait for a later stage of the Rosengarten renovation, which is scheduled to resume next summer.)

Postcards from the Ends of the World
They went in pursuit of fortune, enlightenment and aristocratic diversion. Some sought freedom from restrictions of gender, race or law; others, a chance to conquer and shape unfamiliar worlds. Continued...

Philosophy in the Trenches
For Michael S. Moore and Heidi Hurd, co-directors of Penn’s Institute of Law and Philosophy, the law can be described as "philosophy with a point." It forces its practitioners to "reach judgments that have consequences in the real world," as Hurd puts it. "You have to live with your philosophical conclusions—and most philosophers don’t have to do that." Continued...

Opening Convocation: Challenges and Opportunities
At one table, a dark-haired member of the Class of 2003 examined her new Penn Card carefully, then rubbed it gently with her napkin. Behind her, near the stage, the Quaker Notes were belting out something by the B-52’s. On stage, a dark-robed ensemble of Penn administrators and scholars sat quietly, looking out over the 2,550 freshmen who filled the Civic Center’s Convention Hall. Continued...

Uncovering Ancient Mayoral Digs in Egypt
It must have been a "very vibrant" building, says Dr. Josef Wegner C’89, as well as a large and handsomely appointed one. The town mayor and his officials would have been there, working on economic transactions. Scribes would be coming in and out, counting the grain. Cosmetic vessels and mirrors with handles of ebony and ivory suggest the presence of wives. Children would be running around or playing games such as Hounds and Jackals. Even legal cases were probably adjudicated there. Continued...

Justice Talking, People Listening
The issues are highly charged and constitutionally complex: Gun control. The fine line between free speech and terrorism. School vouchers. The rights of illegal immigrants. Sodomy laws. Doctor-assisted suicide. Drug use by pregnant women. Censorship on the Web.Continued...

Alcohol Coordinator Appointed
As part of its ongoing efforts to curb alcohol abuse on campus ["Gazetteer," May/June; "From College Hall," July/August], the University has appointed an alcohol coordinator to consolidate its various alcohol-related programs. She is Stephanie Ives, who recently coordinated a campaign at the University of Arizona to change students’ perceptions about alcohol on campus. Continued...

Study Shows Drinking Leads to Free-Radical Damage   
A recent study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center shows that even moderately heavy consumption of alcohol can trigger free-radical damage to the body. According to Dr. Garrett A. FitzGerald, the chairman of pharmacology and director of the Center for Experimental Therapeutics who served as senior author of the study, the kind of alcohol consumption that often occurs in social settings sets off "damaging pro-oxidant processes," which have been "implicated in a number of illnesses, including diseases of the liver and the cardiovascular system."
  When healthy volunteers were given enough alcohol to raise their blood-alcohol levels to .08, .10 and .13 respectively, a biochemical marker of oxidant stress showed increases of 69 percent, 289 percent and 345 percent respectively. (In most states, the legal limit for driving is a blood-alcohol level of either .08 or .10.) Patients admitted to emergency rooms with acute alcohol-induced liver disease had oxidant-stress levels that were approximately 50 times higher than normal. When patients with chronic alcohol-related disease were given 2,500 milligrams of vitamin C for 10 days, that same biochemical marker was reduced by about 50 percent.
  The study appeared in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.


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Copyright 1999 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 10/26/99

La Casa Latina: A Place at the Cultural Table
   La Casa Latina, Penn’s new Center for Hispanic Excellence, has a home–at Westminster House, next to the Iron Gate Theater at 3700 Chestnut Street–and a director: Dr. Lilvia Soto, assistant dean for academic advising in the College. The goals of the center, which opened in September, include helping the University to recruit and retain Latino students, and developing various social, cultural and academic programs.
   "My colleagues and I want La Casa Latina to develop the next generation of Latino leaders," says Soto, a native of Mexico. "We want to be the guardians of the mysteries and the laws in which the cultural heritage of our Latino tribe is expressed. When Latinos study history, they learn that they are the heirs to many rich and ancient civilizations, and this knowledge gives them the breadth, depth, reach and vitality they need to take their rightful place at the circular table of our civilization."