Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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  • Lisa-Lebduska Metaphorical journey

    On the influence of location in writing and teaching

    It is a simple question that contains a universe of complexity: how did you get here?

    Professor of English Lisa Lebduska recounts tackling that question in her essay "Finding the Metaphor," which was published in the journal College Composition and Communication.

    She wrote the essay in response to a call by the journal for writings that reflected on the ways in which location influences writing and the teaching of writing. More than 250 articles were submitted for the issue.

    The professor who also oversees the college's writing program starts her essay by describing her struggle as an undergraduate to complete an essay addressing the open-ended prompt, "How did you get here." The question invited such a wide range of interpretations that she struggled to find a focus.

    Location, location, location: in real estate, a reassuring truism. In writing, though, destinations change. Sometimes the one who loses her way is the one who can’t decide where she’s going. But sometimes the one who gets lost is the one who refuses to let go of the plan.

    In her own teaching, Lebduska says that she sometimes presents her own students with similarly open-ended assignments, but not for a grade.

    "I love the open-ended assignment that remains ungraded," she said. "I try to provide both opportunities for the writers in my classes because everyone needs both the responsibility and freedom of choosing what they will write about and how they will write about that subject. Writers breathe all kinds of air."

    You can hear Professor Lebduska read her essay in the most recent episode of the podcast Plugs, Play, Pedagogy, which follows the journal's lead in exploring the theme of location and place in writing and teaching about writing.

    After Lebduska reads her essay, the podcast's host Kyle Stedman observes, "there’s something powerful about the brevity of these vignettes."

  • Photo by Kathleen Duncan The beat of her own drum

    Natalie Shelton ’05 performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

    It's not every day that one gets to perform on stage at Boston’s Symphony Hall, especially if you are not a professional musician.

    But that day recently came for Natalie Shelton ’05. She got to play the timpani, a giant classical drum, during a performance at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Her performance was part of a new Boston Symphony Orchestra program in which amateur musicians from various professions are selected through an application process, brought together, provided brief rehearsal time, and then given a chance to play in front of a live audience.

    Shelton, a psychobiology major, works for Helping Hands, a national nonprofit organization based in Boston, training monkeys to become service animals for people with limited mobility. For years, she has had a love for the drum that dates back to her eighth grade music class.

    She made her stage debut as a drummer in eighth grade, dressed as the Energizer Bunny in a play, she said in a story about the symphony’s program that was broadcast on 90.9 WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.

    Shelton discovered the timpani in high school when she was in the band, but never pursued it as a professional musician. Yet, she was lucky enough to end up on stage at Symphony Hall on Saturday, January 31.

    “To play at Symphony Hall, I mean, that’s kind of a dream for any Boston-area musician I would say,” she told the interviewer. “I’ve attended concerts there, but I never imagined I’d be setting foot on the stage. And it was a lottery system, so I feel like I won the lottery!”

    Check out Shelton rehearsing with the timpani:

  • 2007-Newsmaker-Ted_Nesi2 Washington Post lists visiting instructor one of 50 best political reporters

    Ted Nesi ’07 rocks as a reporter. He made the Washington Post’s “2015 list of best state political reporters.”

    The Washington Post recently confirmed again what we at Wheaton College already know: Ted Nesi ’07 rocks as a reporter. He made the newspaper’s “2015 list of best state political reporters.”

    Nesi, who majored in political science at Wheaton, covers politics and the economy in and around Rhode Island at WPRI-TV. A frequent writer for the Wheaton Quarterly magazine (including the winter issue's cover story), this semester he is teaching “Journalism” at Wheaton as a visiting instructor of English.

    “The Fix” columnist for the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza, says of political reporters like Nesi: “The most under-appreciated reporters in the political world are the scribes covering state and local politics. They rarely get the attention of their colleagues at the national level but are often covering the very politicians and national trends that come to impact the broad political landscape.”

    Every two years, the columnist honors the “best of the best from each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia,” based on recommendations from Cillizza's blog readers.

    This isn’t the first time that the award-winning Nesi has been the news. Read more:





  • Students watch Liam Grace-Flood '16 on the webcast. Fair comment

    Wheaton students contribute to national webcast on the State of the Union

    In the political theater of the mainstream news, coverage of the annual State of the Union address typically concentrates on the president's performance and the audience's reaction to the speech.

    As an antidote to that focus on the politics of the event, a consortium of higher education associations teamed up with digital media start-ups this week to foster a more substantive conversation, via webcast and Twitter, on the policy proposals unveiled by President Obama during his address to the nation on Tuesday evening. 

    The event, #iSOTU, was sponsored by the National Student Affairs Professional Association, the American Association of State Colleges and other organizations.

    Wheaton joined the effort, thanks to the Roosevelt Institute, Media Amelioration and Discernibility House (MAD House), and #WheatonCares, which organized a "watch party" to listen in on the discussion, contribute to the tweet up, and cheer on fellow students who were selected as speakers for the national webcast.

    The event's organizers selected Liam Grace-Flood '17 and Michael Ratliff '16 as panelists for the webcast, which focused on four major topics—income inequality, criminal justice, immigration and education.

    Grace-Flood joined a panel discussing issues of income inequality. The topic relates closely to a policy proposal for making college more affordable that the vice president of Wheaton's Roosevelt Institute chapter is working on and which has been selected as a finalist for publication in the organization's national journal.

    A double major in mathematics and studio art from Guilford, Conn., Grace-Flood said that his passion for public policy reflects his interest in solving problems. "I see my involvement with the Roosevelt Institute as a way to engineer solutions to social problems."

    Similarly, Ratliff's selection to participate in the segment on criminal justice issues connected with his interest in the topic."It's a subject that I've been personally interested in, particularly since the Ferguson case and the Atlantic magazine article on the case for reparations," said the economics major from Nashville, Tenn.


  • Fradiani IDOL Pic Wheaton's Idol

    Nick Fradiani passes American Idol auditions in New York

    Update: On Thursday, February 19, Nick Fradiani was announced as one of the top 24 finalists in the "American Idol" competition! We'll be keeping a close eye on Nick's progress as he moves on through the competition. He's counting on your votes to keep him moving on. Go Nick!

    Nick Fradiani '08 won a golden ticket to Hollywood.

    The professional musician, who graduated from Wheaton with a major in U.S. history, earned a spot on American Idol in an audition in New York City that was broadcast last night.

    Fradiani, a resident of West Haven, Conn., performed the Peter Gabriel song "In Your Eyes" for the television program's panel of judges Harry Connick, Jr.; Jennifer Lopez and former Idol winner Adam Lambert.

    For the Wheaton community, his selection as one of the contestants to start the season in Hollywood, Calif., was probably expected. While he was a student at Wheaton, Fradiani performed regularly in the Loft and the Lyon's Den, on his own and with various student-led bands.

    Since graduation, he has been building up a successful career as a performer with the pop rock outfit Beach Avenue. The ensemble has opened for groups such as Styx, Third Eye Blind, and REO Speedwagon, all while promoting their work on their own. The group caught the attention of a Syco Records talent scout, who invited the band to appear on “America’s Got Talent” this past summer, where they made it to the semi-final round of the competition.

    That experience showed in his Idol audition. Fradiani watched his girlfriend, Yanni Gavrilis, audition unsuccessfully for the program, but then he calmly slung his guitar around and launched into the song that was a radio hit for Gabriel and for Jeffrey Gaines.

    About 60 seconds into his performance, Lopez held up her hand to stop him, saying "That was nice, baby." The judges exchanged a look and Connick told Fradiani, "Your genre is extremely competitive this year."

    A moment later, the Wheaton grad emerged from the audition room, holding a golden ticket and an invitation to perform in the program's competition.

    "I’m feeling kind of lost for words," he told Ryan Seacrest. "It’s a pretty incredible experience. I’m pumped."

    Wheaton fans showed their excitement on social media, too.

    Word has it that Hollywood Week begins February 4, 2015. As the contest heats up, Fradiani may need his Wheaton fans to get in on the voting. You can keep up with Nick and root him on by following #teamfradiani on Facebook or Twitter.


  • 2005-newsmaker-Kunhardt-thumb Seen at last

    Long-forgotten photos of segregation highlighted.

    In 1950, the celebrated photographer Gordon Parks returned to his hometown for LIFE magazine to produce a photo essay documenting African Americans' experience of segregation, but to his chagrin, the photographs were never published.

    Finally, sixty-five years later, Parks's work will be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the exhibition "Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott," which opens on January 17.

    In a story about the exhibition, Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. '05, the executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation, told the New York Times, "Gordon was very disappointed that the story never ran. He was really going back to a place that meant everything to him, and he wanted to use it to say something important."

    The New York Times observed that Parks's powerful pictures of his former classmates from Fort Scott are powerful pictures today "when racial unrest and de facto segregation in many American cities give it a new kind of relevance."

    The new exhibition provides a fresh opportunity to appreciate the work of a photographer considered among the most influential of the 20th century. Kunhardt says that his work shows a mastery of the photo essay form and a deep commitment to seeing and capturing the humanity of others.

    His genius, I think, was based on a respect and trust he brought to the people and issues that he photographed. He spent much time with his subjects, sometimes even living with them—often in the harshest conditions.

    Parks worked at LIFE with Kunhardt's grandfather, and the photographer was a friend of the family and a regular visitor to the home, the Wheaton grad remembers. But Peter's knowledge of the photographer's work runs deeper. He served as co-editor of the five-volume Gordon Parks: Collected Works, which was published in 2013.

    The art history major previously served as a co-editor (with his father and uncle) of Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon, which was published in 2009 on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

  • Student curators at the exhibitions' November opening. Eye-catching exhibitions

    Two fall installations at Wheaton’s Beard and Weil Galleries were positively reviewed in ArtScope magazine.

    Two exhibitions currently on display at Wheaton’s Beard and Weil Galleries received a positive review in the January/February 2015 issue of ArtScope, New England’s Culture Magazine.

    Referring to the college’s extensive Permanent Collection and spacious galleries, the article calls Wheaton “a perfect setting for the training of future art curators.”

    “Tracing the Thread,” an exhibition curated by students enrolled in the Exhibition Design course, and “Goya and Beethoven: Finding a Voice Out of Silence,” an exhibition curated by students in this year’s Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities courses, are on display through February 13.

    The reviewer calls the two shows “concurrently imaginative and scholarly” and writes: “By combining visual objects with music and substantial textual content, along with supplemental in-depth podcasts, Wheaton’s student-curators in partnership with their professors and college staff have created two information-heavy innovative shows worthy of anyone’s attention and close study.”

    The Goya/Beethoven course connection and exhibition were also recently highlighted in an episode of Lyons Lunch, a live chat with President Dennis Hanno.

  • The poster for Michael Kristy's short film, "Evasion." Film premiere

    Michael Kristy ’18 will present his short film “Evasion” in January in his hometown of Sandwich, Mass.

    Michael Kristy ’18 will premiere his short film Evasion this month at the town hall in his hometown of Sandwich, Mass., according to an article published January 1 on CapeNews.net.

    The film, which tells the story of a high school student living with the military draft during World War II, began as a senior project while Kristy was a student at Sandwich High School. The film features Kristy’s Sandwich High classmate, Tim Titcomb, as the main character, as well as other student and adult actors.

    A first-year student at Wheaton, Kristy intends to major in computer science and film and new media studies.

    Check out Kristy’s trailer for the college’s fall production of Soldiering On.


  • Caspersen Sharing good news from Africa

    Beth Ann Caspersen ’96 wrote an editorial in two local newspapers about positive efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    In an op/ed piece published in January by the Boston Herald and Providence Journal, anthropology alumna Beth Ann Caspersen ’96 writes about unsung heroes and the good work being done in Africa.

    Having returned recently from her second trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Caspersen says these positive stories need sharing and that “the constant drumbeat of only bad news actually badly misinforms us about a vital and vibrant part of the world.”

    “Africa is huge and diverse, and its people are so much more than what the headlines imply,” Caspersen writes in the editorial.

    She highlights the work being done by the Panzi Hospital, which provides obstetrics and gynecological care to women in the DRC, and its founder Dr. Denis Mukwege, as well as the efforts of Congolese coffee farmer Joachim Munganga, who founded a farmers co-operative in the same region.

    The Tiverton, R.I. native is a coffee expert for Equal Exchange, working with farmer organizations throughout the world, including in the DRC, Ethiopia and Uganda.

    Caspersen first traveled to Africa while studying anthropology at Wheaton, living and studying in a village in rural Kenya. She has since returned to the continent a dozen times through her work with Equal Exchange.

    Read her editorial on the Providence Journal site or at BostonHerald.com.

  • Painter Jonathan Ralston '92 is a Featured Artist on ArtsyShark.com. Featured artist

    The paintings of Jonathan Ralston ’92 were highlighted on ArtsyShark.com.

    Painter Jonathan Ralston ’92 was recently a featured artist on ArtsyShark.com, a blog that highlights the stories and portfolios of various artists.

    Ralston, who lives on Martha’s Vineyard, specializes in oil paintings of architecture, a subject matter he says “chose me.”

    “I find endless fascination with the intersection of light, geometry and material (usually stone) that make up my subject matter,” Ralston says in the blog feature. “The strong sense of pattern has also remained constant. The way a series of columns, stairs, or arches will repeat across the canvas, all the while changing in scale and color captivates me.”

    Ralston said he became interested in painting architecture while at Wheaton, where he based his senior project on "a mix of color theory and abstracted architecture."

    He was also featured in the 2012 book 100 Boston Painters by Chawky Frenn.