All News

Government Faculty, Recent Alumni, Co-Author Articles

Two Government Department faculty recently co-authored scholarly articles with recent Wesleyan undergraduates.

Chloe Rinehart ’14 and James McGuire, chair and professor of government, are the co-authors of “Obstacles to Takeup: Ecuador’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano,” published in World Development in September 2017.

Rinehart and McGuire examined factors that keep impoverished people from benefiting from the social assistance programs for which they are legally eligible. Taking the case of Ecuador’s Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH), a U.S. $50 monthly cash transfer to families in the poorest 40 percent of the income distribution, they used field research in Ecuador to identify potential obstacles to program takeup, and Ecuador’s 2013-14 Living Standards Measurement Survey to explore which of these potential obstacles were critical deterrents. The quantitative analysis of these survey data showed that compliance costs, like travel to enrollment and payment sites, and psychological costs, including stigma and distrust of government, each had a significant deterrent effect on BDH takeup. 

Preschoolers Trick-or-Treat on Campus

On Oct. 31, Wesleyan’s Neighborhood Preschool participated in the annual NPS Halloween Parade. The children, accompanied by their families and care-takers, stopped at Exley Science Center, Olin Library, South College and North College to trick-or-treat, sing songs and show off their costumes. Many trick-or-treaters are the children of Wesleyan faculty and staff. Wesleyan President Michael Roth and several staff from University Communications offered candy to the parade participants. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

C-CERT Explores Closed Butterfield Basement and Former Tunnel System

Jeff Sweet, associate director of facilities management, leads C-CERT members through Butterfield C's unique "tunnel" system as part of a training exercise. In the 1990’s, the tunnel system was closed and secured due to health and safety concerns.

Jeff Sweet, associate director of facilities management, leads C-CERT members through Butterfield C’s unique underground “tunnel” system as part of a training exercise to learn more about unknown areas of campus. In the 1990s, the basement level was closed and secured due to health and safety concerns.

On Oct. 17, Wesleyan’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) toured the basement level, or “tunnels” of the Butterfield complex. Built in 1965, the Butterfields encompassed 166,000 gross square feet in three separate dormitory buildings — A, B and C — which are connected by vibrant, graffiti-rich underground tunnels.

Through the years, the tunnels served as passageways to student residences, classrooms, administration offices, recreational areas, restrooms, laundry rooms, study areas, kitchenettes, mechanical areas, a mailroom, photographic darkrooms and even a kosher kitchen. Skateboarders marked the ground with safe paths, noting where to stop at blind corners. Artists, poets and writers used the tunnels’ walls as a concrete canvas for cartoons, prose, quotations, journals and messages.

Zeitlin ’04, Janvey ’06, Quinn ’05 Produce Brimstone and Glory Documentary

The documentary Brimstone and Glory, captures a sense of both danger and exultation in the weeklong festival in Tultepec, Mexico, where pyrotechnics are the major industry. The film is produced by film studies alumni Benh Zeitlin ’04, Dan Janvey ’06, Kellen Quinn ’05 and others.

Brimstone and Glory is the feature-length documentary produced by Benh Zeitlin ’04, Dan Janvey ’06, Kellen Quinn ’05 and others, on the annual festival in Tultepec, Mexico, where pyrotechnics are the major industry. The weeklong celebration honors San Juan de Dios, patron saint of firework makers, and celebrates the artisans who dedicate themselves to pyrotechnics. Directed by Viktor Jakovleski, and edited by Affonso Gonçalves, the film is scored by Benh Zeitlin and Dan Romer, the two who collaborated on the Beasts of the Southern Wild score.

Dubbed “Best Documentary Feature” at the San Francisco Film Festival, Brimstone and Glory opens in theaters this fall. In preparation, Quinn spoke about this collaboration in this Q&A:

Q: What was the genesis of this project?
A: Viktor, the director, was shown some photographs of the festival by an artist who had recently been there. He was amazed but completely baffled by the images of people “raving in the fire”, as he puts it. Sometime later, during a Berlin techno party, the crowds and sensory experience reminded him of one of the images. He recognized a connection between the collective effervescence of the techno scene that is a big part of his life and the ritualistic elements of what he had seen in those pictures of Tultepec. His initial idea was a short film, but after doing an exploratory first shoot, it became clear that there was something bigger and more ambitious to be made. Ultimately, the film shot over three consecutive festivals.

Q: And what brought you in?
A: In 2014 I was just beginning to move into producing and I was eager to work with friends. Dan Janvey told me about the project and it was immediately intriguing. Also, my mother grew up in Mexico and I spent a lot of time there as a child visiting my grandmother. I felt that working on a documentary in Mexico would offer a really meaningful way of reconnecting with the country.

Hallie Lecture Focuses on Ancient Greece and Beyond

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on "Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond." Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

On Oct. 25, the College of Letters welcomed Greek political philosophy expert Melissa Lane to campus to deliver the 24th annual Philip Hallie Lecture. Lane spoke on “Office and Accountability in Ancient Greece and Beyond.” Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where she is also director of the University Center for Human Values, and an associated faculty member in the Departments of Classics and of Philosophy. Previously she taught in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge, after receiving there an M.Phil. and PhD in philosophy.

Wesleyan to Offer Residency for Artists Impacted by 2017 Hurricanes

(by Andy Chatfield)

The Center for the Arts, in collaboration with the College of the Environment, invites an artist or artists from areas affected by the hurricane season of 2017 to campus for a short-term residency in April 2018. Artists working in all disciplines from Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands may propose a project that explores the evolving human relationship to water, and responds to the following questions:

  • How can the arts address and respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises wrought by climate change?
  • How do we redefine humankind’s evolving relationship to nature, specifically to water?
  • What role might the arts play in rebuilding after storms?

“Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts has a history of interdisciplinary programs, integrating the arts across campus,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “This new one-time residency in collaboration with the College of the Environment will have an impact not only on the artist selected for the residency but also allow the Wesleyan community to respond to the environmental and social impact of these natural disasters.”

“The arts allow us to explore issues in ways no other medium does,” said Sarah Curran, director of the Center for the Arts. “The arts have a unique responsibility to help us improve our communities and world where ever we can. In these times of rebuilding after crisis, the arts can play a critical role in community building, envisioning, and imagining how we rebuild, and what we want to become.”

Project Details:
The Center for the Arts seeks to engage an artist in a 7 to 14 day residency in April 2018 on Wesleyan’s campus. Artists may work in any performing arts or visual arts discipline (music, dance, theater, visual arts), or in a practice that crosses disciplines. Artists are invited to create a work that responds to hurricanes and their environmental and social impact. We invite projects that also address environmental issues such as climate change, disaster, and disruption. The proposed project must include an opportunity for the Wesleyan community to interact with the creation of and/or presentation of the work. The project budget includes a $10,000 artist fee and up to $5,000 for travel and materials.

Eligibility:
• Artist must have permanent residency in one of the states or U.S. territories most directly impacted by the hurricane season of 2017 (Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands). If a group of artists, the majority of the group must have residency as described above.
• Artist(s) must be available to travel to Middletown, Connecticut for a 7 to 14 day residency in April 2018 and be able to work within the budget outlined above.
• Artist(s) must be able to provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States.

Required Materials:
• Application form, including project description, resume, three references, and work samples submitted here.

Timeline:
Proposals are due at 11:59 p.m., Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Decisions will be announced no later than Dec. 15, 2017.
Residency is in April 2018 (dates to be determined in consultation with selected artist).

For additional information, contact Michelle Grove, interim associate director for programs.

“After seeing the scope of this year’s hurricane season, we thought this was a way that we could both address the needs of artists in those areas, while also deepen the conversation on campus about climate change on the human environment,” said Barry Chernoff, director of the College of the Environment, Robert Schumann Professor of Environmental Studies. Chernoff also is chair of the Environmental Studies Program, professor of biology, professor of earth and environmental sciences.

 

Roth Sees Growing Appreciation for Liberal Education in China

President Michael Roth recently returned from a trip to China and South Korea for a round of receptions, lectures, media interviews and visits with alumni. The trip provided an opportunity to both enhance Wesleyan’s visibility in these countries and to discuss the value of liberal learning, Wesleyan style.

In Shanghai, Roth met with business leaders to discuss liberal education’s role in preparing students for productive careers, and then spoke at a reception and book launch for the new Chinese edition of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. The reception was attended by more than 130 current parents, prospective students and press, and demand for the book outpaced supply.

Roth lectured at Shanghai International Studies University, an event attended by about 200 students, and at Peking University, where he also met with officials to discuss partnership activities such as faculty exchanges and summer student exchanges. He completed his stay in Beijing with a presidential reception, where he spoke to alumni, parents and prospective students about what students should get out of college.

“In China, I’ve found a deep and growing appreciation for liberal education,” Roth said. “Students posed many thoughtful questions that led to interesting exchanges. I’ve come away more convinced than ever that Wesleyan has much to offer Chinese students and that there are opportunities to develop some very beneficial partnerships.”

The trip concluded in Seoul with a reception and remarks, including the opportunity to meet with several South Korean alumni who have encouraged interest in Wesleyan among prospective students and college counselors.

duCille Delivers Slotkin Lecture on “Why Racial Representation Still Matters”

Ann duCille, professor of English, emerita, delivered the third annual Richard Slotkin Lecture in American Studies on "TV and the 'Thug Default': Why Racial Representation Still Matters" Oct. 26 in the Powell Family Cinema. Her new book, Technicolored: Reflections on Race in the Time of TV, from which her talk was drawn, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2018.

Ann duCille, professor of English, emerita, delivered the third annual Richard Slotkin Lecture in American Studies on “TV and the ‘Thug Default’: Why Racial Representation Still Matters” Oct. 26 in the Powell Family Cinema. Her new book, Technicolored: Reflections on Race in the Time of TV, from which her talk was drawn, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2018. DuCille was the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the Humanities at Wesleyan from 1999-2005 and has chaired both the African American Studies Program and the English Department and also directed the Center for African American Studies.

First Things First Introduces First-Generation Students to Wesleyan, Each Other

The first cohort of students to complete the First Things First pre-orientation program in fall 2016.

The first cohort of students to complete the First Things First pre-orientation program in fall 2016.

As a first-generation college student from Scottsdale, Ariz., Caroline Liu ’18 is always aware of the many “nuanced and small ways in which my life experience differs from my peers.” These differences can be especially visible and discouraging during high-stress moments in the semester.

For example, she said, students often talk about having their parents read over their school work.

“As a first-generation American and low-income student, I don’t have the privilege to discuss any of my academics with my parents, much less have them check over my more theoretical work. They neither have the English language capacity nor the time, between working multiple jobs, for me to even consider them as a resource in that way,” said Liu, who is double majoring in computer science and feminist, gender and sexuality studies. While searching for internships and jobs, Liu is also not able to rely on her parents for assistance with reviewing resumes and cover letters, and providing references and connections to job opportunities.

WNYC’s Walker ’79 P’21 at Werk It: ‘Lean In to Podcasting’

Speaking at the third annual Werk It Festival, Laura Walker ’79, president and CEO of New York Public Radio and creator of the festival, said, “What drives Werk It is the premise that more women can play bigger roles in the podcasting movement…. Women needed to be inspired and have the confidence to lean in. You’ve brought your superpowers and your vulnerabilities…”  Walker also will be a featured speaker at a WESeminar on campus for Homecoming/Family Weekend on Saturday, Nov. 4. (Photo by Gina Clyne)

Laura R. Walker ’79, P’21, president and CEO of New York Public Radio (NYPR), has an agenda: She wants at least half of the podcasts produced to be hosted or co-hosted by women. “We’re making progress,” she reported at Werk It 2017, an annual festival she helped to create in 2015 to give women the tools they need to become creative forces in podcasting.

Walker came up with the idea after she’d read a report on this new medium and discovered that of the top 100 podcasts on iTunes, only 20 percent were hosted or co-hosted by a woman.

“Podcasting was headed in the same direction as every other entertainment medium—flooded with men….the gender dynamics were the same old story,” she told the attendees at the this year’s festival, recounting its history. And after a conversation on those findings with Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Walker originated the first Werk It Festival, a gathering of women with the goal of creating a paradigm shift. The festival offers the tools of entrepreneurship, production, and broadcasting—and the confidence that comes with knowledge—in a women-helping-women model.

Now dubbed “The Woman Working to Make Podcasting More Diverse,” by Fast Company, Walker reported to this year’s festival that the most popular podcasts on iTunes are now nearly 35 percent women-hosted—and of those originating at her home station, WNYC, nine out of the 20 podcasts, or 45 percent, are created by women. “In podcasting, everyone in this room can create your own characters, tell your own stories. We don’t have to be relegated to fitting ourselves into the roles that a group of male decision makers deems to be appropriate, sellable or allowable,” she told the crowd.

Held this year in Los Angeles, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel with 600 attendees (last year’s festival in New York welcomed only 100), Werk It 2017 featured a number of notable participants including  Death, Sex & Money‘s Anna Sale, Note to Self’s Manoush Zomorodi, and Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa, as well as Nina Jacobson (producer of The Hunger Games), EMMY award-winning actress Lena Waithe, Recode’s Kara Swisher, TV producer Ilene Chaiken, and podcasters Ester Perel, Nigel Poor, Nora McInerny, and Kelly Mcevers. Many of the sessions are available as podcasts at no cost on a site hosted by WNYC Studios.

Note: Walker will be on the Wesleyan campus for Homecoming/Family Weekend, speaking on “Journalism in The Trump Era: Public Media’s Role as a Trusted News Source and Convener of Public Discourse” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, in a WESeminar to celebrate Wesleyan’s Koeppel Journalism Fellows. Anne Greene, University Professor of English and director of Wesleyan’s Writing Certificate, will serve as moderator. Walker holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA in history, magna cum laude, from Wesleyan University, where she was an Olin Scholar.

Follow Laura Walker on Twitter: @lwalker; WNYC Studios: @WNYCStudios

And listen to her Careers by Design podcast interview, “Encore: Don’t be Scared by Ambiguity,” hosted by Sharon Belden Castonguay, director of Wesleyan’s Gordon Career Center.

In this 2016 conversation, Walker told Castonguay: “For me a lot of the fun of it, and the challenge of it, and the kind of stuff I love to do, is the mix of the creative and the business… I think that actually started at Wesleyan… There’s something about seeing connections and drawing them and reveling in them…and not being scared by the ambiguity, but being challenged by it.”

‘Very Fortunate’ Handler ’92 Featured on PBS Series Articulate

Daniel Handler ’92, featured in the PBS series Articulate, believes that children fare better by hearing the truth—rather than a sugarcoated explanation—about life’s difficult situations. (Photo by Meredith Heuer)

Author Daniel Handler ’92 enjoys a prolific career as a celebrated novelist, best known for using the pseudonym Lemony Snicket to publish A Series of Unfortunate Events. This 13-book series about three orphaned children and their increasingly tumultuous lives—which has been adapted for film, video games and, most recently, a Netflix series—established Handler as an appealingly sinister storyteller, a writer with a penchant for narratives without happy endings. The first episode of Articulate on PBS delves into some of Handler’s inspirations and how he came to develop his dark approach to children’s writing.

In the clip, titled “The Very Fortunate Daniel Handler,” he points out that one goal of his writing is to create worlds more exciting than the one we are offered. But while his stories teeter on the absurd and fantastical, they largely operate by exploring the tragic realities of the world we already inhabit—the kind of grim truths that children are already catching onto and, Handler argues, deserve to have addressed. As a young kid, with a father who had escaped Nazi Germany and a family that discussed war as a standard topic of conversation, it was made clear that the human experience could be dark and disastrous. A reflection of his upbringing, Handler refuses to sugarcoat misfortune or grief for his readers, regardless of their age.

Wesleyan Film Outreach Volunteers Teach Local Youth about Filmmaking

Luisa Bryan ’21 helps fourth-grader Justin and third-grader Franchesca film a short movie as part of a class taught by Wesleyan Film Outreach.

Sarah Lucente '21 works with MacDonough students Isaiah and Violet on how to operate the videocamera.

Sarah Lucente ’21 watches Isaiah direct a scene.

“Press this button and say, ‘Action!'” Sarah Lucente ’21 explains to third-grader Isaiah as he intently peers into a videocamera’s viewfinder. “Think about this scene. Think about doing a closeup.”

Isaiah is one of 10 area youth learning about filmmaking though Wesleyan Film Outreach, a program that provides school-aged children with the skills to write, film, direct and edit themselves.

The class is taught by Wesleyan students as part of the YMCA’s Kids’ Korner, an after-school enrichment program held at MacDonough Elementary School in Middletown.

Stephen Collins ’96, associate professor of film studies, teaches the community-engagement class for two hours every Tuesday with Film Outreach volunteers Lucente, Caris Yeoman ’21, Luisa Bryan ’21 and Nick Catrambone ’21.

Collins modeled the class after a pilot he ran in 2016 at MacDonough with his youngest daughter’s fourth grade class.

“Having two kids in the public school system, I see how starved they are for arts education,” Collins says.