Snapshots

Theater Department Performs Socially-Distanced Fall Show, SLABBER

The Theater Department presented its fall show, SLABBER, Oct. 16–18 on the Center for the Arts green. The socially-distanced performances were open for groups of 48 audience members at a time.

Directed by Assistant Professor of Theater Katie Pearl, SLABBER introduced the audience to a group of enigmatic figures who have traveled to Wesleyan to diagnose their mysterious condition—one they have been suffering from for years. As they reveal their research, audience members are pulled deep into a fable of an outcast little girl, the history of Middletown, and a soap-cutting machine known only as the slabber.

This performance asked the Wesleyan community to consider notions of social and physical contamination, and whether it’s possible to come close to someone else without ever leaving your chair. Originally created by the interdisciplinary theater duo PearlDamour, the work was re-devised by the Wesleyan Student Ensemble, Here and Now, for the current socio-political moment.

Photos of the performance are below: (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

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“Educating for Equity” Discussed at the 28th Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium

dwight greene

On Oct. 17, the Wesleyan Alumni of Color Council presented the 28th Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium titled “Educating for Equity – Building Racial Competencies.” Several alumni of color who work at independent schools served as panelists to share their strategies on addressing race, diversity, and equity at institutions with longstanding histories of privileging sameness. The panelists included: Aléwa Cooper ’98, head of the Foote School in New Haven, Conn.; José De Jesús ’97, head of the Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill.; Javaid Khan ’96, head of the middle division at the Horace Mann School in Riverdale, N.Y.; Semeka Smith-Williams ’97, director of diversity and equity at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Steven Tejada ’97, head of the upper school at Maret School in Washington, D.C.; and Gillian Todd ’98, first program director at the Dalton School in New York, N.Y. Francisco Tezén ’97, CEO/president of A Better Chance in New York, N.Y., served as the event’s moderator.

tejada

“The pandemic is impacting kids in different ways,
 especially kids of color and Black kids,” Tejada said. “And how do we think about our grading and our assessment during this
 time? And that shouldn’t be just during a pandemic, right?
 That should be happening all the time.
 And my hope is that we’re going to be holding onto some of those
 changes that we’re making right now and thinking about how those are
 making our schools better places regardless.”

Accelerating the Climate Revolution, Life on Venus Discussed at “Where on Earth Are We Going?” Symposium

The 18th annual “Where on Earth Are We Going?” Symposium of the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment was held on Oct. 16 and 17 in a virtual format as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend events.

During the 18th annual "Where on Earth Are We Going? Symposium of the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment," Jacob Scherr '70 (bottom left) and Amy Gomberg Kurt '04 (top right) served as keynote speakers of the event titled "Accelerating the Climate Revolution." Alys Campaigne

On Oct. 16, Jacob Scherr ’70 (left) and Amy Gomberg Kurt ’04 (center) served as keynote speakers of a discussion titled “Accelerating the Climate Revolution.” Barry Chernoff (right), the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies, professor of biology and earth and environmental studies, served as the event’s moderator.

COE

Five years ago this December, Jacob Scherr, an international environmental attorney, lit up the Eiffel Tower to mark the start of the “Climate Revolution” with the signing of the historic Paris Climate Agreement. Since then, the signs of a changing climate have become more evident, and calls for action, particularly from young people, have grown louder in spite of the Trump Administration’s determination to withdraw the U.S. from its international leadership on this existential threat. Scherr shared his decades-long first-hand perspective of where we are today in the U.S. and worldwide in dealing with the climate crisis. “I feel confident that we’ve indeed built a strong global architecture that can stimulate transformative climate action worldwide once there’s the political will,” he said. “I hope that I can return to Wesleyan for my 55th reunion in person, and I hope all of us can celebrate, then, the accelerating climate revolution.”

Students Celebrate New School Year with Fallapalooza Fall Concert on Foss

On Oct. 9, 46 students attended the Fallapalooza Fall Concert on Foss Hill. The concert showcased several Wesleyan student bands and celebrated the start of the new school year. Fallapalooza was hosted by Wesleyan’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD) and the Wesleyan Student Assembly. To ensure the continued safety of the Wesleyan community, attendees were required to register in advance, practice social distancing, and wear masks. Performers were permitted to remove their masks during their performances. (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

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concert

PhD Candidate Drum Discusses Biology Research during Graduate Speaker Series

Drum

Zachary Drum, a PhD candidate in biology, delivered the first 2020–21 Graduate Speaker Series talk on Oct. 2 through Zoom. Drum’s advisor is Joseph Coolon, assistant professor of biology. The Coolon Lab uses genetic and genomic tools to better understand how insects evolve to form a resistance to pesticides, damaging $10 billion in crops annually.

Zachary Drum, a PhD candidate in biology, delivered the first 2020-21 Graduate Speaker Series talk on Oct. 2 through Zoom. Titled "The Forbidden Fruit: How Drosophila sechellia came to Love Morinda citrifolia," Drum's research explores how a fruit fly species in Africa is able to eat a poisonous fruit that flies in the the rest of the world would find toxic.

Titled “The Forbidden Fruit: How Drosophila sechellia came to Love Morinda citrifolia,” Drum’s research explores how a fruit fly species in Seychelles is able to eat a poisonous fruit (noni) that flies in the rest of the world would find toxic. Ripe noni fruit contains the fatty acid volatiles octanoic acid and hexanoic acid, which are poisonous to other Drosophila species. “The host fruit has these chemicals that they [sechellia] like, and other flies don’t. They’re attracted and resistant to the fatty acid volatiles in the noni fruit,” Drum explained. “So we’re trying to build this puzzle. How does it resist these volatiles?” (Slide show photo by Charlotte Freeland)

drum

Drum explained the two types of Drosophila sensory organs used for smelling, based on past research.

Graduate Speaker Series events are open to the entire Wesleyan community.

Graduate Speaker Series events are open to the entire Wesleyan community.

Jewish Community Celebrates Journey to the Holy Land in WesSukkah

sukkah

During the first week of October, Wesleyan’s Jewish community constructed its annual WesSukkah on the McKelvey Green. During the festival of Sukkot, held Oct. 2–9, 2020, students use the dwelling for socializing, meditating, eating meals, studying, and occasionally sleeping. The eight-day celebration is generally observed by Jews, although students from any faith or background are allowed to enter and use the sukkah.

sukkah

During Sukkot, the Jewish community celebrates the Israelites’ 40-year journey to the Holy Land, which concludes with the celebration of Hoshana Rabbah. Although sukkah walls can be constructed from any material, Rabbinic building code suggests that the roof must be built from organic material. The WesSukkah’s roof is made of bamboo.

sukkah

Decorating the sukkah with artwork is a Jewish tradition. (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

Criminal Justice and Election Discussed at E2020 Speaker Series Event

As part of Wesleyan's E2020 Speaker Series, on Oct. 1, a group of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders discussed the topic "Criminal Justice and the 2020 Election." This event featured a panel of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders including Alicia Hernandez Strong ’16, Julian Adler ’02, Lorenzo Jones, Andrew Clark, Earl Bloodworth and Tracie Bernardi, who are all committed to criminal justice reform (bios below). They will speak about their work and their thoughts on the upcoming election.

As part of Wesleyan’s E2020 Speaker Series, on Oct. 1 a group of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders discussed the topic “Criminal Justice and the 2020 Election.” The event, hosted on Zoom, was open to the Wesleyan community and the public.

This event featured a panel of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders including Alicia Hernandez Strong ’16, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations; Julian Adler ’02, director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation; Lorenzo Jones, co-founder and co-executive director at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice in Hartford, Conn.; Andrew Clark, director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University; Earl Bloodworth, director of The Warren Kimbro Reentry Project whose mission is to help formerly incarcerated New Haven residents successfully return to the community after their release from prison; and Tracie Bernardi, co-founder and co-director of Once Incarcerated… Once In–a non-profit organization geared toward ending recidivism and generational incarceration.

This event featured a panel of Wesleyan alumni and community leaders, including Alicia Hernandez Strong ’18, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Julian Adler ’02, director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation; Lorenzo Jones, co-founder and co-executive director at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice in Hartford, Conn.; Andrew Clark, director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University; Earl Bloodworth, director of The Warren Kimbro Reentry Project, whose mission is to help formerly incarcerated New Haven residents successfully return to the community after their release from prison; and Tracie Bernardi, co-founder and co-director of Once Incarcerated… Once In, a nonprofit organization geared toward ending recidivism and generational incarceration.

The discussion was moderated by Allie Cislo, program manager of Wesleyan's Center for Prison Education.

The discussion was moderated by Allie Cislo, program manager of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education. She asked the panelists to reflect on their own work and discuss the uses and limitations of elections at every level of government—from the federal to the municipal—in affecting transformative change to the landscape of law and punishment in America. She also asked, “What is the relationship between prospective changes in the criminal legal system and an electoral paradigm?”

Julian Adler ’02 is the director of policy and research at the Center for Court Innovation, where he oversees a broad portfolio of teams, projects, and new initiatives. Julian was previously the director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn, New York, and he was part of the planning teams that created Brooklyn Justice Initiatives and Newark Community Solutions in New Jersey. Julian is the co-author (with Greg Berman ’89) of Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration (The New Press), and he is a co-chair of the advisory board for Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education.

Julian Adler ’02 is the co-author (with Greg Berman ’89) of Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration (The New Press), and he is a co-chair of the advisory board for Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education.

licia Hernandez Strong ’18, a leader and community activist in her hometown of New Britain, was named one of Connecticut Magazine‘s 2019 “40 under 40.” At 21 years old, Strong became the youngest person nationally to be given the title of executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Strong is working to empower young Muslim women and, in her work with the New Britain Board of Education, tackle socioeconomic and racial disparity in New Britain schools. After taking a course in comparative religion during her junior year at New Britain High School, Strong converted from Catholicism to Islam. She went on to double-major in government and religion at Wesleyan, studying abroad in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia her junior year and graduating with honors. During her time at Wesleyan, Strong received the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for a research proposal seeking to explore the Muslim identities of the Albanian population in Kosovo.

Alicia Hernandez Strong ’18, a leader and community activist in her hometown of New Britain, was named one of Connecticut Magazine’s 2019 “40 under 40.” At 21 years old, Strong became the youngest person nationally to be given the title of executive director of the Connecticut chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Strong is working to empower young Muslim women and, in her work with the New Britain Board of Education, tackle socioeconomic and racial disparity in New Britain schools. After taking a course in comparative religion during her junior year at New Britain High School, Strong converted from Catholicism to Islam. She went on to double-major in government and religion at Wesleyan, studying abroad in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Serbia her junior year and graduating with honors. During her time at Wesleyan, Strong received the Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for a research proposal seeking to explore the Muslim identities of the Albanian population in Kosovo.

racie Bernardi is a formerly incarcerated woman who entered prison a teenager and served 23 years in prison. Seven of which she spent in Solitary Confinement. Since her release just five years ago Tracie has become a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. She is the co-founder and co-director of Once Incarcerated… Once In – a non-profit organization geared toward ending recidivism and generational incarceration. Tracie co-facilitates Once In Anonymous (OIA) an on-line safe haven for formerly incarcerated people. Tracie is also a dedicated ACLU Smart Justice Leader fighting to end mass incarceration. She is also a Phoenix Member helping to change the culture of corrections. Tracie is a public speaker- Venues such as Yale, Wesleyan, CCSU, Capital Community College, The Connecticut Women’s March, The Connecticut Convention center, and several public libraries and churches, panels, and rally’s. Tracie is published in Kenneth E. Hartman’s Too Cruel Not Unusual, the other death penalty. Tracie is an avid writer, looking to publish a memoir. Visit her blog. Tracie is also an artist who has also had her art displayed in The Brooklyn Museum, The American Visionary Art Museum, Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, and Hartford Public Library.

Tracie Bernardi is a formerly incarcerated woman who entered prison as a teenager and served 23 years in prison, seven of which she spent in solitary confinement. Since her release five years ago, Bernardi has become a Certified Recovery Support Specialist. Bernardi co-facilitates Once In Anonymous (OIA) an online safe haven for formerly incarcerated people, and she’s also a dedicated ACLU Smart Justice Leader fighting to end mass incarceration. “I’m in this game for every person who ends up incarcerated. If you don’t help us, and let us back into society, you essentially block us out of society,” she said, “You’re doing a disservice to our kids, our families, and new victims. . . . I just want to make changes. I speak out and try to change perspectives and change hearts, and change minds, and hopefully who we vote for will help change the world.”

The E2020 Speaker Series features an array of public figures from diverse backgrounds, all with compelling messages about the power of students and young people to affect change amid the urgency of this moment. The E2020 Speaker Series is a centerpiece of Wesleyan’s E2020 Initiative, the University’s comprehensive effort to support student learning and civic participation, while engaging the public around the electoral process and broader questions related to civic life.

Upcoming E2020 Speaker Series events include a vice presidential debate watch party with Logan Dancey, associate professor of government; “Don’t Hate, Communicate: Discussing Politics and Maintaining Relationships”; “Our Country Our Votes: Young Voters Weigh in on the Election, Election Coverage, and Political Discourse Today”; “Religion, Diversity, and Democracy: Eboo Patel in conversation with Michael Roth”; an election results watch party; and more.

The E2020 Speaker Series is supported by generous contributions from the Wintman Family Lecture Series Fund.

BIPOC Artists and Theatermakers Discuss the Challenges of Working in White Spaces

Inspired by August Wilson’s 1996 keynote address to the Theater Communications Group, Wesleyan's Theater Department presented a discussion titled "Re-Evaluating the Ground on Which We(s) Stand(s)" on Sept. 25.

Inspired by August Wilson’s 1996 keynote address to the Theater Communications Group, Wesleyan’s Theater Department presented a discussion titled “Re-Evaluating the Ground on Which We(s) Stand(s)” on Sept. 25.

The event, hosted by Assistant Professor of Theater Maria-Christina Oliveras (left) and Associate Professor of English Rashida Shaw McMahon (right) explored how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists and theater-makers are engaging in conversations about the challenges of BIPOC theater in predominantly white spaces.

The event, hosted by Assistant Professor of Theater Maria-Christina Oliveras (left) and Associate Professor of English Rashida Shaw McMahon ’99 (right) explored how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists and theater-makers are engaging in conversations about the challenges of BIPOC theater in predominantly white spaces. Oliveras is an actor, singer, and educator whose career spans theater, film, television, and voice-overs. On Broadway, she originated the role of Gina in Amélie, and also appeared in Machinal and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. McMahon, an author and researcher, is the author of The Black Circuit: Race, Performance, and Spectatorship in Black Popular Theatre (Routledge, March 2020). Her current research projects include an investigation into the hypervisibility of African American women characters within the plays of August Wilson.

Guest speakers and acclaimed actors Crystal Dickinson (Clybourne Park and You Can’t Take It With You on Broadway; Showtime’s The Chi) and Brandon Dirden (Martin Luther King, Jr. in All the Way starring Bryan Cranston and Jitney on Broadway; FX’s The Americans; Netflix’s The Get Down) were the event's key panelists. Guest speakers and acclaimed actors Crystal Dickinson (Clybourne Park and You Can’t Take It With You on Broadway; Showtime’s The Chi) and Brandon Dirden (Martin Luther King, Jr. in All the Way starring Bryan Cranston and Jitney on Broadway; FX’s The Americans; Netflix’s The Get Down) were the event's key panelists. 

Acclaimed actors Crystal Dickinson (Clybourne Park and You Can’t Take It With You on Broadway; Showtime’s The Chi) and Brandon Dirden (All the Way and Jitney on Broadway; FX’s The Americans; Netflix’s The Get Down) served as the event’s guest speakers. They also presented, as actors, scenes from four plays which served as anchoring points to engage the audience in direct conversation with the work, its themes, and its resonance and relevance today. “It’s important for you to see our work and see us perform, but our goal and our mission—the purpose of the work, the purpose of the art—is to educate and to inform,” Dickinson said. “All the work that I choose, it doesn’t matter if it’s TV or theater, I’m always hoping people will have a conversation at the end of it—there’s something that sparks, something uncomfortable, or something sticky. We’re interested in how the work affects society, how the art can change and mold how people are imagining the America we live in.”

The event featured excerpts from plays by Adrienne Kennedy, Alice Childress, Lorraine Hansberry, and Dominique Morriseau,

Dickinson and Dirden performed excerpts from plays by Adrienne Kennedy, Alice Childress, Lorraine Hansberry, and Dominique Morriseau, and spoke about them afterward.

theater

Dickinson and Dirden perform a scene from Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67. The play depicts the race riots that ravaged Detroit in 1967. “This play in particular, we’ve been talking about it in white spaces. This is not a secretive conversation that we’ve kept to ourselves,” Dirden said. “Detroit 1967. The fact that that it isn’t taught in our schools. We were doomed to repeat it, and that was about police brutality.”

Co-sponsored by the Theater Department and the English Department.

The audience was encouraged to ask questions via chat throughout the event.

Watch the full event recording online here. And RSVP for the Theater Deparment’s next event, “A Conversation with Associate Professor Rashida Shaw McMahon” at 4 p.m. Oct. 19.

“Thank you again for all your support and presence,” Oliveras said. “The first of many conversations, as we collectively lean into the stickiness and beautiful potential change of this moment.”

Broker ’66 Speaks on Infectious Disease, Cancer at Biophysics Retreat, Public Seminar

Tom Broker ’66, professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama at Burlington, delivered a public science seminar titled "Infectious Disease Pandemics and Cancer" on Sept. 30. He was joined by Rich Olson, Ishita Mukerji, and Jan Naege, who provided an introduction. 

Tom Broker ’66, professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama at Burlington, delivered a public science seminar titled “Infectious Disease Pandemics and Cancer” on Sept. 30. He was joined by Rich Olson, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; Ishita Mukerji, Fisk Professor of Natural Science, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry; and Jan Naegele, Dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division, Alan M. Dachs Professor of Science.

Broker is an expert on Human papillomaviruses (HPVs), which are sexually-transmitted diseases of viral origin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 million Americans become infected each year, and HPV is estimated to cause nearly 35,000 cases of cancer in men and women. Broker has been involved in the development and validation of topical agents to treat the virus and is the founding President of the Human Papillomavirus Society.

Broker is an expert on human papillomaviruses (HPVs), which are sexually-transmitted diseases of viral origin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 million Americans become infected each year, and HPV is estimated to cause nearly 35,000 cases of cancer in men and women. Broker has been involved in the development and validation of topical agents to treat the virus and is the founding president of the Human Papillomavirus Society.

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“This one was actually a bit of a surprise to me, and if this was data-based on prevalence and macroeconomic status, and I fully expected that the low ‘this is human development index’ would be the place where the worst . . . and it was the worst in the richest countries, at least by what the data shows,” Broker said. “China has a tremendous prevalence, as does India, as a single country, but in the wealthy areas of North America, and Europe and East Asia, papillomaviruses’ prevalence is very high and would benefit immensely from training and treatment, and in the long run, a vaccine could prevent it.”

During the 21st annual Molecular Biophysics Virtual Retreat on Sept. 28, Tom Broker ’66, professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Alabama at Burlington, delivered the keynote address titled "HPV—Host Cell Interactions and Anti-Viral Drug Discovery in 3D-Tissue Systems. "Generally from infection to someone getting a HPV cancer, like cervical cancer, is 20 years, so these viruses are persistent, they’re opportunistic, a little bit of damage every once and a while tips them closer and closer to overexpression, and eventually the failures of the defense responses and the overexpression of the virus drive us down the cancer pathway," he said.

Broker also delivered the 21st annual Molecular Biophysics Virtual Retreat keynote address titled “HPV—Host Cell Interactions and Anti-Viral Drug Discovery in 3D-Tissue Systems” on Sept. 28. “Generally, from infection to someone getting a HPV cancer, like cervical cancer, is 20 years, so these viruses are persistent, they’re opportunistic; a little bit of damage every once and a while tips them closer and closer to over-expression, and eventually the failures of the defense responses and the over-expression of the virus drive us down the cancer pathway,” he said.

bio p retreat

The annual retreat, which is open to all faculty and students, was sponsored by the Molecular Biophysics Program and the Biology, Chemistry, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Physics departments. Broker was joined by Olson, Mukerji, and Donald Oliver, Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Several students presented virtual poster sessions during the retreat including Oliver Cho '22, a chemistry and philosophy double major; Jack Kwon '21, a molecular biology and biochemistry and College of Integrative Sciences double major; Carol Dalgarno ’21, a molecular biology and biochemistry and Science in Society double major; and Rujun Yan ’21, a computer science and math double major.

Several students presented virtual poster sessions during the retreat, including Oliver Cho ’22, a chemistry and philosophy double major; Jack Kwon ’21, a molecular biology and biochemistry and College of Integrative Sciences double major; Carol Dalgarno ’21, a molecular biology and biochemistry and Science in Society double major; and Rujun Yan ’21, a computer science and math double major.

Oliver Cho

Oliver Cho presented “Modifying a Mini Protein with Two Conformational States to Instead Adopt Only One Conformation.” (Click to enlarge)

GCN Sensitive Protein Translation in Yeast

Jack Kwon presented “GCN Sensitive Protein Translation in Yeast.” (Click to enlarge)

Carol Dalgarno

Carol Dalgarno presented “Molecular Dynamics Studies of the Ribosome CAR Surface.” (Click to enlarge)

Rujun Yan

Rujun Yan presented “A Promising Machine Learning Tool for the Permeability of Alpha Helical Peptide.” (Click to enlarge)

Students, Faculty Perform West African Drumming and Dance

African Studies and Akwaaba Wes invited members of the Wesleyan community to a West African Music and Dance performance on Sept. 25 on the Rugby Practice Field. 

African Studies and the African Students’ Association (ASA) invited members of the Wesleyan community to a West African Music and Dance performance on Sept. 25 on the rugby practice field.

The socially-distanced event featured live student performances and a welcome message from the African Students’ Association.

The socially distanced event featured live student performances and a welcome message from the ASA.

Assistant Professor of Dance Iddi Saaka performed a solo dance. Saaka is teaching DANC 111: Introduction to Dance; DANC 260: West African Dance I; and DANC 360: West African Dance II this semester.

Assistant Professor of Dance Iddi Saaka performed a solo dance. Saaka is teaching DANC 111: Introduction to Dance; DANC 260: West African Dance I; and DANC 360: West African Dance II this semester.

John Dankwa, assistant professor of music, also performed a solo. Dankwa is teaching MUSC 300: Seminar for Music Majors and MUSC 446: West African Music and Culture this fall. 

John Dankwa, assistant professor of music, also performed a solo. Dankwa is teaching MUSC 300: Seminar for Music Majors and MUSC 446: West African Music and Culture this fall.

West African dance is a gateway to the cultures and ways of life of its people. It is the medium on which the very existence of the people is reinforced and celebrated. In this introductory course, students will learn the fundamental principles and aesthetics of West African dance through learning to embody basic movement vocabulary and selected traditional dances from Ghana. The physical embodiment of these cultures will be complemented with videos, lectures, readings, and discussions to give students an in-depth perspective on the people and cultures of Ghana. Students will also learn dances from other West Africa countries periodically.

The socially distanced event featured live student performances and a welcome message from the ASA.

The event was sponsored and organized by the Provost, the Fries Center for Global Studies, the Freeman Athletic Center, and Physical-Plant Facilities.

The event was sponsored and organized by the Provost, the Fries Center for Global Studies, the Freeman Athletic Center, and Physical-Plant Facilities. (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

Music Graduate Students Share Recent Projects

On Sept. 23, two students from the Music Department kicked off the 2020–21 Wesleyan Music Graduate Series, which is being hosted on YouTube this semester. Hosted by Wesleyan’s Music graduate students, this series showcases the performance, compositional, and research capabilities of Wesleyan graduate music students, alumni, and other Wesleyan affiliates. Panels will be streamed in six weekly installments on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. during September and October 2020.

Wheeler

Stuart Wheeler, a second-year MA student, presented a talk and performance of his composition “Mr. Bernard Shaw from On Vivisection.” The song, which can be performed by 1–13 singers, is based on a poem Wheeler wrote using source text from On Vivisection. The content focuses on Shaw’s political opposition to the practice of vivisection in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wheeler's construction of the text is drawn heavily from the composer, performance artist, and poet Jackson Mac Low.  "There's specific methods of selection and rearrangement of words in the text, and these methods are both nonintentional and completely pre-determined," Wheeler said. "I'm making no intentional decisions on the granular level, I'm simply developing my own system for selecting and rearranging words from the source text."

Wheeler’s construction of the text is drawn heavily from the composer, performance artist, and poet Jackson Mac Low. “There are specific methods of selection and rearrangement of words in the text, and these methods are both nonintentional and completely predetermined,” Wheeler said. “I’m making no intentional decisions on the granular level, I’m simply developing my own system for selecting and rearranging words from the source text.” Wheeler also explained that his piece is built around a single chord that forms the harmonic architecture for the piece.

Bianca

Bianca Iannitti MA ’19, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology, presented an an autoethnographic case study of the 2018 song Italiana by Fedez and J-Ax. Iannitti, who is fluent in Italian, recalled overhearing the song during a trip to Italy in 2018. “Italiana became an immediate success and is considered Italy’s top summer hit of 2018,” she said. “It was an integral part of my local surroundings. I would hear it in passing on the radio, in retail stores, local bars, or even watching MTV with my cousins.”

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Italiana’s chorus serves as a double entendre, to highlight the tourism, and popularity, and beauty of the Italian summer, while also revealing the cracks within this often romanticized portrayal of the country,” Iannitti said. “Although there are references to the summer weather, the Italian beachside, and the beautiful people, there also lies this double meaning, or added layer, which serves as a political critique against the country’s immigration policy as well as the treatment toward undocumented citizens.”

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Iannitti pointed out several pop cultural references and cultural stereotypes in the song and video, including the use of hand gestures, the love of pizza and spaghetti, and a laid-back mindset. “The song’s Italian music style, lyrical content, and music video ultimately exemplifies the complexity of the Italian culture and its identity on a local, national, and international scale,” she said. (Image: Italiana by Fedez and J-Ax.)

Stanton, Hoggard Discuss Collaborative “Storied Places” during Faculty Luncheon Series

During the fall semester's first Faculty Luncheon Series on Sept. 23, Jay Hoggard '76, professor of music, and Nicole Stanton, provost, professor of dance, and senior vice president for academic affairs, presented a talk titled "Storied Places: A Collaborative Exploration of Migration and Memory" over Zoom. Hoggard and Stanton discussed their collaboration on the "Storied Places" project, which was performed in the Center for the Arts Theater in February 2020 as part of "New England Dance on Tour."

During the fall semester’s first Faculty Lunch Talk Series event on Sept. 23, Jay Hoggard ’76, professor of music, and Nicole Stanton, provost, professor of dance, and senior vice president for academic affairs, presented a talk titled “Storied Places: A Collaborative Exploration of Migration and Memory” on Zoom. Hoggard and Stanton discussed their ongoing “Storied Places” project, which was performed in the Center for the Arts Theater in February 2020.

Their project, "Storied Places" initially explored the stories of how their own families migrated from the south to the north. In time, the project evolved into science-fiction, where the characters envisioned themself in the future. 

“Storied Places” initially explored the stories of how the two collaborators’ own families migrated from the south to the north. In time, the project evolved into science-fiction, where the characters envisioned themself in the future.

nicole stanton

Stanton, a choreographer with a scholarly interest in the histories of the African Diaspora, and Hoggard, a vibraphonist and composer, began their artistic collaboration in 2014. “I’m very interested in the idea of collaboration as a composition practice, one that decenters a single voice and tries to create a space where multiple voices, multiple bodies, and multiple stories can thrive and exist in a community,” Stanton said.

Hoggard, who graduated from Wesleyan's World Music program in 1976, has recorded more than 20 CDs as a leader and more than 50 as a collaborator. He's served as director of the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra for more than 25 years. As a composer, Hoggard said Stanton's arrangements "really challenged to think outside the box." In most productions, very specific lyrics are tied to the emotions of a particular scene, "whereas, working with Nicole, there's something much more subtle than that. It's performance art. There's a symbolic part of modern and post-modern conceptions of choreography, dance, and movement, so ... it was an expansion [for me] in terms of how how to translate that into sound, or fragments of sound as opposed to structured pieces. It was more of a texture. Working with the Dance Department at Wesleyan and seeing the dancers, I got a better understanding of dance at Wes."

Hoggard, who graduated from Wesleyan’s World Music program in 1976, has recorded more than 20 CDs as a leader and more than 50 as a collaborator. He’s served as director of the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra for more than 25 years. As a composer, Hoggard said Stanton’s arrangements “really challenged me to think outside the box.” In most productions, very specific lyrics are tied to the emotions of a particular scene, “whereas, working with Nicole, there’s something much more subtle than that. It’s performance art. There’s a symbolic part of modern and post-modern conceptions of choreography, dance, and movement, so … it was an expansion [for me] in terms of how to translate that into sound, or fragments of sound, as opposed to structured pieces. It was more of a texture. Working with the Dance Department at Wesleyan and seeing the dancers, I got a better understanding of dance at Wes.”

All performers and musicians affiliated with "Storied Places" are Wesleyan faculty, alumni, or community members. The work collaboratively with one another throughout the entire performance process.  "It's not about me creating material and asking all the other bodies in the room to be exactly like my body," Stanton said. "We're all asking one another to try on our physical perspective ... so in that we are engaging our experience. We take our histories and expand them and put them into a context by learning and moving with other people with other bodies."

All performers and musicians affiliated with “Storied Places” are Wesleyan faculty, alumni, or community members, and/or independent artists from New York, Boston, and New Jersey. They work collaboratively with one another throughout the entire performance process. “It’s not about me creating material and asking all the other bodies in the room to be exactly like my body,” Stanton said. “We’re all asking one another to try on our physical perspective … so in that we are engaging our experience. We take our histories and expand them and put them into a context by learning and moving with other people, with other bodies.”

storied places

Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78, top left, hosted the webinar and introduced Stanton and Hoggard. The Faculty Luncheon Series normally takes place at Daniel Family Commons over the lunch hour, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hosted online.

Watch a “Storied Places” video below: