Monthly Archives: November 2012

Basinger Comments on ‘Casablanca’s’ Legacy

Seventy years after Casablanca premiered at the Hollywood Theater in New York City, Jeanine Basinger discussed its lasting influence on The Takeawaya co-production of WNYC public radio and Public Radio International. Basinger says the Casablanca team had no idea their film would become such a major part of American history. She attributes the film’s durability to its technique rather than its content. “It’s about the myth of Americans as being heroic, as going out into fights that aren’t necessarily their own to fight, for people who are being treated unjustly,” she says. “The romantic hero of Rick represents that.”

Another Blow to Russia’s Bid to Boost Soft Power

In an op-ed in The Moscow Times, Peter Rutland, professor of government, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, writes about the Magnitsky Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which sanctions individuals deemed to be involved in the persecution and death of Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. Russian critics condemn the Act as “part of some devious scheme to isolate Russia,” but Rutland writes: “Russia will never succeed in its campaign to be accepted as a regular member of the community of nations if it doesn’t realize that human rights really matter. Nor will there be any benefit from spending millions of dollars on campaigns to promote Russia’s ‘soft power’ if the message those media carry is a crude defense of indefensible actions by Russian officials.”

Avant-Garde Music Composer John Cage Celebrated with Exhibit, App

John Cage in 1988. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)

John Cage in 1988. (Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)

Influential experimental music composer, writer and artist John Cage (1912-1992), famous for his avant-garde music, was affiliated with Wesleyan from the 1950s until his death in 1992. During his 37-year relationship with Wesleyan, Cage collaborated with members of the Wesleyan music faculty, composed and performed on campus, and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in 1960–61 and 1969–70. Wesleyan University Press published several of his books.

To honor Cage’s time and achievements at Wesleyan, the university is celebrating the centenary of Cage by focusing on his understanding of music as a social process through a collection of events.

Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives is hosting an exhibition titled “John Cage Writes” Dec. 3-March 10, 2013. The exhibit, mounted in the museum cases on the first floor of Olin Library, focuses in part on the five books Cage wrote that were published by Wesleyan University Press: Empty Words, M, SilenceX, and  A Year from Monday Silence has been hailed as one of the most important works on music by a 20th century composer.

“Although he’s best-known as an avant-garde composer, John Cage also wrote pioneering books and this exhibition will spotlight his literary endeavors,” says Leith Johnson, university archivist, who is curating the exhibition with Suzy Taraba, director of Special Collections and Archives.

Wesleyan University Press released the 50th Anniversary edition of John Cage's "Silence" in 2011. The book includes Cage's lectures and writings.

Wesleyan University Press released the 50th Anniversary edition of John Cage’s “Silence” in 2011. The book includes Cage’s lectures and writings.

Cage donated the papers related to his writing to Wesleyan and the exhibition draws on these materials, the archival records of Wesleyan University Press, and other SC&A collections. Among the items included in the show are correspondence, notebooks, manuscripts, photographs, editions of Cage’s works, and examples of his influence on book artists.

There’s also an app for that.

Musician Jack Freudenheim ’79, working in conjunction with Larson Associates and the John Cage Trust, created an app that lets a user play the sounds of John Cage’s ‘prepared piano’ released in time to celebrate what would have been Cage’s 100th birthday. Learn more about the app in this past Wesleyan Connection story.

In addition, the Center for the Arts hosted three musical performances on “John Cage and Public Life” as part of its “Music & Public Life” series, a year-long campus and community-wide exploration, celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music.

President Roth Speaks on Bloomberg EDU

In an interview with Jane Williams on Bloomberg EDU, President Michael S. Roth discussed the value of a broad liberal arts education, the challenges of keeping college affordable, Wesleyan’s new business model, and the University’s foray into online courses.

Cohen’s Book Is One of 2012′s Best

Publishers Weekly has named Assistant Professor of English Lisa Cohen’s book, All We Know: Three Lives, as one of the top 10 books of 2012. “Erudite and exquisitely written, Wesleyan professor Cohen’s first book, a triptych biography of three early-20th-century women—Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta, and Madge Garland—successfully renders both these memorable and surprising personalities and the era in which they struggled with questions and expectations regarding career, marriage, and sexuality.”

All We Know was also featured by The Wall Street Journal in its 2012 Gift Guide for biographies. The review states: “In fascinating, well-chosen detail, Ms. Cohen explores the careers of three notable women whose paths crossed frequently in the 1920s and 1930s but who aren’t well remembered today.”

Finally, The New York Times named All We Know in its 100 Notable Books of 2012 list.

 

 

Fullilove Panelist at American Studies Association Meeting

Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, spoke at a panel on “The Dust of Empire: Material Culture and the Circulation of Power’s Remains” during the American Studies Association Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Nov. 15. The theme of the conference was “Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: Past, Present, and Future.”

Unferth Reviews ‘Too Good to Be True’

Associate Professor of English Deb Olin Unferth recently reviewed a new book by Benjamin Anastas in The New York Times. She writes: “Too Good to Be True is a Job-style lament, as much the story of Anastas as that of 21st-­century America (which also turned out to be too good to be true), with its great promises and subsequent disappointments: the bountiful credit that became mountainous debt; the ultra-innovative technology that now enslaves us; broken families; two-household children.”

Read more here.

Wesleyan Media Project Provides Political Ad Tracking, Analysis During Election

Matt Motta ’13 uses an online system to "code" political ads. Motta estimates that he has watched between 400 and 500 unique ad spots through his work on the Wesleyan Media Project.

Matt Motta ’13 uses an online system to “code” political ads. Motta estimates that he has watched between 400 and 500 unique ad spots through his work on the Wesleyan Media Project.

In the first presidential election since the Citizens United case transformed the campaign finance landscape, the number of ads airing in the presidential race alone surpassed one million by late October.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

While 2012 saw a sharp increase in the number of outside interest group players in the election, and corresponding increases in the amount of spending from groups who do not have to disclose their donors, there remained one consistent source of transparency in advertising—the Wesleyan Media Project. A political ad tracking project headed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and colleagues at Bowdoin College and Washington State University, the Wesleyan Media Project provided data and analysis for hundreds of news stories on the election.

“Federal reporting guidelines do not ensure that the public knows who is attempting to influence elections before they go to the ballot box,” Fowler says. “The Wesleyan Media Project’s goal is to provide publicly available information, in real-time, during elections to increase transparency and to better enable citizens to hold various interests accountable.”

The Wesleyan Media Project, established in 2010, is the successor to the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracked political ads between 1998 and 2008. The Wesleyan Media Project is supported this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and Wesleyan University.

The Wesleyan Media Project purchases raw data on campaign advertising

McAlear Lab Makes Fundamental Discovery About How Cells Control Genes

Jeff Arace '12, pictured in the foreground, and Ph.D candidate James Arnone, pictured in the back, work on transcriptional regulation of paired genes involved in ribosome biogenesis with their advisor, Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, in center. Adam Robbins-Pianka BA ’08, MA ’10 and Sara Kass-Gergi ’12 also work in the McAlear Lab.

Jeff Arace ’12, pictured in the foreground, and Ph.D candidate James Arnone, pictured in the back, work on ribosome biogenesis reserarch with their advisor, Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, in center. Adam Robbins-Pianka BA ’08, MA ’10 and Sara Kass-Gergi ’12 also work in the McAlear Lab.

(Story contributed by Jim H. Smith)

A recent discovery made by Michael McAlear, chair and associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and four of his students helps explain the function of ribosomes and sheds light on genetic processes scientists have been trying to decode for more than half a century. A paper authored by McAlear and his laboratory team, describing the discovery, was published last month in the distinguished journal BMC Genomics.

The discovery resulted from long-term research into the regulation of ribosomes, often described as molecular “machines,” the organelles of all living cells in which protein synthesis occurs. Guided by genetic “blueprints” delivered to them by messenger RNA, ribosomes gather amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and assemble them into polypeptides, the intricate chains of amino acids that, depending upon their arrangement, form the unique protein characteristics required for specific biological functions.

Scientists have known about ribosomes and their essential function for a long time. Cell biologist George Palade was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for discovering them in 1955.  But while scientists have understood what ribosomes are and what they do, they’ve spent the last half century trying to decipher the complex array of metabolic processes that play a role in the production of new proteins. It is one thing to know what ribosomes do, quite another to know how they do it.

Influence Map Highlights Wesleyan U. Press Books World-Wide

The Wesleyan University Press Influence Map, released in November, depicts the depth of the press's work locally and world-wide.

The Wesleyan University Press Influence Map, released in November, depicts the depth of the press’s work locally and world-wide.

In honor of University Press Week Nov. 11-17, Wesleyan University Press released an Influence Map highlighting the scope of its work in the state, nation and world. University Press Week highlights the extraordinary work of university presses and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society.

Wesleyan University Press‘s editorial program focuses on poetry, music, dance, science fiction studies, film-TV, and Connecticut history and culture. The map, hosted by Google, displays many of the locations of where the press is carrying the name of Wesleyan University.

Click on a “pin” in Connecticut, and the map displays a poetry anthology, published by Wes U. Press, celebrating the Hill-Stead Museum’s Sunken Garden in Farmington, Conn. A pin in Texas links to a book on the Rock’n’Roll scene in Austin. A pin on Peru reveals a book on reviving African musical heritage in the black pacific; and a pin on Morocco pops up a Wes Press book on Moroccan Ghawa trance and music.

Wes Press publications cover topics in Denmark, Vietnam, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Syria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, Russia, and Canada, and there’s even a Wes Press-published book about the perils of living in a world of treacherous icebergs, fog and nor’easters in Greenland.

“Yes, we really do have a pin in Greenland,” says Wesleyan University Press Director Suzanna Tamminen. “In 1996, the press published a memoir by classic American graphic artist and author Rockwell Kent, whose adventure tale has no shortage of maritime excitement, survival struggles or arctic fjord-itude.”

The map also makes mention of any award-winning Wesleyan U. Press books, including Seven Controlled Vocabularies, by Tan Lin, which is the recipient of the 2012 Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS).

Publishing in its current form since 1957, Wesleyan University Press has published an internationally-renowned poetry series, collecting five Pulitzer Prizes, a Bollingen, and two National Book Awards in that one series alone.

 

“Do Something Big” by Participating in United Way Campaign

Wesleyan's United Way Employee Campaign goal is $120,000.

Wesleyan’s United Way Employee Campaign goal is $120,000.

This year, Wesleyan employees can “do something big” by participating in the annual Middlesex United Way Campaign.

The campaign supports education, income, health and housing issues in Middlesex County through more than 30 agencies in the area. These include YMCA of Northern Middlesex County, Women and Families Center, Shoreline Soup, Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater, Middletown Adult Education, the John J. Driscoll United Labor Agency, Inc., Habitat for Humanity, MARC Community Resources, Community Health Center Mobile Dental Program and more. Last year, United Way helped Amazing Grace serve 10,986 hungry neighbors.

This year’s theme is “Do Something Big” and the Wesleyan Employee Campaign monetary goal is $120,000. The campaign co-chairs are Stacy Baldwin, construction project coordinator, and Dave Hall, grounds and events manager for Physical Plant – Facilities.

“If you have donated in the past, please consider stepping up in your donation. Just $1 more per week can really make a difference.” Baldwin said.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth said the campaign makes a great deal of difference for young people throughout Middlesex County. “Thanks to an effort led by United Way (working with schools, agencies, and local governments) there’s been a 25 percent reduction in substance abuse among teenagers in the county within the past few years,” Roth wrote in an all-campus e-mail on Oct. 26. “That number, noteworthy as it is, doesn’t begin to tell the story of young lives changed for the better – or describe the benefits we all experience when substance abuse and its attendant problems are lessened. Remarkable work like this depends upon our support.”

Employees can make a one-time donation or sign up for payroll deduction. Making a gift to a specific funding partner requires a minimum annual pledge of $52. Forms will be sent through campus mail.

“Middlesex United Way is a community effort,” Roth wrote. “The dollars used to help our neighbors in need come from us. From homelessness to health to family literacy, Middlesex United Way is addressing issues important to all of us.”

Wesleyan to Gauge Sustainability Efforts with Assessment System

A dashboard, mounted in the Allbritton Center, compares energy use to other spaces on campus. The Allbritton Center is "Gold Certified" based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

A dashboard, mounted in the Allbritton Center, compares energy use to other spaces on campus. The Allbritton Center is “Gold Certified” based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Recognizing the importance of sustainability and commitments set forth in the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Wesleyan has become a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). AASHE is a national organization that enables higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals by providing specialized resources, professional development, and a network of peer support. Wesleyan also has become a charter participant in AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

Created by the higher education community, STARS is a comprehensive system that enables colleges and universities to gauge their progress toward sustainability. It integrates efforts across campus, ranging from curriculum and research to operations and administration. More than 250 institutions in Canada and the United States are now participating in this innovative program. Institutions earn a STARS rating after a year of self-assessment, which involves collecting and publicly reporting information related to sustainability performance.