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Monthly Archive for January, 2011

James Kaplan '73 (Photo by Erinn Hartman)

James Kaplan '73 (Photo by Erinn Hartman)

Author James Kaplan ’73, the Writing Programs’ 2011 Joan Jakobson Visiting Writer, will speak at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 in the Russell House.

Kaplan has been writing about people and ideas in business and popular culture, and also writing fiction, for over three decades. His essays and reviews, as well as more than a hundred major profiles of figures ranging from Madonna to Helen Gurley Brown, Calvin Klein to John Updike, Miles Davis to Meryl Streep, and Arthur Miller to Larry David, have appeared in many magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and Esquire

In November 2010, Kaplan published an acclaimed new biography, Frank: The Voice (Doubleday), about the early life of one of America’s best known American singers and entertainers of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra, from the years 1915 through 1954. Kaplan reveals how Sinatra helped to make the act of listening to pop music a more personal experience to his fans than it had ever been before.

Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times recently chose Kaplan’s book as one of her Top 10 Books of 2010. In her review in the Times, she wrote that Kaplan “has produced a book that has all the emotional detail and narrative momentum of a novel.  …  In recounting his subject’s rise and fall and rise again — all before the age of 40 — Mr. Kaplan gives us a wonderfully vivid feel for the worlds Sinatra traversed, from Hoboken and New York to Hollywood and Las Vegas, as well as the rapidly shifting tastes in music that shaped him and were later shaped by him.”

The event is free and open to the public.

Kaplan’s talk is part of the Writing at Wesleyan Spring 2011 Russell House Series. For more information on Kaplan and other upcoming speakers go to http://www.wesleyan.edu/writing/distinguished_writers/.


Geoffrey Canada was the keynote speaker during Wesleyan's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration Jan. 21.


“Education Reform and Youth Empowerment was the topic of renowned educator Geoffrey Canada, the featured speaker at this year’s Martin Luther King Celebration on Jan. 21 in Memorial Chapel.

Canada, who was featured in the recent documentary Waiting for Superman, has dedicated the past 20 years of his life to helping the most impoverished, at-risk youth beat the odds. His idea of educational change is predicated on a simple yet radical idea: to change the lives of inner city kids we must simultaneously change their schools, their families, and their neighborhoods. Through programs such as the Beacon School, Community Pride Initiative, Harlem Gems, Harlem Peacemakers, and the Promise Academy, he has developed a network of services that reach most of the 6,500 children and their families living in the Harlem Children’s Zone.

As President and CEO of the revolutionary (more…)


Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, is director of The Wesleyan Media Project.


The 2010 campaign season was the most negative in recent years, but, current political rhetoric aside, that actually may not be a bad thing.

These are among the findings and conclusions from a recent journal article published by Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government and director of The Wesleyan Media Project, and her co-researchers in The Forum, a Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics.

“Advertising Trends in 2010” by Fowler and Travis Ridout, associate professor at Washington State University and co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project, examined the data and trends in television campaign advertising from all Federal and Gubernatorial races during the 2010 cycle. This included such issues as negativity levels and tenor in ads and its effect; the top issues and themes used by Democrats and Republicans in House and Senate ads; and ad tone (Attack, Promote, Contrast) by party from 2000-2010. (more…)

The work of science never ceases. Jeff Arace '12, pictured in the foreground, and graduate student James Arnone, pictured in the back, spent part of the winter break studying transcriptional regulation of paired genes involved in ribosome biogenesis. Their advisor, pictured in center, is Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

(more…)


Sarah Ruhl


MacArthur award winner Sarah Ruhl begins a two-day residency at Wesleyan on Feb. 10, the fifth by a playwright in the university’s “Outside the Box” theater series, which brings distinguished playwrights to campus.

Ruhl, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and author of the widely praised “Euridyce, ” “The Clean House,” and “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play),” among other works, has been described by The New York Times as “among the most acclaimed and accomplished young playwrights on the contemporary scene.”

At Wesleyan she will visit an acting class, dine with both playwriting students and faculty from several departments, (more…)


The Wesleyan community participated in the 2011 Social Justice Leadership Conference (SJLC) Jan. 21-22 on campus.

The SJLC provides an opportunity for students, student groups, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to learn about creating change through the application of a variety of skills.

Sessions focused on the many manifestations of injustice, leadership skills that may be applied to social movements, and how participants can be involved in creating change.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Geoffrey Canada from the Harlem Children’s Zone. Photos of the event will appear in a future issue of The Wesleyan Connection.

Günter Grass, pictured in center, autographs a tin drum for Krishna Winston at the Grass House in Lübeck, Germany. Grass’ wife, Ute, looks on. The Tin Drum is Grass’ most famous novel. (Photo by Hongjun Cai)

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Krishna Winston, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, dean of arts and humanities, on the art of literary translation. Winston has been the principal English-language translator for the works of the Nobel Prize-winning German author Günter Grass since 1990. Here Winston talks about the art of translation and working with a giant of 20th-century literature.

Q: How did you come to be the English-language translator of Günter Grass’s books?

A: I should explain that from 1960 until his death in 1992, the distinguished literary translator Ralph Manheim was responsible for translating almost everything Grass published, starting with The Tin Drum, which established Grass as the most provocative and brilliant writer to emerge from postwar Germany. After the Berlin Wall came down, because Manheim was in failing health, Grass’s American editor, Helen Wolff, asked my Wesleyan colleague Arthur S. Wensinger and me to do a collection of essays by Grass.

It was a rush job, because the book had to appear in time for the official unification of the two Germanys on October 3, 1990. Wolff had worked for many years with my parents, well-known literary translators, and I had translated a book on Joseph Goebbels that she published. (more…)


Book translation by Norman Shapiro.


Norman Shapiro, professor of romance languages and literatures, is the translator of Théophile Gautier’s Selected Lyrics. The book was published in December by Yale University Press.

Théophile Gautier [1811–1872] was a prominent French poet, novelist, critic, and journalist. He is famous for his virtuosity, his inventive textures, and his motto “Art for art’s sake.”  His work is often considered a crucial hinge between High Romanticism—idealistic, sentimental, grandiloquent—and the beginnings of “Parnasse,” with its emotional detachment, plasticity, and irresistible surfaces.

According to the book’s preview: “Norman Shapiro’s translations have been widely praised for their formal integrity, sonic acuity, tonal sensitivities, and overall poetic qualities, and he employs all these gifts in this collection.  Mining one of the crucial treasures of the French tradition, Shapiro makes a major contribution to world letters. “

Masami Imai, associate professor of economics, chair and associate professor of East Asian studies, director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, is the co-author of an article titled, “Bank Integration and Transmission of Financial Shocks: Evidence from Japan,” published in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Vol. 3, No. 1, pages 155-183 in January 2011.

This paper investigates whether banking integration plays an important role in transmitting financial shocks across geographical boundaries by using a dataset on the branch network of nationwide city banks and prefecture-level dataset on the formation and collapse of the real estate bubble in Japan.

The results show that the credit and economic cycle of financially integrated prefectures exhibits higher sensitivity to fluctuation in land prices in cities relative to financially isolated ones. These results suggest nationwide banks can be a source of economic volatility when they pass on the impacts of financial shocks to host economies.

Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and James Arnone, a Ph.D candidate in his lab, have published “Adjacent Gene Pairing Plays a Role in the Coordinated Expression of Ribosome Biogenesis Genes MPP10 and YJR003C in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae” a paper that shows that the physical position of genes on chromosomes — immediately adjacent gene pairs in particular — plays an important role in how they are turned on and off.

These findings were first discovered in yeast cells, but also hold true over a wide range of life forms, from worms to fruit flies to humans. A deeper understanding of how cells organize and manifest their genetic material is critical for future efforts to develop therapeutic treatments for disorders related to defects in gene regulation.

“Adjacent Gene Pairing Plays a Role in the Coordinated Expression of Ribosome Biogenesis Genes MPP10 and YJR003C in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae” appears in the January 2011 issue of Eukaryotic Cell.

The paper is the product of experiments performed at Wesleyan.

James McGuire, professor of government, is the author of “Mortality Decline in Chile, 1960-1995,” published in Living Standards in Latin American History: Height, Welfare, and Development, 1750-2000, Cambridge, Mass: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2010; and “Political Factors and Health Outcomes: Insight from Argentina’s Provinces,” published in the United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2010, September 2010.

Charles Sanislow, assistant professor in psychology, co-authored a publication showing that personality disorders increased the time to the remission of a depressive episode, and accelerated the time to relapse of a new depressive episode following remission. The work was published in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and stems from the NIH-funded Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Study, a 10-year prospective study on which Sanislow is a co-investigator.

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