Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Grant, Naegele to Lead Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics as New Deans

Beginning May 4, 2020, Roger Mathew Grant will succeed Nicole Stanton as Dean of the Arts and Humanities division, and beginning July 1, 2020, Janice Naegele will succeed Joe Knee as Dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics division.

The announcement was made by Rob Rosenthal, interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Roger Mathew Grant

Roger Mathew Grant

Roger Mathew Grant, associate professor of music, received his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. In his recent book, Peculiar Attunements: How Affect Theory Turned Musical (Fordham University Press, 2020), he considers contemporary affect theory in relation to European music theory of the 18th century. He is also the author of Beating Time & Measuring Music in the Early Modern Era (Oxford University Press, 2014), which combines music theory, music analysis, and philosophy to trace the history of meter from the 16th century to the 19th century, and for which he received the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory.

Johnston: What History Can Teach Us About the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bill Johnston

Bill Johnston

William Johnston, the John E. Andrus Professor of History, is a historian who studies disease and medicine, with expertise in epidemics of infectious diseases. In this Q&A, Johnston discusses the novel coronavirus outbreak and what can be learned from the past.

Q: How and when did you start studying the history of disease and medicine?

A: About 30 years ago, I wrote my dissertation on the subject, which became my first book, The Modern Epidemic: A History of Tuberculosis in Japan. Around that time, people were starting to consider epidemics of infectious diseases a thing of the past that were no longer of concern to us, but then HIV took off. I’ve continued to study and teach on the history of disease and pandemics ever since.

Q: Please tell us about the course you teach.

A: It’s called Critical Approaches to the History of Disease and Epidemics. Ironically, almost every year I’ve taught it, the world has seen another major epidemic. I’m offering it again this semester, and our first day of class was January 23, just as the novel coronavirus was emerging as a serious threat in China. Seeing that this was coming down the pike, I adjusted the direction of the course to incorporate a combination of historical readings and articles from contemporary medical journals. For example, I gave students one reading on the plague and how it went pandemic in the Middle Ages—what it took for that to happen.

Redfield Receives NASA Grant to Study the Properties of Outer Space

Seth Redfield

Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield will use the Hubble Space Telescope to measure composition, density, temperature, motion, and the spectroscopic signatures of gas and dust.

If a spacecraft were to quickly travel outside the solar system—potentially en route to a nearby exoplanetary system—it would need to pass through an atmosphere unfamiliar to scientists on Earth.

As a recipient of a $415,000 grant from NASA, Seth Redfield, chair and associate professor of astronomy, hopes to learn more about the mysterious makeup of this “outer space.”

“There are several very early designs for an interstellar probe, but first, we need to understand the properties of the space in between the stars if you are traveling through it, especially at high speed,” Redfield said. “Given the vastness of space, even in our nearest cosmic neighborhood of the closest stars, very high speeds are needed. The designs for an interstellar probe involve speeds that range from 11,000 miles per hour to 6 million miles per hour! These require the biggest rockets that NASA has ever built and new propulsion ideas that are still in very early design phases.”

7 Faculty Conferred Tenure, 1 Promoted

Seven faculty were conferred tenure by the Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting. Their appointments will be effective on July 1. They are:

  • Ren Ellis Neyra, associate professor of English
  • James Greenwood, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences
  • Cameron Donnay Hill, associate professor of mathematics
  • Daniel Licata, associate professor of computer science
  • Rashida Shaw McMahon, associate professor of English
  • Laura Ann Twagira, associate professor of history

In addition, one faculty member was promoted:

  • Naho Maruta, associate professor of the practice in East Asian studies

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below.

Ren Ellis Neyra is a theorist and practitioner of poetics of the Americas, whose work complicates boundaries between critical and creative practices, as well as in modes of public engagement. Their book, The Cry of the Senses: Listening to Latinx and Caribbean Poetics (Duke University Press, forthcoming November 2020), is “a paradigmatic disturbance built around the cry in the Caribbean Americas. The cry’s waywardness with the binary of being/non-being moves in the book’s method of multi-sensorial, poetic listening, which attunes readers of Latinx and Caribbean poetics and aesthetics to how abnormal insurgencies go off.” They offer a wide range of courses, including The Senses and the Subject in Poetry and Cinema; Brown, Black, and Queer Forms and Feelings; and Law, ‘Savage,’ and Citizen in Contemporary Literary and Cinematic Imaginations.

James Greenwood is a planetary geochemist and cosmochemist whose primary research focuses on the origin of the Earth’s water.

Winston Named Honorary Fellow of the American Association of Teachers of German

winston

Krishna Winston retired from Wesleyan in 2019. She taught German studies for 49 years.

The American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) recently named Krishna Winston, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, Emerita, an honorary fellow of the association. The fellowship is limited to 25 fellows worldwide.

Founded in 1926, the AATG has nearly 3,500 members and “believes that bringing the language, literature, and cultures of the German speaking-world to all Americans is a vital humanistic endeavor, which serves an essential national interest,” according to its website.

To receive this honor, Winston was nominated by 10 colleagues, with the nomination approved by the Honorary Fellows Committee and voted on by the Association membership at its 2019 annual meeting. According to the AATG, honorary fellows are “men and women of letters of international distinction who have contributed to the advancement of German studies in the fields of literary studies, literary criticism, linguistics, creative writing, translation, and second language acquisition.”

Iris Bork-Goldfield, chair and adjunct professor of German studies, made the initial recommendation. She’s known Winston for more than 20 years.

“Krishna has devoted her life to the German language and literature. With her many celebrated translations of works by Golo Mann, Siegfried Lenz, Peter Handke, and of course Günther Grass, just to name a few, she has enabled millions of English speakers to appreciate German literature,” Bork-Goldfield said in her nomination letter. “Apart from being a brilliant translator, Professor Winston has educated generations of American students as a teacher of German. She is a passionate teacher, deeply committed to her students whom she inspires to enjoy German literature, study abroad in Germany, apply for scholarships to teach and /or do research in German-speaking countries, and become engaged citizens.”

Winston, who retired from Wesleyan in 2019, recently published a volume of four film narratives by Werner Herzog, Scenarios III (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), and has just completed translations of a novel and an essay by Peter Handke. Her translation of the address Handke delivered upon receiving the 2019 Nobel Prize can be found on the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Prize website. She is currently working on another Handke essay.

Winston remains actively engaged in campus life. In the fall of 2019, she taught her First-Year Seminar “The Simple Life?”, and she continues to serve as an advisor to the Community Standards Board, support the University’s sustainability efforts, and participate in the nomination process for Fulbright, Watson, and Udall fellowships.

“Krishna Winston has been a great source of motivation and inspiration for everyone around her, in the US and in Germany,” Bork-Goldfield said. “Her lifelong dedication to promoting German, be it as a teacher or a translator, complemented by her and her social activism, makes her an ideal honorary fellow.”

Kaye, Hatch Lead Discussion on Drug Courts, Prison Drugging

On Feb. 19, two Wesleyan faculty presented a discussion on “Drug Courts and Prison Drugging: A New Book Reading” in the Vanguard Lounge in the Center for African American Studies.

Kerwin Kaye, associate professor of sociology, is the author of Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, and the Intimacies of the State, published by Columbia University Press in 2019. And Anthony Ryan Hatch, chair and associate professor of science in society, is the author of Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2019.

kaye hatch

kerwin kaye

Situating drug courts in a long line of state projects of race and class control, Kaye details the ways in which the violence of the state is framed as beneficial for those subjected to it. He explores how courts decide whether to release or incarcerate participants using nominally colorblind criteria that draw on racialized imagery. Rehabilitation is defined as preparation for low-wage labor and the destruction of community ties with “bad influences,” a process that turns participants against one another, he says. At the same time, Kaye points toward the complex ways in which participants negotiate state control in relation to other forms of constraint in their lives, sometimes embracing the state’s salutary violence as a means of countering their impoverishment.

Tony Hatch

For years, United States prisons and jails have aggressively turned to psychotropic drugs—antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedatives, and tranquilizers—to silence inmates, whether or not they have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. In Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America, Hatch demonstrates that the pervasive use of psychotropic drugs has not only defined and enabled mass incarceration but has also become central to other forms of captivity, including foster homes, military and immigrant detention centers, and nursing homes.

Kaye and Hatch welcomed questions and comments from the audience. (Photos by Simon Duan ’23)

Tucker Authors Several New Papers on Science in Society, Modern Science

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, is the author and co-author of several new publications. They include:

“A View of the Ocean, Between the Tropics (1765–1800),” published in Britain in the World: Highlights from the Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, 2019.

“Popularizing the Cosmos: Pedagogies of Science and Society in Anton Pannekoek’s Life and Work,” published in Anton Pannekoek: Ways of Viewing Science and Society by Amsterdam University Press, 2019.

Hatch Pens Book on the Secret Use of Drugs to Control Captives

Silent CellsAnthony Ryan Hatch, chair and associate professor of science in society, is the author of Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2019.

The book offers a critical investigation into the use of psychotropic drugs to pacify and control inmates and other captives in the vast US prison, military, and welfare systems.

According to the publisher:

Anthony Ryan Hatch demonstrates that the pervasive use of psychotropic drugs has not only defined and enabled mass incarceration but has also become central to other forms of captivity, including foster homes, military and immigrant detention centers, and nursing homes.

For residents of state-managed institutions, the American Dream too often has been warped into a drug-addled nightmare. Combining novel insights supported by rigorous scholarship with fresh, accessible writing, Hatch presents a powerful indictment of imposing psychotropics upon the caged powerless, building an unimpugnable case that unveils a deeply troubling pattern and also affords us the chance to end it.

Kaye’s New Book Offers Critical Perspective of Criminal-Justice Reform

KayeKerwin Kaye, associate professor of sociology, is the author of Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, and the Intimacies of the State, published by Columbia University Press in December 2019.

According to the publisher:

In 1989, the first drug-treatment court was established in Florida, inaugurating an era of state-supervised rehabilitation. Such courts have frequently been seen as a humane alternative to incarceration and the war on drugs. “Enforcing Freedom” offers an ethnographic account of drug courts and mandatory treatment centers as a system of coercion, demonstrating how the state uses notions of rehabilitation as a means of social regulation.

Situating drug courts in a long line of state projects of race and class control, Kerwin Kaye details the ways in which the violence of the state is framed as beneficial for those subjected to it. He explores how courts decide whether to release or incarcerate participants using nominally colorblind criteria that draw on racialized imagery. Rehabilitation is defined as preparation for low-wage labor and the destruction of community ties with “bad influences,” a process that turns participants against one another. At the same time, Kaye points toward the complex ways in which participants negotiate state control in relation to other forms of constraint in their lives, sometimes embracing the state’s salutary violence as a means of countering their impoverishment. Simultaneously sensitive to ethnographic detail and theoretical implications, “Enforcing Freedom” offers a critical perspective on the punitive side of criminal-justice reform and points toward alternative paths forward.

Quijada’s Book on Post-Soviet Buryatia Wins Prize from Society for the Anthropology of Religion

Justine Quijada

Justine Quijada, at right, accepted the first Honorable Mention for the Geertz Prize during the American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting in Vancouver in November 2019.

Justine Quijada, associate professor of religion, is the author of a new book titled Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets: Rituals of History in Post-Soviet Buryatia, published by Oxford University Press in 2019.

The book recently won the first Honorable Mention for the Geertz Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR). Named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, the Geertz Prize seeks to encourage excellence in the anthropology of religion by recognizing an outstanding recent book in the field. SAR awards the prize to “foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.”

Buddhists, Shamans, and Soviets explains how Soviets viewed Buryats—an indigenous Siberian ethnic group—as a “backwards” nationality that was carried along on the inexorable march toward the Communist utopian future.

According to the book’s publisher:

When the Soviet Union ended, the Soviet version of history lost its power and Buryats, like other Siberian indigenous peoples, were able to revive religious and cultural traditions that had been suppressed by the Soviet state. In the process, they also recovered knowledge about the past that the Soviet Union had silenced. Borrowing the analytic lens of the chronotope from Bakhtin, Quijada argues that rituals have chronotopes which situate people within time and space. As they revived rituals, Post-Soviet Buryats encountered new historical information and traditional ways of being in time that enabled them to re-imagine the Buryat past, and what it means to be Buryat. Through the temporal perspective of a reincarnating Buddhist monk, Dashi-Dorzho Etigelov, Buddhists come to see the Soviet period as a test on the path of dharma. Shamanic practitioners, in contrast, renegotiate their relationship to the past by speaking to their ancestors through the bodies of shamans. By comparing the versions of history that are produced in Buddhist, shamanic and civic rituals, “Buddhists, Shamans and Soviets offers a new lens for analyzing ritual, a new perspective on how an indigenous people grapples with a history of state repression, and an innovative approach to the ethnographic study of how people know about the past.

Fowler, Baum, Gollust ’01 Co-Author Paper on Gun Coverage in Political Advertising

Gun-related deaths are on the rise in the United States, and following recent mass shootings, gun policy has emerged as an issue in the 2020 election cycle.

In the February 2020 issue of Health Affairs, co-authors Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government and director of the Wesleyan Media Project; Laura Baum, project manager in the Government Department; and alumna Sarah Gollust ’01 explain how political advertising is an increasingly important tool for candidates seeking office to use to communicate their policy priorities. Over $6 billion was spent on political ads in the 2016 election cycle, and spending in the 2020 cycle is expected to be even higher.

Their paper, titled “Guns In Political Advertising Over Four US Election Cycles, 2012–18″ suggests that tracking gun-related political advertising over time can offer critical insights into how candidates view the salience of gun policy in the context of the 2020 election and beyond.

The co-authors analyzed the coverage of guns in over 14 million candidate-related television ad airings for presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative races over four election cycles: 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.

According to their paper:

The share of candidate-related ad airings that referred to guns increased from 1 percent in the 2012 cycle to over 8 percent in the 2018 cycle. Pro–gun rights content dominated but dropped from 86 percent of airings mentioning guns in the 2012 cycle to 45 percent in the 2018 cycle. Advertising in favor of gun regulation and against the National Rifle Association increased over time. These shifts offer insights into how gun issues are being framed in the 2020 election cycle.

Research for this study was supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, the Smart Family Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Juhasz Studies Word Age-of-Acquisition Effects through Eye Movements

Assistant Professor Barbara Juhasz is interested in understanding how words produce a certain sensory experience when read.

Barbara Juhasz

Barbara Juhasz, Jeffrey L. Shames Professor of Civic Engagement and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of an article titled “The time course of age-of-acquisition effects on eye movements during reading: Evidence from survival analyses,” published in Memory and Cognition, January 2020.

According to the paper’s abstract:

Adults process words that are rated as being learned earlier in life faster than words that are rated as being acquired later in life. This age-of-acquisition (AoA) effect has been observed in a variety of word-recognition tasks when word frequency is controlled. AoA has also previously been found to influence fixation durations when words are embedded into sentences and eye movements are recorded. However, the time course of AoA effects during reading has been inconsistent across studies.

The current study further explored the time course of AoA effects on distributions of first-fixation durations during reading. Early and late acquired words were embedded into matched neutral sentence frames. Participants read the sentences while their eye movements were recorded. AoA effects were observed in both early and late fixation duration measures, suggesting that AoA has an early and long-lasting effect on word-recognition processes during reading.