Tag Archive for Amy Bloom

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. Hartford Courant“Connecticut Natives at Wesleyan Organize TEDx Conference”

Wesleyan hosted its inaugural TEDx conference on April 7, featuring talks by many distinguished alumni, local officials, and others. Two of the student organizers, Eunes Harun ’20 and Leo Marturi ’20, are interviewed about the event.

2. The Hill: “Trump, Pelosi Appear Most in Early Ads—for the Other Side” 

A new analysis from the Wesleyan Media Project finds that Donald Trump has been the top target of political attack ads this year, with Nancy Pelosi the second favorite target, as both parties seek to drive their political bases to the polls. “Although presidents and presidential candidates are the most common targets in congressional campaign ads, it is noteworthy that Pelosi has consistently been singled out more than any other congressional leader since 2010 despite her minority party status for the bulk of that time,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and WMP co-director.

3. Faith Middleton Food Schmooze: “Funeral Food with a Twist, a Seductive Rosé and Amy Bloom”

In connection with her new book, White Houses, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing Amy Bloom talks about food in the Franklin Roosevelt White House. Bloom comes in around 21 minutes.

4. Naturally Speaking: “Extending Evolution, an Interview with Prof. Sonia Sultan”

On this podcast, Sonia Sultan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, discusses her research on phenotypic plasticity and transgenerational effect in plants, and shares her thoughts on one of most controversial ideas currently circulating in mainstream evolutionary biology: the so-called “extended evolutionary synthesis.” Sultan was honored at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine’s annual Darwin Day lecture.

5. Inside Higher Ed: “The Data Should Make You Happy!”

President Michael Roth ’78 reviews Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Roth writes: “We don’t need cheerleading psychologists telling us we should be happier than we are.”

6. Squash Magazine: “Teaching the Game: Women and Squash”

Shona Kerr, Wesleyan’s head coach of men’s and women’s squash, is interviewed for a story about gender bias in the world of squash coaching. Kerr is one of only three women in the country who coaches a men’s collegiate squash team.

Recent Alumni News

  1. NDTV Profit: “Wipro Director, Harvard Alumnus Rishad Premji [’99] Appointed Chairman Of Nasscom” Rishad Premji, who was an economics major at Wesleyan and holds an MBA from Harvard, was appointed chairman of IT industry body Nasscom (National Association of Software and Service Companies) for 2018–19. Previously, he was chief strategy officer and board member of Wipro Ltd, which he joined in 2007. In 2014 he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. [See the site for a video message from Premji, on accepting this new position.]

2. NPR: “Mary Halvorson [’02] Re-Engineered Jazz Guitar. Now, She’s Hacking Her Own Code”

In this review of Halvorson’s new double album, Code Girl, Nate Chinen, director of editorial comment at NPR Music, calls Halvorson’s style “staunchly unplaceable in style—art-rock? avant-prog?—and mysterious in several other respects.” The article also refers to John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, Anthony Braxton as her “august mentor.” Code Girl is out on the Firehouse 12 label.

3. Harvard Medical School News: “Why the Fly? Geneticist Stephanie Mohr [’93] Delves into Science’s Favorite Winged Model Organism”

“[S]elf-described ‘fly person’ Stephanie Mohr,” a lecturer on genetics at Harvard Medical School and author of the book First in Fly: Drosophila Research and Biological Discovery (Harvard University Press, 2018)explains her fascination with the insect and its importance in genetics research.

4. New York Times: “Even With Scholarships, Students Often Need Extra Financial Help“

This article by Janet Morrissey profiles a number of programs at prestigious universities that are designed to assist low-income scholarship students with living expenses. Richard Locke ’81, provost at Brown University, is mentioned as “help[ing] prepare Brown’s E-Gap (Emergency, Curricular and Co-curricular Gap) Funds, and its FLi (First Generation Low-Income) Center in late 2015 after hearing stories from students who were struggling financially.”

5. WBAL 1090—Educator Beverly Daniel Tatum [’75, P’04, Hon. ’15] to Speak at Towson Commencement

WBAL NewsRadio 1090’s Tyler Waldman reported Towson University President Kim Schatzel said: “We are honored to welcome Beverly Daniel Tatum to campus as our commencement speaker. Not only is she a thought leader in the higher education community, her expertise in diversity, inclusion and race relations supports Towson University’s relentless pursuits in these areas.” Tatum will speak at Towson’s College of Liberal Arts commencement on May 23, 2018, and will receive an honorary doctorate. A former Wesleyan trustee, Tatum was awarded an honorary doctorate from Wesleyan in 2015.

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. Rolling Stone: “Bethesda Founder Christopher Weaver on the Past, Present and Future of Video Games”

Christopher Weaver MALS ’75, CAS ’76, the Distinguished Professor of Computational Media in the College of Integrative Sciences, is profiled.

2. Transitions Online: “The Search for a New World Order, Then and Now”

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, writes that a century after President Woodrow Wilson promulgated his “14 points” to guarantee world peace and prosperity, we are “still not that much closer to a stable world order.”

3. Medium: “Gabriel Snashall—Navy Submariner to Wesleyan!”

Gabriel Snashall ’21 discusses his path from serving as a cryptographic communications supervisor aboard the USS Pittsburgh to studying at Wesleyan through the Posse Veteran Scholars program. He plans to pursue a career in bioethics law.

4. The Middletown Press: “Wesleyan University Class Research Published in Archaeological Society Bulletin”

Four Class of 2017 graduates who completed the service-learning course “Decolonizing Indigenous Middletown: Native Histories of the Wangunk Indian People,” are co-authors of articles published in the Bulletin of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut.

5. CTNow: “Amy Bloom to Give Talks on ‘White Houses'”

Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, will discuss her new book, White Houses, at several public events around Connecticut this month.

Recent Alumni News

  1. RollingStone: “Review: MGMT Rediscover the Electric Feel for ‘Little Dark Age’

The duo who began playing together as MGMT when they were Wesleyan undergraduates, Andrew Van Wyngarden ’05 and Ben Goldwasser ’05, released a new album to favorable reviews: “MGMT are back to their roots on Little Dark Age, with concise tunes built from cushy keyboard beats and cute, kiting melodies,” wrote Jon Dolan in Rolling Stone.

[Also: Entertainment Voice, TheMusic.com, Interview Magazine and others]

2. TBR Newsmedia: “SBU’s Lerner Uses the Theater for Autism Therapy

Matthew Lerner ’03, an assistant professor of psychology, psychiatry and pediatrics in the department of psychology at Stony Brook University is part of a team—with scientists from Vanderbilt and University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa—that received $3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Mental Health to study how participation in a theater production can help people with autism spectrum disorders. “The process of putting on a play with others and being able to successfully produce and perform that has key benefits to learn and practice,” said Lerner.

3. Huffington Post: “10 Years Ago, Screenwriters Went On Strike and Changed Television Forever”

Craig Thomas ’97 and Carter Bays ’97 recall the 100-day battle between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers when their creation, “How I Met Your Mother,” was in only its third season and all filming was to be done without any writers on the set.

4. Scripps College News: ”Ulysses J. Sofia [’88]: Weinberg Family Dean of Science of the W.M. Keck Science Department

Called “a scientist and an adventurer” who enjoys the liberal arts environment at Scripps, “U. J. began his own college career at a large research university before transferring to Wesleyan University, a liberal arts college, during his junior year. ‘It was like the angels singing—I thought, this is where I belong, this feels right. I learned all of my physics, all of my astronomy in those two years.’”

5. BroadwayWorld:The Wheel Theatre Company Presents Owen Panettieri’s [’01] A Burial Place

This production of A Burial Place by award-winning playwright Owen Panettieri ’01 at the DC Arts Center in Washington, D.C., runs March 8-17, 2018. The plot features Emmett, Colby and Marcus reuniting in their hometown after sophomore year at college, gathering for their annual summer sleepover. “Instead, they come back to find their town at the epicenter of a major police investigation. A gruesome discovery out in the woods where they used to play has resulted in public outrage and a growing list of unanswered questions.”

 

 

Bloom ’75 Goes Behind Closed Doors in “White Houses”

Award-winning author Amy Bloom ’75, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, will release her latest novel, White Houses, on Feb. 13. The book centers on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s love affair and friendship with reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickok. Told from Hickok’s point of view, White Houses covers everything from the inner workings of the Roosevelt administration to Hick’s own brutal upbringing in rural South Dakota.

Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, says, “Bloom elevates this addition to the secret-lives-of-the-Roosevelts genre through elegant prose and by making Lorena Hickok a character engrossing enough to steal center stage from Eleanor Roosevelt.” While Publishers Weekly says, “Cleverly structured through reminiscences that slowly build in intimacy, Bloom’s passionate novel beautifully renders the hidden love of one of America’s most guarded first ladies.”

Amy Bloom ’75 is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.

Bloom will embark on a book tour in support of White Houses later this month, starting at R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., on Feb. 13. A full list of events, including several additional Connecticut appearances, can be found on Bloom’s website.

We caught up with Bloom to ask about her experience writing White Houses.

Is this your first time attempting such a novel, based on historical figures and events? Why this story, in particular? And what were the biggest challenges involved?
Every novel is, for me, an attempt to do something new. The Roosevelts were fascinating: great leaders, complicated people. The story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok was a love story not just lost to history but literally torn out of the history pages. (Lorena was routinely cropped out of White House photos.) The greatest challenge was pretty much what it always is: Who are the people, how to the tell the story and who is telling the story. With the added burden that periodically a little voice would yell: These are real people!

How was this process different than creating characters sprung from your imagination (even if based on real people)?
The characters inevitably, even when based on fact and history, are products of my imagination, of empathy, of research and of a certain hard-to-describe leap.

How did you begin the process? Did you read the letters first and then decide to write a novel based on the relationship? Or were you always interested in exploring the genre?
I read Blanche Weisen Cook’s wonderful biography of Eleanor Roosevelt in which she mentions the 3,000 letters between Eleanor and Lorena and writes a bit about who Lorena was—crack reporter, first woman to have a byline in The New York Times, author—and about the love affair between them. Cook was pilloried for asserting that it seemed very likely there had been a love affair, until other historians finally read the letters and, slowly, too slowly, and privately, apologized and acknowledged that it was obvious from the letters that this had not been a schoolgirl crush on either side—between women in their 40s!—but a love affair that laid the foundation for a lifelong friendship.

How much did you know about the relationship, and about “Hick,” specifically, when you began writing? What additional research did you do, and how did that additional research inform your writing?
Research always offers one new rivers to follow, new gardens to visit. There have been tons of books about Eleanor Roosevelt and a few about Lorena Hickok in relation to Eleanor. I read an awful lot.

What did you find most interesting about (and what were the challenges involved in) inhabiting the mind of, and creating a voice for, Hick?
I struggled to find my narrator and there were parts of Hick I did not admire, but the Hick that I created from her letters and from her professional work is funny, frank, tough, clear-eyed, impulsive and a hell of a storyteller.

What about this story spoke to you—and what did you learn along the way that will stay with you?
Two things: A life of pretense is a death sentence, and love is not wasted, even when it ends.

Bloom ’75 Hosts Talk On Women’s Physical and Emotional Health

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom

Amy Bloom ’75, director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing and the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, leveraged her more than 30 years of experience as a licensed clinical social worker to be a featured guest speaker at “Lady Parts: Car Talk for Women’s Bodies Fundraiser,” which took place March 5 at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

The afternoon was a blend of comedy and candid conversation. Bloom and co-host, Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a Yale-trained OB-GYN, gave audience members an avenue to discuss everything from hormones and menopause, to lactation, STDs, contraceptives and pregnancy. “It was an opportunity to learn and ask all you ever wanted to know about you body, but were too afraid to ask.”

The event served as a fundraiser for the Women and Family Life Center (W&FL)—a place, which empowers women and their families to face challenges and transitions in their lives with grace and dignity. The Center offers individual guided referrals, as well as, support and wellness programs for women and their families to find help as they face divorce, violence, bankruptcy, bereavement or other major life challenges. Bloom and Dr. Minkin have done this show numerous times as fundraisers for organizations focusing on women’s lives and health, throughout the state.

Bloom is a distinguished author, having been nominated for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her repertoire currently includes, three novels, three collections of short stories, a children’s book, and a collection of essays. More on Bloom and her work can be found by visiting her website.

Mysterium Conference Draws Writers, Readers

Stickers in the form of "bloody" handprints welcomed campus guests to Mysterium, the conference for mystery writers and readers.

Plastic window stickers in the form of bloody handprints welcomed campus guests to Mysterium, the conference for mystery writers and readers.

Bloody handprints smeared the glass doors to Usdan, the clue to Mysterium attendees that they had arrived at the scene of their conference on Oct. 8. Red footprints led them to the sign-in table and the schedule, which boasted a cohort of award-winning mystery writers and those in publishing—including Wesleyan alumni.

Hosted by Amy Bloom ’75, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan, the day-long event opened with a keynote with Laura Lippman—a New York Times bestselling author of detective fiction including the Tess Monaghan series—and brought alumni, parents, as well as mystery writers and readers to campus for panel discussions, book signings, master classes and networking.

“A great mystery is a frigate,” said Bloom, introducing the conference and Lippman. “It takes you away. Great ones do it with extraordinary vision, extraordinary language. A mystery is the only literary form that lulls, compels, intrigues and gratifies you.” She praised Lippman for her capacity to illuminate characters—and to follow the thread of the story in a way that “never seems formulaic.”

Register for Wesleyan’s Mystery Novel Conference

mysterium
Readers and writers are invited to a day of mystery, workshops and intrigue during Wesleyan’s inaugural Mysterium: The Mystery Novel Conference on Oct. 8.

The conference is hosted by Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, and taught by New York publishers, publicists and nationally-known agents, and well-known writers. New York Times best-selling author Laura Lippman headlines, followed by Master Classes in writing with best-selling authors Stephen Carter and Barbara Ross. Learn more about the Mysterium speakers here.

“One of the great pleasures of mysteries—of all wonderful fiction—is that it allows the reader to slip into another life, another time, a different being,” says Bloom. “There’s that, and then there’s the particular pleasure of the mystery and thriller genre: it’s not only darkly pleasurable but also comforting. The catastrophe is fictional, not our own. What could be better than comfort, entertainment, and the act of being transported?”

Space is limited and registration is accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost is $100 per person and includes all sessions and lunch. Book signings, a vendor show and a cocktail party conclude the day-long conference.

This conference is sponsored by Writing at Wesleyan: the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, the English Department, and the Writing Certificate Program.

Register for the Mystery Novel Conference online. For more information, e-mail jennifer@amybloom.com.

Wesleyan Launches First-Ever Creative Writing Specialization on Coursera

Wesleyan's creative writing specialization is open to anyone with a love of reading or a drive to invent a story or tell their own.

Wesleyan’s creative writing specialization on Coursera provides an opportunity to learn from some of the country’s best contemporary writers.

Wesleyan will present the first-ever creative writing specialization on the Coursera platform, beginning Feb. 9. Taught by four award-winning authors, the specialization is open to anyone with a love of reading or a drive to invent a story or tell their own.

Titled “Creative Writing: The Craft of Story,” the specialization will include four courses, plus a capstone. The courses are:

The first MOOC launches Feb. 9, with subsequent courses starting every week after that.

Conference Teaches Participants about New Media, Fiction Writing, Journalism

Conference participants had time to write and reflect, in addition to attending seminars, workshops, readings, panel discussions, and manuscript consultations.

Wesleyan Writers Conference participants took time to write and reflect, in addition to attending seminars, workshops, readings, panel discussions and manuscript consultations. (Photos by Laurie Kenney)

The Wesleyan Writers Conference celebrated its 59th year by welcoming more than 60 new and seasoned writers and others interested in the writer’s craft to the Wesleyan campus June 10-14.

The Wesleyan Writers Conference has been useful to writers at different stages of their careers.

The Wesleyan Writers Conference has been useful to writers at different stages of their careers.

Headed by Wesleyan Writers Conference Director Anne Greene, adjunct professor of English and director of Writing Programs, the conference featured seminars, workshops, readings, panel discussions and manuscript consultations led by Wesleyan faculty and other nationally known writers, editors and agents.

Conference topics included the novel, short story, poetry, nonfiction, memoir, biography, journalism, writing for film and TV, new media, writing about food and travel, writing about science and medicine, preparing your work for publication, and how to sell your work.

Bloom Co-Hosts NYT Magazine‘s “Ethicists” Podcast

Amy Bloom '75

Amy Bloom ’75

Novelist Amy Bloom ’75, the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence, director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, is co-hosting a new weekly podcast titled “Ethicists.”

The podcast, a re-imagination of the New York Times Magazine’s longtime “The Ethicist” column, features Bloom and two other ethicists answering questions for a half-hour.

NYT Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Wesleyan alumnus Jake Silverstein ’98 invited Bloom to participate in the show. The other panelists are Politico media columnist Jack Shafer and New York School of Law constitutional law professor Kenji Yoshino.

The first episode, titled “Close Quarters: Can I ask my neighbors to quiet their baby?” debuted Feb. 18 and is produced in partnership with Slate. Read an edited and condensed version of the podcast online here.

“Future topics will be, we hope, a wide range of ethical quandaries,” Bloom said.

Read more about the podcast launch in this Poynter.org article or download the podcast through iTunes.

Books by Roth, Bloom, Waldman ’86 Honored by Washington Post

Beyond the University

President Michael Roth’s Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters

The Washington Post selected President Michael Roth‘s book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, on its list of top 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2014. A brief summary of the review states:

The president of Wesleyan University describes two distinct traditions of a liberal education–one philosophical and “skeptical,” the other rhetorical and “reverential”–and argues that both are necessary for educating autonomous individuals who can also participate with others.

Beyond the University was originally reviewed in the Post on May 23 by Christopher Nelson, president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md. In that review, Nelson calls the book “a substantial and lively discussion” as well as “an economical and nearly jargon-free account of liberal education in America.”

Amy Bloom's Lucky Us

Amy Bloom’s Lucky Us

Two other members of the Wesleyan community were honored in the Post‘s “Top 50 Fiction Books for 2014.” The list included Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, distinguished university writer-in-residence and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, and Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman ’86.

Author, Poet C.D. Wright to Teach 3 Master Classes at Shapiro Center

Author and poet C.D. Wright will teach three masters classes this fall. On Oct. 14, she will hold a poetry reading and book signing event in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. (Photo courtesy of © Miriam Berkley/ Blue Flower Arts)

Author and poet C.D. Wright will teach three masters classes this fall. On Oct. 14, she will hold a poetry reading and book signing event in the Shapiro Creative Writing Center. (Photo courtesy of © Miriam Berkley/ Blue Flower Arts)

This semester, the Shapiro Creative Writing Center is hosting three master classes taught by award-winning author and poet C.D. Wright. Master classes are open to all poetry-writing upperclassmen free of charge. Each class will last 2.5 hours and include one dinner. The classes will meet Sept. 23, Oct. 14 and Nov. 11, and the deadline to apply is Sept. 12.

Wright is currently the I.J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University where she teaches advanced poetry.

Wright was born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. She has published over a dozen books, including Rising, Falling, Hovering, Like Something Flying Backwards: New and Selected Poems, and a text edition of One Big Self: An Investigation, focused on Louisiana inmates. She has published several book-length poems including Deepstep Come Shining and Just Whistle.

She also has composed and published two state literary maps, one for Arkansas, her native state, and one for Rhode Island, her adopted state. Wright is formerly the State Poet of Rhode Island, and with poet Forrest Gander, she edited Lost Roads Publishers for more than 20 years.

Wright is winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in March 2011 for her most recent title, One With Others: [a little book of her days], which was also a finalist for the National Book Award and was selected as winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Her honors include awards from the Wallace Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts as well as the Lannan Literary Award. In 2004 Wright was named a MacArthur Fellow; in 2005 she was given the Robert Creeley Award, and elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, Rising, Falling, Hovering won the International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Amy Bloom ’75, the Kim-Frank Family University Writer-in-Residence and director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, emphasized that the key merit of the masters program is the opportunity to work with a professional writer.

“The motivation [behind the program] was to bring some of America’s best poets to Wesleyan and to give the students the opportunity to work with them,” Bloom said. “[Wright is an] outstanding, articulate American poet with a passion for poetry and teaching. It’s not just she’s professional, it’s that she’s so gifted.”

The classes are capped at a dozen participants, all selected by Bloom and Wright based on a submitted cover letter. Bloom stated that the limit is designed to keep the classes intimate and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to work closely with Wright.

Writing at Wesleyan Announces Spring Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry

Writing at Wesleyan announces the Spring 2015 Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry.

Writer/authors in the Spring 2015 series include Ron Padgett on Feb. 25, Millett Fellow Caryl Phillips on March 4, Sadia Shepard on March 25, Rowan Ricardo Phillips on April 1 and Ruth Ozeki on April 8.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information on these talks visit the Writing at Wesleyan website.

Support for this series is provided by Writing at Wesleyan, the English Department, the Annie Sonnenblick Fund, the Joan Jakobson Fund, the Jacob Julien Fund, the Millett Writing Fellow Fund, the Center for the Arts, and the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.

The 2014/2015 Series organizers include Lisa Cohen, associate professor of English; Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing; Amy Bloom, the Kim-Frank Family University Writer-in-Residence; and Anne Greene, director of Writing Programs.