Arts & Culture

Sumarsam, PhD Students, Alumni Present at Symposium

University Professor of Music Sumarsam demonstrated puppet movements at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA), in Penang, Malaysia.

University Professor of Music Sumarsam demonstrated puppet movements at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA), in Penang, Malaysia.

University Professor of Music Sumarsam and several PhD students and alumni recently presented papers at the 4th Symposium of the International Council for Traditional Music Study Group on the Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (ICTM PASEA). The symposium was hosted by Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia, from July 31 to Aug. 6.

Sumarsam presented a paper titled, “Religiosity in Javanese Wayang Puppet Play,” and demonstrated puppet movements.

Whedon ’87, Hon. ’13 Talks with Basinger on WNPR

Joss Whedon '87 presented Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, with an honorary degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2006. This photograph is on display in the "Buffy to Bard" exhibit.

Joss Whedon ’87 presented Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, with an honorary degree from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2006. This photograph is on display in the “Buffy to Bard” exhibit.

WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show featured a conversation between Joss Whedon ’87, Hon. ’13; Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives; and David Lavery, author of Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers and co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association.

Basinger described her experience with Whedon while he was a student at Wesleyan.

“When I encountered Joss at Wesleyan, he was my superhero because he was a really fabulous student, an original thinker and somebody who you just knew was born to be a storyteller. Those things were very, very clearly in place already with him at college,” she said.

Basinger is also asked about influences apparent in Whedon’s work.

“Joss is an original. Whatever he learned or saw from past movies, or got in my class—or in Richard Slotkin’s class—has been totally filtered through his own sensibility…

“For me, I definitely perceive it as work by Joss because I hear his voice, I feel his concerns. People sometimes ask me, ‘Who is Buffy?’ and I say ‘Buffy is Joss.’ There isn’t any other answer. He’s made things so much his own, and the kinds of conventions that come out of genre that he understands and uses, the whole reason they’re in our culture is to be tempered and redesigned and reconstituted and brought forth through the creative force of a new generation. And that’s what Joss has done with them.”

 

Wesleyan Students Recognized for Scientific Images

This summer, Stephen Devoto, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, launched the inaugural Wesleyan Scientific Imaging Contest. The 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, drew 35 submissions from the fields of physics, biology, molecular biology and biochemistry, psychology, earth and environmental science, chemistry and astronomy.

Participants submitted an image along with a brief description written for a broad, scientifically literate audience. The entries were judged based on the quality of the image and the explanation of the underlying science. The first-place prize went to Eliza Carter ’18 from the Earth and Environmental Science Department. Aidan Stone ’17 and Jeremy Auerbach ’17 tied for second places, while Riordan Abrams ’17 won third place. The images were judged by a panel of four faculty members: Devoto; 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 receives a $200 prize; the second-place winner receives $100; and the third-place winner receives $50. Prizes were funded by the Office of Academic Affairs.

Devoto was inspired by a similar contest that his daughter won at Haverford College.

“Students at Wesleyan produce extraordinary scientific images, ranging from graphs and computer simulations to microscope and telescope images,” he said. “I wanted students to have fun, to think of their scientific images in an artistic sense. And I thought that the artistic presentations of student scientific images would be a striking testament to the quality and fun of student research here. I hope these will be displayed on campus to highlight the science and the creativity, which thrive at Wesleyan.”

The four winning images are shown below, along with scientific descriptions:

Eliza Carter '18 submitted a scanning electron microscope image of the shell of a radiolarian (a protozoa) found near the top of an Antarctic sediment core from ODP site 697. The radiolarian shell is around 2.7 million years old and is made from silica that was produced by the radiolarian. Studying the percent biogenic silica in a sediment sample is a proxy for primary productivity: the more biosilica you have, the more productive it was.

Eliza Carter ’18 submitted a scanning electron microscope image of the shell of a radiolarian (a protozoa) found near the top of an Antarctic sediment core from ODP site 697. The radiolarian shell is around 2.7 million years old and is made from silica that was produced by the radiolarian. Studying the percent biogenic silica in a sediment sample is a proxy for primary productivity: the more biosilica you have, the more productive it was.

Mellon Mays Fellows Generate Research Topics during 6-Week Summer Program

Pictured, from left, are Delia Tapia '18, Alicia Strong '18, Aura Ochoa '17, Iryelis Lopez '17 (back row), Paige Hutton '18 and Aleyda Robles '18. 

From left, Delia Tapia ’18, Alicia Strong ’18, Aura Ochoa ’17 (front), Iryelis Lopez ’17 (back), Paige Hutton ’18 and Aleyda Robles ’18 spent six weeks this summer developing research topics as part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. They presented their ideas on July 28 at the Center for African Studies.

For six weeks this summer, 11 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows received an intensive introduction to graduate school expectations while developing a research topic to pursue during their time in college.

On July 28, the students, who hail from Wesleyan (6) and Queens College (5), offered brief project presentations at the Center for African American Studies.

Aleyda Robles '18 speaks on her research topic, "From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador?"

Aleyda Robles ’18 speaks on her research topic, “From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador?”

The fundamental objective of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program is to increase the number of minority students, and others with a demonstrated commitment to eradicating racial disparities, who will pursue PhDs in core fields in the arts and sciences. The program aims to reduce over time the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from certain minority groups, as well as to address the attendant educational consequences of these disparities.

Wesleyan fellows, their majors and research topics include: Paige Hutton ’18 (American studies),”White Skin, Black Masks: The Appropriation of Black Womanhood by White Gay Men;” Iryelis Lopez ’17 (American studies), “Committing to Difference? Performing Diversity at the Neoliberal University;” Delia Tapia ’18 (American studies), “Historicizing and Combating Colonial Threats to Community and Survival in Harlem;” Aura Ochoa ’17 (American studies and chemistry), “Deconstructing ‘Humanness’: Understanding and Rehistoricizing the Exploitation and Erasure of Women of Color in Science and Medicine in the United States;” Alicia Strong ’18 (religion and government), “Blurred Lines: The Politics of Islamic Identity in Postwar Kosovo;” and Aleyda Robles ’18 (American studies), “From the Salvadoran Civil War to the Refugee Crisis: Can there be U.S. accountability and reparations for El Salvador.”

Jenkins Stages Play in Florentine Prison

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, recently completed a collaboration with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Florence, Italy. The center asked Jenkins to stage a play in a Florentine prison on the theme of human rights.

The play, which was based on Dante Aligheri’s 14,000 line epic poem, “The Divine Comedy,” was performed on July 14 and featured Coro Galilei, a choir that specializes in Gregorian chants, and actors from a local prison. The script consisted of texts written by the prisoners on the theme of justice intertwined with fragments from the “Divine Comedy” and interviews with human rights activists from around the world.

“Dante’s Inferno” is the most famous section of “The Divine Comedy” and is based on Dante’s real life in 14th century Italy, where he was a city official, diplomatic negotiator, and a man who dared to cross the Pope. Dante also was a convict and convicted of crimes, and Jenkins uses Dante to connect with incarcerated men and women.

“Dante was condemned to death, but we do not remember him as a convict,” Jenkins told the audience at Sollicciano prison in his prologue to the play. “We remember him as writer and philosopher who denounced the lack of justice in his society. After having seen our play, we hope you will remember the performers, not as convicts, but as writers whose words are born from the wisdom of experience, as Dante said, ‘Men of great value…. Suspended in this limbo.'”

Jenkins has already taught “Dante’s Inferno” and acting to inmates in Connecticut and Indonesia. Jenkins encourages incarcerated men and women to make connections between their own life stories and the experiences of the characters in classics like “Dante’s Inferno.” Their thoughts are used to create play scripts that are performed inside a prison. Wesleyan students also perform the scripts at other colleges and in the community, and engage in discussions about issues related to reforming the country’s criminal justice system.

Model Composes Music for Silent Films

Ben Model

Ben Model

Ben Model, visiting assistant professor of film, is spending the summer months composing scores and arranging music with the Frederick Symphony Orchestra in Frederick, Maryland.

Model, a silent film accompanist, performs on both piano and theater organ. The orchestra will perform a concert on July 20 at Baker Park in Maryland, including Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant; Buster Keaton’s Cops; and Felix the Cat in Pedigreedy

Model also is performing live music this summer, including a Leo McCarry retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art; at a festival in South Korea in August; and a silent movie festival in Northern Norway in early September. Learn more about Model online here.

Model, who taught at Wesleyan in 2015-16, will return to campus next spring to teach a class on silent film.

Tang Authors Book on Asian American Literature after Multiculturalism

Amy TangAmy Tang, assistant professor of English, assistant professor of American studies, is the author of Repetition and Race: Asian American Literature After Multiculturalism published by Oxford University Press, May 2016,

Repetition and Race explores the literary forms and critical frameworks occasioned by the widespread institutionalization of liberal multiculturalism by turning to the exemplary case of Asian American literature. Tang reinterprets the political grammar of four forms of repetition central to minority discourse: trauma, pastiche, intertextuality and self-reflexivity.

She shows how texts by Theresa Cha, Susan Choi, Karen Tei Yamashita, Chang-rae Lee, and Maxine Hong Kingston use structures of repetition to foreground moments of social and aesthetic impasse, suspension, or hesitation rather than instances of reversal or resolution.

Wesleyan Staff Perform in Beatles Benefit Concert

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 9.00.58 PM

Wesleyan’s Andy Chatfield and Shona Kerr performed along with 21 other singers and musicians at the second annual “Blackbird” Benefit Concert for the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship Fund on June 18.

On June 18, a 23-piece all-star band performed the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety at Chapman Hall at Middlesex Community College at a benefit concert in memory former Wesleyan Center for the Arts intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away last year at the age of 25. This was the second annual benefit concert held in Nelson’s name. The first, held last summer, featured the Beatles’ White Album and raised almost $5,000 to establish the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship at Middlesex Community College (MCC), Nelson’s alma mater.

This year’s concert was organized by Andy Chatfield, press and marketing director for Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts. Nelson was Chatfield’s intern at the CFA. “This year, we played all of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is one of my favorite Beatles albums. Stephanie’s dad requested that we hold the event on the Saturday before Father’s Day, and clarinet player Catherine Rousseau, one of the musicians returning to perform with us this year, told me that June 18 also happened to be Paul McCartney’s birthday. So we played ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ the day that Sir Paul turned 74.”

Hamilton Wins 11 Tony Awards

(Photo by Joan Marcus/The Public Theater)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, center. (Photo by Joan Marcus/The Public Theater)

Hamilton, written by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99, won 11 Tony Awards, including the award for Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Kail), Best Actor in a Musical, Best Book (Miranda), Best Original Score (Miranda), Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Orchestrations, at the 70th Annual Tony Awards ceremony held at the Beacon Theater in New York on June 12.

The award-winning musical, which tells the story of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, received a record-breaking 16 total nominations.

Feldstein ’15 Dubbed ‘Breakout’ for Neighbors 2

With Yahoo's Kevin Polowy, Beanie Feldstein ’15 dishes about behind the scenes in Neighbors 2 versus her real-life college experience.

With Yahoo’s Kevin Polowy, Beanie Feldstein ’15 dishes about behind the scenes in Neighbors 2, versus her real-life college experience.

“There is an entire neighborhood full of funny people in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” wrote Kevin Polowy, senior editor at Yahoo! Movies. “But some of the film’s biggest laughs belong to newcomer Beanie Feldstein, who makes her major-studio movie debut as the party-hearty sorority pledge Nora.”

Feldstein ’15, a Los Angeles, Calif. native and sociology major at Wesleyan has been acting on stage since she was 5, with “three to six musicals a year every singer year from 5 to 22,” ending last year with graduation.

She tells Yahoo that Neighbors 2 was not a typecasting situation: “My college experience was nothing like Nora’s. I was such a lame person. I had never done drugs. They had to teach me how to use a lighter, and how to inhale. That scene where I smoke weed in the movie was actually my first time smoking anything.”

Also invited to appear on the Conan O’Brien Show, Feldstein recalls more of her college career: four years as a tour guide. “My friends like to call me TGB—Tour Guide Beanie—and it’s an entirely different person than me. I’m already pretty peppy, but she’s on a whole other level. I could sell anything at that point—I mean Wesleyan’s really easy to sell; it’s a great place.”

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Roach ’81 Excerpted in NYT

Grunt_Cover-crop-animate2Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, the new book by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton & Company; June 2016), was excerpted in the New York Times’ Science section on May 30. Describing her visit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (“a spread of high-security acreage set aside for testing weapons and the vehicles meant to withstand them”), Roach’s first-person account offers her characteristic lively narrative and wry humor. She allows her guide, Mark Roman, to be ours as well.

“’By and large, an army shows up to a war with the gear it has on hand from the last one. In 2003, the Marines arrived in Iraq with Humvees. ‘Some of the older ones had canvas doors,’ says Mr. Roman, who was one of those Marines. They were no match for the R.P.G.s trained upon them. So the Army tried plating vehicles with armor panels, which work well against heavy machine-gun fire. You might as well have armored your vehicle with road signs.

“’We were like, ‘Crap, this does not stop an R.P.G.,’ Mr. Roman told me.”

Following the successful creation of a device to stop an RPG—with what Roach describes as “a hoopskirt [for the armored combat vehicles] of heavy-duty steel grating called slat armor” in which they “would lumber back to base like up-armored hedgehogs…” —Roman notes that the insurgents then switched to making bombs.

It is through this process of the escalation of danger and that resultant need for greater protection that Roach proves a friendly guide, rendering jargon accessible and never losing sight of what is truly at stake: that while the WIAMan — the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin—may answer questions posed in the proving grounds, a human will bear the cost of any false or incomplete answers. “The long-term quality of a soldier or Marine’s life is a relatively new consideration/ In the past, military decision makers concerned themselves more with go/no-go: Do the injuries keep a soldier from completing the mission?…The answers may or may not affect the decisions that are made in the preparations for war, but at least they’ll be part of the equation for those inclined to do the math.”

In an interview with John Bonazzo for the Observer, Roach highlighted her respect for those working behind the scenes on saving lives and lowering the risks of combat: “There’s a tremendous amount of dedication and work that doesn’t get covered very much,” she said. “I want people to come away with respect for and recognition of that work.”

 

 

Rudensky’s (’01) Photographs Exhibited in New York City Gallery

Sasha RudenskyPhotography by Sasha Rudensky ’01, assistant professor of art, is featured in an exhibition titled “Tinsel and Blue” from June 8 to July 16 at the Sasha Wolf Gallery, 70 Orchard Street, New York, N.Y.

Rudensky is a Russian-born artist whose work has been exhibited widely including at the Musee de l’Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland; Fries Museum in Leewarden, Netherlands; Macro Testaccio Museum in Rome, Italy; ArtScience Museum in Singapore; and Danziger Projects in New York. In 2010, Rudensky’s work was included in “reGeneration 2: Photographers of Tomorrow Today,” an international survey of emerging photographers. Her work is held in a number of public collections including Musee de l’Elysee, Yale Art Gallery, and Center of Creative Photography in Tuscon, among others.

Rudensky received her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2008 and BA from Wesleyan in 2001. She was the recipient of the Ward Cheney Memorial Award from Yale University, Mortimer-Hays Brandeis Traveling Fellowship, Leica/Jim Marshall Award, and Jessup Prize from Wesleyan. In 2013, Rudensky was awarded the Aaron Siskind Individual Fellowship grant. Her work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Der Spiegel, Cicero Magazine, American Photo, PDN and others. She is currently head of the photography program at Wesleyan.

Sasha Rudensky

Sasha Rudensky at “Tinsel and Blue,” June 8. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)