Roaming the Australian Outback. Exploring the thriving metropolis of Sydney.
Wandering historic castles in Eisenstadt, Austria. Attending concerts in Vienna.
These once-in-a-lifetime experiences were everyday occurrences for Donald Pollock, professor of communications, and Kathleen Lamkin, professor of music, on their recent sabbaticals from the University of La Verne.
Pollock is no stranger to sabbaticals. He taught a semester at the University of Cheltanham and Gloucester, a Brethren Colleges Abroad school in England, on his last sabbatical. However, Pollock realized that he did not accomplish certain things he wanted to do for himself.
Six years later, Pollock decided to take another sabbatical – this time, for a whole school year.
In fall 2004, Pollock stayed in the area and continued to manage the LVTV station. He worked on various film projects and taped the theater department’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
On Jan. 31, Pollock, with his wife and two children in tow, ventured to Macquarie University outside Sydney, Australia. At the BCA sister-school, he enrolled in two classes: Introduction to Indigenous Studies and an Aboriginal art course, which was taught at a museum. Pollock was the first visiting academic in the university’s Indigenous Studies program.
“Macquarie has a huge international studies program,” Pollock said. “The budget of their international studies program is as big as the budget of the University of La Verne.”
In addition to his studies, Pollock’s main focus was interviewing up-and-coming Aboriginal filmmakers, whose talents are impacting today’s film world.
Pollock did much of his research at the Australian National Film School, which was located on the college’s campus.
“I watched a lot of movies,” Pollock said, laughing in retrospect. “I spent the first months just watching stuff.”
Pollock received a grant from ULV to put together video interviews and clips regarding the recent developments of Aboriginal films.
Pollock first visited Australia in 1987, where he was drawn to Aboriginal artwork. He notes that it was an “interesting time,” when many Aborigines started to attend art schools and, as a result, combined their traditional, cultural themes with modern techniques.
Twenty years later, Aborigines began to embark on another, more modern, art form: film.
Pollock said this led to an “explosion” of Aboriginal filmmakers over the past ten years.
“Until the English came, the Aborigines had a strong oral tradition,” Pollock said. “This tends to make them exceptional storytellers.”
The Aborigines are the original settlers of Australia, who have inhabited the continent for the past 50,000 years.
When Europeans wiped out much of their population in the late-1700s, many Aboriginal survivors were forced to live on the impoverished outskirts of urban areas or on reserved land, designated by the government.
Aboriginal people were denied basic rights, and many of their cultural traditions were muffled.
It was not until the mid-1960s that the Australian government slowly gave Aborigines certain freedoms the rest of the Australian public already had.
However, even today, many Aboriginal Australians struggle with poverty, unemployment and lack of education.
Pollock noted that many Aboriginal films dealt with the historic conflict between the “invaders” and the indigenous people.
“Their films are striking a cord with people around the world,” Pollock said.
In January, Pollock will attend a conference in Hawaii to talk about the world of video and television in central Australia throughout the last 20 years, mainly focusing on Aboriginal-produced work.
“Twenty years ago, they didn’t have the technology for TV in remote Australia,” Pollock said.
During his semester abroad, Pollock also explored various parts of the Australian Outback and traveled to the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, also a BCA sister-school. The University of Otago is the oldest college in New Zealand, founded in 1869.
Although Pollock is glad to be back at La Verne, he does miss certain aspects of living in another country.
“We’re all so busy here,” he said, “but in Australia, it is a much slower pace. It has been a much slower pace. It has been hard to readjust."
Meanwhile, 9,931 miles from Sydney, Lamkin braved the cold weather on her own sabbatical in Eisenstadt, Austria. Lamkin, who has visited Eisenstadt for the past 22 years, was researching newly discovered documents in the historic Forchtenstein Castle.
Lamkin first heard of these rare documents two summers ago when scholars in Eisenstadt found administrative papers, collected by the Esterhazy princes. Before her sabbatical began, scholars sent information, which served as “background reading” for Lamkin.
Also in preparation, she took a short trip to Austria in fall 2004, where she spoke with various archivists in Vienna, as well as editors and other experts.
On Jan. 7, Lamkin arrived in Eisenstadt. She found that the town was very supportive, welcoming her upcoming work.
“The town was excited,” Lamkin said. “They were thrilled that someone from California was doing research.”
Lamkin mainly focused on paperwork between 1790 and 1809, the last 19 years of composer Joseph Haydn’s life. She wanted to research all the musicians who worked with Haydn. The documents listed valuable information about the musicians, such as their names, their date of employment, music they performed and their salaries, as well as their marital status and hospital records.
Joseph Haydn was a composer who served as chief music director for the Esterhazy family. As part of his duties, he conducted an ensemble of 15 to 20 musicians and composed music his royal employers demanded.
Many historians have dubbed him the “father of the symphony and the string quartet” because he raised the bar in regards to artistic expression and sophistication, and paved the way for other musicians, such as Beethoven.
Initially, Lamkin’s goal was to write an article about what music was like in society during that particular time period. In the article, Lamkin included biographies of all the musicians listed in the royal documents.
Lamkin, with Austrian scholars Josef Pratl and Heribert Scheck, researched in Forchtenstein Castle every day to explore new material.
“The research was in old script,” Lamkin said. “An ‘A’ didn’t look like an ‘A’ and an ‘S’ didn’t look like an ‘S’. The different form of lettering was challenging and the spelling was not uniform. Many of the musicians’ names were also spelled differently.”
As Lamkin looked through hundreds of pictures on her computer, she remembered climbing a ladder and going through the unorganized, dusty paperwork, which was stacked in bundles shelf after shelf.
“The rooms [of the castle] were not lit and it was cold because there was no heat,” Lamkin said. “We had to wear coats every day because it was wintertime in Austria.”
However, Pratl, Scheck and Lamkin found one well-lit room in the castle and brought their computers to decipher and record the papers.
Due to the vast amount of information discovered, Lamkin’s article grew into 120 pages. It will now be featured in the second part of the Eisenstadt Haydn Reports Volume 5, an Austrian journal.
“It’s exciting to be on the cutting edge of something new,” Lamkin said. “I felt very lucky of this whole research process.”
Lamkin lived alone in an apartment for the duration of her trip. In her spare time, she met with old friends, who took her to dinners and to concerts in Vienna.
Lamkin returned to the U.S. in mid-March; however, her work was far from complete. She then spent much of her time writing.
Pratl and Scheck continued to send her more deciphered information they found, which she continued to incorporate in her work.
“I'm very excited for Dr. Lamkin regarding the prestigious opportunity she had this past spring in Austria,” ULV Professor of Music Reed Gratz said.
“As one of the leading Haydn scholars, this not only has contributed to her knowledge but to her status in the field of musicology as well.”
In the summer, Lamkin returned to Eisenstadt to show the castle’s archives to American musicologists. She then participated in the city’s classical music festival, which she and her husband, Michael Deane Lamkin, currently produce each year.
“It is good being back,” Lamkin said. “The sabbatical was very intense.”
However, the intensity has not completely disappeared since Lamkin settled into her usual routine at ULV. She continues to incorporate her colleagues’ new discoveries into her writings, while conducting classes.
“Sabbaticals are critical,” Lamkin said. “They enrich the faculty, scholarship and ultimately the students.”
Tracy Spicer can be reached at email@example.com.