Tag Archive for 5 Questions

5 Questions With…Greg Voth on Turbulence and Grain Flow

Greg Voth studies turbulent fluid flows and flows of granular materials.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Greg Voth, associate professor of physics.

Q: Professor Voth, what are your primary areas of research and how did you become involved in them?

A: My research group studies turbulent fluid flows and flows of granular materials. These complex systems have a wide range of environmental and industrial applications, but fundamental understanding of these systems has been held back because of the difficulty of measuring rapidly changing flow fields. Advances in high speed digital imaging over the past two decades have opened new ways to measure the trajectories of particles transported by these flows. I started studying turbulence during my graduate research in the mid 1990s, at Cornell Univ. There we built our own high speed imagers out of silicon strip detectors that had been designed for detecting sub-atomic particles in high-energy physics

5 Questions With . . . Magda Teter on Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, spent the past few years visiting more than 15 archives in Poland, Rome and the Vatican City to find court records, pamphlets, rabbinic writings and secret correspondence between the papal nuncios and Rome.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of medieval studies. Teter is the author of Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in March 2011.

Q: Professor Teter, you are a scholar of religious and cultural history. What are your research interests, and what courses do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: In my writing I focus on Jewish-Christian relations, particularly in Poland, which was once the one of the largest states in Europe and also home to the largest Jewish community in the world. At Wesleyan I teach a wide range of courses mostly in Jewish history, but I also teach Early Modern European history, covering the period from mid-15th century to the French Revolution, and historiography. Having been trained at Columbia University, my courses always present Jews as actors in larger historical developments. Students taking my classes in Jewish history learn a great deal about general history. Similarly, since Jews were a crucial group in Europe greatly influencing European society, culture, economy, and politics, students taking my European history classes will learn that one cannot fully understand, for example, humanism and the Reformation without taking into account the role Jews played in them. I see both Jewish and non-Jewish history as tightly intertwined with each other. This semester I teach a course on east European Jewish history, with a service-learning component focusing on east European Judaica from the Adath Israel Museum in Middletown.  

5 Questions With . . . Steve Collins on Filmmaking, Teaching

Steve Collins, assistant professor of film studies, in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Steve Collins ’91. Collins is an assistant professor of film studies. He recently completed a new feature film, You Hurt My Feelings. His first feature, Gretchen, won the $50,000 Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival and has been shown on the Sundance Channel.

Q: What courses do you teach at Wesleyan, and what have you learned from working on films that you share with your students?

A: I teach an intro to 16mm film production class called “Sight and Sound” where we focus on how to tell a story without dialogue. For seniors I teach a year-long thesis film class, where the students develop, shoot and edit a 12-minute narrative. I also teach a course in screenwriting, where we focus on the short film form.

Films are dynamic living organisms. I try to pass on the rigor, passion and care that goes into their construction. As someone who makes films in addition to watching them, I can offer the firsthand proof to them that yes, directors do think very carefully about what they’re doing, where to place the camera, how to use sound, light, composition, editing, etcetera, to evoke the desired response from the audience.

5 Questions With . . . William Johnston on the History of Disease

William Johnston

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of  William Johnston, professor of history, professor of science in society, professor of East Asian Studies. One of his areas of specialty is the history of disease and epidemics.

Q: How did you become interested in the history of diseases, and more specifically, flu outbreaks?

A: While in graduate school I examined a number of different fields of history, but was drawn to the history of medicine in Japan because it was in that field that the Japanese first absorbed European scientific ideas and methods.  My advisor suggested that I take courses in the History of Science Department, and one course I took was a history of tuberculosis in the Untied States.  It was an eye-opener because it made me realize the ways in which societies interpret and respond to disease tells us a lot about their most basic values and fundamental structures. Sometimes people get very excited about relatively minor diseases while accepting major causes of illness and death as somehow “normal.”

Q: What are among the more notable outbreaks over the last, say, 100 or so years?

A: The most important outbreak of flu in the past century was, of course, the one that occurred between 1917 and 1920. For that matter it was one of the deadliest pandemics of all time, killing about 2.5 percent of all infected, with a total mortality estimated between 20 and 50 million worldwide. Some estimates go even higher. It possibly was a swine flu, although it could have been an avian strain that infected swine and then mutated to infect people; its exact origins

5 Questions With . . . Krishna Winston on Art of Translation

Günter Grass, pictured in center, autographs a tin drum for Krishna Winston at the Grass House in Lübeck, Germany. Grass’ wife, Ute, looks on. The Tin Drum is Grass’ most famous novel. (Photo by Hongjun Cai)

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Krishna Winston, Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, dean of arts and humanities, on the art of literary translation. Winston has been the principal English-language translator for the works of the Nobel Prize-winning German author Günter Grass since 1990. Here Winston talks about the art of translation and working with a giant of 20th-century literature.

Q: How did you come to be the English-language translator of Günter Grass’s books?

A: I should explain that from 1960 until his death in 1992, the distinguished literary translator Ralph Manheim was responsible for translating almost everything Grass published, starting with The Tin Drum, which established Grass as the most provocative and brilliant writer to emerge from postwar Germany. After the Berlin Wall came down, because Manheim was in failing health, Grass’s American editor, Helen Wolff, asked my Wesleyan colleague Arthur S. Wensinger and me to do a collection of essays by Grass.

It was a rush job, because the book had to appear in time for the official unification of the two Germanys on October 3, 1990. Wolff had worked for many years with my parents, well-known literary translators, and I had translated a book on Joseph Goebbels that she published.

5 Questions With . . . Elijah Huge on Architecture

Assistant Professor of Art Elijah Huge is teaching architecture design studios, which are part of the Studio Arts Program curriculum.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Elijah Huge, assistant professor of art. Huge returned to Wesleyan this fall after a sabbatical spent at the University of California-Berkeley. He teaches architecture.

Q: What’s your favorite building, or group of buildings, at Wesleyan, and why?

A: There are a number of outstanding buildings on campus, but my favorite group of buildings is the Center for the Arts, without question. The CFA is invested with a highly refined and clearly articulated architectural identity and reflects an amazing level of cultural ambition on the part of the university.  On the one hand, the buildings are of their moment within American 20th architectural history, but their unusual, even primitive use of solid, monolithic limestone blocks – a decidedly un-modern building material – is simply amazing.  

5 Questions With . . . Bill Trousdale on Energy

Bill Trousdale, professor of physics, emeritus, stands near a statue of inventor Nikola Tesla. Trousdale taught at Wesleyan for 30 years and has had an interest in global warming since 1972.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Bill Trousdale, professor of physics, emeritus. He recently lectured on “Global Warming and Energy Options” and “The Pros and Cons of Nuclear Energy.”

Q: Professor Trousdale, you researched solid state physics at Wesleyan for 30 years, retiring in 1989. Did you always have a side interest in energy creation, consumption and global warming?

A: Yes for almost as long as I can remember, in the early 1950s when I learned about the second law of thermodynamics. I was appalled by burning oil at 2,000 degrees to maintain a house at 72 degrees. That is a thermodynamic abomination.

5 Questions With . . . Religion’s Peter Gottschalk

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This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Peter Gottschalk, chair and professor of religion and co-author, with Gabriel Greenberg ’04, of the book Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy (Rowman & Littlefield).

Q. How did you become interested in studying Islam?

A: My interest arose entirely by serendipity. While in college, I hadn’t any interest in studying Islam but, because I was planning on visiting my parents who had just moved to Saudi Arabia, I took an introductory course on Islam. Fortunately, John Esposito, one of the few American specialists in Islam at the time, taught the class. From Saudi, I continued on to my first trip to India, where I lived in an area with a mixed Hindu, Muslim, and Christian population. I didn’t go to India for the sake of learning about the local religions, but the similarities and differences among the religious practices there, and between the forms of Islam practiced in Saudi and India, piqued my interest. After my return to the U.S., following other career pursuits, the lure of understanding more about both Islamic and Hindu traditions grew until it finally overtook me, and I shifted my attention.

Peter Gottschalk, chair and professor of religion, is the co-author of the book Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy. The book aims to better publicize the existence of an accepted – and corrosive – social prejudice. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Q: Much of your scholarly work has been focused on Islam in the Asian subcontinent, but your book Islamophobia is decidedly focused on the Western World. How did this come about? 


A: Following the tragedies of 9/11, it wasn’t hard to guess that the prejudice that Muslims historically had faced in the United States would heighten. Of course, the hijackers religiously justified the violence they unleashed against their victims, but this clearly resulted from an entirely marginal interpretation of Islam held by a fraction of Muslims so small that they would be insignificant,

5 Questions With . . . Government’s Erika Franklin Fowler

Erika Franklin Fowler is assistant professor of government. (Photo by Emily Brackman '11)

The issue we ask “5 Questions” of Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, the director of the newly-launched Wesleyan Media Project, a non-partisan initiative designed to perform comprehensive tracking and analysis of federal and state political advertisements by candidates, parties and special interest groups in every media market in the nation.

Q: What can you tell us about the Wesleyan Media Project?

A: The Wesleyan Media Project will provide nonpartisan, publicly-available, real-time tracking and analysis of all political ads aired on television across the U.S. during the 2010 election campaign. It’s a collaborative effort lead by me and two colleagues, Professor Mike Franz at Bowdoin College and Professor Travis Ridout at Washington State University, which builds on the technology provided by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

5 Questions with . . . J. Kēhaulani Kauanui

My book critically examines how “blood racialization” defines Hawaiian identity as measurable and dilutable

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology, examines how "blood racialization" defines Hawaiian identity as measurable and dilutable. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

This issue we feature 5 Questions with… J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology.

Q. How did you become interested in your area of study?
JKK: My area of study is related to researching the history of U.S. imperialism in the Pacific Islands. Researching indigenous issues in Hawai`i, I found it necessary to study how the U.S. government has treated Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) in light of its U.S. federal policy on American Indians and Alaska Natives. The policy is convoluted. The U.S. government has alternately classified Kanaka Maoli, as well as other Native Pacific Islanders under the Asian or “Asian Pacific” category, but since 1906, Kanaka Maoli have also specifically been included in over 160 legislative acts that apply to American Indians. This contradiction has pushed me to better understand U.S. racial formations and indigenous sovereignty politics. This has led me to other research areas, including settler colonialism, self-determination, decolonization, and international law.

Q. What was the most interesting aspect of researching and writing your recent book Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity?
JKK: My book critically examines how “blood racialization” defines Hawaiian identity as measurable and dilutable. Blood racialization is the process by which racial meaning is ascribed—in this case to Kanaka Maoli – through ideologies of blood quantum. The contemporary