Mike Sembos

Mike is a writer and musician from New Haven who is happy to be a part of the Wesleyan communications team. He plays in several bands, travels to faraway lands whenever possible and plays a mean game of Scrabble.

Korda Published in Common Law, Medieval Studies Publications

Natasha Korda, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, faculty fellow and professor of English, authored “Coverture and Its Discontents: Legal Fictions On and Off the Early Modern English Stage” published in Married Women and the Law in England and the Common Law World published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2013.

She also is the author of “The Sign of the Last: Gender, Material Culture and Artisanal Nostalgia in Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday” included in the special issue on “Medieval and Early Modern Artisan Culture” published in The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies in 2013.

History and Theory Journal Gains Popularity in Sweden

History and Theory.

History and Theory.

The National Library of Sweden has announced that the Wesleyan-published (in affiliation with Wiley-Blackwell Publishing) History and Theory: Studies in the Philosophy of History is its 10th most popular foreign e-journal.

History and Theory publishes articles, review essays and summaries of books in the areas of critical philosophy of history, speculative philosophy of history, historiography, history of historiography, historical methodology, critical theory, time and culture, and history and related disciplines. The electronic form to all who subscribe to the print edition.

The editors include Ethan Kleinberg, Julia Perkins, Philip Pomper and Gary Shaw.

Anderson ’71 Publishes Book of Poetry

Clifton B. “Kip” Anderson ’71

Clifton B. “Kip” Anderson ’71

Clifton B. “Kip” Anderson ’71 has written a full-length poetry book, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, published by White Violet Press in 2013. Anderson was a gardener with the PBS show “The Victory Garden” for over 20 years and only began writing poetry in 2003, at the age of 54. He e-published an e-chapbook, A Walk in the Dark, with The New Formalist Press in 2007. This new work is the first poetry collection he’s published using ink and paper.

Anderson’s poems are strongly influenced by the world of fertility and natural growth, but they are not simply an ode to nature — they’re an examination into the more difficult issues and questions that arise in life. His style draws from New Formalism, a movement exemplified by metrical and rhymed verses that evoke classic forms of poetry. The New Formalism movement, generally speaking, is a response to the anything-goes aesthetic that governs (or doesn’t govern) much modern poetry.

Anderson was a music major at Wesleyan. On the back cover of the book, his future plans are said to include “a severe reduction of his poetic output and a concomitant increase in his noetic input.”

Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder

Book by Clifton B. “Kip” Anderson ’71

 

 

From Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder:

 

Repast

Where woods and hayfield meet
beyond the fenced-in yard:
Our picnic ground, replete
with bone, chipped stone and shard.
Some ancient village dwelt
on this recycled place
Where recently we knelt
and said our table grace.

Dance Department Opens New Headquarters, Hosts Gala

Cheryl Cutler MA '71, founder of the Dance Department, served as department chair for 32 years. She spoke about the department's history and changes as part of the Dance Department's grand opening gala Feb. 28. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Cheryl Cutler MA ’71, founder of the Dance Department, served as department chair for 32 years. She spoke about the department’s history and changes as part of the Dance Department’s grand opening gala Feb. 28. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

The Dance Department now has a studio/office space of its own, having opened new digs in a converted church at 160 Cross Street Feb. 28 with a grand opening gala. Artist-in-residence, African dancer/drummer Iddi Saaka gave the inaugural performance at an intimate reception attended by dance majors and some early alumni from the program (which first took shape in the late ’60s and early ’70s as an extension of the Theater Department).

The newly renovated Dance Department building — constructed in 1978, was once home to the AME Zion Church.

The newly renovated Dance Department building, constructed in 1978, was once home to the AME Zion Church.

“We finally have our own space, our own building, our own entity,” said Hari Krishnan, assistant professor of dance. “Statistically, more than 40 percent of students at Wesleyan have taken a dance class during their time at Wesleyan. This has been the case for over 10 years and the figure is consistent across all three divisions. Now we can build on that. We can make it an integral part of life at Wesleyan. This building reaffirms that for us.”

The newly renovated building — constructed in 1978, once home to the AME Zion Church, and most recently, an archeology laboratory — will yield many benefits for the Wes dance community. Until now, faculty and students have been sharing offices and spaces in tight quarters, based inside the Center for the Arts. The Theater Department has taken over the former space. Now each faculty and resident has an office to him or herself and there’s adequate space to increase enrollment and continue expanding and evolving the program. Scheduling independence will allow for more performances and less hassle in the planning stages, Krishnan said.

Poliner ’97 Completes First Feature Film

Dan Poliner '97.

Dan Poliner ’97.

Dan Poliner ’97 released his debut feature-length film “Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” in October 2013 at the Austin Film Festival. It’s about four friends living in NYC — two rich and two poor — during their final week of summer before leaving for college. It’s a wacky comedy, a romantic comedy and an examination of the differing paths presented to those who have money, and those who don’t.

Much of the music in the film was provided by the band Peace Museum, which Casey Feldman ’12 formed on campus.

Jack, Jules, Esther & Me.

Jack, Jules, Esther & Me.

“I believe all the music was recorded while they were at Wesleyan,” Poliner said.

Poliner was a history, government and theater major, and he grew up just down the road in Durham, Conn. After graduation, he attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he received his MFA in Dramatic Writing.

His previous short films include “Right Foot, Left Foot,” “The Bar Mitzvah Club,” “The Campaign” and “The Year of Sublets.”

In a recent interview with “The Daily Quirk,” he offered some advice to aspiring filmmakers.

“Be prolific,” he said. “Be willing to fail often. The more quickly you work the more quickly you’re able to turn it around. Whatever crew you have, whatever actors you have access to, the easier it will be for you to learn.”

Watch “Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” right now on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes, as well as streaming through cable companies including Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Cable (just search for it on your provider to see if they carry it).

Donfried ’94 to Lead the German Marshall Fund

Karen Donfried '94

Karen Donfried ’94

Karen Donfried ’94 will become the president of the German Marshall Fund in April, a role for which she was unanimously elected. She’s currently a special assistant to President Obama and senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council at the White House. She advises the president on European matters and leads the development and implementation process of his European policies.

“I am very pleased that Karen is returning to GMF to take on its leadership,” said current GMF president Craig Kennedy, in a press release. Kennedy is retiring after 19 years at the helm. “I am very confident that this wonderful institution will thrive under her guidance.”

At Wesleyan, Donfried was a government and German studies major. She went on to earn her Ph.D. and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Magister from the University of Munich, Germany.

She received the Cross of the Order of Merit from the German Government in 2011, became an officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium in 2010, and received a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State in 2005.
 She’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Council on Germany.

Donfried’s first stint with the GMF began in 2001 after having served for 10 years as a European specialist at the Congressional Research Service. She then returned from 2005 to 2010, first as senior director of policy programs and then as executive vice president.

Welch ’14 Encourages the State of Maryland to Rescind Forgotten Slavery Amendment

During an internship last summer, Shannon Welch '14 discovered that the State of Maryland never rescinded the 13th amendment.  Welch brought the oversight to the attention of the current Maryland State Legislature.

During an internship last summer, Shannon Welch ’14 discovered that the State of Maryland never rescinded the 13th amendment. Welch brought the oversight to the attention of the current Maryland State Legislature. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Last summer, history and government major Shannon Welch ’14 was an intern at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. She was paging documents at the Center for Legislative Archives when she stumbled across a little known and disturbing proposed constitutional amendment on the books in her home state of Maryland.

“I came upon this 13th amendment that was making slavery institutionalized for the rest of time,” she said. “The federal government could never touch it. Then I found a document that Maryland had ratified it, and I was shocked. They let me keep researching, and I found out that Maryland had never rescinded this amendment, while other states had.”

The amendment had been ratified by the state’s general assembly on Jan. 10, 1862, not long after the start of the Civil War when the union was in a state of disarray. When the final version of the 13th amendment abolishing slavery was enacted in 1865, many had forgotten or were unaware of the obsolete, so-called “shadow” version, which stated:

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

Shannon Welch is writing a senior thesis on Native American conversions by Jesuit priests and puritan missionaries in Maine in the late 1600s.

Shannon Welch is writing a senior thesis on Native American conversions by Jesuit priests and puritan missionaries in Maine in the late 1600s.

“You had two countries with two separate congresses pretending like they’re representing

Media, Art, Graffiti, Technology Intersect in New Zilkha Gallery Exhibit

Artist Evan Roth's work occupies the irregular zone at the intersection of free culture with popular culture, where viral media meets art, and graffiti connects with technology. From Feb. 5-March 2, Roth's "Intellectual Property Donor," is on display in the Center for the Art's Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c², curatorsquared, co-curated the exhibit.

Artist Evan Roth’s work occupies the irregular zone at the intersection of free culture with popular culture, where viral media meets art, and graffiti connects with technology. From Feb. 5-March 2, Roth’s “Intellectual Property Donor,” is on display in the Center for the Art’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox of c², curatorsquared, co-curated the exhibit.

The images, objects and experiences in the exhibition Intellectual Property Donor suggest a new way to exist within the current environment shaped by our participation in an increasingly cyber and global world, yet grounded in our need for materiality and personal connections. Pictured is Compilation, 2014, a single channel video.

The images, objects and experiences in the exhibition Intellectual Property Donor suggest a new way to exist within the current environment shaped by our participation in an increasingly cyber and global world, yet grounded in our need for materiality and personal connections. Pictured is Compilation, 2014, a single channel video.

Rosenthal Shares his Pete Seeger Expertise with the Press

Sam Rosenthal, Rob Rosenthal & Pete Seeger.

Sam Rosenthal, Rob Rosenthal & Pete Seeger.

Wesleyan Provost, Vice President of Academic Affairs and John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology Rob Rosenthal got to know Pete Seeger rather well while interviewing and spending time with him for two books he authored: Playing for Change: Music and Musicians in the Service of Social Movements and Pete Seeger: In His Own Words. The latter is a large collection of letters, drafts, poetry, notes and such that had been stored en masse in Seeger’s barn. Seeger allowed Rosenthal and his son Sam to sift through and publish selections — over the course of a year — provided he didn’t try to make him look like “a saint.”

Seeger passed away on Jan. 24 at the age of 94, and since then Rosenthal has been a popular source of knowledge on the folk icon. He’s recently been interviewed or mentioned in The New Yorker, The Nation and Huffington Post, to name a few. He also appeared on WNPR’s Where We Live program.

In The New Yorker, Rosenthal said:  “[Pete Seeger] was never pessimistic. He always thought that humans would get it together. When you look at the grand movements of the 20th century, he was involved in them all (the women’s movement most peripherally). We may think now, ‘Wow, we’re so messed up.’ But he travelled through the South in the 30s, he saw the Hudson cleaned up—a huge, huge thing. He was realistic about how difficult all this was.”

Pete Seeger: In His Own Words was published in 2012 by Paradigm Publishers.

 

Crane ’93 Writes Book About AIDS Research in Africa

Johanna Tayloe Crane '93

Johanna Tayloe Crane ’93

Johanna Tayloe Crane ’93 is the author of a new study, Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science (Cornell University Press) which documents how and why Africa became a major hub of American HIV and AIDS research in recent years after having formerly been excluded from its benefits due to poverty and instability.

Book by Johanna Tayloe Crane '93

Book by Johanna Tayloe Crane ’93

“American AIDS researchers became interested in working in Africa for two major reasons—one humanitarian, and one having more to do with scientific/professional motivations,” Crane said. “Once effective HIV treatment was discovered in the mid-1990s and the American epidemic began to come under control, many U.S. researchers became interested in using the knowledge they had gained fighting HIV in the United States to fight HIV in the part of the world that was hardest hit. That’s the humanitarian piece.

“In addition, once international programs finally began to fund free HIV treatment in Africa in the early 2000s, researchers were drawn there by the scientific opportunity to study huge numbers of patients about to receive their first antiretroviral treatment ever. This large number of ‘treatment naïve’ patients did not exist in the United States because people had been getting experimental treatment since the 1980s, and so working in Africa became very appealing. It’s this second factor that the book is more focused on, as well as the inherent tension between scientific ambition and humanitarian concern.”

Crane is an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences of the University of Washington-Bothell. Though her interest in AIDS/HIV research and its impact in Africa has Wesleyan roots, you wouldn’t guess it by looking at her undergraduate transcript.

“I was an English major at Wesleyan, largely because I thought I wanted to be a writer,” she said. “It took me some time to figure out that fiction writing wasn’t really for me, but that I did love telling stories about the ‘real world.’ This is partly what led me to study anthropology, and to write ethnography (which we often call ‘thick description’). So I think l learned a great deal about writing at Wesleyan that fed into my effort to write what I hope is an engaging, accessible ethnography of the politics of global HIV research.”

During her undergrad years, Crane tried and failed to enroll in the then-popular Wesleyan course “AIDS and its Discourses.” Instead, she studied critical theory and postcolonial theory. Those lenses on to power and inequality influenced her path to studying global health inequalities.

“I first started working in the field of AIDS research post-Wes, in the late 1990s, studying HIV among homeless folks in San Francisco,” she said. “I started working in Uganda in 2003.”

Book by Williams ’60 Studies History and Forensic Analysis

Robert C. Williams '60

Robert C. Williams ’60

In his new book, The Forensic Historian: Using Science to Reexamine the Past (M. E. Sharpe), Robert Williams ’60 demonstrates how seemingly cold cases from history have been solved or had new light shed on them by scientists and historians using new forensic evidence. He provides examples ranging in time from Oetzi the Iceman—who died 5,300 years ago in the Swiss Alps from an arrow wound, yet is known to have had brown eyes Lyme disease, type-O blood, an intolerance to lactose, cavities, and tattoos—to the process of identifying Osama Bin Laden’s body in 2011.

Book by Robert C. Williams '60

Book by Robert C. Williams ’60

“Since World War II, forensic pathology and anthropology have slowly given way to genetics and DNA ‘fingerprinting,’ along with computer hardware and software, as scientific evidence that can stand up in court,” Williams comments in his introduction. “This book highlights that transition through specific case studies showing how modern forensic historians and scientists do their work and what kinds of evidence they must obtain.”

Samples of Beethoven’s hair and bones were found to have abnormally high levels of lead, suggesting he may have died from lead poisoning. The Shroud of Turin was carbon-dated back to the 14th century, not the 1st. The Titanic was found to have been assembled using low-quality rivets that almost certainly played a part in its sinking in 1912. These high-profile cases continue to hold the public’s fascination, and Williams provides a concise synopsis of the methods used to reach conclusions for each. Be forewarned, however, that what you hear in the news relating to cases like these will not always convey the hard science correctly.

“The media cannot wait patiently until forensic historians and scientists finish their plodding work,” writes Williams. “Thus the media often rush to create a virtual reality that encourages forensic historians to publicize their findings prematurely, often without peer review.”

Williams retired in the spring of 2003 as Vail Professor of History at Davidson College, where he served for 13 years as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. He is the author of the best-selling Historian’s Toolbox and of numerous articles and books on Russian history, including Ruling Russian Eurasia: Khans, Clans, and Tsars; Russian Art and American Money, 1900–1940 (nominated by Harvard University Press for the Pulitzer Prize); Klaus Fuchs: Atom Spy; and Russia Imagined: Art, Culture, and National Identity, 1840–1995.

 

Penney ’87 Promoted to Chief Strategy Officer at Starz

John Penney '87

John Penney ’87

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has named John Penney ’87 Chief Strategy Officer at Starz, the integrated global media and entertainment company. Penney will work closely with the CEO to extend the company’s corporate and business growth strategies via partnerships, ventures and innovative models for new business opportunities.

“His deep insight into the global media and entertainment ecosystem is uniquely valued,” said Albrecht, in a press release. “He has set a high bar in providing our management team with keen industry analysis that has been invaluable to our decision making, and we look forward to John’s continued contributions to helping grow our businesses.”

Penney was a social psychology major at Wesleyan who went on to earn his MPA in public policy & administration from Columbia. He’s worked as a financial analyst in the Media & Telecommunications Corporate Finance group of the Chase Manhattan Bank, as an equity research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Inc. covering the media and entertainment industries, at Scient, Inc., Viacom, ACTV, HBO, IMG and Forsee Entertainment, which he cofounded with Albrecht.

He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter and works in Beverly Hills.