Tag Archive for College of Social Studies

Miller’s New Book on the Enlightenment and Political Fiction

Miller BookCecilia Miller, associate professor of history and tutor at the College of Social Studies, is the author of Enlightenment and Political Fiction: The Everyday Intellectual, published by Routledge, 2016.

The book argues that much of the important political and economic theory of the era emerged first in works of fiction rather than in theory.

“Unlike studies of the Enlightenment which focus only on theory and nonfiction,” Miller states in her abstract, “this study of fiction makes evident that there was a vibrant concern for the constructive as well as destructive aspects of emotion during the Enlightenment, rather than an exclusive concern for rationality.”

Greenwald ’16 Honored for Study of ‘Street Boys’ in Nepal

Michael Greenwald '16 speaking with a street boy who had approached him at Pashupatinath Temple.

Michael Greenwald ’16 spoke with a “street boy” who had approached him at Pashupatinath Temple. For an independent study project, Greenwald observed more than 150 boys age 5-16, and conducted interviews of NGO affiliates and former street boys.

#THISISWHY

An independent study project by Michael Greenwald ’16 was chosen as one of two winners of the 2015 SIT Study Abroad Undergraduate Research Award.

The project, titled, “Cracks in the Pavement: The Street Boys of Kathmandu,” was one of more than 2,000 independent study projects (ISPs) completed over the past three semesters, and among 20 nominated for the award. SIT has additionally nominated Greenwald’s project for the prestigious Forum on Education Abroad’s 2015 Undergraduate Research Award.

Elphick’s Book Finalist for Prestigious African Scholarship Award

Rick Elphick

Rick Elphick

A book written by Rick Elphick, professor of history, tutor in the College of Social Studies, received “honorable mention” for the Herskovits Prize, the most prestigious award for scholarship on Africa. This annual award is named in honor of Melville J. Herskovits, one of the African Studies Association’s founders.

Elphick is the author of The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa, published by the University of Virginia Press in September 2012. The Equality of Believers reconfigures the narrative of race in South Africa by exploring the pivotal role played by these missionaries and their teachings in shaping that nation’s history. Providing historical context reaching back to 1652, Elphick concentrates on the era of industrialization, segregation, and the beginnings of apartheid in the first half of the 20th century. The most ambitious work yet from this renowned historian, Elphick’s book reveals the deep religious roots of racial ideas and initiatives that have so profoundly shaped the history of South Africa.

“My work, which was many years in the making, was substantially supported by Wesleyan at various stages, and I’m grateful to the numerous deans and chairs who looked on my grant applications with a benign eye,” Elphick said.

Learn more about Elphick’s book in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

Schatz’s “Barons of Middletown” Published in Historical Journal

Ron Schatz, professor of history, tutor in the College of Social Studies, wrote an article on Middletown that was recently published in Past & Present, a prestigious English historical journal.

The article, “The Barons of Middletown and the Decline of the North-Eastern Anglo-Protestant Elite,” appeared in the March 2013 issue. Schatz uses the story of the transformation of the leadership of the city since the early 20th century as a microcosm of the United States during the past century. Wesleyan is mentioned several times in the 36-page article, including when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Middletown in 1936.

“Although quite liberal today, Wesleyan University was not friendly territory for liberal politicians back then. A chemistry professor chaired Middletown’s Republican Party Committee, the university’s president James McConaughy sat on the Connecticut State Republican Party’s central committee, and the bulk of the students favoured the Grand Old Party. According to a straw poll taken by the college paper three days before Roosevelt’s visit, Wesleyan students favoured [Alf] Landon over FDR by nearly three to one,” Schatz wrote in the article.

“The research required a great deal of work but was a lot fun too,” Schatz said.

Read the full article online here.

5 Questions With … Rick Elphick on Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa

This semester, Rick Elphick is teaching a sophomore history tutorial on "The Emergence of Modern Europe" and "The History of Southern Africa."

This semester, Rick Elphick is teaching a sophomore history tutorial on “The Emergence of Modern Europe” and “The History of Southern Africa.”

In this edition of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask “5 Questions” of Richard “Rick” Elphick, professor of history and co-chair of the College of Social Studies. Elphick is the author of The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa, published by the University of Virginia Press in September 2012.

Q: What do you think is the main message, or the main achievement, of your new book?

A: For decades, historians of South Africa have struggled to trace how a white minority, starting in the 1650s, established a system of stark inequality among the races in the region. My book attempts to reconfigure the history of South Africa by interweaving the pressures toward inequality, which are now fairly well understood, with an account of the pressures toward racial equality. These pressures, I argue, were rooted chiefly in the proclamation of the equality of all persons before God, a message brought to South Africa by Christian missionaries. My story begins with the first missionary in 1737, and ends in 1960.

Q: Do you give the missionaries credit for the eventual overthrow of white rule and apartheid in the 1990s?

A: Not really. I do give credit to the mission schools, where black leaders, almost all of them devout Christians, acquired a belief in racial equality that inspired their resistance to oppression. I also emphasize how Christian doctrine ate away at the conscience of some white South Africans. But, as for the missionaries themselves, many appear in my book as deeply conflicted between their theoretical ideals and their fear of confronting the white power structure. And many showed a lack of confidence in blacks that bordered on racism.

Q: You also say that missionaries helped create the apartheid ideology?

A: Many writers have tried to find a link between religion and the doctrine of radical racial separation known as apartheid. In my view, however, they have looked in the wrong places. I trace the origins of the doctrine to missionary leaders of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Smolkin-Rothrock Delivers Lecture on Soviet Atheism

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies, delivered the Sherman Emerging Scholar Lecture titled “A Sacred Space: The Spiritual Life of Soviet Atheism” Oct. 18 at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Paul Townsend, chairman of the History Department at N.C. Wilmington, said Smolkin-Rothrock was chosen because her work “explored the connections between art, culture and history.”

A native of Ukraine, Smolkin-Rothrock studied at Sarah Lawrence College and received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. She has published articles on “scientific atheism” and the Soviet space program.

 More information on her talk appeared in the Oct. 15 StarNews. Read more about Smolkin-Rothrock in this December 2010 Wesleyan Connection article.

Gallarotti’s Biography in Who’s Who in America

Giulio Gallarotti (Photo by Chion Wolf)

The biography of Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies, is published by the Marquis editors’ Who’s Who in America 2011.

The 2011 edition contains more than 96,000 biographies of the nation’s most noteworthy people in a single, comprehensive resource. The book is a biographical reference tool for networking, prospecting, fact-checking, and numerous other research purposes.

He also appeared in the 2010 Who’s Who.

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock to Teach Soviet History, Secularism and Modernity Courses

Victoria-Smolkin-Rothrock is a new faculty member in the History Department, College of Social Studies and Russian and Eastern European Studies.

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, comes to Wesleyan this spring as an assistant professor of history, an assistant professor of Russian and Eastern European Studies. She’ll also be a core member of the College of Social Studies.

Her research investigates state efforts to manage spiritual life, as well as the significance and functions of private rituals in modern society.

“There were many things that attracted me to Wesleyan, but the students, and the intellectual community more broadly, are at the top of the list,” she says. “When I visited Wesleyan, the students made a profound impression: they struck me as deeply engaged in and curious about their own work, and, equally important, interested in the work of their peers.

Trammell ’10 Writes Article on Trouble in Lake Baikal

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Elizabeth Trammell ’10 visited Listvyanka, Russia, a small town on the edge of Lake Baikal. Trammell is the author of the article, "Deep Trouble: Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, loses some of its hard-won protection."

Government, Russian and East European Studies major Elizabeth Trammell ’10 is the author of “Deep Trouble: Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, loses some of its hard-won protection,” published in the Feb. 10 edition of Transitions Online and the Feb. 12 edition of Business Week. Trammell is writing an honor’s thesis on Russian environmental policy under Peter Rutland, co-chair of the College of Social Studies, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of government and tutor in the College of Social Studies. She interned last year for Great Baikal Trail, a sister environmental organization to BaikalWave in Irkutsk.

In the article, Trammell explains how Prime Minister Vladimir Putin allowed the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, closed in 2008, to resume production. Environmentalists now fear that the paper mill operation will pollute Lake Baikal, the deepest freshwater lake in the world.

“Why did Putin decide, 15 months later, to allow the mill to reopen without limit to its effluent for the next three years? The technology in BPPM is outdated, and it will take years and substantial investment to bring the plant up to modern standards,” Trammell writes in the article. “Putin has given the factory three years to operate without the closed-loop system and to continue to dump pollutants into the lake, seemingly having decided that a short-term economic fix is worth the long-term ecological damage.”

College of Social Studies Celebrates 50 years at Wesleyan

Cecilia Miller, associate professor of history, co-chair and tutor in the College of Social Studies; Richard Adelstein, professor of economics and tutor in the College of Social Studies; and Brian Fay, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, tutor in the College of Social Studies and editor of History and Theory, gather at the College of Social Studies 50th Anniversary lecture Nov. 6.

Cecilia Miller, associate professor of history, co-chair and tutor in the College of Social Studies; Richard Adelstein, professor of economics and tutor in the College of Social Studies; and Brian Fay, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, tutor in the College of Social Studies and editor of History and Theory, gather at the College of Social Studies 50th Anniversary lecture Nov. 6.

From its beginnings in 1959, Wesleyan’s College of Social Studies (CSS) has grown into a well-respected program and is celebrating its 50th year in 2009. The multidisciplinary program allows students to explore the subjects of government, history, economics and philosophy concurrently. Many attended lectures and celebrations for CSS during Homecoming/Family Weekend last weekend.

The first event of the weekend was a CSS Public Lecture by John Goldberg (CSS 1983, professor of Law, Harvard Law School) on Friday, Nov.  6. His talk was titled “John Locke on Tort Reform (Really!): A CSS Parable.”  John Goldberg was introduced by Brian Fay, the William Griffin professor of philosophy. Richard Adelstein, professor of economics, gave the response.

Peter Kilby, professor of economics, emeritus, chaired a CSS Alum Speaker Panel on CSS Entrepreneurs on Saturday, Nov. 7. The panelists included Steve Torok ’73, Donald Zilkha ’73, Lincoln Frank ’79, and Jonathan Bush ’93. A second Alum Speaker Panel, on International Affairs, was chaired by Andrew Crawford ’97, and included panelists Bob Hunter ’62, John Stremlau ’66, Carl Robichaud ’99 and Michael Brotchner ’95.

“What impressed me the most was the way in which speaker after speaker mentioned, with specific examples, how the method of study in the CSS continued to profoundly shape the way they handled their jobs in their subsequent career, whether it be a public defender or a venture capitalist,” said Peter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought and CSS Co-Chair, who attended the event.

“Skills such as being able to write quickly and clearly; and to see many sides of a problem, and integrate them in a single analysis served CSS students well after graduation,” he recounts.

Along with Fay, Adelstein, Kilby (who retired last year), and Rutland, core professors in the CSS within the past 20 years include Cecilia Miller, associate professor of history and CSS Co-Chair; Bill Barber, Andrews Professor of Economics, Emeritus; the late David Titus, professor of government, Emeritus; David Morgan, professor of history, Emeritus; Don Moon, Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Professor in the College of Social Studies and professor of government; Nancy Schwartz, professor of government; Giulio Gallarotti, professor of government; Gil Skillman, chair and professor of economics; Joyce Jacobsen, Andrews Professor of Economics; and Erik Grimmer-Solem, associate professor of history and director of the Public Affairs Center.

According to the program description, the College of Social Studies “was created in the belief that the various social studies can best be pursed together, rather than in isolation, and that the student will better understand the subject matter and the nature of each discipline by considering it in its relation to the other disciplines, and to develop a sense of methodological criticism supported by work in philosophy.”

Former Wesleyan President Victor Butterfield crafted the plan for the CSS along with the College of Letters (also celebrating 50 years) and the College of Quantitative Studies, which disbanded in the 1960’s. Butterfield believed strongly in the importance of interdisciplinary studies.

“The curriculum stresses fundamental techniques of analysis in economics, history, and government, as well as their application in the subject matter of those fields. Precision in writing and speaking is stressed in essays and class work. A number of lectures and seminars provide a sense of community that balances the educational aspect of the College,” the program description states.

Throughout the years, CSS has produced more than 930 graduates including John Driscoll, who currently works as the University Relations Alumni Director. Driscoll graduated from Wesleyan in class of 1962 and was a member of the very first CSS class.

“In the beginning the CSS was the unstructured part of Wesleyan,” Driscoll says. “The ‘normal’ parts of Wesleyan were filled with requirements, grades, and regular tests. That may seem odd today, but then we were looked on with a mixture of curiosity, envy and resentment because while others were sweating through the regular grind, we weren’t. At least not in the same way. We were “free” of the superficial preoccupation with grades; we could focus on learning for its own sake. And for us the ability to focus on one tutorial for ten weeks along with a colloquium on epistemology each week was true liberation.”

CSS graduates have gone on to excel in a range of fields, including government service, law, business, the arts and even medicine. CSS graduates have also been well represented on the Wesleyan Board of Trustees, and in recent years the Board has included four or more CSS alumni.