Arts & Culture

WesPress Book Longlisted for 2017 National Book Award for Poetry

For the second year in a row, a book of poetry published by Wesleyan University Press has been longlisted as one of ten nominees for the National Book Award for Poetry. This year’s nominee, In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCrae, examines the idea of freedom told through stories of captivity. Comprised of historical persona poems with a prose memoir at its center, the book addresses the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans.

“We are delighted and honored that Shane McCrae’s book is on the long list for poetry—and to be in such esteemed company,” said Suzanna Tamminen, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press. “It’s a tremendous achievement for our press, following on the heels of last year’s National Book Award finalist for poetry, Archeophonics, by Peter Gizzi.”

The Leavers, by Lisa Ko ’98, Longlisted for National Book Award for Fiction

The Leavers, the debut novel by Lisa Ko ’98, has been selected as one of 10 works longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction.

“I was surprised and thrilled to receive the news, which I hadn’t expected as a debut novelist,” says Ko. “I’m thankful to the judges and everyone who has read and supported The Leavers. It’s especially great to see how many women writers are on the longlist this year—women of color in particular.”

Inspired by the true case of an undocumented mother who was deported without her son in 2009, the book tells the story of 11-year-old Deming Guo, whose mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, fails to return home one day from her job at a nail salon in Brooklyn—leaving the boy alone to navigate a new life as the adopted son of a well-meaning American couple in upstate New York.

Rudensky’s Post-Putin Era Photographs on Display at Davison Art Center

Photographs by Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky ’01 are on display in the Davison Art Center through Dec. 10. During a gallery talk, Rudensky explained how she rented an unsedated boa constrictor to make the photograph Snake Handlers, pictured in the center.

For more than a decade, Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky ’01 has repeatedly returned to Russia and the post-Soviet territories to photograph a lost generation that has come of age during the Vladimir Putin era.

On Sept. 13, Rudensky debuted a collection of these photographs at an exhibit titled “Acts and Illusions” at the Davison Art Center. The exhibition presents 24 photographs together with a video installation, revealing an unsettling view into contemporary life in the New East. Elijah Huge, associate professor of art, associate professor of environmental studies, collaborated with Rudensky on the video installation. Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, coordinated the exhibition.

Studio arts major Rudensky was born in Russia and moved to the U.S. when she was 11 and returned as an artist in 2004. She’s also an assistant professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies and teaches Photography I and Digital Photography I this fall.

Photos of the “Acts and Illusions” reception and gallery talk are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

6th Annual The MASH Highlights Wesleyan’s Music Scene

Inspired by Fete de la Musique (also known as World Music Day), the sixth annual The MASH festival on Sept. 9 highlighted Wesleyan’s student music scene, with multiple stages on campus featuring everything from a cappella ensembles to student, faculty and alumni bands.

Stages were set up at Foss Hill, outside Olin Library and North College. More than 20 groups and soloists performed at Wesleyan’s The Mash including Bonanza, Good Morning CT, McCleary McCleary, MEG, Saint Something, Jal, The Basukes, Smokin’ Lilies, Jess Best ’14, Prometheus, New Group, Gabe & Brien, Savannah Jeffreys ’18, Johnny Gilmore ’18, Anna Savage ’18, Quasimodal, Sloane Peterson, ethereal whoosing, The Purple Windsounds, LAZ, Cicero Presley and Tasty Desert Creatures.

The MASH was held in conjunction with the City of Middletown’s Main Street Stroll, a family-friendly celebration of Middletown’s Main Street and the new Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore. The stroll featured music, street performers, specialty workshops and more.

Anna Savage '18 performed at the Olin stage.

Anna Savage ’18 performed at the Olin stage.

Documentary by Magruder ’17, DuMont ’17 to be Screened Sept. 18 on Campus

While still undergraduates, Julie Magruder ’17 and Jackson DuMont ’17 began filming The Face of Kinship Care, a documentary highlighting the important role that familial, but non-parental, caregivers provide in the lives of children. The documentary will be will be shown at Wesleyan—as well as more widely—at 8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 18, at the Powell Family Cinema. September, notes Magruder, is Kinship Care Month in a number of states. Through her work on this film, Magruder has become an advocate for highlighting the importance of kinship caregivers in all states.

The project began more than a year ago, when Christine James-Brown, president of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), requested a documentary on the topic. Through the W. T. Grant Foundation, DuMont was put in touch with James-Brown. DuMont knew of Magruder’s particular interest in nonfiction storytelling, and once the idea had been solidified, he reached out to collaborate.

Hyman ’85 to be Awarded French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

Visual artist and author Miles Hyman ’85 has been chosen for the prestigious title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Ministry of Culture. The award will be bestowed during a ceremony on a future date to be determined.

Hyman studied drawing and printmaking with Professor of Art David Schorr at Wesleyan and went on to study at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-arts. Hyman’s award-winning drawings and paintings have appeared in books, magazines and galleries in the United States and Europe, with clients that include the New Yorker, the New York Times, Viking Press, Chronicle Books, GQ and Louis Vuitton. He is also the author and illustrator of several graphic novels, including his adaptation of his grandmother Shirley Jackson’s renowned short story “The Lottery” (Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, Hill & Wang/Casterman, 2016) and The Prague Coup, a graphic novel retracing Graham Greene’s voyage to Vienna in 1948 to write The Third Man (with writer J-L Fromental, Dupuis, 2017). The monograph Miles Hyman/Drawings, featuring more than 200 of Hyman’s works, was published in 2015 (Glénat).

Bloom ’75, Sawhney Explore the Elm City’s Underbelly in New Haven Noir

New Haven Noir, edited by Amy BloomA star-studded cast of contributors curated by Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing Amy Bloom ’75 fill the pages of New Haven Noir, featuring original stories from Michael Cunningham, Stephen Carter, Roxana Robinson, Assistant Professor of English Hirsh Sawhney and many others. The book is the latest addition to an award-winning series of original noir anthologies published by Akashic Books, founded by publisher and editor-in-chief Johnny Temple ’88.

“I’m a big fan of noir,” says Bloom, editor of the anthology, which has garnered praise from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. “When Johnny called me and said, I don’t know if you’re from New Haven, but I know you’re connected to New Haven and I’d love you to edit the anthology, I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.

Bloom worked with Temple to select contributors for the anthology, with Bloom choosing to invite several writer friends who hadn’t written noir before, including Alice Mattison and Michael Cunningham. “I told them, it’s conflict and it’s mystery. Bleak. Snappy outfits. Great dialogue,” Bloom said. “And they said, count us in.”

In addition to serving as editor of the anthology, Bloom also is a contributor. Her story, “I’ve Never Been to Paris,” set in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood, is actually an excerpt from a mystery she wrote years ago, tailored specifically for New Haven Noir.

Alumnae Collaborate on Play that Debuts Aug. 10 in NYC

Five alumnae and one student are collaborating on a play that will debut Aug. 10-13 in New York City.

Resistance, written by May Treuhaft-Ali ’17 and directed by Maia Nelles-Sager ’17, is about Libby, a 15-year-old girl from Queens struggling with her weight. Everyone in her life from her mother to her “specialist” is trying to help her lose weight, but none of them seem to understand the underlying issue. When her favorite spin teacher is fired, Libby discovers that violent revenge fantasies makes her feel better. But every time she has a violent revenge fantasy, she gains 16 pounds.

“Resistance touches on themes such as weight-loss culture, female relationships, and gentrification. The cast is entirely female-identifying, as is the production team,” said Nelles-Sager, a film and theater double major.

Nelles-Sager and Treuhaft-Ali are assisted by set designer Nola Werlinich ’17; properties designer and assistant set designer Jess Cummings ’17; graphic designer Caitlin Chan ’17; and sound designer Hope Fourie ’19. At Wesleyan, Nelles-Sager directed four shows with Second Stage and wrote a playwriting thesis; Treuhaft-Ali completed a directing thesis with the Theater Department.

Resistance will be performed at the Wild Project, a theater, film, music, and visual arts venue in New York’s East Village. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Aug. 10-12 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 12-13. Tickets are available for purchase online.

View Wes in the World Photo Contest Winning Submissions

Earlier this year, the Fries Center for Global Studies sponsored its annual Wes in the World Photo Contest, which celebrates the spirit of global citizenship and encourages students to reflect upon their global experiences. Photos were submitted by students and recent alumni who have studied abroad or who have a home country outside of the United States.

Selected photos are below. View all submitted photos online.

Winner: Best Photograph of Nature | "March, Lake Moke, New Zealand. That night four of my friends (Kirsten, Mel, Jo, and Caroline) and I brought our sleeping bags outside our tents while it was freezing, so that Kirsten and I could work on taking star pictures. This photo represents encompasses my life abroad where I spent almost every weekend traveling, camping, and seeing some of the most breathtaking views with amazing people." (Submitted by: Heidi Westerman '17)

Winner, Best Photograph of Nature: “March, Lake Moke, New Zealand. That night four of my friends (Kirsten, Mel, Jo, and Caroline) and I brought our sleeping bags outside our tents while it was freezing, so that Kirsten and I could work on taking star pictures. This photo represents my life abroad, where I spent almost every weekend traveling, camping and seeing some of the most breathtaking views with amazing people.” (Submitted by Heidi Westerman ’17)

Palmer ’98, Pope to Teach Wesleyan Students about “The Art of Doing”

Michael Pope and Amanda Palmer ’98 will collaborate on Wesleyan’s The Art of Doing course this fall.

Wesleyan students will have the opportunity to learn collaborative filmmaking skills before being transported to a metaphoric desert island with nothing but a camera phone and a song when award-winning independent filmmaker Michael Pope and singer-musician-writer Amanda Palmer ’98 team up for a new course this fall: The Art of Doing: Creative Project Production and Making It Happen. The studio class, which will be limited to 15 students, will focus on non-traditional video production techniques resulting in a class-created video featuring music and performance by Palmer.

Basinger Discusses the History of the Summer Blockbuster

Jeanine Basinger

How did summer get to be such a make-or-break season for Hollywood? It wasn’t always this way, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger recently told Marketplace, from American Public Media.

“In the old days, the studio system rolled out movies,” she said. “I mean, let’s take MGM. In 1952 [it] put out a feature film every week, so for 52 weeks they rolled out 52 features.”

In the 1940s, 80 percent of Americans went to the movies once a week. But with television gaining popularity, attendance had plummeted by the 1970s. Until 1975, when Jaws was released around the July 4th weekend. It was a smash hit. A few years later came another hit: Star Wars.

The New Yorker Profiles New Wes Faculty Member Sorey MA ’11

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11 will join the Wesleyan faculty this fall. (Photo by John Rogers)

“Tyshawn Sorey Defeats Preconceptions,” proclaims the The New Yorker headline on a profile of Wesleyan’s newest assistant professor of music, Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, who will join the Wesleyan faculty this fall. “The prodigious multi-instrumentalist and composer transcends the borders of jazz, classical, and experimental music.”