Monthly Archives: March 2011

Foyle: Support on Libya Hinges on ‘National Interest’

In a recent report from NPR News, Douglas Foyle, Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Government, discusses the “rally round the flag” effect that usually accompanies military action by the U.S. and why it is not as pronounced with regard to Libya. Foyle says the tepid response by the U.S. public regarding the American incursion into Libya so far is because many people are not convinced that this use of military force serves the national interests of The United States.

Chenoweth on the Success of Nonviolent Uprisings

On a recent broadcast of the BBC World Service, Erica Chenoweth, assistant professor of government, discusses the success rate of nonviolent uprisings versus armed uprisings worldwide since 1900, which is the subject of her upcoming book, Why Civil Resistance Works. Her findings indicate that nonviolent uprisings are successful more than 30% of the time, even when they are undertaken against oppressive governments. In the piece she discusses some of the reasons why. Her segment begins at 43:35.

Basinger, Dombrowski ’92 on Celebrity Culture Today

In The New York Times OpEd forum “Room for Debate,” Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, and Lisa Dombrowski ’92, associate professor of film studies, both examine the question of the difficulty of celebrity for film stars today as opposed to the old studio system that produced such luminaries as Elizabeth Taylor.

Basinger says that one of the big differences today is the scale and scope of scrutiny: “Today we’ve added on TV coverage, instant Internet coverage, international coverage — and all the news seems to be entertainment news.”

Dombroski says that the studio system protected stars, though there were caveats to this, while stars today are “freelancers supported only by agents, managers, and personal publicists whose employment relies on the approval of the star.”

Jeanine Basinger Discusses Elizabeth Taylor

In The Washington Post, Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, commented on the  historical importance of Elizabeth Taylor in film, as well as her iconic cultural status. The piece also appeared in The Houston Chronicle and several other news outlets across the nation.

Valenti ’12 Documents Cancer Survivor Stories for Middlesex Hospital


Film studies major Zachary Valenti '12 is creating a documentary featuring eight female breast cancer survivors for the Middlesex Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center and the Center for Survivorship’s "Project Pink" event on April 14.


Film studies major Zachary Valenti ’12 understands how cancer can devastate a family. The disease claimed two grandparents – his father’s mother and mother’s father – as well as a stepfather. As an adolescent, Valenti was already aware of the risks of male breast cancer. He suffered from gynocomastia, the abnormal development of breast tissue in men.

For the past three months, Valenti has combined his life experiences and film studies skills for a project that raises breast cancer awareness in the local community.

Valenti is creating a documentary featuring eight female breast cancer survivors for the Middlesex Hospital Comprehensive Breast Center and the Center for Survivorship’s “Project Pink” event on April 14. Project Pink is a makeover and fashion show event to help breast cancer survivors feel “as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside.”

The volunteer project required Valenti to interview, film and edit the women’s stories.

“I’ve never been so conscious of my gender as I have talking to these women

Odede ’12 Joining Panel with Bill Clinton, Sean Penn


Kennedy Odede '12 is president of Shining Hope for Communities.


Kennedy Odede ’12 will be a featured panelist at the fourth annual meeting of former President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), which will be held at the University of California – San Diego on April 1-3. Odede is one of three participants on the panel; the other two are Clinton and actor Sean Penn.

“This is very exciting and a tremendous honor for me, and for my foundation, Shining Hope for Communities,” Odede said.

The CGI U is part of the former president’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) foundation. According to CGI’s website, CGI U “challenges students

On the Stages of Bucharest, Kordonskiy is a Familiar Name


Yuriy Kordonskiy, associate professof of theater, directs “Bury Me Under the Baseboard" in Bucharest, Romania. Actress Andreea Bibiri is pictured at left.


Even when he’s in Connecticut, Associate Professor of Theater Yuriy Kordonskiy never really leaves Romania – his work is almost always on display there.

During a fall sabbatical from Wesleyan, Kordonskiy returned to Bucharest to find that “Uncle Vanya” – the Anton Chekhov classic he directed there in 2001 – was not only in performance, but still had its original cast.

“They didn’t replace a single actor,” he says, 10 years later. “And the shows are still sold-out.”

Today, no fewer than five Kordonskiy productions are in rotating performance at the Bulandra, Bucharest’s top repertory theater, including his latest, “Bury Me Under the Baseboard.” It opened in January with one of Romania’s best-known actresses, Mariana Mihut, in the lead role.

Kordonskiy adapted “Bury Me” from a best-selling contemporary Russian

Tenure and Faculty Promotions Announced

Wesleyan is pleased to announce that during its most recent review, the Board awarded tenure to four faculty effective July 1, 2011.

Ulrich Plass

Ulrich Plass, associate professor of German studies, joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2004 as assistant professor. Plass is a specialist in German literature, literary criticism, and critical theory, with a particular focus on the works of the German philosopher Theodor Adorno. He conducted his undergraduate studies at the University of Hamburg, Germany; his M.A. is from the University of Michigan,

Budding Architects Design Wildlife Viewing Station Under Huge’s Wing

Elijah Huge, assistant professor of art

Assistant Professor of Art Elijah Huge and 11 of his students have designed four proposals for a bird-viewing observatory for a 700-acre nature preserve in Southbury, Conn., and plan to build one by the end of April.

It is the third major design-build project for North Studio, the faculty-student design collaborative Huge established in 2006. The students are all members of his Architecture II class.

Previous North Studio projects have included a bird-viewing platform for an Audubon Society sanctuary in Portland, Conn., and a Sukkah, or temporary Jewish ritual structure, at Wesleyan.

Audubon wildlife sanctuary Bent of the River is expected to pick one of the four designs by the end of March to allow for April construction.

“Everyone involved in the studio – the students, the teaching apprentice, the instructor, the clients – are all working together to leverage individual talents and creativity,” says Huge, who returned to Wesleyan this semester from a sabbatical at The University of California-Berkeley. “The studio offers students an opportunity to engage a ‘real-world’ architectural project.”

Shasha Keynote: “What the History of White People Can Tell Us about Race”

Nell Irvin Painter will deliver the 9th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns Keynote Address April 9.

Nell Irvin Painter will deliver the 9th Annual Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns Keynote Address titled, “What the History of White People Can Tell Us about Race in America.”

Nell Irvin Painter

“Americans are likely to think first and only of black people when the topic of race comes up,” she says. “But in the past Americans considered as white have also been raced and ranked as belonging to better or worse white races. In and of itself this history is fascinating, but beyond its intellectual interest, it can also offer some ideas about the functions of racial categorization in science and in everyday life.”

The event is open to the public and will be held at 8 p.m., April 9, in Memorial Chapel.

Nell Irvin Painter is the Edwards Professor of American History, emerita, at Princeton University. The former president of the Organization of American Historians and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is the author of seven books, including Standing at Armageddon (1987), Sojourner Truth (1996), and The History of White People (2010). In addition to her scholarly life, Painter currently is pursuing an M.F.A in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design.

“Histories of Race” is the topic of the 2011 Shasha Seminar. This year, for the first time, Wesleyan is offering a semester-long undergraduate course as a complement to the Shasha Seminar. Students from this class, “Histories of Race: Rethinking the Human in an Era of Enlightenment” taught by Professor Andrew Curran, will join seminar participants for discussion during the 3-day weekend, April 8 – 10.

Endowed by James Shasha ’50 P’82 GP ’14, the Shasha Seminars for Human Concerns provide a forum through which Wesleyan alumni, parents, students and friends come together with scholars and other experts to expand their knowledge and perspectives on issues of global significance. Visit www.wesleyan.edu/alumni/shasha for additional information or to register for the weekend seminar.

5 Questions With . . . Magda Teter on Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, spent the past few years visiting more than 15 archives in Poland, Rome and the Vatican City to find court records, pamphlets, rabbinic writings and secret correspondence between the papal nuncios and Rome.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of medieval studies. Teter is the author of Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in March 2011.

Q: Professor Teter, you are a scholar of religious and cultural history. What are your research interests, and what courses do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: In my writing I focus on Jewish-Christian relations, particularly in Poland, which was once the one of the largest states in Europe and also home to the largest Jewish community in the world. At Wesleyan I teach a wide range of courses mostly in Jewish history, but I also teach Early Modern European history, covering the period from mid-15th century to the French Revolution, and historiography. Having been trained at Columbia University, my courses always present Jews as actors in larger historical developments. Students taking my classes in Jewish history learn a great deal about general history. Similarly, since Jews were a crucial group in Europe greatly influencing European society, culture, economy, and politics, students taking my European history classes will learn that one cannot fully understand, for example, humanism and the Reformation without taking into account the role Jews played in them. I see both Jewish and non-Jewish history as tightly intertwined with each other. This semester I teach a course on east European Jewish history, with a service-learning component focusing on east European Judaica from the Adath Israel Museum in Middletown.  

Cuban Emigre, Red Sox Hero Tiant to Speak at 2011 Americas Forum


In the film, "The Lost Son of Havana," former major league baseball star Luis Tiant returns to Cuba, where he encounters unexpected demons and receives unexpected gifts from his family.


Former Boston Red Sox hero Luis Tiant will visit Wesleyan on April 7 to attend a screening of “Lost Son of Havana,” a 2009 film about the charismatic pitcher and Cuban émigré’s first return to his homeland in 46 years.

The screening and a subsequent discussion with Tiant and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Hock are part of the Center for the Americas’ 2011 Americas Forum, which will take place on campus April 7-8.

The forum, “Sports Documentary Filmmakers in the Americas: The Politics of Access,” also will feature a screening of “The Two Escobars,” a documentary by Jeffrey and Michael Zimbalist ’02 about drugs, power and soccer in Colombia.

The annual interdisciplinary forum addresses a topic of mutual interest to North and South or Central America, and reflects the center’s