Society

Wesleyan in the News

NewsIn this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

1. The Morning Call: “Allen Student Wins ‘Hamilton’ Scholarship, Congrats from Lin-Manuel Miranda”

Anna Tjeltveit of Allentown, Penn., winner of the 2019 Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity, is profiled. She shares how her winning submission, a one-act play titled, “Five Steps,” came together at the last minute, and discusses her early career in theater as well as her plans for her time at Wesleyan.

2. WJLA: “Arlington Teen Wins ‘Hamilton’ Prize Gets a Shout Out from Lin-Manuel Miranda”

Cole Goco of Arlington, Va., who received an honorable mention in the 2019 Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity, is interviewed. He discusses his years-long work on his winning web comic strip, “Billy the Pop,” and what it felt like to have Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 congratulate him by name on Twitter.

Gottschalk in The Conversation: Hate Crimes Associated with Both Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism Have a Long History in America’s Past

Peter Gottschalk

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk writes about the history of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim movements in the U.S., and the confluence of the two. 

Hate crimes associated with both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have a long history in America’s past

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted recently that “Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are two sides of the same bigoted coin.”

Her comments came in response to media reports that the suspect behind the shooting at a San Diego synagogue was also under investigation for burning a mosque.

Hate crimes associated with both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have shown an increase in recent years. But is there an association between the two?

As author of “American Heretics,” I have found that American antagonism toward Islamic and Jewish traditions goes back nearly 500 years, and shares some unfortunate connections.

Grossman in The Conversation: May Jobs Report Suggests a Slowing Economy—and Possibly an Imminent Interest Rate Cut

Richard Grossman

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Professor and Chair of Economics Richard Grossman analyzes the latest jobs report.

May jobs report suggests a slowing economy – and possibly an imminent interest rate cut

The latest jobs data suggests an interest rate cut may be imminent.

The Labor Department reported on June 7 that U.S. nonfarm payroll employment increased by 75,000 in May, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6%. This level of job creation was well below economists’ forecasts of about 185,000 new jobs, as well as below the average monthly increase of 164,000 in 2019 and 223,000 in 2018.

Although it’s difficult – even for an economist like me who studies economic policy – to interpret the data reported in any one jobs report as the beginning of a trend, the latest numbers do suggest the Federal Reserve may have to lower its benchmark interest rate to shore up the economy.

That may happen as soon as this month, when the Fed’s interest rate-setting panel, the Federal Open Market Committee, convenes its next meeting June 18-19. A cut would be a sharp reversal from Fed policy as recently as December, when it last raised the rate.

Hatch Authors New Book on “The Secret Drugging of Captive America”

Associate Professor Anthony Hatch (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer).

Associate Professor Anthony Hatch (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer).

Associate Professor of Science in Society Anthony Ryan Hatch is the author of a new book, Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America, published on April 30 by University of Minnesota Press.

The book is a critical investigation into the use of psychotropic drugs to pacify and control inmates and other captives in the vast U.S. prison, military, and welfare systems.

According to the publisher:

“For at least four decades, U.S. prisons and jails have aggressively turned to psychotropic drugs—antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedatives, and tranquilizers—to silence inmates, whether or not they have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. In Silent Cells, Anthony Ryan Hatch demonstrates that the pervasive use of psychotropic drugs has not only defined and enabled mass incarceration but has also become central to other forms of captivity, including foster homes, military and immigrant detention centers, and nursing homes.

115 Students Present Statistical Research at QAC Poster Session

In the Quantitative Analysis Center course, QAC 201: Applied Data Analysis, students are introduced to statistics and data collection through asking and answering statistical questions that they care about.

Topics come from a large range of disciplines including psychology, sociology, government, and environmental science. Students generate hypotheses based on existing data, conduct a literature review, prepare data for analysis, and conduct descriptive and inferential statistical analyses.

On May 3 in Beckham Hall, 115 students presented their projects at a poster session. Twenty-five guests evaluated the posters, including faculty from Wesleyan, Sacred Heart University, Quinnipiac University, City University of New York, Central Connecticut State University, and Vassar College; research fellows; alumni and staff; social scientists; research analysts; and other industry professionals.

The poster session served as the final exam for the course.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Jodie Kahan '21 presented her study titled, "Do Children Listen?: The Association Between a Child's Perception of their Mothers' Attitudes About Sex and a Child's Willingness to Engage in Sex."

Jodie Kahan ’21 presented her study titled, “Do Children Listen?: The Association Between a Child’s Perception of Their Mothers’ Attitudes About Sex and a Child’s Willingness to Engage in Sex.” Her evaluator is Kendall Hobbs, a research librarian at Wesleyan.

Tinatin Omoeva '21 discussed her poster called, "Control Yourself! The Association Between Self-Control and Financial Skills."

Tinatin Omoeva ’21 discussed her poster called, “Control Yourself! The Association Between Self-Control and Financial Skills.”

American Studies Hosts Panel Discussion on “Interrogating the Wesleyan to New York City Pipeline”

On May 2, the Department of American Studies hosted a panel discussion on gentrification titled “Interrogating the Wesleyan to New York City Pipeline.” The discussion began by recognizing displaced people—both indigenous and recently displaced—as the center of the conversation.

H. Shellae Versey is an Assistant Professor of Psychology, African American Studies, and Environmental Studies. Her research focuses on health, the life course, work, place, social change, and intersections between gender and race. She is interested in expressions of giving, activism, and community involvement. She is currently working on a spatial mapping project for changing neighborhoods and exploring the dynamics of social trends in cities.

H. Shellae Versey, assistant professor of psychology, moderated the panel discussion. Her research focuses on health, the life course, work, place, social change, and intersections between gender and race. She is currently working on a spatial mapping project for changing neighborhoods and exploring the dynamics of social trends in cities.

Wesleyan in the News

In this recurring feature in The Wesleyan Connection, we highlight some of the latest news stories about Wesleyan and our alumni.

Wesleyan in the News

  1. The New Yorker: “The Shapeshifting Music of Tyshawn Sorey”

“There is something awesomely confounding about the music of Tyshawn Sorey [MA ’11], the thirty-eight-year-old Newark-born composer, percussionist, pianist, and trombonist,” begins this profile of Sorey, assistant professor of music. Sorey was recently featured in the Composer Portraits series at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre.

2. The Register-Mail: “Video Slots Take Heavy Toll on Some Players”

In this article exploring the expansion of video slot gaming in a region of Illinois, Assistant Professor of Psychology Mike Robinson shares what he has learned through his research about how gambling affects our brains through the pleasurable release of dopamine. “You hear gamblers talk about chasing losses,” Robinson said. “Basically, they are talking about how gambling and uncertainty can even change how you respond to losing. It sounds counterintuitive, but for gambling addicts losing money triggers the rewarding release of dopamine almost to the same degree that winning does.”

3. The St. Thomas Source: “V.I. Studies Collective Asks, ‘What Is a Virgin Islander?'”

Professor of English Tiphanie Yanique, a core member of the Virgin Islands Studies Collective, recently led a workshop on St. Thomas at the Virgin Islands Literary Festival. A poet, essayist, and fiction writer who teaches creative writing at Wesleyan, Yanique comes from St. Thomas and has written fiction about life in the Virgin Islands.

4. The Forward: “8 Practical Tips on How to Lead a Progressive Seder This Year”

Asked for advice on leading a “progressive seder” for Passover this year, Wesleyan’s Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and University Jewish Chaplain David Leipziger Teva suggested adding a shoelace to your seder plate to express solidarity with the migrants fleeing their homes to cross into the U.S. “In thinking about the 92,607 migrants and refugees who in March of 2019 alone were detained after crossing the US Mexico border, I was struck by the fact that one of the first things that our US Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP) does is force these tired and vulnerable people to remove their shoelaces,” he explained. “Apparently anything, even the shoelaces of young children, considered ‘nonessential and potentially lethal’ is confiscated.”

5. Reading Religion: “Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Bias”

“Through the medium of cartoons, Gottschalk and Greenberg examine complicated concepts such as Islamophobia and stereotypes in a manner that is both accessible and comprehensive,” according to this review of Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Sentiment: Picturing the Enemy, coauthored by Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg ’04 and recently re-released in an expanded and revised second edition. “This book is accessible enough to include on an undergraduate introductory syllabus, but also specialized enough for readers who are familiar with the concept of Islamophobia, or the study of the Muslims in the United States, to benefit from.”

Alumni in the News

  1. PeabodyAwards.com: Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (PBS/WNET TV)”

Randall MacLowry ’86 is the producer and editor; Tracy Heather Strain is the filmmaker for this documentary, which PBS notes as “the first in-depth presentation of Hansberry’s complex life, using her personal papers and archives, including home movies and rare photos, as source material.” The couple cofounded The Film Posse, Inc., to work together in creating documentaries of high quality, and according to a press release, “spent more than 14 years raising money to develop the independently-produced film, which the couple produced with Strain serving as director and writer, and MacLowry and Chad Ervin as editors. Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and its television premiere on the PBS biography series American Masters in January 2018.”

2. Women and Hollywood: “Tribeca 2019 Women Directors: Meet Bridget Savage Cole [’05] and Danielle Krudy [’07]Blow the Man Down” 

“Wesleyan University graduates Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy met on a film set in Coney Island. They immediately bonded over a shared love of character-driven stories and juicy filmmaking styles. They have collaborated on numerous music videos, shorts, and writing projects. Blow the Man Down is their first feature-length film,” writes Gabriela Rico, who follows with the directors’ candid Q&A. Blow the Man Down premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 26.

3. Vanity Fair: Fosse/Verdon: 5 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets from the Cast and Creators”

Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones, who moderated a panel that included Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, provided excerpts of the conversation: “‘I picked up a book off the shelf, and my job was to read the book and put it in Tommy Kail’s [’99] hand,’ said Miranda. The Hamilton creator had gone to Wesleyan University with Sam Wasson [’03], author of the 2013 biography Fosse—on which the FX series is closely based. In June 2016, Hamilton director Kail and Miranda began planning a way to bring Fosse back to the screen.”

4. Broadway World: “MCC Launches Season with Ross Golan’s The Wrong Man Directed by Thomas Kail [’99]”

The Wrong Man (“the wrong man meets the wrong women in the wrong place at the wrong time”) is a new stage musical, written by multi-platinum songwriter Ross Golan (book, music, lyrics), Tony Award–winning director Thomas Kail and three-time Tony and four-time Grammy Award–winning orchestrator Alex Lacamoire. Performances begin on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.

5. Boston Globe: “Cape Air on Course for Seaplane Takeoff in Boston”

Jon Chesto ’93 writes: “Dan Wolf [’79] needed to get his hands on an amphibious aircraft before he could fulfill his yearslong quest to bring seaplane service back to Boston Harbor.

“Now, the chief executive of Cape Air has an entire squadron.”

In this tale of Wolf’s acquisition of the seaplanes, Chesto notes some Wes-related history: “Wolf first learned to fly a seaplane at the Goodspeed Airport along the Connecticut River, while going to school at nearby Wesleyan University. That was nearly 40 years ago, but there’s a connection to this latest deal. Shoreline Aviation was run by John Kelly [MALS ’70], who taught Wolf during his college years. They obviously stayed in touch: Cape Air has used Shoreline planes during its Boston Harbor test runs.”

 6. MIT News: “Candid Conversation about Race: In MIT Talk, Beverly Daniel Tatum [’75, P’04, Hon. ’15] Urges Direct Discussion about Racial Issues at a ‘Polarized’ Moment in U.S. History”

Peter Dizikes, of the MIT News Office, writes: “Candid discussions about race relations are vital at a time of ‘pushback’ against social diversity in the U.S., said Beverly Daniel Tatum, the former president of Spelman College, in a talk at MIT on Thursday.

“‘It seems to me pretty clear we’re living in a pushback moment,’ Tatum said, referring to resistance against both political progress by blacks and a diversifying population. She added: ‘I think that today, most people would agree, we are more polarized than ever.’”

Tatum’s talk at MIT’s Wong Auditorium covered topics including the difference between race and racism, what is possible in the political arena, and the “long-running conditions of material inequality in the U.S.”

7. WBUR.org— “WBUR Announces Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize Winner”

From the website: “WBUR announced today that Hannah Dreier [’08] is the winner of the 2019 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize. The winning segment was produced at This American Life in partnership with ProPublica, where Dreier serves as an immigration reporter.

“Dreier’s winning entry, ‘The Runaways’ is an hour-long investigative report that documents how the Suffolk County Police Department in New York failed to investigate a series of gang murders when the victims were immigrant teenagers. Days after the story aired on This American Life, the Suffolk County legislature forced the police department to conduct an internal investigation into how it had handled the MS-13 murder cases. ‘The Runaways’ proves that investigative reporting continues to effect change.”

Finn in The Conversation: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution

John Finn

John Finn

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Professor Emeritus of Government John Finn shares his research—as featured in his new book, Fracturing the Founding: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution—showing how the alt-right and a wide variety of extremist organizations advance a comprehensive—if not entirely comprehensible—vision of the American Constitution.

How the alt-right corrupts the Constitution

About 10 years ago, I spent a sabbatical on the Maine coast writing a book about the Constitution.

One afternoon, an eager reference librarian who knew about my interests invited me to a talk at the library. The featured speaker was a woman who proudly called herself a “Constitutional Patriot.”

The speaker was self-educated and her message was simple: Liberal elites – judges, politicians and academics – had perverted the meaning of the “True Constitution.”

Getting the Constitution “right,” in her view and in the view of a great many far-right conservative groups and organizations, all of them constitutional patriots of a sort, means understanding the Constitution as the Founders understood it.

Students Attend Banquet to Support Local Women and Children

At left, Luke Lezhanskyy ’20, Sam Medrano ’19, Kati Young ’19, Joy Adedokun ’19, Shantel Sosa ’21, Rebeca Martinez ’20, Father Bill Wallace, and Adjunct Professor of Spanish Octavio Flores-Cuadra, gather at a fundraiser for Middletown’s ABC Women’s Center on April 4.

On April 4, students from Wesleyan for Women and Children (WesWAC) attended a fundraiser dinner banquet for ABC Women’s Center at St. Clement’s Castle in Portland, Conn. They were accompanied by University Roman Catholic Chaplain Father Bill Wallace, Adjunct Professor of Spanish Octavio Flores-Cuadra, and several members of the community.

ABC Women’s Center provides free and confidential pregnancy resources and services to women and families in the greater Middletown area. Since the nonprofit doesn’t receive federal funding, all services are supported by individual contributions, donations, and fundraisers.

The banquet’s theme was Strong As She. Proceeds will help ABC with its new initiatives such as group parenting classes.

“Attending the ABC Women’s Center banquet for the first time is one of my Wesleyan highlights,” said WesWAC member Sam Medrano ’19. “The passion, soul, and strength that I witnessed from the women who spoke at this life-affirming event is truly amazing. I’m proud to support a vital Middletown organization that women rely on for free pregnancy services.”

Students Practice Personal Pitches with Alumni Mentors at Connect@Wes

On Feb. 22, 10 alumni and 35 students participated in Connect@Wes 2019 in Beckham Hall. The event serves as a "practice" networking event for Wesleyan students of all class years. 

On Feb. 22, eight alumni and 35 students participated in Connect@Wes 2019 in Beckham Hall. The fifth annual event serves as a practice networking event for Wesleyan students of all class years.

Students rotated through short sessions with alumni mentors in different industries to practice their version of a personal pitch. 

Students rotated through short sessions with alumni mentors in different industries to practice their version of a personal pitch. The mentors used their expertise to critique the pitches and provided advice and insight on how to build a personal network.

In New Book, Finn Explains How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution

John Finn

John Finn, professor emeritus of government, is the author of Fracturing the Founding: How the Alt-Right Corrupts the Constitution, published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2019. Finn is an internationally recognized expert on constitutional theory, the rule of law and political violence, and the First Amendment. His public lectures include testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, as well as lectures in Bolivia, Canada, Chile, England, France, Italy, and Spain.

Many in the radical right, including the Tea Party, the militia movement, the alt-right, Christian nationalists, the Oath Keepers, neo-Nazis, and a host of others, brand themselves as constitutional patriots. In Fracturing the Founding, Finn argues that these professions of constitutional devotion serve an important function in mainstreaming the radical right’s ideological and policy agenda: to camouflage its racism, bigotry, and sexism to appeal to a broader audience.

According to the publisher:

The constitution the extreme right holds as its faith is an odd admixture of the forgotten, the rejected, the racist, and the bizarre. Finn illuminates the central precepts of the Alt-constitution and shows how and where it differs from the (true) American Constitution. The differences are disturbing. The Alt-constitution emphasizes absolute rights and unassailable liberties (especially for freedom of speech and guns, no matter the public interest), states’ rights and a corresponding suspicion of the federal government, racial classifications recognized and legitimated by law, and privilege for white Christians. Finn’s book will appeal to all readers interested in contemporary American politics, the contemporary radical right, the founding and the history of America’s constitution.

Finn also is the author of three other books on constitutional theory and law: Peopling the Constitution (2014), American Constitutional Law: Essays, Cases, and Comparative Notes 4th ed. (2018), and Constitutions in Crisis: Political Violence and the Rule of Law (1991). Finn also has been published in several law reviews, including the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Constitutional Commentary, New York University Journal of Law and International Politics, and Georgetown Law Journal.

Grad Student Kemble Discusses Heavy Metal Feminism

Katrice Kemble, a graduate student in ethnomusicology, presented a talk on "Daughters of Darkness: Performing Heavy Metal Feminism" on Feb. 27 during the Graduate Speakers Series.

Katrice Kemble, a graduate student in ethnomusicology, presented a talk on “Daughters of Darkness: Performing Heavy Metal Feminism” on Feb. 27 during the Graduate Speakers Series.

Kemble's research explores the oft-overlooked roles of women in the mainstream heavy music industry by following the bands Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day on a female-fronted tour of the United States. Their performance of heavy metal feminism raises important questions about gender representation in popular culture, feminism and sexualization, genre expectations, and beyond.

Kemble’s research explores the oft-overlooked roles of women in the mainstream heavy music industry by following the bands Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day on a female-fronted tour of the United States. Their performance of heavy metal feminism raises important questions about gender representation in popular culture, feminism and sexualization, genre expectations, and beyond. (Photos by Preksha Sreewastav ’21)