Tag Archive for Basinger

Basinger, Grimmer-Solem, Wagoner Honored with Binswanger Teaching Prizes

Wesleyan faculty Jeanine Basinger, Erik Grimmer-Solem and Phillip Wagoner received Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching on May 26. They are pictured here with Wesleyan President Michael Roth, third from left.

Wesleyan faculty Jeanine Basinger, Erik Grimmer-Solem and Phillip Wagoner received Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching on May 26. They are pictured here with Wesleyan President Michael Roth, third from left.

Every year Wesleyan recognizes outstanding teaching with three Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching awarded at commencement. These prizes, made possible by gifts from the family of the late Frank G. Binswanger Sr., Hon. ’85, underscore Wesleyan’s commitment to its scholar-teachers, who are responsible for the university’s distinctive approach to liberal arts education.

Recommendations are solicited from alumni of the last 10 graduating classes, and current juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee of faculty, emeriti, and members of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

This year, Wesleyan honored the following faculty members for their excellence in teaching:

Jeanine Basinger, the  Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is the founder of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and the originator of Wesleyan’s distinguished Film Studies Department, for which she defined a liberal arts approach that combines history/theory and production as a unified subject of study. She was a previous recipient of the Binswanger Prize in 1996, the winner of the Connecticut Governor’s Award for her contribution to film and the arts, and the awardee of the first and only honorary degree given to an academic by the American Film Institute in recognition of her pioneering contribution to film studies and for the influence of her former students in film and television. Two of her prominent students, Majora Carter ’88 and Joss Whedon ’87, were recipients of honorary degrees at commencement.

A proud native of South Dakota, Basinger received her entire formal education there, from first grade through master’s degree. As a nationally recognized expert on film, she has written copious articles for publications ranging from The New York Times to Opera News, and 11 books on film, including Silent Stars, The Star Machine, and her latest, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies. She serves as trustee for the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. She also was primary advisor on Martin Scorsese’s education project, The Story of Movies; head consultant for the PBS series American Cinema: 100 Years of Filmmaking; and co-producer for the American Masters special on Clint Eastwood.

Erik Grimmer-Solem, associate professor of history, joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2002. He has a D.Phil from Oxford University, an M.Phil from Cambridge University, an M.Sc from the London School of Economics, and a BA from Brigham Young University. He has received awards and fellowships from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and the University of Chicago.

His teaching and scholarly interests are in German history, economic and social history, and the history of economic thought. He is particularly interested in the relationship between social science and policy. His courses include surveys of economic history, modern German history, and College of Social Studies history tutorials, as well as seminars on the welfare state, the Weimar Republic, and the Holocaust. In 2005 he received Wesleyan’s Carol A. Baker Memorial Prize for excellence in teaching and research.

He is the author of The Rise of Historical Economics and Social Reform in Germany, 1864–1894, published by Oxford University Press. His scholarly articles have appeared in such journals as the Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, German History, and the Journal of World History. A second book, Empire of the Mind: German Political Economy and the World, 1880–1918, will appear in 2014.

Phillip Wagoner, professor of art history, professor of archaeology, holds a BA from Kenyon College and a Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught at Wesleyan since 1988, offering courses in the art history department and the archaeology program, as well as in the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, where he has also served as curator. He has spent sabbatical years in the Deccan region of South India, associated with the Vijayanagara Research Project, an international team of scholars in different disciplines dedicated to documentation and interpretation of the site of Vijayanagara, capital of the state that dominated the southern part of the Indian peninsula between the 1340s and 1565.

Professor Wagoner’s primary interest is in the historical interactions between the established Indic culture of the Deccan region and the Persianate culture that arrived in the early 14th century. Since 2000, his work has increasingly focused on Persianate Islamic architecture in this region. The author of two books and many journal articles, he has recently completed a third book, Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300–1600, co-authored with historian Richard M. Eaton.

Basinger’s Book Examines the “Marriage Movie”

Book by Jeanine Basinger.

Book by Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is the author of I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, published by Knopf in January 2013.

This extensively researched and illustrated book examines “the marriage movie;” what it is (or isn’t) and what it has to tell us about the movies—and ourselves. As long as there have been feature movies there have been marriage movies, and yet Hollywood has always been cautious about how to label them—perhaps because, unlike any other genre of film, the marriage movie resonates directly with the experience of almost every adult coming to see it. Here is “happily ever after”—except when things aren’t happy, and when “ever after” is abruptly terminated by divorce, tragedy . . . or even murder.

Basinger traces the many ways Hollywood has tussled with this tricky subject, explicating the relationships of countless marriages from Blondie and Dagwood to the heartrending couple in the Iranian A Separation, from Tracy and Hepburn to Laurel and Hardy (a marriage if ever there was one) to Coach and his wife in Friday Night Lights. The volume contains a treasure trove of movie stills, posters and ads.

Basinger Reviews Hollywood Sketchbook in Wall Street Journal

On Jan. 11, Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, reviewed a new book, Hollywood Sketchbook, by Deborah Nadoolman Landis in The Wall Street Journal. Landis, a costume designer herself, “defines the difference between the designer’s costuming goal and the role of the sketch artist. Costume sketches were never intended to be fashion drawings: Kinetic, emotional and drawn for a specific personality or character, they were about much more than clothes,” writes Basinger.

The book contains commentaries and reproduced sketches for 61 designers, including such famous names as Adrian (known for The Wizard of Oz, Camille, and Marie Antoinette, among others), Travis Banton (Blonde Venus) and Walter Plunkett (Gone with the Wind). In her review, Basinger notes flaws in the book, such as incomplete filmographies for each designer and missing identifying information on sketches, yet concludes, “… given the beautiful reproduction, on elegant paper, of so many original sketches impossible to find anywhere else, it is hard to complain. Who wouldn’t want to sip a coffee contemplating Travilla’s design for the hot pink dress, with a large bow across the rear, so famously worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?”

Janvey ’06, Zeitlin ’04 on Campus for Q&A on Indie Filmmaking

Indie Film makers Benh Zeitlin ’04 and Dan Janvey ’06 meet with Jeanine Basinger on Nov. 12. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Indie Film makers Dan Janvey ’06 and Benh Zeitlin ’04 meet with Jeanine Basinger on Nov. 12. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Benh Zeitlin ’04, director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and producer Dan Janvey ’06 joined Director of the Cinema Archives and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger on Nov. 12 for a free-wheeling Q&A on the making of their indie hit, Beasts of the Southern Wild. The talk took place in the Goldsmith Family Cinema.

They began by showing a segment on the making of the film—“a world premiere,” they noted, adding that it will be included on the DVD when the film is released for home viewing. Currently the Sundance and Cannes award-winner is still showing in theaters and picking up Oscar-buzz. Zeitlin and Janvey provided candid answers on their background in the Film Studies department (teamwork was always key), grassroots methods of casting (similar to the Obama campaign), the rigors of the filming process in Louisiana (“like climbing Mount Everest”), the rewriting required to shoot the film only in the day (avoiding the costs of the lights and accommodating the young age of the main character), and the slow, organic process of joining the community, earning peoples’ trust, and winning cooperation.

“Every part of the process of making this film informed the next part,” explained Janvey. Stories people told were incorporated into the film, and new local friends became cast and crew. Said Zeitlin: “It’s my very favorite part of the film process, getting to meet a place you’d never get to know otherwise. It’s the universal quality of film—everybody loves movies; it’s a great way to explore the world.”

For further information, see this Wesleyan Magazine story.

Are you a Wesleyan alumnus? For more alumni stories, photo albums, videos, features and more, visit Wesconnect, the website for Wesleyan alumni.




Basinger Honored in Variety’s “Women’s Impact Report 2012”

Jeanine Basinger

Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, chair of film studies, was honored in Variety magazine’s special feature edition, “Women’s Impact Report 2012. In the profile, Basinger discusses her typical work week; the often-underestimated number of hours that college professors dedicate to their jobs; her secret to work-life balance; and why she doesn’t carry a cell phone.

She says, “My worklife and my personal life are very highly integrated. Students I’ve taught have now become my friends and are a part of my life. I don’t have a problem juggling two lives, my life is coherent and it’s only one life. In a sense I’m always working and I’m never working.”

Also, in late September, Basinger’s review of Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, a new biography of the actor, was published in The Wall Street JournalBasinger considers why Andrews, who had a long career as a leading man in film, has been relegated to a “second tier” of actors, seldom listed among the legendary male stars of the studio system.

Wesleyan Cinema Archives Receives NEH Challenge Grant

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Cinema Archives with a $425,000 challenge grant.

Wesleyan’s Center for Film Studies Cinema Archives has long been acknowledged as one of the most vital collections and educational resources of its kind in the world. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has approved a $425,000 challenge grant to the archives. Support from NEH, which requires a three to one match with private gifts, will ensure that the archives continue to grow and flourish.

The four-year NEH grant will help endow a full-time curatorial position for the Cinema Archives, a collection which includes the personal papers and other materials of such seminal film icons as Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Federico Fellini, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Ingrid Bergman, among others.

“Our Archive is a little gem,” says Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator, Wesleyan Cinema Archives. “We house some of the most important primary documents in film history, and our students are allowed to use these materials in their studies.  However, the real importance lies in the fact that our Archive is also vital to a wide range of other liberal arts researchers. For instance, Frank Capra was not only a famous film director.  He also made science documentaries and was head of the U.S. Office of War Information during World War II. 

Basinger Speaks on Public Radio about Liz Taylor’s Legacy

Jeanine Basinger

A high profile auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s estate provides a definitive moment to discuss the film icon’s life and work. Jeanine Basinger, Chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is featured on Southern California Public Radio (KPCC) and brings a historical perspective to Taylor’s body of work and her life as one of the last true movie stars.

More than 2,000 of Taylor’s items are being auctioned online.

“With Elizabeth Taylor, you’re operating at at a level of stardom, it’s cosmic really,” Basinger says in the show. “Whether anyone was a fan of hers or not, they would want something of hers, because she was the last of the great female movies stars, and she had a glamor that went so far beyond her movies, and her movies were more than enough, but that life, that beauty, that stardom, that celebrity, notoriety – just having an ash tray would be a good deal.”



Basinger on American Film Institute’s “Top 10” Jury

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies and chair of the Film Studies Department, was a member of the American Film Institute motion picture jury for 2010. Basinger and the other 11 jury members released their annual list of the 10 best movies of the year on Dec. 12. The 10 films are: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours, The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

The AFI will honor the creative ensembles for each of the films and TV shows at a luncheon sponsored by Hewlett-Packard on Jan. 14 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif.

Basinger Awarded Grant to Support Film Speaker Series

Jeanine Basinger, chair and the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the Cinema Archives, received a $7,500 grant from the Academy Foundation to support the AMPAS 2010-2011 Speaker Series. The grant will be awarded Nov. 4 through Jan. 31, 2011.

Film Studies Benefit Raises Homelessness Awareness

"Where God Left His Shoes" will be shown at the Center for Film Studies Oct. 25 to raise funds for Middlesex County Homelessness Prevention Fund.

When Frank, Angela, and their two children are evicted from their New York City apartment, they have no choice but to move into a homeless shelter. After a few difficult months, an apartment becomes available in a nearby housing project. There’s only one catch: Frank needs a job in order to qualify or the apartment will get rented to someone else. While the rest of the city prepares for Christmas, Frank and his 10-year-old stepson, Justin, roam the cold streets of New York trying to find a job by day’s end.

While this is the story line for the feature film, “Where God Left His Shoes,” the same scenario resonates in the local community.

Basinger Speaks on Paul Newman for NPR

Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, chair of the Film Studies Department, curator of Cinema Archives, discussed the life of actor Paul Newmanfor “On Point” Oct. 2  on National Public Radio.  The show can be heard online here.