Arts & Culture
Helping Widowed Fathers Move Forward with Their Children: An Interview with Author Rosenstein ’80, MD
by Laurie Kenney •
In The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life (Oxford University Press, 2018), Donald L. Rosenstein ’80, MD, and Justin M. Yopp, PhD, tell the stories of how seven men whose wives died from cancer came to terms with their grief and learned how to move forward into a meaningful future with their children. The book is based on the experiences of the men as members of a support group run by Rosenstein and Yopp at the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Rosenstein and Yopp’s clinical and research work at UNC with widowed parents. For more about the widowed parents group, visit widowedparent.org.
by Olivia Drake •
A book by Professor of Anthropology Gina Athena Ulysse was long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award.
The PEN Open Book Award confers a $5,000 prize upon an author of color to celebrate racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.
Ulysse’s first poetry collection, Because When God Is Too Busy: Haiti, me & THE WORLD, was published in 2017 by Wesleyan University Press. The lyrically vivid meditative journey embraces and reclaims a revolutionary Blackness that has been historically stigmatized and denied. Ulysse crafts experiments with “ethnographic collectibles” of word, performative sounds and imagery to blur genres and the lines between the geopolitical and the personal. These poems, performance texts and photographs gather fractured memories—longings laced with Vodou chants confronting a past that looms in the present.
Ulysse also is professor of anthropology and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.
Read “I am a Storm” from Because When God Is Too Busy in this Wesleyan Magazine Backstory.
by Laurie Kenney •
Wesleyan University Press author-poets Shane McCrae and Evie Shockley have been selected as finalists in the poetry category for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. McCrae received the nod for In the Language of My Captor, which was previously honored as a finalist for the National Book Award, while Shockley was chosen for her latest collection, semiautomatic.
“We are thrilled for authors Evie Shockley and Shane McCrae to have their books recognized in this way,” said Susanna Tamminen, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press. “These are both extraordinary books, and we feel truly honored to be their publisher.”
McCrae’s In the Language of My Captor examines the idea of freedom told through stories of captivity. Comprised of historical persona poems with a prose memoir at its center, the book addresses the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. Shockley’s semiautomatic traces a web of connections between the kinds of violence that affect people across the racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual, national and linguistic boundaries that do and do not divide us.
Winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes will be announced on April 21, 2018, at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
by Laurie Kenney •
Molly Bogin ’18 and Tekla Monson ’18 represented Wesleyan in the university’s inaugural program with the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut, last month. The students joined 36 established and emerging composers and lyricists to participate in the two-week creative residency—the only one of its kind solely dedicated to the creation of new musicals. Kathleen Conlin, Theater Department chair, and Ellen Nerenberg, dean of the arts and humanities, initiated Wesleyan’s involvement with the program.
by Laurie Kenney •
Award-winning author Amy Bloom ’75, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, will release her latest novel, White Houses, on Feb. 13. The book centers on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s love affair and friendship with reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickok. Told from Hickok’s point of view, White Houses covers everything from the inner workings of the Roosevelt administration to Hick’s own brutal upbringing in rural South Dakota.
Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, says, “Bloom elevates this addition to the secret-lives-of-the-Roosevelts genre through elegant prose and by making Lorena Hickok a character engrossing enough to steal center stage from Eleanor Roosevelt.” While Publishers Weekly says, “Cleverly structured through reminiscences that slowly build in intimacy, Bloom’s passionate novel beautifully renders the hidden love of one of America’s most guarded first ladies.”
Bloom will embark on a book tour in support of White Houses later this month, starting at R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., on Feb. 13. A full list of events, including several additional Connecticut appearances, can be found on Bloom’s website.
We caught up with Bloom to ask about her experience writing White Houses.
Is this your first time attempting such a novel, based on historical figures and events? Why this story, in particular? And what were the biggest challenges involved?
Every novel is, for me, an attempt to do something new. The Roosevelts were fascinating: great leaders, complicated people. The story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok was a love story not just lost to history but literally torn out of the history pages. (Lorena was routinely cropped out of White House photos.) The greatest challenge was pretty much what it always is: Who are the people, how to the tell the story and who is telling the story. With the added burden that periodically a little voice would yell: These are real people!
How was this process different than creating characters sprung from your imagination (even if based on real people)?
The characters inevitably, even when based on fact and history, are products of my imagination, of empathy, of research and of a certain hard-to-describe leap.
How did you begin the process? Did you read the letters first and then decide to write a novel based on the relationship? Or were you always interested in exploring the genre?
I read Blanche Weisen Cook’s wonderful biography of Eleanor Roosevelt in which she mentions the 3,000 letters between Eleanor and Lorena and writes a bit about who Lorena was—crack reporter, first woman to have a byline in The New York Times, author—and about the love affair between them. Cook was pilloried for asserting that it seemed very likely there had been a love affair, until other historians finally read the letters and, slowly, too slowly, and privately, apologized and acknowledged that it was obvious from the letters that this had not been a schoolgirl crush on either side—between women in their 40s!—but a love affair that laid the foundation for a lifelong friendship.
How much did you know about the relationship, and about “Hick,” specifically, when you began writing? What additional research did you do, and how did that additional research inform your writing?
Research always offers one new rivers to follow, new gardens to visit. There have been tons of books about Eleanor Roosevelt and a few about Lorena Hickok in relation to Eleanor. I read an awful lot.
What did you find most interesting about (and what were the challenges involved in) inhabiting the mind of, and creating a voice for, Hick?
I struggled to find my narrator and there were parts of Hick I did not admire, but the Hick that I created from her letters and from her professional work is funny, frank, tough, clear-eyed, impulsive and a hell of a storyteller.
What about this story spoke to you—and what did you learn along the way that will stay with you?
Two things: A life of pretense is a death sentence, and love is not wasted, even when it ends.
by Olivia Drake •
Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) received a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.
The award will support a new leadership fellowship program; three curatorial mini-intensives for prospective students; and two global curatorial forums designed to bring an international perspective to the discussion and dissemination of best practices and forge a global network of performing arts curators. This funding will further ICPP’s efforts to advance diversity among participants and to amplify the graduate program’s impact on the field of performance.
“The Ford Foundation funding allows ICPP to support diverse perspectives in the field of performance curation, both in our student body and as our students advance professionally,” said Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts and managing director of ICPP. “We are also grateful for the opportunity to create a global platform for curatorial exchange.”
“This support from the Ford Foundation allows ICPP to amplify a visible and inclusive path into the program and equitable opportunities as our students, in their second year, pursue leadership positions in the field,” said Samuel Miller ’75, director and co-founder of ICPP.
by Laurie Kenney •
The Broadway cast recording of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album on Jan. 28. The album was produced by Atlantic Record’s President of A&R (artists and repertoire) Pete Ganbarg ’88, along with music supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Broadway producer Stacey Mindich.
“What a great weekend for Wes!” said Ganbarg. “I was so thrilled to be surrounded by so many amazingly talented alums. Got to finally meet Grammy winner Gail Marowitz ’81, be in the room where it happens when Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 won his latest Grammy for Moana and also had a lovely conversation with Beanie Feldstein ’15. She is awesome. And as an added bonus this year, so excited to have my boss Atlantic Records Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald P’21, join the Wes family. Julie’s leadership helped Atlantic win an industry-best 13 Grammys this year! Go Wes!!”
“The win gives Ganbarg his second Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Ganbarg won in the same category for Hamilton, created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, and directed by Thomas Kail ’99.
Lin-Manuel Miranda received the Grammy award for Best Song Written for Visual Media for “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana. The win marked Miranda’s third Grammy. He previously won the award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2015 for Hamilton and in 2008 for In The Heights.
In addition, Gail Marowitz ’81 received a Grammy nomination Best Recording Package for singer-songwriter Jonathan Colton’s Solid State. The nomination marked Marowitz’s third nomination. She won a Grammy in the same category in 2006.
For more on Pete Ganbarg ’88 and his career in the music industry, read “Ganbarg’s Greatest Hits” in Wesleyan magazine.
For more on Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, read “A Musical Revolution on Broadway” in Wesleyan magazine.
by Laurie Kenney •
Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, a MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner, and Distinguished Fellow in the College of the Environment Allison Orr, artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, have been chosen as 2018 fellows by United States Artists (USA), an organization that illuminates the value of artists to American society. Sorey and Orr will each receive a $50,000 unrestricted award as part of the honor.
- Read more about Tyshawn Sorey’s MacArthur “Genius” Award
- Read more about Allison Orr’s work teaching dance and movement to local children
A total of 45 recipients were announced for the annual awards, which recognize achievements and innovation across nine disciplines, including architecture and design, crafts, dance, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, visual art, and writing. Dancer-choreographer-performance artist Okwui Okpokwasili, recipient of the 2015 Danspace/Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance Creative Artist Residency, and jazz chanteuse Somi, who performed as part of the Center for the Arts’ Performing Arts Series in October 2017, were also recognized for their work.
Since its founding in 2006, United States Artists has awarded more than 500 accomplished and innovative artists with unrestricted awards totaling over $22 million of direct support.
by Laurie Kenney •
This fall, singer-musician-writer Amanda Palmer ’98 and award-winning independent filmmaker Michael Pope teamed up to teach The Art of Doing: Creative Project Production and Making It Happen. On Saturday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., Palmer, Pope and their students will screen the class’s final project—a music video for an original song by Palmer, inspired by a free-writing exercise with the students—at the Goldsmith Family Cinema at Wesleyan, followed by a short performance by Palmer. Seating for the free event is limited. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
In this Q&A, Palmer and Pope reflect on their experience this semester.
by Olivia Drake •
Several students and recent alumni attended and presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting for the Society for Ethnomusicology, Oct. 26-29, 2017, in Denver, Colo.
Founded in 1955, the Society for Ethnomusicology is a global, interdisciplinary network of individuals and institutions engaged in the study of music across all cultural contexts and historical periods.
Ellen Lueck, MA ’12, PhD ’17, presented her paper, “Proposing a Theory for a New Space, the Affinity Interzone.”
PhD candidate Gene Lai presented his paper, “Uniquely Singapore: Revitalizing a Tamil Folk Music Tradition in the Lion City.”
PhD candidate Sean Sonderegger MA ’14 presented “None of That is a Trend: Three Studies in Intertexuality and the Merging of Jazz and Hip-Hop Traditions.”
PhD candidate Huan Li presented her paper, “Roses and Thorns: Mass Media, Chinese Cultural Market, and Qinshi’s Creativity in Reform China.”
PhD candidate Andrew Colwell MA ’11 participated in a roundtable titled “Music and Mobility in Inner Asia: Experience and Theory.” Cowell, who is expected to earn his PhD in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan in 2018, also won the student prize for best paper from the Society for Asian Music.
PhD candidates Ender Terwilliger and Christine May Yong organized a panel discussion on “Performing within Parameters: Government Policy and the Performing Arts in Taiwan, Malaysia and Venezuela.”
In addition, Visiting Assistant Professor Kate Galloway chaired a panel at the event.
by Olivia Drake •
(by Andy Chatfield)
The Center for the Arts, in collaboration with the College of the Environment, invites an artist or artists from areas affected by the hurricane season of 2017 to campus for a short-term residency in April 2018. Artists working in all disciplines from Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands may propose a project that explores the evolving human relationship to water, and responds to the following questions:
- How can the arts address and respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises wrought by climate change?
- How do we redefine humankind’s evolving relationship to nature, specifically to water?
- What role might the arts play in rebuilding after storms?
“Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts has a history of interdisciplinary programs, integrating the arts across campus,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “This new one-time residency in collaboration with the College of the Environment will have an impact not only on the artist selected for the residency but also allow the Wesleyan community to respond to the environmental and social impact of these natural disasters.”
“The arts allow us to explore issues in ways no other medium does,” said Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts. “The arts have a unique responsibility to help us improve our communities and world where ever we can. In these times of rebuilding after crisis, the arts can play a critical role in community building, envisioning, and imagining how we rebuild, and what we want to become.”
The Center for the Arts seeks to engage an artist in a 7 to 14 day residency in April 2018 on Wesleyan’s campus. Artists may work in any performing arts or visual arts discipline (music, dance, theater, visual arts), or in a practice that crosses disciplines. Artists are invited to create a work that responds to hurricanes and their environmental and social impact. We invite projects that also address environmental issues such as climate change, disaster, and disruption. The proposed project must include an opportunity for the Wesleyan community to interact with the creation of and/or presentation of the work. The project budget includes a $10,000 artist fee and up to $5,000 for travel and materials.
• Artist must have permanent residency in one of the states or U.S. territories most directly impacted by the hurricane season of 2017 (Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands). If a group of artists, the majority of the group must have residency as described above.
• Artist(s) must be available to travel to Middletown, Connecticut for a 7 to 14 day residency in April 2018 and be able to work within the budget outlined above.
• Artist(s) must be able to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States.
• Application form, including project description, resume, three references, and work samples submitted here.
Proposals are due at 11:59 p.m., Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Decisions will be announced no later than Dec. 15, 2017.
Residency is in April 2018 (dates to be determined in consultation with selected artist).
For additional information, contact Michelle Grove, interim associate director for programs.
“After seeing the scope of this year’s hurricane season, we thought this was a way that we could both address the needs of artists in those areas, while also deepen the conversation on campus about climate change on the human environment,” said Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment, Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. Chernoff also is chair of the Environmental Studies Program, professor of biology, professor of earth and environmental sciences.