Wesleyan in the News: February 2024

Mike MavredakisFebruary 14, 202413min
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Elizabeth Bobrick, visiting scholar in classical studies, wrote a piece for Salon on the parallels between Athenian playwright Sophocles’ “Antigone” and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initial refusal to let the country’s public mourn the death of political enemy Alexei Navalny or his family hold a public funeral. “Navalny’s mother and widow join Antigone in prodding us to remember that the treatment of the dead has consequences for the living—not for Putin, necessarily, but for everyone who gets in his way,” Bobrick wrote. 

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth ’78 appeared on WNPR’s “Disrupted” on Feb. 7 to talk about his role as a university administrator and providing safe enough spaces for students. He appeared alongside a First Amendment expert and current college students from Connecticut. The show is co-hosted by Khalilah Brown-Dean who spoke at the Democracy in Action convening on Feb. 17. 

Roth joined “The Syllabus” podcast with Mark Oppenheimer to discuss the history of the student, legacy admissions, academics and college athletics, artificial intelligence, plagiarism in academia.  

Wesleyan alumni Andrew VanWyngarden ’05 and Ben Goldwasser ’05 of the psych-rock duo MGMT did a Q&A with Billboard about their recent album Loss of Life which debuts on Feb. 23. This is the duo’s fifth album since they formed at Wesleyan and first since they switched labels to Mom + Pop, where they were recruited in part due to a connection with another Wesleyan alumnus who works at the label.  

Flood Magazine profiled the musical connection of Goldwasser and VanWyngarden of MGMT following the release of their fifth studio album Loss of Life. The duo said that they have different music tastes but eventually get on the same page through experimentation, and once they do, the music comes together quickly. “Loss of Life feels more optimistic, in a way—more than we’ve ever felt putting out a record,” Goldwasser said. 

MGMT was also interviewed by People for a piece on their collaboration with Chris from Christine and the Queens for the song “Dancing in Babylon,” an ‘80’s inspired power ballad on Loss of Life. 

Through the lens of their original hits “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” American Songwriter profiled MGMT’s emergence into the music landscape. 

Andrew Curran, William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities, appeared on C-SPAN’s “After Words” on Feb. 12 to talk about how the concept of race emerged during the enlightenment period of the 18th century. Curran edited “Who’s Black and Why,” a hidden chapter of the 18th century invention of race, alongside Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 

Meredith Hughes, associate professor of astronomy, spoke with Knowable Magazine for a piece on the discovery of an interstellar object found in 2017 and how it may lead to clues about other exoplanets. 

Professor of History Jennifer Tucker wrote about the conviction of a woman whose son carried out a lethal school shooting in Michigan in 2021 for a piece for CNN. Tucker is an expert on guns in the United States and is the founding director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Study of Guns and Society. 

Charles Barber, associate professor of the practice in Letters, wrote “In the Blood: The Untold Story of the Life-Saving Invention of QuikClot,” a book about the inventors of a blood-clotting compound and the multi-year battle to get it in the hands of the U.S. Military. An excerpt from his book was published in the February issue of Leatherneck Magazine, a Marine Corps. monthly publication. 

The second episode of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing and Criticism’s podcast “The Critic and Her Publics,” hosted by Shapiro-Silverberg University Professor of Creative Writing and Criticism Merve Emre, was released on Feb. 12. The episode features Sophie Pinkham, a journalist, critic, and professor at Cornell University, on Russian poets. Emre also joined the “Intelligence Squared” podcast for a conversation on feminist writing over the last six centuries. 

Peter Rutland, professor of government, wrote about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict and Soviet-era tactics for The Conversation. “Putin’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict feeds into a narrative of using antisemitism to disparage perceived enemies and defend Russian actions,” Rutland wrote.

Rutland also wrote a piece for Transitions fact-checking an interview between Putin and former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson on Feb. 6—the first interview Putin has done with an American journalist since 2021.

Rutland wrote about Navalny’s death and the logic of martyrdom for Transitions on Feb. 19.The tragic death of Alexei Navalny on 16 February is shockingbut not unexpected. It is but the latest in a long line of ruthless acts by Vladimir Putin intended to eliminate any hint of political opposition and to intimidate the Russian public into obedience,” Rutland wrote. 

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, professor of American studies, was named to the American Studies Association’s Distinguished Speakers’ Bureau—a community of scholars engaged in original research on a variety of disciplines around U.S. culture and history.

The New Yorker highlighted “Job” by playwright Max Wolf Friedlich ’17 in its “About Town” section on Feb. 2. The fast-paced, “funny,” “engrossing and disturbing” play will run at the Connelly Theatre through March 3. 

The Grammy Awards introduced a category, “Best African Music Performance,” the first time it has had a category dedicated to African music in its 65-year history. Professor of Music Eric Charry outlined the history of how the Grammy’s have acknowledged international music over time in a piece for The Conversation.