Publications

Wes Press Authors Nominated for 2018 Book Awards

Four Wesleyan University Press–affiliated authors were nominated for book awards this month.

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Rae Armantrout is one of 10 contenders for the National Book Award for Poetry. Her collection, Wobble (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) was named to the award’s longlist on Sept. 13. Finalists will be revealed on Oct. 10.

Teetering on the edge of the American Dream, Armantrout’s Wobble seeks to both playfully and forcefully evoke the devastation of a chaotic, unstoppable culture.

Two authors were named 2018 CT Book Awards Finalists by the Connecticut Center for the Book, a Connecticut Humanities program. The awards recognize and honor authors and illustrators who have created the best books in or about Connecticut in the past year.

Between three and five finalists have been selected in each of five categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Poetry; Young Readers—Young Adult; and Young Readers—Juvenile. Five distinguished judges per category read each entry and reviewed works using rigorous criteria. A total of 140 books were submitted this year.

Middletown, Conn., resident Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology; professor, feminist gender, and sexuality studies; was nominated in the Poetry category for her book, Because When God Is Too Busy: HAITI, me & THE WORLD (Wesleyan University Press, 2017).

And Chester, Conn., resident David Hays, Hon. ’86, was nominated in the Nonfiction category for his book, Setting the Stage: What We Do, How We Do It, and Why (Wesleyan University Press, 2017).

Winners will be announced at the 2018 Connecticut Book Awards ceremony on Oct. 14 at Staples High School in Westport, Conn. Okey Ndibe, the 2017 Connecticut Book Award winner for nonfiction, will deliver the keynote speech. A reception and book signing will follow, and all finalists’ and winners’ books will be available for purchase.

In addition, Wesleyan University Press author sam sax is the recipient of a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. The $25,800 fellowship is among the largest and most prestigious awards available for young poets in the United States.

sax is the author of bury it (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 James Laughlin Award given by the Academy of American Poets.

Ponsavady’s New Book Examines the Development of French Transportation Systems

Stéphanie Ponsavady, assistant professor of French, is the author of a new book titled Cultural and Literary Representations of the Automobile in French Indochina: A Colonial Roadshow, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.

In the book, Ponsavady aims to answer the question: How are the pleasures and thrills of the automobile linked to France’s history of conquest, colonialism, and exploitation in Southeast Asia?

Ponsavady addresses the contradictions of the “progress” of French colonialism and their consequences through the lens of the automobile. She examines the development of transportation systems in French Indochina at the turn of the 20th century, analyzing archival material and French and Vietnamese literature to critically assess French colonialism.

Ospina’s Fiction Nominated for Prestigious Spanish American Short Story Award

A book written by María Ospina, assistant professor of Spanish and assistant professor, Latin American studies, was recently nominated for the Gabriel García Márquez Spanish American Short Story Award.

The prize is awarded annually by the National Library of Colombia and the Colombian Ministry of Culture to a short story collection in Spanish that has been published the year before by authors from the Spanish-speaking world (Spain and Latin America). This year, the jury selected 14 titles from 127 submissions.

This award is considered the most important prize in the short story genre in the world of Hispanic letters and honors the life and work of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez. The prize, which will be delivered in Bogota at the beginning of November, is endowed with $100,000 for the winner and $2,000 for each of the four finalists.

Ospina’s book, Azares del Cuerpo (Fates of the Body), was published by Laguna Libros in 2017. Like migratory animals, the female protagonists in this collection of short stories are travelers in search of new homes, hosts, and bonds of friendship and intimacy. Through the interrelated stories of women of diverse ages and origins who migrate to and from Bogotá, Ospina investigates the relationship between desire and the corporeality of the female body, and examines a multiplicity of modes of care and kinship outside of the bonds of family and heterosexual love. These stories about the limits of hospitality and the longing to cure one’s wounds by attempting to save other people also investigate the subtle ways in which broader histories of violence and migration shape people’s lives psychically and materially.

 

Sultan, Baker ’18, Berg ’16 Coauthor Paper on Plant Development

Sonia Sultan, professor of biology and professor, environmental studies, and her former students Brennan Baker BA/MA ’18 and Lars Berg ’16 are the coauthors of a paper published in the August 2018 issue of Frontiers in Plant Science.

The study, “Context-Dependent Developmental Effects of Parental Shade Versus Sun Are Mediated by DNA Methylation,” presents work that Baker completed as a BA/MA student in 2017–18. The article is part of a special Frontiers theme on the emerging area of ecological epigenetics.

In this study, the coauthors compared the development of individual plants when their parents were grown in shade or in full sun. The results show that genetically identical seedlings developed very differently just as a result of this difference in parental conditions.

Baker followed up this finding in several ways, including showing that this ‘neo-Lamarckian’ effect on development was conveyed from parents to offspring through epigenetic regulatory changes to DNA expression rather than changes in the genes themselves.

“Learning how environmental effects in the parent generation can influence offspring via these epigenetic mechanisms is one of the most astonishing and important new areas in biology since it challenges the long-held view that only DNA sequence information could be inherited,” Sultan explained.

Baker will be pursuing his work on transgenerational environmental effects in a different biological context. This fall, he is starting an environmental health PhD program at Columbia University, where he plans to study inherited effects of environmental contaminants on human health. Since graduating from Wesleyan, Berg has held a competitive NIH research internship and is planning to go on to medical school.

In addition, a paper by Baker, Sultan, Maya Lopez-Ichikawa ’18, and Robin Waterman ’19 was an invited submission for a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society that is dedicated to adaptive responses to rapid environmental change. The paper is currently under review for publication.

Kuenzel Coauthors Paper in the Journal of Macroeconomics

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics, is the coauthor of a new paper published in the September 2018 Journal of Macroeconomics titled, “Constitutional Rules as Determinants of Social Infrastructure.”

In the paper, Kuenzel and his coauthors, Theo Eicher from the University of Washington and Cecilia García-Peñalosa from Aix-Marseille University, investigate the link between constitutional rules and economic institutions, which are a key driver of economic development and economic growth.

Kuenzel and his coauthors find that the determinants of economic institutions (or social infrastructure) are much more fundamental than previously thought. In addition to constitutional rules that constrain the executive, highly detailed aspects of electoral systems such as limits on campaign contributions and the freedom to form parties are crucial factors for improving the quality of countries’ economic institutions. Moreover, Kuenzel and his colleagues show that basic human rights have profound effects on economic institutions, a dimension that previously had not been explored in the literature.

Gottschalk, Greenberg ’04 Release Second Edition of Islamophobia

Peter Gottschalk, professor of religion, and history major Gabriel Greenberg ’04 are the coauthors of Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Sentiment: Picturing the Enemy, Second Edition, published in July 2018 by Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. The duo released Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy in August 2007.

Islamophobia explores anxieties surrounding anti-Muslim sentiments through political cartoons and film. After providing a background on Islamic traditions and their history with America, it graphically shows how political cartoons and films reveal a casual demeaning and demonizing of Muslims and Islam from both sides of the political aisle. Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Sentiment offers both insights into American culture’s ways of “picturing the enemy” as Muslim, and ways of moving beyond antagonism.

“The new edition adds two new chapters and makes many changes to account for the rise of President Trump and mainstream white nationalism,” Gottschalk explains. The book also incorporates parts of Greenberg’s honors thesis at Wesleyan and features more than 50 images that highlight Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bias from conservative and liberal media outlets alike.

Gottschalk also is director of the Office for Faculty Career Development and coordinator of the Muslim studies certificate. His books, which include American Heretics and Religion, Science, and Empire, draw on his research and experience in India, Pakistan, and the United States.

Greenberg lives with his wife and kids in New Orleans. He is the congregational rabbi of a historic synagogue, and also serves as the rabbi for Avodah: New Orleans, a local service corps that seeks to address effects and root causes of poverty in the city.

Hornstein Coauthors Article on Corporate Philanthropy Strategy

Abigail Hornstein

Abigail Hornstein

Associate Professor of Economics Abigail Hornstein, together with Minyuan Zhao of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, has coauthored an article on corporate philanthropy published in Strategic Management Journal.

Corporate philanthropy has long been recognized as an important part of multinational strategy, but little is known about how it is allocated across different countries. Using data from a sample of more than 200 U.S.-based corporate foundations from 1993 to 2008, Hornstein and Zhao examined how foundation giving is associated with the funding firm’s need to navigate the local business environments.

They found that foundations give more in countries characterized by weak rule of law and high levels of corruption, as well as when funding firms have newly-established subsidiaries or a stronger need to connect with local stakeholders. Donations to countries with weak institutions are more likely to go through international intermediaries to avoid potential liabilities. The results are consistent with the view that corporate foundations support corporate diplomacy and help obtain the social license to operate in the host countries.

Kim, Johnson ’18, Rothschild ’19, Coauthor Study on Self-Related Memory Advantage

Kyungmi Kim

Kyungmi Kim, assistant professor of psychology, is the coauthor of a paper published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review on Aug. 8. Jenne Johnson ’18 and Danielle Rothschild ’19 also contributed to the article.

The paper is titled “Merely presenting one’s own name along with target items is insufficient to produce a memory advantage for the items: A critical role of relational processing.”

Many studies have shown that information processed in relation to our “self” vs. someone else has an advantage in memory, termed the self-reference effect (SRE). Early studies of the SRE used tasks in which participants made explicit self-referential (Does the word nice describe you?) or other-referential judgments (Does the word friendly describe Angelina Jolie?) of target items at encoding, highlighting the memory benefit of explicit semantically-based associations between self and target items. However, an important subsequent finding was that even in the absence of any explicit task demand to make self-referential judgments, there is a memory advantage for target items presented simultaneously with self-relevant (e.g., one’s own name) vs. other-relevant (e.g., another person’s name) information at encoding.

In the study, Kim and her colleagues aimed to clarify the processes underlying this “incidental” self-memory advantage assessing two possibilities: an incidental SRE arises due to a mere co-presentation of a target item with self-relevant information or a relational processing between a target item and self-relevant information at encoding.

During encoding, words were presented in two different colors either above or below a name (the participants’ own someone else’s). Participants performed either a relational encoding task (i.e., a location judgment task, “Is the word above or below the name?”) or a non-relational encoding task (i.e., a color judgment task, “Is the word in red or green?”). In the subsequent surprise memory test, the researchers found a self-memory advantage for both items and their associated source features (name, location, and color) under a relational encoding context but not under a non-relational encoding context. These findings add to the current understanding of how the self affects long-term memory by providing clear evidence for a critical role of relational processing between target items and self-relevant information in eliciting a self-memory advantage. By demonstrating the modulation of an incidental self-memory advantage by encoding contexts, these findings further suggest that the impact of self on cognition is more dependent on processing context than previously assumed.

Kim, a cognitive psychologist, is an expert on learning and memory, and the role of self in cognitive and affective processing. The research in her lab aims to identify psychological mechanisms through which the mind subjectively construes the external world.

This fall, she’s teaching courses on Research Methods in Cognition and Advanced Research in Learning and Memory.

Thomas’s Science Paper Examines Earth’s Oxygen Levels over Geological Time

Ellen Thomas

Throughout time, rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels have been crucial to the habitability of environments at the surface of the Earth.

“The Earth had no free oxygen gas in its atmosphere early on,” said Ellen Thomas, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences. “The oxygen has been provided over time by photosynthesis of algae followed by storage of organic matter in rocks.”

Thomas, who also is research professor of earth and environmental sciences, examines the timing of oxygen formation in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans over geological time in a study published in the May 2018 issue of Science.

The paper, titled “Late Inception of a Resiliently Oxygenated Upper Ocean,” stems from a multiyear, multinational, multiauthor research effort that explores the time trend and causes of increased oxygenation during the current Phanerozoic Eon, which began more than 542 million years ago. Thomas and her colleagues used iodine geochemistry to determine that the upper section of the ocean became rich in oxygen much later than previously predicted, linked to evolution of oceanic phytoplankton.

The research was supported by a National Science Foundation grant at Wesleyan and coauthored by scientists at Syracuse University and the University of California, Riverside.

The study also is featured in the May 2018 issue of Science Daily and Phys.org.

Robinson Lab Coauthors Study on Compulsive, Drug Addiction Behaviors

Mike Robinson studies how individuals react differently when presented with a junk food diet.

Mike Robinson

Drug and behavioral addictions like gambling are characterized by an intense and focused pursuit of a single reward above other healthier endeavors. Pursuit of the addictive reward is often compulsively sought despite adverse consequences.

In a newly published study, Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and integrative sciences explored how our decisions can become narrowly focused onto one particular choice. He and his research team used laser light (optogenetics) to activate the central portion of the brain’s amygdala (CeA), an area normally known for its role in generating responses to drug-related and fearful stimuli.

The study, titled “Optogenetic Activation of the Central Amygdala Generates Addiction-like Preference for Reward,” appears in the May 2018 issue of the European Journal of Neuroscience. Robinson Lab members Rebecca Tom ’16, MA ’17, Aarit Ahuja ’16, Hannah Maniates ’16, and current graduate student Charlotte Freeland coauthored the article and participated in the study.

Hüwel’s Book Examines the Physics, Technology of Timekeeping

Lutz Hüwel, professor of physics, is the author of the book Of Clocks and Time, published by Morgan & Claypool Publishers in April 2018.

According to Hüwel, Of Clocks and Time takes readers on a five-stop journey through the physics and technology—and occasional bits of applications and history—of timekeeping. He offers conceptual vistas and qualitative images, along with equations, quantitative relations, and rigorous definitions.

The book includes discussion of the rhythms produced by the motion of sun, moon, planets, and stars, a summary of historical theoretical insights that are still influential today, examination of the tools that allow us to measure time, as well as explanations of radioactive dating and Einstein’s theories of relativity.

The book is available for downloading and for Kindle.

Q&A With Novelist Kate Greathead ’05 on Writing Laura & Emma

Kate Greathead ’05, who majored in English at Wesleyan, is the author of Laura & Emma: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, 2018).

Laura & Emma, the debut novel by Kate Greathead ’05, was reviewed by Wesleyan magazine books editor Laurie Kenney, who wrote: “Nine-time Moth StorySLAM champion Greathead’s debut novel offers an insightful and witty exploration of class, family, and privilege in New York blue-blood society in the 1980s and early ’90s, as told through the eyes of Laura, an Upper East Side single mother born into wealth, and her daughter, Emma, conceived during a one-night stand. Filled with an eclectic cast of supporting characters and told in vignettes that span more than a decade, Laura & Emma offers a fresh take on the mother-daughter bond and the struggles of trying to find oneself. Booklist says, ‘Greathead’s smart and original take on the mother-daughter novel impresses and charms.'”

In a follow-up conversation with the Connection, Greathead reflected on the writing process, including her work with Wesleyan mentors, and offered advice for those still working toward publication.

Q: How did your work at Wesleyan influence this book? Any great writing advice you received?

A: I wasn’t a confident person when I arrived at Wesleyan. I had some very kind and generous professors—Anne Greene, Phyllis Rose, Roxana Robinson—who helped me develop confidence in my writing, which made me take myself more seriously as a student and a person. One of my most valuable writing experiences was writing my senior thesis, a collection of personal essays, under the guidance of Elizabeth Bobrick [then a visiting professor in English]. Every two weeks we’d meet and discuss my work. The craft of writing can be taught, but of equal importance, the substance of what you write, can’t unless the teacher tries to get to know you. The best teachers find gentle ways to push you towards your most fertile material. Elizabeth took the time to do that and I benefited greatly.

Q: Any significant discoveries you made as you wrote about mother/daughter relationships?

A: I can’t speak for all mother/daughter relationships but I suspect in most there’s a volatility that’s just as intense as a romantic one, an undercurrent of jealousy, resentment, hurt, contempt, and neediness complicating the love. It might rarely erupt, but it’s there, simmering beneath the surface.