Wesleyan Will Host Youth “Hackathon” for Social Good, Feb. 24

Wesleyan, in collaboration with Random Hacks of Kindness Jr., is hosting a “hackathon” for social good for students in grades 4 through 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. This free event, to be held in Beckham Hall, will show local youth how technology can be used to create solutions that benefit nonprofit organizations. The hackathon is open to the public and requires no prior coding experience.

“Participants will be working with Wesleyan student mentors to create technology for social good,” explained Patrice Gans, president and executive director of Random Hacks of Kindness Jr. “By the end of the day we hope they will see how technology can have a positive impact on someone’s life.”

Emerita Professor duCille to Lead Slotkin Lecture on Racial Representation

Ann duCille

Ann duCille, professor of English, emerita, will deliver the third annual Richard Slotkin Lecture in American Studies titled “TV and the ‘Thug Default’: Why Racial Representation Still Matters.” Her talk is open to the public and begins at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 26 in the Powell Theater.

“TV and the “Thug Default”: Why Racial Representation Still Matters” revisits such constructs as the “superpredator” and such cases as the “Central Park Five” in tracing the meaning, use and blackening of the term “thug.” Arguing that image is ideology—that what we see on the TV screen colors how we see black boys on the street—the talk tracks the rise of law-and-order programming that figures the black male as a dark menace to society. It demonstrates how televisual image making in compulsively stigmatizing the colored Other functions as a deadly form of racial profiling. The final section of the paper revisits the blame-a-brother racial ruses of Charles Stuart and Susan Smith as closing examples of how the racial logic of black guilt continues to influence both popular culture and public policy and also uses a riff on the Broadway musical Hamilton and the TV drama This Is Us to suggest ways of doing difference differently.

You’re Invited! View the Solar Eclipse at the Van Vleck Observatory, Aug. 21

Watch a partial eclipse of the Sun at Wesleyan’s Van Vleck Observatory on Aug. 21.

The campus and local community is invited to witness the partial eclipse of the Sun at Wesleyan’s Van Vleck Observatory on Aug. 21. While Middletown isn’t in the narrow path of totality, viewers should still be able to see about 65 percent of the Sun disappear. Telescopes for the family-friendly event will be set up at 1 p.m., and the eclipse will begin at approximately 1:20 p.m., with mid-eclipse falling at approximately 2:40 p.m. The event is hosted by Wesleyan’s Astronomy Department and is free of charge.

Center for the Americas Hosts its 2017 Americas Forum on “Food Justice and Sustainability”

 Photo: Jade Beall.

Alok Appadurai ’00 (Photo by Jade Beall)

On April 28, the Center for the Americas will host its 2017 Americas Forum on “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall at 2:30 p.m. The keynote address will be given by Alok Appadurai ’00. Appadurai is the the founder of Fed by Threads, a sustainable, sweatshop-free, multi-brand, American-made organic vegan clothing store that has fed over half a million meals to Americans in need. He also recently founded, a global network that aims to promote social and environmental reform by nurturing compassion and empathy.

His time at Wesleyan helped to inform his current projects. As a student, he majored in American studies fashioning his own concentration that incorporated colonialism, workers’ rights, utopian communities, the environment and gender/class issues.

After the keynote, three scholars on a panel will present talks on food Justice and agricultural sustainability.  Elizabeth Hoover, the Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies at Brown University, will give the talk, “From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds’; Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty Through American Indian Community Gardening Projects.” Following her, Brian Donahue, associate professor of American environmental studies at Brandeis University, will present his “Woodlands, Farmlands, and Communities: Visions for New England’s Future.”

Wesleyan’s Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history, will conclude the panel with “Seed Saving in Economies of Scale: Some Questions about Sovereignty and International Governance.”

Celebrate Earth Fest April 22

On April 22, the Wesleyan Climate Ambassadors will host the 5th Annual Earth Fest at the base of Foss Hill from 1 to 4 p.m. This celebration of Earth Day is aimed at bringing the sustainability community and campus together to honor Mother Earth.

Participants will enjoy student bands, free vegan and veggie burgers, a clothing swap and a pin-the-solar-panel-on-the-building game.

Participants also will learn more about what the sustainability community is working on at Wesleyan.

Olin Library Presents Panel on Digital Privacy and Government, April 11

libraryeventOn April 11,  Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library will host “All Your Reading Habits Belong to Us: Digital Privacy and our Government: Catching Up with the Connecticut Four” in honor of National Library Week. The event, presented by the Friends of the Wesleyan Library, will take place 7-8:30 p.m. in the Smith Reading Room, with a reception to follow.

In 2005, the FBI, under the auspices of the USA PATRIOT Act, tried to access patron information from Connecticut libraries and issued a gag order on the librarians about the demand. The librarians, all executive members of the Connecticut non-profit cooperative Library Connection, and known in the press as the “Connecticut Four,” spent over a year fighting the order, and were successful in getting the FBI to withdraw.

Now, over a decade later, the Connecticut Four are speaking out again as new efforts are afoot to expand the FBI’s ability to require libraries to hand over private information in the absence of a judge’s order. This event celebrates all libraries’ continued fight for both access of material and the right to privacy. Two members of the Connecticut Four, Barbara Bailey and Peter Chase, will participate in a discussion with Dan Cherubin, Wesleyan University Librarian, on the history of the case, what’s changed and, in regards to our newly elected government, what we need to watch.

Barbara Bailey is director of the Welles-Turner Memorial Library in Glastonbury, Conn. She is a former president and current board member of the Library Connection, a non-profit cooperative of 30 public and academic libraries, which share an integrated library system (CONNECT) and other technological innovations. Peter Chase was director of the Plainville (Conn.) Public Library from 1981-2015. He was vice president of Library Connection in 2005 and is also the former chairman of the Connecticut Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. Both Bailey and Chase received the Paul Howard Award for Courage from the American Library Association.

The event will also feature announcement of the winners of the Friends of the Wesleyan Library Undergraduate Research prize. The candidate projects were evaluated based on the use of Wesleyan’s library collections and resources, evidence of learning about research techniques and the information-gathering process itself, and the quality of writing and research.

16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend to Feature a “Day of Percussion”

The 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Weekend is on April 28-29, 2017.

The 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend is on April 28-29.

At the end of April, Wesleyan University’s concert halls will be filled with the sound of rhythm during the 16th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29. The weekend will kick off with the traditional performance by the Wesleyan University Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles on Friday evening. New this year, on Saturday, there will be percussion clinics hosted by the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society, followed by an evening concert by Eli Fountain’s Percussion Discussion.

Jay Hoggard, professor of music and African American studies, explained the idea behind this ambitious project. “For the first time ever, we’re combining the Wesleyan student ensembles and the Connecticut Percussive Arts Society program,” he said. “We thought that would be an interesting combination, but instead of doing it over a series of multiple weekends, as we have done in the past, it’s going to be one day with multiple performances, about 20 minutes each.”

Play by Jenkins Commemorates 350th Anniversary of Treaty of Breda

Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, is collaborating with a team of Indonesian artists on the creation of a new play: “Islands: The Treaty that changed the World.” It will include original gamelan music by Wesleyan Artist-in-Residence I.M. Harjito and original choral music by John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Neely Bruce.

The cast will Wesleyan students from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and China who will be joined by Indonesian guest artists Novirela Minangsari, Dinny Aletheiani and Nyoman Catra. The play commemorates the 350th anniversary of the 1667 Treaty of Breda in which the Dutch ceded control of Manhattan to the English in exchange for the Spice Island of Rhu, now part of Indonesia’s Banda Archipelago.

The play will premiere in the Center for the Arts Theater on April 21 at 8 p.m. and continue there on Saturday April 22 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Sunday April 23 Jenkins and the team will perform at 4 p.m. at the Indonesian Consulate in New York on 5 E. 68th Street. They’ll also perform the play with some Wesleyan students and a cast of 40 Indonesian children at the Mandara Mahalango festival in Bali. “We use music, dance, puppetry,oral history, and documentary texts to bring the treaty and its legacy to life,” Jenkins said.

The Jakarta Post quotes Jenkins as saying “that the treaty was so valuable for history as it changed the life of the people on both Run Island and New York. It is the reason the people of Manhattan speak English, not Dutch. The show’s goal is to make the people of Manhattan learn that their history is really connected with Indonesia.”

More information on the play and its creation can be found here and from an interview Jenkins did for Indonesian Television.

Wesleyan Hunger Banquet to Be Held April 12

Fred Ayers helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month.

Fred Ayers ’17 helps a patron gather a ration of food at Amazing Grace. The pantry serves an estimated 3,000 individuals, or 1, 075 households each month. Ayres also leads the Hunger and Homelessness group at Wesleyan.

On April 12, the Hunger and Homelessness student group in the Office of Community Service will once again host the Wesleyan Hunger Banquet, an interactive simulation of global poverty rates. Attendees are placed into an income bracket at random and then provided a seating arrangement and meal indicative of that income level.

The event will take place in Woodhead Lounge from 5-7 p.m. Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of sociology, assistant professor of science in society, assistant professor of African American studies, will serve as MC, and Ron Krom of St. Vincent de Paul will speak at the event.

“The Wesleyan Hunger Banquet is a simulation of the magnitude of global poverty and hunger that allows attendees to visualize and grasp its severity,” said Fred Ayres ’17, who leads the Hunger and Homelessness group and is involved in organizing the banquet. “Through sharing a meal with others, attendees will also learn about the misperceptions and solutions that surround income inequality. Students involved in current initiatives to ameliorate hunger and homelessness will share how others can get involved.”

Tickets will be sold in Usdan University Center April 7-12, and can also be purchased at the door. No RSVP is required. Proceeds will be donated to Amazing Grace Food Pantry, and the group aims to raise over $500.

Playwright Emily Mann in Conversation with Quiara Alegría Hudes

Emily Mann

Director and playwright Emily Mann will give a talk at Wesleyan on March 28.

Director and playwright Emily Mann will give a talk at Wesleyan on March 28 as part of the Performing Arts Series of the Center for the Arts. Mann will be in conversation with Wesleyan’s Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater Quiara Alegría Hudes.

“Emily Mann is a revered theatrical auteur,” said Hudes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who teaches playwriting to beginning and advanced writers at Wesleyan. “An accomplished playwright, director, and artistic director of a leading regional theater, Mann is known for her probing inquiry into our nation’s most urgent issues. Her art has time and again advanced the national conversation.”

Hudes believes those in attendance will benefit from hearing Mann’s views on the arts. Hudes explained, “The audience can expect to hear from a pioneer and trailblazer about what it means to have a vision, how to build and sustain an artistic vision over decades, and how word meets flesh at the intersection of the script and stage.”

“I am honored to be joining Quiara Alegría Hudes at Wesleyan for what will no doubt be an exciting day, both in our class workshop and our public conversation in the evening,” said Mann. “I am very much looking forward to an engaging talk with Quiara, discussing a wide range of topics including the state of the American theater, the American playwright, and opening doors to a whole new generation of voices.”

Known for her politically edgy and documentary style, Mann is currently in her 27th season as artistic director and resident playwright of the Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J. In 2015, she received both the  Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights’ Award, and the Margo Jones Award, given to a “citizen of the theater who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theater everywhere.”

A Conversation with Emily Mann will take place in Memorial Chapel at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 28 and is free and open to the public.

Wesleyan Joins the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association in Statement in Support of Major Arts Agencies

With the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), one representative of the arts community at Wesleyan has petitioned against these cuts alongside the Northeast Small College Art Museum Association (NESCAMA).

Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center at Wesleyan University, joined the initiative on behalf of Wesleyan.

In 2014, the Davison Art Center was the recipient of a three-year IMLS grant in the amount of $111,000 to further the digital imaging of works on paper in the art center’s permanent collection.

Rogan explained, “The Institute of Museum and Library Services has been transformative in the ways people can study the Davison Art Center’s internationally renowned collection. The ability for anyone on campus, or even on the other side of the world, to download high quality images and study these rare works of art is something that can’t be accomplished without this kind of funding.”

The statement, signed by 18 institutions affiliated with NESCAMA, explains how college art museums rely on funding from these sources.

With small operational budgets, college and university art museums are particularly reliant on funding from the NEH, NEA, and IMLS. This funding preserves artistic, ethnographic, scientific, and historic collections, and creates access to cultural heritage unique to our respective diverse communities. This funding not only supports essential infrastructure, it enables us to pursue transformative programs that provide employment for emerging and young professionals. This funding ensures that our collections are interpreted, understood, and valued.

The statement encourages members of Congress “to recognize that the resilience of the NEH, NEA, and IMLS, despite opposition over the years, is a testament to their enduring value.”