Monthly Archives: December 2009

Flowers ’96 Examines the Politics and Power of Building 3 NYC Skyscrapers

Book by Benjamin Flowers '96.

Book by Benjamin Flowers '96.

In Skyscraper: The Politics and Power of Building New York City in the Twentieth Century (University of Pennsyvania Press), Benjamin Flowers ’96 explores the role of culture and ideology in shaping the construction of skyscrapers, as well as the way wealth and power have operated to reshape the urban landscape. He studies closely the creation and reception of three major architectural sites: the Empire State Building, the Seagram Building, and the World Trade Center.

Flowers wrote his new book using a broad array of archival sources, such as corporate records, architects’ papers, newspaper ads, and political cartoons. He reveals how architects and their clients employed a diverse range of modernist styles to engage with and influence broader cultural themes in American society, such as immigration, the Cold War, and the rise of American global capitalism. He also considers the personal, political, cultural, and economic agendas that motivate architects and their clients to build higher and higher.

Flowers teaches architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

New Book by Goode ’91 Focuses on Racial Theories in Spain

Book by Joshua Goode '91.

Book by Joshua Goode '91.

In Impurity of Blood: Defining Race in Spain, 1870–1930 (LSU Press), Joshua Goode ’91 traces the development of racial theories in Spain from 1870 to 1930 and explores the Spanish proposition that racial mixture, rather than racial purity, was the bulwark of national strength.

He begins his study with a history of ethnic thought in Spain in the medieval and early modern era, and then details the formation of racial thought in Spain’s nascent human sciences. He examines the political, social and cultural manifestations of racial thought at the dawn of the Franco regime and, finally, discusses its ramifications in Francoist Spain and post–World War II Europe.

Goode analyzes the findings of Spanish racial theorists working to forge a Spanish racial identity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when race and racial sciences were most in vogue across Europe. The goal of Spanish social sciences was to trace the history of racial fusion, studying both the separate elements of the Spanish composition and the factors that had nurtured them. Ultimately, Goode finds that national identity based on mixture—the inclusion rather than the exclusion of different peoples—did not preclude the establishment of finely wrought and politically charged racial hierarchies.

His book should prove useful to scholars of Spanish and European history, racial theory, historical anthropology and the history of science.

Goode teaches history and cultural studies at Claremont Graduate University in California.

Producer Richards ’69 is Busy on Broadway

At left, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas in Race. (Photo by Robert J. Saferstein)

At left, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas in Race. (Photo by Robert J. Saferstein)

Jeffrey Richards ’69 continues to bring challenging and entertaining work to Broadway, having been a co-producer recently of the Tony Award-winning shows Spring Awakening, August: Osage County and Hair.

This winter, he is one of the producers of Race by David Mamet (Speed-the-Plow, Oleanna), which opened on Broadway on December 6 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater. In this drama, a firm made up of three lawyers, two black and one white, is offered the chance to defend a white man charged with a crime against a young black woman. The cast includes James Spader (Boston Legal), Kerry Washington (Ray), David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas under the direction of the playwright.

In his review of the play on Bloomberg.com, John Simon wrote: “We get a high-voltage melodrama that is unafraid to raise painful questions while dispensing prickly ideas and provocative dialogue amid steady suspense.”

Richards is also co-producing two other shows coming to Broadway, All About Me and Enron. All About Me is a comic entertainment with music

Östör’s Film Screens at National Film Festivals

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, explores the life of a painter, composer and singer living in West Bengal, India.

The 35-minute film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, explores the life of a painter, composer and singer living in West Bengal, India.

The new film, Songs of a Sorrowful Man, directed by Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, and edited by film major Joe Sousa ’03, began its journey debuting at the biennial Royal Anthropological Film Festival, held at Leeds University in July.

The film was then shown at the the American Anthropological Association meeting in Philadelphia, Pa. Dec. 2-6. It also was screened recently at at Brown where it was featured as the lead event in Brown’s “Year of India” celebrations (2009-10).

The “sorrowful man,” Dukhushyam Chitrakar is a charismatic figure who encourages women to take up the traditional craft of scroll painting and musical composition pursued almost exclusively by men before.

In a series of edited sequences, the film chronicles Dukhushyam’s vision of the decline and rebirth of his art; his tolerant Sufi Muslim spirituality; his engagement with Hindus, Muslims and the modern world; his encyclopedic knowledge of changing musical and painting histories and techniques; the influence of his beliefs on his way of life, and his teachings for future generations of painters and singers in his community.

Read more about the film in an Oct. 27, 2009 Wesleyan Connection article.

Collins Judges National Science Competition

Karen Collins, chair and professor of mathematics, served as a judge in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology that awarded $100,000 to high school students. In a Dec. 7 New York Times article, Collins said, ”We never expected high school students to achieve such success in examining this upper-bound aspect of graph theory.”

Yohe Discusses Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Gary Yohe, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, and senior member of the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), discusses in a Dec. 6 issue of  The Los Angeles Times the possibilities at the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference In Copenhagen, Denmark.

In the article, Yohe says that “many nations would like to see a definitive agreement come out of the Copenhagen conference. But in the absence of climate legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, it is unlikely we will see anything like a binding treaty. Still, significant progress is possible.

Copenhagen offers the prospect of agreement on a number of structural issues. First would be establishing ways to facilitate technology transfer while preserving intellectual property rights. Another possibility is agreement on ways of integrating nationally specific climate policies into future global programs. The conference could also put in place funding mechanisms for developed countries to aid developing countries in finding methods of mitigating and adapting to the consequences of climate change.

These more technical areas offer many opportunities through which the United States can begin to be seen as part of the solution.”

QAC Hosts Poster Session

I-Hui Chow '12 explains his research titled "Is adolescent smoking associated with lust and romantic commitment?" during the Quantitative Analysis Center's Poster Session Dec. 17 in Beckham Hall. More than 70 students presented posters at the event.  All students are enrolled in the course QAC 201, Applied Data Analysis.

I-Hui Chow '12 explains his research titled "Is adolescent smoking associated with lust and romantic commitment?" during the Quantitative Analysis Center's Poster Session Dec. 17 in Beckham Hall. More than 70 students presented posters at the event. All students are enrolled in the course QAC 201, Applied Data Analysis.

College of Social Studies major Chelsea Sprayregen '10 shared her poster titled "What is the relationship between education and attitudes toward homosexuality?"

College of Social Studies major Chelsea Sprayregen '10 shared her poster titled "What is the relationship between education and attitudes toward homosexuality?"

Biology graduate student Christian Skorik's project is titled "Parasitism in forest caterpillars: complex ecology in a tritrophic system." Skorik's advisor is Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology.

Biology graduate student Christian Skorik's project is titled "Parasitism in forest caterpillars: complex ecology in a tritrophic system." Skorik's advisor is Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology.

Hingorani, Royer Published in National Academy of Sciences

Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, is the author of “S. cerevisiae Msh2-Msh6 DNA binding kinetics reveal a mechanism of targeting sites for DNA mismatch repair,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ” Early Edition,” December 2009.

Dana Royer, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, is the author of “Fossil soils constrain ancient climate sensitivity,” published in the same journal.

Stark: Where Are Students in the Health Care Debate?

In an opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, Laura Stark, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of science in society, discusses how recent and pending college graduates are deeply affected by the current machinations over health care in Congress, but have been curiously silent as a group, especially compared with their overwhelming involvement in the election last year. Stark’s students Suzanna Hirsch ’10, Samantha Hodges ’11, Gianna Palmer ’10, and Kim Segall ’10, contributed to the piece.

Yohe on the Costs of Climate Change

In a recent issue of Newsweek, Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco professor of economics, discusses the potential costs of climate change, and the long-term risks of not acting to stem the effects of man-made contributions to the problem.

Bruce’s Performance Among Year’s ‘Most Memorable’

A trombone orchestra conducted by Neely Bruce, professor of music, that played in the rotunda of the Guggenheim in New York City, was named one of the year’s 10 Most Memorable Performances by Alex Ross of The New Yorker. There is a video link within the Ross piece that allows readers to hear a portion of the performance. The orchestra, consisting of 80 trombones, played Henry Brandt’s “Orbits” as part of the “Make Music” festival in New York City this summer.

Collins Judge in National Science Competition

The New York Times reports that Karen Collins, chair and professor of mathematics, served as a judge in a national science and math competition that awarded $100,000 to high school students. Collins comments on the quality of the students and their entries here.