Snapshots

Townsend ’90 Discusses New Memoir at Bookstore with McCrea ’21

bookstore

Professor of Letters, Emeritus, Paul Schwaber joined College of Letters alumna and author Sarah Townsend ’90, P’21, and current COL major Sara McCrea ’21 for a discussion of Townsend’s book at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore.

On Sept. 19, Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore hosted a Q&A with College of Letters (COL) alumna Sarah C. Townsend ’90, P’21, author of Setting the Wire: A Memoir of Postpartum Psychosis, (Lettered Streets Press, 2019) in conversation with current COL major Sara McCrea ’21.

McCrea, who reviews alumni books for the Wesleyan Connection, had selected Townsend’s book for inclusion in the second of her recent-publications series last spring. Encouraging others to read Townsend’s work, she had written: “Bursts of sharp and vulnerable detail presented in lyrical prose display Townsend’s fearlessness as she evaluates the ways in which her own body and others’ bodies handle and inform emotion. Through its discussion of losing and finding wholeness, Townsend’s succinct and striking writing implores readers to reckon with the power and limitation of physical reflections in representing mental illness.”

This semester, at the bookstore event, she told those gathered, “I was in complete awe of this book’s riveting honesty and its masterful structure.”

An audience that boasted many of McCrea’s COL peers, along with University Professor of Letters Kari Weil, were seated to face Townsend and McCrea. Additionally, Professor of Letters Emeritus, Paul Schwaber, who had been director of the College of Letters as well as one of Townsend’s advisors while she was an undergraduate, was also in attendance, contributing his observations and a question to the discussion that followed the Townsend/McCrea dialogue.

Townsend began by reading from the book, tracing her experience as a new mother with a nursing infant, quickly moving into psychosis, undergoing hospitalization, and finally returning to a healthy sense of self. Yet, “this isn’t a really heavy book,” Townsend explained. “It’s joyful, actually—a love story.”

Prompted by McCrea’s questions, Townsend explored the meaning of the title: She had become fascinated by Phillipe Petit, the man who walked on a wire strung between the two towers of the World Trade Center. He had talked about the importance of properly “setting the wire”—a through line—before beginning to cross. Like Petit’s high wire, she noted, her baby’s umbilical cord had been attached off-center, in what is called a compromised attachment.

“I think our minds are natural pattern-makers, and we have that in our favor,” Townsend noted, commenting on the associations these items had brought to her consciousness. The two also discussed Townsend’s use of sound, as well as the book’s narrative shape, noting that it is unlike that of a male hero’s journey; instead, it traced out a spiral structure. The two also explored Townsend’s writing process, as well as the ways that her career as a psychotherapist had informed the work.

“I guess one of the great things about writing is that there aren’t any rules and you can just take from anywhere and see what you might do with it,” Townsend concluded, ending the formal part of the program to greet students personally and sign books.

Townsend’s debut book, Setting the Wire, is an account of postpartum psychosis and a meditation on what holds us together. Her style mixes memoir with film, music, visual art, and psychology.

The conversation touched on Townsend’s experience of fragmentation when she was a new mother.

Buchanan ’92 and Gordon ’89 Talk Effective Philanthropy at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore

On Sept. 24, Phil Buchanan '92 and Elysa Gordon '89 discussed Buchanan's new book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count at Wesleyan's RJ Julia Bookstore.

On Sept. 24, Elysa Gordon ’89, left, and Phil Buchanan ’92, right, discussed Buchanan’s new book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count, at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore.

Buchanan '92 is the president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), a leading provider of data on philanthropic effectiveness. He is a co-author of many CEP research reports, a columnist for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and a frequent blogger for the CEP Blog.

Buchanan ’92 is the president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), a leading provider of data on philanthropic effectiveness. He is a co-author of many CEP research reports, a columnist for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and a frequent blogger for the CEP Blog. In 2016, Buchanan was named the NonProfit Times‘s “influencer of the year.”

Bon Appétit Creates Meal Harvested from within 150-Miles of Campus

On Sept. 24, Wesleyan’s dining service Bon Appétit challenged itself by creating a meal using ingredients sourced within a 150-mile radius of campus.

The result was the 14th annual Eat Local Challenge.

This year’s menu included steamed lobster, mussels, corn, potatoes, haddock tacos with curtido slaw, clam fritters, wood-fired rotisserie chicken, smoked pork sandwiches, blueberry crisp, pork belly, turkey, cucumber and tomato salad, barbecue seitan, fresh greens, butternut squash stew, and fresh fruit.

Food was sourced from Horse Listener’s Orchard in Ashford, Conn.; Maine Sea Salt Company in Marshfield, Maine; Mi Terra Tortilla Company in Hadley, Mass.; Lakeside Farms in Hadley, Mass.; We Bake We Jam in Durham, Conn.; Baers Beans in South Hamilton, Mass.; Red’s Best from Boston; Dole and Bailey (fisheries) from Woburn, Mass.; Kenyon Grist Mill in Usquepaugh, R.I.; Szawlowski Farm in Hatfield, Mass.; Ekonk Hill Farm in Sterling, Conn.; Hops on the Hill in Glastonbury, Conn.; The Bridge in Middletown, Conn.; The Barn Next Door in Hadley, Mass; Lucki 7 Hog Farm in Rodman, N.Y.; Cato Corner Farm Colchester, Conn.; Ronnybrook Dairy Farm in Ancramdale, N.Y.; Lamothe’s Sugar House in Burlington, Conn.; Indoor Organic Farm in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; and Avery’s Beverages in New Britain, Conn.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

eat local challenge

eat local challenge

Special Collections and Archives Celebrates Constitution Day with Pop-Up Exhibit

In honor of Constitution Day, Special Collections and Archives hosted a pop-up exhibit inside the Davison Rare Book Room in Olin Library on Sept. 19.

The exhibit featured early versions of the US Constitution, Federalist papers, the Connecticut State Constitution, and original letters by Founding Fathers George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.

Photos of the exhibit are below: (Photos by Nick Sng ’23)

Constitution Day,

Constitution Day,

Mehr-Muska Speaks on New Book during Local Authors Program

On. Sept. 16, University Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska spoke about her new book, Weathering the Storm, during a Local Author Program on Mind, Body, Spirit at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore.

On. Sept. 16, University Chaplain Tracy Mehr-Muska spoke about her new book, Weathering the Storm (Wipf and Stock, 2019), during a Local Author Program on Mind, Body, Spirit at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore.

Mehr-Muska is an ordained Presbyterian pastor, board-certified interfaith chaplain, Coast Guard veteran, wife, and mother. Her passion for learning about and teaching resilience has been inspired by the strong and spirited people she has served and worked alongside while in the military and while ministering in a trauma hospital, prison, psychiatric hospital, university, and hospice.

Mehr-Muska is an ordained Presbyterian pastor, board-certified interfaith chaplain, Coast Guard veteran, wife, and mother. Her passion for learning about and teaching resilience has been inspired by the strong and spirited people she has served and worked alongside while in the military and while ministering in a trauma hospital, prison, psychiatric hospital, university, and hospice.

Wesleyan String Ensemble Performs Eclectic Mix

The Mattabesset String Collective, a five-piece Wesleyan-affiliated acoustic ensemble, performed at a venue in Higganum, Conn., on July 29. The group plays an eclectic mix of bluegrass, blues, folk, mountain, country, and rock, all in a string band style. (Photos by Olivia Drake and Bill Burkhart)

Barry Chernoff, the Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies and director of the College of the Environment, plays guitar, harmonica, and writes his own songs.

Gil Skillman, professor of economics, plays the banjo, cuatro and dobro.

Gil Skillman, professor of economics, plays a dobro—an acoustic guitar with a metal resonator that serves as an amplifier. Skillman also plays the banjo and cuatro, a Latin-American string instrument.

Bands, Soloists Perform at the 8th Annual MASH Festival

Inspired by Fête de la Musique (also known as Make Music Day), the eighth annual The MASH festival on Sept. 6 highlighted Wesleyan’s student music scene, with multiple stages on campus featuring everything from a cappella ensembles to student and faculty bands.

More than 15 musicians or groups performed, including gonzo, sweetburger, Jackie Weo, g.flores, Mattabesset String Collective, Quasimodal, audrey mills, the basukes, Rebecca Roff, la media chulla, Lopii, Baby Leelo, livia wood, Pablo lee-davis, iris olympia, Philippe bungabong, ian etc., and Lily Gitlitz.

Photos of The MASH are below: (Photos by Preksha Sreewastav ’21)

MASH

MASH

Campus Groups Showcased at Student Activities Fair

Representatives from 100 student-run groups participated in the annual Student Groups Fair Sept. 6 on Andrus Field. The fair is sponsored by the Wesleyan Student Assembly.

Wesleyan has more than 300 student-run groups, focusing on activism, identity, sports, publications, performance and visual arts, community service, religious affiliations, cultural interests, and more. Among them are the Wesleyan Film Board, Wesleyan Bellydance, the Math Club, Women in Business, Fusion Dance Crew, Men’s Water Polo, TEDxWesleyan U, WesClimb, Wes Cheerleaders, Climate Action Group, Wesleyan Beekeepers, Interfaith Council, Middle School Tutoring Partnership, and the United Student Labor Action Coalition.

View all student groups online here. Photos of the 2019 Student Groups Fair are below: (Photos by Preksha Sreewastav ’21)

student groups fair

student groups fair

Peer Advisors Offer Good Advice Workshop for Class of 2023

The Class of 2023 gathered in Memorial Chapel on Aug. 29 for a Getting Good Advice workshop presented by Wesleyan’s Academic Peer Advisors and Deans Laura Patey and Jennifer Wood.

Academic Peer Advisors are juniors and seniors who work during New Student Orientation and throughout the academic year to enhance student access to academic resources and academic life. They meet one-on-one with students to provide peer advice regarding topics such as time management, organization, study strategies, and other academic skills.

In addition, peer advisors lead workshops in residence halls and with student groups on topics such as metacognitive learning strategies, public speaking, study skills, and exam preparation strategies.

During the workshop, the peer advisors answered questions from members of the Class of 2023 and performed a song, which is an annual tradition.

Photos of the Getting Good Advice workshop are below:

New International Students Hail from 37 Countries

intl

International students make up 14% of the Class of 2023.

This fall, Wesleyan welcomes 140 first-year international students to campus.

They hail from 37 countries including Ghana, Austria, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Iran, Zimbabwe, China, and Senegal. This year, for the first time in Wesleyan’s history, the University welcomes students from Burundi and Cambodia.

Wesleyan Welcomes 60 New Graduate Students

graduate students

Wesleyan welcomes 162 graduate students to campus this fall, of which 60 are new.

Of these:

  • 23 new students are enrolled in the BA/MA programs in biology, chemistry, computer science, molecular biology and biochemistry, neuroscience and behavior, physics, and psychology.
  • 13 new students are enrolled in a two-year MA program in astronomy, earth and environmental sciences, and music.