Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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  • IMG_2587 Decoding the emoji

    An article in Wired quotes English Professor Lisa Lebduska on the subject of emojis.

    Have you been mixing up your smiley and frowny faces?

    A May 21 article in Wired magazine, which quotes English Professor Lisa Lebduska, suggests that users may be misinterpreting the meaning of emoji characters—using a “sleepy face” to denote sadness or a “look of triumph” to signal anger, for example. And these mix-ups are leading the Unicode Consortium, which sets emoji standards, to rethink some of their designs.

    But, as author Megan Logan writes, the non-precise nature of emoji and emoticons is exactly what makes them such a fascinating means of communicating, a reflection of the times and of the different people who use them.

    “Through our misuse, misinterpretation, and subsequent re-imagining of these emoji, we subvert the apparently universal glyph system and push the development of this pictorial language forward, stretching its bounds and testing its limitations,” Logan writes.

    She includes in her article a quote from Lebduska’s essay, “Emoji, Emoji, What for Art Thou?,” published in the October 2014 issue of the digital magazine Harlot, in which Lebduska outlines the history of emojis and their use in modern conversation.

    While some scholars have suggested that emoticons and emojis pose a threat to the written language, Lebduska argues that they are a separate form of communication, a means of “creative graphic expression.”

    “Emojis expand expression and in doing so open themselves to re-appropriation, interpretation and even misinterpretation, along with the affirming possibilities of artistic creation,” Lebduska writes in the introduction to her essay.

    Lebduska is also director of college writing at Wheaton.

  • jimmie-lee-and-james-9781941393482_lg Tale of two heroes

    Adar Cohen ’04 co-authors book on civil rights movement

    A new book co-authored by Adar Cohen ’04 explores a pivotal event in American civil rights history.

    Jimmie Lee and James: Two Lives, Two Deaths, and the Movement that Changed America, written by Cohen and Steve Fiffer and published by Regan Arts in New York City, looks at the killings of civil rights activists Jimmie Lee Jackson and the Rev. James Reeb and how they inspired the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    Jimmie Lee and James is the first book to give readers a deeper understanding of the events that galvanized an already-strong civil rights movement to one of its greatest successes, along with the herculean efforts to bring the killers of these two men to justice—a quest that would last more than four decades,” according to a description of the book posted by Regan Arts.

    To research the book, Cohen and Fiffer traveled to Alabama to talk with many of the individuals who participated in the civil rights movement in the ’60s—conducting interviews with witnesses to the two murders as well as dozens of others and reviewing hundreds of pages of FBI documents, private papers and diaries, memoirs, oral histories and newspaper and magazine articles.

    The result is “a well-written, well-reported page-turner about our collective struggle for equality and justice . . . hopefully the last chapter in the American Revolution,” according to a review by Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    At Wheaton, Cohen designed an independent major in conflict resolution, drawing from courses in anthropology, political science, religion and history.

    In addition to receiving a George J. Mitchell Scholarship in 2006 to study at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Cohen won a 2004 Watson Fellowship, a 2003 Truman Scholarship in public service and several other fellowships and college honors. He was also known on campus for founding the Wheaton chapter of Backpack to Mexico, a group that collects school supplies for children in Mexican border communities.

    Cohen received both a master’s and a Ph.D. in international peace studies from Trinity College and currently works as director of programs at the Civic Leadership Foundation, an organization that aims to empower young people to be effective and responsible leaders. He also is an adjunct professor in the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Department at DePaul University.

    In their author’s note, Cohen and Fiffer acknowledge the book’s relevance 50 years after the deaths of Jackson and Reeb, particularly in light of recent protests over police officers’ excessive use of force in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other black men.

    As the authors write in their introduction: “It is our hope that this book can help us remember the great promise of American democracy—that everyone has a voice, that everyone can participate—and in honoring two of its heroes, recommit us to its promise.”

    Read an excerpt from the book at reganarts.com.

  • Rayne McGlamery '15 received a Wheaton Fellowship last summer that supported her internship at Children's Law Center in Hartford, Conn. The right answer

    Wheaton’s guarantee of funding for an internship opportunity earns notice.

    Wheaton’s promise to provide funding for at least one experiential learning opportunity for every graduate got a mention this month in an article posted on GoLocalWorcester.com.

    In her piece on “5 Questions to Ask Career Services,” college admissions expert Cristiana Quinn recommends that prospective college students find out what percentage of a school’s students receives paid internships and how the school helps students make internship connections.

    “At Wheaton College in Massachusetts, a new program is being launched that will guarantee each student up to $3,000 in grants for an unpaid internship,” Quinn writes, referring to the Wheaton Edge. “This relieves the financial burden placed on families to support students during an unpaid internship, or the tendency of companies to shy away from taking on interns because of budget restrictions.”

    In addition to guaranteeing funding for each student before the start of their senior year, the Wheaton Edge promises personalized support in career pursuits from faculty and staff, including capable advisors at the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.

    Other questions Quinn suggests students ask at colleges they’re pursuing include what year career advising starts (the first year, at Wheaton), the ratio of career advisers to students, how many organizations interview on campus and whether there is a formal alumni career network.

  • business Hidden gem

    Wheaton College has been named a “hidden gem” for employers looking to hire business majors, according to College Recruiter.

    Wheaton College has been named a “hidden gem” for employers looking to hire business majors, according to College Recruiter.

    The company, which helps connect recent graduates and current college students to jobs and internships, ranked Wheaton as No. 1 on its list of Top 12 Hidden Gem Colleges for Employers Hiring Business Majors.

    The Hidden Gem rankings acknowledge colleges and universities that offer a high quality education but that may get overlooked by traditional lists.

    “The modeling for this hidden gem school project was to identify the schools which featured high SAT/ACT scores for entering students, high average starting salaries for the regions in which the schools were located, a high percentage of graduates working in their chosen field of study and a majority of the graduating class available for recruitment by employers,” according to College Recruiter.

    The lists, created with the help of data scientists, are designed to help employers know which institutions to target when seeking high-qualified individuals.

    In addition to Wheaton, the top five institutions featured on the Hidden Gem for Business Majors list include Lehigh University, Brigham Young University-Provo, University of Miami and Bentley University.

  • Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, professor of religion Table talk

    Professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus on the history of salt and its roots in Jewish culture.

    Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus talks about the history of salt and its roots in Jewish culture in the May-June issue of Moment magazine.

    Not just an “essential and universal part of the human diet” used for pickling and preserving, as Rachel E. Gross writes in the article, salt is also symbolic in Judaism and prevalent in Israel, home to the Dead Sea—a sea that is 10 times as salty as any other sea on earth. The article tracks the mineral’s use from ancient times up through the modern age, noting how salty foods became associated with Jewish immigrants in the United States.

    Lox, bagels, pastrami, corned beef, whitefish and pickles were all salty dishes that were considered part of Jewish cuisine in America, dishes with tastes that, as Brumberg-Kraus says, “were very assertive and very pungent—garlicky, salty, pickled foods.”

    As he notes in the article: “Salty foods were a way of asserting Jewish identity.”

    The piece is part of Moment’s 40th anniversary issue. Check it out at momentmag.com.

  • Nick-Fradiani-800 Final Four

    Nick Fradiani cracks the top on American Idol

    Nick Fradiani ‘08 is headed home as one of American Idol’s final four, looking forward to a hero’s welcome.

    The Wheaton College history major will return to Guilford, Conn., on Friday for a parade and concert, following his triumphant performances last night on the national television show.

    The town has declared Friday, May 1, 2015, to be Nick Fradiani Day; local schools are scheduled to close early for the celebration.

    Fradiani’s Wheaton friends are making plans to join the party, and the campus is rooting for him. We hear that he may be getting together with his former Wheaton basketball teammates for a pick-up game, too.

    Last week, he gave an interview to the student newspaper, The Wheaton Wire, reflecting on his college career.

    About his experience here, he said, “Wheaton has you thinking a lot differently than other places.” A highlight of his college experience was the people he met. Seven years after graduation, some of his Wheaton classmates are still his best friends.

    Fradiani said to the Wheaton community, “Whoever’s at Wheaton, they made the right choice. If I could, I’d rewind and go back.” To those interested in music, he suggested, “Keep playing. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, keep doing it. If you think that this is what you’re supposed to do in life, you just have to keep pushing and working.”

    The local newspapers, both near the college, and in New Haven and Guilford are following his progress, too.

    The upcoming celebration in Guildford on Friday follows a pair of performances by Fradiani that the American Idol judges agreed won the evening.

    For his first song, he performed the Matchbox 20 song “Bright Lights,”after which Judge Jennifer Lopez called the performance “so perfect,” and told him: “it was you at your best.”

    In his second performance, Fradiani sang the Rascal Flatts’ hit “What Hurts the Most.” Judge Harry Connick, Jr., said that he could envision that song selling well on Fradiani’s first major label recording.

    “Tonight, you are the star of the night,” gushed Lopez.

    He will be the star on Friday, too.

  • George Kundhardt ’09 and his wife, Jackie Phillips Kunhardt ’09 (they met freshmen year), at premier party for film. Wheaton alum's work to air on HBO

    HBO documentary on Lincoln to air April 13

    The work of Wheaton College alum George Kunhardt '09 will be in the spotlight on Monday, April 13, at 9 p.m., with the airing of the HBO documentary “Living with Lincoln.”

    Kunhardt was a producer and an editor of the one-hour documentary that chronicles their family’s connection to Abraham Lincoln and the effort to preserve his image through several generations. The personal film, which airs during the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, draws on a rarely seen collection of 19th century photos.

    Kunhardt, who as a student was a member of the Wheaton In Focus film crew, worked on the "Living with Lincoln" with his brother, Teddy Kunhardt, a producer, and his father Peter Kunhardt, who is co-director/producer. (Three members of the Kunhardt family—George's father, his brother Peter Kunhardt Jr. ’05 and his uncle—wrote Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon.)

    Kunhardt's production company Kunhardt Films, in Pleasantville, N.Y., created the film. As the air date approached, we asked Kunhardt a few quick questions:

    How did the film come about?
    It began as a two-hour film on Abraham Lincoln, but after months developing the film we decided we wanted to take a less conventional route and produce a much more personal story about our family’s unique and extensive 19th century photographic collection, while weaving in interesting stories about Lincoln. We tried to focus on Lincoln the man, not so much Lincoln the public figure.

    Tell us about your Wheaton experience?
    I was the first studio art major with a focus in film and television. When I started at Wheaton in 2005 there were no film courses. I worked closely with Professor Andy Howard to help create the major, without whom it would never have been possible.

    How does it feel to have a documentary coming out on HBO?
    It feels incredible. I have worked on several HBO documentaries since I left Wheaton (this will be my fourth), but this is the first where I took a lead role as a producer and an editor.

    Read the official description of the film and watch the trailer here.

  • 11081063_1087021437980832_4636381644769205167_n The elite eight

    Nick Fradiani ’08 makes it to the final eight on American Idol

    Nick Fradiani '08 continues to roll up the votes and performances on American Idol. He was the first selected for the eight top contestants last night, so he could use your votes at Google or Facebook/Fox.

    For inspiration, you can watch his performance of the Kelly Clarkson hit, "Catch My Breath." Or if you use Spotify, you can listen to the complete version of Nick singing "Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson.

  • Kim Miller, professor of art history and women's and gender studies. Art as his(s)tory

    Prof. Kim Miller’s scholarship sheds light on art controversy in South Africa

    Art matters. It communicates values and reflects the culture in which it is produced.

    All of which helps to explain recent protests against the statue of the British mining magnate and politician Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. Students see the colonialist's statue as a symbol of white supremacy that should be removed, repudiated.

    The controversy highlights a larger critique of public art in South Africa: the meager representation of women, particularly the many who played pivotal roles in the fight against apartheid, according to journalist Rebecca Davis, who wrote an essay on the topic for The Daily Maverick, an online news site in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    In setting up her argument, Davis cited extensively the scholarship of Wheaton College Professor Kim Miller.

    There is a Monument to the Women of South Africa at the Union Buildings in South Africa which is, to quote academic Kim Miller, “the only commemorative site dedicated entirely to women’s Apartheid-era political efforts”.

    Miller, an associate professor at Wheaton College in the US, has researched this topic extensively and is about to release a book called How Did They Dare? Women’s Activism and the Work of Memory in South African Commemorative Art. The first part of the title, Miller, explains, is a quote from Walter Sisulu when he was marveling over the courage and organisational capabilities of the women who organised the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings.

    A professor of art history and women's and gender studies, Miller says the dearth of women in art about the struggles "is significant given that women were not silenced or marginalized during the liberation struggle, either as political actors or within visual culture."

    Her forthcoming book from the SUNY Press will explore visual representations of women political activists in South Africa both during and after the struggle against apartheid and consider the extent to which they are remembered, or forgotten, in contemporary visual culture and celebrations.

    Miller also is co-editing a book on public art in South Africa from 1999 through 2014, Stone Elephants and Plastic Presidents, with colleague Brenda Schmahmann, a professor at the University of Johannesburg. The country is particularly interesting because its Truth and Reconciliation Commission chose not to dismantle public art that commemorated its colonial and apartheid history.

  • Professor of English Charlotte Meehan Unexpected and entertaining

    Sleeping Weazel, the theater company founded by Professor of English Charlotte Meehan, was praised in a recent Boston Globe review.

    Sleeping Weazel—the theater company launched three years ago by Wheaton professor Charlotte Meehan—is once again getting attention.

    As Boston Globe reporter Terry Byrne wrote in a review of the company's latest production, Badass: "Once again, Sleeping Weazel presents some of the most unexpected and entertaining evenings of theater in town."

    Badass, a collection of poetry and plays celebrating Women's History Month, was on stage at the Boston Playwrights' Theatre through March 14 and featured artist-performers Magdalena Gomez, Kate Snodgrass and Robbie McCauley. The pieces ranged in topic and tone but "share[d] the notion of identity and the ways we, and others, attach labels that are limiting and misleading," according to the Globe article.

    Meehan, an English professor and playwright-in-residence at Wheaton, founded Sleeping Weazel in January 2012 and serves as the company's artistic director. From the beginning, she has worked closely with several former students, including Amanda Weir '04, Rebecca Finkelstein '05, Jessica Foster '06 and Adara Meyers '08, as well as Wheaton faculty such as Stephanie Burlington Daniels and Professor Clinton O'Dell.