Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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  • CGM-poster-1 Brava!

    Boston Globe writer Don Aucoin lists a play written by Professor Charlotte Meehan and starring Professor Stephanie Daniels as one of his picks for the upcoming theater season in the Fall Arts Preview.

    The title of the play itself is enough to get your attention: Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide.

    But then when you realize that Wheaton College Associate Professor of Theater Stephanie Daniels stars in it and that Professor of English Charlotte Meehan wrote it, well, you know it must be crazy good fun.

    And then there is this:

    Boston Globe writer Don Aucoin lists the play as one of his picks for the upcoming theater season in the Fall Arts Preview and includes a nice shout out of praise for Daniels, who is described as “so memorably fearless in Sleeping Weazel’s production of Kenneth Prestininzi’s Birth Breath Bride Elizabeth.

    Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide, directed by Robbie McCauley, is being presented by Meehan’s Boston-based multimedia theater company Sleeping Weazel September 15 to 17, and September 22 to 24, at 7:30 p.m., at the Plaza Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts.

    The play is Meehan’s response to the current U.S. election cycle. In an interview with Edge Media Network, the playwright discusses the inspiration behind the play and how it relates to her life on a personal level.

    “As with all my plays, the plot is a loosely assembled puzzle of surprise, tangentiality, quickly alternating moments of hilarity and anguish and, in this play, extreme displays of rapture and flashes of the sublime,” she told interviewer Killian Melloy.

    This is not the first time dynamic duo Daniels and Meehan have worked together. Their collaborations date back to 2005 when Daniels directed a mainstage production of Meehan's SpellSong, which Daniels directed. That began a decade of continued work together with projects ranging from Looking for George, a multimedia plea to then President George W. Bush to end the war in Iraq, to 27 Tips for Banishing the Blues.



  • Patriotic means

    Professor Huiskamp offers insight on competing views of patriotism

    Patriotism is complicated. It involves pride certainly, but beyond that, agreement can be hard to find.

    For some, only those who show unconditional allegiance to country can be considered patriots, while others believe it is patriotic to protest when their country acts in ways with which they disagree. Such conflicting viewpoints have often been brought into view during times of national disagreement, such as the protests over the Vietnam War.

    San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the playing of the national anthem has brought such disagreements to the fore once more, and it has prompted members of the news media to turn to Professor of Political Science Gerard Huiskamp for perspective on the debate.

    USA Today culled competing viewpoints on Kaepernick's action from social media and asked Professor Huiskamp to comment on the ideas underlying the controversy. In his scholarly work, the professor often distinguishes between perspectives on loyalty to country as "deferential" and "inquisitive" patriotism and described the latter as a dedication to national ideals.

    We tend to think of patriotism as love of country that is linked to larger principles. When we think about America we think of virtue, of our freedom, democracy, a land of opportunity. We are not allegiant to the soil, but we are allegiant to these underlying principles – and this is a notion that goes way back.

    Professor Huiskamp points out that the roots of inquisitive patriotism run deep, citing Enlightenment philosopher Edmund Burke, who mused on the loyalty that citizens owed to the state in his work Reflections on the Revolution in France.

    "To make us love our country," Huiskamp said, quoting Burke, "our country ought to be lovely."

    Presumably, Burke would approve of Kaepernick's decision.


  • Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 2.04.33 PM A stellar neighbor

    Wheaton astronomers study nearby solar system recently found to contain a planet that could harbor liquid water.

    You may not have had the chance to meet our neighbor, Proxima Centauri, but Wheaton astronomers know it well.

    Assistant Professor of Astronomy Dipankar Maitra and his students have been studying the closest star to Earth for the past two years, using the college's telescope at the Grove Creek Observatory in Australia.

    Interest in Proxima Centauri spiked recently with the announcement that astronomers have detected a planet in the habitable zone—meaning that water could exist in liquid form there—of the red dwarf star. In writing about the discovery, the Boston Herald noted that Professor Maitra and students focus some of their research on the star. "It's very exciting," the professor said.

    "Being the closest known star, Proxima Centauri had always been an object of interest to astronomers," Professor Maitra said. "Our research project aims to figure out the motion of the star very accurately." 

    Proxima Centauri is located 4.2 light years, or 25 trillion miles, from Earth, which is considered close by cosmic standards. Until recently, astronomers had not been able to find planets orbiting the star. In fact, they have not been able to observe the newly discovered planet directly. Rather, it was detected by studying the star; variations in its light signal the planet's presence, size and location.

    Wheaton's telescope installation at Grove Creek Observatory was established in 2003 under the direction of Professor of Astronomy Emeritus Tim Barker, who has used data from the facility for two research papers. The instrument has been replaced several times over the years and is slated for an upgrade this fall.

    The telescope, which is operated from the Wheaton campus via the Internet, offers students and faculty the ability to study parts of the sky that are not visible from the Northeast. It is used for several research projects. In addition, data from the telescope are used in observational astronomy classes.

  • Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew Gingo Why they lie

    Psychology professor Matthew Gingo talks to The Washington Post about the presidential candidates’ deceptions and public response.

    It will come as no surprise to most people that politicians occasionally lie. But does it matter why they lie? And do those reasons affect public opinion?

    Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew Gingo says it does.

    In a recent article published by The Washington Post, Gingo says that different motivations for lying affect how voters view U.S. presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. So far in their respective campaigns, Clinton’s misstatements have tended to be defensive, in response to allegations made against her. Meanwhile, Trump’s falsehoods have been more on the offensive or self-promotional. And that distinction is key.

    “Me lying to get myself out of trouble is not nearly as bad as me lying to get someone else in trouble,” Gingo says in the Washington Post article. “People view defense as more legitimate, such as physical self-defense.”

    But that doesn’t mean voters will necessarily side with Clinton.

    Some of the former secretary of state’s lies, including false statements made about her private email server and the messages it contained, are viewed by the public as “cover-ups”—as planned or calculated—and that may make her seem less trustworthy overall, Gingo says.

    The Wheaton professor's academic research focuses on lying—specifically the role deception plays in the social and moral development in children. He and his students have gained insight into how and why people lie by observing children at the Elisabeth Amen Nursery School, a laboratory preschool on the Wheaton campus.

  • Friendly game

    Norton police and firefighters took home the trophy in their inaugural softball matchup against Wheaton faculty and staff, held July 14 on Clark Field.

    With a score of 19–5, the Norton Police Department came out on top in a softball matchup between town and Wheaton officials Thursday afternoon.

    But though it was dubbed “The Battle of East Main Street” on social media, the inaugural game, held on Wheaton’s Clark Field, was less about competition and more about bringing together town and gown for some friendly summer fun—and to thank the Norton safety officers for all they do for the Wheaton community.

    Among the players on the Wheaton side were President Dennis Hanno, Vice President of Admission and Student Aid Grant Gosselin, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kate Kenny and Director of Public Safety Christopher Santiago, along with about 20 other faculty and staff.

    They played against Norton Police Chief Brian Clark and more than a dozen officers and firefighters.

    “I thought it would be a fun way to bring everyone together,” President Hanno told a reporter from The Sun Chronicle, which published photos and a recap of the game.

    Along with bragging rights and a trophy, the town won a special gift from Wheaton: funding and labor to help build a memorial to Norton police and firefighters.

  • At a glance, the surface of the heart-shaped Sputnik Planum on Pluto appears smooth and plain, but closer examination has revealed a pattern of interlocking polygons that can be explained by a vigorous convection process. (Photo courtesy of NASA) Pluto's young face explained

    Professor of Geology Geoffrey Collins weighs in on two new papers that detail how the dwarf planet’s surface is continuously changing.

    Scientists like Wheaton Professor of Geology Geoffrey Collins are continuing to make new discoveries about Pluto nearly a year after NASA’s New Horizons sent back images from a flyby of the dwarf planet.

    Two different papers published this month in the journal Nature describe how a closer look at the heart-shaped geographic feature on Pluto’s surface known as Sputnik Planum has revealed a “vigorous” process that essentially gives the planet a facelift every 500,000 to 1 million years.

    After examining a pattern of interlocking polygons on the surface of Sputnik Planum, two different groups of scientists concluded that they are likely caused by convection cells, created when nitrogen ice is heated by radioactivity from Pluto’s interior.

    This vigorous process could account for why there are no craters in the area—a sign that the surface is much younger than the estimated age of the dwarf planet, Collins said in an article about the discovery published June 1 by The Christian Science Monitor. Though not involved with either research team, Collins is a planetary scientist who has worked on various NASA projects and has investigated geological features on a number of planets, including Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto.

    "These two papers are written by two completely different sets of people. One of whom is deeply involved in the New Horizons team and the other is a group that's outside the team," Collins told the Monitor. "If you wanted to have some kind of scientific fight, that's the perfect set up. And yet the two groups reach essentially the same conclusion."

  • RS114602_5L3X1840-scr Challenging women's writing

    Works by Professor Charlotte Meehan and Adara Meyers ’08 open at the Boston Center for the Arts

    Sleeping Weazel's latest show may feature three plays by women, but don't call it women's theater.

    The performing and visual arts collaborative founded by Wheaton Professor of English and Playwright in Residence Charlotte Meehan will be presenting the Birds and the Bees, a festival of three new plays, starting tonight at the Boston Center for the Arts.

    Wheaton alumna Adara Meyers '08, one of the playwrights whose work is featured in the show, told Boston EdgeMediaNews that "this trio of plays questions the idea that "women's writing" is a useful or meaningful descriptor."

    The show features Beesus & Ballustrada by Professor Meehan, Birds by Myers, and The Last Bark by Kate Snodgrass. The plays explore perspectives on heterosexual love and existence (i.e., the birds and the bees), raising provocative questions for the audience.

    In EdgeMediaNews article about the plays, Professor Meehan said women's perspectives are woven through the three plays, the subjects they explore reflect the broader human condition.  

    We are playwrights and we are women, but we resist the idea of being called women playwrights. While women certainly feature in the three plays, and gender is important to the relationships within them, each play deals with broader themes of existence, including the repercussions of human interference in the natural world, and how ridiculous we all are (men and women) in the face of love. These plays are philosophical and psychological, fierce and funny, calamitous and sublime.

    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 Myers, Amanda Weir '04, Rebecca Finkelstein '05, and Jessica Foster '06, as well as Wheaton faculty such as Stephanie Burlington Daniels and Clinton O'Dell.

    The Birds and the Bees will play June 2–4 and 9–11 at the Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts at 5390 Tremont Street in Boston.

  • Assistant Professor of Art and Art History Kelly Goff Emerald City

    Art professor Kelly Goff creates sculptures for Boston Children’s Museum

    Just nine months after he created 30 shipping containers for an interactive outdoor exhibit at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, art professor Kelly Goff has produced another large-scale exhibit for residents and visitors to Boston.

    “Emerald City,” a multi-media sculpture and video installation that “explores our relationship with natural and synthetic habitats," is on view now through July 17 at the Boston Children’s Museum gallery, according to the museum website.

    According to the description: “Goff presents three unique, life-sized tree forms, including a 6-foot hollow log constructed from thousands of individual pieces of scrap wood, three facsimiles of a large tree stump cast in concrete, and a suspended, 25-foot paper cast of a fallen cedar tree. Within these forms exist light, projected imagery, and a live video feed.”

    Goff, assistant professor of art and art history at Wheaton, told the museum that each sculpture in the exhibit had been quality tested by his six-year-old.

    “In conceiving this exhibition for Boston Children's Museum, I was excited by the task of creating new work that could both engage the sense of wonder I admire so much in children while challenging families to consider our place in the natural world,” he said.

    Last summer, Goff worked with two student interns to create 30 soft foam shipping containers ranging from 2 1/2 to 5 feet in length for an outdoor exhibit at the convention center's D Street ArtLAB. The pieces were designed to be waterproof and durable, with a hard Styrofoam core that allowed visitors to stack, pile and climb on them.

    The project was inspired by the artist’s time growing up on the island of Curaçao, near one of the largest dry docks in the Caribbean.

  • Kenneth Babby '02 Team spirit

    Alum prepares for first baseball season at the helm of two Minor League teams.

    It’s been just over a year since Wheaton alumnus Kenneth Babby ’02 purchased his second Minor League Baseball team, the Jacksonville Suns, and the upgrades he has made to the team’s home park—as well as his commitment to his new community—are receiving attention.

    Babby was featured in an April 4 article in the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Daily Record.

    The article follows Babby as he makes the rounds at the park in preparation for Opening Day.

    “Babby is always surveying the stands. He watches faces. What people are eating. How they’re interacting with each other and the game. It’s a trait that began when he was a teenager, a time when most of his peers would solely watch the action on the field,” Daily Record reporter David Chapman writes.

    But it’s not just press attention the alum is receiving; since purchasing the Suns last March, Babby has been invited to serve on the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce board of directors, and the $1.8 million in renovations he has made to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville are getting positive reviews from local fans.

    “I don’t think we realize in the community what a gem we have,” Jacksonville Chamber CEO Daniel Davis said of Babby in the article.

    This is Babby’s first season juggling two teams. In October 2012, he purchased the Akron RubberDucks (formerly the Akron Aeros), based in Akron, Ohio. There, he also made a major investment, committing to $3.5 million in improvements to the team’s Canal Park.

    For Babby, who received a computer science degree from Wheaton College, baseball is essentially a family business. His father, Lon, served as general counsel of Major League Baseball’s the Baltimore Orioles in the 1980s and ‘90s. Babby often accompanied him on team business and even served as a batboy one year, getting to meet players such as Cal Ripken Jr., according to the Daily Record article.

    These days, Babby shares his work and his love of baseball with his own son, Josh, who hopes to attend as many games in both Akron and Jacksonville as possible.

  • Professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus enjoys a meal with students at Hood Café. The first potluck

    Religion professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus talks with The Huffington Post about the history of sharing dishes.

    Potlucks may be making a comeback, though these days they go by other names—“Friendsgivings” and “cook-offs,” to name a few.

    A March 25 article on The Huffington Post explores what’s new with the tradition of sharing dishes, as well as what’s old, talking to Wheaton Professor of Religion Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus about the history of the potluck.

    Brumberg-Kraus tells Huffington Post reporter Joseph Erbentraut that the concept of the potluck dates back to biblical times. He points to the Bible’s New Testament, where poor and well-off members of the community share dishes and unite through a symbolic offering of bread and wine.

    “They don’t call it a potluck, but that appears to be what’s happening,” Brumberg-Kraus says.

    Though the tradition has changed in many ways through the ages, today’s potluck still encourages people to be “much more inclusive and aware” of the needs of their brethren, whether it means bringing a dish that will have broad appeal or respecting the dietary restrictions of fellow diners, according to the article.

    “You want everyone at the meal to feel a part of it and have something to eat,” Brumberg-Kraus says.

    The Wheaton professor's research focuses on religion and food, particularly food traditions and rituals, and he often writes on the subject. He also teaches a First-Year Seminar on “The Rituals of Dinner.”