Campus News & Events

Kaye’s New Book Offers Critical Perspective of Criminal-Justice Reform

KayeKerwin Kaye, associate professor of sociology, is the author of Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, and the Intimacies of the State, published by Columbia University Press in December 2019.

According to the publisher:

In 1989, the first drug-treatment court was established in Florida, inaugurating an era of state-supervised rehabilitation. Such courts have frequently been seen as a humane alternative to incarceration and the war on drugs. “Enforcing Freedom” offers an ethnographic account of drug courts and mandatory treatment centers as a system of coercion, demonstrating how the state uses notions of rehabilitation as a means of social regulation.

Situating drug courts in a long line of state projects of race and class control, Kerwin Kaye details the ways in which the violence of the state is framed as beneficial for those subjected to it. He explores how courts decide whether to release or incarcerate participants using nominally colorblind criteria that draw on racialized imagery. Rehabilitation is defined as preparation for low-wage labor and the destruction of community ties with “bad influences,” a process that turns participants against one another. At the same time, Kaye points toward the complex ways in which participants negotiate state control in relation to other forms of constraint in their lives, sometimes embracing the state’s salutary violence as a means of countering their impoverishment. Simultaneously sensitive to ethnographic detail and theoretical implications, “Enforcing Freedom” offers a critical perspective on the punitive side of criminal-justice reform and points toward alternative paths forward.

Quijada’s Book on Post-Soviet Buryatia Wins Prize from Society for the Anthropology of Religion

Justine Quijada

Justine Quijada, at right, accepted the first Honorable Mention for the Geertz Prize during the American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting in Vancouver in November 2019.

Justine Quijada, associate professor of religion, is the author of a new book titled Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets: Rituals of History in Post-Soviet Buryatia, published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

The book recently won the first Honorable Mention for the Geertz Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR). Named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, the Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field. SAR awards the prize to “foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.”

Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets explains how Soviets viewed Buryats—an indigenous Siberian ethnic group—as a “backwards” nationality that was carried along on the inexorable march toward the Communist utopian future.

According to the book’s publisher:

When the Soviet Union ended, the Soviet version of history lost its power and Buryats, like other Siberian indigenous peoples, were able to revive religious and cultural traditions that had been suppressed by the Soviet state. In the process, they also recovered knowledge about the past that the Soviet Union had silenced. Borrowing the analytic lens of the chronotope from Bakhtin, Quijada argues that rituals have chronotopes which situate people within time and space. As they revived rituals, Post-Soviet Buryats encountered new historical information and traditional ways of being in time that enabled them to re-imagine the Buryat past, and what it means to be Buryat. Through the temporal perspective of a reincarnating Buddhist monk, Dashi-Dorzho Etigelov, Buddhists come to see the Soviet period as a test on the path of dharma. Shamanic practitioners, in contrast, renegotiate their relationship to the past by speaking to their ancestors through the bodies of shamans. By comparing the versions of history that are produced in Buddhist, shamanic and civic rituals, “Buddhists, Shamans and Soviets offers a new lens for analyzing ritual, a new perspective on how an indigenous people grapples with a history of state repression, and an innovative approach to the ethnographic study of how people know about the past.

Fowler, Baum, Gollust ’01 Co-Author Paper on Gun Coverage in Political Advertising

Gun-related deaths are on the rise in the United States, and following recent mass shootings, gun policy has emerged as an issue in the 2020 election cycle.

In the February 2020 issue of Health Affairs, co-authors Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project; Laura Baum, project manager in the Government Department; and alumna Sarah Gollust ’01 explain how political advertising is an increasingly important tool for candidates seeking office to use to communicate their policy priorities. Over $6 billion was spent on political ads in the 2016 election cycle, and spending in the 2020 cycle is expected to be even higher.

Their paper, titled “Guns In Political Advertising Over Four US Election Cycles, 2012–18″ suggests that tracking gun-related political advertising over time can offer critical insights into how candidates view the salience of gun policy in the context of the 2020 election and beyond.

The co-authors analyzed the coverage of guns in over 14 million candidate-related television ad airings for presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative races over four election cycles: 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.

According to their paper:

The share of candidate-related ad airings that referred to guns increased from 1 percent in the 2012 cycle to over 8 percent in the 2018 cycle. Pro–gun rights content dominated but dropped from 86 percent of airings mentioning guns in the 2012 cycle to 45 percent in the 2018 cycle. Advertising in favor of gun regulation and against the National Rifle Association increased over time. These shifts offer insights into how gun issues are being framed in the 2020 election cycle.

Research for this study was supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, the Smart Family Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Juhasz Studies Word Age-of-Acquisition Effects through Eye Movements

Assistant Professor Barbara Juhasz is interested in understanding how words produce a certain sensory experience when read.

Barbara Juhasz

Barbara Juhasz, Jeffrey L. Shames Professor of Civic Engagement and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of an article titled “The time course of age-of-acquisition effects on eye movements during reading: Evidence from survival analyses,” published in Memory and Cognition, January 2020.

According to the paper’s abstract:

Adults process words that are rated as being learned earlier in life faster than words that are rated as being acquired later in life. This age-of-acquisition (AoA) effect has been observed in a variety of word-recognition tasks when word frequency is controlled. AoA has also previously been found to influence fixation durations when words are embedded into sentences and eye movements are recorded. However, the time course of AoA effects during reading has been inconsistent across studies.

The current study further explored the time course of AoA effects on distributions of first-fixation durations during reading. Early and late acquired words were embedded into matched neutral sentence frames. Participants read the sentences while their eye movements were recorded. AoA effects were observed in both early and late fixation duration measures, suggesting that AoA has an early and long-lasting effect on word-recognition processes during reading.

Slowik in The Conversation: Oscar-worthy Scores Unlock a Film’s Emotional Heart

Michael Slowik '03

Assistant Professor of Film Studies Michael Slowik ’03

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In this article, Assistant Professor of Film Studies Michael Slowik ’03 writes about how film scores can “convey and amplify a film’s emotional landscape” by considering two films nominated for 2020 Oscars for best score.

The secret to the success of two Oscar-nominated scores

Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards an Oscar to the film with the best original score.

The best scores—like those from Lawrence of Arabia and Black Panther—convey and amplify a film’s emotional landscape.

How do composers pull this off?

Back in 2014, I wrote a book examining the musical methods of early sound films. Ninety years later, some of the basic techniques developed during that era remain relevant. They include what industry professionals call “spotting,” which refers to when music appears in the film, and decisions about which musical styles to incorporate.

This year, two very different Oscar-nominated scores—those from Marriage Story and Joker—show how style and spotting can have major effects on a viewer’s engagement and emotional experience with a film.

Sounding out the breakdown of a marriage

Marriage Story tells the story of a married couple whose separation leads to an increasingly bitter and contentious divorce.

The film’s score, composed by Randy Newman, uses music in a classical style—but mainly during moments of kindness and human connection.

In the film’s lengthy opening, for example, we hear Charlie and his wife Nicole describe what they love about each other. During this sequence, the audience hears strings, flute, harp and piano. Perhaps Newman chose classical music because, for many listeners, its sounds can evoke the perfection of a past era. He splices these sounds with dialogue reflecting what most people want from their romantic relationships: warmth, trust and mutual support.

Gilmore Works on Planetarium Show at American Museum of Natural History

worlds beyond earthResearch conducted by a Wesleyan professor is part of a new space show at the American Museum of Natural History.

Martha Gilmore

Martha GIlmore.

Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology and professor of Earth and environmental sciences, worked over the past year developing content for the new Hayden Planetarium Space Show Worlds Beyond Earth. The show opened on Jan. 21 as part of the museum’s 150th anniversary celebration.

“It’s amazing,” Gilmore says. “The images that you see are all realistic. We even contacted some of the engineers for the Magellan spacecraft in order to understand exactly how the spacecraft imaged Venus in the early 1990s.”

Featuring brilliant visualizations of distant worlds, groundbreaking space missions, and scenes depicting the evolution of our solar system, Worlds Beyond Earth “takes viewers on an exhilarating journey that reveals the surprisingly dynamic nature of the worlds that orbit our Sun and the unique conditions that make life on our planet possible,” according to the American Museum of Natural History’s website.

Over the year, Gilmore worked with fellow Earth and planetary scientists, science visualization experts, writers, and artists to turn data into a visual masterpiece displayed on the world’s most advanced planetarium projection system. Gilmore’s specific task was to share the story of Venus having once been a habitable planet.

“The idea that Mars, Venus, and Earth were all habitable four billion years ago, but only Earth remains—that’s what I presented to them, and it’s really nice to see that story in the most famous planetarium show in the country!”

Gilmore

Wesleyan alumnus Mark Popinchalk ’13 and Martha Gilmore mingled at the Worlds Beyond Earth preview event.

On Jan. 15, Gilmore was invited to the museum for a sneak preview of the show. Other Wesleyan affiliates in attendance included James Greenwood, assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences; Anne Canty ’84, senior vice president for communications at the museum; and Gilmore’s former student and museum science educator Mark Popinchalk ’13.

Gilmore also is one of three scientists featured in a short movie that will be played in the waiting area of the planetarium.

The show “is just gorgeous,” Gilmore said. “What I appreciate now is that the data you see in the show are correct—the spacecraft orbits, the positions of the planets and stars, the magnetic field data, etc. It’s an incredible amount of work to make that happen. If you see it and wait for the credits to roll on the dome, you’ll see my name and Wesleyan!”

Hidden Volumes Explored in Olin Library’s Stacks (with videos)

hidden volumes

The performative exhibit Hidden Volumes was held in Olin Library on Feb. 1.

In celebration of Olin Library’s recent acquisition of virtuoso Jin Hi Kim’s scores for Living Tones, the Music Library and Music Department hosted a day of musical and sonic exploration on Feb. 1 titled Hidden Volumes and Living Tones.

Jin Hi Kim, adjunct assistant professor of music, is known for introducing the kŏmungo (a six-stringed Korean zither) into the American contemporary music scene. The Guggenheim Fellow composed a series of compositions for chamber ensemble and orchestra using her “Living Tones” philosophy, which holds that each tone generated is treated with abiding respect.

Wesleyan currently owns 16 of her scores, written for both instrumental and vocal performances.

“It’s not only important to showcase our faculty’s work, but also her scores are part of our circulating collection so that students, researchers, and musicians can actively play from and study them,” said Jennifer Hadley, library assistant for World Music Archives. “Jin’s compositions particularly suit the collection because of her combination of experimental and traditional Western and Korean musical elements.”

Ostfeld ’10 Fundraising for Organic Farm Food Ordering App via Kickstarter

Rosemary Ostfeld '10

Rosemary Ostfeld ’10

Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, is developing a smartphone app to re-energize the connection between communities and local farms so people can purchase healthy and sustainable food options. Called “Healthy PlanEat,” the app will allow patrons to order food from local organic farms.

Ostfeld launched her Kickstarter in January, and she’s hoping to raise $40,000 by Feb. 15. The idea has also appeared in The Hartford Courant, The Day, and The Middletown Press.

Olin Library Receives Romare Bearden Donation in Honor of Director of Special Collections

On Jan. 28, Wesleyan’s Olin Library acquired a rare collage created by 20th-century American artist Romare Bearden.

Bearden (1911-1988) is best known for his abstract, Cubist-style paintings and photomontage compositions which often make social statements. Bearden also is remembered for supporting young, emerging artists.

Titled MR. PICASSO and measuring 27 by 20 centimeters, the piece was gifted to Olin by Barry and JoAnne Scott, antiquarian and rare booksellers from Rhode Island. The Scotts made the donation in honor of Suzy Taraba, director of special collections and archives, with whom they’ve worked for many years. Bearden himself originally gifted the collage to Patricia Apatovsky, a Long Island, N.Y., printer, artist, and book illustrator.

Several Olin employees attended the donation ceremony, including Andrew White, Caleb T. Winchester University Librarian; Jennifer Hadley, library assistant for World Music Archives; Amanda Nelson, university archivist; Linda Hurteau, library assistant for the Science Library; Claudia Wolf, library assistant and accounting specialist; Maggie Long, special collections cataloging librarian; and Jenny Miglus, preservation and special collections librarian.

The artwork is now part of Olin Library’s Special Collections and Archives, and will be displayed there during the spring semester.

“Bearden has long been one of my favorite artists, so I am thrilled by Barry and JoAnne’s wonderful gift in my honor. This is extremely meaningful to me in so many ways,” Taraba said.

Photos of the dedication are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

bearden

The artwork was gifted to Olin by Barry and JoAnne Scott, pictured. The Scotts made the donation in honor of Suzy Taraba, director of special collections and archives, with whom they’ve worked for many years.

Bearden

Pictured, from left: Maggie Long, Andrew White, Jennifer Hadley, Amanda Nelson, JoAnne Scott, Jenny Miglus, Suzy Taraba, Barry Scott, Linda Hurteau, and Claudia Wolf.

bearden

MR. PICASSO was made with colored inks on a magazine page dated October 1981.

Skillman’s Article Published in the Review of Radical Political Economics

Gil Skillman, professor of economics, is the author of “Moseley’s ‘Macro-Monetary’ Reading of Marx’s Capital: Rejoinder and Further Discussion,” published in the Review of Radical Political Economics on Dec. 17, 2019.

According to the abstract:

Moseley (2018) offers a partial reply to Skillman’s review of his Money and Totality, addressing one comment at length while mentioning a second in passing and ignoring the third. In this rejoinder, Skillman responds to his replies and develops the three main arguments of his review in greater detail, with particular focus on the logical consistency of Moseley’s “algebraic summary” of his macro-monetary reading of Marx’s transformation analysis.

Kurtz, Rose Receive NIMH Award for Schizophrenia Study

Matthew Kurtz

Matthew Kurtz

Jennifer Rose

Jennifer Rose

Two Wesleyan faculty received a $492,410 Academic Research Enhancement Award (R15) from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) to support their study titled “Comparing Cognitive Remediation Approaches for Schizophrenia.”

R15 awards provide funding for small-scale, new, or ongoing health-related meritorious research projects, enhancing the research environment at eligible institutions and exposing students to research opportunities.

The R15 principal investigator Matthew Kurtz, professor of psychology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, and R15 co-investigator Jennifer Rose, professor of the practice and director of the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, will work with a group of Wesleyan undergraduates for the duration of the three-year, randomized clinical trial that compares—for the first time—two well-studied approaches to cognitive training in schizophrenia.

Wesleyan Student Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 Dies in Fatal Car Accident

Daniel "Danni" Jewell-Tyrcha

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha was a member of the Class of 2022. Jewell-Tyrcha died on Jan. 26 following a motor vehicle accident in Middletown. (Photo courtesy of wayup.com)

Daniel “Dani” Jewell-Tyrcha ’22 of Scituate, Mass., succumbed to injuries following a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Middletown on Jan. 25. Jewell-Tyrcha was 20 years old.

They were double majoring in American studies and African American studies.

In an all-campus email on Jan. 26, Wesleyan President Michael Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley wrote: “It is with deep sadness that we write to inform you of the death of Wesleyan student Daniel Jewell-Tyrcha ’22. … We offer our condolences to Dani’s family, friends, and loved ones.”

According to Jewell-Tyrcha’s wayup profile, Jewell-Tyrcha’s interests were “creating progress and social change, traveling the world and learning about new cultures, helping end human rights abuses, and writing.”

Students struggling with this tragic event can contact the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), or a class dean. Faculty and staff who need support may contact the Employee Assistance Program at 800-854-1446.

“Wesleyan is a caring community. We are all here to help one another,” Roth wrote.

Expressions of condolence may be sent to Mike Whaley, who will collect and forward them to Jewell-Tyrcha’s family.