Society

Faculty, Distinguished Guest Discuss Tragedy and Revolution

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Matthew Garrett, David Scott and Lily Saint led a discussion on “Tragedy and Revolution” in the Russell House.

On March 5, the Certificate in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory supported a discussion on “Tragedy and Revolution.” Matthew Garrett, assistant professor of English, assistant professor American studies and director of the Certificate, moderated the discussion.

Assistant Professor Matthew Garrett, visiting distinguished guest David Scott and Assistant Professor Lily Saint led a discussion on “Tragedy and Revolution” March 5 in the Russell House.

David Scott, professor of anthropology at Columbia University and editor of the journal Small Axe, spoke about his recent book, Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice (Duke University Press, 2014). Lily Saint, assistant professor of English, provided a response to Professor Scott’s book.

Omens of Adversity

Teter’s Talk Opens Symposium on 50th Anniversary of Vatican II Council’s Declaration “Nostra Aetate”

Magda Teter

Magda Teter

In early March, Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, gave the opening talk at a symposium in Poland on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” issued by the Second Vatican Council, which changed the tone and relations between Jews and the Catholic Church.

Teter spoke on “Continuity and Change in ‘Nostra Aetate.'” Teter also is chair and professor of history, professor of medieval studies.

Teter has been involved in Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Poland for the past three years. Her research into post-Reformation Europe led her to meet with a bishop in the southeastern Polish town of Sandomierz, a town long considered a locus of anti-Semitism due to a painting in the city’s cathedral depicting the “blood libel” of Jews murdering Christian children. Teter and the bishop discussed what to do with the 18th century painting, and how to bring the community together around a solution. The result was a 2013 symposium on the issue, partially sponsored by Wesleyan, that brought together scholars and clerics and led to the decision to unveil the painting, add explanatory signage and convene again. Read more in this News @ Wesleyan story.

In addition to Teter’s talk at the meeting this month, Bishop Mieczysław Cisło spoke on Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Poland, and John Connelly, professor of history at the University of California-Berkeley, spoke about the individuals involved in creating a foundation for the declaration, both in the interwar period and after World War II.

Brown Co-Edits Medici Women

Judith Brown

Judith Brown

Judith Brown, professor of history, emerita, is the co-editor of Medici Women: The Making of a Dynasty in Grand Ducal Tuscany, published by the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, in 2015. Brown wrote the introduction and co-edited the book with Giovanna Benadusi. It features essays translated by Monica Chojnacka.

The Medici grand ducal family and the court it created in the 16th and 17th centuries have long fascinated historians and the general public. Until recently, however, the women who married into the family or were born into it were relegated to the margins of history. Though long acknowledged as wives and mothers who contributed to the propagation of the Medici line, their function in the creation of the court, in shaping its culture, in contributing to the transformation of the state from a city-state republic to a principality, and in establishing the Medici’s place in the European network of dynastic rulers tended to be either ignored or maligned. It is only in the last decade or so that scholars have begun to reassess their roles and achievements.

brownbookcoverThe aim of the book is to advance the historical reassessment of the women of the Medici grand ducal family who were crucial and very positive figures in the creation of the Medici court, in shaping its culture, and in establishing the Medici’s place in the European network of dynastic rulers. By undertaking this reassessment, the contributors to this book hope that the Medici women’s political and cultural contributions to Florence and its state as a major center for European ideas and art will gain the attention they deserve after centuries of misogynist scorn and neglect heaped on them by historians until recently.

Weil on Respect and Our Relationships with Thinking Animals

Kari Weil is director of the College of Letters and the University Professor of Letters.

Kari Weil is director of the College of Letters and the University Professor of Letters.

Kari Weil, the University Professor of Letters, was a guest on WNPR’s “The Faith Middleton Show” to discuss how our evolving understanding of animals should affect how we treat them personally and professionally.

They began by discussing the announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey would stop using elephants in their circus performances within three years.

“I think there is a fine line between use and abuse,” said Weil.”I don’t think all use is abuse. I think animals depend on us, we depend on them. We can use certain animals for certain things, but when we’re down to exploitive techniques like bull hooks and fear tactics, I think we’ve gone the wrong way.”

Middleton asked about the root of Weil’s interest in animal studies.

Oddly, she said, it started with an interest in the relationship between women and horses in 19th century France. Women had to get special dispensation to cross-dress so they could straddle horses, Weil explained.

“That interest slowly took me to other questions of training techniques, of how horses were used, of how they were regarded. Of why, when horses were the most popular animal, they were also legalized for human consumption,” she said.

Hear the complete interview here. Weil also is director of the College of Letters.

Unger ’15 Writes about “Coexistence and its Discontents” in Israel, Palestine

Rachel Unger '15 in Nazareth, Israel.

Rachel Unger ’15 in Nazareth, Israel.

Writing in Tikkun Magazine, government major Rachel Unger ’15 offers a first-hand account of Israeli-Palestinian relations she witnessed during her two trips to the region, and how these experiences shaped her views of a “two-state solution” to the ongoing conflict.

Unger describes watching “religious Jews marching through the Muslim quarter of the Old City celebrating the ‘reunification’ of Jerusalem while the authorities blocked Palestinians from the streets with barricades and prevented an old man from taking the bus to his home. I witnessed police knocking a Palestinian man to the ground while hordes of young Yeshiva boys cheered and sang ‘Am Yisrael Chai!'”

She writes, “This incident felt like a culmination of the nationalism, racism, and contradicting narratives that drive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict forward.” It was, she writes, a side of Israel from which most American Jews are shielded when the tour the country.

Visiting the region and hearing a broad range of Israeli and Palestinian perspectives showed Unger that many on both sides of the conflict gave up long ago on the possibility of a two-state solution. Read more about her thoughts on this here.

Gruen’s New Book Explores Human-Animal Relationships

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen, professor and chair of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is the author of a new book, Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals, published by Lantern Books on Feb. 15.

In Entangled Empathy, Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal rights, we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes and unique perspectives. Pointing out that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals, Gruen guides readers through a new way of thinking about and practicing animal ethics.

Gruen defines “entangled empathy” as “a process whereby we first acknowledge that we are already in relationships with all sorts of other animals (humans and non-humans) and these relationships are, for the most part, not very good ones. We then work to figure out how to make them better and that almost always means trying to promote well-being and flourishing.”

Gruen discussed her book with University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Mark Bekoff in The Huffington Post. Bekoff calls the book “a wonderful addition to a growing literature in the transdisciplinary field called anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships.”

Gruen Discusses Her New Book Entangled Empathy

Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen is chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Lori Gruen, professor and chair of philosophy, discussed her new book, Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animalswith University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Mark Bekoff in The Huffington Post. Bekoff calls the book “a wonderful addition to a growing literature in the transdisciplinary field called anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships.”

Gruen defines “entangled empathy” as “a process whereby we first acknowledge that we are already in relationships with all sorts of other animals (humans and non-humans) and these relationships are, for the most part, not very good ones. We then work to figure out how to make them better and that almost always means trying to promote well-being and flourishing.”

She adds, “One thing I think is crucial in our process of thinking differently about our relationships is to recognize that making those relationships better requires practice. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. We need to continually learn more about ourselves and others to improve the lives of everyone. We will make mistakes, so we should always engage with a fair dose of humility, but also be hopeful that we can fix our mistakes and hone our empathetic skills.”

Read the full interview here.

Gruen also recently penned an op-ed titled, “Ban Greyhound Racing Now,” published on Al Jazeera America’s website. She relates her personal experience adopting a rescued greyhound who was a former racing dog, and more generally describes the “grotesque cruelty in the racing industry.”

Gruen also is professor of environmental studies, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

Tucker to Study Victorian Sustainability, River Pollution Prevention Reform as Visiting Fellow

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker is associate professor of history; associate professor of environmental studies; associate professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; associate professor of science in society and faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.

As a 2015 Humanities Research Centre Visiting Fellow, Associate Professor Jennifer Tucker will study Victorian sustainability, photography, law and river pollution prevention reform at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia.

Her appointment will be May 15-July 15.

Tucker’s ongoing research, tentatively titled “Science Against Industry: Photographic Technologies and the Visual Politics of Pollution Reform,” traces the historical roots of the use of visual evidence in environmental science and pollution reform. Using nearly 300 visual representations (drawings, engravings photographs, and graphs) from archives and libraries, many of which have never previously been studied, she analyzes the scientific impact of new forms of visual representation in chemical climatology and examines the presentation and use of specific visual exhibits in Victorian courtroom debates over air and river pollution.

The research addresses current questions that lie at the heart of several fields and disciplines, including environmental history,

Tucker Explores Photography’s Powerful Role in Our Legal System

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

An essay by Associate Professor of History Jennifer Tucker is included in The Five Photographs that (You Didn’t Know) Changed Everything, a five-part BBC radio series focusing on historically important yet little-known photographs.

In her segment, The Tichborne Claimant, Tucker tells the story of how an 1866 photograph of a butcher in Wagga Wagga, Australia, played a central role in a case that gripped Victorian Britain and had an enormous impact on our legal system, raising questions about what photography is for and how it should be used. Says Tucker:

“Sometimes even a mundane photograph can have a powerful and lasting historical impact. This is the story of one such photograph—a picture that not only changed the life of the man it showed, but also set in motion the longest and most expensive trial in British legal history, and sparked a national debate over the role of photography as evidence in a court of law.”

Tucker also is associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor in the environmental studies program, associate professor of science in society, and faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.

 

Rutland Assesses the Threat from Russia in U.K. Mirror

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thoughts, writes in the Mirror (U.K.) about the threat to the West by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He considers the comparison made by British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon to the Islamic State. While “Putin’s people are not beheading Christians or burning captives alive,” writes Rutland, Russia has nuclear weapons — lots of them. “And is willing to use them if necessary,” he writes.

“Deterrence only works if both sides see each other as unwilling to risk war. And [Putin] believes the West will not risk nuclear conflict over where to draw Ukraine’s borders, or the language rights of people in breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk,” Rutland writes. “He has shown in words and deeds that he is willing to risk war to stop Ukraine from joining NATO.”

Rutland also is professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, and tutor in the College of Social Studies.

Post Delivers 24th Annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression

Robert Post, dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 24th Annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression Feb. 19 in Memorial Chapel.

Robert Post, dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, delivered the 24th Annual Hugo L. Black Lecture on Freedom of Expression Feb. 19 in Memorial Chapel. His talk was titled “The First Amendment, Knowledge, and Academic Freedom.”

The lecture is named in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice and endowed by Leonard S. Halpert, Esq., ’44.

The lecture is named in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice and endowed by Leonard S. Halpert, Esq., ’44.

Weil Leads Workshops in Chile on Trends in American Animal Studies

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on "Current Trends in American Animal Studies Educational Diplomacy" at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on “Current Trends in American Animal Studies” at the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile. Her invitation was part of an academic agreement between the university and the Cultural Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Chile.

Stray dogs are everywhere in Santiago, Chile. They lie on sidewalks, wander the parks, and even cross busy streets unaided. No one seems to mind; they’re just part of the culture.

For Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, they also were a striking reminder of the purpose of her recent trip to Santiago. At the invitation of the U.S. Embassy there, she visited the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile Jan. 6-9 to discuss current trends in American animal studies.

Although academics have studied animals from various perspectives for a long time, animal studies as a cross-disciplinary field has come into its own fairly recently. The field, developing robustly in the United States, draws the attention of scholars in areas such as anthropology, film studies, psychology, literary studies and philosophy. At Wesleyan, Weil and Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, have led the development of an Animal Studies program with courses ranging from Animal Theories/Human Fictions to Applied Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics and the Animal/Human Boundary. They also co-sponsor a summer fellowship in animal studies at Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute.

In some areas outside the United States,