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Students Perform at 45th Annual Worlds of Dance Concert

Students who are enrolled in Introduction to Dance, Bharata Natyam I, and Jazz Technique performed during the 45th annual Worlds of Dance Concert Dec. 2 in Crowell Concert Hall.

Introduction to Dance covers the basic components of dance technique—stretching, strengthening, aligning the body, and developing coordination in the execution of rhythmic movement patterns. Through improvisation, composition, and performing, students develop a solid framework applicable to all forms of dance. The class is taught by Katja Kolcio, chair and associate professor of dance; associate professor, environmental studies; and associate professor, Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies.

Bharata Natyam I: Introduction of South Indian Classical Dance is designed to introduce students to the fundamental aesthetic, social, and technical principles underscoring the culture of Bharata Natyam dance in both its indigenous and modern contexts. The course introduces students to Bharata Natyam largely through classroom practice (in the form of rhythmic and interpretive exercises), supplemented by brief lectures outlining the sociohistorical and cultural contexts of the form. The class is taught by Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance and associate professor, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies.

Jazz Technique is an introduction to the African American jazz dance vernacular. Students learn about alignment, centering, and technique through the context of jazz’s African roots. Class sessions consist of movement exploration including a comprehensive warm-up and online discussions and media to better understand the place of jazz dance in society and culture at large. The class is taught by Joya Powell, visiting assistant professor of dance.

Photos of the concert are below: (Photos by Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ’19)

 

Smolkin Discusses Her New Book on the History of Soviet Atheism at Brother’s Accompanying Art Exhibit

Artist Vlad Smolkin; gallery curator Linda Pinn; Associate Professor of History Victoria Smolkin; book talk organizer Ellen Nodelman, and congregation member George Amarant gather at the Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, Conn., where siblings Vlad and Victoria shared their recent work. (Photo by Deborah Rutty)

On Nov. 11, Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history and Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies, joined forces with her brother, artist Vlad Smolkin, to share their work with the public at a new and revamped Main Street Gallery Art Opening/Books & Bagels Talk at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, Conn.

Smolkin is the author of a new book, A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, published by Princeton University Press in 2018. A scholar of Communism, the Cold War, and atheism and religion in Russia and the former Soviet Union, Smolkin’s expertise also covers religious politics and secularism and the Soviet space program.

In A Sacred Space Is Never Empty, Smolkin explores the meaning of atheism for religious life, for Communist ideology, and for Soviet politics. When the Bolsheviks set out to build a new world in the wake of the Russian Revolution, they expected religion to die off. Soviet power used a variety of tools—from education to propaganda to terror—to turn its vision of a Communist world without religion into reality. Yet even with its monopoly on ideology and power, the Soviet Communist Party never succeeded in creating an atheist society.

The book presents the first history of Soviet atheism from the 1917 revolution to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Drawing on a wealth of archival material and in-depth interviews with those who were on the front lines of Communist ideological campaigns, Smolkin argues that to understand the Soviet experiment, we must make sense of Soviet atheism. Smolkin shows how atheism was reimagined as an alternative cosmology with its own set of positive beliefs, practices, and spiritual commitments. Through its engagements with religion, the Soviet leadership realized that removing religion from the “sacred spaces” of Soviet life was not enough. Then, in the final years of the Soviet experiment, Mikhail Gorbachev—in a stunning and unexpected reversal—abandoned atheism and reintroduced religion into Soviet public life.

Victoria Smolkin discusses her new book at the art exhibition.

Victoria Smolkin discusses her new book at the art exhibition.

During the event, Victoria discussed her new book while Vlad debuted his art exhibition, Light Beams. The Smolkins were born in the Soviet Union and moved to the United States and at a young age; through their experiences, each sibling found a distinct way to explore, highlight, and celebrate their heritage.

Like Victoria’s book, Vlad’s art also showcases the themes of religion and outer space. His exhibition envisions how Judaism might exist on other planets. In his work, he looks at how the Western Wall might be transferred to Mars, and how the cultivation of flowers on Mars might be the last vestige of Jewish humanity.

Light Beams by Vlad Smolkin can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday during December and the first three weeks of January 2019.

Vlad Smolkin, titled "Transfer of the Western Wall," 2018

“Transfer of the Western Wall” (2018) by Vlad Smolkin.

 

Shapiro Featured in Poetry Magazine Better Than Starbucks!

Norman Shapiro, professor of french.

Norman Shapiro

Four poems, translated by Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation and Poet in Residence Norman Shapiro, appear in the November 2018 Vol. III edition of the international esoteric journal, Better Than Starbucks!. This poetry magazine is edited by American poet and translator Michael Burch.

The poem below, titled “You …” is translated from the French of Cécile Périn and appeared in The Gentle Genius of Cécile Périn. (Copyright © 2016 by Norman Shapiro and Black Widow Press.)

You …

When you were but the merest tot,
Babbling in cowering awkwardness,
When you were only fresh-begot,
Flesh of my flesh, I loved you less …
What are you now? I scarce know what.

You are Yourself, not part of me:
So little mine, the soul within,
I cannot pierce your mystery!
Be beautiful, be good! Yes, be
Everything I could not have been.

I placed my desperate hopes upon
Your childhood … Light of heart, as then,
Joys will be born anew, anon,
As when you gave them birth. Though gone
Life holds them fast, to come again …

You are this, you are that … Ah yes …
You are our fruit of twofold race,
Who, with each step, bear off, caress
Against your breast, a bit of space.
You are this, you are that … Ah yes …

―Yet you are You, no more, no less.

View all of Shapiro’s poems published in Better than Starbucks here.

Shapiro also is a member of the Academy of American Poets, and Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française.

56 Student-Athletes Named to NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team; 8 Earn All-Sportsmanship Honors

Men’s cross country team member Kevin McMorrow ’20 is one of eight student-athletes from Wesleyan to receive All-Sportsmanship Team honors this fall. (Photo by Geoff Bolte)

The Wesleyan fall athletic teams put a total of 56 student-athletes on the 2018 NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team, while 8 Cardinals earned All-Sportsmanship honors.

In order to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum GPA of 3.50 or equivalent on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of coursework at the institution.

Lauren Goetzman '19 (women's soccer) was named to the All-Academic team for the third-straight year and was also on the All-NESCAC squad.

Women’s soccer player Lauren Goetzman ’19 was named to the All-Academic team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

The women’s soccer team led the charge for the Cardinals, with 18 honorees, while the football program saw 11 players earn the achievement. The field hockey team placed 8 athletes on the All-Academic unit, while women’s cross country (7), volleyball (5), men’s soccer (4), men’s cross country (2), and women’s golf (1) were all represented.

Lauren Goetzman ’19 (women’s soccer) was named to the All-Academic Team for the third-straight year and was also on the All-NESCAC squad. Additionally, there were 14 other individuals making their third appearance on the Fall All-Academic Team: Rhoen Fiutak ’19 (women’s cross country), Zach Foster ’19 (football), Nicole Galli ’19 (women’s soccer), Olivia Gorman ’19 (women’s soccer), Meg Harrop ’19 (women’s soccer), Evan Hull ’19 (football), Meghan Jain ’19 (field hockey), Sophia Linguiti ’19 (women’s soccer), Madeleine Lundberg ’19 (volleyball), Bobby Nevin ’19 (football), Ella Sinfield ’19 (women’s soccer), Joe Wilson ’19 (football), Kinsey Yost ’19 (women’s soccer), and Liz Young ’19 (women’s soccer).

The NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team recognizes student-athletes from each varsity sport who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship. These student-athletes exhibit respect for themselves, teammates, coaches, opponents, and spectators.

8 Undergraduates Make Presentations at Arts and Humanities Symposium

Eight Wesleyan students participated in the CTW Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities held at Trinity College in November.

Eight Wesleyan students presented papers during the inaugural CTW (Connecticut College, Trinity College, Wesleyan University) Undergraduate Symposium in the Arts and Humanities on Nov. 10.

This symposium, hosted at Trinity, provided undergraduate students from the three partner institutions, as well as other institutions in the region, an opportunity to present their original scholarly work in a professional setting. Topics included languages and literatures, philosophy, theater and dance, art history, women’s studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, religious studies, film studies, and more.

Paper submissions were accepted by a committee of faculty members.

During a panel on The Construction of Spaces, Teresa Naval ’19 spoke on “Corrugated Cartographies: Performing the Balikbayan Box” and Asa Spurlock ’20 presented his paper titled “Nature and Stone: A Mythology of Central Park.”

Aviv Rau ’19 presented his paper titled “Queering the ‘Quails’: The Making of White Womanhood at Wesleyan University 1872–1912” during a Considering Gender panel.

Visiting international student Victoria Bianchi spoke on “Sicily and the Dar-al-Islam: Multiculturalism in the pre-Crusading Mediterranean,” during a panel on Culture, Identity, Nation, and State.

As part of a panel on Negotiating Identity in France and the Francophone World, Sophie Tulchin ’20 presented her paper titled “Performing Diaspora: Mohamed Kacimi’s Babel Taxi (2005).”

Tomas Rogel ’19 presented a talk on “These Are Not People, These Are Animals: An Analysis of the American Perception of Salvadorans” during a panel focusing on Giving Voice to the Voiceless.

Lizzie Whitney ’19 spoke on “Refugee Crisis in German Literature” during a panel on The Production of Culture across Borders.

And during a panel on Ancient Texts, Benjamin Sarraille ’19 shared his paper titled “Measure for Measure: Translating the Illiad of Homer.”

In addition to sharing their own work, the students had the opportunity to participate in 16 different panels and attend a keynote lecture by Maurice Samuels, the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and Chair of the Department of French at Yale University.

Support for this symposium was provided in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Submission guidelines and further information are online here.

Bloom ’75 Speaks on the Importance of Research in Storytelling, Character Development

Amy Bloom '75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, spoke on "Lies, Facts, and Research" during a Staff Luncheon Series talk Nov. 27 in Daniel Family Commons. Bloom, a New York Times best-seller, has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom explained how she weaves historical events and research into her stories. "The story leads me to research, or research leads me to the story," Bloom said. "Research is behind the whole umbrella behind the story. It offers me so many opportunities to see, develop, and illuminate characters."

Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, spoke on “Lies, Facts, and Research” during a Staff Luncheon Series talk Nov. 27 in Daniel Family Commons. Bloom, a New York Times best-selling author, has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom explained how she weaves historical events and research into her stories. “The story leads me to research, or research leads me to the story,” Bloom said. “Research offers me so many opportunities to see, develop, and illuminate characters.”

Amy Bloom

For her most recent novel, White Houses (Penguin Random House 2018), Bloom studied approximately 3,000 letters written over a 30-year-period between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library to develop her new take on the secretive relationship between Eleanor and “Hick.” Bloom also is professor of the practice in creative writing and professor of the practice, English. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Ulysse Honored with Anthropology in Media Award

Gina Athena Ulysse accepted the Anthropology in Media Award (AIME) from American Anthropological Association President Alex Barker in November.

Professor Gina Athena Ulysse accepted the Anthropology in Media Award (AIME) from American Anthropological Association President Alex Barker in November.

Professor of Anthropology Gina Athena Ulysse was recently honored with the Anthropology in Media Award (AIME) from the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Established in 1987, the annual award recognizes the successful communication of anthropology to the general public through the media. Ulysse was presented with the award at the association’s 2018 Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif. on Nov. 14–18.

According to AAA, Ulysse was honored for “her powerful and effective work communicating anthropological insights to the broad general public. Through her anthropological writings, blogs, talks, and her widely shared performance pieces, Ulysse has worked to expand her reach, presence, and impact to connect with as many people as possible, both within and beyond anthropology, academia, and the United States. She presents a breathtaking list of spoken word performances across the country and the world each year, including a recent commission for the British Museum.”

Curran Receives French Academy of Sciences Book Prize

Andy Curran

Andy Curran

Andrew Curran, the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities, has received the 2018 Prix Monsieur et Madame Louis Marin from the Académie des sciences d’outre-mer for his 2017 book L’Anatomie de la noirceur [The Anatomy of Blackness], which was published by Classiques Garnier.

This prize, which is given by the French Académie des Sciences d’outre-mer, recognizes an outstanding work in the social sciences. The Académie des Sciences d’outre-mer was founded in 1922 and has conferred the Prix Marin since 1976.

Curran’s book, a translation of his Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment, is the first comprehensive history of the birth of race in French thought. Curran is also professor of French and chair of Romance languages and literatures.

Campus Celebrates International Education Week; Guiney ’77 Speaks on Cambodian Exhibit

The Wesleyan community celebrated the benefits of international education and exchange during a plethora of International Education Week events.

International Education Week (IEW), Nov. 11–17, 2018, is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. It’s also part of Wesleyan’s efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

The theme of this year’s celebration was “Transcending Borders.”

“We chose this theme in order to explore the complexities of ‘belonging’ and how our sense of belonging transcends borders,” said Kia Lor, assistant director of language and intercultural learning at the Fries Center for Global Studies. “A border, in this case, can be physical or mental, internal or external, visible or invisible. We asked student groups to submit event ideas that aligned with this theme and matched funding to support their event.”

International Education Week activities are sponsored by the Fries Center for Global Studies, Gordon Career Center, the Resource Center, and Office of International Student Affairs. The sponsors collaborated with student organizations Pangea, African Student Association, Wesleyan Refugee Project, International Program House, Climate Action Group, and Middle East Student Union.

Photos of International Week events are below: (Photos by Kia Lor)

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

  1. The Washington Post: “Major Trump Administration Climate Report Says Damage is ‘Intensifying Across the Country'”

Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, was widely quoted in the media about the fourth National Climate Assessment, the first to be released under the Trump Administration. “The impacts we’ve seen the last 15 years have continued to get stronger, and that will only continue,” Yohe, who served on the National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the report, told The Washington Post. “We have wasted 15 years of response time. If we waste another five years of response time, the story gets worse. The longer you wait, the faster you have to respond and the more expensive it will be.” Yohe was also quoted on the report in The Hill, The Verge, Al Jazeera, and many other news sources. He is also professor of economics, and professor, environmental studies.

2. The Hill: “If Brits Don’t Want a Redo on Brexit, They Should”

In this op-ed, Richard Grossman, professor and chair of economics, writes that Brexit, or Britain’s “divorce” from the European Union, is anticipated to “reduce Britain’s economic prospects in both the short and long run and leave the country poorer than it would have been had it remained within the European Union.” He writes: “There is a way out of this mess,” but the difficulties are political, not legal.

Sumarsam Named Honorary Member of the Society for Ethnomusicology

Sumarsam

Sumarsam, pictured standing, at right, was named an honorary member of the Society for Ethnomusicology.

For his contribution to the field of ethnomusicology and music scholarship, Sumarsam, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, was recently named an honorary member of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM).

The encomium was presented by Wesleyan alumna Maria Mendonca MA ’90, PhD ’02, during the 63rd SEM General Membership Meeting, Nov. 17, in Albuquerque, N.M.

Sumarsam was commended for his scholarship on gamelan and wayang performance traditions, which inspired the SEM membership, explained Gregory Barz, president of the Society for Ethnomusicology.

“Your mentorship of countless students and colleagues, both directly and by example, is held in high esteem, and the ways that you simultaneously embrace and speak to the various subfields among the disciplines of music scholarship is exemplary,” Barz said. “You demonstrate not only a unique career, but one to which we all aspire.”

Sumarsam is the third Wesleyan faculty member to receive this award. The first one is the late David McAllester, professor of music and anthropology, emeritus (2001); the second is Mark Slobin, the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music, Emeritus (2013).

During the meeting, Sumarsam also attended a number of panels, the Society for Asian Music Business meeting, and the SEM Journal of Editorial Board meeting, in which he is a member.

Kelly ’19 Presents Paper at Mellon Mays Ancient World Conference

Ronald Kelly '19, pictured second from right, attended the inaugural Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Conference on the Ancient World in November. Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy and letters, is pictured second from the left in the back row. 

Ronald Kelly ’19, pictured second from right, attended the inaugural Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Conference on the Ancient World in November. Kelly’s Mellon Mays mentor, Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy and letters, is pictured second from the left in the back row. Also pictured is Bret Mulligan ’97, second from right in the back row.

Ronald Kelly ’19, who is majoring in the College of Letters and classical studies, presented a paper at the first Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Conference on the Ancient World at Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College on Nov. 9–11. He attended the conference with his Mellon Mays mentor, Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy and letters.

Ronald Kelly

Kelly discussed what it meant to be foreign within the Roman Empire, focusing on aspects of immigration, integration, and myths of foreignness.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program is the centerpiece of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of colleges and universities. The program operates from the foundational principle that encouraging a diverse range of scholarship and scholars in the academy is directly related to the betterment of career opportunities and life opportunities available to scholars, and by extension, to the country.

Kelly discussed the research he has conducted as a Mellon Mays fellow on what it meant to be foreign within the Roman Empire, focusing on aspects of immigration, integration, and myths of foreignness found in the Satyricon, written by the 1st-century CE Roman novelist Petronius.

“The conference offered an opportunity for Mellon Mays fellows to share with a wider community of scholars the research they are conducting. There were also activities tailored specifically to the fellows’ experiences and their aspirations to continue in academia,” Irani explained.

The conference included a graduate school panel focusing on fields that deal with aspects of the ancient world and a discussion of support systems in place to assist students of color as they transition into graduate study.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, professor of classics at Princeton University, was the keynote speaker for the conference. Serendipitously, also at the event as a Mellon Mays faculty mentor was Bret Mulligan ’97, associate professor of classics at Haverford College, who—like Kelly—majored in the College of Letters and classical studies, at Wesleyan.

“The conference provided a wonderful occasion for the two to discuss their shared experiences as Wesleyan students, even at a distance of over 20 years,” Irani said.

The MMUF aims to prepare talented students to pursue university teaching careers in disciplines where minority faculty are notably underrepresented, and to prepare talented students who are committed to increasing cross-racial and ethnic understanding and interested in enabling others to better understand persons of different races and cultural backgrounds, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities. The program serves the related goals of working to create campus environments that will be more conducive to improved racial and ethnic relations, and of providing diverse role models for all youth.