Diversions – On Wisconsin https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Secrets of The Glass Forest https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/secrets-of-the-glass-forest/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/secrets-of-the-glass-forest/#respond Tue, 28 May 2019 14:47:32 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25650

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Cynthia Fisher Swanson ’87 of Denver has published her second book, The Glass Forest. The literary suspense novel takes place in the 1960s, when 21-year-old Angie Glass is living a picturesque life in her Wisconsin hometown with her husband, Paul, and their newborn son.

Then Angie answers a phone call from Paul’s niece Ruby: Ruby’s father has reportedly killed himself and her mother is missing. Angie, Paul, and their son travel to be with Ruby, but as events unfold, Angie learns more about her husband’s complex family, putting her marriage into question.

Cynthia Fisher Swanson Glenda Cebrian Photography

A story of love, secrets, and betrayal is unveiled as the ominous truths of the Glass family are brought to light.

“Swanson uses exquisitely rendered characters and an intricately woven plot to explore the cultural and political fallout of WWII, as well as the changing role and limited rights of women in the mid–20th century,” says a Publishers Weekly review. “This intoxicating slow burn builds to a conclusion rife with shocking reveals.”

In addition, Swanson’s debut novel, The Bookseller, is expected to soon become a film starring Julia Roberts.

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America to Me https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/america-to-me/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/america-to-me/#respond Tue, 26 Feb 2019 16:45:59 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=25114

Jessica Stovall ’07, who started work toward her doctorate at Stanford University last fall, previously spent more than a decade teaching at Oak Park and River Forest High School in the Chicago area — the setting of the documentary series America to Me, which premiered on the subscription streaming service Starz this past August. Justine Nagan ’00 was an executive producer of the series.

Jessica Stovall Photo: Donald Stovall

America to Me was created by Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Steve James. Filmed over the course of the 2015–16 school year, the series looks into the lives of the school’s students, teachers, and administrators as they work through racial and educational inequalities.

Stovall, a UW Chancellor’s Scholarship graduate and a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Award recipient, starred as a subject in the documentary. In an interview with UW–Madison last summer, she said the series provides an example of what is going on in schools across America.

When asked what steps society can take to help close the racial achievement gap in the U.S., Stovall pointed out the importance of talking about race and how race has impacted lived experiences and outcomes. “We need to have some really honest conversations about what’s going on in the classroom, which is why I wanted to be part of the documentary,” she said.

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A Move to the Modern Age https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-move-to-the-modern-age/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-move-to-the-modern-age/#respond Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24411 Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. ]]> Poster for movie, "Ralph Breaks the Internet"After cowriting Wreck-It Ralph, an Oscar-nominated Disney film released in 2012, Phil Johnston ’94 has done it again as codirector and cowriter for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, hitting theaters November 21.

In the first film, video game villain Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) longed to be a hero; the sequel tags along with him and his friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) as they venture through the internet after finding a Wi-Fi router in their arcade.

The film features many characters whom audiences are sure to recognize (in one scene, Vanellope meets a group of Disney princesses, including Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Moana, Mulan, Pocahontas, Tiana, Snow White, and more), along with new faces (including Yesss, an algorithm voiced by Taraji P. Henson, whom Ralph meets along the way).

Alex Kang

Alex Kang

“It’s not so much a clash between generations as it is the loving integration of modern technology into that older world … and hopefully they find harmony,” Johnston said in a February interview with insidethemagic.net, noting that the Wreck-It Ralph sequel still strives to show appreciation for old characters and games.

Johnston, who majored in journalism at the UW, has worked on several other films, including Zootopia, The Brothers Grimsby, and Cedar Rapids.

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Misdemeanorland https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/misdemeanorland/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/misdemeanorland/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:10 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23784 Illustrated cover of book, "Misdemeanorland"By the early 1990s, misdemeanor arrests began to outpace felony arrests in New York. Now its most common criminal-justice encounters are for misdemeanors — not more serious felonies — and the most common outcome is not prison, according to Issa Kohler-Hausmann ’00. Kohler-Hausmann, author of Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing, an associate professor of law and sociology at Yale University, asserts in her book that this rise in misdemeanor arrests is largely due to the broken windows policing model, which contends that more serious crimes will be avoided if police enforce sanctions for low-level offenses.

Photo of Issa Kohler-Hausmann

Issa Kohler-Hausmann Sam Hollenshead

In Misdemeanorland, Kohler-Hausmann offers a look at the people whose lives are surveilled by New York City’s lower criminal courts, drawing upon fieldwork, interviews, and analysis. She argues that, under broken windows policing, lower courts have mostly adopted a managerial role in which monitoring and control outside of the courtroom dominate. Although media attention often falls on felony convictions and mass incarceration, Kohler-Hausmann points out that a significant number of people are subjected to police hassle and court scrutiny, even though about half of these cases lead to some form of dismissal.

Kohler-Hausmann writes: “I conclude by arguing that the study of mass misdemeanors — like that of mass incarceration — ultimately points out larger political questions about what role we, as a democratic society, will countenance for criminal justice in establishing social order.”

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Empowering Mothers https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/empowering-mothers/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/empowering-mothers/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:06 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23236 Book cover showing closeup of woman's face, title that reads "Infamous Mothers"

Infamous Mothers: Women Who’ve Gone Through the Belly of Hell … and Brought Something Good Back is a coffee-table book that features 20 intergenerational caretakers who have overcome personal hurdles and now make a difference in their communities. Its publication gives stigmatized mothers a way to tell their own stories and demonstrate their intrinsic value, challenging and adding complexity to stereotypes about teen mothers, mothers who abused drugs, mothers who engaged in sex work, and mothers who have survived domestic abuse or sexual trauma.

The book is part of a business called Infamous Mothers, founded by Sagashus Levingston MA’09, PhDx’16, herself a mother of six. Her startup — which also trains businesses and offers workshops, classes, and public speaking — strives to empower mothers.

“I don’t just talk about the importance of more mothers — especially marginalized ones — becoming CEOs, doctors, scientists, business owners, etc. I talk about strategies to make it happen,” Levingston writes on her website. “Equally important, I talk about what’s at stake if we don’t.”

Levingston’s book and business were inspired by her doctoral dissertation, “Infamous Mothers: Bad Moms Doing Extraordinary Things.”

The book, which concludes with a study guide, is marketed for use in university coursework. “For me, that is my way of getting back into academia — for the books to end up there, and for me to do speaking on campuses,” she told the Wisconsin State Journal in October.

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A Civil Rights Pioneer https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-civil-rights-pioneer/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-civil-rights-pioneer/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:54:02 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22505 "Justice for All" book cover

The influence of Lloyd Barbee LLB’56, a civil rights leader and lawyer in the 1960s and ’70s, lives on through Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A. Barbee, which was edited by Barbee’s daughter and civil rights lawyer Daphne Barbee-Wooten ’75. The book includes a foreword by Wisconsin congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, who describes Barbee’s lasting impact on the state and the nation.

Barbee, who died in 2002, frequently signed his correspondence with “Justice for All,” a principle he carried out day to day. An attorney who is most remembered for the case that desegregated Milwaukee Public Schools in the 1970s, he defended prisoners, protestors, the poor, and Wisconsin college students who were expelled after pushing the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh to offer black-history courses.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten holding up black and white photo of Lloyd Barbee.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten Kathy Borkowski

Barbee was the only African American in the Wisconsin legislature from 1965 to 1977, and he advocated for fair housing, criminal-justice reform, equal employment opportunities, women’s rights, gay rights, and equal access to quality education.

The selected writings detail Barbee’s experiences during the civil rights movement and the challenges he faced while legislating. In the book’s introduction, Barbee-Wooten says that growing up as his child was like “riding a wave of history.” She writes, “By introducing and compiling this book, I am proudly fulfilling his goal and dream to share his thoughts and philosophy with all.”

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Our Capitol at 100 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/our-capitol-at-100/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/our-capitol-at-100/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 23:02:05 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22134 No matter their political leanings, surely visitors to our capitol agree on its remarkable beauty. In The Wisconsin Capitol: Stories of a Monument and Its People, Madisonian Michael Edmonds tells how this spectacular icon came to be.

Starting with territorial governor Henry Dodge, Edmonds tells inspiring and entertaining tales of those who built Wisconsin’s four capitols. The first structure, made of wood, was in Belmont, where the state was born in 1836. The second — a ramshackle affair in Madison — housed pigs in its basement. The third was a grand Victorian building constructed during the Civil War that burned down in 1904. After that, no expense was spared to engage architects, designers, artists, and artisans, who toiled for more than a decade to complete the awe-inspirer that celebrated its centennial in 2017.

Michael Edmonds

Edmonds, director of programs and outreach at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, tells how today’s capitol was designed and decorated — and then restored, from its magnificent murals to its specialty spittoons, through a massive 1990s conservation effort. He introduces not only those who built the four capitols, but also governors, lawmakers, cleaners, guards, clerks, protestors, tour guides, pioneering women, and legislative rascals. Historical images and modern photos adorn the work, including pictures of the statue that stands atop the capitol’s dome: a gilded woman who really does have a badger on her head.

With Samantha Snyder 13, MA’15 — a reference librarian affiliated with George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Virginia, estate — Edmonds has recently coauthored another work. Warriors, Saints, and Scoundrels: Brief Portraits of Real People Who Shaped Wisconsin is based on the 500-plus “Odd Wisconsin” pieces that he wrote for a syndicated newspaper column between 2006 and 2015.

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Hail, Juvenile Logophiles https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/hail-juvenile-logophiles/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/hail-juvenile-logophiles/#respond Wed, 23 Aug 2017 19:28:34 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=21022

“I’d enjoy the dulcifluous water and empyreal sky much more if I weren’t so concerned about my arachibutyrophobia!” is what a child might say at your next streamside picnic, courtesy of Big Words for Little Geniuses.

In this clever picture book by Susan Solie Patterson ’79, MFA’82 and James Patterson, each letter of the alphabet is represented by a sophisticated word (that even adults may not know and children will love using), its definition, and a delightful illustration — with more words at the back. As the book wisely concludes, “Every little genius has to start somewhere.” (Dulcifluous, by the way, means “flowing sweetly and gently”; empyreal means “heavenly”; and arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.)

David Burnett

“The idea for this book,” explains Susan, “stems from our passion for reading and the importance of getting kids to learn (love) to read, and to learn (love) language.” Big Words fulfills a dream for Susan, who has wanted to write and art-direct a children’s book since grad school, when part of her MFA show consisted of entirely handmade books. During her subsequent career in advertising, her eventual husband hired her as an art director at J. Walter Thompson. James holds the Guinness World Record for writing the most number-one New York Times bestsellers, some of which have been made into films. He’s currently collaborating with Bill Clinton on a fiction work.

The couple passionately champions reading initiatives, teacher education, the UW’s swimmers (Susan was a two-time All-American swimmer), and the UW’s Schools of Education and Nursing.

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Where There’s a Will … https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/where-theres-a-will/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/where-theres-a-will/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 17:47:48 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=20319 the_education_of_will

Patricia Bean McConnell ’81, MS’84, PhD’88 of Black Earth, Wisconsin, is an internationally renowned zoologist and certified applied animal behaviorist who specializes in canine aggression. For 25 years, she was also a beloved UW–Madison adjunct associate professor who taught The Biology and Philosophy of Human–Animal Relationships.

McConnell heads McConnell Publishing, gives presentations around the world, writes for publications, makes TV appearances, and was the longtime cohost of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Calling All Pets. She has also written or coauthored 14 books, including The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do around Dogs and For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend.


As she shares in her latest witty, powerful, and even humorous work — The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog — it wasn’t only her canine clients who had problems: for decades she had secretly struggled with guilt, shame, fear, and post-traumatic stress disorder rooted in sexual assault and other traumas during her youth.

Frequent, unpredictable outbreaks of fear and rage exhibited by Will, a young border collie whom McConnell was training, triggered her PTSD symptoms and shook her profoundly. But to save the dog from his dangerous behavior, she vowed to face her past and find her will to reclaim her life. She learned that willpower alone cannot overcome trauma, but healing is possible through hard work, compassion, and mutual devotion.

Commenting on the response to her inspiring memoir, McConnell told Madison’s Isthmus that she hopes every reader “comes away feeling empowered, and knowing that with the right support, both people and dogs can heal from almost anything.”

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Alt-Rock Apex https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/alt-rock-apex/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/alt-rock-apex/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 17:29:58 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=19686 DIversionsnirvana_1991_055_JBrown_copy

Nirvana (here at a 1991 gig) recorded at Smart Studios in 1990. Jay Brown/www.jfotoman.com

From its founding in 1983 until its unceremonious closing in 2010, Smart Studios bore witness to the rise and fall of alternative rock’s heyday.

The Madison recording studio founded by Butch Vig ’80 and Steve Marker ’89 — members of the band Garbage — helped to create and capture the sounds of some of the most influential bands of a genre, including their own: Depeche Mode, Killdozer, Korn, L7, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, and U2.

The studio that helped to catapult the Midwest into the international music scene is the focus of Madison filmmaker Wendy Schneider x’94’s documentary The Smart Studios Story. The film is available for preorder on iTunes on March 1, and DVDs and vinyl can be purchased on the film’s website.

Schneider worked at the studio while attending the UW in the early ’90s, and she used her experience to tell a piece of rock history that was American to the core: two men who started with nearly nothing and ended up making waves worldwide.

“It was a really potent time and place in Madison,” says Schneider. “It was about the work, music, and nothing else.”

Working on the film during a span of seven years with a limited budget, Schneider relied on help from several UW communication arts alumni and interns: instructor and finishing supervisor Kaitlin Fyfe PhD’17, Ally Carlson ’12, Hannah Frank ’16, Brad Giroux ’14, Leah Haefner MA’16, Jed Hobson x’17, Chase Lederer ’16, Bianca Martin ’14, Aaron Martinenko ’12, James Runde ’15, and Jamie Wagner MA’12.

Vig, who with Marker served as an executive producer for the film, hopes the production inspires a new generation of artists. “Smart was never meant to be a museum; it was about existing in the moment,” Vig says. “With a ton of passion, hard work, some luck, and a bit of blind faith, we had an amazing, 30-year run.”

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