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  • Professor of English Michael Drout Talking Tolkien

    English professor Michael Drout discussed the final installment in the ‘Hobbit’ film trilogy in an article published on Smithsonian.com.

    With the December 17 release of the third and final film in director Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, Smithsonian.com reached out to a pair of Tolkien scholars, including Wheaton’s own Professor of English Michael Drout, to find out how the movie measures up to the original book.

    In the article, titled “The Tolkien Nerd’s Guide to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” Drout discusses the film’s similarities and differences to the book.

    He also shares his overall view of the series: “I was bored out of my mind with some of the repetitive fighting, but my son was totally into it,” he told Smithsonian.com. “If that was [Jackson’s] target demographic, then he completely nailed it.”

    And Drout hints at possible future adaptations of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, such as a Middle-earth amusement park or an HBO version of The Silmarillion, much like the popular series Game of Thrones, based on the best-selling books by George R.R. Martin.

    Drout directs the Center for the Study of the Medieval at Wheaton and has written numerous books and articles on the works of Tolkien.

  • mahlonpic Sports startup success

    A sports apparel company started by Mahlon Williams ’95 was profiled in the Boston Globe.

    Boston Sports Apparel Co., a venture started by Wheaton alum Mahlon Williams ’95, is getting some attention now that a major retailer has begun carrying its merchandise.

    Williams, who played on the Lyons men’s basketball team, talks about the company he started in 2008 in a recent Boston Globe article titled “Boston’s sports (apparel) underdog no more.”

    In the article, Williams talks about leaving a job at Fidelity Investments in 2010 to focus on his T-shirt company, which made its mark about a year ago when national retailer Sports Authority began selling its T-shirts in stores.

    Williams credits his father, a professional football player and police officer, with sparking his entrepreneurial interest, saying that as kids he and his sister went door to door selling snowflakes crocheted by his dad.

    Williams was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and was a Season 2 winner on the Spike TV reality show “Pros vs. Joes,” in which sports fans compete against professional athletes.

  • Professor Ann Sears All about Bing

    Professor Ann Sears shared her thoughts on the “White Christmas” crooner in an article about the 60th anniversary of the film’s release.

    Professor of Music Ann Sears talks about the cultural impact of Bing Crosby in a Sun Chronicle article about the 60th anniversary of the release of White Christmas.

    The film, which Paramount Pictures premiered in 1954, is being screened at select theaters nationwide this holiday season.

    Sears, whose research interests include American musical theater, is writing a book about Fred Astaire, who starred with Crosby in the films Holiday Inn and Blue Skies. She told the Sun Chronicle she was a big fan of Crosby, calling him “an amazing and complex man.”

    “He was a great singer who also pioneered advances in music technology as well as being a savvy businessman,” she told the newspaper.

    A live version of White Christmas will be staged at Boston’s Wang Theatre December 16–28.

  • Taylor Wilson '16 Informed opinion

    Junior Taylor Wilson ’16 had her essay on media portrayal of Muslim culture published on the website freearabs.com.

    An essay written by Wheaton junior Taylor Wilson ’16 for her Mediating Islam class was recently published on the website freearabs.com.

    The essay, titled “America’s Unfounded Islamophobia,” discusses the role popular media plays in “reinforcing harmful stereotypes and broad generalizations” of Muslim people and culture. In it, Wilson mentions an article she read on a Christian news site about a middle school father who removed his son from school after discovering the boy was learning about Islam in class.

    Wilson argues that learning about various cultures and religions in school actually benefits children and helps to counteract the negative way these cultures are portrayed in the media.

    “The broad generalizations used by newscasters, headlines and other outlets cause one radical Muslim or organization to represent over 1.6 billion people across different nations and cultures, sects and beliefs,” Wilson writes. “We have never used the KKK to represent Christians or Americans, but somehow we do the same for a marginalized population that we simply do not know much about?”

    She warns against engaging in this type of “polarizing discourse” about Islam.

    “I ask that as intellectuals and active media consumers, we be mindful of the skewed messages we receive and challenge them to create an informed consensus of our own as opposed to a preconceived notion skewed by the countless American media outputs and their hidden agendas,” she writes.

    Wilson is an anthropology major with a concentration in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and a minor in peace and social justice. She will be studying abroad in Jordan during spring semester.

    This fall, Mona Damluji, the Mellon Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Art and Art History, encouraged students in her Mediating Islam class to submit editorials written for class to websites and newspapers they read. At least two of her other students have submitted essays to be included in the Wheaton Words project this spring.

    “I've gotten a lot of feedback from different people who both agree and disagree with my point and have been able to have some interesting conversation about the topic,” Wilson said of her essay. “Regardless of individual opinions, I am glad I've sparked some conversation about something I believe is very important to discuss.”

  • Wheaton Trustee Emerita Patricia King ’63 places a medallion on President Crutcher at his inauguration in 2005. A better map

    A blog on The Huffington Post politics page highlights the experiences, lessons of Patricia King ’63.

    In a blog post shared on The Huffington Post’s politics page, Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, writes about the experiences of alumna Patricia King ’63 as she calls for a more welcoming approach to new perspectives in higher education and other areas of American life.

    Edelman shares the experiences of King, who lived with racial segregation and discrimination growing up in Virginia in the 1940s and ’50s and continued to face “micro aggressions” after leaving the South for college in Massachusetts.

    “Wheaton paved the way for her later success and was also the place where, she said, ‘I began to understand that real diversity can’t just be cosmeticReal diversity is about affording all community members the respect and dignity they deserve,’” Eldeman writes.

    After graduating from Wheaton, King attended Harvard Law School, serving on both institutions’ governing bodies. She remains a Trustee Emerita at Wheaton. King teaches law, medicine, ethics and public policy at Georgetown University Law School, where she has worked for 40 years, and is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University.

    In the blog post, Edelman references an address King gave earlier this year at Georgetown, in which King spoke about why she had chosen to hang a Peters Projection Map of the World—known for its more accurate portrayal of the world’s land masses in relation to one another—outside her office. She said she likes the map because it “highlights equality and undermines the projection of dominance.”

    “We have all lost because our work and the work of institutions that we are a part of has not accomplished what it might have, because we are working with old outdated maps and perspectives,” King is quoted as saying. “Our educational institutions, our science and medical establishment, and many of the other institutions in our lives that help define the scope of opportunity for millions must engage in a deliberate, intentional, and informed effort to incorporate the perspectives of people like 12-year-old Patricia King into the core of their work.”

  • Professor John Miller Climate change blame

    Economics professor John Miller shared his thoughts about the source of and solutions for climate change in “Dollars & Sense.”

    Professor of Economics John Miller calls out the editors of The Wall Street Journal for overlooking the United States’ role in affecting climate change in an article published in the November/December 2014 issue of Dollars & Sense.

    Miller points to an opinion piece published by the WSJ on September 22 in which the editors question the value of a climate change summit when some of the world’s biggest carbon emitters—such as China and India—fail to attend.

    “[Over the last decade, China’s carbon emissions have] jumped by more than the rest of the world combined and [China] is responsible for 24.8 percent of emissions over the last five years. Over the same period, developing nations accounted for 57.5 percent,” WSJ editors wrote in the piece. “[…] No matter U.S. exertions to save the planet from atmospheric carbon, the international result will be more or less the same.”

    Miller argues that the editors all but ignored historical data, choosing to focus on emission trends in 2013 rather than look at the way industrialized countries have been contributing to the problem for well over a century—and reaping the economic rewards in the process.

    “Without a dramatic slowing of global economic growth—made possible by massive redistribution that addresses the unequal distribution of benefits from carbon emissions—or a fundamental transformation of technology far beyond the reductions that we have witnessed to date, we will surely soon hit up against the limited capacity of the earth to absorb our waste,” Miller writes.

    Miller, whose research interests include sweatshops, labor standards and poverty alleviation, has been a previous contributor to Dollars & Sense.

  • Professor Beverly Lyon Clark Birthday blog

    English professor Beverly Lyon Clark wrote a blog post about ‘Little Women’ for The Huffington Post on the author’s 182nd birthday.

    In a blog post published by The Huffington Post on Louisa May Alcott’s 182nd birthday, Professor of English Beverly Lyon Clark discusses how Little Women continues to touch readers nearly 150 years after its publication.

    “Career and family. Independence and interdependence. … Louisa May Alcott's Little Women portrays the attractions of both poles in ways that still speak to women and men, to budding writers and political figures, to homeschoolers and queer advocates, in the 21st century,” Clark writes in the blog’s introduction.

    Her new book, The Afterlife of Little Women, was published in October by Johns Hopkins University Press.

    In the blog post, published November 29, Clark notes how Little Women has been identified as a childhood favorite by many public figures, including Gloria Steinem, Connie Chung, Hillary Clinton and Patti Smith.

    Clark also discusses how to this day Little Women is celebrated in a variety of interpretations and spinoffs. As example, she highlights the work of Wheaton student Ann Marie Brasacchio ’16, a chemistry major who rewrote the book’s first chapter, basing it on her own family, for a term paper.

  • Political science Professor Jay Goodman teaches a course at Wheaton. Truth in politics

    Professor of Political Science Jay S. Goodman was interviewed by fact-checking website PolitiFact.com about the strength of Rhode Island’s legislature.

    Professor of Political Science Jay S. Goodman recently weighed in on a question being investigated by the Providence Journal and fact-checking website PolitiFact.com: Is Rhode Island’s legislature the strongest in the United States?

    The question was raised after outgoing Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said exactly that when sharing his advice for Governor-elect Gina Raimondo in a Journal column published on November 17.

    “The only [advice] I would add is we all know ... that Rhode Island constitutionally has a very strong legislature," Chafee told the Journal. "That’s a fact, the strongest in the country … ”

    To discover the truth (or lack thereof) in this statement, Journal reporter Katie Mulvaney reached out to about a dozen political science professors nationwide, including Goodman—who has been teaching political science at Wheaton College for nearly fifty years.

    In his response, Goodman said that the Rhode Island legislature had given up some power over the past two decades, which had strengthened the governor’s role.

    "But the overwhelming one-party rule coupled with iron discipline still makes the Speaker [of the House] the most powerful single person [in Rhode Island],” the professor added.

    Goodman’s response matched up with other research the reporter conducted, including consulting a chapter in the book “Politics In the American States: A Comparative Analysis,” in which the author ranks Rhode Island as last overall for executive power.

    Ruling: Chafee's statement gets a 'thumbs-up' from Goodman and other political science scholars.

  • Drone Camp Drone Camp highlighted

    Wheaton’s first Drone Camp, held Saturday, November 22, was covered by the Sun Chronicle.

    Wheaton’s first ever Drone Camp got a mention in the Sun Chronicle over the weekend. The event, held Saturday, November 22, was open to students as well as members of the public.

    Drone Camp organizer Patrick Johnson, assistant professor of filmmaking, told the newspaper that the development and usage of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, could generate more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in the next decade and that the machines “are at the technical nexus of so many parts of our culture.”

    Last summer, Johnson used a drone—built and manned by Zevi Rubin ’16—to shoot scenes for his short science fiction film “Fangzi,” which he premiered at the fall faculty art show, “P3SF.”

    Along with offering people the chance to fly the quad-copters, the event included a panel discussion featuring Rubin, a computer science major, Associate Professor of Film Studies Josh Stenger, Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew Gingo and visiting political science instructor Michael Sawyer.

    Drone Camp was funded by Wheaton’s new InterMedia Arts Group Innovation Network (IMAGINE).


  • ODonnellmug Attorney named to judicial commission

    Kathleen M. O’Donnell ’77 has been appointed to a special commission that investigates misconduct among Massachusetts judges.

    Kathleen M. O’Donnell ’77, an attorney practicing in Lowell, Mass., has been appointed to a special commission that investigates misconduct among state judges, the Lowell Sun reports.

    She will serve a six-year term on the Commission on Judicial Conduct, effective December 10, 2014.

    O’Donnell, who previously was named by the National Law Journal as one of the 12 most influential attorneys in Massachusetts, is a partner in the firm of Kazarosian, Costello and O’Donnell LLP, which has offices in Lowell, Haverhill and Salem. She was the first woman president of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, is past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association and has held numerous other leadership positions. She is also a graduate of Suffolk University Law School.

    O’Donnell received an honorary degree at Wheaton’s 172nd Commencement in 2007.