Arts & Culture

Shapiro Reads from Fables in a Modern Key

Norman Shapiro, professor of french.

Norman Shapiro

On June 28, Norman Shapiro, professor of French, provided light verse readings, including a passage from his recently translated Fables in a Modern Key, as part of the Find Your Park summer festival event series. The reading took place at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

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

Fables was written by by Pierre Coran (whose real name is Eugene Delaisse), a poet and novelist of the Belgian French-language. One of Begium’s most renowned poets with some 45 poetry books published to date, he also is the author of 25 published novels, 24 books of fables, hundreds of comic book stories, and several albums which have been translated into more than a dozen languages. His children’s stories and fables are published around the world, but this the first selection of his fables to be translated into English in a full length book format.

Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site was home to 19th century poet and scholar Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family from 1837–1950. The historic 1759 colonial mansion also was General George Washington’s first major headquarters during the American Revolution. The house and its collections were a gift to the nation from Longfellow’s descendants in 1972. Its extensive collections and grounds represent more than 250 years of America’s history and literature.

Shapiro’s book can be found here.

Shapiro Translates Haitian Poetry Collection

haitianpoetryNorman Shapiro, professor of romance languages and literatures and the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation, translated the book Poetry of Haitian Independence, published by Yale University Press in May 2015.

At the turn of the 19th century, Haiti became the first and only modern country born from a slave revolt. During the first decades of Haitian independence, a wealth of original poetry was created by the inhabitants of the former French Caribbean island colony and published in Haitian newspapers. These deeply felt poems celebrated the legitimacy of the new nation and the value of the authors’ African origins while revealing a common mission shared by all Haitians in the young republic: freedom from oppressors and equality for all.

This collection of Haitian verse written between 1804 and the late 1840s sheds a much-needed light on an important and often neglected period in Haiti’s literary history. Editors Doris Kadish and Deborah Jenson have gathered together poetry that has remained largely unknown and difficult to access since its original publication two centuries ago. Featuring translations a foreword by the Haitian-born novelist Edwidge Danticat, this volume describes a turning point in Haitian and world history and makes a significant corpus of poetry accessible to a wide audience.

Scott Published in Routledge’s The Modernist Reader

Stanley Scott

Stanley Scott

Stanley Scott, private lessons teacher in music, authored a chapter titled “Modernism in South Asian Art Music,” published in the The Modernist World, part of the Routledge Worlds series, in 2015.

Scott traces modernism in South Asian art music from its 18th century roots to the 21st century. The examples, drawn from Pakistan, North India and Bangladesh, represent parallel developments throughout South Asia. The seeds of South Asian modernism were sown in 18th century Calcutta, with the emergence of British orientalist scholarship and the development of the urban South Asian intelligentsia. The orientalist discovery of India’s “golden age” allowed Hindu nationalists to find inspiration in an India that predated both European colonization and Islamic rule. North Indian music, in particular, served sometimes as an icon of national identity, sometimes of revived Hindu hegemony, and sometimes of an Indo-Islamic synthesis.

President Roth Discusses the History of Freud’s Couch

Seventy-five years after Sigmund Freud’s death, the father of psychoanalysis’ couch has remained a powerful symbol in our culture. The public radio show 99% Invisible interviewed President Michael Roth, a Freud historian, for an episode exploring the history and cultural significance of Freud’s couch.

Freud, and others of his time, used a couch as part of hypnosis–a cutting edge but controversial treatment. One of Freud’s patients, a wealthy woman named Franny Moser who was struggling from multiple ailments, proved difficult to hypnotize.

“He wasn’t a very good hypnotist. He was kind of a clumsy hypnotist,” explained Roth. “Freud would say, ‘You’re getting sleepy, you’re getting sleepy,’ and she’d say, ‘No I’m not! I’m not sleepy at all.'” Instead of getting sleepy, Moser would talk. At first, Freud tried to interrupt her with his theories, but she insisted on talking.

Then, Roth said, Freud realized that if he just let patients talk and didn’t say anything, they would let down their defenses, revealing their unconscious.

“This is the moment when the pre-Freudian Freud becomes the Freudian Freud,” Roth said. These new techniques and theories for therapy would come to be called psychoanalysis.

“The couch, especially Freud’s couch, it came to symbolize an invitation to open your mind, to let someone see inside,” Roth said. “It’s a reminder that we have the ability to reveal ourselves. And it’s irresistible, right? It’s like a magic carpet. I can get on the couch and suddenly I’ll say things that reveal what I really love…when my whole life I’ve been pretending to love other things.”

Jody Sperling ’92 Performing ‘Dancing in the Arctic’ in NYC, June 20-21

Choreographer Jody Sperling '92 traveled to the Arctic Ocean to create her dance pieces on climate change. (Photo by Pierre Coupel)

Choreographer Jody Sperling ’92 traveled to the Arctic Ocean to create her dance pieces on climate change. (Photo by Pierre Coupel)

Jody Sperling ’92 will present a dance performance, Bringing the Arctic Home, at the JCC in Manhattan on June 20-21. The event includes the premier of Ice Cycle, a collaboration with Alaskan-born composer Matthew Burtner, a specialist in the music of snow and ice. The weekend features three performances, a kids’ workshop, and two climate-themed panel discussions.

Tickets and more information are available here. See the Bulletin at Wesconnect for Sperling’s posting about this event, and to get her special discount code for the Wesleyan community.

Read more about Sperling in this story in the Wesleyan magazine.

Jimmy Stewart Stars in Free Summer Film Series

stewardfilmsThis July, Wesleyan’s 2015 Summer Film Series presents “Hollywood Icons: Jimmy Stewart,” a four-film series sponsored by Wesleyan’s College of Film and the Moving Image (CFILM). Films will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in July at the Center for Film Studies.

All films are free and open to the public and will be preceded by an introduction by Marc Longenecker, CFILM’s programming and technical director. The “Hollywood Icons: Jimmy Stewart” film series includes Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (July 7), Harvey (July 14), Rear Window (July 21), and Winchester ’73 (July 28).

See Wesleyan’s Summer Film Series website for more information.

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Basinger Reflects on Star Wars Sequel Success

Though movie sequels had been successful in the past, it was a huge surprise when The Empire Strikes Back turned out to be as popular as the original Star Wars film, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, told the website Boing Boing for a story reflecting on Empire 35 years after it arrived in cinemas.

“When you have set a level that you set with Star Wars in terms of financial success, critical success, audience success, quality of production, greatness of storytelling, you don’t really think even if the second one is going to be good that it can hit that same level twice because Star Wars was a real landmark film,” Basinger said. “It was a real big impact film and so you don’t expect the next one in that sequence to also be a landmark. It just doesn’t seem possible the way storytelling works but Empire was a movie that did not let down the standards set by Star Wars and that was great. Everybody was thrilled.”

She added that Empire opened up in a new way the possibility of sequential storytelling on a giant scale.

Basinger also is curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives.

Art by Graphic Design Class on Display in Usdan

Now on view at Usdan: A is for Ampersand, the final project of Professor of Art David Schorr’s Advanced Graphic Design Tutorial. Students in the class conceived and realized the project with inspiration from a non-curricular project on which some of the students had worked as members of The Type Club. All decisions regarding font, format and other particulars were made as a group, with most of the letters developing or being entirely redone over a four-week period.

Now on view at Usdan: A is for Ampersand, the final project of Professor of Art David Schorr’s Advanced Graphic Design Tutorial. Students in the class conceived and realized the project with inspiration from a non-curricular project on which some of the students had worked as members of The Type Club. All decisions regarding font, format and other particulars were made as a group, with most of the letters developing or being entirely redone over a four-week period. (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

West African Rhythms Fill CFA Courtyard

On May 8, members of the Wesleyan community gathered in the CFA Courtyard for an invigorating performance filled with the rhythms of West Africa. Performing were choreographer Iddi Saaka, artist in residence in the dance department, and master drummer Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music, together with their students in three levels of West African dance courses, plus guest artists. After almost five decades at Wesleyan, Adzenyah will retire in May 2016. To honor his cultural contributions and to recognize his rich professorial and performing legacy, alumni, students, colleagues, and friends are hoping to “drum up” enough support to raise $300,000 for an endowed scholarship in his name. (Photos by Laurie Kenney.)

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Master drummer Abraham Adzenyah (center, with hat) and choreographer Iddi Saaka (directly behind Adzenyah) led their students in a West African drumming and dance performance in the CFA Courtyard on May 8.

Students Spread Dance across Campus

On May 4, students from the Improvisational Forms dance class performed at various locations around campus, including inside and outside Schonberg Dance Studio, Exley Science Center and Olin Memorial Library.

Students in the movement-based class study improvisation from a number of perspectives. Improvising in so many different environments challenges the dancers’ ability to focus while exploring the “score” (prompts/rules) they have pre-set for each specific site, continuously relating to each other and to the unique architecture and nature of each space. The class is taught by Susan Lourie, adjunct professor of dance. (Photos by Laurie Kenney)

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