Tag Archive for The Washington Post

Roth Reviews Barkan’s ‘Michelangelo: A Life on Paper’

In a review for The Washington Post, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth discusses the new book by Leonard Barkan: Michelangelo: A Life on Paper. While volumes have been written about the great artist and his work, Roth says this book is different and intriguing because of its perspective. “It focuses…on the artist’s ‘life on paper,’ the hundreds of sheets that have survived containing drawings, poems, doodles, instructions to assistants and ‘notes to self.’ For Barkan, a professor of comparative literature at Princeton, these sheets are a treasure trove of aesthetic delights; traces of the historical context of Renaissance art making; and, most important, a window onto the personality and artistic practice of a figure who came to define genius.”

Gamelan Ensemble Featured in Lou Harrison Tribute

An article in The Washington Post of a music review featuring the works of composer Lou Harrison includes the gamelan ensemble, which played a vital role in some of the performances. The three-day “min-festival” was in Washington, D.C., the ensemble was led by Sumarsam, adjunct professor of music. The gamelan ensemble also performed at the Indonesian Embassy during the trip.

Gruen on the Ethics of Research on Chimps

Commenting in a Washington Post story on the retirement and relocation of chimpanzees that were used for medical experiments, Lori Gruen, chair and associate professor of philosophy, associate professor feminist and gender studies, associate professor environmental studies, raises questions about whether chimps should be used at all for medical experiments.

Basinger: Movies Not Often Historically Accurate

In a piece for The Washington Post titled “And the Oscar for most historically accurate film goes to…all of them!” Jeanine Basinger, chair and Corwin Fuller Professor of Film Studies, discusses how movies are rarely, if ever, historically accurate. From Braveheart, Chariots of Fire, Lawrence of Arabia, and A Beautiful Mind to the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, writers and directors have taken liberties with the facts for dramatic reasons. However, Basinger says, movies are, after all, entertainment, and the onus for knowing these inaccuracies also lies as much with audiences as the filmmakers. “Just as filmmakers must take responsibility for how they portray history, audiences have to take responsibility for what they believe, asking themselves how seriously a film wants them to trust its accuracy, and why,” she says.

President Roth Reviews “Twin” by Allen Shawn

Writing for The Washington Post, Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth reviewed the new memoir Twin by Allen Shawn, who is the son of former New Yorker editor Wallace Shawn.  The book, which chronicles Shawn’s relationship and perceptions of his twin sister Mary, as well as Shawn’s own struggle with panic attacks and Mary’s autism. Roth says “Shawn writes beautifully, with an elegance, candor and tact that are remarkable. He is personal without ever being gossipy…’Twin’ is an extraordinary book – quiet, patient, moving. While acknowledging our separation from one another, Allen Shawn has made a brotherly gift that recalls the possibilities of connection through memory and love that just might be shared.”

Fowler: Negativity Ruled 2010 Election Ads

A recent report in The Washington Post cites a new study by The Wesleyan Media project that, among other things, found that 2010 campaign season was the most negative in recent years. The study, “Advertising Trends in 2010,” by Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government and director of The Wesleyan Media Project, and Travis Ridout, associate professor of political science, Washington State University and co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project, was published in The Forum, a Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics. While a lot of discussion about the negative tone of the ads and campaigns occurred during and after the election, Fowler and Ridout point out in their study that negative ads are not necessarily a bad thing with regards to elections:

“One nontrivial benefit of record spending and record airings this cycle is that many voters, whether they liked it or not, were undoubtedly exposed to more campaign information than in previous election cycles and therefore were more likely to make informed choices at the ballot box…The unprecedented negativity in 2010 may also have some good consequences. For instance, Geer (2006) shows that negative ads are actually more likely to talk about policy issues, and thus negative ads may be informative ads. Negative ads may also raise the stakes, motivating people to get out and vote.”

Additional reports on the research were done by Politico, NPR, The News Hour (second item), Forbes, The Daily Caller, and Fox News, among several others.

A second study by Michael Franz, co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project, associate professor of government at Bowdoin College, found that the effect of the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations, unions and outside interest groups more direct participation in political ads, was not as widespread or pervasive as intimated by many reports.

Dupuy: Foreign Aid Mismanagement Holds Haiti Back

Writing for The Sunday Washington Post, Alex Dupuy, chair of African American Studies, professor of sociology, says that Haiti’s “tiny but wealthy elite” that runs the small island nation, and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which is co-chaired by Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, have mismanaged the more than $9 billion in aid that was sent to the country after last year’s earthquake, distributing only 10% of it. Worse, the vast bulk of the money that has been spent has gone to foreign contractors and foreign NGOs that “reinforce the country’s dependence on foreign aid and further sap the capacity and responsibility of the government to meet the basic needs of its citizens.”

Swinehart on Dolan’s ‘Fur, Fortune, and Empire’

In a review for The Washington Post, Kirk Swinehart, assistant professor of history, reviews the new book by Eric Jay Dolan, Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America. Swinehart says that the fur trade has been rendered a bland footnote by most historians but it was and remains one of the most vibrant and complex industries in the world. In his book, Dolan gives new life to the study of the fur trade in America and around the world, and adds the colors and textures that have long been missing in all but the most esoteric discussions of the fur industry’s history. “The result is easily the finest tale of the trade in recent memory,” Swinehart writes. “A crisply written tale unburdened by excessive detail or homespun provincialism.”