Corrina Kerr

Teter Published in Sixteenth Century Journal

Magda Teter, associate professor of history, associate professor of medieval studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is the co-author of “Out of the (Historiographic) Ghetto: Jews and the Reformation,” published in Sixteenth Century Journal 40 No. 2, pages 365-393 in 2009.

Dowdey’s Exhibit Catalog Published

The exhibit catalog for “Pearl of the Snowlands: Buddhist Printing from the Derge Parkhang” is now available. The catalog contains essays by Patrick Dowdey, Curator of Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, Clifton Meador, and Yudru Tsomu as well as an extended photo essay by Clifton Meador who is a noted book artist.

Deb Olin Unferth: New English Department Faculty Member

Deb Olin Unferth joined the Department of English in fall.

Deb Olin Unferth joined the Department of English in fall.

Deb Olin Unferth has joined the Department of English as assistant professor. She specializes in fiction writing, innovative literature, the short story and the novel.

She says she was attracted to Wesleyan because of its well-known writing program.

“Wesleyan is a fantastic liberal arts school,” Unferth says. “I am very excited to be here. I am enjoying my classes immensely. The students are excellent—in ability, focus, creativity, intelligence, and temperament.”

Unferth has a B.A. in philosophy with distinction from the University of Colorado, where she was Phi Beta Kappa. In 1998, she earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University.

Unferth’s debut novel Vacation was published by McSweeney’s in October 2008. The book garnered her the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award for 2009.

Bruce Directs Bill of Rights in Historic Pequot Chapel

Neely Bruce, professor of music, directed The Mitchell College Singers & Friends Oct. 20 in New London, Conn. The Mitchell College Singers performed The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets, one of the more notable musical works created within Connecticut in the past decade. This unique program was presented in New London’s historic Pequot Chapel. Prior to the concert, Bruce spoke on “Why I Set the Bill of Rights to Music,” and led a recitation of the Preamble to the Bill of Rights.

This was the fourth complete performance of The Bill of Rights. The song’s premiere was at Wesleyan in 2005. More information on Bruce and the Bill of Rights event are posted in the Oct. 8 edition of the Wesleyan Connection, online here.

Leah Wright: New History, African American Studies Assistant Professor

Leah Wright, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of African American studies, is an expert on United States history, African American studies and American politics. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Leah Wright, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of African American studies, is an expert on United States history, African American studies and American politics. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Leah Wright, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of African American studies joined Wesleyan’s staff this summer.

Wright says she loves being part of an interdisciplinary community and “was impressed by the intellectual curiosity and academic excellence of the students at Wesleyan.” Multiple factors attracted her to the university.

“I was also excited about the faculty—there is equal attention paid to teaching and research, and as a result, Wesleyan faculty excel at both. Joining Wesleyan was a major opportunity to join a vibrant and welcoming intellectual community.”

She graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College in 2003 with a bachelor’s in history. Wright went on to obtain a Master’s and a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. This summer she defended her doctoral dissertation titled “The Loneliness of the Black Conservative: Black Republicans and the Grand Old Party, 1964-1980.” Wright is currently negotiating with publishers to convert her manuscript into a published book.

Wright’s book proposal abstract reads: “Traditionally, the scholarship on civil rights has assumed that the movement existed solely within the boundaries of liberalism; however, this project argues that black Republicans also attempted to promote a genuine agenda of racial equality, civil rights, and black uplift through the conservative movement and the Republican apparatus. Despite the seeming contradiction of African Americans working for civil rights in a party that appeared increasingly hostile to that very idea, many black Republicans did see themselves as part of the movement. In many ways this story is a comparative project about the vision for black equality and advancement.”

Her research interests include United States history, African American studies and American politics. Her extensive research on Black conservatives in the U.S.—specifically Black Republicans—combines all of her interests. Additionally, she has studied women in the Black Power movement and Marcus Garvey, the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association

Wright is the author and co-author of several articles, including “Conscience of a Black Conservative: The 1964 Election and the Rise of the National Negro Republican Assembly,” in Federal History.

Wright was awarded with a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Dissertation Writing Fellowship for 2008 – 2009. Notably, she has received three presidential libraries grants (i.e. the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library Research Grant, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library Research Grant and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library O’Donnell Research Grant). Wright received multiple Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Development/Enhancement Grants throughout her scholarship. She was a Andrew W. Mellon Fellow from 2001 to 2003 and is the first Mellon Fellow to join the Wesleyan faculty, according to Krishna Wilson, who is the coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship at Wesleyan.

This semester, Wright is teaching 20th Century Black Conservatism and The Long Civil Rights Movement in America. In spring 2010, she will be teaching Modern African-American History and U.S. Political History Since 1945.

For her civil rights course, Wright enjoyed working with Valerie Gillispie, Assistant University Archivist, to expose students to the resources within Wesleyan’s archives.

“The Civil Rights Archive at Wesleyan is a wonderful resource,” Wright says.

“Val Gillispie took us through a guided tour of archival resources that allowed the students to better understand Wesleyan’s significant connection to the broader Civil Rights Movement. It was an exciting opportunity for students to ‘get their hands dirty’—and search through interesting, and relevant archival resources—which is a critical component for any historian.”

Wright is a native of Hartford and enjoys traveling, reading, and watching college basketball (her brother plays for Providence College).

Listen to Leah Wright’s recent appearance on WNPR’s Where We Live.

5 questions with … Neely Bruce

Neely Bruce, professor of music.

Neely Bruce, professor of music.

The following is the second installment of The Wesleyan Connection’s new feature, “5 Questions.” This issue, accomplished composer and Wesleyan Professor of Music Neely Bruce is our guest.

Q: I see your piece Vistas will be performed at the “Hearts Pounding and Skins Taut” concert in late October at Wesleyan. For what instrument was this piece originally composed?

NB: Vistas at Dawn is a short (approximately three minute) piece for organ and vibraphone.

Q: For what musician did you compose this piece?

NB: I wrote it for Ronald Ebrecht, Wesleyan University Organist, to play. Over the years I’ve written two major works and several smaller pieces for him. Ron has been a staunch advocate for new music for the organ for years, and has encouraged his faculty colleagues and our students to write all sorts of music in all sorts of styles for that remarkable instrument. This has been going on for more than 20 years, and dozens, perhaps hundreds of new organ works have seen the light of day because Ron asked people to write them and offered an opportunity to get them before the public. Vistas was originally written for a tour that he did in Russia with a Russian percussionist, although he’s played it many times in the US with several different vibes players, including Wesleyan’s own Jay Hoggard. It’s something like a pop ballad—slow, languorous, very chromatic, sometimes almost atonal, sometimes with jazz-like quasi-standard chord changes.

Q: Aside from hearing Vistas at the Center for the Arts in October, where can people see you perform publicly this fall?

NB: October is an exceptionally busy month, even for me. I’m playing the world premiere of Twelve Fugues by Gerald Shapiro, chair of the Music Department at Brown and one of my closest friends. (Shapiro and I were freshmen together at the Eastman School of Music). I’m playing these pieces at Wesleyan’s Crowell Concert Hall on Saturday October 10 at 8 p.m. and at Brown on October 14, with a little Stravinsky and Ravel as the warm-up. The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets is being performed at Mitchell College in New London on October 20. For

Erickson Receives Young Scholars’ Prize in History of Science and Technology

Paul Erickson. (Photo by Corrina Kerr)

Paul Erickson was honored for his contribution to the History of Science in Western Civilization. (Photo by Corrina Kerr)

Paul Erickson, assistant professor of history and assistant professor of Science in Society, has been awarded the 2009 Prize for Young Scholars from the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science, Division of History of Science and Technology (DHST). He received the award at an August ceremony in Budapest, Hungary.

The award was bestowed in recognition for Erickson’s significant scholarly contribution to the History of Science in Western Civilization. The prize is awarded every four years at meetings of the Union Congress to recent PhDs in the history of science and technology for outstanding dissertation projects on topics in the western tradition. Erickson’s dissertation, “The Politics of Game Theory: Mathematics, Rationality, and Cold War Culture” impressed the award committee with its “innovative approach” and manner of making “mathematics and Cold War culture accessible for a critical discussion.”

In citing his dissertation, the prize committee stated “Erickson did a brilliant job in discussing a topic with a mathematical image in a real historical way.” The citation also heralded Erickson’s ability to explain the “incompatible applications of game theory in the military and evolutionary realm.” Notably, Erickson was selected for the Young Scholars award by unanimous vote of the prize committee.

Erickson's award.

Erickson's award.

Game theory, which models strategic interactions between rational individuals, was developed in the 1920s and `30s by the Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann and the Austrian economist Oskar Morgenstern. The theory’s original inspiration was parlor games like chess and poker, but in the wake of World War II, military-funded mathematicians found applications of the theory to problems of tactical decision-making and logistics. Subsequently, game theory has become a central modeling technique throughout the social and biological sciences, from economics and psychology to evolutionary biology, according to Erickson.

“Game theory is also a theory of how human beings should behave rationally, perhaps; how they do behave; how they might behave and so forth,” Erickson says.

”My work can be read on two levels. On one hand, it tells the history of game theory as a branch of mathematics. On the other, it presents a history of rationality in 20th century America by focusing on links between game theory and broader currents in American culture and politics,” he says.

Erickson explored the ways in which rationality became a seriously contested concept in the nation during the Cold War—especially from a political and cultural standpoint.

Erickson completed his PhD in the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and has been at Wesleyan University since summer, 2008. He specializes in the science of the Atomic Age, the history of ecology, biology and technology, game theory’s wider applications in science and social science, the study of populations and science in public policy, among other research specialties and interests.

Photos from the Union Congress are available here.

Stem Cell Research Topic of Recent Screening

From left, Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society and Professor of Biology stands with Jessica Gerstle,  the filmmaker of The Accidental Advocate, and Laura Stark, assistant professor of science and society and assistant professor of sociology.  Stark arranged for the film about one family's personal journey with stem cell research and politics to be screened in the Powell Family Cinema on Oct. 7.

From left, Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society and Professor of Biology stands with Jessica Gerstle, the filmmaker of The Accidental Advocate, and Laura Stark, assistant professor of science and society and assistant professor of sociology. Stark arranged for the film about one family's personal journey with stem cell research and politics to be screened in the Powell Family Cinema on Oct. 7.

Grabel, at right, speaks to Gerstle during a reception that followed the screening. (Photos by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Grabel, at right, speaks to Gerstle during a reception that followed the screening. (Photos by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Stem Cell Documentary Screening and Discussion – Wed. Oct. 7

Laura Stark, assistant professor of sociology and Science in Society, is screening a new documentary on stem cell research policy, called “The Accidental Advocate”. All members of the Wesleyan community are welcome to view the film, which explores one person’s desire to learn more about the complex—and highly politicized—world of stem cell research.

“The filmmaker and her father (a paralyzed former physician who is the protagonist in the documentary) are scheduled to discuss the film, as well,” Stark says.

The screening begins at 5 p.m. in Film Studies 190 (Powell Family Cinema) on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Please note that the screening will be followed by a catered reception and discussion with Jessica Gerstle, the filmmaker, and her father, Dr. Claude Gerstle (the film’s protagonist). The discussion will cover health advocacy, documentary filmmaking, and the politics of stem cell research.

Laura Stark was featured in a recent profile in The Wesleyan Connection.

Laura Stark: New Sociology and Science in Society Assistant Professor

Laura Stark, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, is new to Wesleyan this fall semester.

Laura Stark, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of sociology, is teaching The Sociology of Medicine and Regulating Health, both part of the Science in Society Program.

Laura Stark has joined the Department of Sociology and the Program in Science in Society as assistant professor.

Her research focuses on the social history and sociology of medicine, research ethics, human subject research, Institutional Review Boards (IRBs), and group/committee decision-making in healthcare.

Stark graduated from Cornell University in 1998 with a bachelor’s in communication. She went on to obtain a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University, ending in 2006. She was awarded the biannual prize for best dissertation from the History of Science Society’s Forum for the History of the Human Sciences for her work titled “Morality in Science: How Research is Evaluated in the Age of Human Subjects Regulation.”

Stark was a postdoctoral fellow in Northwestern University’s Department of Sociology and Program in Science in Human Culture Program. She been working