Tag Archive for books

Smith ’66 on Translating and Promoting Global Indigenous Literature

Front cover of Meditations After the Bear Feast: The Poetic Dialogues of N. Scott Momaday and Yuri Vaella

Claude Clayton “Bud” Smith ’66, professor emeritus of English at Ohio Northern University, is an author who throughout his career has worked behind the scenes to bring Native Siberian creative writing to an English-speaking audience and to promote global indigenous literature. In that spirit, before Smith’s story starts, he recommends we tune in to the PBS premiere of N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear, on Nov 18.

Smith’s connection with N. Scott Momaday is personal. In 2016, Smith co-edited and translated Meditations After the Bear Feast, a collection of poems exchanged between Momaday, a Kiowa writer and the defining voice of the Native American Renaissance in American Literature, and Yuri Vaella, a writer, reindeer herder, and political activist of the Forest Nenets people in western Siberia. But Meditations After the Bear Feast nearly did not see print. How did Smith, a descendant of one of the founders of Hartford, Conn., on his father’s side and an immigrant Czech on his mother’s—who does not speak Russian or any native languages—become the critical player in bringing Meditations to publication? According to Smith, the story begins where it does for every writer, in his childhood backyard.

Claude Clayton “Bud” Smith ’66 enjoying “retirement” at an art show at University of Wisconsin, 2017. (Photos courtesy of C.C. Smith ’66)

Smith grew up a 45-minute drive from Wesleyan, in Stratford, Conn. Despite the erasure of Native American history, Smith became aware of his hometown’s long past through local Stratford history and the stories of the Sioux man who rented fishing boats to his grandfather. He remembers that, as a child on a field trip to where the Paugussett tribe first encountered settlers in 1639, “my imagination went wild.”

By 1978 Smith had published his first book, The Stratford Devil, and begun teaching when his mother sent him an article from the Bridgeport Post that mentioned the Paugussett tribe. The tribe had just won a yearslong struggle to protect from termination their quarter-acre reservation—a small remnant of their ancestral lands and the oldest continuous reservation in the United States. The reservation happened to be three miles from where Smith grew up, and so Chief Big Eagle of the Paugussett tribe became the subject of Smith’s first book of creative nonfiction. After hours of taped interviews on the Chief’s front porch, Smith began writing the tribe’s story in the voice of the Chief. Miscommunications often arose; of one such conflict Smith said, “I was discussing the gustoweha (the chief’s headdress), which has antlers. The Chief had evidently led quite a love life, marrying four times, and so when discussing the headdress I commented, in the Chief’s voice, something to the effect that, ‘the antlers remind me of myself as a young buck.’ The Chief fumed, and I changed the line to, ‘reminds me of the deer, a noble animal.'” Through the Chief’s editing of his drafts, Smith learned how to write in another’s voice, a skill that would serve him well in his translating work later. The book, Quarter-Acre of Heartache, was published in 1985, a first-person account from the perspective of the Chief, and today, when Smith reads the quotes on the novel’s rear jacket, “half are the Chief’s actual words, half are mine. I’d so absorbed his voice that I can’t now tell which is which.”

Grimmer-Solem Authors Learning Empire

Learning EmpireErik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history and German studies, is the author of a new book, Learning Empire: Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919published by Cambridge University Press.

The book “reconstructs the complex entanglements of a small but highly influential group of German scholars who worked and travelled extensively in North and South America, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Ottoman Turkey, and Russia,” during the period of German imperialism, before the First World War, Grimmer-Solem said. “These experiences, enabled by new transcontinental railways, intercontinental steamship lines, and global telegraph networks, shaped a German liberal imperialist ideology that they helped popularize around 1900 and that influenced German naval and colonial policy.”

The book also looks at how the rise of the German far right was closely tied to this attempt at reconciling globalization with nationhood and empire. From that perspective, Grimmer-Solem said, “the development of Nazism can be seen as a metastasis of liberal imperialism, mutated as it was by war, de-globalization, and unilateral decolonization.” Learning Empire invites reflection upon modern-day challenges; as Grimmer-Solem suggests, the resurgence of the far right today “is linked to parallel processes that highlight the risks and instabilities created by global trade, travel, and communications.”

Grimmer-Solem is also the author of The Rise of Historical Economics and Social Reform in Germany, 1864-1894 (Oxford University Press, 2003), along with more than 30 other publications.

GLS Professor Belanger P’02 Produces Photographic Study, ‘Rift/Fault’

Photographer and author Marion Belanger P’02 explores geologic boundaries in Rift/Fault.  (Photo by Ann Burke Daly)

Graduate Liberal Studies visiting professor Marion Belanger P’02, is the author of Rift/Fault, a photographic study of the land-based edges of the North American Continental Plate. A Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 supported a project in the Everglades, where Belanger turned her lens on both the landscape within the national park as well as the suburban development of the swamplands outside the protected area. Now, Rift/Fault continues her interest in natural land formations and boundaries—this one along the San Andreas Fault in California and the Mid-Atlantic Rift in Iceland—and the influence of human society on the earth

Published by Radius Books, and with an essay by art critic and activist Lucy R. Lippard, Rift/Fault is designed to be interactive: Open the cover and two collections of images face each other, each one bound at the top. The photographs labeled “Fault” are on the left; the right side holds “Rift,” with the reader turning each page upwards to view the image that follows. While Belanger paired the photographs on each side to be complementary, she encourages the readers to make their own pairings. The structure of the book conceptually mimics the ever-shifting tectonic plate edges, and “it gives the viewer some agency to figure out how they want to view the book and, by default, how they want to see the landscape. The work itself is a cultural study,” she says.

Poet Kevin Prufer ‘92 Publishes Forgotten Poets, Essays on Literary Translation

Kevin Prufer( Photo by Mary Yost Hallab)

Poet Kevin Prufer ’92 has several current projects, including work on a series of “forgotten” poets. (Photo by Mary Yost Hallab)

Kevin Prufer ‘92 is co-editor a forthcoming collection of essays on literary translation Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries (Graywolf 2017). For this collection, Prufer invited 25 translators and poets to select a poem and three corresponding English translations. To follow the selections, each of the 25 contributors composed a brief essay on what these various versions say about the art of literary translation.

Additionally, Prufer co-curates the Unsung Masters Series, published through Pleiades Press, which attempts to bring out-of-print and relatively unknown poets to new readers. To complement the writer’s poems, each edition features critical essays, interviews, and letters.

Prufer sees this initiative as opportunity to add new voices to the world of poetry. “Poets are so frequently unknown,” says Prufer, “and the ones we do know tend to tell a very particular narrative.” The reason they lose favor, he says, “is almost always part of an intriguing story.”

One such poet, Dunstan Thompson, first inspired Prufer to launch the series. Thompson, a gay poet whose books had been out of print since 1948, frequently wrote homoerotic work that depicted the battlefields and combat hospitals of World War II. Once a highly regarded young American poet, Thompson struggled with his sexuality and renewed his religious devotion, eventually settling into obscurity in England.

Today the series often relies on dedicated readers to suggest additional subjects to explore. Many send e-mails, but sometimes, Prufer says, “people even come up to me at parties to suggest writers.”

Prufer is also at work on his own poetry—a collection of poems titled The Art of Fiction, focusing on how an author controls the passage of time within literature. He derived this particular interest in narrative structure, he says, in part from his experience writing fiction, which he pursued at Wesleyan as a College of Letters major.

Yet another book of his poetry, How He Loved Them, is forthcoming with Four Way Books in 2018 and features a political emphasis. When asked how his poems might relate to the current political climate, Prufer responded, “You know, poetry is really bad at telling you who to vote for; I think we have a enough of that…I think what poems do is meditate on the complexity of, in the case of political poetry, political situations, and to my mind, that seems like a more interesting act of politics.”

Prufer is the author of  six books of poetry, most recently Churches, which made the New York Times list of Ten Favorite Poetry Books of 2014. Also the editor of several anthologies, he is editor-at-large of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing. With graduate degrees from Hollins University and Washington University, he is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston and the low-residency MFA at Lesley University. His awards include four Pushcart prizes, and he has received numerous awards from the Poetry Society of America, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation.

Zweigenhaft ’67, Borgida ’71 Co-Edit Book on Psychological Science Collaborations

Collaborartions bookTwo alumni who did not know each other as undergraduates—but were both psychology majors and students of Professor of Psychology Karl Scheibe—have collaborated on editing a book examining academic collaborations.

The book, Collaboration in Psychological Science: Behind the Scenes, was published this fall by Worth Publishing, a division of MacMillan. The editors, Richie Zweigenhaft ’67, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology at Guilford College, and Eugene Borgida ’71, Professor of psychology and law at the University of Minnesota and a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, dedicate the book to Professor Karl Scheibe, their undergraduate mentor, five years apart.

Separated by this age difference, the two did not meet on Middletown campus, but through Zweigenhaft’s mother, Irene, when Borgida showed up at her place of employment, American Institutes for Research (AIR), looking for a job. Seeing his résumé, and noting that Borgida attended Wesleyan and one of his references, Professor Karl Scheibe, was one of her son’s favorite professors, Irene took the young graduate under her wing and he was hired at AIR. The two Wesleyan graduates eventually met and developed a warm collegial friendship from their respective institutions.

The two began speaking of the importance of collaborations in research and noting an increased trend. In their introduction, the editors note,”[P]sychologists today engage in a good deal of collaboration, collaborative research is likely to generate the most frequently cited work in the field, and some scholars and some institutions very much encourage collaboration. Ironically, however, little has been written about the complicated behind-the scenes process of working with others to design research, to gather and analyze data, and to write reports, articles, or books…. With these issues and questions in mind, we encouraged those who wrote chapters for this volume to tell us how they came to collaborate and the nature of their interactions, while collaborating.” The result is a book of 21 essays, with contributors from Princeton, University of Michigan, the American Psychological Association, and the University of Kent, to name a few—and a section on interdisciplinary collaboration, with conclusion by the editors offering best practices.

The book is dedicated to both Irene Zweigenhaft and Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Karl Scheibe. Both Zweigenhaft and Borgida consider their Wesleyan experience a crucial factor in shaping their scholarship and interest in developing collaborations across academic disciplines.

“My undergraduate experience at Wesleyan very much emphasized interdisciplinarity,” says Zweigenhaft. ” In fact, although I was a psychology major, I wrote my honors thesis with Phil Pomper in the history department. It was a study of Hitler’s personality—the result of a conversation that Phil and I had after I wrote a paper about Lenin in a seminar on the Russian Revolution that I took with him. Karl Scheibe was on the thesis committee, and he, like Phil, encouraged me to think across traditional disciplinary lines.”

“From my perch,” says Borgida,” there is no question that my own deep affinity for interdisciplinary scholarship was activated and nurtured while at Wesleyan. And with such a view of research questions comes a commitment to collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and state lines in order to generate the most insight into the questions posed. To me, Wesleyan was then and is now all about interdisciplinarity and collaboration. So in a very basic way the book with Richie basks in the value of a Wes education.”

New Novel by Parkhurst ’92 Tells a Gripping Family Tale

Carolyn Parkhurst '92 (Photo by Nina Subin)

Carolyn Parkhurst ’92. (Photo by Nina Subin)

Carolyn Parkhurst (Rosser) ’92 is the author of the new novel Harmony (Pamela Dorman Books, Viking), in which a mother does everything she can to save her family. The Hammond family’s seemingly normal life is disrupted when oldest daughter Tilly shows signs of abnormal development. Her social behavior is considered undiagnosable and she is asked to leave the last school in Washington, D.C. that will have her.

To help Tilly, the Hammonds move to Camp Harmony in the New Hampshire woods, seeking the guidance of a child behavior expert Scott Bean and testing the bonds of the family. Parkhurst expertly tells her suspenseful story from the points of view of Alexandra, the mother, and younger daughter Iris, who may have the clearest perspective of what is happening to her family.

In her review in The Washington Post, novelist Amy McKinnon writes: “…in Parkhurst’s deft treatment, Harmony becomes a story of our time, a compassionate treatise on how society judges parents, how parents judge themselves and how desperation sometimes causes otherwise rational people to choose irrational lives.”

Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst '92

Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst ’92

For the A. V. Club, reviewer Caitlin Penzey Moog says: “The rare alchemy of achingly powerful words that also induce fevered page riffling is in abundance in Harmony, Carolyn Parkhurst’s sumptuously written, eminently compelling novel about a family and its desperation. Readers will be torn between a desire to pause to admire a golden paragraph and the compulsion to hasten on to find out what happens next.”

Parkhurst is the author of three other novels, The New York Times best seller The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children. Harmony was edited by Pamela Dorman ’79.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Roach ’81 Excerpted in NYT

Grunt_Cover-crop-animate2Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, the new book by Mary Roach (W.W. Norton & Company; June 2016), was excerpted in the New York Times’ Science section on May 30. Describing her visit to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (“a spread of high-security acreage set aside for testing weapons and the vehicles meant to withstand them”), Roach’s first-person account offers her characteristic lively narrative and wry humor. She allows her guide, Mark Roman, to be ours as well.

“’By and large, an army shows up to a war with the gear it has on hand from the last one. In 2003, the Marines arrived in Iraq with Humvees. ‘Some of the older ones had canvas doors,’ says Mr. Roman, who was one of those Marines. They were no match for the R.P.G.s trained upon them. So the Army tried plating vehicles with armor panels, which work well against heavy machine-gun fire. You might as well have armored your vehicle with road signs.

“’We were like, ‘Crap, this does not stop an R.P.G.,’ Mr. Roman told me.”

Following the successful creation of a device to stop an RPG—with what Roach describes as “a hoopskirt [for the armored combat vehicles] of heavy-duty steel grating called slat armor” in which they “would lumber back to base like up-armored hedgehogs…” —Roman notes that the insurgents then switched to making bombs.

It is through this process of the escalation of danger and that resultant need for greater protection that Roach proves a friendly guide, rendering jargon accessible and never losing sight of what is truly at stake: that while the WIAMan — the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin—may answer questions posed in the proving grounds, a human will bear the cost of any false or incomplete answers. “The long-term quality of a soldier or Marine’s life is a relatively new consideration/ In the past, military decision makers concerned themselves more with go/no-go: Do the injuries keep a soldier from completing the mission?…The answers may or may not affect the decisions that are made in the preparations for war, but at least they’ll be part of the equation for those inclined to do the math.”

In an interview with John Bonazzo for the Observer, Roach highlighted her respect for those working behind the scenes on saving lives and lowering the risks of combat: “There’s a tremendous amount of dedication and work that doesn’t get covered very much,” she said. “I want people to come away with respect for and recognition of that work.”

 

 

Robertson ’81 Tells Story of LEGO’s Trials and Triumphs

David Robertson '81

David Robertson ’81

In Brick By Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Toy Industry, David C. Robertson ‘81 (with Bill Breen) traces how the company grew from a small woodworking shop in a tiny Danish town to become one of the most beloved global brands of all time. In 2003, LEGO was heading toward bankruptcy but a new management was able to steer things in the right direction, transforming the business into one of the world’s most profitable, fastest-growing companies.

From 2002 through 2010, Roberston was a professor of innovation and technology management at the Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was named the LEGO Professor at IMD in 2008, which provided him with first-hand access to the insular company and its customers. He toured the factories that produce billions of bricks each year, watched designers dream up new toys, and interviewed the company’s top executives.

Book by David Robertson '81

Book by David Robertson ’81

His book reveals the grueling years of failed attempts that led to the invention of the plastic brick in 1958, followed by successful toys in next four decades. Then the seven key elements of LEGO’s growth strategy from 1999 to 2003, driven by the business world’s most popular innovation strategies, nearly ruined the company. A new leadership team pinpointed the root cause of LEGO’s problems—an overly aggressive approach to creating distinctive new offerings, with no overall guidance of the innovation process. This team then set up an innovation management system for consistently inventing new toys, building a culture where profitable innovation flourishes.

Robertson includes candid insights and critiques from the company’s leadership, employees, designers, and fans. He shares lessons that will guide leaders in their own efforts to improve their organization’s innovation.

Scott Davis in his Forbes review of the book wrote: “LEGO is a fascinating story about innovation run rampant. And it very nearly paid the price with failure. But instead, LEGO used the experience to figure out where it went wrong, change course and transform itself in the process. … In Brick by Brick, Robertson uncovers and shares a rare inside exploration of innovation-led transformation at its worst—and best. Any manager can learn from these lessons.”

In 2011, Robertson joined the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a Professor of Practice. He teaches innovation and product development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs. Click here to learn more about his work.

Nathman MALS ’07 Edits Book on Motherhood Myth

Avital Norman Nathman MALS '07

Avital Norman Nathman MALS ’07

Avital Norman Nathman MALS ’07 has edited a new collection of 35 essays, The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality (Seal Press) unravels the social media-fed notion of what it means to be a “good mother” in an era of mommy blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook. This volume takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for a diversity of voices, sharing revealing, candid, and sometimes raw stories to expand the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.

Book edited by Avital Norman Nathman MALS '07

Book edited by Avital Norman Nathman MALS ’07

The essay writers come from all walks of life, from professors to porn directors and musicians to massage therapists, who share tales of panic and feeling overwhelmed, surprise pregnancies, single motherhood, dealing with the terrible twos, adopting a child, and several other issues. The honesty of the essays reflects a community of mothers don’t wish to be in competition with others or with the notion of the ideal mom. The foreword is by Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, and contributors include Jessica Valenti, Sharon Lerner, Soraya Chemaly, Amber Dusick, and more.

Read the Frisky interview with Norman Nathman about her book.

Editor Norman Nathman concentrated in women’s studies while earning her MALS at Wesleyan. She completed a master’s thesis on the status of feminism in the lives of women in their 20s, which encouraged her to investigate and comment on the role of feminism for women in other aspects of their lives, including motherhood.

She writes a blog, The Mamafesto, and has a regular series, “The Femisphere,” for Ms. magazine’s website, as well as a regular feminist parenting column, “Mommie Dearest,” for The Frisky. Her freelance writing employs a feminist lens on a variety of topics, such as motherhood, gender, reproductive justice and reproductive health, and has appeared in The New York Times, Bamboo Family Magazine, RH Reality Check, Bitch magazine, CNN, Offbeat Families, and elsewhere.

White ’91 Studies Cultural Exchange between 19th-Century Britain and India

Daniel White '91

Daniel White ’91

In From Little London to Little Bengal: Religion, Print and Modernity in Early British India 1795-1835, (The Johns Hopkins University Press), Daniel E. White ’91, associate professor of British Romanticism at University of Toronto, examines the traffic in culture between Britain and India during the Romantic period. In the early part of the 19th century, part of Calcutta could be called  “Little London,” while in London itself an Indianized community of returned expatriates was emerging as “Little Bengal.” Circling between the two, this study considers British and Indian literary, religious, and historical sources alongside newspapers, panoramas, religious festivals, idols, and museum exhibitions.

Book by Daniel White '91

Book by Daniel White ’91

White shows how an ambivalent Protestant contact with Hindu devotion shaped understandings of the imperial mission for Britons and Indians during the period. He focuses on global metaphors of circulation and mobility, communication and exchange, commerce and conquest, and he follows the movements of people, ideas, books, art, and artifacts initiated by writers, publishers, educators, missionaries, travelers, and reformers. In the course of the book, he places luminaries such as Romantic poet Robert Southey and Hindu reformer Rammohun Roy in dialogue with a fascinating array of lesser-known figures, from the Baptist missionaries of Serampore and the radical English journalist James Silk Buckingham to the mixed-race prodigy Henry Louis Vivian Derozio.

White also is the author of Early Romanticism and Religious Dissent (Cambridge University Press). At the University of Toronto, he has directed the graduate collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture.

Collins ’81 Publishes New Poetry Collection

Michael Collins '81

Michael Collins ’81

Michael Collins ’81 has written a new book of poems, The Traveling Queen (Sheep Meadow Press). He sent us the following comments on his collection:

“This book is dedicated to Annie Dillard, who began teaching at Wesleyan University while I was there and who encouraged me to pursue a career as a writer so many times that she finally overcame my misgivings.

“In general, the writing of the book was informed by my sense that poems are promises. ‘So long as men can breathe or eyes can see/ so long lives this [poem],’ Shakespeare promises in one sonnet, ‘and this gives life to thee.’  Or, as Etheridge Knight writes in one poem, a lyric can be a chanted as ‘a spell to drive the demons away.’

Poetry by Michael Collins '81

Poetry by Michael Collins ’81

“In the language of the dollar, poems aspire to be ‘legal tender for all debts [that is to say, all promises], public or private’: legal tender for debts we incur in promising to be good as our word, to love ‘till death do us part’ (for the marriage vow is itself a little poem), to sprout up under the reader’s boot soles, like Walt Whitman, or to look long into the Medusa face of reality, so that the reader will not turn to stone. (Prayers and psalms are these sorts of poems).

“The fact that poems are promises gives the poet (at least at my level) something in common with the Ponzi schemer: For, like a Ponzi scheme, a poem is a lie whose worth is based entirely on what people invest in it. But, unlike a Ponzi scheme, a poem is a lie that becomes truer the more people invest in it, the more they allow it to structure their imaginations: Who would think of ‘Homer,’ who may or may not have existed—may or may not have been made out of ‘a mouthful of air,’ as Yeats said one of his poems was—if the Illiad had not made the fires of war and the wills of gods and nations grow out of Helen’s red hair?

“As this special sort of Ponzi schemer’s product, the poem always has the potential to rise in value to the point of becoming priceless—and the potential to become worthless, like the post-World War I German money people are said to have had to cart in wheelbarrows to make simple purchases.”

From The Traveling Queen:

The Funeral

Before they close the casket
the preacher tries to open heaven with his voice,
and whisper the strongman in.

In her review of the collection in the New York Journal of Books, Laverne Frith writes:

The Traveling Queen is a wildly rich and passionately far-reaching collection of poems about which it is almost impossible to make generalizations. One thing is clear—Michael Collins is a poet of obsessions. He is obsessed with history, obsessed with mythic women, obsessed with God. But most of all, Mr. Collins is obsessed with death.”

Born in Jamaica, Collins holds a PhD from Columbia University and teaches English at Texas A&M. He is the author of Understanding Etheridge Knight (University of South Carolina Press, 2013) and has authored literary criticism, creative nonfiction, journalism and fiction in various publications such as PMIA, Callaloo, and Singapore’s The Straits Times.

Crane ’93 Writes Book About AIDS Research in Africa

Johanna Tayloe Crane '93

Johanna Tayloe Crane ’93

Johanna Tayloe Crane ’93 is the author of a new study, Scrambling for Africa: AIDS, Expertise, and the Rise of American Global Health Science (Cornell University Press) which documents how and why Africa became a major hub of American HIV and AIDS research in recent years after having formerly been excluded from its benefits due to poverty and instability.

Book by Johanna Tayloe Crane '93

Book by Johanna Tayloe Crane ’93

“American AIDS researchers became interested in working in Africa for two major reasons—one humanitarian, and one having more to do with scientific/professional motivations,” Crane said. “Once effective HIV treatment was discovered in the mid-1990s and the American epidemic began to come under control, many U.S. researchers became interested in using the knowledge they had gained fighting HIV in the United States to fight HIV in the part of the world that was hardest hit. That’s the humanitarian piece.

“In addition, once international programs finally began to fund free HIV treatment in Africa in the early 2000s, researchers were drawn there by the scientific opportunity to study huge numbers of patients about to receive their first antiretroviral treatment ever. This large number of ‘treatment naïve’ patients did not exist in the United States because people had been getting experimental treatment since the 1980s, and so working in Africa became very appealing. It’s this second factor that the book is more focused on, as well as the inherent tension between scientific ambition and humanitarian concern.”

Crane is an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences of the University of Washington-Bothell. Though her interest in AIDS/HIV research and its impact in Africa has Wesleyan roots, you wouldn’t guess it by looking at her undergraduate transcript.

“I was an English major at Wesleyan, largely because I thought I wanted to be a writer,” she said. “It took me some time to figure out that fiction writing wasn’t really for me, but that I did love telling stories about the ‘real world.’ This is partly what led me to study anthropology, and to write ethnography (which we often call ‘thick description’). So I think l learned a great deal about writing at Wesleyan that fed into my effort to write what I hope is an engaging, accessible ethnography of the politics of global HIV research.”

During her undergrad years, Crane tried and failed to enroll in the then-popular Wesleyan course “AIDS and its Discourses.” Instead, she studied critical theory and postcolonial theory. Those lenses on to power and inequality influenced her path to studying global health inequalities.

“I first started working in the field of AIDS research post-Wes, in the late 1990s, studying HIV among homeless folks in San Francisco,” she said. “I started working in Uganda in 2003.”