Faculty

Kauanui Presents “Politics of Occupy Wall Street” Research in Qatar

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui in Qatar.

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, professor of American studies and anthropology, chair of American studies and director of the Center of the Americas, spent part of winter break in Qatar. She was there to present her research on “Settler Colonialism and the Politics of Occupy Wall Street: Indigeneity and the ‘Other’ 1%” for a panel on “Against Exceptionalism.”

Kauanui joined a global roster of leading scholars in American studies, Middle Eastern studies and other closely related fields who were invited to speak as part of a conference held Jan. 8–11 at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies with support from the Qatar National Research Fund.

The conference, titled “From Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park: The Arab Spring and the De-Centering of American Studies,” was co-organized by Eid Mohamed, assistant professor of American studies and comparative literature at the Doha Institute, and Melani McAlister, associate professor of American studies and international affairs at George Washington University. Its aim was to “internationalize the study of America to enable critical consideration of where and what is America—particularly in relation to the Arab uprisings and developments in the global map of power.”

Presentations from the conference are slated to be included in an edited volume available in late 2018.

For more information on the conference program and participants, visit https://de-centeringamericanstudies.weebly.com.

 

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Recent Wesleyan News

1. President Michael Roth publishes op-eds in The Washington Post titled, “We can’t let cynics ruin college,” and “What is college for? (Hint: It’s not just about getting in.).” He also sat for an “On Leadership” interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. The Conversation: “The dangerous belief that white people are under attack”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins writes about her research on perceptions of reverse discrimination in light of recent societal trends.

3. Marketplace: “Here comes the tax bill marketing”

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, is interviewed about the proliferation of advertising campaigns focused on the federal tax reform law after its passage.

4. Hartford Courant: “President Trump Takes Page from P.T. Barnum’s Book”

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, writes about the legacy of circus creator Phineas T. Barnum in connection with the recent release of the film about his life. Tucker is also associate professor of environmental studies, associate professor of science in society.

5. Association for Psychological Science: “Playing to Chronotype”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Royette Tavernier is interviewed about her research on the topic of sleep.

Recent Alumni News
1. TheNetworkJournal.com: Majora Carter [’88, Hon. ’13]: Social Entrepreneur

This profile of the founder of Sustainable South Bronx details her newest venture, StartUp Box #SouthBronx, “a tech social enterprise designed to help residents of low-income communities participate in the tech economy.”

2. SFGate.com: 5 Lessons You Can Learn from Uber Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John [’99] [Also: Entrepreneur.com, RealwiseRealestate.com, Uncova]

Saint John offers common sense and inspirational keys that she says have helped her in business and in her personal life.

3. BroadwayWorld.com: Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Will Honor Lin-Manuel Miranda [’02] with Monte Cristo Award! [Also:TheHollywoodTimes.net, CTNow.com]

4. Jewish Journal: Hello, Beanie: Feldstein [’15] Having a Moment With ‘Dolly’ and ‘Lady Bird’

In this profile, Feldstein discusses her roles in two award-winning productions, one on Broadway, one on screen and now in theaters. She tells writer Ryan Torok, “I loved Lady Bird so much because it [drew on] a much more vulnerable side of me than I was asked to bring forward [previously]. I was so nervous and excited to tap into that side of myself, after doing things more strictly comedic.”

5. TalkingBizNews.com: Reuters Names Five Global Industry Editors; including Jonathan Weber ’82

Weber, now based in Singapore, was previously West Coast bureau chief and later named technology editor. Reuters credits him for their “strong coverage of cybersecurity,” which “helped build the U.S. tech team into a competitive force.”

6. BostonGlobe.com: Lisa Chedekel [’82], 57, an Esteemed, Intrepid Journalist [Also: Courant.com]

After Chedekel’s death on Jan. 12, 2018, Vinny Vella of the Hartford Courant wrote of her career: “Chedekel had been a member of a team of Courant reporters who won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the deadly shooting rampage at the Connecticut Lottery Corp. . . . ‘Lisa was a fearless reporter and elegant writer,’ said John Ferraro, a Courant editor who worked closely with Chedekel. ‘She searched for truth wherever it led. She was an advocate for the powerless and a thorn in the side of the powerful.’”

 

Sorey MA ’11 and Orr Awarded Artistic Fellowships

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA’11 (Photo by John Rogers)

Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, a MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner, and Distinguished Fellow in the College of the Environment Allison Orr, artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, have been chosen as 2018 fellows by United States Artists (USA), an organization that illuminates the value of artists to American society. Sorey and Orr will each receive a $50,000 unrestricted award as part of the honor.

A total of 45 recipients were announced for the annual awards, which recognize achievements and innovation across nine disciplines, including architecture and design, crafts, dance, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, visual art, and writing. Dancer-choreographer-performance artist Okwui Okpokwasili, recipient of the 2015 Danspace/Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance Creative Artist Residency, and jazz chanteuse Somi, who performed as part of the Center for the Arts’ Performing Arts Series in October 2017, were also recognized for their work.

Since its founding in 2006, United States Artists has awarded more than 500 accomplished and innovative artists with unrestricted awards totaling over $22 million of direct support.

Basinger Speaks to Staff about Film Studies, Musicals

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, spoke on her latest work during a luncheon for staff, Nov. 28 in Daniel Family Commons. Basinger, who has been employed at Wesleyan for 58 years, recently completed her 12th book manuscript with a working title of Musicals: History and Definition. The book tells the history of the musical and defines the genre.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, spoke on her latest work during the Staff Luncheon Series Nov. 28 in Daniel Family Commons. Basinger, who has been employed at Wesleyan for 58 years, recently completed her 12th book manuscript with a working title of “Musicals: History and Definition.” The book tells the history of the musical and defines the genre. Basinger, who’s collected film memorabilia her entire life, said film studies is a relatively new field of study. “Film was officially born in 1895, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it began to become an academic field. Wesleyan was one of the pioneers; we were one of the first universities (in the country) to add it to our curriculum.”

Former Curator Feller Expert on Jewish Philosophy, Museum Studies

Yaniv Feller joined the faculty in 2017. He’s teaching religion courses this spring.

Yaniv Feller is the Jeremy Zwelling Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and assistant professor of religion. Feller specializes in Jewish philosophy, Jewish-Christian relations, post-Holocaust theology, material culture and museum studies. His current book project is titled “Leo Baeck and the Tradition of Dialogical Apologetics.” Prior to Wesleyan, Feller worked as an exhibition curator for the new permanent exhibition project at the Jewish Museum Berlin.

In this Q&A, Feller speaks about his time working at a renowned Jewish museum, the importance of incorporating the lives and histories of objects into his courses and woodworking. 

Q: You just joined the faculty at Wesleyan this year. What are you enjoying and how would you characterize your new academic home?

A: It is hard to believe that a semester has already passed—time flies by when you are having fun! Reflecting on the last couple of months, I realize that Wesleyan is indeed everything I hoped it to be: it is a passionate community of learners, and this is true of faculty and students alike. I obviously heard about how smart and engaged people at Wesleyan are, and it was a pleasure to discover that sometimes, positive reputation is more than justified.

Q: What courses are you teaching this spring?

A: I am teaching RELI 203, Jews and Judaism, and RELI 213, Refugees and Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora.

Q: Do you have a favorite course? (Or is that like asking a parent about a favorite child?) Is there one that seems particularly well received or apropos?

A: It IS a bit like asking for a favorite child. I like them all! I like to teach classes that examine Jewish history and philosophy as a springboard for larger theoretical questions, or ones that ask the theoretical questions through a series of case studies. Perhaps most relevant this semester is “Refugees and Exiles” in which we will examine contemporary discussions on refugees in light of philosophical, literary and historical perspectives. What do narratives about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, for example, have to teach us about today? More than you might suspect.

Juhasz Authors Eye Movement Study on Compound-Word Processing

Barbara Juhasz

An article by Barbara Juhasz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has been published in the January 2018 edition of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The study, titled “Experience with compound words influences their processing: An eye movement investigation with English compound words” appears in Issue 71, pages 103–12.

Recording eye movements, Juhasz explains, provides information on the time-course of word recognition during reading. Eye movements also are informative for examining the processing of morphologically complex words such as compound words.

In this study, Juhasz examined the time-course of lexical and semantic variables during morphological processing. A total of 120 English compound words that varied in familiarity, age-of-acquisition, semantic transparency, lexeme meaning dominance, sensory experience rating and imageability were selected.

The impact of these variables on fixation durations was examined when length, word frequency and lexeme frequencies were controlled in a regression model. Juhasz discovered that the most robust effects were found for familiarity and age-of-acquisition, indicating that a reader’s experience with compound words significantly impacts compound recognition. These results provide insight into semantic processing of morphologically complex words during reading.

In 2003, Juhasz and her former graduate mentor, Professor Keith Rayner, co-authored a related study on “Investigating the effects of a set of intercorrelated variables on eye fixation durations in reading,” published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. This study examined the impact of five-word recognition variables, however focused on relatively short, morphologically simple words.

Juhasz’s new article is published in a special issue devoted to honoring Rayner, who passed away in 2015. Rayner, the Atkinson Family Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, oversaw an Eyetracking Lab at the university.

“Keith was a very well-respected cognitive scientist who was a pioneer in using eye movements to study reading processes,” Juhasz said. “I’m honored that I could follow up on research that we worked on together more than a decade ago and have it published in this special issue.”

Khamis Co-Authors Article on Effects of Historical Labor Policies on Women

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis

Melanie Khamis, assistant professor of economics and assistant professor of Latin American studies, has co-authored a new paper published in the December 2017 issue of Labour Economics. The paper, titled “Women make houses, women make homes,” examines the effects of historical labor market institutions and policies on women’s labor market outcomes.

To conduct the research, Khamis and her colleagues studied the “rubble women” of post–World War II Germany, who were subject to a 1946 Allied Control Council command that required women between the ages of 15 and 50 to register with a labor office and to participate in postwar cleanup and reconstruction.

The study showed that this mandatory employment had persistent longstanding adverse effects on German women’s overall participation in the labor market. Possible reasons for this include physical and mental exhaustion associated with the demanding manual labor involved in removing war debris; an increase in postwar marriage and fertility rates; and a reversion to traditional gender roles as men returned from war.

The findings highlight how important it is for countries—especially those recovering from conflict—to develop labor market institutions and policies that support women’s participation in the workforce. In addition, the paper concludes, “Our results also provide suggestive evidence that work-contingent income support programs may have limited positive effects on female future labor market outcomes and welfare dependency unless such policies are further backed up by the provision of quality child care and labor market institutions at large.”

Thayer, Galganov ’17, Stein ’17 Publish Article on Allosteric Signaling

A new article by Visiting Assistant Professor in Computer Science Kelly Thayer and students in her Spring 2017 Scientific Computing class is challenging conventional metrics used in allosteric signaling—the regulation of an enzyme by a binding molecule at a site other than the enzyme’s active site.

“What’s special about allostery is that a molecule called an allosteric effector binds at one location, and the change happens somewhere else,” Thayer explained. “What we were trying to understand was: How does that signal get across?”

Paige’s Short Stories Published in Literary Magazines

Paula Paige, adjunct professor of romance languages and literatures, emerita, is the author of five short stories published in literary magazines in 2016-18. These include:

Flu Story” published in Newfound, Vol, 8, Issue 2, 2018. 

Daddy,” published in The Umbrella Factory, Issue 29, September 2017.

“Roman Ruins:  an Update on a Once Great Beauty,” published in Artes Magazine, May 26, 2017.

The Baby Sitter,” published by the Diverse Arts Project, August 2016.

Gluten and Other Abominations,” published by Sundress Publications, June 2016.

Paula Paige taught at Wesleyan for 30 years. She is the recipient of the 2010 Our Stories Gordon Award for her flash fiction piece “Mosiach is Here.” Most recently, she was shortlisted for Glimmer Train’s February 2014 Short Story Award for New Writers, and First Runner-up in Red Hen Press’s 2015 Short Story Award. Paige also has translated two 19th century Italian literary fiction pieces with Northwestern University Press.

E&ES Faculty, Alumni Author Article on New Method for Saharan Dust Collection in the Caribbean

Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty and senior seminar students have identified a potentially fast and inexpensive method for collecting and measuring Saharan dust in the Caribbean.

E&ES faculty members Dana Royer, Tim Ku, Suzanne O’Connell, and Phil Resor, and students Kylen Moynihan ’17, Carolyn Ariori ’09, Gavin Bodkin ’09, Gabriela Doria MA’09, Katherine Enright ’15, Rémy Hatfield-Gardner ’17, Emma Kravet ’09, C. Miller Nuttle ’09, and Lisa Shepard ’17 have coauthored an article published in the January 2018 issue of Atmospheric Environment. The paper, titled “Tank Bromeliads capture Saharan dust in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico,” summarizes student research performed in three senior seminar capstone projects conducted over an eight-year period starting in January 2009.

Saharan Africa produces approximately 800 billion kilograms of dust each year, a significant portion of which is carried via wind across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. These dust particles provide critical components for Caribbean ecosystems, including viable fungi and bacteria, but current methods for measuring the dust can be either expensive or limited in the amount and purity of samples collected.

Royer and his team sought to test whether Saharan dust could be detected within the bromeliad tanks of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, and “to test how well tank bromeliads serve as a natural vessel for distinguishing the regional sources of atmospheric deposition.”

The team theorized that the overlapping structure of the bromeliad’s leaves, which is used to capture rainwater and nutrient-rich debris, could provide a feasible way to measure and trace Saharan dust in the Caribbean. Over the course of three field campaigns, the team sampled the bromeliad tanks, soil, and bedrock at three different sites in the El Yunque dwarf forest. Their findings confirmed that the contents of the tested tanks could be analyzed to identify the source of atmospheric dust inputs, thus providing a potentially simpler and lower-cost alternative to existing methods of collection and measurement.

Collins, Thomas Honored with Endowed Professorships

In recognition of their career achievements, faculty members Karen Collins and Ellen Thomas were appointed to endowed professorships.

Karen Collins

Karen Collins, professor of mathematics, received an Edward Burr Van Vleck Professor of Mathematics, established in 1982.

Collins joined Wesleyan’s department of mathematics in 1986 after receiving her BA from Smith College and her PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on graph theory, enumerative combinatorics, and algebraic combinatorics. Her most recent publication was “Split graphs and Nordhaus-Gaddum graphs” (Discrete Mathematics, 2016). She has served on several prize committees, most recently the committee for the 2016 George Polya Prize in Combinatorics. She is a long-time member of the steering committee for the Discrete Mathematics Days of the Northeast, and served as both vice-chair and chair of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics Discrete Mathematics Activity Group. At Wesleyan, she has directed many PhD and MA theses, and served as the chair of her department and on the Review and Appeals Board, the Faculty Committee on Rights and Responsibilities, and the Faculty Executive Committee.

Ellen Thomas

Ellen Thomas, University Professor in the College of Integrative Sciences, received a Harold T. Stearns professorship, established in 1984.

Ellen Thomas received her BSc, MSc, and PhD from University of Utrecht, Netherlands. She has received the 2016 Brady Medal from the Micropalaeontological Society; the 2013 Professional Excellence Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists; the 2012 Maurice Ewing Medal from the American Geophysical Union and Ocean Naval Research; and she is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her research focuses on quantitative studies of benthic foraminifera as indicators of global, regional, and local natural and anthropogenic environmental changes, and geochemical and trace element analysis of their shells as proxy for environmental change. She has published extensively and received grants from numerous institutions, including the National Science Foundation, the Leverhulme Foundation, and the Yale Climate and Energy Institute.

American Political Development Expert Justin Peck Joins Government Department

Justin Peck

Justin Peck, assistant professor of government, joined the faculty in 2017.

In this Q&A, Assistant Professor of Government Justin Peck speaks about his research interests, teaching at Wesleyan and road-tripping across the United States. (Brandon Sides ’18 contributed to this article.)

Q: Professor Peck, what are your primary areas of research?

A: My dissertation attempts to explain when and why post-WWII Congresses enacted legal constraints on executive authority. And that’s now my primary area of research; the second area of my research concerns when and how the Republican Party’s position on civil rights issues has changed since the Civil War.

Q: What are your current projects?

A: I’m working on a book manuscript with a co-author, Jeff Jenkins, who’s at the University of Southern California, and who was my dissertation chair. Right now, we’re looking at every single legislative proposal—succeeded or failed—addressing black civil rights, and how members of the Republican Party in Congress positioned themselves around these bills. What we see after the Civil War is lots of hope, some successes, more failures, but a progressive narrowing of the ambitions and goals of the Republican Party. Eventually—right around the end of the 19th century—they decided to just ignore civil rights. The idea of the research is to tell the political history of black civil rights from the end of the Civil War to present day. We have two books in progress: one stretches from 1861 to 1918, which we call the first Civil Rights era. The other one goes from 1919 to 2016, and that’s the second Civil Rights era.