Feed on
Posts
Comments

To all writing-enthusiasts in the Class of 2015: the Wesleyan Writing Workshop wants to hear from you – they are eager to shine a spotlight on the talented writers of this year’s freshman class! If you are interested in the Writing Certificate, write frequently in your spare time, are hoping to break into a writing-intensive field or simply want to prove yourself as a promising writer at Wesleyan, please submit your work to the Freshman Writing Contest.

Your challenge is to respond creatively or critically in roughly 1,000 words to some aspect of this year’s First Year Matters theme, fueling the future. In your entry, make sure to respond to at least one of the FYM readings, citing where appropriate. If your reference is not explicit (for instance, if you chose to write a creative piece about a future America completely overpowered by nuclear plants), note which article(s) you are responding to in a footnote.

Consider the following questions as you begin to formulate your response:

  • How do you define “American power”?
  • What can we – as students, artists, scientists, poets, journalists, activists, etc. – do about “fueling the future”?
  • What must we do to ensure our future is sufficiently “fueled”? With so many different problems in need of solutions, where do we even begin?
  • Where should we draw the line between idealism and practicality when seeking solutions for these problems?
  • How is your daily life impacted by energy politics?
  • How can art be an effective medium for discussing broader political issues?
  • Check out Mitch Epstein’s website, www.whatisamericanpower.com, for ideas and inspiration. Which featured definitions of “American power” do you agree with? Disagree with? Do any of the pictures strike a chord with you?

The Wesleyan Writing Workshop will accept all types of submissions: opinion pieces, research papers, investigative journalism, short stories, the sky’s the limit! They will limit submissions to one entry per student. The winning entries will receive a twenty dollar Amazon.com gift certificate and be published on the Wesleyan Writing Blog. This is a fantastic opportunity to establish yourself as one of the most promising writers of your class.

Please send your submission in an email attachment to writingworks@wesleyan.edu by noon on Saturday, September 24. To complete your submission, you must also fill out the Contest Submission Sheet which you can find on the sidebar of the Wesleyan Writing Blog.

For additional information, please contact this year’s Ford Fellows Anya Backlund and Katherine Mechling at writingworks@wesleyan.edu.

Shira Engel ’14 interviews Allison Hurd ’11 about how a summer internship was connected to an on-campus production.

Allison Hurd '11

Allison Hurd '11

During the summer of 2009, Allison interned for the Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group while the company was collaborating with Andréya Ouamba’s Compagnie 1er Temps of Dakar, Senegal. They created The Good Dance – dakar/brooklyn, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She spent every day with the artists and attended every rehearsal, discussion, and event. After the festival, she began working in Brooklyn and then, in the spring of 2010, she acted as the student liaison for the company’s performance of The Good Dance at Wesleyan.

Curious as to how to bridge the gap between summer activities and being a Wesleyan student, I asked Allison how her experience as a dance major informed her internship. She said:

“I think that because the Dance major fosters an approach to the art form not only from a physical, but also from a creative and an intellectual perspective, I was able to more fully apprehend how my experience as an intern touched upon all of these areas.  Because The Good Dance is about the metaphoric, historical, and real world parallels of the Mississippi and Congo Rivers and their cultures, the anthropological nature of the work resonated very strongly with me, and was augmented by the artistic partnership of Reggie and Andréya.  I was also able to engage with the piece’s structural and compositional elements, recognizing the choreographic tools used by Reggie and Andréya and implementing aspects of their artistry into my own.  The Dance major (and, really, in its own way, each academic department at Wesleyan) encourages creative curiosity, collaboration, and the acquisition of knowledge through experience.  I feel very strongly that my internship’s alignment with these aspects of my Wesleyan education powerfully contributed to its success.”

Allison provides an excellent example of how to connect the education she received on campus on a practical level off campus. She exemplifies the creative pursuits of Wesleyan students. The key lies in the ability to translate the experiences from a campus community to a larger audience and then back again.

“When excellence comes to excellence, and is sparked, there’s just nothing like that!” In this video, Liz Lerman discusses the innovative convergence of dance and science at Wesleyan University:

Liz Lerman: Embodied Knowledge

Many of you know that Wesleyan was the lead commissioner of Liz Lerman’s Ferocious Beauty: Genome, her groundbreaking work about the repercussions of genetic research.  One of Liz’s Wesleyan collaborators, Professor of Biology Michael Weir, wrote to her after the world premiere with an idea:

“Imagine a biology or genetics course that begins and ends with students experiencing [the Ferocious Beauty: Genome] piece, and imagine during the semester, when issues like Mendel or gene regulation or bioethics are covered, related parts of the piece were shown to the class. I am imagining that this experience would cause many students to build a new kind of framework in their minds causing them to be more inquisitive and thoughtful about the biology and its significance. They would make associations with the choreography and dance, and I wonder whether their thinking would be qualitatively richer?”

Five years later, with the support of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Wesleyan and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange developed Science Choreography – a website that’s a digital textbook with a plethora of tools for teachers who are teaching genetics, evolution and other related issues.

Liz Lerman and Elizabeth Johnson from the Dance Exchange, and Laura Grabel, Michael Weir, and Laurel Appel from Wesleyan’s Biology Department are discussing Science Choreography as part of the Hughes Program‘s special summer symposium in the Life Sciences.

Summer in the City

Shira Engel ‘14 checks in from New York City.

So where do Wesleyan students go once school lets out? To Kenya to work at Shining Hope for Communities? To New Orleans to research the Gulf Coast oil spill? To work at their summer camps? To Russia/the South of France/Sweden? Yes, Wesleyan students will go to all of those places this summer, but first, they go to New York City, the home of a plethora of students and the future home of many more.

This summer, as I return home to the city, I find myself reuniting with friends from school. Last week, Emily Klein ’14 and I went to explore the latest installment of the High Line, which goes from West 20th to West 30th Streets. Originally constructed in the 1930’s for the elevation of freight trains, it was resurrected in 2009 with the opening of Section 1, which goes from Gansevoort to West 20th Street. It is an elevated park that features public art and an aerial view of the city.

The High Line is known as one of the rare places where New Yorkers go to do nothing. For two Wesleyan students, it is the equivalent of Foss Hill during finals week, an oasis in the midst of chaos. And it even looks like a campus in the sky, green and fresh plants balancing out the concrete we walk on. As we crossed the newest section of the High Line, we talked about the year to come and how we didn’t know why, but the experience of how being in the relaxation epicenter of New York reminded us of being at Wesleyan, surrounded by interesting people who spend their time in some of the most creative ways possible. What a great segue from a first year on campus to a summer in the city!

Abigail Horton ’11, Wesleyan Summer Session Teaching Assistant, describes her experiences in Louisiana.

The students will present an open rehearsal of their works in progress, which have developed out of their research in the Gulf, on Friday, July 1, 2011, from 1pm to 3pm in Woodhead Lounge (Exley Science Center).

Samuel Sontag '14 and Eli Timm '13

Samuel Sontag '14 and Eli Timm '13

Seven students of the class The Deepwater Horizon Tragedy: A Scientific and Artistic Inquiry traveled to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana to explore the Deepwater Horizon oil spill almost a year after the spill occurred. The class was structured as an investigation – a scientific, artistic, and human investigation into Louisiana’s relationship with the oil industry, how it led up to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and how the people of Louisiana deal with it a year after.

The students interviewed over twenty people who were involved with the oil spill: An oysterman whose ninety-year-old family business was wiped out by the governor’s actions during the oil spill. A woman who would abandon her beloved Louisiana in order to save it. One biologist who concludes that we have turned the page since the spill, and a different biologist whose experiments conclude that there are lasting effects from the oil spill. The politician who dealt directly with President Obama during the spill. The first female oilrig worker in Louisiana, and many more passionate, interesting and conflicting voices of the story that is Louisiana, the oil industry, and the oil spill.

The class explored the southern-most rural areas of Louisiana and went to the coastline that was first affected by the spill. We talked to professors and experts at Nicholls State College and Louisiana State University. In boats, the students went out to the wetlands where oil is still caked on the coastal sands, witnessing first-hand the power of the substance to destroy land. Out in the Gulf, we saw the clean-up crews still slowly working to clean the wetlands. The class got into the Gulf and helped professors from the University of New Orleans troll for shrimp and fish to take data on the ecosystem. The class explored New Orleans, and enjoyed the Gulf seafood that Louisianans are so passionate about. Through all of out explorations, we learned how deeply embedded the oil industry is with Louisiana’s history and culture and the complexity of the story.

Perhaps one of the most powerful moments for the class was when we met with a New Orleans-based artist and activist.  Her art has examined the environment, the oil spill, and how nature is trying to recover. She looks at the fragility of the landscape and humans’ role in shaping that. She told the students, “make art about what pisses you off and what blisses you out.” This artist demonstrated to the students how powerfully art can communicate the environmental issues taking place along the Gulf coast, exactly what this class is striving for.

As the teaching assistant for this course, I was able to watch the students delve into this subject with curiosity and sensitivity. As the trip went on, the students became more involved and invested and came to understand the intricacies of the science, human, and political sides of the story. It was an incredible experience for all involved and it is clear to me the students’ dedication to telling the story of the oil spill with accuracy and thoughtfulness.

Jeremy Finch ’09, one of Eiko’s former students at Wesleyan, wrote a beautiful review in the Brooklyn Rail of “Naked”, a 10-day living installation and marathon-like live performance at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.

Click here to read the article.

Submitted by Erinn Roos-Brown, CFA Program Manager

On June 5th, seven Wesleyan students arrived in New Orleans for a 10-day trip that will include interviews with local scientists, fishermen and rig workers. The goal is to learn from these perspectives about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which flowed for three months in the summer of 2010. They also plan to take a boat into the bayou to see the lingering effects of the oil spill, including a location where dolphins and other wildlife were reported dead from the toxic exposure. This trip is part of a Summer Session course The Deepwater Horizon Tragedy: A Scientific and Artistic Inquiry. It’s designed to provide the students with a toolbox for exploration of the science behind the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and began that process prior to leaving by spending four days on campus learning artistic and scientific tools.

By asking the questions: what is oil? How is it processed into energy? Why is it still the leading energy source? The students will hunt for answers that will enable them to understand the science at a deeper level, and make their research more visible to an audience through their art, which will be produced at the end of the course as final projects.

The class is co-taught by the chair of the College of the Environment Barry Chernoff and playwright and director Leigh Fondakowski. Leigh was the Head Writer of The Laramie Project and has been a member of Tectonic Theatre Project since 1995. She is an Emmy nominated co-screenwriter for the adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO. Her latest work, The People’s Temple, has been performed under her direction at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Perseverance Theater, and The Guthrie Theater, and received the Glickman Award for best new play in 2005.

This course is made possible by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Come back later to read more about the final projects and hear from the students about their experience!

 

Katherine Bascom ’10, the Russell House 2010–2011 Arts Fellow, interviews Barbara Fenig ’11.

Barbara graduated this past Sunday, May 22, but will be staying at Wesleyan for a post-graduate year as the Shapiro Center/Russell House 2011-2012 Arts Fellow. Congratulations Barbara!

You’ve got some serious writing skills. Tell us a little bit about your creative thesis.

This year, I wrote a collection of linked short stories that revolve around breaks in normalcy. In the stories, the corporeal has magical powers: lips take on supernatural abilities, the brain houses the reality of the afterlife, and heartlessness becomes a medical condition.

Who inspires you to write?

Aimee Bender and Amy Bloom, Andre Aciman, Paula Sharp, Douglas A. Martin, and Deb Olin Unferth (my Wesleyan writing professors).

What plans or ideas do you have for your post-grad year at Wesleyan as the Shapiro Center/Russell House Fellow?

As next year’s Shapiro Center/Russell House Arts Fellow, I look forward to planning the reading series and to hosting events for Wesleyan’s writing community. I am hoping to establish a series of informal workshops where students can get to know one another. Students will write for a bit and then share their work. I’m hoping that different faculty can offer a few prompts, either in person or before the event. As a writing student at Wesleyan, I really appreciated the writing community and am eager to cultivate new outlets for students to share their work.

What anticipations do you have about spending another year at ol’ Wes?

I’m really looking forward to being at Wesleyan next year and am thrilled that my day to day will be spent in the Russell House, the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, and Downey House– my favorite spots on campus.

If you could have any author or poet come to Wesleyan next year, who would it be & why?

I can’t choose! I’m just so excited to see what the calendar will offer!

Tell us about your summer plans.

I’m traveling to London, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Venice for a few weeks after graduation. Then, I’m a member of the student staff at the Wesleyan Writers Conference. I’m taking a course at Columbia in July and will be back at Wesleyan in August. It’ll be a lovely summer (fingers crossed!).

A video interview with Samantha Joy Pearlman ’11 about her senior thesis project.

Samantha Joy Pearlman: “Devotedly, Sincerely Yours: The Story of the USO”

An interview with Morgan Hill ’14 by Shira Engel ‘14.

On May 3, the day after Mike Rosen’s senior project was performed in Memorial Chapel, I just knew that I had to interview a member of this group he put together. Morgan Hill, a willing member of the Om Collective, sat down to talk to me about the process of putting together this synchronous, multifaceted, and interdisciplinary project.

The Om Collective, Morgan says, is “an excuse to hang out and do pretty things. It’s an integration of artists from [creative campus icons like] Mad Wow, Wordsmith, weSLAM, which means dancers, poets, emcees, drummers, singers, horn players, guitarists, DJs, and sound engineers. I am honored to be included as a freshman in this group of people who decided to do performance art in a way we hadn’t seen done.”

Don’t Hide the Madness followed the framework of a spoken word performance, but strayed suitably. It was appropriately done in Memorial Chapel, where the Night Kite Revival performed earlier this year.

It all started with a vague idea. Mike contacted a group of artists on campus that he felt were right for the mission of the project. They met at his house one late night at the beginning of the semester to discuss how their diverse talents and styles might come together. Of the collaborative process, Morgan says, “There are a lot of different interests among the members and with those different interests, we can say something new about pop culture, poetry, and art. We can perform spoken word for what it is, showing it is just as legitimate an expression as anything else. The point was to experience the Self on entirely its own terms. We got to make art in the way we really wanted to make it.”

The intention of the performance, which combined spoken word, dance, singing, bass, and audience participation, had to do with Wesleyan as a creative campus, how it fosters art in a variety of forms and is part of a collective of universities pioneering a new one: poetry as performance art. Morgan explains that “slam is hyper-condensed into the past ten years.” It is fairly magical that Wesleyan can play such a huge role in cultivating an art, a means of self-expression and communal appreciation, that is still legitimizing itself.

I asked Morgan what it was like to integrate all these art forms. She responded, “We wanted to provide an explanation for what has been happening on this campus. We’re saying that this is something new that can be seen differently. This is where poetry can be right now; performance art as a denial of a formal structure is dangerous, but so cool, so cathartic.”

She continues with what I believe to be the perfect note to end this post on: “[At Wesleyan] you have so many people that are so talented in many different ways. Why wouldn’t you want to bring them together, all the time?”

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Log in