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Jeff HarderMay 22, 202414min
When John Bonin first joined Wesleyan’s Department of Economics in 1970, he discovered a down-to-earth leader in President Colin Campbell, and an academic culture that was comparatively unusual. “I learned quickly that faculty at Wesleyan were encouraged to speak out and assert agency unlike what my contemporaries at other institutions were experiencing,” Bonin said. On May 26, Wesleyan’s retiring faculty members—Bonin, Chester D. Hubbard Professor of Economics and Social Science; Bernardo Antonio Gonzalez, professor of Spanish; and Jeffrey Schiff, professor of art—will receive emeritus status at the University’s 192nd Commencement Ceremony. Ahead of the occasion, Bonin, Gonzalez, and Schiff reflected…

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Jeff HarderMay 2, 20246min
To be clear: if you’re a parent worried about what your child is reading, Darin Iraj ’24 doesn’t have a problem with you taking their book away. “Every parent should have the ability to decide for their own child,” says Iraj, an education studies and government double major. “If you don’t want your kid to read a book, you’re losing out, but that’s fine.” However, that’s not what the recent waves of book bans in American public schools are about. As Iraj presents in his thesis "School's Not the Place for The Books: A Case Study of the Politics Behind…

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Jeff HarderApril 16, 20246min
The word “liberalism” is a tricky thing. As The New Yorker magazine staff writer Adam Gopnik discovered while promoting his 2019 book A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, its variants carry different political baggage from one Western country to the next. Its breadth renders it ideologically elusive, encompassing societies with social democracies, free markets, and shades of grey. Lately, its survival has come into question even in places where its future once seemed assured. But last Thursday in front of a near-capacity audience at the Frank Center for Public Affairs, Gopnik spoke passionately of liberalism’s origins, what…

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Jeff HarderFebruary 21, 20245min
Earlier this year Tracie Potts, a former NBC correspondent and local media expert, paid a casual visit to the Maryland State House and heard a member of the legislature say something jarring: despite thousands of bills working their way toward becoming laws, you’ll rarely find a reporter covering what’s happening in the chambers at the capitol. “These are decisions that are being made for us every day,” Potts said, “and here’s an elected member of a state legislature saying, ‘Nobody’s covering us.’” Potts joined a panel of experts from across the media landscape as part of Wesleyan’s Democracy in Action…

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Jeff HarderOctober 25, 20236min
Some trudge, others sprint. Some materialize from otherworldly forces, others from infectious diseases. Some want flesh, others have a more specific taste for brains. Whatever their individual differences, we know zombies when we see them. And from 1932’s White Zombie to 2023’s The Last of Us, we’ve seen these charismatic, cannibalistic humanoids on the screen a lot through the generations. Off-screen, they’ve seeped into our language. (In the business world, a “zombie” lumbers on the edge of insolvency.) And more broadly, as suggested by a recent conspiracy theory that testing the nation’s emergency broadcast system would trigger an outbreak of ghouls,…

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Jeff HarderOctober 19, 20239min
The Center for the Study of Guns and Society at Wesleyan brought together historians, museum curators, legal scholars, journalists, filmmakers, and other subject-matter experts for the Center’s second-annual flagship conference, Current Perspectives on the History of Guns and Society, which took place October 13-14. Through panel discussions, a film screening, and other sessions, the conference shed fresh light on the ever-expanding role of history in America’s contemporary gun discourse. [See photos from the event.] “How have the uses and meanings of guns changed over time?” asked Jennifer Tucker, professor of history and the Center’s founding director. “How does historical knowledge…

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Jeff HarderAugust 25, 20236min
When Wesleyan’s crew teams journeyed to New Jersey at the end of last season, each found something a little different, meteorologically speaking. At Cooper River on Memorial Day weekend, the women’s squad rowed in near-ideal conditions and water still as glass. By the time the men’s team plunged oars into Mercer Lake a week later, an abundance of wind had replaced race-postponing heat. Weather notwithstanding, both Wesleyan contingents finished the season in the same fashion: by racing a few thousand meters and landing in the record books. The men’s first varsity eight and second varsity eight teams each secured runner-up…

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Jeff HarderJune 7, 20235min
In the last semester of the 1960s—a decade that’s since become a shorthand for a longer era of social, political, and cultural change—385 undergraduates comprising the Class of 1973 matriculated into Wesleyan. Among them were 50 Black and Latinx students, more than double the number of students of color admitted to comparable institutions. Months later in a January 1970 cover story, the New York Times Sunday Magazine chronicled the University’s strides in those early years of affirmative action in higher education with what some say was an undue dose of derision. “We, the Black, white, Latino, Asian, and women alums,…

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Jeff HarderMay 17, 20238min
Every month in the US, roughly 70 women are shot and killed by their partners. Yet in February 2023, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1994 law banning firearms possession for people subject to domestic violence protection orders, part of a wave of lower-court challenges to gun regulations following the Supreme Court’s pivotal 2022 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. With that background, the Center for the Study of Guns and Society at Wesleyan convened historians, legal scholars, and gun violence prevention experts for a symposium, “Lessons from History on Domestic Violence, Firearms,…

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Jeff HarderApril 17, 20237min
On August 6, 1945, Toshiko Tanaka was a six-year-old on her way to school in Hiroshima, Japan, when, at 8:15 a.m., she looked up and watched the sky overhead turn blinding white. Tanaka didn’t talk about what happened next for more than 60 years: the burns that rendered her unrecognizable to her own mother, the corpses on the city’s riverbanks, the illnesses that struck down seemingly uninjured survivors, and the once-unimaginable devastation made real after the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima—the first of two times nuclear weapons have been used in conflict—near the close of World War II.…

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Jeff HarderJanuary 31, 20237min
Poet, author, activist, and educator Mahogany L. Browne is having a moment. The stage adaptation of her acclaimed young adult novel Chlorine Sky premieres this month at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater. She’s finishing up a “poetic orchestral” performance she expects to unveil this spring at Wesleyan, where she’s deep into a stint with the inaugural group of Shapiro-Silverberg Distinguished Writers in Residence. And next week, Chrome Valley—the latest collection of verse from Browne, the first-ever poet-in-residence at New York’s Lincoln Center—was published by W.W. Norton & Company. Here, Browne offers insights into her work, creative process, and bringing a sense of…

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Jeff HarderJanuary 11, 20232min
On stage at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards on Tuesday night, Mike White ’92 gently ribbed the A-listers in attendance who’d turned down parts on The White Lotus. “I know you all passed—you all passed on this show,” White said to a chuckling audience. “So, yes, it’s very gratifying to have this moment.” It was a banner evening for White and The White Lotus, the acclaimed HBO dark comedy-drama about dysfunctional leisure-seekers on rapidly unraveling luxury vacations that he created, wrote, and directed. Cast by Meredith Tucker ’92, the second installment of the series received four 2023 Golden Globe nominations…