Tag Archive for alumni publications

Behar ’77 Writes New Memoir

Ruth Behar '77 (Photo: Gabriel Frye-Behar)

Ruth Behar ’77 (Photo: Gabriel Frye-Behar)

Storyteller and cultural anthropologist Ruth Behar ’77 is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir Between Journeys (Duke University Press), in which she recounts her life as an immigrant child and later, as an adult woman who loves to travel but is terrified of boarding a plane. Behar shares moving stories about her Yiddish-Sephardic-Cuban-American family, as well as the kind strangers she meets on her travels. The author refers to herself an anthropologist who specializes in homesickness and repeatedly returning to her homeland of Cuba. She asks the question why we leave home to find home.

Kirkus Reviews writes: “A heartfelt witness to the changing political and emotional landscape of the Cuban-American experience.”

Memoir by Ruth Behar '77

Memoir by Ruth Behar ’77

Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is the author of many books, including An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba; The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart; and Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Behar also is a poet, a fiction writer, and a documentary filmmaker. She wrote, directed, and produced Adio Kerida (Goodbye Dear Love), a film that has been shown at film festivals around the world. She has received many prizes, including a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

Ruth Behar website

First Novel by Pye ’82 Is Set in China

Virginia Pye '82 (Photo by Terry Brown)

Virginia Pye ’82 (Photo by Terry Brown)

Virginia Pye ’82 has published her first novel, River of Dust (Unbridled Books), which begins on the windswept plains of northwestern China not long after the Boxer Rebellion. Mongol bandits kidnap the young son of an American missionary couple. As the Reverend sets out in search of the child, he quickly loses himself in the rugged, drought-stricken countryside populated by opium dens, nomadic warlords, and traveling circuses. Grace, his young wife, pregnant with their second child, takes to her sick bed in the mission compound, and has visions of her stolen child and lost husband. The foreign couple’s dedicated Chinese servants, Ahcho and Mai Lin, accompany and eventually lead them through dangerous territory to find one another again.

Novel by Virginia Pye '82

Novel by Virginia Pye ’82

This novel was inspired in part by journals of Pye’s grandfather, who was himself an early missionary in China. The author’s father was born and raised in China and became an eminent political scientist and sinologist.

Pye holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught writing at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. A three-term president of James River Writers, a literary nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia, she writes award-winning short stories that have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The North American Review, Tampa Review and The Baltimore Review. She currently lives in Richmond.

For more information see the Virginia Pye website.

DiSciacca ’07 First Author on Antiproton Paper

Jack DiSciacca '07

Jack DiSciacca ’07

Jack DiSciacca ’07 is first author on a paper that appeared in the April issue of Physical Review Letters, a premier journal for physics. Now a Ph.D candidate at Harvard, DiSciacca earned his undergraduate degree with high honors; Foss Professor of Physics Tom Morgan was his advisor. The published paper, “One Particle Measurement of the Anti-Proton Magnetic Moment,” details DiSciacca’s research on the antiproton, which is an antimatter particle.

Morgan explains, “DiSciacca spent the last six months at CERN [the European Organization for Nuclear Research], at the same accelerator facility where physicists recently discovered the Higgs boson to measure the magnetic moment of the antiproton (how much spinning current this anti-matter particle possesses).”

DiSciacca’s work is significant because it offers experimental confirmation of a key theory in physics known as CPT – charge, parity, time invariance. His findings were cited for their importance in Physics Viewpoints, where Eric Hudson and David Salzberg from the University of California in Los Angeles wrote: “Specifically, Jack DiSciacca of Harvard University and his colleagues present the most precise measurement to date of the antiproton magnetic moment … As reported in Physical Review Letters, the results match data on the proton, thus extending CPT’s shatterproof status for the time being.”

Morgan also notes that DiSciacca recently visited his class to give a presentation on his work, which DiSciacca says was “really a discussion, with lots of questions and more of a dialog than a typical presentation.” He was pleased with the engaged quality of the students’ remarks and describes Wesleyan as “a spectacular place to do physics. You won’t find more committed teachers anywhere,” with an atmosphere that is relaxed and friendly, as well as highly academic. The professors, he says, are truly accessible.

As for his current work, DiSciacca says, “The process of making the antiproton measurement was quite interesting and also demanding. We had about six months to move almost everything we used at Harvard to Switzerland, install the experiment and make the measurement using a single antiproton. The goal was to make a measurement before the December 2012 start of an extended upgrade phase at CERN, where there would be no antiprotons for another year and a half. One interesting part of this process is the story of moving the experiment to Switzerland. We went from having an experiment that fits in a room at Harvard, to working in a Home Depot-sized building with many other experiments in close proximity.”

“Our experiment is rather tall, about my height, and it’s quite delicate. So, to secure it safely for the plane ride over, we found that it would exceed the height limit of planes leaving Boston. As a result, we had it trucked to JFK, flown to Paris on a larger plane, and then trucked from Paris to CERN. The fact that it arrived in one piece, without any broken components, continues to amaze me.”

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Psychological Science Headlines Race-Bias Paper by Bar-David ’09

Eyal Bar-David '09

Eyal Bar-David ’09

Eyal Bar-David ’09, Wesleyan psychology major and New York University research assistant in the department of psychology’s Phelps Lab, co-authored a paper asking whether “racial bias affects the way the brain represents information about social groups,” published in the journal Psychological Science.

With co-authors Tobias Brosch from the department of psychology at the University of Geneva and Elizabeth Phelps, director of the Phelps Lab at New York University, Bar-David noted in the abstract that their  “findings suggest that stronger implicit pro-White bias decreases the similarity of neural representations of Black and White faces.” The paper headlined the “This Week in Psychological Science” sent out via e-mail to subscribers on the week of Jan. 15, 2013 and appears on the Pscyhological Science website.

As an undergradute, Bar-David was one of six authors of a paper on “Nonverbal Number Knowledge in Preschool-Age Children,” published in Mind Matters, The Wesleyan Journal of Psychology and in 2009 he was one of the recipients of the Thorndike Award for excellence in psychology

Learn more about Bar-David in this WesConnect piece,


Rotella ’86 Publishes New Essay Collection

Carlo Rotella ’86 (Photo by Lee Pellegrini/B.C. Chronicle)

In his new nonfiction collection Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles, and Other True Stories  (University of Chicago Press), acclaimed journalist Carlo Rotella ’86 explores a variety of characters and settings, His writing has been praised for going beneath the surface of the story as he sympathetically dwells in the lives of the people and places he encounters.

The two dozen essays in this volume deal with subjects and obsessions that have characterized his previous writing: boxing, music, writers, and cities. “Playing in time” refers to how people make beauty and meaning while working within the constraints and limits forced on them by life.

Book by Carlo Rotella ’86

Besides his compelling writing on boxing, Rotella shares his engaging and insightful reportage on crime and science fiction writers, movie production, a megachurch, urban spaces, and more. Some of the essays appear in print for the first time.

Rotella is the author of Good with Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt; October Cities: The Redevelopment of Urban Literature; and Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, the last also published by the University of Chicago Press. He writes regularly for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, and the Boston Globe, and he is a commentator for WGBH FM in Boston.

A professor of English at Boston College, Rotella is director of the American Studies Program and director of the Lowell Humanities Series.

Dickson ’61 Wins Award from Chicago Baseball Museum for Book

Paul Dickson ’61

Paul Dickson ’61

Paul Dickson ’61 is the winner of the fifth annual Jerome Holtzman Award for his 2012 book, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.

The Holtzman Award, established in 2008, is presented by the Chicago Baseball Museum to the person who “reflects the values and spirit of its Hall of Fame namesake. The honoree is selected by what is deemed to be the most significant contribution to the promotion of Chicago baseball and the preservation of its history and namesake.”

The book, collecting information and accounts from primary sources and over one hundred interviews, is an in-depth portrait of a baseball innovator, two-time White Sox owner and advocate of racial equality. As owner of the Cleveland Indians, Veeck in 1947 signed Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League.

Dickson is most recently the author of Words from the White House: Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America’s Presidents, the first compilation of new words and lexical curiosities originating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With definitions, etymology, and brief essays, each entry provides a glance at the history of the United States through the language used and invented in the past 200 years.

For more on Paul Dickson’s book on Bill Veeck see this past Wesleyan Connection story.

Kalb ’81 Receives 2 Awards for Book on Marathon Theater Works

Jonathan Kalb ’81

Jonathan Kalb ’81 is the recipient of two national awards for his recent book, Great Lengths: Seven Works of Marathon Theater, published by The University of Michigan Press. Kalb, professor of theater at Hunter College and doctoral faculty member at The City University of New York, won the George Jean Nathan Award for dramatic criticism and the Theatre Library Association’s George Freedley Memorial Award.

Great Lengths takes a close look at large-scale theater productions, often running more than five hours in length, which present special challenges to the artists and audiences. Recreating the experience of seeing the works, which include Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Nicholas Nickleby, the book is aimed at general readers as well as theater specialists.

Book by Jonathan Kalb ’81

The Nathan Award is awarded annually by a jury of the English Department heads of Cornell, Princeton and Yale Universities, given for an outstanding work of criticism dealing with current or past dramatic productions. Kalb shares the 2011–12 award with Puppy: An Essay on Uncanny Life by Kenneth Gross. Kalb previously won the Nathan Award in 1990–91 for his first book, Beckett in Performance, as well as articles and reviews he published in The Village Voice.

The Freedley Award was established in 1968 to honor a book of exceptional scholarship that examines some aspect of live theatre or performance.

Book by Goldberg ’99 Examines Issues of Gay Parenthood

Abbie Goldberg ’99

Abbie Goldberg ’99 is the author of the new book Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood , published by New York University Press, which collects stories and empirical data from interviews with 70 gay men, taking a close look at societal and political issues in gay parenthood.

Introducing the book with a vignette of two new adoptive fathers, Carter and Patrick, Goldberg dives into a discussion of the mazes of adoption agencies, couples’ decisions to openly present themselves as gay, the social implications of parenthood, and the changes in career commitment.

“Exploration of the experiences of gay adoptive fathers,” Goldberg writes, “has the capacity to stretch and enrich our national understanding of the sexuality, gender, and race contours of ‘family.’”

The place of gay parenthood in society is now becoming more recognized, she says, with popular television and movies positively depicting same-sex couples and their adopted children.

Book by Abbie Goldberg ’99

From her interviews, Goldberg finds that gay men who decide to adopt face societal scrutiny, stereotyped as being less effective caretakers than women. With recent political progress in the realm of gay civil rights, as well the overall increase in gay-parent families, more and more couples have realized their own ability to become good parents.

Parenthood for gay men is very deliberate and most often informed by the stability of the couple’s relationship as well as their financial and career stability. The process of adoption, expensive to begin with, provides additional stresses and challenges as gay couples attempt to work around state laws and adoption agency restrictions.

While heteronormativity still governs the institutions and discussions of the “average American family,” Goldberg argues that gay couples are now more interested in raising children than they were just 20 years ago. By focusing specifically on gay male couples, Goldberg examines how these men defy traditional ideas of masculinity and father roles to create new, more diverse identities for both themselves and their family.

Goldberg is associate professor of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., as well as a senior research fellow at the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. She previously published the book Lesbian and Gay Parents and Their Children: Research on the Family Life Cycle (Contemporary Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Psychology) with the American Psychological Association.

Arnson ’76 Edits Book On Postwar Democratization in Latin America

Cynthia Arnson ’76

Cynthia Arnson ’76 is the editor of the book, In The Wake of War: Democratization and Internal Armed Conflict, published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press in 2012. The book focuses on the relationship of internal armed conflict to postwar democratization in Latin America, centering on Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.

In those countries, Arnson writes, the dominant aspect of political life during and after the end of the Cold War was insurgency or counterinsurgency war, a product of political exclusion and reinforced by patterns of socio-economic marginalization. Through its case studies, the book looks at the differences between states in creating and resolving armed conflict, connected to the particular variances in duration, geographic reach, ethnicity, Cold War influence and involvement with the international community.

Introducing the book, Arnson comments that “human beings, not structures or institutions, make choices that have an impact on whether politics evolves in a democratic direction.” With a particular emphasis on how individual actors impact the state’s success in addressing chronic underlying problems, enacting reforms, and promoting reconciliation, the book reveals how the social, economic, and cultural conditions of countries cause uneven patterns of democratization.

Book edited by Cynthia Arnson ’76

Chapters discuss the connection between a weak state and the deterioration of political democracy in countries such as Columbia and Peru, the instability and economic issues of Haiti, and the post-conflict establishment of human rights norms in Guatemala. Various essays also find that public satisfaction with democracy was lower in conflict and postwar countries than in other Latin American countries, with human development indicators lower as well. The European Union’s engagement in the peace processes of Latin America is discussed at length, as the organization worked to accomplish its own multilateral strategy and increase its presence on the world stage.

Arnson is director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Her work focuses on democratic governance, conflict resolution, international relations, and U.S. policy in the Western hemisphere, and for the Woodrow Wilson Center she has written and edited publications on Colombia and the Andean region, Central America, Argentina, Venezuela, China-Latin American relations, energy and organized crime.

The author of Crossroads: Congress, the President, and Central America, 1976–1993, Arnson also is the editor of Comparative Peace Processes in Latin America and co-editor of Rethinking the Economics of War: The Intersection of Need, Creed and Greed and the forthcoming Latin American Populism in the 21st Century.

Long ’89 Studies the Politics of African American Medical Care in Slavery and Emancipation

Gretchen Long ’89

In her illuminating new book, Doctoring Freedom (University of North Carolina Press), Gretchen Long ’89 shares the stories of African Americans who fought for access to both medical care and medical education, as she reveals the important relationship between medical practice and political identity. Even before emancipation, African Americans recognized that control of their bodies was an essential battleground in their struggle for autonomy, and they devised strategies to retain some of that control.

Book by Gretchen Long ’89

During her research, Long, an associate professor of history at Williams College, closely studied antebellum medical journals, planters’ diaries, agricultural publications, letters from wounded African American soldiers, WPA narratives, and military and Freedmen’s Bureau reports. Within these documents, she was able to trace African Americans’ political acts to secure medical care: their organizing of mutual-aid societies, their petitions to the federal government, and, as a last resort, their founding of their own medical schools, hospitals, and professional organizations. She also writes about the efforts of the earliest black physicians who worked in times of slavery and freedom.


Essays by Liang ’92 Published in Academic Journal, Anthology

Elizabeth Liang ’92

Elizabeth Liang ’92

(Story contributed By Susannah Betts ’15)

Elizabeth Liang ’92, who graduated from Wesleyan with a B.A. in English literature, is the author of two recently-published essays.

Her essay, “Transforming Three Sisters, A Hapa Family in Chekov’s Modern Classic,” was included in the academic journal Asian American Literature: Discourses and Pedagogies published by San Jose State University. It’s published online here.

Another of her essays, “Checked Baggage: Writing Unpacked,” is in the anthology Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads, and Third Culture Kids published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Morten Ender, professor of sociology at the United States Military Academy at West Point, said of Writing Out of Limbo that “The selections here, varied as they are, share the quiet, profound, and rich experiences of people writing on the most innocent years, transcendent of cultural boundaries. Reading this book is a travel across the globe with an impressive group of worldly citizens.”

Liang is an actress, writer, and producer who co-hosts the podcast Hapa Happy Hour.

Book by Curzer ’74, MA ’76 Focuses on Aristotle and Virtue Ethics

Howard Curzer BA ’74, MA ’76

Aristotle has long been considered the father of virtue ethics. In his new book Aristotle and the Virtues (Oxford University Press), Howard Curzer ’74, MA ’76 considers Aristotle’s detailed description of the individual virtues to be central to his ethical theory. His study examines the Nicomachean Ethics virtue-by-virtue, explaining and generally defending Aristotle’s claims.

Book by Howard Kurzer

The book is divided into three sections: Moral Virtues, Justice and Friendship, and Moral Development. Justice and friendship are prominent in Aristotle’s virtue theory. Curzer argues that in Aristotle’s view justice and friendship are symbiotic. Other contemporary discussions have argued the opposite; justice seems to be a public, impartial, and dispassionate thing, while friendship is paradigmatically private, partial, and passionate.

Curzer also reveals how virtue ethics is not only about being good; it is also about becoming good. He reconstructs Aristotle’s account of moral development and considers how certain character types serve as stages of moral development. Certain catalysts and mechanisms lead from one stage to the next. Explaining why some people cannot make moral progress specifies the preconditions of moral development. Finally, Curzer describes Aristotle’s quest to determine the ultimate goal of moral development: happiness.

Curzer has taught at Texas Tech University since 1983. He has authored papers on virtue ethics, research ethics, biomedical ethics, moral development, the ethics of care, the Bible, the Confucian tradition, and topology. He received his BA and MA degrees in mathematics from Wesleyan and his PhD in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin.