Faculty

Kauanui Delivers Keynote Focused on U.S. Militarism and Hawaiian Decolonization

Attached is a photograph of Kauanui with two scholars who attended the gathering, Rebekah Garrison (a doctoral student in American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California) and Tiara R. Na'puti (Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder).

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, center, gathers with two other scholars who attended the “Archipelagos and Aquapelagos” conference. At left is Rebekah Garrison, a doctoral student from the University of Southern California, and Tiara R. Na’puti, assistant professor of communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, chair and professor of American studies, professor of anthropology, and director of the Center for the Americas, delivered one of two keynotes at a conference on “Archipelagos and Aquapelagos—Conceptualizing Islands and Marine Spaces.”

The gathering, hosted by the Global South Center at The Pratt Institute on March 30—April 1, focused on the need to reinvestigate and reconceptualize the nature of the aggregations of islands commonly referred to as “archipelagos” in order to produce more sophisticated understandings of them, along with the environmental, social, and transnational issues and impacts involved.

As the organizers of the conference, May Joseph, Luka Lucic, and Macarena Gómez-Barris—all based at Pratt’s new Global South Center—explained in the mission, “Archipelagos have become increasingly prominent in geo-political contexts with regard to national territorial boundaries, global migrancy and disputes over fisheries.”

Kauanui’s keynote, “Decolonizing Indigeneity: Hawaiian Sovereignty, U.S. Occupation and the Politics of Settler Colonialism,” focused on U.S. militarism and Hawaiian decolonization. As she explained, “since the purpose of the conference is to explore the interface of land and water ontologies and epistemologies facing vulnerable populations across different small island nation ecologies, looking at the Pacific Islands is instructive for understanding multi-dimensions of U.S. imperialism and settler colonialism, as well as persistent questions of decolonization.” Keeping this U.S. military expansion in mind, her talk explored decolonization in the Hawaiian context.

The other keynote was delivered by Philip Hayward, editor of online journal Shima, from the University of Technology Sydney.

Birney Receives Mellon Fellowship to Pursue Role of Scents in Antiquity

Kate Birney

Kate Birney

The scent of ancient perfumes evaporated eons ago, but scientists are able to reconstruct their ingredients by analysis of the residues left on their containers. Up until now, however, such studies have largely been isolated in the scientific literature, disconnected from the textual and archaeological data that place these perfumes back into the hands of their ancient users.

Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, archaeology, and art history, is hoping to change that as co-architect of the OpenARCHEM project, which seeks to assemble the largest set of organic residue samples ever collected from archaeological artifacts around the Mediterranean. Built in collaboration with archaeochemist Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, OpenARCHEM connects botanicals with the containers in which they traveled and the ancient texts that mention them, to reveal the many roles they played in Mediterranean cultures. To develop this project, Birney has received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship.

The New Directions Fellowship will enable Birney to take advanced coursework at M.I.T. and to study with experts in mineral analysis and the ecology of the ancient Mediterranean, fields that are essential for understanding the cross-disciplinary nature of this work.

Kleinberg Lectures in France, Elected to Historiography Commission

His fields of expertise are the intellectual history of Europe in the twentieth century, the history of contemporary French philosophy and the theory of history.

Ethan Kleinberg speaks at Bordeaux Montaigne University’s Doctoral School.

On March 27, Professor Ethan Kleinberg, director of the Center for the Humanities, presented a lecture to the École Doctorale on “The Specters of the Past,” as a distinguished visiting professor at University of Bordeaux Montaigne in Pessac, France.

Kleinberg also is professor of history, professor of letters, and editor-in-chief of History and Theory. He is an expert on the intellectual history of Europe in the 20th century, the history of philosophy, as well as the philosophy and theory of history.

Kleinberg’s lecture focused on the theme of his latest book, Haunting History: for a deconstructive approach to the past (Stanford U Press) which advocates for a deconstructive approach to the practice of history at a moment when available forms for writing and publishing about the past are undergoing a radical transformation.

He criticizes the persistence of what he calls “ontological realism” as the dominant mode of thought among historians, and studies the ways in which this realistic way of thinking is reinforced by some current publishing practices.

Kleinberg was recently nominated and elected to the Advisory Board of the International Commission for the History and Theory of Historiography, the leading international organization for the philosophy and theory of history.

Alumni, Faculty, Graduate Students Make Presentations at Planetary Science Conference

Melissa Luna E&ES MA ’18, Jordyn-Marie Dudley E&ES MA ’18, Keenan Golder MA ’16, Reid Perkins E&ES MA ’19, Ben McKeeby MA ’17, Kristen Luchsinger MA ‘17

Graduate student Melissa Luna; graduate student Jordyn-Marie Dudley; Keenan Golder MA ’13; graduate student Reid Perkins; Ben McKeeby MA ’17; and Kristen Luchsinger MA ’17 recently attended the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

Faculty, graduate students, and alumni attended the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference March 19–23 in The Woodlands, Texas.

Graduate student Reid Perkins

Three graduate students were awarded funds from the NASA Connecticut Space Grant that allowed them to travel to this meeting.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Reid Perkins presented a research poster titled “Where Are the Missing Tessera Craters on Venus?” Perkins’s advisor is Martha Gilmore, the George I. Seney Professor of Geology, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Melissa Luna presented a poster titled “Multivariate Spectral Analysis of CRISM Data to Characterize the Composition of Mawrth Vallis.” Her advisors are Gilmore and Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Earth and environmental sciences graduate student Jordyn-Marie Dudley presented a poster titled “Water Contents of Angrites, Eucrites, and Ureilites and New Methods for Measuring Hydrogen in Pyroxene Using SIMS.” Dudley’s advisor is Jim Greenwood, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences.

“At their poster presentations, our graduate students were engaging with the top scientists in our field, who were very interested in their work,” Gilmore said. “I was very proud to see them attending talks across a range of disciplines, asking questions of speakers and making such solid scientific contributions.”

Gilmore also presented a study at the conference titled “Formation Rates and Mechanisms for Low-Emissivity Materials on Venus Mountaintops and Constraint on Tessera Composition.” In addition, she worked with NASA scientists on issues related to Venus exploration.

The following alumni authored abstracts presented at the conference: Avram Stein ’17; Jesse Tarnas ’16; Peter Martin ’14Nina Lanza MA ’06; Ian Garrick-Bethell ’02Robert Nelson MA ’69; and William Boynton ’66. Keenan Golder MA ’13; Ben McKeeby MA ’17; and Kristen Luchsinger MA ’17 also attended.

Moore Remembered for Contributions to Monetary Economics

Basil John Moore, professor emeritus of economics, passed away on March 8 at the age of 84.

Moore, who received his BA from the University of Toronto and his PhD from Johns Hopkins University, came to Wesleyan in 1958. He retired in 2003 after 45 years of scholarship that took him to Cambridge, Stanford, Morocco, Vancouver, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Korea, India, and Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Naegele in The Conversation: Are Neurons Added to the Human Brain after Birth?

Jan Naegele is one of 19 women faculty in the country to receive a Drexel Fellowship.

Jan Naegele

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Janice Naegele, the Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science, writes about the implications of a controversial new neuroscience study from the University of California, San Francisco. Naegele also is professor of biology and professor of neuroscience and behavior. Read her bio on The Conversation.

Scientists have known for about two decades that some neurons—the fundamental cells in the brain that transmit signals—are generated throughout life. But now a controversial new study from the University of California, San Francisco, casts doubt on whether many neurons are added to the human brain after birth.

Higgins in The Conversation: Letting Audiences Twist the Plot

Scott Higgins, the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, writes in The Conversation about a film innovation flop.

Scott Higgins, the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, writes in The Conversation about a film innovation flop.

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Ahead of the 2018 Oscars ceremony that celebrates the best in film, The Conversation explores some of the worst film innovations of years past. Scott Higgins, director of the College of Film and the Moving Image, writes about Interfilm, a “choose your own adventure” theater technology that flopped in the early 1990s. Higgins is also the Charles W. Fries Professor of Film Studies, chair of Film Studies, and curator of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives. Read his bio on The Conversation.

Letting audiences twist the plot

Artists have long sought to erase the boundary between a film and its viewers, and Alejandro Iñárritu’s 2017 Oscar-winning virtual reality installation “Carne y Arena” has come close.

But the dream of putting audiences in the picture has fueled a number of film fiascoes, including an early 1990s debacle called Interfilm.

Nguyen to Research Refugee Narratives in New Orleans as ACLS Fellow

Marguerite Nguyen

Marguerite Nguyen

As an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellow, Marguerite Nguyen will spend the 2018-19 academic year working on her second book project in New Orleans, La.

Nguyen, assistant professor of English, received the ACLS Fellowship in February.

ACLS, a private, nonprofit federation of 75 national scholarly organizations, aims to advance scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences by awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies. Since 1957, more than 40 Wesleyan faculty have received an ACLS fellowship.

Nguyen will focus her fellowship on Vietnamese American accounts of forced displacement in New Orleans to outline a broader paradigm for interpreting refugee culture. Her project is tentatively titled “Asian American New Orleans: Rethinking Refugee Aesthetics, Agency and Archives.”

“When we see refugees portrayed in the media, they are typically depicted in terms of crisis and emergency,” Nguyen said. “But refugee narratives often describe migration differently—as temporally elongated experiences that cannot be understood in terms of finite periods of migration, asylum and resettlement.”

Veritas Forum to Explore Religious Liberty Issues in American Society

On March 1, Wesleyan will host the Veritas Forum featuring a discussion between Michael Wear, previously Faith Outreach Director of the Obama Administration, and President Michael Roth. Professor of Government Mary Alice Haddad will moderate. The event, titled, “The Trouble with Freedom: A Dialogue on Freedom in 21st Century America from a Religious and Secular Perspective,” will take place at 7–8:30 p.m. in Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center. It is free and open to the public.

The forum will explore the political, social, cultural, and religious implications of religious liberty. The presenters will share their past experiences and worldviews on religious liberty on college campuses and beyond.

“Having rich, deep, and meaningful dialogue is increasingly difficult in this polarized world, and I am looking forward to this event that brings together thoughtful, committed individuals who are willing to respectfully engage with one another publicly on topics that are complex and personal,” said University Protestant Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska. “I am proud of my students for the phenomenal effort they have put into this program and their continued commitment to learning and dialogue.”

Wear is the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, and a leading expert and strategist at the intersection of faith, politics, and American public life. He directed faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and was one of the youngest White House staffers in American history, leading evangelical outreach and helping manage the White House’s engagement on religious and values issues. Today, Public Square Strategies LLC is a firm that helps religious and political organizations, businesses and others effectively navigate the rapidly changing American religious and political landscape. Wear is the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America, and frequently writes articles for The Atlantic, USA Today, Christianity Today, and other publications.

Gallarotti in The Conversation: Trump’s Protectionism Continues Long History of U.S. Rejection of Free Trade

Giulio Gallarotti

An article by Professor Giulio Gallarotti appeared in The Conversation. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

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 a recent article, Professor of Government Giulio Gallarotti debunks the myth that Trump’s protectionist tendencies fly in the face of America’s tradition of free trade. Gallarotti is also co-chair of the College of Social Studies and professor of environmental studies. Read his bio in The Conversation.

Trump’s Protectionism Continues Long History of U.S. Rejection of Free Trade

Free traders have vilified President Donald Trump as a pernicious protectionist because of policies such as hiking tariffs, abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership and saying he’s prepared to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

They fear his policies will hurt the U.S. economy by restricting access to foreign goods. But are these policies really so radically different from past administrations?

Absolutely not. The fact is the U.S. has never been a truly free trade country—one with virtually no barriers to trade with other nations—as some people seem to think. The idea that the U.S. ever was is a myth.

Olson Lab Explores How Cholera Infection Spreads

Rich Olson

Rich Olson

Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Rich Olson and members of his lab have uncovered the structural basis for how the bacterial pathogen responsible for cholera targets carbohydrate receptors on host cells—an important finding for the future development of treatment strategies against infectious bacteria.

In their paper “Structural basis of mammalian glycan targeting by Vibrio cholerae cytolysin and biofilm proteins,” published in the Feb. 12 issue of PLoS Pathogens, Olson and his team—Swastik De PhD ’16; graduate students Katherine Kaus and Brandon Case; and Shada Sinclair ’16—looked at Vibrio cholerae, an aquatic microbe responsible for cholera, a potentially life-threatening disease for populations with limited access to health care.

The team studied two of the virulence factors that this particular bacterial pathogen uses to help spread infection: a toxin that creates pores in the membranes of target cells (such as immune cells) and a protein that helps form a protective sheath around the bacterial colonies as they grow.

Study results showed that both of these factors use similar carbohydrate receptors to recognize and target cell surfaces, suggesting that strategically disrupting carbohydrate interactions could affect how V. cholerae and other organisms like it are able to infect human hosts and spread disease.

“Understanding how pathogens specifically recognize targets on human cells is essential for the development of effective drugs and vaccines to fight pathogenic bacteria and prevent outbreaks,” Olson explained.

Read the full paper here.

Ashraf Rushdy in The Conversation: The Art of the Public Apology

In his new book, Professor Ashraf Rushdy explains how lynching became a form of spectacle in the late 19th century until the 1930s.

Ashraf Rushdy

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” Amid a flood of accusations against public figures for sexual misconduct and other improprieties, Ashraf Rushdy, the Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language, writes a piece exploring “the art of the public apology.” Rushdy is also professor of English, professor of African American studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Read his bio in The Conversation.

The art of the public apology

Ashraf Rushdy, Wesleyan University

Just prior to his sentencing, former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar formally apologized to the more than 160 women whom he’d sexually abused. He joins a growing list. Over the past few months, many public personalities accused of sexual assault have apologized in public.

Many of us at this point are wondering what these apologies mean. Indeed, like others before him, Nassar said that an adequate apology was impossible. He stated,

“There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey.”

What, then, is it that he and other public figures are doing when they say sorry publicly?

In a forthcoming book, I look at different kinds of public apologies, including the kind of celebrity apologies we’ve witnessed in the past few months. What I argue is that public apologies are a type of performance and therefore should be understood as being different from private.