Wesleyan in the News

Olivia DrakeNovember 12, 202115min

NewsWesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. A sampling of recent media hits is below:

Glenn Ligon ’82, Hon. ’12 is prominently featured in New York Times Magazine‘s 2021 “Greats” issue, which celebrates those who have helped make and change the culture. For over 30 years, Ligon has been making work that speaks to American history—ambiguous, open-ended, existentially observant. “Ligon’s art is often both an indictment and a kind of reframing of American history. He has worked across a wide range of media, in addition to writing the kind of criticism and curating the kinds of shows that revolutionize canons. He isn’t a painter of the human form, and yet bodies—desired, objectified, pathologized, policed, and pitied—are central to all of his work.” (Oct. 17)

In DanceTeacher, Hari Krishnan, chair and professor of dance, explains how the synthesis between technique and theory is something that drives Wesleyan’s Dance Department. “We’re not a conservatory,” he says in the story, where more of an emphasis might be placed on technique alone. “We’re interested in a bigger-picture discourse. How does your major affect a larger line of inquiry, especially with what’s going on in the world right now—disease, immigration, Black Lives Matter, BIPOC identity? I always say, ‘I’m not interested in how good or bad a dancer you are. It’s how engaged you are to the material.’” (Oct. 22)

In a Politico op-ed, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 discusses the controversy surrounding the founding of the University of Austin. “As a teacher, it’s a great joy to see a student’s prejudices dissolve through conversation, inquiry, and the study of powerful works, and it’s an even greater thrill when this happens to oneself while teaching!” (Nov. 13)

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, discusses horse and human relationships in Medium. Her current research looks at the legacies of animal magnetism in 19th- and 20th-century theories of affective influence, tactility, and physiological methods for sensing and healing traumatic memories in humans and non-humans alike. “Studying animals can also give us a sense of ourselves as a species among species and, as such, a species threatened by the very environmental changes which our ‘culture’ has greatly produced.” (Oct. 27)

In The Conversation, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, questions why medieval weapons laws—including a 1328 English statute prohibiting the public carry of edged weapons without royal permission— are at the center of dueling legal opinions in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court—New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. “So how did a 1689 English Bill of Rights that never gave any absolute right to carry guns turn into a key justification for that very right in the U.S.?” she writes. “Essentially, they invented a tradition.” (Nov. 5)

The New Yorker interviews Lin Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ‘15 for making his directorial début, “Tick, Tick . . . Boom!,” which channels the bohemian life and spirit of the theater composer Jonathan Larson. “That’s part of what hit me so hard about it when I saw “Tick, Tick . . . Boom!” Off-Broadway: that [Larson] understood so much, and yet at a certain level you can’t let yourself understand. You don’t know the day you’re going to die. On a subcellular level, he understands there’s a clock ticking. I think we all have moments where we allow ourselves to hear that ticking and times when we can’t listen to it, in order to stay sane.”

Sonali Chakravarti, professor of government, shares an op-ed in The Guardian titled “No, Black jurors aren’t ‘biased’ when it comes to shootings of Black people.” Jury service, she writes, “cannot only be for the white, the lucky, and the obstinately stoic in the face of racial injustice. The jury seated in the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery – a Black man who was shot and killed by three white men in Glynn County, Georgia – makes a mockery of the need for a randomly selected jury. Of the 12-person jury, 11 are white and just one is Black, in a county where more than 25% of the residents are Black.” (Nov. 11)

Former captain of the Wesleyan football team Quincy Chad ’06 is mentioned in 2 Paragraphs and Outsider after appearing in the S.W.A.T. episode “West Coast Offense.” Chad also “is known for his roles on Power (Zigg), Orange Is the New Black (Leon McDonald), Netflix’s The Get Down (Caesar Leader), FX’s Snowfall (Big Deon), and Tell Me a Story (Detective Grant), among others.” (Nov. 5)

The obituary of Richard Ohmann, a former associate provost at Wesleyan, is featured in The New York Times and The Boston Globe. “Unlike some activist academics at the time, Ohmann never drew a line between his activism and his teaching or scholarship. His book English in America: A Radical View of the Profession (1976) illuminated what he saw as the role of literary studies in perpetuating capitalist hierarchies: It both diverted attention and, by applying standards to writing and rhetoric, perpetuated class distinctions,” he wrote. (Nov. 3).

Tracey O’Shaughnessy MALS ’02, associate features editor and columnist for The Republican-American, has won two national awards for her feature writing from the Society for Features Journalism. O’Shaughnessy won first place in the General Column category for a portfolio of three columns. In their comments, judges cited O’Shaughnessy’s columns on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on society. (Nov. 2)

The Connecticut Post mentions that a new exhibit by Don Sexton ’63 titled “Places I Know” is open at the East 67th St Library in New York City until Dec. 18. In the show, Sexton shows scenes from around the world, people going about their lives, with their families, at play, on the streets. Sexton studied painting and drawing at Wesleyan and has been a professional painter for more than 30 years. (Oct. 30)

The Connecticut Post reports that Karen Xu ’22, a seasonal employee at Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown, painted a new tent outside the theater after the original tent was stolen last September. Xu received minimal instruction for the project. “The result is a colorful array of characters enjoying various forms of art. [The director] is very pleased with the outcome because it perfectly encapsulates what the place is all about.” (Oct. 28)

Khachig Tölölyan, professor emeritus of the College of Letters, discusses Vartan Matiossian’s The Politics of Naming the Armenian Genocide: Language, History and ‘Medz Yeghern, in The Armenian Weekly. The book, he says, “offers a matchless analysis of texts ranging from newspaper articles and books to 114 monuments and shows how diplomats seeking to evade the moral and legal consequences of fully acknowledging the genocide sought to use the Armenian term for shameful camouflage.” (Nov. 8)

Seth Redfield, professor of astronomy, is mentioned in Hamlet Hub for delivering a live-streamed discussion on Nov. 8 in connection with National STEM/STEAM Day. Housatonic Community College hosted STEAMFest 2021 with a theme of “Helping Everyone Reach For The Stars.” (Nov. 6)

Joseph Russo, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, is cited in The New York Post in an article about the Astroworld Festival Tragedy and conspiracy theories. (Nov. 9)

Yahoo! Life says to “forget the turkey— all the cool kids are celebrating Bugsgiving.” Wesleyan students will enjoy an insect-heavy holiday meal at a new event on campus: “Bugsgiving: A Celebration of Edible Insects,” occurring Nov. 20. The host, Wesleyan student Megan Levan ’22, is an entotarian. That means she doesn’t consume animal proteins—only insect protein. (Nov. 13)

Wesleyan’s new science center is featured in The Middletown Press. The science center will be made of stone and will use a quarter less energy than the current building. (Nov. 14)

A new collaboration between Wesleyan and Middletown Area Transit allows students to use their college ID cards to ride all local MAT and 9-Town Transit buses for free via the WesPass program, according to The Middletown Press. WesPass, a pilot program, “is designed to create an affordable and accessible platform for students to increase their use of local transit while reducing the university’s contribution to Connecticut state greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing that single-occupancy vehicles accounted for 38 percent of the state’s total emissions in 2017.” (Nov. 16)

Columbia Journalism Review mentions that the Collaborative on Media & Messaging for Health and Social Policy—a project that is affiliated with Wesleyan, the University of Minnesota, and Cornell University—has launched a new website. The collaborative is designed to help explore the question of how journalists can build healthy and equitable communities. (Nov. 9)