Arts & Culture

Audible Bacillus Exhibit Explores the Fluidity of the Human Biome

The exhibit, Audible Bacillus, opened at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Jan. 29.

Audible Bacillus opened at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery on Jan. 29.

The opening reception included opening remarks by Curator Benjamin Chaffee, associate director of visual arts.

The opening reception included opening remarks by curator Benjamin Chaffee, associate director of visual arts.

Chaffee set out to answer questions such as, "What does it mean for our world concept, language, ethics, and knowledge if we accept that human bodies co-evolved with their microbiomes?"

With the exhibit, Chaffee set out to answer questions such as, “What does it mean for our world concept, language, ethics, and knowledge if we accept that human bodies coevolved with their microbiomes?”

The works are presented not as practical scientific rhetoric but rather as investigations in their own right into a variety of themes including alternative epistemologies, the nature and source of volition, a breakdown of the boundary between self/other, the limits of our language(s), and into the radical care we need to sustain a future.

The works are presented as investigations into a variety of themes including alternative epistemologies, the nature and source of volition, a breakdown of the boundary between self/other, the limits of our language(s), and the radical care we need to sustain a future.

Stromatolites, the fossilized remains of ancient cyanobacteria, the dominant species on the Earth billions of years ago, will also be included in the exhibition.

Stromatolites, the fossilized remains of ancient cyanobacteria that were the dominant species on the Earth billions of years ago, are included in the exhibition.

The exhibit presents pieces of audio and video to create an experience of movement for visitors, mirroring Chaffee’s efforts to understand the fluidity of the human biome.

The exhibit incorporates multi-media pieces, including artist Ed Atkin's video short titled "Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths."

The exhibit also incorporates multimedia pieces, including artist Ed Atkin’s video short titled “Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths.”

Listen to a conversation between Benjamin Chaffee and Curator of the Davison Art Center Miya Tokumitsu about this exhibition on the Center for the Arts Radio Hour.

A conversation between Chaffee and Curator of the Davison Art Center Miya Tokumitsu about this exhibition can be heard on the Center for the Arts Radio Hour.

Gallery Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 12-5 p.m.; Thursday, 12-7 p.m. (NEW Extended Hours); Friday through Sunday, 12-5pm.

The Zilkha Gallery is open Tuesday and Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m.; Thursday, noon to 7 p.m.; and Friday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Audible Bacillus will be on display through Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Photos by Sara McCrea ’21)

Murillo’s Poem Featured in American Poetry Review

John Murillo (Photo courtesy of American Poetry Review)

New poetry by John Murillo, assistant professor of English, is published in the Feb. 2019 issue (Volume 48, No. 1) of American Poetry Review. Murillo also is featured on the publication’s cover page.

His poem, titled “A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brooklyn,” is a nod to Dylan Thomas’s famous poem, “A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London.”

Sawhney Speaks at Tata Mumbai LitFest

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English, coordinator of South Asian Studies, spoke on a panel about the way in which outsiders write about India at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. Other panelists included, from left, memoirist Carlo Pizzati, Sawhney, writer Scott Carney, and renowned Indian publisher Karthika VK.

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English and coordinator of South Asian Studies, second from left, spoke on a panel at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest about the way in which outsiders write about India. Pictured, from left, are fellow panelists: memoirist Carlo Pizzati, writer Scott Carney, and renowned Indian publisher Karthika VK.

Hirsh Sawhney, assistant professor of English and coordinator of South Asian Studies, recently participated in Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. The ninth annual event was held Nov. 15–18 in Mumbai and was attended by more than 100 participants from around the world.

At the festival, Sawhney participated in a panel discussion about the way in which outsiders write about India, and how outside perspectives have shaped both Euro-American and South Asian perspectives on India.

“A lot of this conversation focused on the undying legacy of empire, and we had a nuanced conversation about issues of representation and authenticity, a discussion that seemed very relevant to parallel conversations occurring here at Wes,” he said. “The conversations were obviously focused on books and writers, and there were some big writers there, such as Allan Hollinghurst. But there were also provocative conversations about contemporary political issues, such as the rise of right-wing extremist policy and rhetoric in both Indian and North American politics.”

Curran’s Diderot Biography Touches on Affairs, Tormented Relationships, Social Beliefs

Andrew Curran, the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities, is the author of Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely, published by Other Press on Jan. 15.

According to the publisher:

“Denis Diderot is often associated with the decades-long battle to bring the world’s first comprehensive Encyclopédie into existence. But his most daring writing took place in the shadows. Thrown into prison for his atheism in 1749, Diderot decided to reserve his best books for posterity—for us, in fact. In the astonishing cache of unpublished writings left behind after his death, Diderot challenged virtually all of his century’s accepted truths, from the sanctity of monarchy, to the racial justification of the slave trade, to the norms of human sexuality. One of Diderot’s most attentive readers during his lifetime was Catherine the Great, who not only supported him financially but invited him to St. Petersburg to talk about the possibility of democratizing the Russian empire.”

Organizing the biography by theme, “Curran vividly describes Diderot’s tormented relationship with Rousseau, his curious correspondence with Voltaire, his passionate affairs, and his often iconoclastic stands on art, theater, morality, politics, and religion. But what this book brings out most brilliantly is how the writer’s personal turmoil was an essential part of his genius and his ability to flout taboos, dogma, and convention.”

Andrew Curran

Andrew Curran

Curran is a fellow in the history of medicine at the New York Academy of Medicine and a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques. At Wesleyan, he also is professor of French and chair of Romance Languages and Literatures. This spring, he’s teaching French Composition and Conversation.

Curran also is the author of two previous books, Sublime Disorder: Physical Monstrosity in Diderot’s Universe and The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment.

Curran’s book was featured in The New York Times’s New & Noteworthy section on Jan. 15. Read a review on the book in Kirkus.

Alumni, Family Members Gather for Hamilton Performance in Hartford

On Dec. 18, approximately 100 Wesleyan alumni and family members as well as staff gathered at The Bushnell in Hartford to celebrate the Connecticut debut of Hamilton: An American Musical, the Tony Award-winning musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and directed by Thomas Kail ’99. Hamilton is currently touring the U.S., with a run at the Bushnell Dec. 11-30, 2018.

Photos from the event are below: (Photos by Rich Marinelli)

Attendees also enjoyed a reception before the performance at the Maxwell M. and Ruth R. Belding Theater.

Attendees also enjoyed a reception before the performance at the Maxwell M. and Ruth R. Belding Theater.

Jack Mitchell '61 gave a toast to Barbara-Jan Wilson, special advisor to the president, who in December retired as long-time vice president for University Relations.

Jack Mitchell ’61, GP’16, gave a toast to Barbara-Jan Wilson, special advisor to the president, who in December retired as long-time vice president for University Relations.

Wesleyan Receives $250,000 Mellon Foundation Grant to Support Artist Residency, Commission Program

Wesleyan has considerable experience hosting artist residencies of varying length and complexity. Pictured is artist-in-residence Eiko Otake with Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance students in 2017. (Photo by Brendan Plake, courtesy of Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.)

Wesleyan has considerable experience hosting artist residencies of varying length and complexity. Pictured is visiting artist-in-residence Eiko Otake with Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance students in 2017. (Photo by Brendan Plake, courtesy of Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.)

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Wesleyan a $250,000 grant to implement an innovative artist residency model to deepen engagement with the arts on campus and expand their impact in the community. The grant will be spent over three-and-a-half years, in a period ending in June 2022.

Wesleyan has a long history of hosting artist residencies, in which visiting artists offer master classes and give talks based around a single performance or art installation. Most residencies have been relatively short-term, with a few notable exceptions. Under the Mellon grant, the University will establish an expanded version of the artist residency model with a focus on commissioning original, innovative work. Resident artists will teach a semester-long course, and will become embedded in a particular department but also work across departmental and community borders. They will also conceive and develop a piece of art or performance with student interns/apprentices who are integrally engaged in the generative process over a 12-month period, and premiere that commissioned piece as part of Wesleyan’s presenting or exhibition season or, depending on the work, in a venue off campus.

“Historically, universities have been crucial for artistic experimentation, and Wesleyan has long been a home for adventurous, creative work. With support from the Mellon Foundation, we will nurture, support, and promote innovative artistic work,” said President Michael S. Roth. “Our goal is to give artists the resources and stimuli to help them be cultural catalysts, while also infusing the arts more deeply into campus life at Wesleyan.”

New Book by Film Historian Arnold ’91: Christmas in the Movies

Jeremy Arnold ’91 on set at Turner Classic Movie channel, discussing his newest book, Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season (Turner Classic Movies and Running Press, 2018).

Newsday writer Rafer Guzmán quotes Jeremy Arnold ’91, a film historian, commentator, and author, in his roundup of new movies and old favorites for this time of year in his article “More Christmas Movies Than Ever This Holiday Season.”

Arnold, the author of Christmas in the Movies (Running Press, 2018) a Turner Classic Movies book, points out that “The new big-screen films are not only competing with Hallmark and Lifetime but all the previous feature films that are available on home video.”

A film studies major as an undergraduate, Arnold also answers Guzmán’s question of what constitutes a film of this genre: “‘I would say a successful Christmas movie is when Christmas plays a meaningful role in the story,’ Arnold says. ‘That encompasses many things—not just joy and love, but also loneliness and alienation, commercialism and dysfunction. You could do dramas or comedies about any of those things.’”

(Photos courtesy of Jeremy Arnold)

With the 30 classics listed chronologically, beginning with Miracle on Main Street (1939) through Elf and Love Actually (both 2003), the book invites nostalgia and offers film buffs plenty of stills from favorite scenes, as well as commentary along with little-known facts—for example, how director Bob Clark cast Peter Billingsley as Ralphie in A Christmas Story (page 145).

This was the second book that Arnold wrote for TCM, following The Essentials, published in 2016. He also appeared on TCM as a guest host in early December to present four films included in his newest book and discuss their place in the Hollywood tradition of Christmas movies.

Vanity Fair Cover Story: “Supercalifragilistic” Miranda ’02

Cover of the Holiday 2018 issue of Vanity Fair, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02; Photograph by Ethan James Green; Styled by Samira Nasr.

In a cover story for Vanity Fair, titled “The Supercalifragilistic Lin-Manuel Miranda,”  writer Bruce Handy explores both the upcoming movie, Mary Poppins Returns, as a sequel to Walt Disney’s 1964 adaption of the children’s books by P. L. Travers, and one of its stars, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15. In the 1964 movie, the chimney-sweep companion to Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) was Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke. This 2018 Mary Poppins (Emma Blunt) has chimney sweep Jack (supposedly a former protégé of the late Bert), played by Miranda, as her sidekick and friend.

Hardy offers biographical background, along with personal insights on Miranda from Wesleyan Visiting Scholar in Theater Quiara Alegria Hudes (who wrote the book for the musical In the Heights), Thomas Kail ’99, and Sam Wasson ’03, exploring the creative genius of Miranda, as expressed in his work. Additionally, Vanity Fair offers photographs by Andres Kudacki documenting Miranda’s June visit to D.C., in a feature titled, Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Visits the Founding Fathers’ Stomping Grounds.”

From the article by Handy:

Not a jaded bone in his body. Sam Wasson, a friend of Miranda’s from their undergraduate days at Wesleyan, said much the same thing when he described Miranda as “a human gumdrop.” At Wesleyan, Wasson and Miranda worked on shows together, including an improv group that Miranda played music for. “He was game for anything,” Wasson said. “He had a little Mickey-and-Judy feeling in him. ‘Let’s go! Let’s do it!’ It’d be impossible to think of Lin as depressed in any way, which makes me hate him. You want to think, ‘Oh, genius comes with darkness,’ and I’m sure it’s there, but I haven’t seen it.”

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)

 

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.

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.

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.