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Vijay Prashad Featured in Project About History of Nonaligned Movement at ‘documenta 14’ Festival in Kassel, Germany

Vijay Prashad is used to sharing his expertise on television news segments and in documentary films, but he said he has never been a part of anything quite like the unique art installation in which he is featured this summer.

Vijay Prashad in a scene from Two Meetings and a Funeral, a multi-channel digital video installation on display through September 17, 2017, at documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany. ​

Prashad, the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Trinity College Professor of International Studies, is a central subject in Two Meetings and a Funeral, a multi-channel digital video installation created by writer and artist Naeem Mohaiemen about Bangladesh and the Third World Project, shown at the contemporary arts festival documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany. The piece was commissioned by documenta 14 and co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation and Ford Foundation Just Films. The installation is on display at documenta 14 in Kassel until September 17 and will then be brought to art galleries around the world.

A premiere venue for innovative installation art, documenta was founded in 1955 by an artist who wanted to help erase the sting of Nazism after WWII. “Documenta means to document something,” Prashad said. “It’s held in Kassel every five years and is probably the biggest arts festival in the world. It runs for 100 days and takes up the entire city. Over a million people come to see it.”

The 85-minute Two Meetings and a Funeral tells the story of a pivotal time in the history of Bangladesh. In 1971 and 1972, after Bangladesh won its independence, founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sought out international allies at the Non-Aligned Movement summit. “Mohaiemen was interested in the fact that there was a very important conference held in Algiers in 1973, which was the first time his native country of Bangladesh came into the world spotlight,” Prashad said. The next year, Rahman went from the socialist perspective of the NAM meeting to its ideological counterpoint, the emergence of a strong Islamic perspective at the 1974 Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting in Lahore, Pakistan. These meetings, which are referenced in the film’s title, form the backdrop of the installation.

Two courses that Prashad teaches at Trinity – “Global South” and “Global Ideologies” – discuss historical topics that are central to the film. “The issues in the film are at the heart of these classes,” Prashad said. Mohaiemen knew that Prashad also examined these subjects in his book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (2007), and invited him to be a part of the film. “I thought this was going to be a straight-up documentary, but he’s not a straight-up filmmaker,” Prashad said of the director. “It’s kind of an art film, and it’s very beautiful. This blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction, art and politics, which is what makes it such a wonderful film.”

Two Meetings and a Funeral is a three-channel digital video installation in which three video images are projected simultaneously on side-by-side screens.​

The three-channel format of the installation means that three digital film images are projected simultaneously on side-by-side screens, providing the viewer with a visually complex experience and a unique perspective on time and place. Prashad described one scene that he felt made especially good use of the format: “On one screen, I am interviewing someone in French in the room where the Algiers meeting occurred. On another screen you have the subtitles. In the third screen is the archival footage from the actual meeting. It’s very cleverly done.” The New York Times described the piece as “brilliantly woven.”

A four-evening seminar in August called “The Parliament of Bodies: Rebuilding the Idea of a Global Left” featured the filmmaker and three people who appear in the film engaging in conversations about politics. Mohaiemen and Prashad were joined at the seminar by Bangladeshi politician Zonayed Saki and Algerian ecofeminist and archaeologist Samia Zennadi. “It was a great audience. People came from all walks of life and they asked really serious questions,” Prashad said. “It was quite interesting to have four nights of very good discussion.”

Prashad said that he would welcome the opportunity to continue these conversations at Trinity. “It would be great to have a showing of this film in Hartford,” he said.

Written by Andrew J. Concatelli

Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Michael Preston is New Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage announced recently that Trinity College Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Michael Preston has been cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in its annual holiday production of A Christmas Carol. Preston will be taking over the lead role from Bill Raymond, who had performed as Scrooge since 1998 before retiring last year.

Trinity College Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Michael Preston. Photo courtesy of Hartford Stage.

Preston has been involved with A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage since 2011, playing the inventor Mr. Marvel. In an interview with The Hartford Courant, Preston said that he understudied the role of Scrooge last season. “I had a very deep connection to it. Both the dark and the comic side,” Preston told Courant reporter Christopher Arnott. Read the full Courant article here. Preston spoke about his new role in a press release distributed by Hartford Stage and shared by Broadway World Connecticut. Read that release here.

Rachel Alderman, the director of A Christmas Carol, said that Hartford Stage is thrilled to welcome Preston to his new role. “The fact that Michael has been involved for the past six years, and that he’s going to take the lead in the show this year, is just another wonderful way that Hartford Stage and Trinity are able to help knit the city together and also highlight the city’s cultural capital,” Alderman said.

Michael Preston as Mr. Marvel in a previous year’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Hartford Stage. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Preston, who teaches acting, stage production, and playwriting at Trinity, has been sharing a teaching position with his wife, Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Barbara Karger, since 2004. Prior to that, he studied mime and comedy and lived for many years in New York, where he was a member of the Shaliko Company, founded by Leonardo Shapiro. He also worked with artists including John Sayles, Richard Elovich, David Cale, Wynn Handman, and Theodora Skipitares. From 1991 until 2000, he toured the world as one of the juggling Flying Karamazov Brothers, which included three different runs on Broadway.

A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage opens November 24 and runs through December 30. For more information, visit www.hartfordstage.org.

Vijay Prashad Discusses New Book at UN Headquarters in New York

(Left to right) Andrew Gilmour, assistant secretary-general for human rights and head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York, and Mona Khalil, former senior legal officer in the UN Office of the Legal Counsel, with Vijay Prashad and co-editor Karim Makdisi.

George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Trinity College Professor of International Studies Vijay Prashad recently released a new book called Land of Blue Helmets: The United Nations and the Arab World with co-editor Karim Makdisi. The book is a close and informed study of the UN in the region that taught the organization how to do its many jobs. This volume collects essays from some of the finest scholars and practitioners writing about the potential and the problems of a UN that is framed by both the promises of its charter and the contradictions of its member states.

Prashad and Makdisi discussed their book and the role of the UN in the Arab world at the United Nations Bookshop at the UN Headquarters in New York City on December 2. Makdisi is associate professor of international politics and director of the Program in Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut (AUB), visiting scholar at the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and research director of the UN in the Arab World Program at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs.

The co-editors were joined at the UN by Andrew Gilmour, assistant secretary-general for human rights and head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York; and Mona Khalil, former senior legal officer in the UN Office of the Legal Counsel. Prashad said, “It was very special to present at the UN, to explore with UN staff and others about the complexity of the history and future of the UN.”

Prashad highlighted the relevance of the book to the current political climate. “It is out at a time when the UN is challenged by world events, stretched to handle the humanitarian burdens of several calamities,” he said. “We hope our book will contribute to understanding why the UN is crucial and why it is under challenge.”

A panel discussion about the book was also held at Harvard University in Boston on December 6. To watch a video of the United Nations Bookshop panel discussion, click here.

Written by Bhumika Choudhary ’18

Jade Hoyer’s ‘study’ Exhibit Addresses Socioeconomic Inequality in Secondary Education

WHAT: study is an exhibition by artist Jade Hoyer that uses printmaking and installation to reimagine a secondary classroom setting. The exhibit confronts socioeconomic inequality in secondary education. study is sponsored by the Department of Fine Arts at Trinity College and is free and open to the public.

WHEN: Opening Reception: Thursday, October 13, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Exhibition Period: October 13 – December 9, 2016

Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday, 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Gallery closed on Sundays

WHERE: Widener Gallery at the Austin Arts Center

Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford, CT 06106

(For directions and a map of the Trinity College campus, please click here)

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study, installation view, Ewing Gallery, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Background:

In study, Hoyer has taken educational data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Minnesota Department of Education to create a vivid installation on socioeconomic stratification. Hoyer states, “While education is often touted as a means to achieve financial success, the quality of high school education available to American students is far from equal.”

Jade Hoyer is an artist and educator specializing in printmaking, book arts, and social practice. Hoyer is currently the Ann Plato Fellow at Trinity College for 2016-17 and is teaching two courses. She is interested in what she refers to as, “our common tragic, comic, and ultimately limited quest for order.” Hoyer draws upon various systems, including language, mathematics, symbols, and educational data. Her work addresses informed experiences associated with race, gender, or class. Hoyer has been recognized by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. She has held leadership positions on international print organizations like SGC International and the Association of Print Scholars. Hoyer’s artwork has been exhibited internationally, including venues such as the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and Philippine Women’s University.

Hoyer received her MFA with an emphasis in printmaking from the University of Tennessee and B.A. in studio art and environmental studies from Carleton College.

To view more of Hoyer’s work, visit jadehoyer.com.

Professor of Biology Kent Dunlap Receives Recognition from International Congress of Neuroethology

Kent Dunlap in Uruguay

Kent Dunlap (fifth from left), professor of biology at Trinity College, was recognized for his contribution to the development of neuroethology in Latin America at the XII International Congress of Neuroethology.

Kent Dunlap, professor of biology at Trinity College, was recognized recently for his contribution to the development of neuroethology in Latin America at the XII International Congress of Neuroethology held in Montevideo, Uruguay, from March 30 to April 3. Dunlap, a Fulbright fellow to Uruguay in 2009, was one of a small group of scientists from all over the world awarded this distinction.

Uruguay has become a center for neuroscience in Latin America, Dunlap said, so cultivating young scientists to pursue further research there is important. The way his research has forged connections between North and South American scientists has been as important as the research itself, the professor said.

Dunlap conducted research in Uruguay during his Fulbright stay in 2009, when he studied the neurobiology of electric fish at the Instituto Clemente Estable in Montevideo with Ana Silva and Omar Macadar. Relationships with this research group led to Dunlap advising and teaching graduate students. In addition to serving as a mentor to the students, he joined a thesis committee and co-authored various publications with them. In 2009, Dunlap taught in the Latin American School of Neuroethology, a short graduate course for students from all over Latin America, and in 2016, he served as co-director of the course, contributing to his most recent recognition.

Dunlap has found ways to incorporate what he has learned in Latin America into the courses he teaches at Trinity. “In many cases I come back from work in Latin America with a lot of stories and first-hand examples that help enliven concepts taught in the classroom,” Dunlap said. All the research from his Latin American experiences has included participation by Trinity students in Hartford and resulted in publications co-authored by his Trinity research students. Recent work from Panama done with Michael Ragazzi ’16 was published in one of the world’s oldest scientific journals, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, based in London, England. Although Trinity students have not traveled with Dunlap to Latin America, they have been to Europe and Canada for meetings to present their research. They have also been in contact with Latin American scientists regarding the work, offering a truly global experience.

Written by Liz A. Boyhan ’18

Brownell Professor of Philosophy Dan Lloyd Continues to Learn from Mentor Daniel Dennett by Studying Philosopher’s Brain

IMG_2916 Web450Probably we’ve all met people whose brilliance is so apparent that we exclaim, “Wow, I wish I had that brain!” My personal list of admired brains is headed up by philosopher Daniel Dennett, director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. Dennett has written extensively on the mind, evolution, and religion, and is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time. In addition, Dan Dennett has been a mentor and friend, beginning during my short stint as a graduate student adjunct instructor at Tufts. His books are worthy of admiration, but it’s in conversation that his brilliance shines brightest. His advice to me has always been, “Be bold!”

A few months ago, my wish to acquire Dennett’s brain was fulfilled – in a manner of speaking. With the help of Dr. Michael Stevens at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center (part of the Institute of Living, two blocks from Trinity), I peered into Dennett’s brain using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the technology behind many of the glowing brain images that we all have seen in the media. Fortunately the scan left Dennett’s actual brain intact; my takeaway consisted of 12 gigabytes of 3-d snapshots of his cranium, taken about every half second.

What can you see in a scrapbook with 8,000 images? To ask what you see may not be quite the right question. Instead, what do you hear? My current research at Trinity is informed by the radical hypothesis that brain dynamics resemble the dynamics of music. There are many ways to explore this idea (click here to read an empirical study of the idea). But a more entertaining approach is through “sonification,” the process of converting data to sound. Sonified data can have a variety of sonic properties. In my work I favor data translations that use familiar musical scales and instruments. I’ve taken this path because we are all extremely sensitive data filters (i.e. listeners) in musical idioms we know well. Ultimately, I imagine an “fMRI stethoscope” that could be a diagnostic tool for mental disorders like schizophrenia or ADHD. Trinity has uploaded a podcast and slideshow of my recent talk on this subject here.

All brains are musical – you and I are symphonies. Dennett’s brain is symphonic, too; you can listen to it here. Is his brain different from others’? That’s a question for further research. (As I write, software is crunching through the numbers from the scan.)

DSC_5259 Naty Bush Nadine Taghian Michael Zarra Dan Lloyd Web450I like that a past teacher of mine is still sharing his thoughts, even though the medium is strange and new. I, in turn, am sharing Dennett’s brain (and what I’ve learned from him) with my current research students: Naty Bush ’19, Nadine Taghian ’17, and Mike Zarra ’19. These young scientists might take some ideas from my research and run with them. Even better, they will hatch new ideas, marching toward their own bold horizons. From teacher to student to student, the torch passes.

Written by Dan Lloyd, Brownell Professor of Philosophy
For other examples of Lloyd’s brainmusic, visit his YouTube channel.

Scott Gac Featured in Hartford Installment of C-SPAN’s ‘Cities Tour’ to Discuss His Book, ‘Singing for Freedom’

Trinity College Associate Professor of History and American Studies Scott Gac was featured in the recent installment of C-SPAN’s “Cities Tour” series that focused on Hartford.

Scott Gac CSPAN Cities Tour450Gac discussed his book, Singing for Freedom: The Hutchinson Family Singers and the Nineteenth Century Culture of Antebellum Reform (Yale University, 2007), about one of the most famous American family singing groups of the 1840s and its impact on the abolitionist movement. Click here to watch the 16-minute video, which includes art, photographs, and music from the era.

Scott Gac CSPAN Cities Tour VehicleAccording to C-SPAN, “the ‘Cities Tour’ brings C SPAN programming to your community, interviewing local figures and visiting area sites using specially outfitted Local Content Vehicles (LCVs).” Gac was interviewed on campus in Seabury Hall’s History Library when one of C-SPAN’s LCVs came to Hartford last fall.

Each installment of the series features the history and literary life of a different community. The history segments air on American History TV (AHTV) on C-SPAN3 and the literary events/non-fiction author segments air on Book TV on C-SPAN2. The Hartford segments were broadcast on January 16 and 17, and are now available online.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Justin Francis Shoots Music Video on Campus

Francis shoot8820 - Spezialetti Web450

Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Justin Francis (center, kneeling behind camera) with members of the FILM309 course while filming a music video on campus in October. Photo courtesy of Associate Professor of Computer Science Madalene Spezialetti

More than 50 people gathered in Vernon Social on the evening of December 10 to watch music videos created by members of a Trinity College film production course.

The FILM309 students worked with music video director and Visiting Assistant Professor of Film Studies Justin Francis, who has directed videos for artists including Pharrell, Eminem, Carly Rae Jepson, Demi Lovato, and The Roots. Francis, who works primarily in Los Angeles, would Skype in to the class every Tuesday evening during the Fall 2015 semester. Associate Professor of Computer Science Madalene Spezialetti said, “Professor Francis illustrated the music video pitch process by screening a number of well-known videos for the class and showing the treatments and storyboards behind each pitch. He also shared the treatments and visual references from projects he directed and taught the class his own approach for generating ideas and communicating them to artists and record labels. Sharing his expertise enabled the students to understand the entire production process and use that knowledge when developing their own music videos.”

Francis came to the Trinity campus in October to lead a hands-on workshop. Students in the course got the opportunity to work with Francis and Spezialetti on creating their own music videos, and also participated in the production of a music video filmed by Francis on campus. “Watching his production process firsthand and having him coach them through the process of making their own music videos provided the students with a truly unique learning experience,” said Spezialetti. The filming was supplemented by written assignments.

​Anthony Flores ’16 said of his experience working with Francis, “Justin’s insight into the production of music videos helped me expand my idea of what a video could be. The class in general furthered my understanding of what it would be like to actually work in the field. It was one of the best classes I’ve taken at Trinity.”

The semester-capping Music Video Festival showcased a wide variety of approaches to film, featuring different types of shots set to various kinds of music. Maggie Millian ’18 said, “Making a music video with Justin Francis provided us with valuable experience and techniques that we used to make our own.”

Click here to see the music video made by class member Julia Conforti ’16 featuring a cover of Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River” performed by the Trinity College Quirks, one of the five a cappella groups on campus. The soloist is Noni Ghani ’16.

To learn more about Trinity College’s Interdisciplinary Program in Film Studies, contact Madalene.Spezialetti@trincoll.edu or click here.

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17

Timothy Landry Explores Connections Between Science and Religion with Help from Paranormal Investigators

On a dark November night, students in Timothy Landry’s Anthropology of Religion course joined the Connecticut Paranormal Research Team (CTPRT) in Raether Library and Information Technology Center’s Level C periodical section to see if the area was haunted. The CTPRT set up a variety of scientific equipment that they say can help determine the presence of spirits. The students used devices that detected and responded to stimuli like movement, light, temperature, and electromagnetic fields.

2Web450The periodical section of Level C has long been rumored to be haunted; students alone in the stacks at night have reported hearing voices and seeing mysterious movement. Members of Landry’s class and the CTPRT tried to communicate with any spirits in the area using different devices on the evening of Thursday, November 5.

Landry, an assistant professor of anthropology and religion, invited these paranormal investigators to illustrate how religion and science construct different ideas of knowledge and truth. The students in the course have been studying how religion constructs knowledge and how it influences how we understand the world.

1Web450Landry said, “The paranormal investigators are ideal candidates for looking at these issues because they are looking for what we may think of as religious entities, like spirits and ghosts, and in this team’s case, demons. They are using science to find evidence for what we would normally think of as religious beings.”

The CTPRT’s efforts blur the boundary between religion and science, and their paranormal investigation perfectly encapsulates what Landry’s students are studying. Seth Bird ’16 said of his experience, “We explored the depths of Level C, the spookiest of environments, hunting for a paranormal presence. Did I become a believer? Probably not. However, I was fascinated by the commitment and optimism expressed by the CTPRT team.”

Written by Eleanor Worsley ’17

Photos courtesy of Timothy Landry

Book by Samuel Kassow ’66 Being Turned Into Documentary Film

KassowKassowPenn

Samuel Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, with Lisa Kassow and Shana Penn ’77 at the opening of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.​

A book written by Samuel S. Kassow ’66, Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College, is being adapted for the screen by writer-director Roberta Grossman and executive producer Nancy Spielberg, sister to Steven Spielberg.

Production is already under way to turn Kassow’s 2007 book, Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (Indiana University Press), into a 90-minute documentary film that will be screened at film festivals and in select theaters. Who Will Write Our History? tells the gripping true story of Emanuel Ringelblum and his determination to use historical scholarship to resist Nazi oppression in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. Kassow’s book has been published in eight languages.

KassowbookAccording to the November 2015 West Hartford Life story, “Writing Holocaust history: Samuel Kassow’s book on the Warsaw Ghetto is being made into a movie,” by Lynn Woike, filming for the project began about a year ago with interviews and re-creations shot on set and on location in Poland and Israel. The majority of the production will be done in Warsaw in May or June 2016, and will be followed by about a year of editing. A 5-minute sample of the film is now available on the website whowillwriteourhistory.com. Kassow plans to present another sneak peek of the film’s progress on April 10, 2016, at the closing night of the Mandell JCC Hartford Jewish Film Festival.

Judith and Henry M. Zachs ’56 have contributed greatly to the fundraising efforts to make the production possible, as have generous supporters of Jewish community causes both locally and nationally, according to West Hartford Life. The subject is seen as a historically important part of the Holocaust that deserves the broad attention a film can deliver.

The Warsaw Ghetto uprising began on April 19, 1943, when the German military entered the Ghetto with the intention of “liquidation” – the deportation of all residents, mostly Jews, to forced labor camps. The residents chose to resist rather than be deported to the camps, where death awaited them. The Jews continued to fight for 28 days, though greatly outnumbered and lacking weapons. By May 16, thousands of Ghetto fighters were captured or killed and the Germans proceeded to destroy the Ghetto.

Kassow is considered the leading expert on Ringelblum, who, in 1940, established a secret organization called Oyneg Shabes – Yiddish for “Sabbath delight” – in Nazi-occupied Warsaw to document Jewish life in wartime Poland and to compile an archive that would preserve the events for posterity. Ringelblum was captured and killed in 1944, but before he died, he hid thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes, which were discovered in 1946 and 1950.

As a scholarly authority on the subject, Kassow served as lead historian for two of eight galleries of the new POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in October 2014 on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Most recently, Kassow edited and wrote an introduction for the book, In Those Nightmarish Days: The Ghetto Reportage of Peretz Opoczynski and Josef Zelkowicz (Yale University Press). The translation of works by two lesser-known Ghetto journalists who died in World War II was released in October 2015. Kassow is currently translating the writings of Rachel Auerbach, one of three people from the Oyneg Shabes operation who survived. He is also co-editor of Volume Nine of The Posen Anthology of Jewish Culture, which is scheduled to be published by Yale University Press in 2017.

For more information about Who Will Write Our History? visit whowillwriteourhistory.com.

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