Tag Archive for faculty publications

Cohen Author of All We Know: Three Lives

Book by Lisa Cohen.

Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English, is the author of All We Know: Three Lives, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in July 2012. The book is 448 pages and includes 52 illustrations and notes.

In All We Know, Cohen describes three women’s glamorous choices, complicated failures, and controversial personal lives with lyricism and empathy.

Esther Murphy was a brilliant New York intellectual who dazzled friends and strangers with an unstoppable flow of conversation. But she never finished the books she was contracted to write—a painful failure and yet a kind of achievement.

The quintessential fan, Mercedes de Acosta had intimate friendships with the legendary actresses and dancers of the twentieth century. Her ephemeral legacy lies in the thousands of objects she collected to preserve the memory of those performers and to honor the feelings they inspired.

An icon of haute couture and a fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland held bracing views on dress that drew on her feminism, her ideas about modernity, and her love of women. Existing both vividly and invisibly at the center of cultural life, she—like Murphy and de Acosta—is now almost completely forgotten.

At once a series of intimate portraits and a startling investigation into style, celebrity, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself, All We Know explores a hidden history of modernism and pays tribute to three compelling lives.

For more information on the book and to read book excerpts and reviews, go here.

Barth Published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Hilary Barth

Hilary Barth, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of “Active (not passive) spatial imagery primes temporal judgements.” Written along with Jessica Sullivan of the University of California-San Diego, the article was published in the June 2012 issue of The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

For this article, Barth and Sullivan looked deeper into the previously demonstrated cognitive connections between how we think about space and time. They found that only when people are asked to imagine actively moving themselves through space are their perceptions of time influenced. When participants in the experiment were primed with a similar scenario involving passive motion through space, the same influence was not seen on their temporal judgments.

The article can be read online here.

McAlister’s “Religion of Zombies” Published in Anthropological Quarterly

Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion, associate professor of African American studies, associate professor of American studies, is the author of  “Slaves, Cannibals, and Infected Hyper-Whites: The Race and Religion of Zombies,” published in Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 2, pages 457-486, 2012;

And “From Slave Revolt to a Blood Pact with Satan: The Evangelical Rewriting of Haitian History,” published in Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2012.

Rubenstein’s Article on the Nothing and the Sovereign Published

Mary-Jane Rubenstein

Mary Jane Rubenstein, associate professor of religion, is the author of “Cosmic Singularities: On the Nothing and the Sovereign,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 80, No. 2, pages 485–517, in 2012.

Until very recently, the paper explains, “the creation myth of secular modernity has been the hot big bang hypothesis: the explosion of our single universe out of a single point. Physicists concede that in its traditional form, this story performs an uncanny recapitulation of Christian creation theology: the universe bursts forth suddenly, in a flood of light, out of nothing. As many contemporary thinkers have argued, however, the ‘nothing’ of Christian orthodoxy is neither scripturally nor doctrinally self-evident; rather, it is the product of ontopolitical efforts to secure the sovereignty of God.”

The article traces the twinned concepts of sovereignty and nothingness through theological and astrophysical sources, arguing that “even rabidly atheistic appeals to the ex nihilo end up enshrining a figure of absolute power.” Ultimately, it suggests that far from supporting an absolute beginning, quantum and multiverse cosmologies undermine the logic of nothingness and sovereignty by means of chaos and entanglement.

Rubenstein also is the author of “The Twilight of the Doxai: Or, How to Philosophize with a Whac-A-Mole™ Mallet,” published in The Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Issue 24, pages 64-70, in 2012.

This article evaluates the hermeneutic value of the category of belief from the perspective of a broadly “continental” philosophy of religion. From Socrates’s dismantling of his interlocutors’ doxai to Pseudo-Dionysius’s un-saying of the divine names to Kierkegaard’s noetic divestment to Derrida’s aporetic genealogies, it argues that “belief ” is the target, rather than the telos, of philosophic scrutiny. For the authors engaged here, beliefs are phantasms—uninterrogated positions that uphold a kind of routine political, psychological, or theological order—whose unraveling opens the possibility of difference, and thus of thinking itself. Read the article online here.

Lensing Co-Edits Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Journal

Book edited by Leo Lensing

Leo Lensing, chair and professor of German studies, professor of film studies, is the co-editor of the book, Träume. Das Traumtagebuch 1875-1931, published by Wallstein Verlag in 2012. Träume is the dream journal of Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931). Schnitzler is the author of La Ronde, Fräulein Else and other classics of early 20-century Austrian literature.

Prepared together with Peter Michael Braunwarth to celebrate Schnitzler’s 150th birthday, the revised and expanded version of the dream texts originally included in Schnitzler’s diaries can be read as an implicit challenge to Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Schnitzler’s Träume (Dreams) is both an “unconscious” autobiography of its author, whom Freud called his doppelgänger, and a dark, surreal reflection of the era between the final phase of the Habsburg Empire and the rise of fascism in the 1920s. His dreams are peopled not only by his family and famous Viennese contemporaries, including Freud, Mahler, Klimt, Karl Kraus and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, but also by Goethe, Mozart, Wagner, Emperor Franz Joseph, Kaiser Wilhelm and even Marlene Dietrich.

Träume has elicited an unexpectedly wide and positive response in the Austrian and German media. An early review of the book in the Viennese music journal Der neue Merker marveled over the “profound richness” of the dream texts and praised commentary and afterword as a “compendium of knowledge” about Schnitzler’s world. ORF TV (Austrian National Television) presented a feature on the book in the evening news on May 6, and Austrian Public Radio included a review a month earlier in “Ex libris,” a weekly program discussing new books. Deutschlandfunk, Deutschland Radio and Westdeutscher Rundfunk, three of Germany’s most prominent public radio stations, broadcast extensive reviews; Deutschlandfunk also named Träume “Book of the Week” on May 15 (Schnitzler’s birthday).

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a full-page excerpt from the book in its Sunday edition in February and followed up with a positive review and the designation as one of five “Books of the Week” on May 15. The reviewer for the prestigious Arts pages of the Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich) called Träume “the most fascinating new book of the season,” and Die Welt (Berlin) published a two-page spread that combined a review with lengthy excerpts. Austrian Public Radio has just named the book to its May “Bestenliste,” the 10 best books of the month. Sales have been brisk, and a second printing is due out in mid-June.

Kirn’s Neuron Research Published in Neuroscience Journals

John Kirn, professor of biology, chair and professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of three recent articles. They include:

“Adult neuron addition to the zebra finch song motor pathway correlates with the rate and extent of recovery from botox-induced paralysis of the vocal muscles,” published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 31(47): 16958-16968. Yi-Lo Yu ’03, MA ’04 co-authored this paper.

“Morphological plasticity in vocal motor neurons following song crystallization in the zebra finch,” published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, Accepted manuscript online on April 2, 2012. DOI: 10.1002/cne.23120. Biology major Kathryn McDonald Ph.D. ’09 co-authored this article.

And “Adult neurogenesis is associated with the maintenance of a stereotyped, learned motor behavior,” published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 32(20): 7052–7057.

Weil Author of Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now

Book by Kari Weil

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, is the author of the book, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now?, published by Columbia University Press in April 2012.

In Thinking Animals, Weil provides a critical introduction to the field of animal studies as well as an appreciation of its thrilling acts of destabilization. Examining real and imagined confrontations between human and nonhuman animals, she charts the presumed lines of difference between human beings and other species and the personal, ethical, and political implications of those boundaries.

Weil’s considerations recast the work of such authors as Kafka, Mann, Woolf, and Coetzee, and such philosophers as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, Agamben, Cixous, and Hearne, while incorporating the aesthetic perspectives of such visual artists as Bill Viola, Frank Noelker, and Sam Taylor-Wood and the “visual thinking” of the autistic animal scientist Temple Grandin. She addresses theories of pet keeping and domestication; the importance of animal agency; the intersection of animal studies, disability studies, and ethics; and the role of gender, shame, love, and grief in shaping our attitudes toward animals.

Exposing humanism’s conception of the human as a biased illusion, and embracing posthumanism’s acceptance of human and animal entanglement, Weil unseats the comfortable assumptions of humanist thought and its species-specific distinctions.

Cohen’s New Book Reviewed in The New Yorker

A new book by Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English, was given an enthusiastic early review in The New Yorker’s book blog on March 12. Her book, All We Know, will be published in July 2012.

“Cohen’s remarkable, sui generis study about three modernist figures—Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta, and Madge Garland, for many years a fashion editor at British Vogue—is, in part, about dread, which is to say failure and fear of self-exposure, and how we accommodate our lives to suit the various shadows splashed by the sun of occasional triumph…

By servicing Murphy and, in the book’s shattering final section about Madge Garland, a fashion star who reimagined her life out of the detritus of family neglect, English snobbism, and sartorial surface, Cohen services her subjects while merging and emerging from them. She extends them every loving courtesy, such as the human desire to identify with other humans, while exercising her right as a major writer: to make of her subjects and, to a certain degree, herself, what she will.”

Adelstein Author of The Rise of Planning in Industrial America

Richard Adelstein, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is the author of The Rise of Planning in Industrial America, 1865-1914, published by Routledge in March 2012.

In the book, Adelstein explores the remarkable transformation undergone by business in the U.S. over the half-century following the Civil War—from small sole proprietorships and proprietorships to massive corporations possessing many of the same constitutional rights as living men and women. Approaching this story through historical, philosophical, legal and economic lenses, Adelstein presents an original, three-pronged theory of the rise of business firms.

He traces the big business boom to three historic developments: a major managerial achievement within the firms themselves; a ill-conceived and ill-timed attempt by legislators to rein in rapidly expanding firms; and the Supreme Court’s understated—but immensely consequential—decision granting constitutional rights to corporations separate from those of their owners. Read more about the book in this March 26, 2012 Wesleyan Connection story.

Ocean Acidification Paper by Royer, Thomas Published in Science

Ellen Thomas examines a core of sediment from some 56 million years ago, when the oceans underwent acidification that could be an analog to ocean changes today. (Photo by Steve Schellenberg)

Dana Royer and Ellen Thomas are among the 21 authors of a review paper, “The Geological Record of Ocean Acidification,” published in Science, March 2012: Vol. 335, no. 6072, pages 1058-1063.

In the paper, the authors review events exhibiting evidence for elevated atmospheric CO2, global warming, and ocean acidification over the past 300 million years of Earth’s history, some with contemporaneous extinction or evolutionary turnover among marine calcifiers.

Ocean acidification may have severe consequences for marine ecosystems; however, assessing its future impact is difficult because laboratory experiments and field observations are limited by their reduced ecologic complexity and sample period, respectively.

Royer is an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Thomas is a research professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Science News and The Earth Institute at Columbia University published press releases on the study.

In addition, Thomas’s study titled, “Ocean Acidification – How will ongoing ocean acidification affect marine life?” appeared in a 2011 edition of PAGES, in a special volume with the title Paired Perspectives on Global Change.

The ocean acidification study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Hingorani Group Publishes 8 Papers on DNA Mismatch Repair

A research group led by Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, has published eight papers in 2011-2012 on the mechanisms of DNA replication and repair proteins, independently and in collaboration with research groups at Wesleyan and other national and international universities.

The papers are:

“Large conformational changes in MutS during DNA scanning, mismatch recognition and repair signaling,” published in The EMBO Journal, 2012 (in press).

The Variable Sub-domain of Escherichia coli SecA functions to regulate in the SecA ATPase Activity and ADP release,” published in the Journal of Bacteriology, 2012 (March 2 Epub). Don Oliver, the Daniel Ayres Professor of Biology, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, was the lead investigator and Fred Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, was a co-author on this paper.

Single-molecule multiparameter fluorescence spectroscopy reveals directional MutS binding to mismatched bases in DNA,” published in Nucleic Acids Research, 2012 (Feb, 24 Epub).

Biochemical analysis of the human mismatch repair proteins hMutSαMSH2G674A-MSH6 and MSH2-MSH6T1219D,” published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012 (Jan. 25 Epub).

ATP Binding and Hydrolysis-Driven Rate-Determining Events in the RFC-Catalyzed PCNA Clamp Loading Reaction,” published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, Feb. 17, 2012; 416(2), pages 176-91.

A Central Swivel Point in the RFC Clamp Loader Controls PCNA Opening and Loading on DNA,” published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, Feb. 17, 2012; 416(2), pages 163-75.

Human MSH2 (hMSH2) protein controls ATP processing by hMSH2-hMSH6,” published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Nov. 18, 2011; 286(46), pages 40287-95.

Dynamical allosterism in the mechanism of action of DNA mismatch repair protein MutS,” published in the Biophysical Journal, Oct. 5, 2011;101(7), pages 1730-9. David Beveridge, the Joshua Boger Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, was the lead investigator on this paper.

Dierker, Rose, Postdocs Author 2 Papers on Teens’ Nicotine Dependence

Lisa Dierker, chair and professor of psychology, Jennifer Rose, research associate professor of psychology and two postdoctoral fellows, together with researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, are the co-authors of two new papers examining nicotine dependence in teen smokers.

“The Natural Course of Nicotine Dependence Symptoms Among Adolescent Smokers,” was published March 15 in the peer-reviewed journal, Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Wesleyan Postdoctoral Fellows Weihai Zhan and Arielle Selya contributed to the paper. The researchers followed novice adolescent smokers, as well as those who had never smoked before, for four years. They found that, before smoking 100 cigarettes, 20 percent reported “smoking to relieve restlessness and irritability,” and “smoking a lot more now to be satisfied compared to when first smoked,” both considered symptoms of nicotine dependence. This is the first study to describe the natural course of nicotine dependence specifically among adolescent smokers who had not yet reached the 100-cigarette milestone.

The paper is available to read online here.

According to Dierker, “These findings add to a growing body of research showing that for some adolescents, nicotine dependence symptoms develop soon after smoking begins and at low levels of cigarette use. Because these early emerging symptoms represent a substantial risk for developing chronic smoking behavior, it is important that new adolescent smokers are not neglected in smoking prevention and cessation programs.”

A second study, “Risk Factors for Adolescent Smoking: Parental Smoking and the Mediating Role of Nicotine,” was published Feb. 24 in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It is available online here.

While it is well documented that having a parent who smokes increases a teen’s risk of smoking, this study sought to explain the pathways controlling this relationship. The researchers found that maternal smoking significantly increased the likelihood that teens would experience greater sensitivity to nicotine dependence symptoms at low levels of smoking. “This may be the result of shared genes between parent and child that promote sensitivity to the effects of nicotine or due to substantial second-hand smoke in the home that may prime children to develop dependence symptoms relatively quickly after they begin smoking, but in either case suggests that children with parents who smoke are an important group with whom to intervene.” To inform the design of effective interventions, research focusing on both potential genetic markers and environmental risk is ongoing with this high-risk sample.