Campus News & Events

Murillo Honored with $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry

Poet John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection “Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.” (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry. (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

On April 7, poet John Murillo, assistant professor of English, was named the 2021 winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his recent collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).

Murillo’s collection offers “a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation.”

The Kingsley Tufts Award is awarded to a mid-career poet and comes with a $100,000 prize.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry also was nominated for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award and the 2021 NAACP Images Awards in the Outstanding Literary Work — Poetry category.

This spring, Murillo is teaching ENGL 337: Advanced Poetry Workshop: Radical Revision.

Students Awarded $5,000 Seed Grants for Socially-Good Ventures

seed grant pitch

On April 2, six Patricelli Center Seed Grant finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges.

Wesleyan’s organic farm, an eco-friendly clothing store, and a clean water supplier in New Jersey are the recipients of the 2021 Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship Seed Grants. These student-led social ventures will each receive $5,000 in unrestricted funds as well as training, advising, mentoring, incubator workspace, and other resources from the Patricelli Center.

On April 2, a pool of finalists pitched their projects, virtually, to a panel of expert judges. Applicants were assessed on their project design, leadership qualities, and potential for social or environmental impact.

Seasoned Seed Grant judge and Patricelli Center Advisory Board member Syed Ali ’13 said the PCSE’s Seed Grant competition demonstrates “the best of Wesleyan. These students brought both creativity and critical thinking to their proposals. They see clearly that every person deserves clean water, good food, and a healthy planet and recognize we are going to have to think differently to achieve that.”

On April 5, the Patricelli Center announced the Seed Grant winners:

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23.

Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23 are the co-creators of Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here. With Infinitely, Karamat and Cardenas are offering products that are made in an eco-friendly fashion.

Infinitely: Doing Good While We’re Here by Nimra Karamat ’23 and Ashley Cardenas ’23

Karamat and Cardenas are working to launch a sustainable, affordable line of clothing that combats the fast fashion industry and all the environmental and humanitarian concerns it raises. Their first collection will launch later this spring.

“We pride ourselves in doing good while we’re here, for when we’re no longer here,” Cardenas explained. “Fast fashion companies don’t offer quality in sustainable products. They create a high demand production for cheap materials to keep up with the latest trends.”

Infinitely is partnering with other sustainable businesses—small and large—to increase the demand and access to sustainable clothing.

“Unlike other sustainable businesses that overprice their clothing materials, Infinitely is dedicated to remaining accessible for everyone in advocating for social issues through our clothing materials,” she said.

Elam Grekin '22 and Franny Lin '21

Elam Grekin ’22 (pictured) and Franny Lin ’21 are members of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm community.

Long Lane Farm, Summer Farming by Elam Grekin ’22 and Franny Lin ’21

Since its founding in 2003, Long Lane Farm has worked towards a model of food sovereignty, in which all people not only have access to affordable, healthy meals, but also have a say in how their food is produced.

“Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to both the farm and our communities, we will look ahead, strengthen and expand our role in the community, and shore up our strategies for the future,” Lin said.

Lin and Grekin have both spent ample time growing food at Long Lane Farm, and they hope to use the farm as a means of helping fight food insecurity in Middletown. They seek to create a farm stand, launch educational initiatives, and host community events to bring people together while working towards their goal.

“As the pandemic eases, this is the time for us to rebuild our relationships with the Middletown community,” Lin explained. “This grant would allow us to hire more farmers, giving us the freedom to focus on community building and food insecurity without having to sacrifice our ecological growing practices or vegetable yields. It will also allow someone to focus on the longevity of these relationships.”

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich '24.

Vincent Henrich ’24 created Newark Water Association by

Newark Water Association by Vincent Henrich ’24

Henrich launched the Newark Water Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in 2020 to provide the community of Newark, N.J. with access to clean, safe, and free water.

“Newark residents are still drinking lead-contaminated water,” Henrich said. “The immediate need is not being met. This is where Newark Water Association stepped in. We supported the immediate need by supplying those who needed the water the most with our bottled water project.”

He focuses on giving bottled water to groups who could not otherwise access uncontaminated water.

Runners up included: B4 ~ Bold, Brave, Beautiful, Bald by Kara Hodge ’24 and Alexis Papavasiliou ’24; Hearth Creative Co. LLC by Nélida Zepeda ’23; and Olive Branch Pictures Inc. by Andrew Hirsh ’20, Kevin DeLoughry ’21, and Liam Trampota ’18. The Seed Grant and other Patricelli Center programs are made possible by numerous donors and volunteers, including Propel Capital, Newman’s Own Foundation, and the Norman Ernst Priebatsch Endowed Fund for Entrepreneurship.

Ali, who works as an analyst for HR&A Advisors, an urban planning / public policy / economic development consulting firm, admired the diversity of projects pitched by the students. 

“For every single venture, even the ones who were not crowned winners, the judges saw tremendous potential in what these students could achieve with the passion and leadership they demonstrated,” Ali said. “These students and teams exemplify the spirit of innovation and impact shared by so many members of the Wesleyan community.”

 

American Oz by MacLowry, Strain to Premiere April 19

ozA film written, directed, and produced by College of Film and the Moving Image faculty Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heather Strain explores the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of the beloved classic American narrative, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

MacLowry is assistant professor of the practice in film studies and Strain is associate professor of film studies. Together they direct the Wesleyan Documentary Project.

Titled American Oz, the documentary depicts how Baum continued to reinvent himself—working as a chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman, and traveling salesman—while reinterpreting his observations through films, books, and musicals.

Featuring interviews with Wesleyan’s Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita; Wicked author Gregory Maguire, and historian Philip Deloria, and others, American Oz shows how Baum wove together scraps and shards of his own experiences into an enduring work of the imagination. As a young husband and father, Baum was continually struggling to support his growing family. His quest to find his true calling led him through a dozen enterprises; some were abandoned for the next big thing and others failed. But each provided Baum with fodder that could be transformed in his writing.

The documentary premieres from 9 to 11 p.m. EST on Monday, April 19 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App.

This spring at Wesleyan, MacLowry is teaching FILM 457: Advanced Filmmaking, and Strain is teaching FILM 384: Documentary Storytelling and FILM 430: Documentary Production.

Kostacopoulos Remembered for Being Wesleyan’s Winningest Coach

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, and former head baseball coach and assistant football coach, passed away on March 25 at the age of 86.

Kosty earned his BS from the University of Maine, where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball, and made the All-Maine Conference in football and basketball. After coaching at Bowdoin for nine years, he arrived at Wesleyan in 1968. He served as head baseball coach for 28 years and assistant football coach for 19 years. He also served as a head squash coach during this time.

Kosty led the Cardinals to 11 Little Three titles. Twice named NCAA Coach of the Year, he won over 400 games and had 24 winning seasons in his time at Wesleyan. In 1994 Kosty led the team to the NCAA College World Series and was chosen as a coach for the Division III All-Star game at Fenway Park in Boston. “Coach Kosty had the ability to challenge his players and get them to perform at their best in the most important games,” recalled Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair, Physical Education. “For many, he was a great coach, mentor, and friend, and he will be missed.”

In addition to being Wesleyan’s winningest coach, Kosty was also known as an active recruiter. “From the honor of being recruited by him, to playing under his guidance, he gave us the transformational experience of our lives,” said Mark Woodworth ’94, head baseball coach. “Coach Kosty was larger than life and the embodiment of what a coach should be. His legacy lives on and is firmly embedded in the Wesleyan Baseball program, but is found even more in the hearts and minds of those of us fortunate enough to have been able to call him Coach.”

Known as a mentor and an enduring friend to his students, Kosty was inducted into the Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. John Raba, Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse, said: “Peter Kostacopoulos was one of the finest individuals to ever have coached at Wesleyan. His championship record, innovation, teaching, and influence in the lives and careers of players and coaches are unsurpassed. Peter will be deeply missed by many of us in the athletic community at Wesleyan.”

Kosty, who retired from Wesleyan in 2001, is survived by his wife Joann Hanson Kostacopoulos and his sons John Kostacopoulos, Peter Kostacopoulos, Jr., and Paul Kostacopoulos. The family is planning a celebration of Kosty’s life this summer, to be announced at a later time.

Tucker Lectures on Victorian Aeronauts and the History of Ballooning

Photo of Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, gave a virtual talk titled “Adventures of Victorian Aeronauts” on March 28. The lecture focused on the way balloon travel changed the landscape of Victorian aviation.

The talk was hosted by Profs & Pints, an online platform for professors to give lectures that reach a wide virtual audience.

Tucker began with a historical panorama of ballooning from its origins in Enlightenment science and Romanticism, to its uses for various purposes in the 19th century. She also explored balloon fashion and follies, accidents and mishaps, deaths and discoveries, personalities and scientific uses, as well as the technologies involved.

Tucker first wrote about aeronauts after the 2019 release of the Tom Harper-directed film “The Aeronauts.”

She also was featured in a radio podcast with comedian and regular NPR host Helen Hong and history teacher Matt Beat for iHeartRadio’s new podcast series, “Jobsolete.”

At Wesleyan, Tucker’s work focuses on the varied visual worlds of photographic and cinematic evidence in the fields of science, law, forensic medicine, news reporting, public trials, history, environment, as well as scientific discovery.

This spring, she’s teaching a sophomore history tutorial, CSS 240: The Emergence of Modern Europe.

baloon

Tuckers’ talk relates to the 2019 film “The Aeronauts,” directed by Tom Harper.

Students Gather to Honor Atlanta Victims, Combat Anti-Asian Violence

vigil

Students organized a vigil on March 30 to reflect on a recent attack against Asians and Asian Americans. (Photo by Nathaniel Pugh ’21)

On March 30, more than 150 students gathered outside Usdan University Center for a community vigil to mourn the victims of the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings and to create a safe space for Asian and Asian-American students to discuss the rise of anti-Asian violence and be heard by the community.

The vigil was organized by Emily Chen ’23, Kevin Le ’22, and graduate student Emily Moon, in conjunction with members of the Asian American Student Collective.

Students read poems, played music, and shared their reflections during the event. Towards the end, the organizers gave anyone moved to speak the opportunity to do so.

Smolkin Speaks about the History of Soviet Atheism on Moscow Radio Station

Victoria Smolkin

Victoria Smolkin

On March 28, Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history and chair, Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, was featured on the radio station Echo of Moscow.

Smolkin spoke on Soviet atheism on Irina Prokhorova’s program “Culture of Everyday Life.” The podcast is available in Russian online here.

Smolkin is the author of A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, which was recently translated into Russian.

Atheism prevailed in Soviet ideology, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. However, religion never fully disappeared from the life of Russia and the Soviet republics. In the broadcast, Smolkin and fellow panelists discussed why the Soviet government fought so hard against the church and religion, how Soviet atheism differs from the atheism of Western intellectuals, and how the history of Soviet atheism influenced the craving for mysticism and esotericism in Russia in the 1990s, among other topics.

Grossman Co-Authors Article on British Stock Market

Grossman

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman, professor of economics, recently co-authored an article titled “Before the Cult of Equity: the British Stock Market, 1829-1929” in European Review of Economic History, published on March 24, 2021.

According to the paper’s abstract, the co-authors “analyze the development and performance of the British equity market during the era when it reigned supreme as the largest in the world. By using an extensive monthly dataset of thousands of companies, we identify the major peaks and troughs in the market and find a relationship with the timing of economic cycles. We also show that the equity risk premium was modest and, contrary to previous research, domestic and foreign stocks earned similar returns for much of the period. We also document the early dominance of the transport and finance sectors and the subsequent emergence of many new industries.”

Dierker to Teach Passion-Driven Statistics As Fulbright Specialist

dierker

Lisa Dierker began her four-year term as a Fulbright Specialist in January.

As a recipient of a Fulbright Specialist Award, Professor Lisa Dierker hopes to connect with academic partners across the world sharing her expertise and excitement in support of data analytics.

“High quality, accessible and manageable data have never been so critical to the well-being of people around the world,” Dierker said. “Increasing capacity to identify, gather and analyze relevant data is a key pathway for better-informed decision-making and will create a larger, more diverse workforce.”

Dierker, Walter Crowell University Professor of Social Sciences, professor of psychology and education studies, is a co-creator of Wesleyan’s “Passion-Driven Statistics” model, a data-driven, project-based introductory curriculum backed by the National Science Foundation. This flexible curriculum engages students from a range of disciplines with large, real-world data sets and code-based analytic software (e.g. SAS, R, Python, Stata, etc.), providing experience in the rich, complicated, decision-making process of real statistical inquiry. The model is being taught nationwide in colleges and universities and has reached more than 50,000 people worldwide through the Coursera class, Data Analysis and Interpretation, taught by Dierker and Jennifer Rose, professor of the practice in the Center for Pedagogical Innovation.

Wesleyan in the News

Several Wesleyan faculty and alumni have appeared in national media outlets recently. They include:

March 23
The Island Now – Earth Matters – A Brief History of Long Island Sound. Mentions that in 1892, 23 students at Wesleyan came down with typhoid, with four deaths, from eating contaminated oysters.

Morning Star via PR Newswire – College Consensus Publishes Aggregate Ranking of the 100 Best Colleges & Universities for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

Sugarcane Magazine – Incarcerated Poets Laureate: Recognizing Unseen Creators in Florida. Mentions that through his nonprofit, O, Miami, P. Scott Cunningham ’00 builds community through literature.

March 24
Market Screener – Lyndsey Layton ’86, a longtime editor and reporter at The Washington Post, will be the new deputy editor for policy for The New York Times Climate desk.

Patch – Reads Together: All Black Kids’ Author. Mentions that president emerita of Spelman College Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75, Hon’15, P’04 led a conversation on “Race and Racism.”

Associated Press – Fulcrum Therapeutics Appoints Dunn as President of Research and Development. Features Judith A. Dunn PhD ’98.

Hamlet Hub – Conversations: “Truth, Myth and Democracy” at Ridgefield (CT) Library. Mentions that Western Connecticut State University psychology professor Daniel Barrett ’86 will moderate the discussion.

PR Web – The Top 100 Stanford MBA Alumni In Finance & Investing. Mentions Wesleyan’s Chief Investment Officer Anne Martin.

The Middletown Press – Wesleyan student named Middletown Newman Civic Fellow. Features Emily McEvoy ’22.

March 25
90.5 WCBE via NPR – The Chauvin Trial Isn’t Technically About Race – But Jury Selection For It Has Been. Quotes Sonali Chakravarti, associate professor of government, “who has studied the role of race in jury selection.”

Profit Quotes – Lacuna Technologies Adds New Board of Directors. Mentions Rashida Richardson ’08, who “brings over a decade of experience as a lawyer, researcher, and advocate specializing in race, emerging technologies and the law to the Lacuna Board of Directors.”

Street Insider – Gran Tierra news. Mentions Sondra Scott ’88, COO of Verisk Financial, who “has more than 25 years of experience as an energy and risk analytics business leader.”

Street Insider – Vertiv Holdings Co. news. Mentions Jacob Kotzubei ’91, who was selected to serve on the Vertiv Holdings Board “due to his experience in executive management oversight, private equity, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactional matters.”

DNYUZ – Poem: Note to Black Women in America. Features a poem by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers whose latest collection, “The Age of Phillis,” was published by Wesleyan University Press.

Market Screener – IMV Inc. Appoints Kuvalanka to Board of Directors. Mentions that Kyle Kuvalanka ’90 serves as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Goldfinch Bio, a kidney precision medicines company.

March 26
The Middletown Press – Middlesex United Way: Workplace campaigns create a lasting impact on communities. Mentions that Wesleyan “increased its overall campaign by $4,000 compared to last year.”

March 27
Washington Post – What Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd means for America. Quotes Sonali Chakravarti, associate professor of government.

Variety – NAACP Image Awards 2021: The Complete Televised Winners List. Mentions “The Age of Phillis” by Honorée Jeffers (Wesleyan University Press) is the winner of the Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry category.

March 28
Cornell Sun – S.A. Debates Ethics of University Partnership With Chinese Universities and ICE. Mentions that Wesleyan has established itself as a sanctuary campus for undocumented students.

Reality Times – Can’t Sleep? Why Your House Might Be To Blame And What You Can Do About It. Mentions a study at Wesleyan “found that subjects who sniffed lavender oil for two minutes at three, 10-minute intervals before bedtime increased their amount of deep sleep and felt more vigorous in the morning.”

CPTV – Diana Martinez ’07, assistant director of the Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, was featured on the CUTLINE series as a facilitator for “Democracy and Community with UConn Democracy & Dialogues Initiative.” (Martinez begins speaking at 24:14.)

March 29
Associated Press – McDonald’s Names Desiree Ralls-Morrison as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Features Desiree Ralls-Morrison ’88, P’21, who earned a “bachelor of arts in economics and political science from Wesleyan.”

News Times – Middletown’s two first – and only – female mayors broke much ground. Quotes Former Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton: “We have a wonderful, vibrant downtown community, especially with [Wesleyan University] and the (Connecticut) river. You have cultural diversity in theater, the hearts, and a central location. This is a hidden gem.”

Independent Mail – Catherine Coleman Flowers is always in ‘good trouble.’ It’s a blessing for rural America. Features Catherine Coleman Flowers, who will receive an honorary degree from Wesleyan during the 2021 Commencement.

Shoot – Director Haymon Joins O Positive For Commercials. Features Miranda Haymon ’16, visiting instructor of theater.

Business Insider – One of America’s Richest Black People is Hiding in Plain Sight. Features Herriot Tabuteau ’89 (subscription needed).

March 30
Celebrity Mirror – 5 Facts About Producer Grillo, She Was David O. Russell’s Wife And Baby Mama. Features Janet Grillo ’80 who “graduated with a magna cum laude and special honors in theater from Wesleyan.”

Street Insider – Western New England Bancorp news. Mentions executive director John Bonini ’90, “who assumed the position of General Counsel on January 1, 2021.”

Street Insider – INX Limited news. Mentions David Weild ’78, the founder, chairman and CEO of Weild & Co., Inc.

View other recent Wesleyan in the News stories here.

Stamford Advocate – Middletown’s Community Health Center to receive $16.2 million in COVID relief. Mentions the COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at Wesleyan.

Talking Biz News – Politico reporter Maldonado set to depart. Features Samantha Maldonado ’13, energy and environment reporter at Politico, who Maldonado has a “BA in sociology and creative writing from Wesleyan University.”

March 31
The Day – History Matters: The day the music died. Mentions Neely Bruce, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, “who is an American music scholar and one of the founders of the New England Sacred Harp Convention.”

Journal Now – Wake Forest football notebook: Mentions Ben Thaw ’20, who was promoted to graduate assistant after spending the fall of 2020 as a recruiting intern for the Deacons.

Street Insider – Helix Acquisition Corp news. Mentions John Schmid ’85, who “currently serves as a member of the board of directors of AnaptysBio, Inc., Neos Therapeutics, Inc., Poseida Therapeutics, Inc., Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Forge Therapeutics, Inc., all pharmaceutical companies, and as the chairman of the board of directors of Speak, Inc., a speakers bureau, which he helped found in 1989.”

Insider – 56 celebrities you probably forgot guest-starred on ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ Mentions Wesleyan.

Rochester Business Journal – Clark Patterson Lee news. Mentions that Susannah Betts ’15 has been hired as a marketing coordinator and has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Wesleyan.

Street Insider – Oaktree Acquisition Corp. Mentions John Frank ’78, P’12, who “holds a BA degree with honors in history from Wesleyan” and “is a Trustee of Wesleyan University.”

Tumblehome – Upcoming Tumbleocity Programs. Mentions that Ellen Prager ’84 will speak to children on April 7 about adventures in Ilulissat, Greenland.

April 1
Artforum – A History of Violence. Mentions “Little Poems in Prose” translated by Keith Waldrop and published by Wesleyan University Press.

Eyewitness News 3 WFSB New Britain – Colleges preparing to offer vaccines to students. Mentions that the Community Health Center Inc. will be hosting a two-day walk-up clinic for Wesleyan University students later this month.

Fox 61 – Wesleyan University planning to offer COVID-19 vaccines on all-campus students. Mentions the Wesleyan Argus and Dean Rick Culliton.

Darien Times – Wesleyan University students enjoy spring break safely on Middletown campus. Mentions that Wesleyan University students welcomed a two-day study hiatus during spring break, March 23-24. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students remained in Middletown during the recess.

PR Newsire – College Consensus Publishes Aggregate Consensus Ranking of the 100 Best National Liberal Arts Colleges for 2021. Mentions Wesleyan.

April 2
Stamford Advocate – Wesleyan University Professor Talks Ocean Exploration in Vox Podcast. Features Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Patch – Fishers in Connecticut: A Zoom Talk at Canton Library. Features Wildlife Conservationist Paul Colburn ’79, who will lead a discussion on April 28.

Street Insider – Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.. news. Mentions Michael Kishbauch ’71, P’07 who has a “BA in biology from Wesleyan University.”

April 3
The San Diego Union-Tribune – Arthur Kopit, three-time Tony-nominated playwright, dies. Features Arthur Kopit P’05, who taught at Wesleyan.

San Mateo Daily Journal – San Mateo announces new city attorney. Features Prasanna Rasiah ’94, who “graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from Wesleyan University.”

April 5
The Middletown Press – Chamber On the Move. Mentions that Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 will deliver the keynote address for the Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Luncheon on April 27.

The Nation – Among the Rank and File: Nikolai Gogol in the twilight of empire. Mentions that “in a new collection of Gogol’s short stories, translated by Susanne Fusso, a professor of Russian studies at Wesleyan University, readers are reintroduced to the familiar cast of characters-identified by their rank, of course-that populate many of the Ukrainian author’s most celebrated works, including The Nose and The Overcoat.”

MSN – See What Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Sons Look Like All Grown Up. Features Julia Louis-Dreyfus Hall P’14 and Henry Hall ’14, whose band, “Grand Cousin, got their start when Henry was still a student at Wesleyan University.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer – New film office prize goes to a screenwriter who rediscovered herself in Philly. Mentions Matthew Frishkoff ’21, “a Wesleyan University senior,” who won a $500 prize for best student script.

Raw Story – How the media got hoodwinked by Republican talking points. Features an op-ed by John Stoehr, a former visiting assistant professor of public policy.

The Middletown Press – Danbury vaccination clinic reaches 1,000 shots per day as area COVID cases continue to climb. Mentions that Middletown’s Community Health Center plans to hold clinics with Wesleyan University before students return home at the end of the semester.

April 6
Street Insider – Invitation Homes Inc. news. Mentions John Rhea ’87.

Street Insider – CSG Systems International news. Mentions Frank V. Sica ’73.

Herald Chronicle – Chegg hires Sony Executive Lauren Glotzer as new Chief Strategy Officer. Features Lauren Glotzer ’94.

Hartford Courant – Hartford coffee shop Story and Soil expanding into Middletown. Story and Soil is expanding to a second location inside Wesleyan RJ Julia Booksellers in Middletown.

Press Telegram – Ontario-raised poet John Murillo receives Claremont’s $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award. Features John Murillo, assistant professor of English, who was named the 2021 winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his recent collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.

View all recent Wesleyan in the News stories here.

Östör Celebrates 6 Films Featured at Smithsonian Festival

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, and his wife, Lina Fruzzetti, a professor of anthropology at Brown University, co-produced six films that are now being included in a retrospective hosted by the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative for the annual Mother Tongue Film Festival.

The festival features diverse films which explore language and knowledge around the world. This year’s theme is “The Healing Power of Storytelling.” While the festival must take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each film is available to stream throughout the spring for a certain window of time. Östör and Fruzzetti also participated in a virtual roundtable discussion on March 19 to discuss their films through an anthropological lens.

Of Östör and Fruzzetti’s six films in the festival, one is a documentary feature and the other five are documentary shorts.

mother's house The feature film, titled In My Mother’s House (2017), follows Fruzzetti as she uncovers the history of her Italian father and her Eritrean mother after receiving a letter from a long-lost relative. The film is set in the United States, Italy, and Eritrea as Fruzzetti learns more about the intersection of her family’s past and the history of these countries through her travels.

At the roundtable discussion, Fruzzetti spoke about the process of telling her mother’s story.

“Here is a story of a woman that gets appropriated across generations of people [who] come to see it,” Fruzzetti said. “But most people…tell us how the film affected them. We had no idea that’s what [would] happen to the film. My interest in the film isn’t in the technicalities of the filmmaking itself, but in the ethnography of it, in the stories that it tells. And every film, I think, has a powerful story that it can tell.”

Östör mentioned how working on In My Mother’s House combined different aspects of his and Fruzzetti’s professional work.

“Even in this film, very personal, the extraordinary thing was how much our work in publication and films and anthropology…coincided and brought together what I like to call the ethnographer’s knowledge with the filmmaker’s art and craft, and then developed these to the betterment of both,” Östör said.

He added that the intersection of anthropology and filmmaking happened naturally for himself and Fruzzetti.

“We never made a decision about whether we were doing film or anthropology. It was, again, because of this ethnographic critical knowledge… we had in the background [that] allowed us to respond,” Östör said.

Östör also spoke about his collaboration with Fruzzetti.

“The first few films in Bengal in fact gave a basis for what we did later,” Östör said. “But the pivotal film that we came to work on together was Seed and Earth, and this one was the product of various circumstances and unexpected developments in the field. But again, the background of fieldwork allowed us to…adapt and deal with what was the reality in front of us.”

Fruzzetti talked about the motivations for making such documentary films.

“All of these films we worked on, we didn’t think that we were doing them to get across [that] this is about change,” Fruzzetti said. “The person seeing them has to decide for himself or herself.”

She emphasized that such films hold the power to change people’s thought processes.

“[Ethnographic films] do change how we think about other people,” Fruzzetti said. “But [they] also change the people themselves who are a part of these films. It’s not like we went thinking ‘this is what’s going to happen.’ You don’t really know.”

Östör highlighted that the films were not intended to change situations, rather, he said they were made to hold up a mirror to life.

“We didn’t set out to make a film that was an intervention or that was investigative reporting, Östör said. “There are a lot of films today that are just that. Some of these films have been recently criticized, for example that they don’t interfere enough, that they don’t instigate. Our answer is that we try to be true to the truth and to the reality.”

The other five of Östör and Fruzzetti’s films are the following documentary shorts:

Seed and Earth (1995), set in India, follows the lives of two brothers and their families in West Bengal through a lens of age and gender.

Khalfan and Zanzibar (2000), set in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The film showcases Khalfan Hamid Khalfan, who runs the Association of the Disabled in Zanzibar, while exploring the island’s history and culture, as well as following members of its disabled population.

Fishers of Dar (2001), set in Tanzania, follows fishermen in Dar es Salaam for a day as they travel to the market and the harbor to carry out their work. Steven Ross ’75 directed the film.

Singing Pictures (2005), set in India, follows a group of women in the village of Naya who formed a cooperative focused on scroll-painting, which they learn and then practice. Their work changes to include contemporary concerns such as women’s issues and other concerns in their society.

Songs of a Sorrowful Man (2009), set in India, centers around Dukhashyam, an artist whose work focuses on Sufism, community engagement, and passing down the knowledge of art history and techniques with future artists.

 

E&ES Seniors Conduct Capstone Research at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Forest

EES capstone

During the Earth and Environmental Sciences Senior Field Research Project presentations on March 19, Phil Resor, professor of earth and environmental sciences, showed a map of Wesleyan’s Long Lane Forest. Here, three student groups spent the past semester studying the vegetation soils on the property; how the forest changed over time using historical imagery; and how the groundwater underneath the forest interacts with precipitation on the surface.

EES

Students and faculty from the E&ES497 class gather on the Long Lane field property near the forest.

Ten students majoring in earth and environmental science (E&ES) have completed their senior capstone projects.

Each year, seniors in the major embark on a capstone experience that starts with a seminar in the fall (E&ES497) in which students design an original research project, go on a field trip to carry out the research and complete their fieldwork, and then analyze their results and present them in written reports and oral presentations. In past years, students have ventured across the globe for their field trips. However, the pandemic caused this year’s projects to look a little different. This time, the field trips took place in a spot nearer and dearer to their hearts—Wesleyan’s Long Lane Forest, which is just a half-mile west from the heart of campus.