Steve Scarpa

67-Year-Old Time Capsule Discovered during PAC Renovation

time capsule

Amanda Nelson, university archivist at Olin Library’s Special Collections and Archives, prepares to open a time capsule discovered this month during the Public Affairs Center renovation.

The ongoing demolition of the 1954 wing of the Public Affairs Center (PAC) yielded a touch of history on Sept. 17 when crews unearthed a time capsule sealed into the concrete entry slab on the east side of the building.

A demolition contractor found a partially damaged copper box that had been encased in concrete. The outside of the box was green and brown with oxidation and dirt, but the inside retained its original bright sheen and color. This particular contractor had seen time capsules on other building projects and knew what he was dealing with.

“The Language in Common” on Exhibit in Zilkha Gallery

Unspun wool. Silver-spray painted stones. A worn leather suit. Sketches from an iPad. A video of children studying.

Each object offers its own narrative. Set again the viewers’ assumptions and impressions, a whole new set of meanings are created.

A new art exhibition titled “The Language in Common,” curated by Benjamin Chaffee, associate director of visual arts, attempts to offer more questions than answers.

The exhibition, featuring installation, sculpture, video, sound, drawing, poetry and performance, brings together five international and intergenerational artists, including Cecilia Vicuña, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Julien Creuzet, Jasper Marsalis, and Alice Notley. It opened to the public Sept. 14 and will be on display through Dec. 12.

Kleinberg Authors New Book on Levinas’ Cultural Legacy

The first time Ethan Kleinberg, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of History and Letters, immersed himself in the world of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas 20 years ago, he wrote a book.

“It was written as a traditional intellectual history and I found that what that I had done was to completely deactivate the aspects of Levinas’ thought where he believes that there are ethical guidelines that come to us from outside our own history, these transcendent ethical guidelines puncture any historical or contextual moment,” Kleinberg said.

He didn’t like what he’d written, so he took an unprecedented step—he tore it up and started over again over a decade later.

Kleinberg’s new take on Levinas’ cultural legacy, Emmanuel Levinas’s Talmudic Turn: Philosophy and Jewish Thought will be published this October in the Cultural Memory in the Present Series from Stanford University Press. Using a series of Levinas’ lectures on the Torah and the Talmud as the touchpoints, Kleinberg has crafted an exploration of his thinking that encompasses aspects of Western philosophy, French Enlightenment universalism, and the Lithuanian Talmudic tradition.

Levinas, a man of strong convictions and a sense of humor, was born in 1906 in present-day Lithuania. Levinas was the among the first to bring philosopher Martin Heidegger’s work to France, and later wrestled with the German’s turn toward Nazism.

Levinas became a French citizen in 1930 and served in the French military during World War II. He was captured in 1940 and spend the remainder of the war in a German prison camp. He was insulated from the Holocaust because of his status as a prisoner of war. Levinas held a relatively protected position despite his religion. His family in Lithuania did not, and were murdered by the Nazis.

Ethan Kleinberg

Ethan Kleinberg

While a prisoner, Levinas turned to sacred Jewish texts, which prompted an evolution in his thinking. Initially, a philosopher associated with the existentialists, his experience during the war led him to focus on what he called “being-Jewish.” He chronicled his thoughts in a series of notebooks, which were recently published.

Student-Athletes Return to Regular Play Following 2-Year Hiatus

Three hundred spectators watched Wesleyan beat Emerson in men’s soccer 2-0 on Sept. 7, the first game in the fall sports season.

The men’s soccer team celebrated a winning 2-0 victory over Emerson College on Sept. 7. This was the first game in the fall sports season. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

Rob Borman, Wesleyan’s grounds manager, watched as Wesleyan and Emerson’s soccer teams went through warmups on a beautiful late summer day.

It was warm and the sun shined as the players went through passing drills and stretched on the perfect turf. Emerson’s players shouted through their drills. Wesleyan’s goalies bounded from side to side as they practiced knocking away shots on goal.

Borman, though, wasn’t looking at the players. He was checking out his brand-new field, installed in May. “That is 100 percent Kentucky bluegrass,” he said. “The ball should roll awesome.”

For the first time in two years, Jackson Field was alive.

Three hundred spectators watched Wesleyan beat Emerson in men’s soccer 2-0 on Sept. 7, the first game in the fall sports season. In a full sports week, Wesleyan’s women’s soccer team defeated Keene State 7-0 and the women’s field hockey squad downed Western New England 6-1.

Ethan Barrett ’24

Ethan Barrett ’24

You would never know that the Cardinals had almost two full years off because of the global pandemic.

“It felt great. It was about 600 days since the last time we played, so sophomores and first years were extremely excited to get out there,” said Ethan Barrett ’24, a member of the men’s soccer team. “This is the thing we were talking about. This is the thing we were dreaming about, to get on this field.”

New Students Arrive at Wesleyan Full of Hope (with Video, Photos)


Wet weather couldn’t dampen the feelings of excitement, anticipation and, above all, hope that abounded on Wesleyan University’s new student Arrival Day.

Over 900 students in the Class of 2025 – the second largest in Wesleyan’s history – as well as transfer students and students who deferred admission, moved in Wednesday morning. Many of this diverse group of young people from across the country and the globe navigated their entire application process through the complications of a global pandemic, demonstrating resilience in addition to intellectual and social acumen.

On this rainy morning, harnessing and shaping all of that nascent energy is a task for the future. As they moved into their dorms and said goodbye to their parents, the students’ minds were on new beginnings and, perhaps above all else, finding lasting friendships.

As she directed students to Clark Hall Wednesday morning, Anna Nguyen ’22 remembered her own Arrival Day three years ago.

Nguyen, an international student, had come to campus a few days before everyone else. “I remembered that I was alone, arriving at 8 p.m. But everyone was welcoming right away,” said Nguyen, who is now the Wesleyan Student Assembly president and works for the Office of Residential Life.

She called out to students walking toward their new home. “Welcome to Wesleyan,” she said. “Now I get to be that person,” Nguyen said.

Cars started pulling onto Andrus Field early in the morning. By 8:45 a.m. parents and students started the process of unloading. Current students helped parents wheel bins of necessities into the students’ dorm rooms—one mom had a plastic container of homemade cookies carefully perched on her kid’s boxes. The first rainy Arrival Day in over a decade was filled with anxious energy.

Pennsylvania resident Xzavier Pacheco ’25 felt good on his first day — he wasn’t nervous, at least not that he would say. He was excited to explore the freedom being at school offers and hoped that majoring in archaeology would feed his love of travel and history. “I just thought Wesleyan would be a good fit for me,” he said.

New Play Revisits 1971 Attica Prison Riot

incarcerated stories

Artwork by Ojore Lutalo, which is inspired by the Attica Prison Riot of 1971, will be on exhibition later this month in Zilkha Gallery as part of “Remembering Attica: Legacy of a Prison Revolt,” a series of events commemorating Attica’s 50th anniversary.

Edward Torres, an assistant professor of the practice in theater, can’t help but be moved when he performs the words of L.D. Barkley, a prisoner who played an important role during the 1971 Attica Prison riot, raising morale for incarcerated men protesting their mistreatment. 

“We are men! We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such,” Barkley said in 1971 shortly before he was killed by police. 

For Torres, the most devastating part of performing the new play Echoes of Attica is to know that every word is real.

“This is a piece of history I am reliving,” Torres said. “It comes alive on the page because of that. It’s very powerful. The emotion is all there in the words, so you don’t have to overdo it.” 

The play, written and directed by Professor of Theater Ronald Jenkins, will be performed at 3 p.m., Sunday, September 12 in the Ring Family Performing Arts Hall at Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts. Admission is free for Wesleyan students, faculty, and staff. 

Rap poet and activist BL Shirelle will be performing new music she wrote for the play “Echoes of Attica.”

Rap poet and activist BL Shirelle will be performing new music she wrote for the play “Echoes of Attica.”

The cast features the formerly incarcerated actors and musicians Darío Peña, BL Shirelle, Naomi Wilson, and Crystal Walker, who all take on multiple roles in the play. 

This event is part of “Remembering Attica: Legacy of a Prison Revolt,” a series of events commemorating the Attica anniversary, including lectures, films, and “Behind Enemy Lines: The Prison Art of Ojore Lutalo,” an exhibition of prison protest art by Ojore Lutalo, in the South Gallery of the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. The exhibition will be on display on campus from Tuesday, September 21 through Sunday, October 17. Lutalo will give an artist talk at the opening of the exhibition at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21.

In September 1971, 2,200 prisoners took over the state prison at Attica, New York, demanding better living conditions and political rights, holding 42 staff members hostage. Negotiations with prison officials broke down and the state police took back the prison by force. Forty-three people were killed in the riot, the vast majority by the police. 

Jenkins, who has facilitated theater workshops in Italy, Indonesia, and the United States for over a decade, saw the potential in the story after listening to Attica survivors speak about their experiences. Working with the cast and hearing their personal stories of police abuse, medical mistreatment, and general degradation at the hands of authorities, offering an added dimension to the script.

Peña spoke of being thrown down the stairs and having his ribs broken. Shirelle talked about being beaten. Wilson never thought she’d survive prison and rewrote her obituary fifteen times. There is nothing theoretical in their rehearsal conversations. 

Jenkins believes that the heart of the play rests with the music. Gospel songs performed by Wilson and rap music written by Shirelle provide an important piece of the story’s emotional journey. “The songs come from a place of sincerity,” Shirelle told a preview performance audience. “They are real. I spent ten years in prison and when I wrote the song about medical mistreatment in prison, it was easy because I had seen it all so many times.” 

In addition to the emotional truths unearthed by the actors, there are the literal truths found in the script. Jenkins crafted the play using thousands of pages of reports, FBI files, and interviewing survivors of the prison. The records are poignant, disturbing and, in some instances, just absurd. (Jenkins points to a conversation where President Richard Nixon congratulated New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller for his good work on handling the riot despite the deaths of innocent people.)

While the play might explore the past, the ills of the present are never far away.

“It’s important to remember that Attica is not just about the past. Attica is about the present, the things that are happening right now, things that are being done every day in the criminal justice system,” Jenkins said. “It helps us understand the origins of the violence that the state commits against communities of color.”

The play will be published in Spring 2022 by MIT Press in Performing Arts Journal. 

The performance is supported at Wesleyan by the African American Studies Program, the Film Studies Department, the Theater Department, the Art Studio Program of the Art and Art History Department, the Music Department, the Center for the Arts, the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, the History Department, the Science in Society Program, the Center for Pedagogical Innovation, the Provost’s Committee on Equity and Diversity, and the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life.

Aksamija Helps Porticos of Bologna be Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Porticos in Piazza Santo Stefano

Porticos in Piazza Santo Stefano. (Photo by Francesco Ceccarelli)

Associate Professor of Art History Nadja Aksamija got her first glimpse of Bologna, Italy back in 2004 as she walked from the train station towards the historic city center. It was a hot day and she dragged her suitcase down the sidewalk. 

Crossing Piazza Maggiore, Aksamija stepped into the shade of Palazzo dei Banchi, experiencing for the first time the city’s breathtaking porticos – extensions from the upper levels of structures that create about 37 miles of covered walkways alongside city streets. 

“I remember thinking that this was incredible,” Aksamija said. “It felt like a changing landscape.”

While the porticos create surface uniformity to the streetscape, closer examination reveals a constantly shifting environment. The gorgeous columns vary as you walk underneath. The light changes. The floor heights shift. Life teems underneath the porticos, with shops, cafes and bars, and live music giving the space character and dimension. Aksamija thought it was a fascinating hybrid between a city square and someone’s living room.

Wesleyan Facilities, Custodial Staff Celebrated through Performance

Rivera and Porquillo worked together, wiping down tables and vacuuming floors. They began with just introducing themselves

Last spring, Tamara Rivera ’21 job shadowed SMG employee Maria Porquillo, who has worked for more than two decades at Olin Library. Once a week, Rivera met Porquillo at the library to observe her movements and rhythms, and ultimately choreographed a piece for Porquillo to perform on stage. This fall, students will participate in a similar multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks.”

Every day the workers of Wesleyan’s facilities staff labor to keep the University going in the most fundamental ways. Their work can often be invisible but without properly ventilated performance spaces, clean laboratories, and functional classrooms, just to give a few examples, the University would grind to a halt.

An upcoming multidisciplinary dance project titled “WesWorks” takes the rituals and movements of their days and creates choreography that transforms the ordinary, mundane, and skillful movements of work into a performance accompanied by live, original music and stories told in the workers’ voices. The performance will take place outdoors on Andrus Field in mid-October.

“I hope the community leaves with an elevated understanding of what our staff does. This is a celebration of our employees and a recognition of a workforce that’s often not recognized,” said Jennifer Calienes, interim director of Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts.

“Wesworks” builds on seven years of Forklift Danceworks’ engagement with Wesleyan through the College of the Environment and the Center for the Arts and was developed through a series of residencies and intensive course collaborations over the past year and a half.  During the Spring 2021 semester, students job shadowed facilities workers, learning just what it took to the keep the campus running smoothly.

Mikaela Marcotullio ’23 job shadowed SMG employee Lloyd Jones in Usdan University Center.

This fall, Allison Orr, the choreographer and artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, distinguished fellow in the College of Environment, will teach her ENVS376 course—The Artist in the Community: Civic Engagement and Collaborative Dancemaking from which students will learn techniques of community art practice and help develop and support the “WesWorks” performance.

Wesleyan’s Englehart ’69 Makes Life in Comics

Steve Englehart ’69

It’s Spring 1966. Steve Englehart, a first-year Wesleyan student, is hanging around his dorm when one of his floormates thrusts a copy of Spider-Man at him saying, “You have to read this. This is great.”

Like many students his age at that time, Englehart read comic books as a child but thought that he’d grown out of them. They were considered “downmarket”—a lot of them weren’t particularly good.

Englehart read it through in one shot and sensed something very different than the wooden characters and corny storylines he encountered as a kid. Marvel had gone through a renaissance in the 1960s, embracing newfound depth and complexity in its storytelling. “I loved what (Spider-Man creator) Stan Lee was doing, the irreverence and the world-building with all of the characters interacting with each other,” he said.

The seeds for an unusual career path were being planted.

Englehart ’69 Creator of Newest Marvel Movie Hero

Shang-Chi

After nearly 50 years, Steve Englehart ’69 will see one of his original Marvel characters make its big-screen debut this fall. Englehart’s creation, martial arts master Shang-Chi, is the lead character of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” starring Simu Liu, perhaps best known for his work in the Canadian comedy “Kim’s Convenience.” The film debuted Aug. 15 in Los Angeles and will be released nationwide on Sept. 3.

Although Englehart was not involved in the movie production, he sees core elements of the backstory he created in the trailer for the upcoming film. In Englehart’s original story Shang-Chi is raised to be a premier martial artist and believes his father is a benevolent humanitarian. He discovers, however, that his father is in reality an international criminal (in early iterations his father was the fictional villain Fu Manchu). Shang-Chi commits to put an end to his father’s nefarious work.

“My bottom line is that if you take one of my stories and you treat it with respect, if you kind of go with what’s there, then you can make all sorts of changes along with the way and that’s okay by me because I understand it is a different medium, a different time,” he said.

New Access-to-Justice Class Helps Students Enact Changes in Civil Law

In-person members of Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark’s access-to-justice course, with class mascot Smudge the corgi in the arms of the course’s community partner liaison, Zach Zarnow of the National Center for State Courts. Photo courtesy of Armando Alvarez.

Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark’s aspiring law students arrived at her new service-learning class with a typical set of assumptions about how American courts work: Lawyers do most of the talking, decisions by the Supreme Court are followed to a tee by lower courts, and people who have legal problems tend to resolve them.

However, most individuals’ interactions with the law come through small civil actions—lawsuits, traffic court, and evictions, for example. For many people who live in low-income neighborhoods, not only is finding legal assistance difficult, but when they do access the law, often representing themselves in court, it might make their problem worse.

Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark

Alyx Mark

Thanks to Mark’s new access-to-justice course, offered last spring and planned for every two years, Wesleyan students got a new perspective and a chance to help enact real change. “Wesleyan has a lot to offer to the local community, as well as more globally. We have these entrepreneurial, enthusiastic, and sharp students who want to do good things in the world. So, it’s not a hard sell to go to a community partner and say, ‘Do you want a team of researchers to help you solve this problem?’” Mark said.

After a year of planning, Mark partnered with a civil justice funder, a national civil justice advocacy organization, and a local provider of legal services to offer students practical opportunities to wrestle with systemic issues. Mark also recruited a subject-matter expert, Zach Zarnow of the National Center for State Courts, to provide students with a practitioner’s perspective in their weekly meetings. Mark published her thoughts on the project recently in ABA Journal.

“The community partners articulated what they needed, like a wish list of different types of projects that will help them advance their work. What was nice about the projects is that they all required a different set of research skills,” Mark said. “The community partners loved talking to the students.”

Ospina Explores the Struggle of Searching for Community in New Book

María Ospina, associate professor of Spanish

María Ospina, associate professor of Spanish, recently authored a book of short stories titled Variations on the Body. (Photo by Simon Parra)

María Ospina, associate professor of Spanish, believes that writing fiction is another powerful way to engage the subjects that have driven her academic work—memory, violence, and culture.

“Right now, I think that this is the way that I am going to continue exploring intellectual issues that interest me, including those related to history and politics,” said Ospina, who previously published a book of cultural criticism.

Her debut book of short stories, Variations on the Body, has been translated into English from Spanish by Heather Cleary and was published in the United States in July by Coffee House Press. The book (Azares del Cuerpo) had been previously published in Colombia (where is it already in its third edition), Chile, Spain, and Italy, receiving raves from critics.

In six loosely connected stories, Ospina, who was born in Bogotá and is also associate professor of Latin American studies, follows women and girls from different parts of Colombian society. Through meticulous prose, characters struggle with searching for a community after migrating and with the marks that that voyage leaves on the body. It’s a book filled with tactile imagery and almost a journalistic approach in how it documents the lives of its characters.