David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: dlow@wesleyan.edu

Miranda ’02 Appears on Season Premiere of House

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, left, on House. (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, left, on House. (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 was featured prominently on the two-hour season premiere of the highly popular medical series House, which aired on September 21, 2009 on Fox. On this episode, Dr. Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie, checks himself into the Mayfield Psychiatric Institute, to recover from a Vicodin addiction and other bad behavior. The well-written premiere introduces several intriguing new characters who viewers are likely to see again this television season.

Miranda plays Laurie’s roommate, Alvie, and becomes his co-conspirator at the hospital. Near the end of the show, Alvie and House perform a rap number together. Miranda is scheduled to appear in upcoming episodes of House.

Link to Wall Street Journal article about House:

Shepard ’97 Produces New Documentary About Vogue Editor

Anna Wintour, wearing sunglasses, in <em>The September Issue</em>. (Photo by Roadside Attractions)

Anna Wintour, wearing sunglasses, in The September Issue. (Photo by Roadside Attractions)

Sadia Shepard ’97 is one of the producers of the new documentary The September Issue, directed by R. J. Cutler, which opened in movie theaters on August 28 to positive reviews. The movie focuses on the world of Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, and her influence on the fashion industry. Wintour was also the inspiration for the novel and movie The Devil Wears Prada.

In his review of the film in Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman writes:  “… we observe the process by which Wintour and her vast army of editors, designers, photographers, models, and gofers labor, throughout the summer of 2007, to assemble Vogue’s massive September issue, a plush treasure chest of ads, photo spreads, and gilded dreams. It’s through Vogue that Wintour, more than any other figure, reigns over the decisions — of taste, aesthetics, economics — that shape the $300 billion-a-year fashion industry. The September issue is more than a magazine. It’s a major motion picture stuffed between glossy covers, with Wintour as its all-knowing, all-dictatorial producer.”

Link to Entertainment Weekly review: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20300268,00.html

Memoir by Kaylie Jones ’81 Deals with a Difficult Mother, Becoming a Writer

Kaylie Jones '81

Kaylie Jones '81 (photo by Scott Christian Anderson)

Novelist Kaylie Jones ’81 has written a new memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me (William Morrow, 2009) in which she explores her life growing up with her well-known father, who was also a writer (From Here to Eternity) and her mother, who as an alcoholic who could be cruel and unloving.

Jones also writes about her adulthood as she struggles to overcome her own drinking problem and to become a writer in the shadow of her father, and the difficulties of dealing with her mother as she declines physically and mentally.

Book by Kaylie Jones ’81.

Book by Kaylie Jones ’81.

In her review of the book in The New York Times, Janet Maslin writes: “… it’s a bright, fast-paced memoir with an inviting spirit. There is real immediacy to the family portraits … There is deep frustration: when Kaylie discovers that her mother has secretly resumed drinking after pretending to quit, she finds herself too weak to ‘do some anger work’ … at her therapist’s office. There’s also great daughterly love for James Jones, as his daughter sometimes insists on referring to him, and palpable pride in his achievements.”

Link to New York Times review:

Transformers Sequel Directed by Bay ’86 is a Huge International Hit


Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (Paramount Pictures)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen directed by Michael Bay ’86 with a screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman ’95, opened in late June to mixed reviews, but the film, a sequel to Transformers (2007), sold some $201.2 million in tickets at North American theaters over its first five days as the number one film at the box office.

In his review of the film in The New York Times, A. O. Scott wrote:
“Mr. Bay is an auteur. His signature adorns every image in his movies … and every single one is inscribed with a specific worldview and moral sensibility.”

In the latest film based on Hasbro toys, the young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is on his way to college but is compelled to join the Autobots robots in an intergalactic feud against their sworn enemies, the Decepticons.

The weekend of July 10-12, Transformers 2 remained very popular at the domestic box office, grossing $24.2 million from more than 4,200 screens for a total of $339.2 million in its third weekend. Overseas during the same weekend, the film continued to attract large audiences, grossing $32.5 million from 63 territories for a total of $364.5 million. The picture has done particularly well in Asia, and had a strong debut in India.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has made $703.7 million worldwide.

Art Work by Harrison ’89 at Bard College

Artwork by Rachel Harrison '89 is on display in New York City.

Large-scale installations by Rachel Harrison '89 are on exhibit at Bard College.

Now through Dec. 20, the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. presents Consider the Lobster, the first major survey of New York-based artist Rachel Harrison ’89. Named after an essay by the late David Foster Wallace, this exhibition encompasses more than 10 years of large-scale installations by Harrison, all of which will be reconfigured for the CCS Bard galleries, as well as a number of the autonomous sculptural and photographic works for which she is best known.

In addition to Rachel Harrison’s work in the CCS Bard Galleries, six artists, including Nayland Blake, Tom Burr, Harry Dodge, Alix Lambert, Allen Ruppersberg and Andrea Zittel, have collaborated with Harrison to re-install works from the Marieluise Hessel Collection.

In a recent review of the exhibition in The New York Times, Holland Cotter wrote: “Ms. Harrison … is often called a sculptor, which is accurate. But she is also, and simultaneously, a painter, photographer, video maker, collagist and installation artist. She has the databank brain of a historian, the magpie instincts of a collector and a curator’s exacting eye. Her work is figurative and abstract, casually piled on and highly deliberated, zany and chilly. ”

Consider the Lobster is a collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery in London, where the exhibition will be on view from April 27 through June 20, 2010.
For more information, visit http://www.bard.edu/ccs/ or call 845-758-7598.

Schafer ’85 Translates Mexican Poet David Huerta

Book by Mark Schafer '85.

Book by Mark Schafer '85.

Mark Schafer ’85 is the translator for Before Saying Any of the Great Words: Selected Poems of David Huerta (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), a bilingual anthology of one of Mexico’s foremost living poets, David Huerta. The collection contains translations of 84 of Huerta’s poems selected from 12 of his 19 collections along with the original Spanish-language poems. The book is a powerful antidote to recent news coverage of Mexico that depicts the country as often violent and drug-ridden.

Huerta has been a central figure in two of the most influential poetic movements in late-20th-century Latin America—the neobaroque movement and that of postmodern language poetry. His imagery, intertextuality, and dense lyricism remain unparalleled in Mexican letters. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Xavier Villaurrutia Prize for his lifelong contributions to Mexican literature.

A graduate of Wesleyan’s College of Letters, Schafer has worked as a literary translator for 25 years. His career started with his senior year thesis, which he expanded and later published.

He edited and translated Before Saying Any of the Great Words with the support of a NEA translation fellowship. He also has received a variety of honors for his translations including grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Fund for Culture Mexico-USA, an NEA translation fellowship, and the Robert Fitzgerald Translations Prize. Translations in the Huerta anthology previously appeared in more than 15 literary journals, including American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, BOMB Magazine, Massachusetts Review, Salamander, and Review: Latin American Literature and Arts.

Rau ’05 Directs Comedy at Two Summer Play Festivals in NYC

Michael Rau ’05 is the director of the play Evanston: A Rare Comedy by Michael Yates Crowley at the Undergroundzero Festival at P.S. 122 (150 First Ave.) July 14–17 and at the Summer Sublet Series at HERE! Arts Center 145 Sixth Ave., between Spring and Broome Streets, enter on Dominick Street) Aug.  3–5 in New York City.

Presented by Wolf 359, Evanston: A Rare Comedy begins with the disappearance of a teenage girl in deepest suburbia and ends when a meeting of The Evanston Women’s Book Club goes horribly awry. In between, a transgender student dreams of death, a housewife dreams of Mexico, an economics professor has an affair with a Whole Foods check-out clerk, and the financial crisis rages on. The latest show from the Wolf 359 team is inspired by the words of Psalm 137 and the streets of Evanston, Ill.

Wolf 359, founded in 2007 by playwright Crowley and director Rau, is dedicated to radical new theater. Its last show, The Ted Haggard Monologues, was a New York Magazine Critic’s Pick and was filmed by HBO and presented in Germany as part of a festival of new American plays. Crowley and Rau are currently artists-in-residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City, where their adaptation of Gilgamesh, titled Rag Fur Blood Bone, was performed in March 2009.

Performances of Evanston: A Rare Comedy at P.S. 122:
July 14, 15, 16 at 9:30 p.m.
July 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Call 212-352-3101 or visit http://www.ps122.org

Performances at HERE! Arts Center:
August 3, 4, 5 at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: Call 212-352-3101 or visit www.here.org

Hinton ’85 Co-Edits Book on Genocide

book by Alexander Laban Hinton ’85.

Book edited by Alexander Laban Hinton ’85.

Alexander Laban Hinton ’85 and Kevin Lewis O’Neill have co-edited Genocide: Truth, Memory, and Representation (Duke University Press), a book of essays in which leading anthropologists consider questions about the relationship of genocide, truth, memory and representation in the Balkans, East Timor, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan and other locales.

These specialists draw on ethnographic research to provide analyses of communities in the wake of mass brutality. They examine how mass violence is described or remembered, and how those representations are altered by the attempts of others, from NGOs to governments, to assert “the truth” about outbreaks of violence.

One contributor questions the neutrality of an international group monitoring violence in Sudan. Another investigates the consequences of how events, victims, and perpetrators are portrayed by the Rwandan government during the annual commemoration of that country’s 1994 genocide. Other writers consider issues of political identity and legitimacy, coping, the media, and ethnic cleansing.

Contributors include Pamela Ballinger, Jennie E. Burnet, Conerly Casey, Elizabeth Drexler, Leslie Dwyer, Alexander Laban Hinton, Sharon E. Hutchinson, Uli Linke, Kevin Lewis O’Neill, Antonius C. G. M. Robben, Debra Rodman, and Victoria Sanford.

Hinton is director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights and associate professor of anthropology and global affairs at Rutgers University, Newark. He also is the author of Why Did They Kill? Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide and editor of Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide.

Shankar ’94 Studies Young South Asian Americans in Silicon Valley

Book by Shalini Shankar '94.

Book by Shalini Shankar '94.

In her ethnographic account, Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class, and Success in Silicon Valley (Duke University Press), Shalini Shankar ’94 focuses on South Asian American teenagers (“Desis”) during the Silicon Valley dot-com boom.

The diverse students whose stories are told are Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, from South Asia and other locations, including first- to fourth-generation immigrants whose parents’ careers vary from assembly-line workers to engineers and CEOs.

Shankar analyzes how Desi teens’ conceptions and realizations of success are influenced by community values, cultural practices, language use, and material culture, and she provides a compassionate portrait of a vibrant culture in a changing urban environment.

Whether she is considering instant messaging, arranged marriages, or the pressures of the model minority myth, the author keeps the teens’ voices, perspectives and stories front and center. She looks at how Desi teens interact with dialogue and songs from Bollywood films as well as how they use their heritage language in ways that inform local meanings of ethnicity while they also connect to a broader South Asian diasporic consciousness.

Shankar is assistant professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at Northwestern University.

Yoon ’02 Creates Imaginary South Korean Island

Paul Yoon '02

Paul Yoon '02

Paul Yoon ’02 makes his literary debut with a short story collection, Once the Shore (Sarabande Books), about residents of an imaginary island somewhere off the coast of South Korea. In his eight stories, Yoon introduces characters who live over a span of half a century, several of them working in modern tourism jobs or more traditional fields of fishing, farming, and diving. Yoon often writes about individuals who have suffered great losses in their lives. His imaginary world was inspired by a handful of sources he happened to read, and he did little research for the book.

In the celebrated title story, a horrific accident at sea becomes the catalyst for an unlikely friendship between an American widow and a young waiter at a coastal resort.

This lyrical work was included in The Best American Short Stories 2006. Another story, “And We Will Be Here,” in which a troubled woman takes care of an unconscious soldier, was included this year in the Pen/O. Henry Prize Stories collection.

In her review of the collection in The New York Times, Joan Silber writes that “the beauty of these stories is precisely in their reserve: they are mild and stark at the same time. … Most of the collection’s characters move through events with a resignation or forbearance rare in contemporary fiction. Once the Shore is the work of a large and quiet talent.”

Book by Paul Yoon '02.

Book by Paul Yoon '02.

Link to New York Times short interview with Paul Yoon: http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/stray-questions-for-paul-yoon/

Study by Hill ’91 Explores the History of U.S. Radical Politics

Book by Rebecca Hill '91.

Book by Rebecca Hill '91.

Rebecca N. Hill ’91 is the author of Men, Mobs, and Law: Anti Lynching and Labor Defense in U.S. Radical History (Duke University Press) in which she compares two seemingly unrelated types of leftist protest campaigns: those intended to defend labor organizers from prosecution and those seeking to memorialize lynching victims and stop the practice of lynching. Her incisive new study suggests that these forms of protest are related and have considerably influenced one another. She recognizes that both campaigns worked to build alliances through appeals to public opinion in the media, by defining the American state as a force of terror, and by creating a heroic identity for their movements.

Hill focuses on the narratives produced during the abolitionist John Brown’s trials and execution, analyzes the defense of the Chicago anarchists of the Haymarket affair, and compares Ida B. Wells’s and the NAACP’s anti-lynching campaigns to the Industrial Workers of the World’s early 20th-century defense campaigns. She also examines conflicts within the campaign to defend Sacco and Vanzetti, chronicles the history of the Communist Party’s International Labor Defense, and explores the Black Panther Party’s defense of George Jackson.

Hill is an associate professor in the department of social science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York.

Angels and Demons, with Screenplay by Goldsman ’83, Opens at Number One at the Box Office

Angels and Demons is number one at the box office.

Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer in Angels and Demons (Photo by Zade Rosenthal/Sony Pictures)

Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman ’83 (with David Koepp) co-wrote the screenplay of Angels and Demons, directed by Ron Howard, which was number one at the box office at $48 million during its first weekend.

The film opened nationwide at at 3,527 theaters on Friday, May 15. Based on the novel by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons is a prequel to the best-selling thriller The Da Vinci Code which follows the adventures of Harvard University symbologist and theology sleuth Robert Langdon.

The movie version of The Da Vinci Code, which also had a screenplay by Goldsman, was a hugely popular film internationally, opening worldwide in its first weekend at $232.1 million. Both Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code feature Tom Hanks as Robert Landon with Ron Howard as a director.