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Arkin ’82 to Livestream Readings of His Suspense Novel During COVID-19 Outbreak

arkin book

Matthew Arkin

Matthew Arkin ’82

Starting April 1, Matthew Arkin ’82 will read from his suspense thriller In the Country of the Blind (2013) on YouTube Live.

“I’ll be reading in an effort to fight the strain and isolation [of the COVID-19 pandemic] and perhaps provide a little entertainment,” he said.

This is Arkin’s first attempt at livestreaming, which he’s calling “social distance storytime.”

“It’s an idea I had because we’re all under quarantine right now, we’re social distancing, stuck at home, and like many of you, I wonder how I can fill fill my time, what I can do to help others fill their time … so I thought I’d share it live online. I think it’s a lot of fun.”

Arkin will begin reading the book at 10 p.m. EST, and will continue the livestreams every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. He will lead a live-chat Q&A following each chapter.

Arkin, who double-majored in English and government at Wesleyan, hopes the story will be “something for people to look forward to, something to enjoy, something to sit around together and listen to,” he said.

To subscribe or tune in, visit the Matthew Arkin Studio page on YouTube.

Viertel ’97 Produces The Banker, Featuring Samuel L. Jackson

The BankerA new film produced and edited by Joel Viertel ’97 centers on revolutionary entrepreneurs Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) and Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), who devise a risky plan to purchase buildings in “white only” neighborhoods during the 1960s, to help black families pursue the American dream.

Inspired by true events, The Banker premiered at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn., on March 2, and is now available for viewing on on Apple TV Plus.

The New York Times featured The Banker in a March 20 article.

Viertel, a film studies major at Wesleyan, also produced Birth of the Dragon (2016), Zipper (2015), Ready or Not (2012), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), and many other films.

Best of Wes: Alumni-Produced Podcasts

Plug in those earbuds, crank those dials, and tune in to some of the many podcasts written, produced, and hosted by Wesleyan alumni. These are the best of Wes!

castroMarysol Castro ’96, broadcast journalist and New York Mets PA announcer, is the host of CTbites Hot Dish! (2020). The podcast, now with 13 episodes, sizzles with Connecticut chefs, farmers, bartenders, food writers, and local food activists. Guests have included Food Network Star winner Chef Christian Petroni, Connecticut Chef of the Year Tyler Anderson, and Westport Farmers Market Director Lori Cochran.

Adam Peltzman ’96 and Koyalee Chanda ’96 are co-writers of the six-episode scripted comedy for kids titled This Podcast Has Fleas (2017). Fleas features rivals Jones the cat and Waffles the dog, who are each creating their own podcast. They’re joined by other household pet characters Benny the gerbil and Mr. Glub the goldfish. In each episode, Jones and Waffles navigate a daily drama, such as a chaotic sleepover party, a trip to the vet, and the dreaded cone of shame. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

99invisible-logo-zag V2Avery Trufelman ’13 is a host and producer of three podcasts:
99% Invisible (2020), now at 385 episodes and counting, is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about—the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. Trufelman serves as a producer of the show, which has more than 400 million downloads.

Articles of Interest (2019), a seven-episode podcast based off 99% Invisible, investigates the stories behind many clothing styles. Hosted by Trufelman, the show addresses punk style, blue jeans, kids’ clothing, fake pockets, Hawaiian shirts, and more.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News

1. USA Today: “America Has a History of Lynching, but it’s Not a Federal Crime. The House Just Voted to Change That”

Benjamin Waite Professor of the English Language Ashraf Rushdy is interviewed on the topic of legislation that would make lynching a federal crime. In the interview he called lynching “the original hate crime.” “Lynching is a blot on the history of America,” he said. “But it’s never too late to do the right thing.”

2. The New York Times: “Starbucks Baristas Accuse Service Company of Abuse and Pay Gaps”

Associate Professor of Sociology Jonathan Cutler is interviewed about transgender issues in labor organizations as immigrant, transgender, and black baristas face discrimination at airport Starbucks. “Organized labor often lives or dies by its ability to tap into broader social movements,” he said. “In this case, you’re seeing the most public effort to organize around transgender issues.”

3. The Washington Post: “Does Money Even Matter? And Other Questions You May Have About Bloomberg’s Half-Billion-Dollar Failed Candidacy”

Eliasberg ’74, P’19 on Her Debut Novel, Hannah’s War

The book cover of Jan Eliasberg's new book, Hannah's War

Debut fiction by Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19.

Award-winning writer/director Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19 made her debut as a novelist with Hannah’s War, a story inspired by the real-life physicist Dr. Lise Meitner, whom an article in the Aug. 6, 1945, issue of the New York Times referred to as “a female, non-Aryan physicist,” noted for helping the Americans develop the atomic bomb.

Hannah’s War was published by Little Brown on March 3.

“Jan Eliasberg knows how to open big with strong suspense and wry humor and take us for a hurtling ride through one of America’s most complex moments,” said Amy Bloom ’75, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing. “The wonderful characters of Hannah’s War bring together a moving love story, a high-stakes mystery, and a fascinating look into the moral compass of an exceptional woman.”

Eliasberg’s talk at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, originally scheduled for March 26, has been postponed.

Wesleyan University Magazine had profiled Eliasberg, focusing on her work in television and film; here she discusses her transition to being a novelist.

Q: As a screenwriter and director, what were the challenges you faced in writing a novel?

Jan Eliasberg: There were far more advantages than challenges. I would say that the biggest challenge was the idea of sitting down for almost nine months with no collaborative contact. As a director, you do not have a minute to yourself, from the moment you start the job to the moment you finish: You’re on location with eight, 10 people; you are on a set with all 60 others asking you questions. But this was nine months of going for days without really talking to anyone. I mean, how lovely in retrospect, but slightly terrifying to contemplate.

PBS Documentary by Weisberg ’75, P’05 Set to Premiere on April 6

Roger Weisberg ’75, P’05 (Source: brokenplacesfilm.com)

This April, PBS will premiere Broken Places, a documentary that explores why some children are severely damaged by early adversity while others are able to thrive. Broken Places is written, produced, and directed by veteran documentary filmmaker Roger Weisberg ’75, P’05, whose previous PBS documentaries have won over 150 awards, including Emmy, DuPont-Columbia, and Peabody awards, as well as two Academy Award nominations.

Broken Places revisits abused and neglected children that Weisberg and his team profiled decades ago. The film interweaves longitudinal narratives with commentary from a few internationally renowned experts to help viewers better understand the devastating impact of childhood adversity as well as the inspiring characteristics of resilience.

In addition to shedding light on exciting new developments in neuroscience that help explain the dramatic outcomes that the film reveals, these experts share their insights into the people and systems that either failed the film’s main subjects or helped them overcome the formidable obstacles they encountered.

Broken Places is Weisberg’s 33rd national public television documentary. It will premier at 10 p.m. on Monday, April 6 on PBS (check local listings) and pbs.org.

brokenplaces

Students Engage with Google Employees through Career Virtual Panel

On Feb. 27, the Gordon Career Center hosted a Google Career Virtual Panel featuring Wesleyan alumni who offered insight on their roles in sales, business, product management, marketing, legal issues, and other roles at Google.

The panel was assembled by Sherry Liang ’20, who completed a WEShadow at Google last winter, and Peer Career Advisor Esmye Lytle ’21.

Speakers included:

Aaron Stoertz '03

Aaron Stoertz ’03

Aaron Stoertz ’03: Stoertz graduated with a BA in English. Since then he worked in conservation biology, public health, and international health policy at the World Health Organization before landing in tech, where he’s worked his way into a position as a product manager at Google Health.

Terry Wei ’07: Wei has 13 years of experience in public relations and communications. She currently leads communications for Waze, the world’s leading crowdsourced navigation app. Previously, Wei was head of public relations at Squarespace and managed product communications at Mercedes-Benz. Originally from California, Wei studied English at Wesleyan and graduated in 2007.

Paul Vidich ’72, P’00, ’03 Discusses Espionage Novel at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore

Paul Vidich

Paul Vidich ’72, P’00, ’03 spoke about his new book, The Coldest Warrior, on Feb. 24 at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore. The espionage novel, published by Pegasus Crime in February 2020, explores the dark side of intelligence that is exposed when a CIA officer delves into a cold case from the 1950s―with fatal consequences.

Paul Vidich

Many of those who attended Vidich’s talk were friends and fellow members of Wesleyan’s Class of 1972. Vidich, a College of Social Studies (CSS) major, said, “What I learned at CSS was critical thinking and healthy skepticism, but not cynicism. I think I’m a skeptical person, but I also think that every generation goes through periods in which government disappoints. … Skepticism, to me, is a healthy way of looking at the world, and my characters in the novel are intentionally skeptical.”

“You Just Have to Read This…” Books by Wesleyan Authors: Alznauer ’92, Almond ’99, and Florsheim ’83, P’14

In the seventh of this continuing series, Sara McCrea ’21, a College of Letters major from Boulder, Colo., reviews alumni books and offers a selection for those in search of knowledge, insight, and inspiration. The volumes, sent to us by alumni, are forwarded to Olin Library as donations to the University’s collection and made available to the Wesleyan community.

Flying PaintingsAmy Alznauer ’92, Flying Paintings: The Zhou Brothers: a Story of Revolution and Art (Candlewick Press, 2020)

When Shaoli and Shaoning Zhou are growing up and first learning to paint, their grandmother Po Po tells them, “To become an artist, you must possess the highest spirit.” But when officials from Mao’s republic come to the Zhou family bookstore and burn all of the art and writing they can find, this high spirit of the Zhous’ is strictly regulated, and the brothers can no longer paint freely. It is in this authoritarian political reality that the brothers learn that art can both be beautiful and have terrible consequences, as can the practices of resistance and perseverance. Through a fictionalized depiction of the trials and triumphs that the real-life Zhou brothers faced on their path to becoming art studio owners in Bridgeport, Chicago, author Amy Alznauer crafts an inspiring story for all ages about the importance of collaboration and fighting for artistic freedom. With beautiful illustrations from ShanZuo Zhou and DaHuang Zhou themselves, The Zhou Brothers features and celebrates art that, in its ability to fly off the page, surely exemplifies the highest spirit.

Brady ’15 Wins National Prize for Social Innovation for Nonprofit Work

Aletta Brady '15

Aletta Brady ’15, founder of Our Climate Voices, was honored with an Innovation Prize by the J.M. Kaplan Fund. (Photo courtesy of the J.M. Kaplan Fund)

Aletta Brady ’15 saw the power in collective storytelling to launch social justice campaigns such as Black Lives Matters and the #MeToo movements. Knowing that these movements were successful because of the power of words, Brady connected the idea of storytelling to the climate crisis, launching a climate-justice organization that was recently recognized by the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

The J.M. Kaplan Fund awarded Brady’s Our Climate Voices the J.M.K. Innovation Prize for its use of digital storytelling as a new model in the environmental field. The prize is awarded biennially to 10 nonprofit and mission-driven for-profit organizations tackling America’s most pressing challenges through social innovation. Each awardee receives up to $175,000 over three years and participates in a learning collaborative of fellow innovators to support their journey as change agents.

Wesleyan in the News

NewsWesleyan in the News

1. Hartford Courant: “Jeanine Basinger, the ‘Professor of Hollywood,’ Is Wesleyan University’s Homegrown Screen Legend”

Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita Jeanine Basinger, whom this article notes has been dubbed “the professor of Hollywood” and “an iconic figure in American cinema, one of the most beloved and respected film history professors in the history of film studies” by The Hollywood Reporter, is interviewed on the occasion of her 60th year at Wesleyan, and the 50th since she created its film program. She talks about her next book on American film comedy, shares some of her favorite things, and muses on which actress would play her in a movie of her life.

2. Los Angeles Review of Books: “‘We Need More Vigorous Debate’: A Conversation with Michael S. Roth”

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, managing editor of Modern Intellectual History, interviews President Michael Roth in connection with his latest book, Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses. Roth discusses his career path from intellectual historian to university administrator and professor, and offers his unique perspective on debates surrounding freedom of speech and political correctness.

3. Los Angeles Times: “Kirk Douglas Dead at 103; ‘Spartacus’ Star Helped End Hollywood Blacklist”

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita, comments on Kirk Douglas’s legacy following the film icon’s death at 103. Recalling when she first saw him on-screen in the 1940s, she said, “He wasn’t a traditional leading man, really, in looks, and yet he had an unmistakable charisma and power on screen—not just the glamour of the movie star, though he did have that, but real acting chops. So you knew he was going to be a star.” She added, “He was a very modern American antihero type, but he could also play anything, really.”

Wesleyan Named a Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Students

fulbrights

The 2019–20 Fulbright award winners include, from top left, Jordan Legaspi ’19, Emma Porrazzo ’19, Katelin Murray ’19, Amad Amedy ’19, Stephanie Loui ’14, Hai Lun Tan ’18, and Ulysses Estrada ’17. Not pictured are Ellie Martin ’16, Emma Distler ’19, and Rachel Yanover ’19.

The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) recently announced that Wesleyan is included on the list of United States colleges and universities that produced the most 2019–2020 Fulbright U.S. Students. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.

fulbright Not only is Wesleyan a top Fulbright producer nationwide with its seven grantees, but it also has more winners than any other liberal arts institution in Connecticut.

“We are delighted to see that the colleges and universities we are honoring as 2019–2020 Fulbright top-producing institutions reflect the geographic and institutional diversity of higher education in the United States,” said Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “We are committed to the Fulbright Program’s goals of creating lasting professional and personal connections by sending passionate and accomplished U.S. students of all backgrounds to study, research, or teach English in communities throughout the world. These Fulbrighters serve as citizen ambassadors for the United States in their host communities, and we will benefit from the skills, knowledge, and global connections they build on their exchanges long after they return home.”

The Fulbright competition is administered at Wesleyan through Fulbright Program Advisor Magdalena Zapędowska, assistant director of fellowships in the Fries Center for Global Studies. The 2019–2020 grantees (who are all recent alumni) are: Jordan Legaspi ’19, Emma Distler ’19, Ulysses Estrada ’17, Amad Amedy ’19, Stephanie Loui ’14, Emma Porazzo ’19, and Katie Murray ’19. Ellie Martin ’16 also received a Fulbright, however she didn’t apply through Wesleyan. Fulbright grant offers were also extended to Rachel Yanover ’19 and Hai Lun Tan ’18, who declined them to pursue other educational plans. (See the 2019–2020 Wesleyan Fulbright announcement article here.)

Wesleyan was listed as a top producer of Fulbright U.S. students in the Feb. 9, 2020, issue of The Chronicle of Education under the “baccalaureate institutions” category.

The Fulbright Program was created to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. More than 2,200 U.S. students and over 900 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators are awarded Fulbright grants annually. In addition, some 4,000 Fulbright foreign students and visiting scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research, or teach their native language.

Wesleyan also was named a Fulbright U.S. Student Top Producer in 2017-18 and 2016-17.