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Monthly Archive for October, 2011

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities with a $2 million challenge grant.

Wesleyan has received a $2 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help endow the Center for the Humanities. The grant requires Wesleyan to raise an additional $4 million in endowment funds over the next four years.

“This grant is a welcome acknowledgement of the Center’s leadership role in keeping humanities scholarship at the center of the most interesting trends in American intellectual life,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “Scores of Humanities Centers across the country have adopted the Wesleyan model, and I am deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for affirming the importance of this work.”

The Center — since the establishment in 1958 of its forerunner, the Center for Advanced Studies — has a distinguished record of promoting interdisciplinary scholarship. Now, the Center will build on its tradition by refocusing its mission to support projects that not only advance scholarship but also connect research to pedagogy, and pedagogy to particular problems of culture and society. The Center will be an incubator for new courses as well as research, and it will be a resource for connecting humanities research to public life.

The Center will focus on collaborative projects that permit the sustained investigation of complex problems beyond the reach of a single scholar. For example, a project at the Center, “Fact and Artifact,” (more…)

Elizabeth Milroy, professor of art history, professor of American studies, professor of environmental studies, speaks about a lithograph created by Helen Frankenthaler. The piece is part of the Davison Art Center's collection and was the topic of an "Artful Lunch" Sept. 28.

For 15 minutes, Elizabeth Milroy, professor of art history, describes the life, artistic techniques and style of abstract expressionist painter and printmaker Helen Frankenthaler.

“Here, we see her thinking about framing and edging,” Milroy says, pointing at a lithograph in the Davison Art Center. “She emulates Chinese characters in this print. She bring out lusciousness in lithography.”

Friends of the Davison Art Center member Jean Shaw HON '11 enjoys the "Artful Lunch." Shaw is a former director of the Center for the Arts.

As part of the new series, “Artful Lunch,” faculty briefly speak about an artist, and display one example of the artist’s work from the Davison Art Center’s collection. The series is sponsored and hosted by the Friends of the Davison Art Center as part of the FDAC’s 50th Anniversary. Talks are open to FDAC members, Wesleyan students, staff and faculty.

Milroy presented Frankenthaler’s print titled A Slice of the Stone Itself on Sept. 28. The image was printed from two stones on French handmade paper at Universal Limited Art Editions in West Islip, N.Y. in 1969. The Davison Art Center purchased the print in 1980 with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, and matching funds from the Friends of the Davison Art Center.

Milroy explained how Frankenthaler became known in the 1950s with her “stained” paintings on unprimed canvas. She later moved to lithography and ultimately woodcuts. Milroy visited Frankenthaler’s studio (more…)

Alan Rubacha, senior project manager for Physical Plant-Facilities, points out the future space of the Art History Department during a building tour on Sept. 23. The department will occupy the former squash building's south end of the third floor.

Construction on the former squash building continues, and according to construction manager Alan Rubacha, everything is on schedule. The building is expected to reopen as the Career Center, Art History Department and College of Letters in January 2012 – just three months away.

Donning a hard hat, Karen DePoto, special assistant to the vice president of University Relations, walks down the scaffolding steps during the building tour.

“You can see over here where the five classrooms are going to go, and this will be a conference room that will hold between eight and 10 people,” Rubacha says during first-floor building tour. “And over there, that’s the main entry. There’s going to be a big bronze door.”

On Sept. 16 and Sept. 23, Rubacha led small groups of Wesleyan staff members through the construction zone. He points out a recently poured gypsum-sand flooring that, when set in layers, secures a radiant-heat flooring system on the first floor Career Center lounge.

“Students are really going to like this space in the winter,” Rubacha says.

This week, crews completed framing the third floor, and all mechanical, electrical and fire protection systems are being roughed-in. Crews also completed installing an energy recovery unit, which will condition the air throughout the building.

Glass windows will be installed by Oct. 7.

He leads the tour group up medal scaffolding steps to the building’s third floor. The building’s real steps will be finished this month. Each steel step, he says, takes three days to build.

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Stacey Close has an interest in recruitment and retention practices for minority students interested in science and technology.

Stacey Close, a professor of history, philosophy and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University, will spend the current academic year at Wesleyan as an ACE Fellow. Sponsored by the American Council on Education, the program prepares fellows to serve American colleges and universities in leadership positions.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Stacey Close to campus,” says President Michael S. Roth. “Wesleyan will surely benefit from the expertise he brings, and I hope he will fulfill his professional goals through his association with us.”

Close has served as director of faculty development at Eastern’s Center for Educational Excellence and as chair of the department of history, philosophy, political science and geography.

He has taught at Eastern since 1993 and was a recipient of Eastern’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2004. He is an authority on the history of African Americans in the Hartford area, with published papers on topics such as “Black Migration, Immigration, Garveyism and the Transformation of Black Hartford, 1917-28,” (The Griot, spring 2003) and “Fire in the Bones: The NAACP, Civil Rights, and Militancy in Hartford, 1943-67,” (Journal of Negro History, summer 2001). He also co-authored a chapter titled “Beyond Tuskegee: Why African-Americans Don’t Participate in Research,” in Handbook of African-American Health (Guilford Press, 2010).

Through the ACE program, Close plans to develop a base of knowledge that will contribute to the growth of his home institution. “While I want to work to increase my knowledge in strategic planning, resource allocation, budgeting, and management at the senior level, I would also like to learn more about equity, diversity, retention and community engagement,” he says.

He has a particular interest in issues such as prioritizing equity and diversity in strategic planning, as well as recruitment and retention practices for minority students interested in science and technology.

The Campus Activities Committee will provide free game tickets, lunch and refreshments during the Wesleyan-Bates football game on Oct. 15 for Wesleyan faculty, staff and their families.

The newly-formed Campus Activities Committee (CAC) wants to celebrate Wesleyan’s faculty and staff – and their families too.

Starting this month, the committee will offer a series of events, catered to Wes employees.

“Our committee is working to provide a wonderful opportunity for members of our community to meet one another in different settings. Wesleyan offers great resources and our planned activities will encourage faculty, staff and families to enjoy them,” says committee member Pat Melley, director of human resources.

On Oct. 15, CAC will host a family day during the Wesleyan football game. The CAC will provide free game tickets, lunch at the varsity sports team concession stands, refreshments and raffle prizes for Wesleyan employees and their guests.

“We hope that employees will be able to join us for one of the many events we’ll be hosting throughout the year, and we welcome their ideas as we begin our planning for the spring semester,” (more…)

Artist-in-Residence Hari Krishnan, pictured in back, performs "Fallen Rain."

Artist-in-Residence Hari Krishnan’s dance company inDANCE presented the Canadian premiere of Fallen Rain Oct. 1-2 at the Robert Gill Theatre in Toronto, Canada. The dance troupe performs Indian classical dance style bharatanatyam with Western contemporary eroticism.

Under the artistic direction of Krishnan, inDANCE performed the 60-minute premiere as part of the Festival of South Asian Literature and the Arts and the University of Toronto’s The Centre for South Asian Studies. Initially choreographed as a series of solos and duets, the Canadian premiere of Fallen Rain features seven lyrical dancers and six musicians. It includes rare genres of dance that have never been presented on the Canadian stage.

Hari Krishnan in Fallen Rain.

“Fallen Rain animates by the poetic and kinetic world of dance in courtesan communities,” Krishnan explains. The repertoire, he says, is drawn largely from 19th-century Tanjavur, South India. Tanjavur is historically the royal city of South India, nurturing the arts, and is the birth place of bharatanatyam dance.

Krishnan teaches similar rare repertoires at Wesleyan, maintaining his two decades-long research of the traditional roots of Bharatanatyam dance.

“Bharatanatyam  is rarely taught and performed anywhere else in the world,” he says.

In Fallen Rain, inDANCE pushes the boundaries of professionalism in the areas of traditional bharatanatyam dance, inspiring live music, groundbreaking research, cutting edge lighting design and rich costume design. The group presents its classical work in the context of a contemporary aesthetic framework. (more…)

Professor Natasha Korda, pictured here in London, is an expert on the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Natasha Korda, professor of English, professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality studies. Korda’s book, Labors Lost: Women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in September 2011. She also co-edited a book, Working Subjects in Early Modern English Drama, published by Ashgate in February 2011.

Q: Professor Korda, you’ve taught English and gender studies at Wesleyan since 1995, and you were promoted to full professor in 2010. What courses do you teach and what are your scholarship interests?

A: My area of expertise is Renaissance literature and culture, particularly the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and my scholarship focuses on the subjects of labor and property, especially women’s labor and property, in Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatic literature and theater history. At Wesleyan, in addition to the Shakespeare lecture and introductory courses like “Shakespeare on Film” and “Renaissance Drama,” I have taught advanced seminars cross-listed with the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, including “Historicizing Early Modern Sexualities” and “Staging Race in Early Modern England.” This spring, while on sabbatical, I will be teaching a graduate seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., on “Mastering Research Methods at the Folger.”

Book by Natasha Korda

Q: You’re the author/editor of more than 20 articles and four books including Shakespeare’s Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England (2002) and Staged Properties in Early Modern English Drama (2002). Your newest book, Labors Lost: Women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage (2011) argues that the purportedly “all-male” stage of Shakespeare’s time relied on the labor, capital and ingenuity of women behind the scenes of theatrical production. In what ways did women contribute, and how were they acknowledged?

A: The rise of the professional stage in England relied on women of all stripes, including ordinary crafts- and tradeswomen who supplied costumes, properties and comestibles; wealthy heiresses and widows who provided much-needed capital and credit; wives, daughters and widows of theater people who worked actively alongside their male kin; and immigrant women who fueled the fashion-driven stage with a range of newfangled skills and commodities. The work of female seamstresses, laundresses, dressers (known as “tirewomen”), wigmakers and head-dressers, among others, was woven into the very fabric of player’s costumes, congealed in the folds of their starched ruffs, set into the curls of their perukes, and arranged in the petticoats of boy-actors, while the terms of female moneylenders were calculated in the playing-companies’ balance sheets and inscribed in the terms of their bonds. Female “gatherers” collected entrance fees at the doors and galleries of theaters, while the cries of female hawkers echoed inside and outside their walls and the wares they sold were consumed in the “pit,” galleries, and on the stage. (more…)

Vern Schramm spoke on “Drug Design from Transition State Analysis” during the 12th annual Molecular Biophysics and Biological Chemistry Retreat Sept. 22 in Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. Schramm is professor and the Ruth Merns Chair in Biochemistry at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He investigates enzymatic transition state structures, which enable him to develop powerful inhibitors for treatment and prevention of cancer and other diseases.

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Wesleyan faculty and students participated in the "(Your) Brain on Culture Workshop on Neuroscience and the Humanities" Sept. 23. The workshop provided an introduction to the principles and scientific status of contemporary cognitive neuroscience and an exploration of several theory models for neuro approaches to the humanities.

Matthew Kurtz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, speaks on "Neuroscience: First Principles and Mechanisms of Interaction with Culture" during the workshop. At Wesleyan, Kurtz developed programs designed to chromate change in brain function. "These cognitive exercises are carefully titrated for task difficulty to, presumably, engage underfunctioning neural systems for promotion of neural reorganization," he explained.

(more…)

The Wesleyan International Relations Association hosted a conference titled “Deciphering Pakistan and U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Top academics and commentators discussed global issues with the Wesleyan community. Pictured in foreground is Michael Williams, visiting assistant professor of government and congressional candidate and panel member.

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Author Stanley Fish spoke on “What are the Humanities Worth?” Sept. 21 in Memorial Chapel. The event was sponsored by Academic Affairs.

(more…)

Sam Wasson '03 signs copies of his book Sept. 28. (Photos by Bill Tyner '13)

Sam Wasson '03

Sam Wasson '03

Visiting instructor in film studies Sam Wasson ’03 conducted a fascinating Q&A about Blake Edwards’ classic American film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was shown on Sept. 28 at the Goldsmith Family Cinema as part of the ongoing Adaptation Series, a collaboration between the Friends of the Wesleyan Library and the Center for Film Studies which examines the translation of literary works to the screen.

Wasson is the author of The New York Times best seller Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Dawn of the American Woman, the first complete account of the making of the beloved movie based on a Truman Capote novella and starring Audrey Hepburn in her one of her most memorable roles. Wasson’s most recent book, Paul on Mazursky, was recently published by Wesleyan University Press.

 

 

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