Can the legal system be used to address the continuing income gap between women and men? This is the main question guiding Danli Lan’s probing look into the concept of democracy and its impact on gender. Using a series of milestone legal cases, Lan highlights how institutional and social barriers have prevented women from being treated equally when it came to salaries and pension benefits (the Lily Ledbetter case and subsequent law is one of the better knowns.) Based on her reading and interpretation of these cases, Lan concludes that a better coordination of judicial and symbolic laws needs to happen in order to lessen the income disparity. Acknowledging that laws in themselves won’t change inequality, Danil Lan encouraged the audience to think about productive solutions themselves.
SpARC 2014 will happen on April 24, 2014. Attend live sessions in Bullock Science Center on Agnes Scott College’s campus, read more on this blog, and follow live on twitter #ASCsparc.
What does an ASC student do during her summer break? For Shilin Zhou the answer was clear: apply for a grant from Project for Peace to help a Botswana Highschool to improve its water recycling system. In her talk, “From Kitchen to Orchard: Integrated Water Resources Management Project; Madiba High School, Botswana,” she told the audience about her experience.
What happens when black actors and directors today adapt the concept of “blackface”? This was the underlying research question for Chesya Burke’s presentation, “The Appropriation of Blackface by Black Creators,” which she had developed as part of a film course she has taken with Prof. Willie Tolliver.
After a brief summary of the historical development of blackface performances, Chesya presented several clips from films such as W. D. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With The Wind” to show the use of blackface in cinema. As Chesya argued, while most people today agree that these historical representations are offensive and racist, it is less clear how to view the role of black actors adopting these stereotypical performance styles. To illustrate contemporary adaptations, Chesya showed examples from the film “The Help” and from films by Tyler Perry and Cuba Gooding Junior.
Chesya used these examples as evidence for her main argument that the use of blackface is connected to social power and class. Historically, so Chesya, white actors and producers created and produced negative images of blacks for lower class white audiences. Today, a “co-opted” black elite in the entertainment business reinforces negative images of blacks for poorer black audiences, with the “real-life repercussions” that young black people take the caricatures of black women and men in these films for real.
Chesya’s well-delivered and provocative talk sparked a lively discussion in the audience and will probably prompt a few people to watch some of the more recent films in a different light.
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
Have you been working on a research project or performance?
Do you want to share your work with your colleagues and peers?
SPRING ANNUAL RESEARCH CONFERENCE
WILL BE HELD THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013
Present a poster, presentation, or performance.
Submit your abstract or description
(150 words or less)
DEADLINE: MARCH 20th
**THIS IS A FIRM DEADLINE**
To submit your abstract or a description of your project, go to our new SpARC MOODLE page
Go to Moodle, click on Non-academic courses and then click on the SpARC heading (on the second page)
Click on the link to the abstract submission form to submit your abstract or description
Contact the SpARC committee co-chairs:
Dr. Barbara Blatchley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Suzanne Onorato (email@example.com)
NOTE: It is very important that you gain IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for any research involving human subjects, and IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use) approval for any research involving non-human animal subject, PRIOR to conducting your research. Human subjects research includes interviews, surveys, experiments, etc. Please apply for IRB approval of your research as soon as possible. Follow the link to ASC’s IRB website: http://irb.agnesscott.edu or the link to ASC’s IACUC website: http://facultygrants.agnesscott.edu
“Why is it that almost 40% of the representatives in the US Senate are millionaires?”
This was the question that motivated first-year student Kaija Lazda to begin a research project comparing campaign financing in the United States and in Germany. As a future German Studies major with a strong interest in political science and international relations, Kaija used her knowledge about German contemporary politics and her language skills to read through the policies of the German Bundestag and to research background material on German websites in addition to researching the US side of the matter.
In a clear and concise presentation Kaija then led the audience through her findings. One of the most intesting aspects of her investigation of US campaign financing structures was a comparison of the contributions by PACs in the 2008 presidential campaign with the role PACs have played in the 2012 campaign sofar. The millions spent by PACs in 2008 look miniscule in comparison to this year’s numbers.
One of the main differences between the US and Germany is that in Germany the government contributes almost all of the election financing and parties–not individuals–are funded based on the percentage of votes the received in the previous election. This is not to say that donations do not play a role in German politics, and the country has certainly seen its share of scandals in the last couple of years. However, as Kaija pointed out, the wealth of a candidate is generally viewed with more suspicion than in the United States.
Kaija acknowledged that her research did not yield the clear-cut superiority of one campaign-financing model over the other that she had envisioned at the outset. While she generally considers the German model to allow for a better political representation of all social groups, she does not see it as the perfect model either. Kaija plans on continuing her research during the ASC in Germany seminar in May and will use some of her findings in future IR and Political Science courses.
With her talk “Creating the femme Fatale: Marlene Dietrich Under the Gaze”, Charlotte Kubicz, German Studies major at Agnes Scott College, introduced an attentive audience to the investigation of gender representation in popular cinema.
Kubicz compared and analyzed Marlene Dietrich’s role in the films “Blue Angel” (1930) and “Shanghai Express” (1932). Both were directed by Austro-American director Josef von Sternberg, but while “The Blue Angel” was produced during the German Weimar republic, “Shanghai Express” was produced in Hollywood. Part of Kubicz’ project is to see if the different cultural and national context of production for these two films also resulted in a different manifestation of the femme fatale or vamp concept.
After introducing and the concept of the femme fatale as a female role that disrupts the traditional boundaries between masculine and feminine identities, Kubicz focused on the different ways in which “Shanghai Express” presented the character of Shanghai Lili, played by Marlene Dietrich, as a vamp. Charlotte highlighted the lack of depth in many shots of Dietrich, the framing of her character in doors and windows, a strategy that almost made her look pasted into the mise-en-scène.
Charlotte’s presentation was a great example for close film analysis. In order to discuss the often quickly changing power dynamics between the female and the male leads, she showed the following sequence from “Shanghai Express” (scene begins at 5:55):
Charlotte pointed out how Marlene Dietrich’s character, despite her verbal declaration to not “detain” her former love intereest, arrests his attention nonetheless.
The presentation concluded with Charlotte comparing the marriage of the femme fatale in “Shanghai Express” with the tragic ending of “The The Blue Angel,” where the femme fatale Lola Lola (M. Dietrich) eventually drives her bourgeois lover to commit suicide. Charlotte discussed how different historical circumstances might have let to different resolutions to the conflicts between the sexes and the genders. While Lola Lola’s resistance to marriage in “The Blue Angel” can be read as a reflection of the gender discourses of the Weimar republic in Germany, the eventual marriage of Shanghai Lily might indicate the conservatism of 1930s America and the attempts at censoring Hollywood.
Charlotte’s clear and decisive presentation prompted several good questions and made me want to go back and watch these two films.
Right now I am watching an impressive group of five young ASC women from across the disciplines report about their experiences of living in the ASC “I am Woman” theme house for two semesters.
These students used their time in the theme house to organize events like a three-day guided meditation, a film event, and several events addressing resources for women on campus and in the larger community of Decatur. Several of the presenters emphasize how living in the theme house got them more involved in activities such as “Take Back the Night,” “Suicide Walk,” etc.
Alex Holliday, a European History major, reflects on the time in the theme house by talking about how she learned to resolve conflicts and tensions. She says that the time together has led to plans for future collaborations. Learning the logistics of putting on an event, publicizing activities, and communicating
The Sentiments of Alex, Jessica Resnak, Ebony Black, Brittany Williams, Anjane Williams are best summarized by Brittany Williams’ comment:
“Living in the theme house, to say the least, has been such an amazing learning experience. … It has helped me to grow as the woman I want to become.”
Are African-American students overrepresented in special ed classrooms? That’s the question asked by Destani Parker.
After a thorough review of the existing literature, Destani conducted a series of qualitative interviews with parents and teachers. Discussing samples of these interviews, Parker highlighted that a lack of knowledge about test procedures, referral processes, and the meaning of tests among the parents and the students is crucial for understanding why so many students of color end up in special ed programs.
For instance, a student appraiser who had tested students for seven years reported a ratio of 8 to 2 in referrals, meaning that out of every 10 students she referred to special ed programs 8 were African-American students. This interviewee explained the difference with black students’ underexposure to the learning materials.
Parker stressed that parents need to be educated better about their rights and that teachers and student-appraisers need to be trained better to avoid test bias. She concluded by pointing out that the various tests are not very reliable and that, in the future, school systems might have to think about abandoning them, the same way that IQ tests were eventually tossed out.
Destani’s presentation prompted a series of questions and engaged conversation among the audience and some good ideas about possible changes in public education.
I’m sitting in Bullock Science Center 308, a very special room today: All presentations scheduled in this room are from Dr. Martha Rees’ Sociology/Anthropology class.
Cori Bradwell-Coaxum, a senior at ASC, opens the series of presentation with an investigation of public education in Fulton County Georgia. Observing that the education of her own children differed markedly depending on which schools they attended, Bradwell-Coaxum decided to look deeper into the matter.
She reviewed existing literature on inequity in access to education and noticed that the perspectives of parents and teachers were missing. So she developed a set of questions and conducted confidential interviews with a set of parents and teachers. She analyzed the qualitative interviews with a special software and looked for the frequency of words such as “education,” “community,” and “equity,” among others.
Her analysis of the interviews confirmed the data provided by the Georgia Department of Education, which indicates that there is a huge gap between CRCT results from the North side and the South side of the county. White students from the northern side outperformed black students two to one.
But Bradwell-Coaxum cautioned listeners to see it as a race issue only. As she mentioned, class and the allocation of tax dollars play a large role in the eventual learning outcome of Fulton County’s students.
A little more than 12 hours before the first talks of SpARC 2012 will begin. There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes. The facilities department has prepared the classrooms in Bullock Science, the IT department has double-checked all computers and the projection equipment. The administrative assistants have made last-minute adjustments to schedules, and students and faculty-advisors have fine-tuned and rehearsed presentations.
Here’s the final schedule:
Only one more week until SpARC! The organizing committee has just finished the schedule and we are excited about a truly interdisciplinary line-up of talks.
Yesterday afternoon I sent out confirmation e-mails to participants and I just need to share some examples of the exciting talks you will be able to listen to during the conference:
In the Humanities section, you will find titles such as Eve and the Desire for Knowledge (Religious Studies), The Female Warrior in Ancient Rome (Classics), and Creating the Femme Fatale: Marlene Dietrich as Object of the Gaze (German Studies). Among the many contributions from the Sciences are Rat Maternal Care and Its Effect on Anxiety As Measured by the Open Field Box (Neuroscience), Monkeys See, Monkeys Play: An Environmental Enrichment Evaluation for Rhesus Macaques at Yerkes Primate Research Center (Biology), and Development of a Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification Method for Diagnosing Opportunistic Fungal Diseases (Biology).
Of course, there is a whole series of poster sessions in the atrium of the Bullock Science Center as well as musical and dance performances in McLean Auditorium and in the Winter Theater.