Campus News & Events

Tucker Comments on Victorian Pseudoscience, Romance

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

The pseudoscientific myths about love and sexuality that abounded in the Victorian era, many of which seem “cruel and oppressive” by today’s standards, could also offer women relief from the era’s “rigid gender politics,” according to Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker, who comments on the topic for a Broadly article.

For much of the 19th century, the Western world was fascinated with a variety of pseudosciences, or theories that lack a basis in the scientific method.

“Definitions of science were malleable and hotly contested in the 19th century,” said Tucker, who is also associate professor of science in society, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and associate professor of environmental studies. “Far from being on the sidelines of intellectual life, spiritualism and other unconventional forms of knowledge often provided a means for Victorians from a variety of different social backgrounds to question scientific authority and to ask what counted as a proper science, or as a ‘scientific practice.'”

“One of the great myths about the Victorian age [was] that it was sexually repressive; on the contrary, Victorian society was obsessed with sexual reform, heterosexual and homosexual love, lust, and sex (as well as of the policing of sexual desires),” added Tucker. “Love and sex were both controversial and politicized.”

Pseudoscientific theories included phrenology (which was used to explain the different propensities of men and women toward love and sexual desire); the use of love potions made of dangerous ingredients such as arsenic and belladonna; beauty face masks made of raw beef; cures for low libido such as bull testicles; and vibrators used to treat “hysteria” in sexually frustrated women.

According to the story, “Victorians were also surprisingly progressive on what would eventually evolve into more enlightened views on gender.

“Theosophists [occult philosophers] believed that life in male and female bodies taught different lessons; for some, this meant that it was necessary for the Ego to incarnate many times as both female and male,” Tucker explains. “Many theosophists believed, for example, that in their evolutionary progress men reincarnated as women, and women as men. Therefore at any given time, as one believer in this theory said in 1892: ‘We have… men in women’s bodies, and women in men’s bodies.'”

Cardinals Win Historic Little Three Titles in Men’s Ice Hockey, Basketball, Football

The men's hockey team defeated Amherst 3-0 on Dec. 2, 2016 and claimed the Little Three title on Feb. 17. (Photo by Jonas Powell '18)

The men’s hockey team defeated Amherst 3-0 on Dec. 2, 2016 and claimed the Little Three title on Feb. 17. This is the first time the hockey team won a title since the 1986-87 season. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

For the first time in the history of Wesleyan athletics, the football, men’s basketball and most recently, men’s ice hockey team, won the Little Three title in the same academic year.

The “Little Three” schools — Wesleyan, Amherst and Williams — first formally banded together in 1899 as the Triangular League. Since 1910, the teams have annually competed in the Little Three intercollegiate athletic conference.

Although men’s hockey lost to Trinity 7-2 during its Feb. 17 game, Amherst defeated Williams 1-0 on the same day, giving the Cardinals their first outright Little Three title in 30 years. The Cardinals are led by head coach Chris Potter.

Football won its Little Three title on Nov. 5, 2016 with a 59-14 win over Williams. And the men’s basketball team won its Little Three title on Feb. 7 with a thrilling 73-72 overtime victory against Amherst.

Prior to the Feb. 17 game against Trinity, Wesleyan honored the six members of its senior class: Rob Harbison, James Kline, Cole Morrissette, Quincy Oujevolk, Daniel Weiss and Dawson Sprigings.

Prior to the Feb. 17 game against Trinity, Wesleyan honored the six members of its senior class: Rob Harbison, James Kline, Cole Morrissette, Quincy Oujevolk, Daniel Weiss and Dawson Sprigings. (Photo by Lianne Yun ’18)

Cohan Elected to Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering

Fred Cohan

Fred Cohan

Frederick Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, has recently been elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE). Set to be inducted during the 42nd Annual Meeting and Dinner on May 22, 2017, Cohan will join 23 others as “Connecticut’s leading experts in science, technology, and engineering,” and the academy’s newest members during their ceremony at the University of Connecticut.

In line with CASE’s mission to honor those “on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction, achieved through significant contributions in theory or application,” Cohan’s work has led to the “development of a comprehensive new theory for the origin, maintenance, and evolutionary dynamics of bacterial species diversity that integrates ecological and genetic criteria; and to the initiation and co-development of associated software tools, which allow microbiologists to identify distinct bacterial species from DNA sequence data.”

Cohan is a graduate of Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 1975. He went on to earn his PhD in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 1982. His professional work takes him across the biological and environmental world, including, but not limited to topics such as microbial ecology, evolutionary theory, origins of bacterial diversity, molecular systematics and gene cluster analysis, horizontal genetic transfer and bacterial transformation.

Gaudon Remembered for Scholarly Research on Victor Hugo

Sheila Gaudon, professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita, died on Feb. 19 at the age of 83.

Born in Liverpool, England, Gaudon received a BA from Manchester University, and a “Docteur de l’Université des Sciences humaines de Strasbourg.” She joined the Wesleyan faculty in 1970 and taught French literature courses in the Romance Languages and Literatures Department for 23 years. She served as director of the Wesleyan Program in Paris several times and as department chair.

Gaudon was an active scholar whose research focused on Victor Hugo. She worked extensively with the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) in Paris over many years. In 1982 she began a three-year appointment as “Chargée de recherches” at the CNRS to prepare the first volumes of Victor Hugo’s family correspondence. After retiring to Paris in 1993, she continued to use an office at the Victor Hugo museum, which houses one of the largest archive collections in Paris. Gaudon spoke at colloquia around Europe throughout her retirement on subjects concerning Hugo.

Gaudon will be remembered by her colleagues for the steady leadership she provided to the department.

“Those who were close to her will remember her as well as a remarkable cook, an unsurpassed lover of the stage, and a caring and loyal friend,” said Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish.

She is survived by her husband, Jean Gaudon, who lives in Paris.

Researchers’ Paper Selected as “Editor’s Choice” by American Chemical Society

Three faculty and one graduate student co-authored a paper titled “Statistical Coupling Analysis combined with all-atom Molecular Simulation Postulates Dynamical Allosterism in the MutS DNA Mismatch Repair Protein,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry – Biophysics, published by The American Chemical Society.

The authors include David Beveridge, the Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, professor of chemistry, professor of integrative sciences; Manju Hingorani, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, professor of integrative sciences; Kelly Thayer, visiting assistant professor of computer science; and molecular biology and biochemistry graduate student Bharat Lakhani.

This project is part of Lakhani’s ’16 PhD thesis of Lakhani. Notably, the project brings together the experimental biochemistry of Hingorani’s research program, which specializes in DNA mismatch repair, and the computational biophysics in Beveridge’s Laboratory, which specializes in molecular dynamics simulations. All theoretical calculations were carried out using the Wesleyan High Performance Computer Cluster.

In addition, the article was selected as an ACS “Editor’s Choice,” an honor given to one article from the entire ACS portfolio of journals each day of the year. As a consequence, the authors have been invited to submit a 30-40 minute online presentation to “ACS LiveSlides,” which increases the exposure of the published work.

Wesleyan to Share Student Stories Through Merit

Merit logoWesleyan has just partnered with Merit, an online service that helps colleges and universities celebrate and share students’ accomplishments. More than 300 institutions now use Merit, including many of our peers.

Each student will have a Merit page, a verified professional profile that outlines their accomplishments at Wesleyan—from research and academic awards to study abroad, volunteer work and co-curricular activities—and can be shared with prospective employers, graduate schools and others. Students don’t need to do anything to maintain their Merit pages, but they’ll have the ability if they wish to enhance them with photos, bios, other activities or work experience. Students may also choose not to participate.

Through Merit, updates are also pushed out to social networks, sent to every student’s high school, hometown news outlets, and families.

“As we all know, Wesleyan students do amazing things. This new system allows us to share those great stories with family, community, potential employers and graduate schools in a way that connects each of them with a student excelling here,” said Chief Communications Officer Key Nuttall.

Faculty and staff may submit news of student achievements by emailing studentnews@wesleyan.edu or posting information here.

More information about Wesleyan’s involvement with Merit is available here.

Fowler, Gollust ’01 Author Paper on News Coverage of Obamacare

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and Sarah Gollust ’01, associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, are authors of a new paper published Feb. 16 in the American Journal of Public Health examining local TV news coverage of the Affordable Care Act rollout in 2013 and 2014. Though television news played a key role in providing information about the ACA when Americans were first learning about the details of new insurance options open to them, this is the first analysis of public health-relevant content of this coverage during the ACA’s first open enrollment period.

In an analysis of 1,569 local TV news stories aired between October 1, 2013 and April 19, 2014, the authors found that less than half of the coverage focused on the health insurance products available through the law. They note that key policy aspects of the ACA were surprisingly uncommon even among these stories, with Medicaid mentioned in only 7 percent of them and the availability of subsidies mentioned in only 8 percent. More than a quarter of the stories in the sample focused solely on the politics of the ACA, not mentioning any information about health insurance products.

Fowler and Gollust note that journalistic coverage of the law tended to focus on which side was “winning” and “losing,” with attention to enrollment expectations and achievement, as well as problems with the websites, over policy substance. It also relied heavily on partisan sources, while few news stories included any public health, medical, research, or health advocacy perspectives. They argue that this framing of the law by the local TV media limited citizens’ exposure to the substance of ACA policy content, increasing the likelihood of the public perceiving the law through a politically charged lens.

“Coverage of strategy in news is nothing new, but I was surprised by how little coverage some basic information–such as mentions of subsidies being available–got in local television news,” said Fowler.

The research was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s SHARE program, which is managed by SHADAC (State Health Access Data Assistance Center). The project began in October 2013, and a group of about 25 students with the Wesleyan Media Project worked on coding local TV news stories from March to July 2015. Two students, Alison Mann ’17 and Courtney Laermer ’17, are acknowledged in the paper for their work developing coding protocols and training other students.

“This is certainly an exciting time to be doing research on the ACA and how the media has impacted it over the years,” said Learner. She is currently working on a senior thesis that is also looking at how local broadcast media (advertisements and news coverage) surrounding the ACA during the first open enrollment period influenced viewers’ opinions of the law.

“In my thesis, I am analyzing whether or not specific content within the media has an impact on viewers’ perceptions, so I am definitely looking forward to investigating this topic further and seeing whether or not the results are consistent and where differences are seen,” she said.

Weinstein ’17, Scruggs ’17 to Join Teach For America Following Graduation

Michael Weinstein ’17 will head to Milwaukee, Wis. to teach.

Michael Weinstein ’17 will head to Milwaukee, Wis. to teach.

Two members of the Class of 2017 and the Wesleyan athletic community have committed to join Teach For America after graduation: Michael Weinstein ’17 of Brookline, Mass. and Katie Scruggs ’17 of Vail, Colo. Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity.

Weinstein, who is the captain for both the men’s rugby team and ski team, will teach middle school special education in Milwaukee, Wis. This will be his first experience living in the Midwest.

“I think Wesleyan, as opposed to any other liberal arts school, put me into contact with a lot of people who are really smart and conscientious,” Weinstein said, reflecting on how Wesleyan is preparing him for this experience. “They care about each other and about injustices in America. Any liberal arts school can provide a ‘well-rounded’ education, but Wesleyan students generally try to apply what they learn to real life issue. Hopefully I can do the same!”

teach-for-americaScruggs, who is a member of the women’s cross country team, will teach high school science in Boston.

According to Teach for America, more than 16 million children are growing up in poverty in the U.S. By eighth grade, they are nearly three years behind higher-income peers in reading and math and are 1/10th as likely to graduate from college as students from affluent communities.

Teach For America seeks to combat this problem by enlisting promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.

Shapiro Receives Grant from Belgian Government

Norman Shapiro, professor of french.

Norman Shapiro.

Norman Shapiro, professor of French, poet in residence and the Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation at Wesleyan, has received a grant from the Belgian government’s Ministère de la Culture for his forthcoming volume Fables of Town and Country, a translation of Fables des villes et des champs of Pierre Coran, an eminent Belgian poet and novelist.

The book will feature illustrations by Olga Pastuchiv, a children’s book author and illustrator, and will be published by Black Widow Press, which specializes in poetry translations. Black Widow Press also published Shapiro’s previous collection of Coran, Fables in a Modern Key, translated from the Belgian author’s Fables à l’air du temps. Early next year, Black Widow intends to publish Shapiro’s Rhymamusings, a translation of the 70 whimsical verse-vignettes of Coran’s Amuserimes.

Shapiro has received praise and numerous awards for his translations. In 1971, his translation of Feydeau’s Four Farces was a finalist for the National Book Award for Translation. His French Women Poets of Nine Centuries: The Distaff and the Pen earned him the 2009 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). Shapiro also is a member of the Academy of American Poets and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Francaise.

New Center for the Arts Exhibition Explores Duality

Multimedia artist Clarissa Tossin discusses her artwork at the IN STEREO event and artist walkthrough on February 7, 2017. Photo by Perceptions Photography.

Multimedia artist Clarissa Tossin discusses her artwork at the IN STEREO event and artist walkthrough on Feb. 7. (Photo by Perceptions Photography)

In the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery sits an old Volkswagen Brasília, surrounded by a sampling of artwork in all different mediums. This the Center for the Arts’ latest exhibition, Stereoscopic Vision, which fuses photography, sculpture, and video from different bodies of work by Brazilian-born artist, Clarissa Tossin. Stereoscopic Vision highlights the dualities between natural and manufactured; two and three-dimensions; co-dependent economies; intention and actuality; and the United States and Brazil.
tossinevent1  tossinevent2

For Tossin, who is based in Los Angeles, this is her first solo exhibition in the northeast. Tossin considers herself a multimedia artist. “I work with installation, video, photography and sculpture in an expansive way, which allows me to incorporate other mediums to the work and move freely among these disciplines” she explained. “I’m interested in looking at architecture, not only from its physical qualities, but the ways it signifies and is used.”

Besides this exhibition, Tossin is preparing to shoot a new film called Maya Blue, which will premiere in September at Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a Getty Foundation initiative that explores the connections between Los Angeles and Latin American art. “The film examines the influence of Mayan architecture on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, an important LA landmark,” she said. “The piece will document a performance responsive to the site, in which a woman engages with the house’s architectonic features with choreography drawn from ancient Mayan traditions.”The free

The free exhibition is on display through Sunday, March 5. The Zilkha Gallery is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Additionally, Wesleyan artists in music, poetry, and dance are participating in IN STEREO, a series of pop-up performances that are related to or inspired by Tossin’s work. The Feb. 21 performance spotlights dancers and choreographers.

Winston Honored by German Government

Ralf Horleman congratulates Krishna Winston o

Consul General Ralf Horlemann honored Professor Krishna Winston with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Krishna Winston, the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, professor of environmental studies, received a lifetime achievement award from the German government on Feb. 13.

Ralf Horlemann, the Consul General of Germany to New England, bestowed the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on Winston after a ceremony held in Allbritton Hall. The Order of Merit is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany pays to individuals for services to the nation or contributions to enhancing Germany’s standing abroad and its relations with other countries.

Krishna Winston dons the Order of Merit.

Krishna Winston dons the Order of Merit. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Winston received the award for her scholarly and literary translations of more than 35 works of fiction and non-fiction by Werner Herzog, Peter Handke, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Günter Grass, Christoph Hein, Golo Mann, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hans Jonas and others. Her translations make available to the English-speaking world works originally written in German, and she has received three major literary prizes for her work.

Wesleyan Athletics App Available for Download

wesleyanfrontrowWith spring sporting events right around the corner, now is the time to download Wesleyan Front Row, the Wesleyan Athletics new mobile app.

Launched in August and developed with PrestoSports, Wesleyan Front Row gives Cardinals fans the ability to enable notifications to access score updates, statistics, and game recaps. Fans can set sport preferences to see schedules, results, event recaps and photo galleries.

For some events, a live stream of the game is available through the app, giving unprecedented access to off-campus fans, including parents and alumni, who still want to cheer on their favorite athletes from afar.

“The mobile app allows fans, parents, alumni, prospective students and current students to get information about their favorite teams instantly,” said Mike O’Brien, director of athletic communication. “It’s an incredibly easy way to stay up-to-date on Wesleyan Athletics, and we are very excited to provide this accessibility to our fans.”

The mobile app is available for download for iPhone and Android.