This year marks the 30th anniversary of The United States establishing an embassy in communist-ruled China, and Wesleyan Professor Vera Schwarcz was one of only seven invited western scholars to be there for the event. Schwarcz, professor and chair, East Asian Studies, professor of history, and director of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, was one of the very first group of official exchange scholars to arrive in China on February 23, 1979. On Thursday, Jan. 29 at 4:30 p.m., Schwarcz will present “A Thirty Year Harvest: Personal Reflections on U.S. China Relations” at the Mansfield Freeman Center.
The lecture will offer Schwarcz’s recollections on her experiences in China, as well as the evolution of American relations with China over the past three decades. Schwarcz’s scholarly research on student movements for science and democracy has repeatedly placed her at the center of public demonstrations and commemorations in 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009. While building East Asian studies at Wesleyan, Professor Schwarcz has also maintained an active dialogue with Chinese intellectuals in all walks of life, bridging the distance between Beijing and Middletown through more than 20 visits, dozens of lectures, and eight books. This talk represents the culmination of a 30-year journey toward cross-cultural understanding.
Claire Potter, chair and professor of American studies, professor of history, was cited in Inside Higher Ed on the debate among academics of the so-called “Obama Effect” on education, and particularly test-taking among African American students. Researchers from Vanderbilt University recently released a study stating that the test-taking performance gap was virtually eliminated during key moments of President Obama’s candidacy, showing the effect of positive role models. Professor Potter had another view articulated in an essay on her blog and Inside Higher Ed took note (it is the last item in the round-up here).
Giulio Gallarotti, associate professor of government, was asked recently by Smart Money magazine to comment on creating a ‘doomsday portfolio’ that would brace investors for Great Depression-like conditions. Gallarotti, however, said that while the economy is in recession, it is nowhere near as bad interms of GDP as it was at any point during the Depression.
In his most recent essay for The Huffington Post, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth ’78 reflects on President Obama’s ‘brilliant, deeply felt Inaugural Address’ and echos on President Obama’s call to “choose our better history.” Roth discusses this and how we need to we actively start “rejecting the policies of recent years that undermined our constitution and our community.”
Karl Scheibe, professor of psychology, emeritus, is quoted in The Hartford Courant on both the “unconscious behavior” of crowds in general and the “sense of enrichment” that attending an event like the inauguration of President Obama can provide for an individual.
Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English, Emeritus, was featured in an Associated Press story about the inauguration of President Obama titled A moment in history: The American Story Renewed.
On the eve of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth has written a new blog entry on the Huffington Post that addresses the call to service Mr. Obama championed while on campus in May, during the latter parts of his campaign, and more recently as he worked through his transition from candidate to president. President Roth echoes these thoughts in his latest posting to his own blog as well.
In a piece in the Sunday Washington Post, Jeanine Basinger, chair and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, discusses the comic genius and style of Cary Grant, both of which many film critics believe has not been matched since the actor retired.
The book, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency by Elvin Lim, assistant professor of government, is cited extensively in the January 12, 2009 issue of The New Yorker. The article, which discusses President-elect Obama’s upcoming inaugural speech and the overall dilution of presidential speech-writing, cites Lim’s work extensively, and includes these passages:
“Lim dates the institutionalization of the anti-intellectual Presidency to 1969, when Nixon established the Writing and Research Department, the first White House speechwriting office. There had been speechwriters before, but they were usually also policy advisers. With Nixon’s Administration was born a class of professionals whose sole job was to write the President’s speeches, and who have been rewarded, in the main, for the amount of applause their prose could generate. Of F.D.R.’s speeches, only about one a year was interrupted for applause (and no one when he said that fear is all we have to fear). Bill Clinton’s last State of the Union address was interrupted a hundred and twenty times.”
“Lim interviewed forty-two current and former White House speechwriters. But much of his analysis rests on running inaugurals and other Presidential messages through something called the Flesch Readability Test, a formula involving the average number of words in a sentence and the average number of syllables per word. Flesch scores, when indexed to grade levels, rate the New York Times at college level; Newsweek at high school; and comic books at fifth grade. Between 1789 and 2005, the Flesch scores of Inaugural Addresses descended from a college reading level to about an eighth-grade one. Lim takes this to mean that Inaugural Addresses are getting stupider.”
The full article can be seen here (for New Yorker subscribers only).
Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth comments in The Los Angeles Times on David Maisel’s new book, Library of Dust. The book, which The Times calls a ‘haunting memorial,’ contains series of photographic images that ‘depict canisters containing the cremated remains of the unclaimed dead from an Oregon psychiatric hospital.’ Some of the canisters date from the 19th Century and their exteriors have undergone tremendous change through chemical interactions and aging throughout the decades. President Roth also contributed an essay to the book.
Ron Kuivila, chair of music, and Barry Chernoff, professor of biology and Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, were featured on WNPR recently regarding a musical installation called “The Weather at Six” which is part of the Feet to the Fire project. The Weather at Six uses the Wesleyan carillon for’ a sonic interpretation of the weather of the last 130 years and is designed to get people to think about global warming.’
Ann duCille, chair of English, professor of African American studies, tells The Hartford Courant that she has long been inspired by Elizabeth Alexander, who was selected by President-elect Barack Obama to present a poem at his inauguration.