Tag Archive for faculty
by Olivia Drake •
In this Q&A, Assistant Professor of Government Justin Peck speaks about his research interests, teaching at Wesleyan and road-tripping across the United States. (Brandon Sides ’18 contributed to this article.)
Q: Professor Peck, what are your primary areas of research?
A: My dissertation attempts to explain when and why post-WWII Congresses enacted legal constraints on executive authority. And that’s now my primary area of research; the second area of my research concerns when and how the Republican Party’s position on civil rights issues has changed since the Civil War.
Q: What are your current projects?
A: I’m working on a book manuscript with a co-author, Jeff Jenkins, who’s at the University of Southern California, and who was my dissertation chair. Right now, we’re looking at every single legislative proposal—succeeded or failed—addressing black civil rights, and how members of the Republican Party in Congress positioned themselves around these bills. What we see after the Civil War is lots of hope, some successes, more failures, but a progressive narrowing of the ambitions and goals of the Republican Party. Eventually—right around the end of the 19th century—they decided to just ignore civil rights. The idea of the research is to tell the political history of black civil rights from the end of the Civil War to present day. We have two books in progress: one stretches from 1861 to 1918, which we call the first Civil Rights era. The other one goes from 1919 to 2016, and that’s the second Civil Rights era.
by Olivia Drake •
In this Q&A, and in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Retired Military Officer Teaching Fellow Robert “Bob” Cassidy speaks about his military career, thoughts on the Iraq invasion and teaching at Wesleyan. (Brandon Sides ’18 contributed to this article.)
Q: How did you acquire your teaching fellowship at Wesleyan?
A: I received a Retired Officer Teaching Fellowship (ROTF) through the Chamberlain Project, which supports fellowships at some of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions. Fellows are required to work on building relationships and understanding between the U.S. Armed Services and civilian institutions and to contribute to the richness and diversity of students’ educational experiences. We also teach two full-credit courses. This fall and next spring, I am teaching a seminar on Policy and Strategy in War and Peace at the Center for the Study of Public Life.
Q: What material is covered in this course?
A: We explore the meaning of civilian-military relations and how those relations interact with our ability to align policy and strategy. We start with the Vietnam War and cover eight wars through the present. So far this semester, we’ve studied the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the peace operations and combat operations in Somalia, the initial war in Afghanistan, and this week, we cover the bad decisions behind the invasion of Iraq. We will end with a look at where we are now with policy and strategy, and the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere against the likes of the Islamic State.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
For this year’s First Year Matters program, incoming new students read Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric during the summer before their arrival on campus.
Rankine, a noted poet and author, had been on campus for Commencement 2017, when she received an honorary degree and addressed the graduating class.
On Sept. 1, Rankine was back at Wesleyan to address the Class of 2021, offering insights into the development of the book. She also entered into a discussion with first-year students, taking questions from the audience, who gave her snaps of approval throughout her talk and a standing ovation at the end.
Kevin Butler, assistant dean of students, who spearheaded this year’s program, noted that the selection committee had chosen Citizen for a number of reasons.
“It is extremely powerful and has thought-provoking passages,” he said. “We thought we could engage both the first-year students and the community at large in some really in-depth conversations on microaggressions, equality and fairness.
“There are very few speakers I’ve seen who have the certain style, voice quality and tone that is engaging and comfortable—even when the questions and answers are difficult,” he added.
by Bill Holder •
The Theater Department has begun fall semester with a new chair who combines an impressive list of creative accomplishments with deep and varied experience as an academic administrator.
Kathleen Conlin, Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater, has held tenured faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, and the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. While juggling the varied demands of an academic career, she also served for 22 seasons as associate artistic director and stage director at the Utah Shakespeare Theater.
“I love being around young people who are not narrowly defined and are actively working to discover who they are and who they are in society,” she says. “To be able to do that through an arts lens is spectacular.”
by Olivia Drake •
This year, Wesleyan welcomes 11 new tenure-track faculty, one professor of the practice, and 45 visiting faculty and fellows.
The new junior faculty who start this year include:
Scott W. Aalgaard, assistant professor of East Asian studies
Aalgaard holds BA and MA degrees from the University of Victoria, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, titled “‘Homesick Blues’: Crisis, Critique, and Collectivity in Modern Japanese Cultural Production,” traces critical voices in literature, music, and everyday life in modern and contemporary Japan. His areas of research include critical practice in Japan, contemporary Japanese culture, modern and contemporary Japanese literature and popular music, and theories and histories of fascism.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1:
Joe Knee, professor of chemistry and dean of the Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, is receiving the Beach Professorship of Chemistry, established in 1880.
Janice Naegele, professor of biology, is receiving the Alan M. Dachs Professorship of Science, established in 2011.
Stewart Novick, professor of chemistry, is receiving the Joshua Boger University Professorship of the Sciences and Mathematics, established in 2010.
Christopher Parslow, professor of classical studies, is receiving the Robert Rich Professorship of Latin, established in 1863.
Irina Russu, professor of chemistry, is receiving the E. B. Nye Professorship of Chemistry, established in 1908.
Brief biographies appear below:
Wesleyan Musicians “Come Together” in All-Star Beatles Tribute Band for Third Annual Benefit Concert
by Laurie Kenney •
An 18-piece all-star band, including five members of the Wesleyan community, will perform the Beatles’ Abbey Road album in its entirety during a benefit concert at Middlesex Community College (MCC) on Saturday, June 24, at 6 p.m. The concert is the third annual event held in memory of former Wesleyan Center for the Arts (CFA) intern Stephanie Nelson, of Middletown, who passed away in early 2015 at the age of 25.
The first two benefit concerts, held in 2015 and 2016, raised more than $6,400 to establish and fund the Stephanie Nelson Scholarship at MCC, Nelson’s alma mater. Each May, the scholarship is awarded to an MCC student with a desire to work as an intern at Wesleyan University in the field of broadcast communications or multimedia.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
In March, during Wesleyan’s spring break, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Michael McAlear took a trip to visit and catch up with three alumni whom he’d known when they were undergraduates, just beginning the nonprofits for which they are now known. McAlear doesn’t see them often: they live and work in Africa. All three had received Wesleyan’s Christopher Brodigan Award in their senior year, for research or work in Africa.
McAlear’s first stop was in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, and home of SHOFCO, Shining Hope for Community, the nonprofit begun by Jessica ’09 and Kennedy ’12 Odede. Linking education for girls with community services, the organization has grown since McAlear had last visited in 2010 to help set up the school, when it held only two classes of girls ages 6 and 7, and the group was building a clinic was built to honor Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10, the student slain in the spring of 2009. At that time, McAlear offered the young students a lecture on clean water and also became a sponsor for one little girl, a responsibility and relationship that is ongoing,
“I was overwhelmed by the need in Kibera— and the optimism and fearlessness of Kennedy and Jessica; you couldn’t help being swept up by that,” McAlear recalls. “They were so young and naïve that they didn’t know what they couldn’t do—so they just kept on doing things.”
by Cynthia Rockwell •
Alok Appadurai ’00, co-founder of Fed by Threads, the first sustainable, sweatshop-free, multi-brand, American-made organic vegan clothing store in the United States that has used a portion of its profits to feed over half a million meals to Americans in need, offered the keynote speech on “Food Justice and Sustainability” at the 2017 Americas Forum, held at the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on April 28. He has recently founded GoodElephant.org, designed to create a global “herd” that will work on changing the world by nurturing compassion and empathy to promote social and environmental reform—and his book, Good Elephant, will be published later this year. Appadurai’s post-Wesleyan career highlights the interests he explored at Wesleyan, where he built his own concentration in American Studies that incorporated colonialism, workers’ rights, utopian communities, the environment, and gender/class issues.
Appadurai’s talk “The Compassion Famine: Exploring The Unspoken Solutions To Hunger In America,” offered solutions to end what he calls “the compassion famine” and bring about food justice. The process begins, he says, with each person imagining a world without hunger. “While a world without hunger seems remote, we first need to each hold the idea as a possibility, before we could make this come true,” he says. He also asked his audience to “change what we imagine the face of hunger to look like.” Not just a problem for the developing nations, food insecurity is a problem that forty million people in the United States face. Yet—”We also throw out nearly 40 percent of our food—which goes to landfills and causes greenhouse gasses,” he adds.
by Andrew Logan ’18 •
Wesleyan Professor of Dance and Environmental Studies Katja Kolcio traveled again to Ukraine in April, this time to work with soldiers and psychologists in the National Guard. It was her third trip to the region to teach somatic practices to those undergoing the stress of political conflict, displacement, and combat.
Somatics are “mind-body practices that combine physical activity and motion with deep reflection,” she explained in “Somatics and Political Change: Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity,” (Contact Quarterly, summer/fall 2016), detailing her first trip to the region after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. In June 2015 she had been invited to lead somatic workshops for the volunteers working with refugee families and injured soldiers and offered her first set of classes in Ukraine then.
“One goal of somatics is to become more aware of subtle physical indications of dis-ease before they become acute or chronic issues,” she wrote. “Somatics is also a practice of “sense-making’—of integrating internal experiences with the external environment in order to become more conscious in the present moment.”
Kolcio considers this crucial work for her Wesleyan students, including first-year students “who are away from home for the first time, encountering world-shifting ideas.” Working with the breath and experiencing the body in the environment—its weight, the stress it holds—helps to orient the practitioner in the present moment—and envision new possibilities, make sense of the world in a different way.”
This work of integrating experiences is particularly important for those in regions undergoing crises, Kolcio believes—and it is what she can offer this country where she has familial roots. At the invitation of the National Guard of Ukraine this time, Kolcio returned to implement a somatics program to alleviate the injuries that soldiers sustain in combat.
Offering two-day workshops, Kolcio taught the creative and contemplative physical practices of somatics, as well as the cognitive approaches to build psychological flexibility and stress resistance among soldiers. Some of the techniques included the history of the body, self-awareness, breathing, body weight, muscle tension and movement.
“Various events leave a mark not only in memory but also in the body,” says Kolcio. “Thus, when helping patients recover from traumatic events, it is important to consider not only the memory in a classic sense, but the memory within the body.”
A political science major as an undergraduate, Kolcio places her body work in the context of that country’s history. The peaceful protest of the Revolution of Dignity has helped that country envision “another kind of orientation, one that seemed intent on superseding ethnic, national, and religious definitions,” she wrote in Contact Quarterly.
”What if we treated social-political orientation in the way we approach awareness in a somatic workshop?” she asks in her article. “I believe this is why my somatic workshops are being embraced here. People are seeking new ways of making sense in the world…. Somatics is an individual practice; I also see it as a social movement.”