SCHOLAR'S NOTEBOOK - Summer Supplement


SDIS Year in Review (2008-2009)

A perfect stranger emailed asking us about a community of scholars to join when she moves to California after her graduation. Where could she have found us but on the Web? That’s good news. This year we’ve made a friend of the Web.  Read more summaries of our year-end reports inside.

In Memoriam

It is our sad place to express condolences to her family and to the entire community of scholars concerning the passing of


We dedicate this issue of Scholar’s Notebook to the memory of this extraordinary scholar and woman, and one of our founding members.







 At May’s Meeting

The Board presented year-end reports, which are summarized here, starting with an overview.   The Web, we discovered, is our friend.  We migrated the SDIS financial records to Quickbooks, an online recordkeeping system. Standard reports simplify the process, and every new treasurer won’t have to re-create the wheel.

The “Scholar’s Notebook” on the web is attracting strangers as well as saving paper, print, and postage. We hope to expand announcements of members’ projects and publications, and to amplify reports from the study groups. 

We conducted our election with an option for emailing ballots – a primitive method, but it worked. 40% of our members voted by email.

Our annual Holiday Party was a rousing success, as was our first ever summer Garden Party and Book Exchange, proving that scholars are social animals and don’t keep their noses buried in books.

And potential new study group is in the works.

A year of change. In order to be sure we don’t get on our horse and ride off in all directions at once, we’ve instituted a Development Task Force. Seven generous members have addressed questions such as what is SDIS’s greatest appeal. What is it doing well, and how can it do better? This task force will recommend actions to the board.



We regret to report there were no applicants for a 2009 Helen Hawkins Grant. However, Jean Renshaw reports that her 2008 Travel Grant assisted her trip to Korea where she met with women whose stories she used in her book.  She was able to conduct additional interviews with younger women, whose comments validated her data and findings as still relevant.

She especially enjoyed and profited from a meeting arranged by SDIS member, Jerry Selness.  Jerry’s high school friend James Spackman had been orphaned during the Korean War and survived on the streets. At the age of 12 he was adopted by an American Marine and brought to San Diego, where he met Jerry. After college Mr. Spackman returned to Korea and is now the Chairman of Prudential Financial Korea, Inc.  His views of Korean business and the corporate world proved extremely useful. 

At the World Women’s Forum Jean met with international managers, ministers and college presidents, as well as with many of the Korean women she had previously interviewed.

Jean thanks the Helen Hawkins grant and member Jerry Selness for a great trip.



Check out our website Speakers page to see the list of dynamic programs we’ve enjoyed this year. Interesting features of note:

  • Four of the seven presenters are SDIS members
  • Three of the presentations relate to the arts
  • Two of the programs discuss the nature of scholarship

membership committee

Six new members bring diverse interests from art history to literature to seed-bead art to human potential to ethics in education.


election of officers and board members

President                                   Donna Boyle                    Incumbent: term ends May 2010

Executive Vice President        Sam Gusman                   Reelected: term ends May 2011

Admin Vice President             Tom Samaras                   Incumbent: term ends May 2010

Secretary                                    Bill Houghton                 Elected: term ends May 2011

Treasurer                                   Edwina Shell-Johnson    Reelected: term ends May 2011

Membership Chair                   Delina Halushka             Incumbent: term ends May 2010

Publicity Chair                         Marcus Klein                   Reelected: term ends May 2011

Notebook Editor                      Jack Cumming                 Elected: term ends May 2011

Member-at-Large                     Peter Lisbon                    Incumbent: term ends May 2010

Program Committee                Judy Ramirez, Bea Rose, Jean Mayer. Appointed, one year

Nominating Committee          Edwina Shell-Johnson,  Bill Houghton, Bea Rose, Jerry Selness, Nancy Appleton.  Elected: terms end May 2010        





SCIENCE (AKA BRAIN) STUDY GROUP, now in our tenth year, began the year reading Jonah Lehrer’s book Proust was a Neuroscientist. Lehrer worked in the laboratory of the famous neuroscientist Eric Kandel as well as in the kitchens of some very famous chefs. He analyzes how creative people (artists, writers, composers, chefs) intuitively revealed neurological principles in their work. We then started to read The Cerebral Code by W William H. Calvin but abandoned it by consensus

The rest of the year we spent reading Patricia Smith Churchland's book Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy. Churchland attempts to weld her knowledge of neuroscience to philosophy, her primary discipline, by exploring how our beliefs, our knowledge of self, our concept of free will, even our religious faith, are based in the neurobiology of the brain. She challenges and tests many hypotheses of brain function and dominance in the tradition of philosophy. Her philosophical arguments are thought-provoking and challenging, because she brings new insight to a field still reaching for the zenith of its research and revelations.

Bea Rose graciously opens her home to this group.


COLLOQUY CAFÉ meets monthly to explore the full dimensions of a single word chosen by vote the previous month. Words discussed this past year include Community, Expectations, Honor, Justice, Individualism, Altruism, and Imagination.

Sam Gusman hosts these monthly meetings at his home.

WORKS IN PROGRESS reviewed a spectrum of interesting works:

  • Cathy Blecki’s paper she’d prepared to deliver at the NCIS conference intriguingly titled “Ambition and Philanthropy: Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning.”
  • Our pooled knowledge and experience with respect to publishing.
  • Aline Hornaday’s revised Chapter One from her manuscript about the saints and society of medieval Maubeuge.
  • Chapters from Cathy Robbins’ manuscript, All Indians Do Not Live in Teepees (Or Casinos), soon to be published by University of Nebraska Press.
  • Our shared experiences with the internet as a research tool.
  • Aline Hornaday’s trial run of her paper to be presented at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at the University of Western Michigan, Kalamazoo.
  • Pat Terry’s translation of a challenging French poem, “Le Portrait” by Jules Supervielle. Alice Marquis faithfully and generously hosted the group.


LITERARY GROUP met at one another’s homes to enjoy some nine literary feasts:

  • Herman Melville’s White Jacket, an early study of the author’s rough experiences aboard an American Man-of-war.
  • H. G. Welles’s Ann Veronica, styled a “scientific romance,” considered the “New Woman” of the twentieth century.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was a great read, but Gatsby came in second best to Joyce’s Ulysses for 100 Best.
  • Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts, an epistolary novel recast into two films, a Broadway play and a recent opera.
  • James Agee’s autobiographical A Death in the Family, which posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1958.
  • Anthony Powell’s A Question of Upbringing, first of his twelve-volume series.  We tabled the next eleven sections.
  • Poetry by William Butler Yeats, including a close consideration of symbolism in the complex lyrics “Byzantium” and “Among School Children.”
  • After two months, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, still leaves much to be considered.
  • Helen Waddell’s historical novel Peter Abelard ended the year.


HUMAN SYSTEMS is a possible new study group. Elaine Parent invites others to joint her study of Systems as a way of understanding the human experience. Contact Elaine.





 In 1961, after selling the Pacifica Tribune near San Francisco, Alice and her husband landed in San Diego looking for a newspaper. They purchased the Star-News publications, but after a few years she stepped away from journalism and undertook the study of art and history. And whatever thread of material she followed, at heart she’s always been a writer.

Since then, her rich scholarship and hard work have yielded numerous books and articles exploring art and culture, both “high” and “pop,” always from an historical perspective. Key to this body of work is her fascination with the twin questions of taste and money in art, coupled with her background in journalism and history. Her work appears in periodicals as diverse as The Journal of American History, and The Nation. She wrote the entry “middlebrow culture” for the Dictionary of American History. In her own words, Alice likes to “delve into archives and papers, the rich, raw data beloved by historians, but I also love to interview people, coming face to face with the journalist’s primary sources… the historian strives for accuracy, while the journalist yearns… [for] an intriguing narrative.”[1]

From her birth in Germany through her family’s flight in the thirties to New York, to her learning journalism on-the-job, to becoming an art history expert, Alice displayed an eager intelligence. Her school was the world, especially the city’s museums and theatres and bookstores, and eventually frequent travel to distant lands.

After leaving academic institutions with graduate degrees, her intellectual hunger only grew. But outside the University, something seemed missing. “I felt that I needed something like a surrogate academic department, where there would be colleagues I could show my work to, and where I could serve the same function for someone else.”[2] Similar feelings prompted other scholars, and in 1982 Alice joined with pioneers Mary Stroll, Joy Frieman, Aline Hornaday, and Jane Ford to found San Diego Independent Scholars(SDIS).

Since its inception, Alice always championed the organization, promoting scholarship in any form and SDIS in particular. She has served it in many capacities, including President, and has regularly presented papers at SDIS meetings. Additional proof of that support is her faithful and imaginative leadership of our Works in Progress meetings. When no members had projects to present, Alice would coordinate discussions of relevant topics, such as doing internet research, dealing with publishers and agents, or developing one’s own website.

Alice Goldfarb Marquis passed away June 16, 2009. She leaves not only a legacy of scholarship, but also empty spaces in our hearts. We will miss her ready laugh and generosity.


A memorial celebrating Alice’s life will be held July 18, 2009, 3pm, at the La Jolla Athenaeum. Her son John asks for a memento or special memory to contribute to a memory book. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to one of Alice’s favorite non-profit organizations: The Athenaeum, SDIS, UCSD library, Father Joe’s Villages.

The Athenaeum: 1008 Wall St. (between Girard Ave & Herschel Ave), La Jolla. 858-454-5872.


More Summer Activities

Study Groups

  • Colloquy Café will meet Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 1 – 3pm. Topic: Rights and Responsibilities. Location: contact Sam Gusman
  • Literary Group meets Monday, July 6, 10:30 a.m., Gerry Horwitz’s home, for Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, an allegory couched as a children’s story.
  • Science Group continues discussing Stephen Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time, Thursday, July 23, 1 – 3 pm.  Contact Bea Rose to confirm your attendance.


NEXT MEETING: September 19


From the President

As we look back at our year-end reports, we can’t help noticing that Alice Marquis’s presence embraced this year like a pair of bookends. September opened with her presentation “Doing History,” and now June closes with her obituary. We keep her vision and enthusiasm before us as we move forward.


And Looking Forward

The coming academic year promises to be a stimulating and productive one for the San Diego Independent Scholars. We all benefit from the mutual support of our research interests that we derive from SDIS.  Enjoy your summer.



About SDIS

San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes everyone who appreciates creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts. SDIS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars.

Donna Boyle, President,


Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Jack Cumming, the Notebook editor: or 2855 Carlsbad Blvd. N116, Carlsbad, CA 92008-2902. The deadline for submissions is the 25th of the month prior to publication date.


[1] Visit Alice’s website for more information about her life and work.

[2] “Intellectual Loners Gather to Share Ideas, Facilities,” Gordon Smith, Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1987.

PDF attachment: