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Nicolas Shumway named dean of humanities at Rice University

The Rice Thresher
May 19, 2010
As the search for a new dean of undergraduates begins, the search for a new dean of humanities ends, a year after it began, with the selection of Nicolas Shumway, who will become the new dean of humanities beginning July 1.

Shumway will be replacing former dean of humanities Gary Wihl, who resigned last year. Allen Matusow, a history professor who served as Rice's humanities dean for 14 years in the 1980s and early 90s, has worked as interim dean for the past school year.

Currently a professor of Spanish- American literature at the University of Texas at Austin, Shumway has also served as the director of the Institute of Latin American studies at UT and been the chair of the Spanish and Portuguese departments.

After working in the humanities since he graduated from Brigham Young University, Shumway said he brings a broad commitment to the field of humanities, as well as his own definition of humanities.

"I understand it to be the study of what humans do and produce," Shumway said. "When we look at [our creations] we see a reflection of ourselves. In a sense it's a study of what it means to be human and we learn this by what humans create."

The humanities is a study of all the different fields of human production, Shumway said.

Shumway found his interest in Latin American studies after studying abroad in Mexico during his undergraduate career at BYU. There, Shumway said he became interested in Mexican culture, literature and history. Later, he went on to live in both Brazil and Argentina. Shumway has also taught at Indiana University Northwest after doing his doctoral work at the University of California, Los Angeles. He then went on to be a full time professor at Yale University for 14 years before moving to UT.

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