Tag Archives: professors in the news

Todd Akin, Professor Tucker, and Legitimate Medieval Rape

“The female body may not be able to shut down conception, but we can at least shut down Akin’s wild claims.”

If you study at a liberal arts college like Wesleyan, you’ve probably already recoiled in disgust at Representative Todd Akin’s comments last week regarding pregnancy and rape.

But if you teach history and science in society at a small liberal arts college like Wesleyan, you’ve probably already unpacked analyzed the decidedly medieval roots and implications of Representative Todd Akin’s curiously antiquated theories of pregnancy and rape. You may have even gotten the New York Times to publish it as an op-ed. 

Enter Professor Jennifer Tucker, who smartly pointed out last week that Todd Akin’s views of rape are in fact quite consistent with science—as long as you’re living in 12th century Germany. Akin, of course, suggested that women are unlikely to become pregnant from rape, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Turns out this view is intriguingly consistent with what was preached by Hildegard of Bingen in the 12th century:

Wes Professor on ONN

Don’t you just get a thrill every time a Wesleyan professor is featured by some news organization?  News organizations constantly turn to university professors to use their expertise to weigh in on any given topic, whether it be CNN, The New York Times, or even The Washington Post.  But this Wes Prof, “Dr. Robert Woodson, Professor of American Studies” was featured on the ever-trusted ONN (Onion News Network) to speak on how the end of print journalism will affect old loons who hoard newspapers.

How Will The End Of Print Journalism Affect Old Loons Who Hoard Newspapers?

Thanks Aaron for the tip.

Prof. Price on Aftermath of Election

Melanye Price

Last night I attended a live taping of the WNPR program Where We Live at Real Art Ways in Hartford, where Assistant Professor of Government Melanye Price joined Hartford Courant columnist Larry Cohen and two-time Democratic nominee for Governor Bill Curry to talk about the aftermath of the 2008 election.

It was an interesting panel. Cohen suggested that Barack Obama getting 52% of the electoral vote in this political climate should be considered a miserable failure. Price spoke about the significance of youth turnout. Curry remarked that Joe the Plumber, having no issue attached to him, might signal that conservative issues are out of steam.

My summary, however, is not as interesting. You can listen to the podcast and view a photo slideshow on the Where We Live website.

Professors on the Election

Several of our professors have been called upon by the mainstream media in the past few weeks to talk about the election:

  • Anthropology/AFAM Professor Gina Ulysse on Michelle Obama as an exceptional model of a professional black woman in the Hartford Courant.
  • Psychology Professor Scott Plous on how biases affect perception, as evidenced in this year’s election season, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Government Professor Elvin Lim and History/American Studies Professor Claire Potter suggesting what President-elect Obama should add to his reading list, in Inside Higher Ed.

Profs Price and Foyle on the VP Debates

Government Professors Douglas Foyle and Melanye Price comment in the Hartford Courant on the performances of Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin in last night’s VP debates:

Wesleyan’s Douglas Foyle said Biden “gave an excellent statement on the Wall Street bailout plan … showing off his experience. He was able to effectively weave in Obama’s clear criteria for the bailout, criticism of the Bush administration and a strong indication of his knowledge on the subject.”

“Joe Biden knows foreign policy much better than Palin, and you could tell that in the debate,” Wesleyan’s Melanye Price said.

“Palin was very effective” on the economy, Douglas Foyle said, by “hitting themes of the McCain message: greed and corruption on Wall Street, reform and their positions as mavericks.”

But her answer on nuclear weapons and intervention “started to become confused and began to take her down the path of her previous stumbles in recent interviews,” Wesleyan’s Douglas Foyle said.

There’s no ‘Saturday Night Live’ gold here,” said Wesleyan University’s Douglas Foyle. “Palin performed well above expectations. Her performance should quiet concerns about her credibility among voters leaning toward the Republicans.”

“Palin won in terms of style,” Wesleyan’s Melanye Price said. “She has a real ability to deliver points that sound positive, and she does it with a smile.”

Read the full commentary here:
Hartford Courant: Judging the Delivery

Former Wes Prof Discusses Being Fired By Students

Former AFAM Professor Annemarie Bean‘s time teaching at Wes last year is chronicled in a revealing NY Times Magazine report on how teaching evaluations can affect professors’ careers. Apparently she was fired in part because she didn’t receive the necessary quota of very positive evaluations in her year here, despite generally warm responses by students.

It’s a pretty fascinating look at Wesleyan’s hiring practices, and the power that students can have over professors teaching liberal-artsy courses they don’t like:

Annemarie Bean, who goes by Anna…, is the kind of professor who draws students to small New England liberal-arts colleges like Wesleyan. She is funny, enthusiastic, devoted to her students and passionate about what she teaches. Her subject areas are offbeat and slightly avant-garde, the kind of stuff that students, and their ostensibly liberal faculties, are said to find thrilling: African-American theater, the history of minstrelsy, “whiteness studies”… Beyond her subject matter and top-notch education… she just seems like a good fit for Wesleyan.

She is an alumna of the college, class of ’88; she is informal in her manner, tall and limber like a dancer, bright-eyed, the opposite of stuffy, eminently approachable; and she suggested lunch at It’s Only Natural, the pride of Middletown, Conn., a regional mecca for vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic dining. (Nothing says “Wesleyan” like lunch at It’s Only Natural, where you eat bulgur wheat beneath paintings by local artists.) Bean knows that she belongs at Wesleyan, which is why she’s especially sad that her students fired her.

They did not actually give her the pink slip, of course, and for that matter Bean did not receive a pink slip. A visiting professor on a one-year contract with the African-American studies department, Bean was fired by not being rehired… According to [Gayle] Pemberton, not enough students had marked “strenuous” to describe their own effort in Bean’s class. Put another way, Bean was being punished for her students’ admitted laziness.

There’s also some hating on jocks in academia:

If you came across the whole pile of evaluations on the sidewalk, you’d form a picture of a somewhat disorganized, technologically inept, very learned, passionate teacher — an acquired taste. It would be clear that her particular cocktail of traits was very appealing to some students, the ones who loved her passion or her subject matter so much that they didn’t think her tendency to be late or frazzled was worth mentioning. You’d see that other students, meanwhile, were unmoved by her considerable energy and deep knowledge — instead, they felt abused by her politics, her scattered style or her deviations from the syllabus.

Bean told me that she had a good sense of who had written the most negative evaluations. “I found there was a small group of mostly white men,” she said, “who sat there the whole time wearing their white hats on backward, sitting there angrily, who didn’t like the class.” The stereotype Bean was invoking is well known to recent college alumni, especially of wealthy Northeastern schools. There is a look popular among athletes and their hangers-on, who wear white baseball caps with the name of a college embroidered above the brim. When you see those boys in class, you do figure — at least I always do — that if they’re not jocks, they’re part of a jockish, frat-boy scene. On a campus like Wesleyan, these are the boys who have not bought into its famously liberal culture. And if you’re Anna Bean, and you’re teaching classes called Whiteness or Blackface Minstrelsy, you worry, despite your best efforts, that they might be suspicious of what you have to say.

Huh. Does anyone have their own highly subjective view of Anna Bean to add here? Backwards-hatted haters skeptical of the value of Whiteness studies, perhaps?

NY Times: Judgment Day

Professor Striegel-Moore on Eating Disorders

Psychology Professor Ruth Striegel-Moore‘s study on eating disorders was cited in a Newsweek article on the topic last week:

Of the 10 million women and 1 million men who do cope with anorexia and bulimia in this country, it is true that the majority of those documented are white. But in some cases, minorities have been excluded from samples because of this assumption—and experts say the “white girl” stereotype discourages men and minorities from coming forward. One study, by Wesleyan psychologist Ruth Striegel-Moore, found that black girls who do suffer from eating disorders are less likely to seek treatment. “I know stories of African-American women who’ve gone in to see a physician, with all the symptoms of an eating disorder, and the doctor says, ‘That’s a white girl’s disease’,” says Cynthia Bulik, an eating-disorder specialist at the University of North Carolina. “That persisting stigma can make people uncomfortable.”

Yohe on Greening the Global Economy

Economics professor Gary Yohe was quoted in the NY Times in an article about how rising fuel costs are muzzling the globalized economy and long-distance trade:

“If we think about the Wal-Mart model, it is incredibly fuel-intensive at every stage, and at every one of those stages we are now seeing an inflation of the costs for boats, trucks, cars,” said Naomi Klein, the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

“That is necessarily leading to a rethinking of this emissions-intensive model, whether the increased interest in growing foods locally, producing locally or shopping locally, and I think that’s great.”

…“Being green is in their best interests not so much in making money as saving money,” said Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University. “Green companies are likely to be a permanent trend, as these vulnerabilities continue, but it’s going to take a long time for all this to settle down.”

NY Times: Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization