Olivia Drake

Wesleyan in the News

NewsSeveral Wesleyan faculty and alumni have been featured in national media outlets recently. They include:

NBC News—Biden Picks Jessica Rosenworcel [’93] as Acting FCC Chief

NBC Think—Trump’s ‘1776 Commission’ Tried to Rewrite U.S. History. Biden Had Other Ideas.; by Robyn Autry

Inside Higher Ed—Everything Won’t Be Different; by Michael Roth ’78

NPR’s Short Wave—Let’s Go Back to Venus!; features Martha Gilmore

MyRecordJournal.com—WRESTLING: Paint It, Black! Wesleyan Coach Drew Black of Cheshire Tabbed for National Hall of Fame

The New York Times Magazine—Poem: Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop; poem by John Murillo (PDF attached)

Thrive Global—What We Learned From Teaching a “Living a Good Life” Course During the Pandemic; by Steven Horst, Stephen Angle, and Tushar Irani

The Washington Post—Germany Looks Ahead to Life Without Merkel. But the Leadership Race is Leaving Voters Cold.; quotes Sarah Wiliarty

Forbes—Meet Joe Biden’s Science Team; Narda Jones ’91 will serve as Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy legislative affairs director

EXBulletin—Starting From the First Take, She’s Leading New Developments for ESPN Podcasts in 2021; Kimberley Martin ’03

The Bitter SouthernerMarion Brown’s [MA ’76] Musical Portrait of Georgia

Patch—America’s Coach Declares Distance Running is About to Boom; features Jeff Galloway ’67

The Atlantic—What the Chaos in Hospitals is Doing to Doctors; features Joseph Fins ’82, MD

The Wall Street Journal—Covid is Reshaping Death. And Maybe Life.; by Katy Butler ’71

Washingtonian—Meet Our 2020 Washingtonians of the Year; includes Alan Miller ’76

The Middletown Press—Have You Heard ‘Little Dark Age’ on TikTok? Did You Know the Band Behind It Has Ties to Connecticut?; features MGMT (Ben Goldwasser ’05 and Andrew VanWyngarden ’05)

Nominate Faculty for 2021 Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Each year, three faculty members are presented the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching during the Commencement Ceremony. The Binswanger Prize recognizes outstanding faculty members as exemplified by a commitment to the classroom, student accomplishment, intellectual demands placed on students, lucidity, and passion.

Juniors, seniors, graduate students, and GOLD alumni (Graduates Of The Last Decade) are eligible to nominate up to three professors who had the most enduring impact on students’ Wesleyan experience.

An invitation to nominate will be sent on Jan. 30 by Vanessa Guida ’04, chair of the Binswanger Committee. For questions, contact Gina Driscoll (gdriscoll@wesleyan.edu), associate director, alumni and parent relations.

View past Binswanger recipients online here.

Murillo’s Poetry Longlisted for PEN/Voelcker, Believer Book Awards

Murillo

John Murillo

A poetry collection authored by John Murillo, assistant professor of English, is longlisted for both the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection and the Believer Book Awards.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020) explores the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation. The collection includes a sonnet triggered by the shooting deaths of three Brooklyn men that becomes an extended reflection on the history of racial injustice.

The PEN/Voelcker Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, is awarded to a poet whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence. Rae Armantrout’s Conjure and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s The Age of Phillis, which are both published by Wesleyan University Press, also are longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry (read more). Winners will be announced in February.

The Believer Book Awards honor works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that are the best written and most underappreciated. The shortlists and winners will be announced online in the spring.

Murillo also is the author of Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher, 2010; Four Way Books, 2020), which was a finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award (2011) and the PEN Open Book Award (2011). His honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. Most recently, Variation on a Theme by Elizabeth Bishop appeared in the Jan. 14 edition of New York Times Magazine.

At Wesleyan, Murillo also is director of creative writing and assistant professor, African American studies. This spring, he’s teaching ENGL 337A: Advanced Poetry Workshop, Radical Revision.

Alumni, Parents Explore “Living a Good Life” in Mini-Course

Horst good life

Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, lectured on “Means and Desires” Jan. 14 during the three-part mini-course on Living a Good Life. The series, which is ongoing until Feb. 1, is open to all alumni, parents, and friends of the University.

desire mapping

Horst speaks on desire-mapping.

“What is the good life?”
“What should I value?”
“What should I believe?”

These are the questions that more than 760 alumni, parents, and friends of the University are exploring this winter as part of a three-part mini-course titled Living a Good Life.

Taught by Wesleyan Professors Steven Horst, Stephen Angle, and Tushar Irani, the course gives attendees the chance to participate in activities during each one-hour virtual webinar. Attendance is encouraged for all three classes, but not required.

The mini-series is based on Wesleyan’s Living a Good Life undergraduate course, piloted during the Fall 2020 semester.

good lifeThe course is part of the University’s new Window into Wesleyan virtual event series created by the Office of Advancement’s Alumni and Parent Relations Office.

On Jan. 14, Steven Horst, professor of philosophy, lectured on “Means and Desires.”

On Jan. 21, from 7 to 8 p.m., Stephen Angle, professor of philosophy and Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, will speak on Daoism.

And on Feb. 1, from noon to 1 p.m., Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, will lead a session on Stoicism.

All three of these lectures will be recorded and shared with registrants when available. Register for the mini-series online here.

“We’re so excited by the interest from alumni and parents in this opportunity,” said Dana Coffin, associate director of alumni and parent relations. “I think it goes to show that the larger community has such an interest in maintaining a lifelong connection to Wes and appreciates the opportunities to engage with our incredible faculty.”

For more information, see:

Wesleyan Offers 2 New Coursera Courses Focused on Creating Social Change

This month, Wesleyan is launching two new MOOCs (massive open online courses) on the Coursera platform. Enrollment for both classes is free of charge.

Take Action: From Protest to Policy launches on Jan. 17 and is taught by Mary Alice Haddad, John E. Andrus Professor of Government, and Sarah Ryan, attorney and associate professor of the practice in oral communication. Jeffrey Goetz, associate director, Center for Pedagogical Innovation, also assisted with creating the course.

3 Alumni Authors Published in Ploughshares

Ploughshares

Works by Steve Almond, Fay Dillof, and Christina Pugh are published in the Winter 2020–21 issue of Plougshares.

Works by three Wesleyan alumni are published in the Winter 2020–21 issue of Ploughshares. Founded in 1971 and published at Emerson College, Ploughshares is an award-winning journal featuring the freshest voices in contemporary American literature.

The issue includes: “The Man at the Top of the Stairs, On Rendering the Inner Life” by Steve Almond ’88; “Private Practice” by Fay Dillof ’87; and “Reading for the Plot” by Christina Pugh ’88.

Almond, an English major, is also the Kim-Frank Visiting Writer at Wesleyan this spring. He’s the author of 11 books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America (Workman Publishing, 2004) and Against Football: One Man’s Reluctant Manifesto (Melville House Books, 2014). His stories and essays have appeared in Best American Short Stories, the New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. His most recent book is William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life (Ig Publishing, 2019).

This spring, Almond is teaching Writing Certificate Senior Seminar: Writing and Publishing at Wesleyan.

Work by Dillof, a university major, is published or forthcoming, in New Ohio Review, Green Mountains Review, FIELD, Barrow Street, Rattle, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She has been awarded the Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry and the Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry.

Pugh, who majored in English and French language and literature, has published five books of poems, including Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and Perception (Four Way Books, 2017), named one of the top poetry books of 2017 by Chicago Review of Books. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Yale Review, and other publications. A former Guggenheim fellow and visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, she teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Pugh’s Stardust Media was also featured in this April 2020 “You Just Have to Read This…” article by Sara McCrea ’21.

The Ploughshares Winter 2020–21 Issue, edited by Editor-in-chief Ladette Randolph and Poetry Editor John Skoyles, also features poetry and prose by Nick Arvin, Gina Ochsner, Sylvie Baumgartel, and Jennifer Givhan, as well as Kelli Russell Agodon, Justin Balog, Shauna Barbosa, J. Mae Barizo, Christopher Buckley, Michael Burkard, Nora Caplan-Bricker, Elaine Hsieh Chou, Emily Cinquemani, Katie Condon, Jackie Craven, Caroline Crew, Evgeniya Dame, Shangyang Fang, Corey Flintoff, Jessica Goodfellow, Matthew Henry, David Keplinger, Ted Kooser, Laurie Lamon, Michael Lavers, Kathleen Lee, Eugenia Leigh, Ruth Madievsky, Alexandra Marshall, Gary McDowell, Paul Muldoon, Janice Northerns, Suphil Lee Park, Madelin Parsley, Emily Pittinos, Jeremy Radin, David Roderick, Craig van Rooyen, Noah Warren, Mason Wray, He Xiang, and Jane Zwart.

From Global Pandemic to Anti-Racism: Wesleyan’s Year in Review

The year 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most memorable of the modern era. From the threat and real-life toll of a global pandemic to domestic clashes over social, racial, and political injustice, 2020 was full of challenges—and the Wesleyan community met each one head-on. We banded together to keep our students and staff safe and pushed each other to show our resilience, to step up and speak out, and to use our trademark creativity to adapt and lead the way in addressing our new socially distanced and politically charged reality.

In this timeline, we look back and explore some of the University’s accomplishments and happenings amid an evolving pandemic.

Jan. 21: The Jewett Center for Community Partnerships announces the grantees of the JCCP Student Innovation Fund. Students from a range of majors and backgrounds—all with shared interests in utilizing resources in innovative ways to positively impact the greater Middletown community—applied to this fund. Read the story.

Feb. 2: In response to the World Health Organization announcing an outbreak of a novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, Wesleyan’s Chinese community (particularly students and parents) bands together to help their fellow citizens. The student-initiated group WesInAction raises more than $23,000, which is used to purchase medical equipment for hospitals in the pandemic’s epicenter in Hubei province, China. Read the story.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

On Feb. 16, WesInAction delivered seven sets of oxygen concentrators and ventilators and 26,000 pairs of medical gloves to the First People’s Hospital of Xiaochang County and the People’s Hospital of Dawu County in Xiaogan, Hubei province.

Schatz Pens New Book on the Influence of the National War Labor Board

Book by Ron SchatzRonald Schatz, professor of history, is the author of The Labor Board Crew: Remaking Worker-Employer Relations from Pearl Harbor to the Reagan Era, published by the University of Illinois Press on Jan. 11, 2021.

According to the publisher:

Schatz tells the story of the team of young economists and lawyers recruited to the National War Labor Board to resolve union-management conflicts during the Second World War. The crew (including Clark Kerr, John Dunlop, Jean McKelvey, and Marvin Miller) exerted broad influence on the U.S. economy and society for the next 40 years. They handled thousands of grievances and strikes. They founded academic industrial relations programs. When the 1960s student movement erupted, universities appointed them as top administrators charged with quelling the conflicts. In the 1970s, they developed systems that advanced public sector unionization and revolutionized employment conditions in Major League Baseball.

Schatz argues that the Labor Board vets, who saw themselves as disinterested technocrats, were in truth utopian reformers aiming to transform the world. Beginning in the 1970s stagflation era, they faced unforeseen opposition, and the cooperative relationships they had fostered withered. Yet their protégé George Shultz used mediation techniques learned from his mentors to assist in the integration of Southern public schools, institute affirmative action in industry, and conduct Cold War negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Schatz’s research focuses on 20th century U.S. history and labor history. He investigates labor and management, conservatism, labor and religion, arbitration, and Connecticut history.

Students’ Essays on Infectious Disease Prevention, COVID-19 Published Nationwide

cohan

More than 25 students in Fred Cohan’s Global Change and Infectious Disease course have had op-eds published in media outlets nationwide. Cohan, professor of biology and Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment (pictured), assigns the op-ed writing as part of his course and offers students extra credit if they are able to get their work published.

As part of the BIO 173: Global Change and Infectious Disease course, Professor Fred Cohan assigns students to write an essay persuading others to prevent future and mitigate present infectious diseases. If students submit their essay to a news outlet—and it’s published—Cohan awards them with extra credit.

As a result of this assignment, more than 25 students have had their work published in newspapers across the United States. Many of these essays cite and applaud the University’s Keep Wes Safe campaign and its COVID-19 testing protocols.

Cohan, professor of biology and Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment (COE), began teaching the Global Change and Infectious Disease course in 2009, when the COE was established. “I wanted very much to contribute a course to what I saw as a real game-changer in Wesleyan’s interest in the environment. The course is about all the ways that human demands on the environment have brought us infectious diseases, over past millennia and in the present, and why our environmental disturbances will continue to bring us infections into the future.”

Over the years, Cohan learned that he can sustainably teach about 170 students every year without running out of interested students. This fall, he had 207. Although he didn’t change the overall structure of his course to accommodate COVID-19 topics, he did add material on the current pandemic to various sections of the course.

“I wouldn’t say that the population of the class increased tremendously as a result of COVID-19, but I think the enthusiasm of the students for the material has increased substantially,” he said.

To accommodate online learning, Cohan shaved off 15 minutes from his normal 80-minute lectures to allow for discussion sections, led by Cohan and teaching assistants. “While the lectures mostly dealt with biology, the discussions focused on how changes in behavior and policy can solve the infectious disease problems brought by human disturbance of the environment,” he said.

Based on student responses to an introspective exam question, Cohan learned that many students enjoyed a new hope that we could each contribute to fighting infectious disease. “They discovered that the solution to infectious disease is not entirely a waiting game for the right technologies to come along,” he said. “Many enjoyed learning about fighting infectious disease from a moral and social perspective. And especially, the students enjoyed learning about the ‘socialism of the microbe,’ how preventing and curing others’ infections will prevent others’ infections from becoming our own. The students enjoyed seeing how this idea can drive both domestic and international health policies.”

A sampling of the published student essays are below:

Alexander Giummo ’22 and Mike Dunderdale’s ’23 op-ed titled “A National Testing Proposal: Let’s Fight Back Against COVID-19” was published in the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.

They wrote: “With an expansive and increased testing plan for U.S. citizens, those who are COVID-positive could limit the number of contacts they have, and this would also help to enable more effective contact tracing. Testing could also allow for the return of some ‘normal’ events, such as small social gatherings, sports, and in-person class and work schedules.

“We propose a national testing strategy in line with the one that has kept Wesleyan students safe this year. The plan would require a strong push by the federal government to fund the initiative, but it is vital to successful containment of the virus.

“Twice a week, all people living in the U.S. should report to a local testing site staffed with professionals where the anterior nasal swab Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, used by Wesleyan and supported by the Broad Institute, would be implemented.”

Kalyani Mohan ’22 and Kalli Jackson ’22 penned an essay titled “Where Public Health Meets Politics: COVID-19 in the United States,” which was published in Wesleyan’s Arcadia Political Review.

They wrote: “While the U.S. would certainly benefit from a strengthened pandemic response team and structural changes to public health systems, that alone isn’t enough, as American society is immensely stratified, socially and culturally. The politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic shows that individualism, libertarianism and capitalism are deeply ingrained in American culture, to the extent that Americans often blind to the fact community welfare can be equivalent to personal welfare. Pandemics are multifaceted, and preventing them requires not just a cultural shift but an emotional one amongst the American people, one guided by empathy—towards other people, different communities and the planet. Politics should be a tool, not a weapon against its people.”

Sydnee Goyer ’21 and Marcel Thompson’s ’22 essay “This Flu Season Will Be Decisive in the Fight Against COVID-19” also was published in Arcadia Political Review.

“With winter approaching all around the Northern Hemisphere, people are preparing for what has already been named a “twindemic,” meaning the joint threat of the coronavirus and the seasonal flu,” they wrote. “While it is known that seasonal vaccinations reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 60% and also reduce the severity of the illness after the contamination, additional research has been conducted in order to know whether or not flu shots could reduce the risk of people getting COVID-19. In addition to the flu shot, it is essential that people remain vigilant in maintaining proper social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly, and continuing to wear masks in public spaces.”

Matesan’s New Book Explores Political Violence, Islamist Mobilization in Egypt and Indonesia

The Violence PendulumIoana Emy Matesan, assistant professor of government, is the author of The Violence Pendulum: Tactical Change in Islamist Groups in Egypt and Indonesia, published by Oxford University Press, September 2020.

The Violence Pendulum challenges the notion that democracy can reduce violence, or that there is anything exceptional about violent Islamist mobilization in the Middle East. It also addresses an ongoing puzzle in the study of political violence, and shows why repression can sometimes encourage violence, and other times discourage it. Matesan also investigates escalation and de-escalation in an inter-generational and cross-regional study of Islamist mobilization in Egypt and in Indonesia.

The Violence Pendulum is currently featured in Oxford University Press’s collection on Peace Studies.

Ellis Neyra Pens New Book on Latinx, Caribbean Poetics

Book by NeyraRen Ellis Neyra, associate professor of English, is the author of The Cry of the Senses: Listening to Latinx and Caribbean Poetics, published by Duke University Press, 2020.

Weaving together the Black radical tradition with Caribbean and Latinx performance, cinema, music, and literature, Ellis Neyra highlights the ways in which Latinx and Caribbean sonic practices challenge anti-Black, colonial, post-Enlightenment, and humanist epistemologies.