Olivia Drake

Kleinberg’s Book Argues for a Deconstructive Approach to the Practice, Writing of History

Ethan Kleinberg, director of the Center for the Humanities, is the author of Haunting History: For a Deconstructive Approach to the Past, published by Stanford University Press in August 2017.

“Haunting History is about the ways we think about the past and ‘do’ history at a moment when the digital revolution is changing how we conduct research, store materials, and even write,” Kleinberg said. “In it I argue that many of strategies for writing about, but also understanding the past, are conditioned by the analog practices of the previous century which has served to create the illusion that the past can be studied like an object held in your hand or placed under a microscope.”

The past — by definition — is gone and thus has no definite properties or perhaps we can say that is has latent properties that are activated when we do history, Kleinberg explained. “But this activation of the past is always partial leaving remains that are hidden or dormant. This is a past that is absent but haunts us and can return in ways that disturb our conventional historical narratives and understanding of what the past and history is.”

To account for this play of absence and presence, Kleinberg advocate for a “hauntological” approach to the past.

Wesleyan, Local Community Watch Historic Eclipse at Van Vleck Observatory

Vacek Miglus, lab technician for the Physics Department, watches the eclipse with a homemade viewing tool.

Vacek Miglus, lab technician for the Physics Department, watches the eclipse of the sun with a homemade viewing tool.

Wesleyan’s Department of Astronomy hosted a public eclipse viewing on Aug. 21, outside the Van Vleck Observatory. Hundreds of Wesleyan and local community members attended this historic event. Although Middletown wasn’t in the narrow path of totality, viewers still were able to witness about 65 percent of the sun disappear.

In addition to telescopes and eclipse glasses for safely viewing the Sun, participants were encouraged to tour the Department of Astronomy’s historical exhibition and see images from the 1925 solar eclipse that passed directly over Wesleyan. A live streaming feed of the eclipse also was shown in a classroom.

Sawhney Authors E-Book on Race, Police Brutality

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, is the author of a recent work of fiction titled The Diary of Rehan Malhotra, published as an e-book by Juggernaut Books (2017).

In this timely story, Rehan, the son of a Muslim mother and Hindu father, is a middle-aged high school teacher in New Haven, Conn., who struggles with his growing estrangement from his wife and the affluent, white community in which he lives. A charged encounter with a neighbor causes him to look back on his troubled teenage years, when he used and sold drugs, and when he forged a problematic friendship with a young black man named Ink. The Diary of Rehan Malhotra casts a spotlight on the invisible walls that divide city from suburb, which keep some people safe and others confined. It is a meditation on the possibilities and limitations of literature as a cure for social ills.

The story costs 10 rupees, or 15 cents, and is being published as a part of Juggernaut’s efforts to get inexpensive, quality literature to as diverse a readership as possible.

Sawhney is also the author of South Haven and the editor of Delhi Noir. He also collaborated with Amy Bloom ’75 on New Haven Noir, Hirsh has lived in Delhi, London and New York City.

Sawhney’s Novel Named to South Asian Literature Prize Longlist

A novel written by Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, was named to the longlist for the 2017 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. The DSC Prize, which carries an award of $25,000, celebrates the rich and varied world of literature of the South Asian region.

In Sawhney’s South Haven (Akashic Books, 2016), grief, violence and history collide to offer a radical look at childhood and migration in suburban New England. South Haven is one of 13 books on the list. The shortlist will be announced on Sept. 27 in London.

The prize brings South Asian writing to a new global audience through a celebration of the achievements of South Asian writers, and aims to raise awareness of South Asian culture around the world.

In addition, Sawhney’s novel was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Award, which recognizes South Asian writing. The winner for 2017 will be announced in November.

Sawhney has lived in Delhi, India; London, U.K. and New York City. He currently lives in New Haven, Conn.

First Indian Motorcycle Prototypes Built on Wesleyan’s Campus

Did you know that the birthplace of the Indian Motorcycle prototype is on Wesleyan’s property? In 1901, at the site of the former Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company, (now a grassy area abutting Wesleyan’s High Rise and Low Rise Apartments, and Traverse Square Apartments) journeyman Carl Oscar Hedstrom designed and built a prototype for a gas-engine-powered motorized bicycle that would be used to pace bicycle races.

In 1901, at the site of the former Worcester Cycle Manufacturing Company (a bicycle factory and now a grassy courtyard area abutting Wesleyan’s High Rise and Low Rise Apartments), journeyman Carl Oscar Hedström designed and built a gasoline engine powered motorized bicycle. This area would later be known as the historic birthplace of the Indian Motocycle (now Indian Motorcycle) prototype.

Plasma Bubble, Stem Cell Images Win Scientific Imaging Contest

This summer, Wesleyan hosted the second annual Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest, which recognizes student-submitted images from experiments or simulations done with a Wesleyan faculty member that are scientifically intriguing as well as aesthetically pleasing. This year, 33 images were submitted from six departments.

The entries were judged based on the quality of the image and the explanation of the underlying science.  The images were judged by a panel of four faculty members: Steven Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; Ruth Johnson, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of integrative sciences; Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, assistant professor of integrative sciences; and Candice Etson, assistant professor of physics.

The first-place winner received a $200 prize; the second-place winner received $100; and the third-place winner received $50. Prizes were funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

The three winning images are shown below, along with scientific descriptions, written by the students.

Yonathan Gomez '18 won first place with his image, "Jumping" Drop. The drop is an expanding partially-ionized plasma created underwater by a pulsed Nd:YAG laser, which pushes upwards on the surface of the water. As the plasma bubble expands, it disrupts the surface from below, which launches a water drop upward. The water drop shown has a diameter of approximately 2mm. The image was taken at 1/2,000 frames per second.

Yonathan Gomez ’18 won first place with his image, “Jumping” Drop. The drop is an expanding partially-ionized plasma created underwater by a pulsed Nd:YAG laser, which pushes upwards on the surface of the water. As the plasma bubble expands, it disrupts the surface from below, which launches a water drop upward. The water drop shown has a diameter of approximately 2mm. The image was taken at 1/2,000 of a second.

Research Paper by Personick, King Published in ‘Particle’ Journal

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, and her graduate student Melissa King, are co-authors of a paper titled “Bimetallic Nanoparticles with Exotic Facet Structures via Iodide-Assisted Reduction of Palladium,” published in the journal Particle and Particle Systems Characterization, Vol. 34, Issue 5, in May 2017. The research was featured on the inside front cover of the issue.

In this study, Personick and King explain how gold–palladium tetradecapods (14-pointed nanoparticles) with an unusual combination of both well-defined concave and convex facets can be synthesized by introducing dilute concentrations of iodide during nanoparticle growth. Iodide directs the formation of the tetradecapods by increasing the rate of palladium ion reduction, which is a new role for this shape-controlling additive.

This article also was recently highlighted in Advanced Science News.

Winslow Remembered for Establishing World Music Program

Richard Winslow '40 received a Doctor of Letters at the 2010 Commencement. President Roth announced the establishment of the Richard K. Winslow chair in music, made possible by a generous gift from the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Richard Winslow ’40 received a Doctor of Letters at the 2010 commencement. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Richard Winslow, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, died July 24, 2017 at the age of 99. A service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 at the Antrim Baptist Church, 85 Main St. in Antrim, N.H. All are welcome.

Winslow received his BA in English from Wesleyan with the Class of 1940, and his BS and MS from the Julliard School. He joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1949 and taught music here for 34 years until he retired in 1983. During this time, he advocated for and oversaw the establishment of Wesleyan’s renowned program in world music and had a profound influence on the lives of many students and colleagues.

His friend and colleague, Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus, said “Without Winslow, Wesleyan would never have had the visionary music department of such ambition, scope, and radicalism that it continues to enjoy. He was a kind of radical Yankee in the spirit of Thoreau and Ives. Dick was a figure from an old Wesleyan who ensured that music would have permanent prominence in a small liberal arts college, affecting the world of music in countries, institutions, and concert halls around the globe as the ‘energy’ (his favorite word) of the place radiated outward.”

Mukerji, Oliver Co-Author Study in PNAS on Basic Cell Function

In this illustration, SecA is shown in light gray and the SecYEG complex is in dark gray. The rainbow colored portion of SecA is the two helix finger. n cyan is a model of the hairpin.

In this illustration, the hairpin is highlighted in cyan. The hairpin is formed by the initiator part of a protein.

All cells — bacterial or human — secrete up to 10 or 20 percent of the proteins that they make. Human secreted proteins, for example, include components of serum, hormones, growth factors that promote cell development during embryogenesis and tissue remodeling, and proteins that provide the basis for immune cell signaling during infection or when fighting cancer.

The secretion process, however, isn’t an easy feat for cells, as they need to move the proteins across a membrane through a channel. Transport requires the formation of a hairpin, formed by an initiator protein.

In a recent study, Don Oliver, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Ishita Mukerji, the Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, explain the importance of where and why hairpins form and how they help proteins move across the cell.

The study, titled “Alignment of the protein substrate hairpin along the SecA two-helix finger primes protein transport in Escherichia coli,” brings together key areas of membrane biochemistry, structural biology and molecular biophysics, and has innovative applications of molecular genetics and fluorescence spectroscopy. It was published in the Aug. 7 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Alumnae Collaborate on Play that Debuts Aug. 10 in NYC

Five alumnae and one student are collaborating on a play that will debut Aug. 10-13 in New York City.

Resistance, written by May Treuhaft-Ali ’17 and directed by Maia Nelles-Sager ’17, is about Libby, a 15-year-old girl from Queens struggling with her weight. Everyone in her life from her mother to her “specialist” is trying to help her lose weight, but none of them seem to understand the underlying issue. When her favorite spin teacher is fired, Libby discovers that violent revenge fantasies makes her feel better. But every time she has a violent revenge fantasy, she gains 16 pounds.

“Resistance touches on themes such as weight-loss culture, female relationships, and gentrification. The cast is entirely female-identifying, as is the production team,” said Nelles-Sager, a film and theater double major.

Nelles-Sager and Treuhaft-Ali are assisted by set designer Nola Werlinich ’17; properties designer and assistant set designer Jess Cummings ’17; graphic designer Caitlin Chan ’17; and sound designer Hope Fourie ’19. At Wesleyan, Nelles-Sager directed four shows with Second Stage and wrote a playwriting thesis; Treuhaft-Ali completed a directing thesis with the Theater Department.

Resistance will be performed at the Wild Project, a theater, film, music, and visual arts venue in New York’s East Village. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Aug. 10-12 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 12-13. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Angle Awarded NEH Grant to Fund Innovative Philosophy Teaching Institute

Stephen Angle

Stephen Angle

On Aug. 2, Stephen Angle, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of philosophy, together with colleagues at Notre Dame and Fordham, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support a two-week NEH Summer Institute for college and university faculty focusing on the idea of teaching “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” Twenty-five faculty from around the country will be invited.

The award—worth $137,045—is part of the NEH’s recent $39.3 million in grants for 245 humanities projects across the country.

The “Reviving Philosophy as a Way of Life: A NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers” will be held at Wesleyan July 9-20, 2018.

Personick Awarded Grant from American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund

Michelle Personick joined the faculty this fall, and is teaching courses in Chemistry of Materials and Nanomaterials and an Integrated Chemistry Lab. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

During the fall 2017 semester, Michelle Personick will teach Nanomaterials Lab and a chemistry symposia.

Michelle Personick, assistant professor of chemistry, received a two-year doctoral new investigator grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF) to synthesize and test new metal nanomaterials designed to make industrial chemical processes more energy efficient. Her study, titled “Tailored Bimetallic Catalysts with Highly Stepped Facets for Selective and Energy-Efficient Epoxidation and Hydrogenation Reactions,” will be supported for two years with a $110,000 award.

“Global energy consumption is steadily increasing, and the chemical industry is the second largest consumer of delivered energy,” Personick said. “The chemical industry is unique in that it uses energy resources, such as petroleum and natural gas, both as fuels to heat reactors and as starting precursors or ‘feedstocks’ for the production of chemicals and materials.”

As demand for products of the chemical industry—such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, and specialty chemicals—increases, the consumption of energy in this sector increases dramatically. Most industrial chemical processes rely on a catalyst—a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction but is not used up in the reaction.

The goal of the funded research is to understand how tuning the shape and composition of metal nanoparticles changes their performance as catalysts in industrially important chemical transformations. The long-term objective is to apply this fundamental understanding to the design of nanoscale catalysts which make industrial chemical reactions more energy efficient and sustainable by (1) enabling the reactions to take place at lower temperatures and/or (2) eliminating the production of unwanted byproducts, such as carbon dioxide.