Jelle Zelinga de Boer, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science, emeritus, was selected by the Geological Society of Connecticut (GSC) as the recipient of its 2015 Joe Webb Peoples Award, in recognition of de Boer’s many contributions to the understanding of the geology of Connecticut.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
A book by Stephen Angle, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, was recently published in Chinese translation by Jiangxi People’s Press. Titled, “Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy: Toward Progressive Confucianism,” the book was originally published by Polity in 2013. The Chinese version includes a new preface.
According to the blurb for the English-language version:
Confucian political philosophy has recently emerged as a vibrant area of thought both in China and around the globe. This book provides an accessible introduction to the main perspectives and topics being debated today, and shows why Progressive Confucianism is a particularly promising approach. Students of political theory or contemporary politics will learn that far from being confined to a museum, contemporary Confucianism is both responding to current challenges and offering insights from which we can all learn.
The Progressive Confucianism defended here takes key ideas of the twentieth-century Confucian philosopher Mou Zongsan (1909-1995) as its point of departure for exploring issues like political authority and legitimacy, the rule of law, human rights, civility, and social justice. The result is anti-authoritarian without abandoning the ideas of virtue and harmony; it preserves the key values Confucians find in ritual and hierarchy without giving in to oppression or domination. A central goal of the book is to present Progressive Confucianism in such a way as to make its insights manifest to non-Confucians, be they philosophers or simply citizens interested in the potential contributions of Chinese thinking to our emerging, shared world.
Angle is also professor of philosophy, professor of East Asian Studies.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Writing in the The Washington Post, President Michael Roth questions the predominant media narrative painting college students as “pampered with coddled minds.”
Roth argues that such denigration of young people by older generations is an age old tradition, dating back to the founding fathers shaking “their heads about dueling and drinking on campus.”
When I look around my campus and visit others, I don’t find pampered students with coddled minds. I find math majors in the gym every day preparing for a soccer match or a swim meet. I find writers pulling all-nighters to finish a project working side by side with computer science students developing new software. There are more double majors than ever, and on every campus I visit there are impressive percentages of students doing volunteer work or creating organizations that will have a positive impact locally, even globally – be it making their campuses more sustainable or improving the education of girls in Africa. These hard-working, dedicated students fill the ranks of those now protesting for more equitable and inclusive educational institutions.
And just like older alumni, not all student activists see things the same way, Roth writes. “We are an educational institution: It is a good thing when we can articulate why and how we disagree.”
The image of students concerned only with the micro frustrations of everyday life as opposed to “real” issues bears no relation to the real students I encounter at colleges and universities. These students are well aware, for example, that climate change may significantly alter their lives, and that it will surely disrupt the lives of people around the world. They are learning about this accelerating catastrophe in STEM classes and political science seminars, and they are striving to find ways of mitigating its effects through sophisticated science and through policy analysis.
Our students are also well aware that they will graduate into an economy and society with greater inequalities and less social mobility than in any time since early industrialization. American college students recognize that powerful forces are dynamically increasing the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few. They are studying how one can create robust economic growth without just reinforcing this inequitable trend, while grappling with a political arena ever more responsive to money. […]
Today, campuses are more diverse because some Americans fought for educational opportunities to be more equitably distributed. Thanks to their achievements, todays students have higher awareness and higher expectations, so we can expect continued tensions on our campuses. Racism and inequality are still powerful beyond the borders of the university, and campuses themselves are not immune.
These are not “minor” or “micro” issues, and our students know it. They are faced with a world beyond the university that is threatened ecologically, economically and culturally, and they are doing their best to prepare themselves for these challenges. They are studying physics and religion, design and economics, and sometimes they stand up and make themselves heard. Sometimes they are filled with rage, sometimes with fear. They will make mistakes, but they don’t need columnists to tell them that the main problem isn’t Halloween. If only it were.
by David Low •
Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, appears in an interview about internationally renowned film actress Ingrid Bergman in the new documentary Ingrid Bergman—In Her Own Words, directed by Stig Bjorkman, which recounts the life of the cinema luminary through the subject’s home movies, photographs, diary entries and letters to family and friends.
The director had access to these materials from the Ingrid Bergman Collection at the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, making ample use of them in the film. The documentary also features interviews with Bergman’s daughter, actress and filmmaker Isabella Rossellini, as well as other relatives and actresses Liv Ullmann and Sigourney Weaver, who worked with Bergman.
In her New York Times review of the film, which recently opened theatrically in New York City, Manolha Dargis writes: “Bergman’s voluminous personal archives have been a valuable resource for assorted popular biographies and academic studies, enriching the historical record of her films, family and loves.”
Professor Basinger comments: “We are all very proud of this documentary that is showing both in theaters and on television. We’re very excited to see the Wesleyan campus and the cinema archives building suddenly appear on screen. I enjoyed doing the interview because Isabella Rossellini was there with me and because the film crew was so totally committed to making an accurate documentary on Bergman’s life.”
An interview with the director, which mentions the Ingrid Bergman Archives is in this indiewire.com article.
by Olivia Drake •
(By Fred Wills ’19)
A composition by Assistant Professor of Music Paula Matthusen will debut in the U.S. on Nov. 21.
Her work, “on the attraction for felicitous amplitude,” will be performed by the string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, in Crowell Concert Hall. Join Matthusen for a pre-concert talk at starting at 7:15 p.m. In addition, on Dec. 3, violinist Todd Reynolds will perform a composition written by Matthusen at CFA Hall.
Matthusen returns to Wesleyan this fall after being named a 2014-2015 Rome Prize recipient. Through a fellowship awarded by The American Academy in Rome, she received the opportunity to expand upon her own professional and artistic pursuits.
An acclaimed composer who writes both electro-acoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations, Matthusen had the pleasure of composing for a variety of different ensembles, choreographers, music festivals, and theater companies around the world including Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, Mantra Percussion, the Estonian National Ballet, the Tanglewood Festival, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, and the Aspen Music Festival to name a few—and now adds another to her ever growing list.
Matthusen’s awards include honors from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Awards, the Elliott Carter Rome Prize and many others. She also has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
In an op-ed written for Inside Sources (and appearing in Las Vegas Sun and other newspapers), Assistant Professor of Government Ioana Emy Matesan questions whether the swift French military response to the recent ISIS attacks on Paris will be effective in preventing future attacks and improving security for civilians.
Matesan, who studies contentious politics and political violence in the Middle East, considers different opinions on ISIS’s strategic logic and what each would mean for the repercussions of a military response. She concludes that the most likely logic is one of provocation.
[Provocation] is a strategy beloved by al-Qaida and many other extremist groups, who count on the emotional response of their opponents, and who know that the use of indiscriminate violence against them will turn them into martyrs and heroes, boosting their ranks and recruitment potential. And if this is the case, then the escalation in military strikes, the resurgent sectarian rhetoric and the bubbling xenophobia in the West in response to the attacks is precisely what ISIS was counting on, and hoping for.
That is not to say that the military strikes might not be effective in destroying the military capabilities or even much of the leadership of the Islamic State. The fact that the group has a very clear geographic concentration in Syria makes this quite possible. But would such a destruction of capabilities count as “success”?
Over the last decade the United States has recognized that destroying the military capabilities of a group does not equate to winning “the war on terror,” it does not necessarily undermine the sources of violent extremism, and it does not always make civilians at home or abroad any safer. Furthermore, if we’ve learned anything over the last decade of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, it’s that clandestine organizations learn and adapt, quite often much faster than military organizations and state governments.
Matesan writes that it’s critical to recognize that much of ISIS’s recruiting has been fueled by a refrain of social justice and opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
We would be remiss if we condemn the violence perpetrated by ISIS and remain silent about the unthinkable violence that Assad has inflicted on his country’s population over the past five years. Improving domestic security can work, but it can also become counterproductive if it results in profiling, and if it doesn’t prioritize human security.
Unlike what some governors in the United States might have us believe, showing hospitality toward Syrian refugees might in some ways be the best way to undermine radical groups, and to show that the United States is indeed committed to social justice and to the protection of human life.
This is particularly important because there is growing evidence that individuals who engage in terrorist groups can and do renounce violence and leave the organization if they become disillusioned with the group and with the cause. This is an incredibly important silver lining and opportunity that liberal democracies should be able to take advantage of, and which might hold more promise than a solely military approach, which we have seen fail time and again.
A student group also invited Matesan to discuss the recent attacks on Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and the Sinai and alternative policy responses at 4 p.m. Nov. 23 in PAC 002.
by Olivia Drake •
Ron Jenkins, professor of theater, will participate in an international simulcast on Nov. 27 to celebrate Balinese language and Indonesia’s cultural and linguistic diversity.
The simulcast will take place at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington where Jenkins will be helping to celebrate Saraswati Day by reading from his new book, Saraswati in Bali. Saraswati Day is the Balinese day set aside for honoring wisdom, knowledge and culture.
The celebration will be streamed simultaneously to Indonesian diplomatic missions in New York, Tokyo, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Australia.
The program also will include live simulcasts of a reading of a Balinese poem; greetings from Indonesian Ambassadors to the participating countries; introductory remarks from Professor Gabriela Perez Baez, director of Recovering Voices, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; a presentation of new books in Balinese; and dance, music and singing performances.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
The Muslim Coalition of Connecticut honored Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts on Nov. 15 for its “outstanding contributions and standards of excellence in advancing higher education,” according to a proclamation from Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. The awards dinner in Hartford was attended by Center for the Arts Director Pam Tatge, Associate Provost Mark Hovey, and faculty, staff and students from the advisory committee and Wesleyan’s Muslim Students Association. View the event’s photo gallery online.
The honor recognized the CFA’s Muslim Women’s Voices series during the 2014-15 academic year. The series explored and celebrated the complexity of Muslim women today, and the historical and cultural context from which they have emerged, through music, theater, film, dance and artist talks.
“The Wesleyan community and the entire State of Connecticut have benefited immensely from the leadership and integrity Wesleyan University Center for the Arts has exemplified through its work both on and off campus,” Wyman’s proclamation said. “CFA’s unwavering dedication to its community and the promotion of shared values and understanding is truly extraordinary. Its work has improved the quality of life for so many, and serves as an inspiration to all.”
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrated sciences, is the co-author of a new study, “Rhythmic Effects of Syntax Processing in Music and Language” published in Frontiers in Psychology in November. The article’s lead author is Harim Jung ’16, and it is also co-authored by Samuel Sontag ’14 and YeBin “Shiny” Park ’15.
According to Loui, the paper grew out of her Advanced Research Methods in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience course, and is the precursor to Jung’s senior and master’s theses. The study uses a behavioral test to look into how music and language—two universal human functions—may overlap in their use of brain resources. The researchers show that perturbations in rhythm take up sufficient attentional resources to interfere with how people read and understand a sentence. The results support the view that rhythm, music, and language are not limited to their separate processing in the auditory circuits; instead, their structure creates expectations about tempo, harmony, and sentence meaning that interfere with each other in other sensory systems, such as vision, and in higher levels of cognitive processing.
“We think that the role of rhythm in this sharing of brain resources dedicated to music and language is an important finding because it could help people who use music as a therapy to help their language functions,” explained Loui. “For example, people who have aphasia (loss of language) due to stroke are sometimes able to sing, a fascinating paradox that led to the development of Melodic Intonation Therapy—a singing therapy designed to help aphasics recover their language functions. Rhythm is important for this therapy, but its precise role is unclear. By studying how rhythm guides the way the brain shares its processing between music and language, we might be better able to target Melodic Intonation Therapy in the future.”
by Lauren Rubenstein •
Graduate Liberal Studies will present a special concert and open session of the course Monk and Mingus: The Cutting Edge of Jazz with Jazz Ensemble Coach Noah Baerman, Nov. 30 in Russell House. Baerman will perform on piano, accompanied by bassist Henry Lugo, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Music and Private Lessons Teacher Pheeroan akLaff on percussion.
The first hour of the class (6:30-7:30 p.m.) will be a discussion, demonstration and Q&A session, followed by a performance of music composed by and associated with Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus. Attendees interested in learning more about Graduate Liberal Studies are encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m. for an information session with GLS Director Jennifer Curran. The event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception.
by Olivia Drake •
On Nov. 9, more than 200 people gathered to celebrate the launch of The World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Capacity Building in Mental Health at Columbia University, Department of Psychiatry. The event, Global Mental Health Priorities and Opportunities, provided a platform for discourse around the challenges humans are tackling in mental health.
Ruth Weissman, the Walter A. Crowell University Professor of the Social Sciences, professor of psychology, joined a panel discussion on “Global Mental Health Priorities and Opportunities,” which was moderated by Pulitzer Prize winning author Sheryl WuDunn.
Weissman and other leaders in the field discussed stigma as a barrier to improving mental healthcare and the need to train more non-clinical professionals to deal with the growing crisis of mental healthcare worldwide.
The World Health Organization collaborates with more than 700 centers in more than 80 member states working with WHO on areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases, nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.
by Olivia Drake •
(by Fred Wills ’19)
Joseph Rouse, the Hedding Professor of Moral Science, is the author of a new book titled Articulating the World: Conceptual Understanding and the Scientific Image, published by University of Chicago Press in December 2015.
Rouse also is professor of philosophy, professor and chair of the Science in Society Program, professor of environmental studies.
In his new book, Rouse examines naturalism as a historically situated philosophical project, “as we find ourselves in the midst of ongoing conflicts over what naturalism’s commitments are and why they matter, along with challenges to those commitments,” he explained.
According to Rouse, “the most pressing challenge for naturalism today is to show how to account for our own capacities for scientific understanding as a natural phenomenon that could be understood scientifically.” This idea marks the driving theme behind his book—that meeting this challenge “involves substantial revisions to two familiar philosophical accounts; conceptual capacities within a scientific understanding and what a scientific conception of the world sums up to.”