Lauren Rubenstein

Director of Media & Public Relations at Wesleyan University

Curran’s Op-Ed on Novelist Denis Diderot Published in NYT

The New York Times on Jan. 25 published an op-ed by Andrew Curran, dean of the arts and humanities and professor of romance languages and literature, on the legacy of Enlightenment era philosopher and novelist Denis Diderot. Curran writes of Diderot: “His message was of intellectual emancipation from received authorities — be they religious, political or societal — and always in the interest of the common good. More so than the deists Voltaire and Rousseau, Diderot embodied the most progressive wing of Enlightenment thought, a position that stemmed from his belief that skepticism in all matters was ‘the first step toward truth.’ He was, in fact, the precise type of secular Enlightenment thinker that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have attempted to write out of their high school curriculum.”

Basinger Reviews Hollywood Sketchbook in Wall Street Journal

On Jan. 11, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, reviewed a new book, Hollywood Sketchbook, by Deborah Nadoolman Landis in The Wall Street Journal. Landis, a costume designer herself, “defines the difference between the designer’s costuming goal and the role of the sketch artist. Costume sketches were never intended to be fashion drawings: Kinetic, emotional and drawn for a specific personality or character, they were about much more than clothes,” writes Basinger.

The book contains commentaries and reproduced sketches for 61 designers, including such famous names as Adrian (known for The Wizard of Oz, Camille, and Marie Antoinette, among others), Travis Banton (Blonde Venus) and Walter Plunkett (Gone with the Wind). In her review, Basinger notes flaws in the book, such as incomplete filmographies for each designer and missing identifying information on sketches, yet concludes, “… given the beautiful reproduction, on elegant paper, of so many original sketches impossible to find anywhere else, it is hard to complain. Who wouldn’t want to sip a coffee contemplating Travilla’s design for the hot pink dress, with a large bow across the rear, so famously worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?”

Long Writes, Speaks on the Impact of Class Time on Children’s Learning

Daniel Long

Daniel Long

The Hartford Courant on Dec. 7 published an op-ed by Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long about a new pilot program in Connecticut and four other states to increase time that children spend in school. Long responded skeptically to the program, writing that past experiments with increased learning time have shown mixed results, and are an expensive, unproven way to improve student learning. At a time when Connecticut school districts face increasingly tight budgets, the state should focus on reform efforts backed by research, Long writes.

On Dec. 20, Long also participated in a discussion on the impact of increased class time on learning outcomes on WNPR’s Where We Live.

Seamon Appointed Associate Editor of Journal Memory

Professor of Psychology John Seamon has been appointed to a three-year term as associate editor of Memory, an international journal published by Taylor and Francis and focusing on empirical research on all aspects of human memory. As associate editor, Seamon will be responsible for handling approximately a dozen submitted manuscripts each year,  soliciting outside reviews and making recommendations regarding publication in the journal.

According to the journal’s website, Memory publishes academic papers in all areas of memory research, including experimental studies of memory, as well as developmental, educational, neuropsychological, clinical and social research on memory.

Bonin Chairs Panels, Discusses Papers at Economic Association Meeting

John Bonin

John Bonin, the Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science, participated in the annual American Economic Association meetings in San Diego, Calif. from Jan. 3-6. He chaired two panel sessions and was a discussant for papers in two different sessions. Three generations of Wesleyan economists were present in the first morning session of the meetings: Bonin was the chair and Assistant Professor of Economics Melanie Khamis presented a joint paper with her student Romaine Campbell ’13 on informal employment in Jamaican firms. Campbell has completed his course work and is finishing his honors thesis to fulfill the requirements for his B.A. in economics.

Also in January, Bonin participated in the Mid-Year Fellows Workshop at Rutgers University. Bonin is a faculty mentor in the J. Robert Beyster Fellowship Program administered by the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. At the workshop, Bonin discussed a paper by a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin on authority structures and innovation with lessons drawn from the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain. Bonin is returning to an area of research to which he made contributions for a decade and a half spanning the 1980s.

President Roth’s Book Reviews Published in Washington Post, L.A. Times

Michael Roth

Two book reviews by President Michael Roth recently were published in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

For the Post on Dec. 28Roth reviewed Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, a “graceful and informative” study of hallucinations caused by “neurological misfirings that can be traced to disease, drugs or various changes in neurochemistry.” Drawing upon descriptions of hallucinations experienced with Parkinsonian disorders, epilepsy, migraines, and narcolepsy, “Sacks explores the surprising ways in which our brains call up simulated realities that are almost indistinguishable from normal perceptions,” Roth writes. He adds: “As is usually the case with the good doctor Sacks, we are prescribed no overarching theory or even a central argument to unite his various observations. Instead, we are the beneficiaries of his keen observational sense, deep clinical practice and wide-ranging reading in the history of neurology. This doctor cares deeply about his patients’ experiences—about their lives, not just their diseases. Through his accounts we can imagine what it is like to find that our perceptions don’t hook on to reality—that our brains are constructing a world  that nobody else can see, hear or touch.”

In the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 28Roth reviewed Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars by Camille Paglia. The book, which contains brief discussions of 29 works of visual art, seeks to help readers “find focus” amid the “torrential stream of flickering images.” Roth writes: “Paglia’s goal is straightforward: By offering images of great artworks and helping us to give them sustained attention, she hopes that readers will ‘relearn how to see’ with sustained pleasure and insight. Protesting against the intense animosity toward the arts she sees in American popular culture, Paglia wants her readers to recognize the deep feeling, craft and originality that went into the works she has chosen.”

Rutland’s Op-Ed on Mali Conflict Published in 2 News Publications

In an op-ed published Jan. 15 in The New York Times/ International Herald TribunePeter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Cambell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government and professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, contradicts the popular narrative that the current conflict in Mali is caused by militant Islam. Rather, he writes, “the core of the conflict is the nationalist secession movement of the Tuareg people — one that in recent months has been hijacked by Islamist radicals.”

Rutland reminds readers: “In the Cold War, the West had a hard time separating out communism from nationalism. That failure led to a string of disastrous interventions, from Cuba to Vietnam. It was easier to see leaders such as Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh as tools of Moscow than try to deal with their legitimate nationalist demands.” He argues, “The same mistake is now being made in the ‘war on terror.’”

Rudensky Speaks on Photographer Diane Arbus on Faith Middleton Show

Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky recently was a guest on WNPR’s “Faith Middleton Show,” where she discussed the work of the late photographer Diane Arbus. Though Arbus is remembered for choosing “freaks” as her subjects, Rudensky says of that term: ”I certainly don’t think it does justice to the great variety of subjects that she was interested in. I think, more than anything, she was deeply interested in people, and they happen to be very different kinds of people… Undoubtedly, she was more focused on those people that were largely unseen in society. But at the same time, I think she was as interested in people that were very privileged.”

Listen to Rudensky (starting around minute 36) here.

Grossman’s Fiscal Cliff Op-Ed Published in Hartford Courant

Richard Grossman

Professor of Economics Richard Grossman had an op-ed in The Hartford Courant on Jan. 5 about negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” in Washington. He writes that though reasonable people may disagree over what top marginal tax rate is ideal for the economy, the stubborn resistance of Congressional Republicans to any tax increases is the product of ideology, not reason. Looking back over history, he writes, the “abdication of sound economic reasoning in favor of ideology” has resulted in numerous policy mistakes with long-lasting economic impacts.

As an historical example, Grossman cites Britain’s decision to return to the gold standard following World War I out of nostalgia for a former all-powerful empire. This decision was made “despite structural changes that rendered the gold standard inappropriate in the postwar world,” and helped usher in the Great Depression, he writes.

Rodriguez Mosquera Co-Authors Article on Muslim’s Emotions after 9/11 Anniversary

Assistant Professor of Psychology Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, together with Tasmiha Khan ’12 and post-doc Arielle Selya, recently published an article in Cognition & Emotion titled, “Coping with the 10th anniversary of 9/11: Muslim Americans’ sadness, fear, and anger.’

A decade after the events of Sept. 11, 2001—which prompted an increase in prejudice, discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment toward Muslim Americans—the researchers examined the emotions of Muslim Americans in the days preceding the 10-year anniversary. They found that the anniversary precipitated intense concerns with loss and discrimination, and feelings of fear, anger and,  most intensely, sadness. They also measured three coping responses—rumination, avoidance of public places, and religious coping—and found that participants engaged in all three, but especially sought solace in religion.  The researchers write: “…rumination and avoidance were psychologically as well as socially harmful for the participants. Yet, participants also tried to seek solace in their religion, with religious coping being the most frequent coping response. Religious coping involved engaging in solitary practices, like reading religious texts, or more socially oriented practices, like seeking guidance from a religious authority. Because of these communal practices, religious coping probably acted as a form of social support for the participants.”

In addition, the researchers found that specific emotions explained the different coping responses. That is, sadness accounted for the association between concern with loss and rumination; fear explained the association between concern with discrimination and avoidance; and anger accounted for the association between concern with discrimination and religious coping. This study’s examination of the mediating role of sadness, fear and anger in the relationship between psychological concerns and diverse coping responses is novel, and has important implications for future research on stigma.

The article can be read online here.

Hornstein Published in Economic, Finance Journals

Assistant Professor of Economics Abigail Hornstein recently has had two academic papers published. In September 2012, her paper, “Usage of an estimated coefficient as a dependent variable,” co-authored with William Greene of New York University’s Stern School of Business, was published in the journal Economics Letters. The paper demonstrated the efficiency gains of a particular set of empirical estimation techniques. It is available online here.
In addition, Hornstein’s solo-authored paper, titled, “Corporate capital budgeting and CEO turnover,” was published in December 2012 in the Journal of Corporate Finance. In this paper, she demonstrated the considerable cross-sectional and inter-temporal variation in the quality of a firm’s corporate capital budgeting decisions, and how this is systematically affected by the nature of CEO turnover. It can be read here. Hornstein presented this paper at the Eastern Finance Association annual meeting in Boston in April, at a seminar at Clark University in October, and at the Financial Management Association annual meeting in Atlanta in October. Saumya Chatrath ’13 worked as a research assistant on this project in the summer of 2011 under the auspices of the Quantitative Analysis Center’s summer program.

Diderot, an American Exemplar? Bien Sur!

The New York Times published an op-ed by Andrew Curran, dean of the arts and humanities, professor of romance languages and literatures, on the legacy of Enlightenment era philosopher and novelist Denis Diderot. Curran writes of Diderot: “His message was of intellectual emancipation from received authorities — be they religious, political or societal — and always in the interest of the common good. More so than the deists Voltaire and Rousseau, Diderot embodied the most progressive wing of Enlightenment thought, a position that stemmed from his belief that skepticism in all matters was ‘the first step toward truth.’ He was, in fact, the precise type of secular Enlightenment thinker that some members of the Texas State Board of Education have attempted to write out of their high school curriculum.”