Assistant Professor of History Victoria Smolkin was recently a guest on BBC Radio 4’s “Beyond Belief” to discuss Soviet state atheism.
Smolkin said that Lenin’s conviction that banishing religion was necessary to create a revolutionary society was right ideologically, but wrong politically.
“If they wanted to stay in power, they needed to accommodate religion, and they understood that,” she said. “However, if they wanted to build a Communist society, ultimately religion had to go.”
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Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences, is the author of a new publication on musical anhedonia—the lack of pleasure from music. Together with others in her lab, Loui studied an individual with musical anhedonia and compared his brain against a group of controls. They found that his auditory cortex was differently connected to his reward system, a finding which gives further support for the role of brain connectivity in the musical experience.
The article, titled, “White Matter Correlates of Musical Anhedonia: Implications for Evolution of Music,” was published Sept. 25 in Frontiers in Psychology. It was coauthored by Sean Patterson, BA ’17, MA ’18; Tima Zeng ’17; and Emily Przysinka, former lab manager in Loui’s lab.
Joseph Knee, the Beach Professor of Chemistry and Dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, is the author of a new article published in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP). This “Perspectives” article, which was commissioned by the PCCP editorial board and editorial office, is a high-profile look at work by Knee and his collaborators that has been going on for nearly a decade. Perspectives articles are intended to present an authoritative state-of-the-art account of a particular research field.
The research by Knee and his collaborators, which is ongoing, uses experimental and computational methods to explore hydrogen bonding interactions, which are extremely important in the structure of water, various solutions, and in many key biochemical structures and processes.
Knee explains, “The most important aspect of our methodology is making careful experimental measurements of two single molecules forming hydrogen bonds and then modeling these bonds with modern quantum chemical calculations. The calculations allow us to decompose the various forces which contribute to the bond strength and structure. The larger goal is to generalizing this insight to more complex hydrogen bonded systems, particularly hydrogen bonding networks which exist in liquids and biological systems.”
The full article can be read here by those with subscriptions or institutional subscriptions, including those on Wesleyan’s campus.
Mary Alice Haddad
Amid the devastation wrought by recent storms, Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad calls in The Hartford Courant for people everywhere to be better prepared to respond to natural disasters.
When the next storm hits our area, she writes, “It will not be professional first-responders but rather our neighbors who will be the ones handing our child to safety, lifting our dog from his perch atop the garage or helping our grandmother stay warm. America needs to build up its civil society infrastructure. We are known for our volunteerism, our generosity and our big hearts. We now need to organize that volunteer spirit a bit more thoughtfully in ways that can respond well when disaster strikes.”
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President Michael S. Roth
In response to recent signals from the Trump administration that it plans to re-visit enforcement of Title IX on college campuses, President Michael S. Roth writes in The Washington Post to reaffirm Wesleyan’s commitment to support and protect the rights of survivors of sexual violence while also protecting the presumption of innocence and due process of the accused.
Roth writes: “At my university, we regularly review procedures to ensure that adjudication is supportive of those who come forward with reports of being attacked, and that the process is fair in assigning any responsibility to a particular individual. We will pay close attention to the reports filed with the Department of Education in the coming weeks, and we hope to learn from them.”
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Professor of English Typhanie Yanique writes in The New York Times on how the news media’s coverage and the U.S. government’s response to Hurricane Irma’s devastation in the U.S. Virgin Islands reflects a bigger failure of America to fully embrace and grant rights to the citizens who reside on the islands.
In an essay titled “Americans in a Battered Paradise,” Yanique explains that 2017 marks 100 years since the transfer of the Virgin Islands from Danish to American rule. Yet this major anniversary has been scarcely noted in the continental United States. Virgin Islanders were granted American citizenship a decade after this transfer, yet still cannot vote in U.S. general elections.
The news media made a big deal out of Hurricane Irma’s landfall on the Florida Keys, Yanique writes, “But in truth Irma had struck United States land days before as a disastrous Category 5 hurricane. That was when it hit the United States Virgin Islands, devastating my home island, St. Thomas.”
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In the near future, the Trump Administration must decide whether to approve or reject a new scientific report on climate change. Writing in The Conversation, Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, asserts, “If the Trump administration chooses to reject the pending national Climate Science Special Report, it would be more damaging than pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Full stop.”
Yohe backs up this bold claim by explaining why this report is so important and describing a crucial difference between the report and the Paris Climate Agreement. Namely, “the Paris accord focuses on reducing emissions, while the Climate Science Special Report is designed to help the U.S. better adapt to the effects of climate change even as it underscores the importance of cutting emissions.”
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Victoria Pitts-Taylor, left, was presented with the Merton Book Award by Mary Frank Fox of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a council member for the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association.
Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Victoria Pitts-Taylor, pictured at left, received the Robert K. Merton Award for her book, The Brain’s Body: Neuroscience and Corporeal Politics (Duke University Press, 2016). The award was presented at a meeting of the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association in Montreal, Canada on Aug. 14.
The Merton Award is given annually in recognition of an outstanding book on science, knowledge, and/or technology published during the preceding three years.
The Brain’s Body previously won the 2016 prize in Feminist Philosophy of Science given by the Women’s Caucus of the Philosophy of Science Association.
Pitts-Taylor also is professor of science in society, professor of sociology.
Writing in the Forward, Matt Renetzky ’18 and Talia Kaplan ’18 share their experience with the “vibrant Wesleyan Jewish Life” scene.
“Perhaps the most unique thing about our community is just how student-run it is. Jewish life evolves from year-to-year based on the desires and needs of the current student body,” write Kaplan, who is affiliated with the Wesleyan Jewish Community, and Renetzky, who is affiliated with Chabad. “If you’re looking for pluralism in Jewish background and practice, Wesleyan is for you.”
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In light of President Trump’s tweeted ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of English and American Studies, Emeritus, writes in The Conversation about the long history of integrating minorities into the U.S. military.
The armed forces have long “played a vital role in shaping American social policy toward the country’s minorities,” Slotkin writes. He recalls how “fear and resentment” of African-Americans and immigrants from Asia and Europe “generated a political backlash,” resulting in oppressive Jim Crow laws and an anti-immigrant movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Then, “The crisis produced by American entry into World War I brought these movements up short. Suddenly the nation had to raise an army of millions from scratch, with the utmost speed. There was no way to achieve that goal without enlisting large numbers of African-Americans and immigrants or “hyphenated Americans,” a derogatory term for immigrants first used at the turn of the century. It was in this crisis that American leaders rediscovered the ideals of civil equality that late 19th-century ethno-nationalism had called into question.”
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Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, is the author of an article, “Imagining Russia post-Putin” published by The Conversation. The article appeared in Raw Story, Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.
Rutland writes that Vladamir Putin is almost sure to win re-election as president of Russia in the March 2018 election. The Russian Constitution requires him to step down after two consecutive terms, a problem Putin solved in 2008 when he moved sideways to prime minister as his protege took over as president. Putin returned to the presidency in 2012.
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Tyshawn Sorey (Photo by John Rogers)
Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, assistant professor of music, is called a “preternaturally talented multi-instrumentalist who has built a career in the territory between standard definitions” in an extensive profile in The New York Times.
“In some circles, he’s thought of as a jazz drummer; in others, he fits in more as an avant-garde composer,” the article says of Sorey, who is about to release his sixth album, “Versimilitude.”
The article discusses Sorey’s background, from his modest upbringing in Newark—where his public schools offered little in the way of arts education and his father “helped foster his affinity for music”—to his study of jazz drumming at William Paterson University.
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