Tag Archive for faculty achievements

Lennox Discusses History on Podcast “Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness”

Jeffers Lennox

Jeffers Lennox

Associate Professor of History Jeffers Lennox was featured on a May 4 episode of the podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. In an episode titled  “What Was Canada Up To During The American Revolution? with Professor Jeffers Lennox,” Lennox spoke about Canada and the American Revolution.

The podcast, which is hosted and created by Van Ness, an Emmy-nominated television star and New York Times bestselling author, focuses on different topics each week. Van Ness interviews experts in various fields and delves into the subjects in which they specialize.

The episode began with Van Ness asking an overarching question: “What’s the deal with Canada’s origin story?”

Lennox spoke about how parts of Canada were originally colonies at the time of the American Revolution, though they did not choose to join the fight. However, these were not the first people to live on the land.

“Like all of North America, the territories that become Canada were just indigenous homelands. There had been indigenous people living in the Northeast for 12,000 years before settlers arrived,” Lennox explained.

He also expanded on the history of French influence in Canada.

“The French settlers stayed [on the land],” Lennox said. “That’s why if you go to Montreal or Quebec City, or anywhere in Quebec and lots of places in Nova Scotia, it’s primarily French speakers, but the administration leaves, and now the British are governing this French population of like 70,000 settlers, plus trying to deal with indigenous allies and indigenous enemies.”

Towards the end of the episode, Lennox elaborated on how Canada tends to be overlooked in contemporary culture.

“That is a fairly recent thing,” he said. “Canada at the time of the American Revolution and through the 19th century was certainly on the minds of most Americans because it was developing this sort of parallel track that was so similar in so many ways but demonstrated an alternative way of maintaining ties to Britain. Different ways of handling slavery and enslaved peoples, indigenous relations — all this kind of stuff that Americans paid attention to.

Lennox emphasized the interconnectedness of the relationship between the United States’ origins and the development of Canada.

“What I want people to understand is that the creation of the United States wasn’t a United States project,” Lennox explained. “It was a continental project. And those who did not participate in the revolution played a fundamental role in the way that Americans came to think about themselves and then how they established a country that could then foster that identity.”

Lennox’s work focuses on Early North America, from the 17th century to the 19th century. This semester, he is teaching Intro to History: Resistance and Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1500-1850 and Oh Canada: Indigenous Resistance and Settler Colonialism, 1776-1896.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Murillo Awarded Four Quartets Prize For Poetry

John Murillo

John Murillo

John Murillo, director of creative writing and assistant professor of English and African American studies, is the recipient of the 2021 Four Quartets Prize for his poem “A Refusal to Mourn the Deaths, by Gunfire, of Three Men in Brooklyn” from his poetry collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).

The prize, awarded by the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America, will bestow Murillo with $21,000. It was launched in 2018 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets being published in a single volume of work and is given to a “unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book in 2020,” according to the prize’s website.

The judges’ citation says the poem “lights a match and holds us in the flame.”

“In this extraordinary fifteen-sonnet redoublé, the speaker meditates on the recent history of murderous racism in America that makes of Black men targets, and centers in the lyric space Black anger and Black pain,” the citation reads. “Murillo reminds us that his is a long lineage and each sonnet’s epigraph marks the genealogy of resistance Black poets continue to enact. Murillo’s anti-elegy demonstrates a lyrical virtuosity, passion, and command of language that makes this work urgent, essential, and enduring.”

Murillo has gained much recognition for his work this year alone, including winning the Tufts Kingsley Award for Poetry in April and being nominated for an NAACP Images Award for Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry in February. His collection was also longlisted for both the PEN/Voelcker and Believer Book Awards in January, and his poetry has been featured in American Poetry Review

This semester, Murillo is teaching Techniques of Poetry and Intermediate Poetry Workshop.

To view a video of Murillo reading from his winning poem, click here.

President Roth, Kolcio Speak at International U.N. Ukraine Roundtable

donbasAssociate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 recently participated in an international virtual roundtable discussion hosted by the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme. The roundtable, titled “Implementing a Somatic Methodology in the Ukrainian Rehabilitation System: Developing Stress Resistance in Ex-combatants, IDPs, and Residents of Eastern Ukraine” was held virtually on April 28.

The purpose of the roundtable was to develop a resolution of joint coordination between the various ministries in Ukraine responsible for the psychological health of veterans.

Kolcio and Roth spoke about the importance of the Vitality Project Donbas, a collaboration between Wesleyan and the NGO Development Foundation which uses innovative, somatic, integrating practices to help people overcome the psychological effects of exhaustion, depression, and social isolation in communities in eastern Ukraine and help military veterans transition to civilian life. Kolcio is the principal U.S. researcher for the project.

Kolcio spoke about civic engagement through somatics, a practice that highlights the connection between the mind and the body.

“Although trauma affects a large number of people around the world, mental health care is inhibited by barriers, including stigma, cost, and education,” Kolcio said. “Somatic methods, which work with the physical manifestations of trauma, address each of these barriers.”

Kolcio explained that somatics combine physiological and physical aspects of health and can be used to treat stress and trauma.

“Supporting and building the psychosocial resilience and integration of those impacted by the current conflict in Ukraine is the most important step towards social and economic stability and security in our future,” Kolcio said. “Investing in people is the number one priority in ensuring our future, which depends on the vitality, engagement, sense of belonging, sense of personal value, and creative energies of each person in public life.”

Roth emphasized the importance of civic engagement in building a better society at the University level and beyond, building context for the work done at Wesleyan and through Vitality Project Donbas.

“Universities can only prosper, inquiry and education can only thrive, when the civic environment around the university is healthy,” Roth said. “And so we, at Wesleyan University … are dedicated to creating strong relationships with civic organizations to foster engagement with public life to improve the community in which we live, and thereby improving our own University’s practices.”

Roth also stressed the importance of somatics in civic engagement and overall well-being.

“Somatics is an approach that fosters resilience, engagement, critical thinking, and creativity by focusing on the integration of mind and body,” Roth said.

Kolcio led the virtual audience in a breathing exercise to release stress and build feelings of security, demonstrating the efficacy of somatic practices, explaining how the analysis of somatic methods will advance the project.

The work carried out in Vitality Project Donbas will contribute to worldwide advances in mental health and to the Donbas community in Ukraine.

To watch the full roundtable, click here.

Thomas Co-Authors 5 Studies on Oceanic Environmental Stress

Ellen Thomas, Harold T. Stearns Professor of Integrative Sciences, is the co-author of five scientific papers.

All are part of the output of international collaborations of which her Wesleyan-based research was a part, funded by the National Science Foundation over the last three years.

“All the studies look at different aspects of the behavior of microscopic organisms in the oceans under past environmental stress, whether caused by the impact of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, or past episodes of global warming or cooling, and at the effect of different rates of environmental change on these life forms,” she said. “We then use these past effects to look into potential effects of future global warming on these oceanic organisms and oceanic ecosystems in general.”

The papers are:

Photosymbiosis in planktonic foraminifera across the Palaeocene Eocene Thermal Maximum,” published in the March 2021 issue of Paleobiology.

Bentho-pelagic Decoupling: The Marine Biological Carbon Pump During Eocene Hyperthermals,” published in the March 2021 issue of Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.

Updating a Paleogene magnetobiochronogical timescale through graphical interpretation,” published in the January 2021 issue of MethodsX.

Turnover and stability in the deep sea: benthic foraminifera as tracers of Paleogene global change,” published in the November 2020 issue of Global and Planetary Change.

In addition, her paper “Benthic foraminiferal turnover across the Dan-C2 event in the eastern South Atlantic Ocean (ODP Site 1262),” is forthcoming in the June 2021 issue of Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

OConnell, Dann ’17 Join 2021 Voices for Science Cohort

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne OConnell

Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Julian Dann ’17, a graduate student at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, were both selected to be part of the American Geophysical Union’s 2021 Voices for Science Cohort.

Hosted by the American Geophysical Union, Voices for Science aims to train scientists “to address the critical need for communicating the value and impact of Earth and space science to key decision makers, journalists, and public audiences,” according to the union’s website. Each cohort receives specialized training and mentoring throughout a 12-month period to hone their skills in communication and outreach.

Throughout the coming year, OConnell and Dann will participate in science communication workshops and work to promote the geosciences.

 

 

Murillo Honored with $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry

Poet John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection “Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.” (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

John Murillo is the 2021 recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry. (Photo courtesy of Four Ways Books)

On April 7, poet John Murillo, assistant professor of English, was named the 2021 winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award for his recent collection Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books, 2020).

Murillo’s collection offers “a reflective look at the legacy of institutional, accepted violence against Blacks and Latinos and the personal and societal wreckage wrought by long histories of subjugation.”

The Kingsley Tufts Award is awarded to a mid-career poet and comes with a $100,000 prize.

Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry also was nominated for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award and the 2021 NAACP Images Awards in the Outstanding Literary Work — Poetry category.

This spring, Murillo is teaching ENGL 337: Advanced Poetry Workshop: Radical Revision.

American Oz by MacLowry, Strain to Premiere April 19

ozA film written, directed, and produced by College of Film and the Moving Image faculty Randall MacLowry and Tracy Heather Strain explores the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator of the beloved classic American narrative, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

MacLowry is assistant professor of the practice in film studies and Strain is associate professor of film studies. Together they direct the Wesleyan Documentary Project.

Titled American Oz, the documentary depicts how Baum continued to reinvent himself—working as a chicken breeder, actor, marketer of petroleum products, shopkeeper, newspaperman, and traveling salesman—while reinterpreting his observations through films, books, and musicals.

Featuring interviews with Wesleyan’s Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, Emerita; Wicked author Gregory Maguire, and historian Philip Deloria, and others, American Oz shows how Baum wove together scraps and shards of his own experiences into an enduring work of the imagination. As a young husband and father, Baum was continually struggling to support his growing family. His quest to find his true calling led him through a dozen enterprises; some were abandoned for the next big thing and others failed. But each provided Baum with fodder that could be transformed in his writing.

The documentary premieres from 9 to 11 p.m. EST on Monday, April 19 on PBS, PBS.org, and the PBS Video App.

This spring at Wesleyan, MacLowry is teaching FILM 457: Advanced Filmmaking, and Strain is teaching FILM 384: Documentary Storytelling and FILM 430: Documentary Production.

Tucker Lectures on Victorian Aeronauts and the History of Ballooning

Photo of Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and chair of the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, gave a virtual talk titled “Adventures of Victorian Aeronauts” on March 28. The lecture focused on the way balloon travel changed the landscape of Victorian aviation.

The talk was hosted by Profs & Pints, an online platform for professors to give lectures that reach a wide virtual audience.

Tucker began with a historical panorama of ballooning from its origins in Enlightenment science and Romanticism, to its uses for various purposes in the 19th century. She also explored balloon fashion and follies, accidents and mishaps, deaths and discoveries, personalities and scientific uses, as well as the technologies involved.

Tucker first wrote about aeronauts after the 2019 release of the Tom Harper-directed film “The Aeronauts.”

She also was featured in a radio podcast with comedian and regular NPR host Helen Hong and history teacher Matt Beat for iHeartRadio’s new podcast series, “Jobsolete.”

At Wesleyan, Tucker’s work focuses on the varied visual worlds of photographic and cinematic evidence in the fields of science, law, forensic medicine, news reporting, public trials, history, environment, as well as scientific discovery.

This spring, she’s teaching a sophomore history tutorial, CSS 240: The Emergence of Modern Europe.

baloon

Tuckers’ talk relates to the 2019 film “The Aeronauts,” directed by Tom Harper.

Grossman Co-Authors Article on British Stock Market

Grossman

Richard Grossman

Richard Grossman, professor of economics, recently co-authored an article titled “Before the Cult of Equity: the British Stock Market, 1829-1929” in European Review of Economic History, published on March 24, 2021.

According to the paper’s abstract, the co-authors “analyze the development and performance of the British equity market during the era when it reigned supreme as the largest in the world. By using an extensive monthly dataset of thousands of companies, we identify the major peaks and troughs in the market and find a relationship with the timing of economic cycles. We also show that the equity risk premium was modest and, contrary to previous research, domestic and foreign stocks earned similar returns for much of the period. We also document the early dominance of the transport and finance sectors and the subsequent emergence of many new industries.”

Dierker to Teach Passion-Driven Statistics As Fulbright Specialist

dierker

Lisa Dierker began her four-year term as a Fulbright Specialist in January.

As a recipient of a Fulbright Specialist Award, Professor Lisa Dierker hopes to connect with academic partners across the world sharing her expertise and excitement in support of data analytics.

“High quality, accessible and manageable data have never been so critical to the well-being of people around the world,” Dierker said. “Increasing capacity to identify, gather and analyze relevant data is a key pathway for better-informed decision-making and will create a larger, more diverse workforce.”

Dierker, Walter Crowell University Professor of Social Sciences, professor of psychology and education studies, is a co-creator of Wesleyan’s “Passion-Driven Statistics” model, a data-driven, project-based introductory curriculum backed by the National Science Foundation. This flexible curriculum engages students from a range of disciplines with large, real-world data sets and code-based analytic software (e.g. SAS, R, Python, Stata, etc.), providing experience in the rich, complicated, decision-making process of real statistical inquiry. The model is being taught nationwide in colleges and universities and has reached more than 50,000 people worldwide through the Coursera class, Data Analysis and Interpretation, taught by Dierker and Jennifer Rose, professor of the practice in the Center for Pedagogical Innovation.

Östör Celebrates 6 Films Featured at Smithsonian Festival

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, and his wife, Lina Fruzzetti, a professor of anthropology at Brown University, co-produced six films that are now being included in a retrospective hosted by the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative for the annual Mother Tongue Film Festival.

The festival features diverse films which explore language and knowledge around the world. This year’s theme is “The Healing Power of Storytelling.” While the festival must take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each film is available to stream throughout the spring for a certain window of time. Östör and Fruzzetti also participated in a virtual roundtable discussion on March 19 to discuss their films through an anthropological lens.

Of Östör and Fruzzetti’s six films in the festival, one is a documentary feature and the other five are documentary shorts.

mother's house The feature film, titled In My Mother’s House (2017), follows Fruzzetti as she uncovers the history of her Italian father and her Eritrean mother after receiving a letter from a long-lost relative. The film is set in the United States, Italy, and Eritrea as Fruzzetti learns more about the intersection of her family’s past and the history of these countries through her travels.

At the roundtable discussion, Fruzzetti spoke about the process of telling her mother’s story.

“Here is a story of a woman that gets appropriated across generations of people [who] come to see it,” Fruzzetti said. “But most people…tell us how the film affected them. We had no idea that’s what [would] happen to the film. My interest in the film isn’t in the technicalities of the filmmaking itself, but in the ethnography of it, in the stories that it tells. And every film, I think, has a powerful story that it can tell.”

Östör mentioned how working on In My Mother’s House combined different aspects of his and Fruzzetti’s professional work.

“Even in this film, very personal, the extraordinary thing was how much our work in publication and films and anthropology…coincided and brought together what I like to call the ethnographer’s knowledge with the filmmaker’s art and craft, and then developed these to the betterment of both,” Östör said.

He added that the intersection of anthropology and filmmaking happened naturally for himself and Fruzzetti.

“We never made a decision about whether we were doing film or anthropology. It was, again, because of this ethnographic critical knowledge… we had in the background [that] allowed us to respond,” Östör said.

Östör also spoke about his collaboration with Fruzzetti.

“The first few films in Bengal in fact gave a basis for what we did later,” Östör said. “But the pivotal film that we came to work on together was Seed and Earth, and this one was the product of various circumstances and unexpected developments in the field. But again, the background of fieldwork allowed us to…adapt and deal with what was the reality in front of us.”

Fruzzetti talked about the motivations for making such documentary films.

“All of these films we worked on, we didn’t think that we were doing them to get across [that] this is about change,” Fruzzetti said. “The person seeing them has to decide for himself or herself.”

She emphasized that such films hold the power to change people’s thought processes.

“[Ethnographic films] do change how we think about other people,” Fruzzetti said. “But [they] also change the people themselves who are a part of these films. It’s not like we went thinking ‘this is what’s going to happen.’ You don’t really know.”

Östör highlighted that the films were not intended to change situations, rather, he said they were made to hold up a mirror to life.

“We didn’t set out to make a film that was an intervention or that was investigative reporting, Östör said. “There are a lot of films today that are just that. Some of these films have been recently criticized, for example that they don’t interfere enough, that they don’t instigate. Our answer is that we try to be true to the truth and to the reality.”

The other five of Östör and Fruzzetti’s films are the following documentary shorts:

Seed and Earth (1995), set in India, follows the lives of two brothers and their families in West Bengal through a lens of age and gender.

Khalfan and Zanzibar (2000), set in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The film showcases Khalfan Hamid Khalfan, who runs the Association of the Disabled in Zanzibar, while exploring the island’s history and culture, as well as following members of its disabled population.

Fishers of Dar (2001), set in Tanzania, follows fishermen in Dar es Salaam for a day as they travel to the market and the harbor to carry out their work. Steven Ross ’75 directed the film.

Singing Pictures (2005), set in India, follows a group of women in the village of Naya who formed a cooperative focused on scroll-painting, which they learn and then practice. Their work changes to include contemporary concerns such as women’s issues and other concerns in their society.

Songs of a Sorrowful Man (2009), set in India, centers around Dukhashyam, an artist whose work focuses on Sufism, community engagement, and passing down the knowledge of art history and techniques with future artists.

 

OConnell Talks Ocean Exploration in Vox Podcast

Suzanne O'Connell

Suzanne OConnell

Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is featured on Vox Media’s podcast Unexplainable in a March 17 episode titled “Journey Toward the Center of the Earth.”

The podcast explores unanswered scientific questions about mysterious aspects of the world and examines what scientists are doing to find answers. The episode with OConnell delves into a 20th-century quest to drill into the Earth’s layers through the ocean, specifically to learn more about a very dense region between the crust and the mantle called the Mohorovičić discontinuity, or the Moho.

“Project Moho was a bust, but it lay a foundation for exploring the ocean, which hadn’t been done before,” OConnell said in the podcast. “We still don’t know that much about it, and every day, almost, we learn something so exciting and so important about our planet.”

OConnell explained that drilling into the ocean allowed scientists to learn about past life and climate on Earth and discover life in the remotest depths of the ocean floor.

“Drilling into the surface sediment, we had no idea what the surface sediment of the ocean was like, and it defined a whole new field of geoscience: paleoceanography,” OConnell said. “And there could be a whole new field of mantle rheology that could be discovered with more pieces of mantle material.”

Read an accompanying Vox article titled “How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth” online here.