Olivia DrakeMay 16, 20226min
For 21 years, historian Jennifer Mittelstadt '92 has immersed herself in dusty bound indexes and volumes, micro-film readers, and intransigent online databases hunting for government documents. "Such documents offer neither ease of access nor instant gratification, and few yield pleasures or eureka moments," said Mittelstadt, professor of history at Rutgers University and a scholar of the state and politics in the 20th-century United States. "I've learned that satisfaction comes only from layering them in unexpected ways and moving outside the government archive entirely, forcing the documents to speak in ways their authors did not intend, and drawing into the conversation…

Vann_Richard_001-copy-1280x853.jpg
Editorial StaffFebruary 10, 20224min
Richard "Dick" T. Vann, professor emeritus of history and letters, died on Feb. 1 at the age of 90. Vann received bachelor's degrees from Southern Methodist University and Oxford University and an MA and PhD from Harvard University. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1964 and taught in the College of Letters and History Department until his retirement in 2000. “Dick was an intellectual force at Wesleyan for decades—a gentle and persistent force for creative, interdisciplinary work across the humanities and social sciences,” recalled President Michael Roth '78. “A gifted teacher, his History and Prophecy seminar was already legendary when I…

cam_fall_drone_10282020_217-copy-1280x853.jpg
Steve ScarpaJanuary 28, 20225min
A new Wesleyan University project funded by a three-year, $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will investigate Connecticut’s racial, industrial, and political history from an interdisciplinary perspective. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture and humanities—awarded more than $16.1 million to 12 liberal arts colleges from across the nation, including Wesleyan, as part of its Humanities for All Times initiative. Humanities for All Times was created to support newly developed curricula that both instruct students in methods of humanities practice and demonstrate those methods’ relevance to broader social justice pursuits. Wesleyan’s “Carceral Connecticut…

Olivia DrakeJanuary 25, 20223min
David Morgan, professor of history, emeritus, passed away on Jan. 20 at the age of 83. Morgan received his BA from Haverford College and his DPhil from Oxford University. He arrived at Wesleyan in 1966 and taught history for 37 years until his retirement in 2003. During those years he served numerous terms as the chair of history and chair of the College of Social Studies (CSS), and he served one term as dean of the social sciences. “My first memories of David Morgan are of classical music and opera pouring out of his office, with the door open, much…

brown1.jpg
Olivia DrakeJanuary 24, 202215min
  It is not every day that an academic history book inspires a film by one of the world’s leading directors, especially when its author is former provost and professor emerita of history, Judith C. Brown. Brown’s widely-praised book, Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (Oxford University Press, 1986) was recently adapted into a film, Benedetta (2021). The book tells the story of Benedetta Carlini (1590-1661), an abbess in Tuscany, who was imprisoned for claiming false visions and for allegedly having sexual relations with one of her nuns, Sister Bartolomea. Benedetta’s story remained undiscovered until Brown,…

400_WU_Identity_monogram_hex_red-copy.png
Olivia DrakeJune 18, 20218min
In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1, 2021: Erik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history, is receiving the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Professorship in the College of Social Studies, established in 2008. Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, is receiving the Woodhouse/Sysco Professorship of Economics, established in 2002. Edward Moran, professor of astronomy, is receiving the John Monroe Van Vleck Professorship of Astronomy, established in 1982. Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is receiving the Harold T. Stearns Professorship of Earth Sciences, established in 1984. Francis Starr, professor…

johnstonotake.jpg
Rachel Wachman '24June 18, 20215min
A new book written by two Wesleyan faculty explores the experience of two travelers in the land destroyed by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. William Johnston, John E. Andrus Professor of History, and Eiko Otake, visiting artist in dance, are the co-authors of A Body in Fukushima, published June 1 by Wesleyan University Press. Johnston, a historian and photographer, accompanied Japanese-born performer and dancer Otake on five explorations across Fukushima, creating 200 photographs that document the irradiated landscape, accentuated by Eiko's poses depicting both the sorrow and dignity of the land. Johnston elaborated on the process of creating…

jennifer_tucker.png
Rachel Wachman '24April 5, 20213min
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,…

Victoria-Smolkin-Rothrock-490x292.jpg
Olivia DrakeApril 2, 20212min
On March 28, Victoria Smolkin, associate professor of history and chair, Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies, was featured on the radio station Echo of Moscow. Smolkin spoke on Soviet atheism on Irina Prokhorova's program "Culture of Everyday Life." The podcast is available in Russian online here. Smolkin is the author of A Sacred Space Is Never Empty: A History of Soviet Atheism, which was recently translated into Russian. Atheism prevailed in Soviet ideology, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. However, religion never fully disappeared from the life of Russia and the Soviet republics. In the broadcast, Smolkin and fellow panelists…

Editorial StaffMarch 16, 20213min
Ann Wightman, professor of history, emerita, died on March 11 at the age of 70. Wightman was born in South Euclid, Ohio. She earned her BA from Duke University and her MPhil and PhD from Yale. First arriving at Wesleyan as a visiting instructor in 1979, she remained here for 36 years until her retirement in 2015. Wightman was an accomplished scholar with a focus on Latin America. She felt that she found a “second home” doing research in the Andes, and she sought to capture the history of that region in her first book, Indigenous Migration and Social Change:…

schatzbook2021.jpg
Olivia DrakeJanuary 12, 20212min
Ronald Schatz, professor of history, is the author of The Labor Board Crew: Remaking Worker-Employer Relations from Pearl Harbor to the Reagan Era, published by the University of Illinois Press on Jan. 11, 2021. According to the publisher: Schatz tells the story of the team of young economists and lawyers recruited to the National War Labor Board to resolve union-management conflicts during the Second World War. The crew (including Clark Kerr, John Dunlop, Jean McKelvey, and Marvin Miller) exerted broad influence on the U.S. economy and society for the next 40 years. They handled thousands of grievances and strikes. They…

Olivia DrakeJuly 28, 20202min
Manju Hingorani, visiting scholar in molecular biology and biochemistry, and Brandon Case PhD '19 are co-authors of a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA in July 2020. The paper, titled “Recurrent mismatch binding by MutS mobile clamps on DNA localizes repair complexes nearby," reports novel findings about the mechanism whereby MutS protein triggers initiation of DNA repair. The research at Wesleyan was supported by NIH grant R15 GM114743 awarded to Manju Hingorani. Case is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history, discusses the role of material culture and visual…