Frederic Wills '19

French Students Offer a Glimpse of Wesleyan’s History

Students from Wesleyan’s French 325 class Museums, Objects and Empire, recently presented a pop-up exhibition on the history that surrounds Wesleyan’s former museum that once occupied Judd Hall from 1871 to 1957.

Students from Wesleyan’s French 325 class Museums, Objects and Empire, recently presented an exhibit on the history that surrounds Wesleyan’s former museum that once occupied Judd Hall from 1871 to 1957. Included was information on the Wesleyan’s missionary past; history on Javanese gamelan and ethnomusicology at Wesleyan; and a mummy, acquired by Wesleyan in the 1880s.

Sultan Delivers Talks on New Approaches to Evolution

Sonia Sultan

Sonia Sultan

Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, presented the keynote address at the 2017 Diebold Symposium, held at Kalamazoo College, April 27-29. Her talk was titled “Plant Environmental Response: A Weedy Answer to 3 Big Questions.” In the keynote talk, Sultan presented findings from her Wesleyan research group and discussed their implications for heredity and evolution.

In mid-May, Sultan will join an invited group of 16 biologists and philosophers at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna, Austria, for discussions of causality in evolutionary biology. The workshop is part of an international consortium of researchers and philosophers funded by the J.H. Templeton Foundation to develop an expanded conceptual framework for evolution. Following the workshop, Sultan will spend several days at the University of Lund in Sweden, as a seminar speaker and guest scientist.

Wesleyan Celebrates Completion of Science Theses with Poster Session

Wesleyan’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division recently hosted a Celebration of Science Theses, a poster session featuring the work of Honors and MA students in the NSM fields. Organized by Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior; and Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy, the event took place in Exley Science Center on April 21, where students from a wide range of disciplines proudly presented their work, marking the culmination of their thesis.

Wesleyan’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division recently hosted a Celebration of Science Theses, a poster session featuring the work of Honors and MA students in the NSM fields. Organized by Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior; and Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy, the event took place in Exley Science Center on April 21, where students from a wide range of disciplines proudly presented their work, marking the culmination of their thesis.

Irani Analyzes Differences in Good and Bad Rhetoric

Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, recently published an essay titled “What is good rhetoric?” for Aeon, a digital magazine for culture and ideas. Related to his current book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy, the essay calls on the public to consider the civic good that rhetoric serves in democratic politics, and the effect it may have on our ability to engage in independent thought.

The essay discusses the difference between good and bad political rhetoric. By drawing on Plato’s understanding of persuasive speech, Irani draws a distinction between flattering rhetoric and “self-moving” rhetoric. The problem with conventional rhetoric, according to this view, is not with persuasive speech itself or the fact that people use it. It is with the ability of a persuasive speaker “to subvert or short-circuit an audience’s power of independent thought.” Good rhetoric, while it is still persuasive, invites the listener to think independently about what the speaker is saying, creating an opportunity to “have our desire to understand enlisted.” Irani refers to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as an example of this type of rhetoric.

Aeon is a unique digital magazine, publishing some of the most profound and provocative thinking on the web. Irani’s essay can be read online.

Shapiro Brings to Life Victor Séjour’s Classics

Norman Shapiro, Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, continues his work as a translator of traditional French literature with his newly published books, The Fortune-Teller (La Tireuse de cartes) and The Jew of Seville (Diégarias). Both originally written by Victor Séjour, the plays highlight the complexities surrounding those who were ‘black and free in the Antebellum South, exposing “in subtle and veiled ways how the conflict of race and class existed in nineteenth century Louisiana.”

The Jew of Seville follows the story of a Jewish man masquerading as a Christian and the lengths he goes to get revenge after his identity as a Jew is revealed leading to the unraveling of his, as well as his daughter’s well-established lives. The Fortune Teller is based on the real events of the Mortara incident. In Séjour’s rendition, an infant girl is taken from her Jewish home. Fast forward 17 years and readers follow the story of her wealthy mother disguised as a poor fortune teller in search of her lost daughter.

Both of Shapiro’s new works, as well as past translations can be found and purchased here.

Audio Guide by Rowland ’11 Featured In 2017 Whitney Biennial

Cameron Rowland, Public Money, 2017. Institutional investment in Social Impact Bond. Courtesy the artist and ESSEX STREET, New York (detail). Photograph Bill Orcutt

Cameron Rowland, Public Money, 2017.

Every two years, the Whitney Museum of American Art showcases some of the most talented young artists from around the country in an exhibition filled with purpose and passion. This year, the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 78th installment of the longest-running survey of American art, features work by Wesleyan alumnus Cameron Rowland ’11. View the project online here.

“Arriving at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics, the exhibition allows the artists to challenge us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community,” according to the Whitney. “The Biennial features 63 individuals and collectives whose work takes a wide variety of forms, from painting and installation to activism and video-game design.”

In line with this year’s theme, Rowland’s work involved having the Whitney Museum agree to invest $25,000 in a Social Impact Bond, or a “Pay for Success” contract that arranges for the government to support social-service organizations. On display is the document of their compliance. A framed printout of a wire transfer functions as the physical manifestation of his work.

Rowland also was mentioned in an article published online by W Magazine, which highlighted the other 20-something artists making great strides in the art community.

The exhibit is open now and runs through June 11.

‘Walking Elephants Home,’ Named Winner Of The 2017 EOCA Grant

Becca Winkler ’16 and her team at Mahouts Elephant Foundation (MEF), previously nominated and named a finalist in the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) grant for their project “Walking Elephants Home,” have been named the winners of the 2017 EOCA grant.

Though there is much work to do in order to fulfill the requirements of the grant, this grant will play a major role in allowing the team to support not only the elephants and mahouts, but also the surrounding forest and the communities in which they are working.

The previous story on Winkler and her project can be found here.

Play by Jenkins Commemorates 350th Anniversary of Treaty of Breda

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, is collaborating with a team of Indonesian artists on the creation of a new play: “Islands: The Treaty that changed the World.” It will include original gamelan music by Wesleyan Artist-in-Residence I.M. Harjito and original choral music by John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce.

The cast will Wesleyan students from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and China who will be joined by Indonesian guest artists Novirela Minangsari, Dinny Aletheiani and Nyoman Catra. The play commemorates the 350th anniversary of the 1667 Treaty of Breda in which the Dutch ceded control of Manhattan to the English in exchange for the Spice Island of Rhu, now part of Indonesia’s Banda Archipelago.

The play will premiere in the Center for the Arts Theater on April 21 at 8 p.m. and continue there on Saturday April 22 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Sunday April 23 Jenkins and the team will perform at 4 p.m. at the Indonesian Consulate in New York on 5 E. 68th Street. They’ll also perform the play with some Wesleyan students and a cast of 40 Indonesian children at the Mandara Mahalango festival in Bali. “We use music, dance, puppetry,oral history, and documentary texts to bring the treaty and its legacy to life,” Jenkins said.

The Jakarta Post quotes Jenkins as saying “that the treaty was so valuable for history as it changed the life of the people on both Run Island and New York. It is the reason the people of Manhattan speak English, not Dutch. The show’s goal is to make the people of Manhattan learn that their history is really connected with Indonesia.”

More information on the play and its creation can be found here and from an interview Jenkins did for Indonesian Television.

Latif ’97 Showcases Work in 2017 Culturemart Festival

Abdul Latif ’77

Abdul Latif ’77

Wesleyan alumnus Abdul Latif ’97 served as the choreographer for The Black History Museum According to the United States of America, which opened the weekend of March 24.

Done in collaboration with HERE Arts Center’s Culturemart Festival 2017, the show examined “a number of struggles pertinent to the people of color community and the “modern millennial identity in response to incarceration and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”

Latif, along with the rest of the production team, attempts to explore and explain the relationship between black Americans and the criminal justice system drawing from sentiments expressed after the fatal shootings of Black Americans. The experience and the occurrence of a second full house success humbled Latif, especially following the recent accomplishment of his other recent work, Bronx Museum, which opened this past January.

Since graduating from Wesleyan with a College of Social Studies and dance major, Latif has gone on to open his own performing arts center, Abdul Latif–D2D/T, where he now serves as the producing artistic director.

Wesleyan Named Finalist In NACE Technology Excellence Award

careersbydesign_album-webWesleyan has been nominated and named as a finalist for the Technology Excellence Award presented by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Awards are presented to universities and employers for “excellence in the use of technology and/or various social media outlets.” Wesleyan earned this distinction for the Gordon Career Center’s premier podcast series, Careers By Design, which highlights the careers of some of Wesleyan’s most successful alumni.

Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of the Gordon Career Center and Rachel Munafo, assistant director of the Gordon Career Center, will present on the podcast series and represent Wesleyan at the NACE Professional Achievement Showcase in Las Vegas in June.

Speaking from a variety of different disciplines, the alumni featured in Careers By Design interviews offer advice on how they made the most of their Wesleyan education. Listeners have the opportunity to learn from a long list of various industry experts including Thomas Kail ’99, known for his work on the award winning musicals In The Heights and Hamilton; Pete Ganbarg ’88, the executive vice president and head of A&R for Atlantic Records; and Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz ’88, a public figure involved with women’s empowerment and public education, and an expert in women’s and integrative health.

More on the Careers By Design program, as well as the remaining alumni interviews, can be found online.

Weber ’13 Named ‘Emerging Green Leader’ by Grist Magazine

weber-evan

Evan Weber ’13

Each year, as part of the series “Grist50,” the acclaimed environmental publication Grist honors 50 of the world’s most impactful innovators who are working to solve humanity’s biggest challenges with fresh, forward-thinking solutions. This year, Wesleyan alumnus Evan Weber ’13, co-founder and executive director of U.S. Climate Plan, has been recognized as an “emerging green leader.”

Connecting this year’s 50 green leaders is the theme “The Fixer.” Described by Grist magazine as, “bold problem solvers working toward a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck,” the list includes entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists and activists.

Not only do Weber and his team push for climate legislation on the national level and organize campaigns to support climate justice, but he also supports young activists by building partnerships between grassroots organizations, teaching statewide strategy plans, and advising college students. “It is how you build a generational front against climate change in Weber’s eyes,” according to Grist.

More on Weber, as well as the full list of environmental innovators and their work can be found on Grist’s website.