Wesleyan, according to reputable mainstream media sources, is again on the cutting edge of academia: no longer just the “epicenter of surrealist Brooklyn pop” or breeding ground for a rising film mafia, we are apparently also pioneers in what the New York Timesidentifies as “the growing, but still undefined, field of animal studies,” which seems to connote “anything that has to do with the way humans and animals interact.” Not that there’s anything especially new about that—except the Times notes a particularly striking surge of interest, particularly among the humanities, where, traditionally, “monkey chow is never served and all the mazes are made of words, the attention of scholars was firmly fixed on humans.”
Today, not so. Right. And Wesleyan is at the center of all this interest (and not just because you fulfilled your NSM credits by looking at picturesof sakimonkeys in Biodiversity). (Well, that was me.) Dartmouth may boast offering an English class with the name “Animals and Women in Western Literature: Nags, Bitches and Shrews,” but Wesleyan now offers a summer fellowship program in conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute, which presently lists over 100 animal studies courses at various colleges and universities nationwide nationwide. Professor Lori Gruen, Philosophy chair, coordinates this program and has much to say about the links between animal studies and philosophy scholarship:
Lori Gruen, head of the philosophy department at Wesleyan and coordinator of the summer fellowship program in animal studies there, said one of the major questions in philosophy was “Who should we direct our moral interest to?” Thirty years ago, she said, animals were at the margins of philosophical discussions of ethics; now “the animal question is right in the center of ethical discussion.”
So, I just got this facebook invite to an event created by Josh Levine ’12, Hannah Vogel ’13 (if Trotbot is pulling my leg, I swear honest to goodness I will find you and I will -), and Max Nussenbaum ’12 about this thing called the “Wesleyan Thinks Big” conference, to be held next spring. Not much info about the actual event itself is available at this point of time, but right now all the organizers want to know is:
Which Wesleyan Professors would you like to see speak?
“Were it not for his tenured post at Wesleyan, where he has taught for more than 20 years, ‘maybe I would be driving a taxicab or something,’ he said.”
With Professor Lucier’s long anticipated retirement finally taking effect, who takes up the mantle of the avant-garde in the Wesleyan music department? Who leads the way, towards seniority and distinction and towards the Arts pages of the New York Times?
“When in doubt, we follow Braxton,” comes the reply—from Taylor Ho Bynum ’98, MA ’04, cornetist, composer, bandleader, and former student of Braxton. He is conducting the group of vocalists that comprise the Syntactical Ghost Trance Music Choir; they are rehearsing Braxton’s “Composition No. 256,” preparing for a four-day festival of Braxton’s career and works that begins today in Brooklyn. “Encompassing unorthodox works and concepts from across his prolific career,” NYT‘s Nate Chinen writes, the festival is to be “as broad a survey of Braxtonia as has been presented in this country.”
“I am sitting in a WNYC studio, different from the one you are in now.“
A New York Times feature this week profiles Radiolab, the acclaimed experimental philosophy- and science-themed WNYC radio show hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. The show incorporates strikingly rich, layered soundscapes “to communicate big ideas.” Turns out Wes’ own beloved experimental music maestro Alvin Lucier had a part in inspiring the show’s sonic backdrop:
During my visit, Abumrad listened to a minute-long edit of this passage with Howard and Wheeler. “Do you know Alvin Lucier’s ‘Music on a Long Thin Wire’?” he asked Howard when it ended. “I’ll play it for you.” He had an idea for the sound — not a sound effect, and not music, but a “musical gesture” — to play against the dialogue. “The sound’s going to be going bruup bruup bruup,” he told Howard, advising him to take the pigeon’s point of view. “It’s moving — fhewm, fhewm — through bands, some are thick, some are thin. You know? That’s the part where it’s gonna feel very visual.” [ . . . ]
I asked Abumrad what a traditional radio producer would make of his meticulously constructed bruup bruup fhewm fhewm. “They would say it’s insane,” he said. Early on, he had to deal with “radio people” who thought he was wasting time on “artsy-fartsy namby-pampy” technical distractions. “But do you want to know why ‘Radiolab’ has worked beyond public radio?” he asked. “Because it sounds like life. You watch TV, and someone has labored over the feel. Look at ‘Mad Men’ or ‘The Sopranos’: the mood, the pacing, the richness of it, comes from those fine, quote-unquote technical choices.”
We’re very focused on students here at Wesleying (“Real students, real student life at Wesleyan University”) but we can’t forget about our professors. If my mother’s correct when she says, “Remember, you’re in school to get an education,” then professors should be the most important people here to us.
If you’ve ever read Tenured Radical, you can’t help but to feel for them, however. Today, she asserted, “after almost two decades in which we have repeatedly been promised that Zenith (ed. note. Zenith is actually Wesleyan. Tenured Radical avoids actually saying Wesleyan most of the time.) will do something about a compensation rate that lags far behind our peer institutions, one can’t help but feel that they have thrown in the towel without admitting that they have done so.”
From my own research (table after the bump), Wesleyan doesn’t do too poorly among NESCAC schools (I didn’t actually look at all liberal arts colleges). Only our two Little Three buddies pay [full] professors more. For associate professors, five out of the ten other schools pay more and one matches us. For assistant professors, we are beat again by five out of the ten other schools (are we intentionally aiming at the middle here?). Out of curiosity, I compared the salaries to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Teaching rankings for our category, but didn’t get much of a correlation out of it.
Either way, the Tenured Radical does paint a pretty dire picture of what it’s like to work for Wesleyan:
You now have a reason to be thankful that Wesleyan doesn’t have a J-term. This past January, Econ professor Philip H. Brown took a bunch of students to China to “examine the economic, political, and social issues associated with China’s rapid growth.” What these students didn’t realize (at least at first), however, was that Brown was examining the bodies of female students with a hidden surveillance camera.
According to the affidavit filed by Armstrong, the allegations surfaced on Jan. 22 when two students were writing a blog post and accidentally deleted the entry. The students attempted to retrieve the blog post from the computer’s trash bin “and found disturbing images of a fellow student.”
The student in the photo, a female, was “nude from the waist down.” […]
[The medicine box] contained a First Aid kit, medicine container and black box, which Brown said “contained necessary information about the trip.” She said that during the first night in the hotel, Brown placed the containers in the bathroom “and insisted that the containers be kept in the bathroom so everybody would know where they were.”
After the female student confirmed that the photo was of her, she and other students searched the bathroom and found a surveillance camera in the black box. They reported the discovery to college officials and sent the image to Armstrong, who was able to confirm the image had come from a surveillance-type camera.
Don’t miss this can’t-possibly-be-real-except-it-is footage of a Cornell professor losing his shit in the middle of a lecture after a rude student interruption—by which I mean, umm, a yawn. Some details, via friends at IvyGate:
A month ago today, Mark Talbert, a senior lecturer in Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, wigged out at a phantom yawner in his 11:40 am HADM 1174: Business Computinglecture. Someone yawned. He was all like “RAWR WHO YAWNED BLAAHGHGGHGHGHHGHG!”and everyone was a little taken aback and confused. And that should have been that.
Unfortunately for Talbert, the Hotel school was recording the lecture for posterity and posted it online. It was only a short step from the Cornell Web site to YouTube.
“If I hear one more of these overly loud yawns . . . Get up and walk the hell out! Yawn outside!” says an irate Talbert. “Stay outta class, whatever it is you need to do to get over it, I wanna know why 220 other people don’t find the need to do that. And you should be asking yourself, why am I the one loser who has to do that?”
Here’s the video, but click past the jump for Talbert’s follow-up, and a classy autotune rendition of the freak-out, courtesy of a Cornell frosh.
The Pakistan Flood Relief Initiative invites you to attend a panel discussion of the current humanitarian crisis. Professors Aradhana Sharma, Gary Yohe, and Michel Touchton will discuss the dynamics of the situation and conduct a nuanced analysis of the catastrophe. Food will be provided!
The following information comes from Flood Relief coordinator Jeff Breau ’11:
Pakistan’s Plight: A Country Grappling with Flood Devastation
Worst disaster in UN History
One fifth of the country underwater
Join us Thursday, October 28th for a panel discussion with Aradhana Sharma, Gary Yohe, and Michael Touchton to learn more!
What: Haveli Dinner and Faculty Panel Discussion on the flooding in Pakistan
When: Thursday October 28th, 6-7:30
Where: Daniel Family Commons (3rd floor Usdan)
Tickets: Sold at Box Office beginning Tuesday October 26th, suggested donation of $8 for students and $15 for faculty.
Campaign analysis performed by our very own Wesleyan Media Project received mention on JournalEnquirer.com; reporting the project’s numbers, JournalEnquirer observed that senatorial hopeful Linda McMahon (of WWE fame) has financed seventy percent of the campaign ads associated with the race for the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Chris Dodd. It seems that the Republican nominee will spare little expense in her bid to defeat CT Attorney General Dick Blumenthal.
McMahon’s spending habits are by no means exceptional, however; nor is the recognition of the media team’s efforts an isolated occurrence. Albuquerque, New Mexico’s KRQE News 13, also referenced the Wesleyan Media Project, which found that television ads for gubernatorial candidates have proliferated dramatically this year, doubling in volume since the elections of ’06. Finally, CBS News (dayyyyyum, shawty) cited the project’s study on congressional election spending, noting that expenditures on related political ads have jumped by seventy-five percent.
Some have wisely attributed the increase in political advertising to the relaxation of corporate campaign finance restrictions that followed a Supreme Court decision at the start of this year—of course, being a professional wrestling magnate doesn’t hurt, either.
McMahon: Laying the pecuniary smackdown of a cool $41M
During the 2009-10 academic year, Professor Bill Johnston took a leave of absence from Wesleyan so that he could spend a year at Zen Mountain Monastery, widely regarded as one of the leading Zen centers outside of Japan. There, he lived the life of the Zen monk, immersed in the 2,500-year-old teachings of Buddhism and focused on simple, everyday activities as well as long periods of seated meditation. Come hear how those ancient teachings have become part of our twenty-first century world, with it modern problems and technologies.
Date: Oct. 7
Time: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Place: Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies