Tag Archive for College of Letters

Greenhouse ’73, P’08 Lectures on the Past and Future of American Labor

Greenhouse lectures in the COL library

Steven Greenhouse ’73, P’08 discussed his book, Beaten Down, Worked Up, in the College of Letters Library. (Photo by Simon Duan ’23)

Steven Greenhouse ’73, P’08, author of Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, spoke in the College of Letters Library  on October 29 to a group that included Professor of History Ron Schatz’s class on American Labor History on Oct. 29, in the College Of Letters Library. His topic was “White Collar, Blue Collar and Gig Workers: What is the Future of American Labor?” The lecture was sponsored by the History Department and the College of Letters.

Greenhouse is a former New York Times labor reporter, and a review by Zephyr Teachout of Greenhouse’s book appeared in the paper on Oct. 3. Teachout called Greenhouse’s book an “engrossing, character-driven, panoramic new book on the past and present of worker organizing.” Teachout wrote: “There’s an enormous upheaval in the American workplace right now, and those who tell you they know how the next decade will pan out—for good or ill—don’t know their history. That’s one of the main lessons of Beaten Down, Worked Up … ”

Speaking to those gathered in the COL library, Greenhouse provided some of that history, drawing parallels between a piecework laborer in New York City’s garment district in the late 1800s to 20-something freelance workers putting in long hours hunched over their computers at home in today’s gig economy. He notes that some Uber drivers used to make more money per hour until upper management halved their pay rate, making it nearly impossible to support one’s family, even working 60 hours a week. He observed that Kickstarter, supposedly a labor-friendly organization, fired three out of eight people who were on a unionization committee. He further noted that Amazon now employs often inexperienced independent contractors as delivery drivers who have been involved in a number of serious auto accidents.

Tölölyan Honored as Preeminent Scholar of Diaspora Studies

Khachig Tölölyan

Khachig Tölölyan was named a preeminent scholar of diaspora studies. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Khachig Tölölyan, professor of letters, professor of English, was honored as the preeminent scholar of diaspora studies in general, and the Armenian Diaspora in particular, at the International Conference for the Society of Armenian Studies held at the University California, Los Angeles, on Oct. 12–13.

The conference, titled “Diaspora and ‘Stateless Power’: Social Discipline and Identity Formation Across the Armenian Diaspora During the Long Twentieth Century” marked the association’s 45th anniversary, and drew scholars from Italy, Mexico, France, Armenia, England, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and around the United States. They came to present new papers and to hear Tölölyan’s keynote address, “From the Study of Diasporas to Diaspora Studies.”

Introducing Tölölyan before his keynote, UCLA Associate Professor Sebouh Aslanian, who holds the Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History said, ”Khachig’s enduring legacy should not be limited to his scholarly contributions and accomplishments . . . . More than publishing journals and influencing an entire field of scholarly inquiry known as diaspora studies, Khachig has also been a remarkable mentor to scholars whose essays he has remolded and published. . . .  I can say unequivocally that I know of no other Armenian scholar who is as well-read and nimble in his thinking and who has helped me become the scholar I am today.’

Also presented at the conference were the results of pilot research of the Armenian Diaspora Survey (ADS) in 2018; Tölölyan was a member of the ADS Advisory Committee.

Director of the ADS, Hratch Tchilingirian, associate of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University, thanked Tölölyan for his service on the project, noting  In addition to his brilliant scholarship and numerous academic accolades, Khachig Tölölyan is a wonderful human being. He shares his enormous, accumulated wisdom with intellectual humility; engages with everyone with grace and empathy; and empowers others with generous and sincere acknowledgment and encouragement.”

Additionally, more than 130 people attended the society’s 45th-anniversary banquet, where Bedross Der Matossian, president of the Society for Armenian Studies and associate professor and vice chair of the department of history at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, presented Tölölyan with a lifetime achievement award.

Tölölyan is the founding editor of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, an award-winning publication that he has been editing since 1991.

At Wesleyan, Tölölyan teaches a range of courses in literature and critical and cultural theory. Both his research and his teaching ask (as he puts it) “how the increasing level of migration and dispersion brings new populations to the West, how these dispersions assimilate or become ethnic, diasporic, and transnational, and how these, in turn, reshape the literature, culture, and politics of the nations/states that host them.”

Barber Authors New Book on ‘One Man’s Journey from Gangleader to Peacekeeper’

Citizen OUtlaw

Charles Barber is the author of Citizen Outlaw, published Oct. 15 by HarperCollins.

Charles Barber, writer-in-residence in letters, is the author of a new book that tells the dramatic story of William Juneboy Outlaw III. Formerly the head of a major cocaine gang in New Haven, Outlaw turned his life around and now is an award-winning community advocate, leading a team of former felons who negotiate truces between gangs on the very streets that he once terrorized.

Barber wrote Citizen Outlaw: One Man’s Journey from Gangleader to Peacekeeper, published Oct. 15 by HarperCollins, in collaboration with Outlaw. The two gave a WESeminar and book signing on Nov. 1 at Russell House as part of Homecoming/Family Weekend. Their collaboration was also featured on the Today Show on Nov. 13.

Three Wesleyan students and alumni also worked over the summer and contributed to the book including Ben Owen ’21, Nicole Updegrove ’14, and Natalia Siegel ’18.

6 Faculty Receive Endowed Professorships

Fred Cohan

Fred Cohan is one of six Wesleyan faculty to receive an endowed professorship in 2019.

In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1, 2019:

Frederick Cohan, professor of biology, is receiving the Huffington Foundation Professorship in the College of the Environment, established in 2010.

Susanne Fusso, professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, is receiving the Marcus L. Taft Professorship of Modern Languages, established in 1880.

William Johnston, professor of history, is receiving a John E. Andrus Professorship of History, established in 1981.

Ethan Kleinberg, professor of history and professor of letters, is receiving the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professorship, established in 2008.

Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics, is receiving the Lauren B. Dachs Professorship of Science and Society, established in 2008.

Daniel Krizanc, professor of computer science, is receiving an Edward Burr Van Vleck Professorship of Computer Science, established in 1982.

Brief biographies appear below:

Frederick Cohan arrived at Wesleyan in 1986 after completing his BS at Stanford University, his PhD at Harvard University, and a postdoctoral appointment at University of California, Davis. His research focuses on the origins of diversity in bacteria. His publications, which have been cited more than 8,000 times, recently include “How We Can All Share the Fight Against Infectious Disease” (Arcadia Political Review, Spring 2019) and “Systematics: The Cohesive Nature of Bacterial Species Taxa” (Current Biology, 2019). Cohan has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and he was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2017.

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. The New York Times: “Anthony Braxton Composes Together Past, Present and Future”

Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, is profiled. Among other ongoing projects, Braxton has spent much of the past four years working on his newest opera, “Trillium L,” which, he says, “is a five-day opera”—if it is ever performed.

2. Los Angeles Review of Books: “That Bit of Philosophy in All of Us”

Tushar Irani, associate professor of philosophy, associate professor of letters, is interviewed about his book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus.

3. The Guardian“The Blake-Wadsworth Gallery of Reborn Dolls”

This original short story by Amy Bloom, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and professor of the practice, English, follows a woman coping with her elderly mother’s memory loss.

Hallie Lecture Focuses on Ancient Greece and Beyond

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on "Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond." Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on “Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond.” Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

Wesleyan to Offer Muslim Studies Certificate

muslimstyThe certificate, approved by the faculty on April 25, was proposed by steering committee members Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, director of the Office of Faculty Career Development; Typhaine Leservot, associate professor of French studies, chair of the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, associate professor of letters; and Ioana Emy Matesan, assistant professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies.

“Students in the certificate program will gain an appreciation for the diversity among Muslims geographically, culturally, historically, and religiously,” Leservot said. “They will become accomplished in multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of Muslim communities and their expressions and productions. In an American setting in which stereotypes reduce the more than 1 billion Muslims around the globe to singular caricatures, this represents no small accomplishment.”

The Muslim Studies Certificate will mirror an existing certificate in Jewish and Israeli Studies. Students must complete six designated courses in a range of areas, including contemporary society and practice; literary, artistic and musical studies; and historical inquiry. Courses involving Muslim studies already offered by more than a dozen faculty members will be included.

“This new certificate will highlight Wesleyan’s remarkable collection of faculty, courses, and resources for students interested in studying the lives of Muslims around the globe,” Gottschalk said. “Our faculty teach and conduct research in fields as diverse as Arabic, art history, College of Letters, English, French, government, history, music, religion, and Spanish. As Muslims become increasingly prominent in the United States, the number of faculty and students alike interested in Muslim studies has expanded.”

“The certificate aims to maximize students’ education in Muslim traditions by providing a structured program to guide their studies,” he added. “This will require students to diversify their exposure across disciplines and divisions, period and place.”

At a time when American Muslims are becoming increasingly marginalized, the certificate “will also help our non-Muslim students better understand a set of groups and traditions increasingly the target of disinformation and prejudice,” Matesan said. “Meanwhile, it would signal to our Muslim students and potential applicants that Wesleyan recognizes the diversity and significance of Muslim traditions.”

Cervantes Expert Ponce-Hegenauer Joins College of Letters

Gabrielle Ponce-Hegenauer

Gabrielle Ponce-Hegenauer

Last fall, the College of Letters (COL) welcomed Gabrielle Ponce-Hegenauer to the department as an assistant professor of letters. Ponce-Hegenauer is an expert on the biography and works of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), author of Don Quixote.

She’s also interested in 16th-century translation theory and poetics; pre-Cartesian Renaissance philosophy; cultural and intellectual history in the Spanish Golden Age; early modern metaphysics; medicine and philosophy in 16th-century Spain; the history of the book and manuscript culture; Spanish theater; Renaissance and Baroque Spanish poetry; Spanish and Italian literary exchanges; the 19th-century imagination of the Golden Age; and 19th-century Spanish novelist Benito Pérez Galdós.

“I like locating the particularities of big ideas in specific texts,” she said. “I’m constantly moving between a microcosmic and macrocosmic perspective. Nuance, variation, paradox and metaphor: these are key.”

Ponce-Hegenauer, who is fluent in Spanish, Italian and French, earned a BA in rhetoric at the University of Illinois Urbana, as well as both an MFA in poetry and creative writing and a PhD in German and romance languages and literatures from The Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation, published in April 2016, was titled Cervantes, Poet: Lyric Subjectivity as Practice in the Rise of the Novel in 16th-Century Spain. 

Carr ’15 Explores Concept of “Little” in Children’s Literature

Siri Carr ’15 explored the concept of "little" in children's literature in her thesis, "Little Do We Know: Conceptualizing the 'Little' in Children’s Literature."

Siri Carr ’15 explored the concept of “little” in children’s literature in her thesis, “Little Do We Know: Conceptualizing the ‘Little’ in Children’s Literature.”

#THISISWHY

In this issue of News @ Wesleyan, we speak with Siri Carr ’15, who double majored in the College of Letters and Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. Carr’s thesis, Little Do We Know: Conceptualizing the “Little” in Children’s Literature, explores the concept of the “little” in children’s literature. The thesis was submitted for honors in the College of Letters.

Faculty, Students Discuss Risk at Symposium

On May 2, the Wesleyan Symposium on Risk brought together faculty and students for an interdisciplinary discussion of risk. The event was sponsored by American Studies, the Center for the Humanities, the College of Letters, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, the Science in Society Program, and the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies support funds. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

Brian Stewart, professor of physics, professor of environmental studies, spoke on "The Metastasis of Risk."

Brian Stewart, professor of physics, professor of environmental studies, spoke on “The Metastasis of Risk.”

Weil on Respect and Our Relationships with Thinking Animals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weil Delivers Keynote at Animal Studies Conference in Chicago

Kari Weil

Kari Weil

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, delivered a keynote address on “Animal Studies: The Ends of Empathy and Beginnings of Reading” at a “Why do Animal Studies?” conference April 3-4 at the University of Chicago.

During the conference, scholars discussed “What is it that draws a multiplicity of voices into this conversation, and how can they productively engage with one another? Why has this field of inquiry gained such traction in recent decades? How is Animal Studies taking shape as a field that overlaps multiple discourses and disciplines, and what opportunities or difficulties arise as a result? How do different methodologies clarify or substantiate one another, fill knowledge gaps, and illuminate unknown aspects of individual areas of interest?”

Weil has published widely on literary representations of gender, feminist theory, and, more recently, on theories and representations of animal otherness. She recently co-edited a special issue of Hypatia titled, Animal Others (2012) and she is the author of  Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now (2012) and Androgyny and the Denial of Difference (1992). Her current project is tentatively titled,  ‘The Most Beautiful Conquest of Man’ ?: Horses and Other Animal Pursuits in 19-Century France.