Category Archives: History and Current Issues

Ça va . . . (part 3) — Ethan

Eight more pages! I’m finished with the entire media section, and started the synthesis of the history and the media narrative. Being at this point in the first draft is a similar feeling to being at the same point in my outline: I can envision the conclusion of my argument, and that’s supremely exciting. So far, this section has been the most fun to organize and structure, mainly because it’s my own — my own argument, that I get to craft to be the strongest it can be.

I’m doing well at listening to my willingness to write at any given time, and writing a few paragraphs here and there as I feel like it, or working through what I’ve written and rearranging points to my argument, and this seems to be how this particular paper wants to be written. Creating content still takes priority, most of the time, but for this section especially from time to time I spend a little bit here and there refining it.

I expect to finish the first draft by the end of the month, and then it’ll be time for T. Olga to sink her teeth into it — her words, not mine.

So it goes . . .

 

— EDM

Starting Nefertiti – Bella

This week, I started my extensive research on Nefertiti. I have been having some trouble with this chapter, because it is just about one person. There is so much to say about her and how she lived her life.  I don’t know yet how to best craft the way to present my understanding of her.  Do I locate her as wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, or Pharaoh? There are a lot of aspects to her that I could to zoom in on and elaborate on.   I began with researching Akhenaten, her husband, as well as his father. The reader needs to have some background of the family Akhenaten is coming from, as well as Nefertiti’s family.

Another struggle I am having is identifying and explaining all the different theories inside this Amarna period. There are a lot of different  scholars who argue that Nefertiti was pharaoh in her own right and some who argue that she was not. I have to account for both sides, and it is difficult to explain both. I want to accentuate the beauty and magic of Nefertiti while also making her immortal. It is my job to show and not tell her story, and try to paint a vivid enough picture for the reader.

Here is a sample I have from my Nefertiti chapter:

         Every pharaoh was viewed as divine, carrying the regal and magical bloodline of Horus. Essentially every member of every royal family in every dynasty transcended the material and mortality. They were  embodiments of nature.  Ancient Egyptian Religion was so synonymous and in touch with nature itself that to transcend Earth was to go further into nature. Akhenaten and Nefertiti, more so Nefertiti, surpassed this, and this idea of Nefertiti not just representing Godlihood but actually tying together mortality as well as this ascension through life itself will be further discussed in depth throughout this chapter.
Source for Photo:

Egyptian Museum Berlin, editor. “Nefertiti.” Society for the Promotion of the
Egyptian Museum Berlin, edited by Society for the Promotion of the Egyptian
Museum Berlin, http://www.egyptian-museum-berlin.com/c53.php. Accessed 9 Apr.
2018.

We All Hate the Culture of Hate- Liv

We all hate the culture of hate in which we live. 

         We can all admit to the fact that at some point in our lives, if not now, we have treated another group as inferior, or automatically thought something laced with bias the second we saw a person who looked different than us. But, if someone asked you if you were a hateful person, would you say yes? As human beings, none of us are born hateful, but instead we are exposed to the culture around us that systematically implements ideas of hate, discrimination, and bias against certain groups of people. We all agree on the fact that a world without hate would be a better one, but the truth is, very little of us are able to admit to the fact that each and every one of us contributes to this culture of hate every day.

         Sally Kohn, an advocate for urging others to see the humanity and likeness across all types of people, recently did a TED Talk called What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate, to which I have linked down below. She begins her talk by sharing a deeply personal story about how she, herself, was a merciless bully when she was a young girl. It wasn’t until a feeling of hypocrisy overcame her when she began to research and teach others about the importance of kindness and acceptance that she realized the extent of her actions as a kid. This, to me, was extremely inspiring and moving; the ability to admit one’s own fault takes a huge amount of courage and self-awareness that many people lack.  However, she used that own first-hand experience as a bully to further inspire her to really distinguish what exactly causes people to hate.

         As she discusses in her talk, there is a very wide spectrum of the concept of ‘hate’. This may be the reason people have such trouble noticing their own feelings of hate towards others; it is so easy to dismiss our own negative feelings by comparing them to much worse instances of hate. Kohn asked her audience a question that really struck me: on one end of the spectrum is hate on a mass scale through horrific crimes like genocide, and on the other side, there are acts of prejudice so small that many might not even notice. However, aren’t the two still considered hate? Don’t they both stem from the same roots? Because no one even wants to entertain the fact of placing themselves on the same scale as the historical examples of the worst possible instances of hate, we, as a society, find ourselves in a trap. Kohn made a great point on this topic by saying that when we choose to convince ourselves that we do not hate, we automatically place ourselves above those who do. This itself is redundant; the act of feeling superior to other groups is one of the most fundamental actions of hate.

        Therefore, to extinguish racism, homophobia, sexism, or any other negative connotations fueled by hatred, we must do the thing that seems logically the most counterproductive in this situation: admit our faults and recognize the hate we feel towards others. It’s been repeatedly shown through research that hate towards others is amplified by unfamiliarity. So, in order to make a change, we should be focusing on listening to stories of others, rather than placing blame or looking for the differences between groups. It’s easier said than done, but as Sally Kohn said, we are all capable of letting go of those feelings if we just make the effort.

– Liv

Sally Kohn’s TED Talk:  What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate

https://www.ted.com/talks/sally_kohn_what_we_can_do_about_the_culture_of_hate#t-1054044

image source: Jacobs, Liz. “Sally Kohn Talks Leaving Fox News.” TED Blog, 30 Oct. 2014, blog.ted.com/sally-kohn-on-leaving-fox-news/.

Ça va . . . (part 2) — Ethan

I’ve written about twelve more pages (bringing the total to 35) summarizing the eleven front-page articles published by the NYT over the course of one month about the Six-Days’ War, while following some crucial themes throughout them all. This section of writing ended up being written differently than the historical section: I wrote for one to two hours each day that I worked on it, as opposed to one long burst of 4-5 hours, and I had it finished in three days

As they are now, I’m not 100% happy with the article summaries. Though I followed through with my intention to go through them one by one, in the order they were published, with a general discussion at the end about what they left the reader with, right now the summaries feel a bit repetitive and clunky. However, it’s difficult to weave too much connection into them because that material would be better suited for the discussion.

In this situation, the first-draft mentality prioritizes creating more content as opposed to refining existing content — for a woodworking analogy, perfecting the article summaries now, in the first draft, would be like fully sanding a piece of wood before I made all the cuts and carved my joints. What that means is I can’t be too attached to perfection at this stage — perfection, or as close as I can get to it, will come on its own in later drafts.

My progress is much the same as it was at the time of my last blog post. I’m still pulling from my outline, which has been incredibly helpful, as all outlines should be, still writing my first draft, and still enjoying the process. One difference is that now I’m beginning to consider options for publishing this paper, which T. Olga and I talked about at the beginning of the semester.

Well, so far, so good, I just need to keep writing — first the discussion on the articles and then the fun part: my very own argument that links the history and media together.

 

— EDM

Creating a Thesis – Bella

     I have shifted some aspects of my timeline, but I still have kept up fairly well with what my goal was. I haven’t started Greece yet, but instead have extended my research in religion in Ancient Egypt so I can cover more provide more  depth experience for the reader as well as myself. I never planned to write nearly 30 pages on religion in Ancient Egypt, but I continued to compile notes. I have come up with a method that suits me rather well, which is taking a multitude of notes, printing out sources, highlighting and taking notes on those, and then typing it all up once I have  compiled everything. I do a lot at once so I can get more work done that way, though I save my opinions for the actual writing. It has been difficult writing my opinions without directly saying “I” or coming off too strong about them, I have to more or less incorporate them and not just focus on my perception, but every other one. I am doing just as well as I hoped I would. I am almost done with Ancient Egypt, all I have to do is another page or so of marriage and then I go right to Nefertiti, and then I’m done Egypt until I go back and edit. I have to repeat this whole process with Greece, and given that I wrote 50 pages for Ancient Egypt within two weeks, I am confident about Greece. I have already begun research on it. I just have to go back and do the very general introduction on the progression of women in society. Specifically I need to look at my notes from The Creation of Patriarchy to set the tone for the rest of my book.  I have also been developing an underlying thesis for my whole book, and it is essentially that women have been persecuted despite being pillars of society through the development and ultimate triumph of patriarchy as the organizing power structure. Women have been needed, but overlooked to support the male need for society and civilization, especially in these Ancient Societies.

Semester Two: My Work So Far – Gwyneth

So far this semester, I have been dedicating most of my time to primary sources. To begin with, I researched the nature of medieval chronicle sources, which provide the most abundant material for the reign of Richard II, and then examined some of the principle chroniclers in more depth. My analyses can be found in my last few blog posts (here, here, and here). Over spring break, I worked on reading many of the sources complied in A. K McHardy’s The Reign of Richard II: From Minority to Tyranny, 1377-97. This book has been something of a godsend for my project, since it offers an extensive collection of the most important primary sources from the reign translated from the original Latin, French, and Middle English into modern English. Needless to say, McHardy’s efforts have made my work significantly easier.

Reading the many chronicle excerpts, correspondences, parliamentary petitions, etc. included in the book could certainly be tedious at times. My purpose in this task was to identify any mention of Richard’s royal affinity, since this is the focus of my research. However, since these sources tend to bounce between many different goings-on in the political world, it is quite difficult to tell if any given source will mention the affinity or not. Therefore, my only option was to examine them all. This task was made less daunting by concentrating on the period after 1387, when it is likely that Richard first began directly seeking out the loyalty of prominent men in the localities. In the future, I may need to go back to some earlier sources in order to obtain a reference for the nature of the king’s affinity at the beginning of the reign.

Digging into the primary sources made me realize that I need to obtain some more information about political society in general at the time of Richard’s reign. For the most part, I have only looked at the medieval concept of the affinity in the context of the king, when it was in fact of great importance to the magnates as well and was a crucial component of feudal society in the localities. Interestingly, it is often pointed out that while completely novel for a king, the locally focused approach to retaining pursued by Richard in the 1390s was very similar to that typically used by magnates. Therefore, I feel that in order to understand the significance and logic of Richard’s policy, it is important to familiarize myself with the way in which magnate affinities were organized and operated during this time. Thus, my next task will be to step back momentarily from the lens of Richard II and focus on some readings pertaining to local political structures in the late medieval period more generally. After doing this and perhaps examining some more primary sources, it is my hope that I will have gained enough direction to begin drafting my final paper.

 

Image: http://www.medievalists.net/2016/02/a-quick-guide-to-medieval-monastic-orders/

 

Don’t Blame the Girls – Liv

One paragraph reads:

         “The girls themselves are conflicted about social media.  They possess a critical attitude towards it but often seem un-self-reflective in their own practices.  Girls, they acknowledge, post pictures of their assets because they get more “likes” that way.  And if the boys like you, the girls at school will, too.  However, many feel that the girls posting cleavage are insecure and doing it for attention.  Many feel uncomfortable because they feel like girls are in competition with each other to look the most attractive.  And yet most of these same girls admit that they participate in similar behavior because they want attention, too.  And they say they can’t give up social media because they would then “have no lives”–even though the lives they describe seem stressful and isolating.  These young teenage girls then grow into college students who mourn the hookup culture, feeling compelled to participate even though they say it makes them unhappy and they despair of ever finding a man who is truly interested in them and not their bodies.”

– Nancy Jo Sales, author of ‘American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

        The author of the blog post, which is a reflection of this book, then goes on to discuss how ‘one-sided’ the book seems- and I agree. The biggest issue with this post is the extreme generalizations going on here; the author simply refers to these people as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’, which does not specify even an age or any other specifics. This leads me to believe that this author is extremely biased towards the negativity of social media on all young boys and girls, believing that it is creating a generation of attention-seeking girls who will do just about anything to appeal to the masses. Also, notice the lack of attention on the male perspective. Just as the author discusses the hyper-sexualization of girls, she also easily dismisses young men as disrespectful and objectifying misogynists. What is this saying about our society? Even if the moral of the story is focused on the destructiveness of social media on young girls, why is the author portraying these girls as if they are unable to resist harmful new trends? We should not be focusing on the girls’ inability to resist but why they feel as though it is necessary for them to take part in destructive behavior such as sending explicit photos to other young boys. The author of the book later discusses how worrying this is for parents; they believe that any teenager with a cellphone will automatically use it to expose themselves or others. Even this statement suggests that angsty, curious, and rebellious teenagers are indeed the root of the problem here, when that is not the case. This type of language possibly even supports a culture of victim-blaming, body shaming, and oppression of female sexuality.

        On the other hand, a part of me does understand where the author is coming from. Any adult looking in on the world of social media and hearing horror stories of girls who expose themselves on the internet would assume that our generation of young women aren’t anything admirable. However, it is absolutely wrong of us to believe that statement comes solely from a young woman’s own inability to make good decisions. Our generation is dealing with a completely new aspect of society: constant connection. And although that comes with many benefits, it also allows young people very easy access to negative things such as expectations of beauty or ability to immediately make absolutely anything known to the world. But when adults and authors like Nancy Jo Sales make the decision to break down the girls instead of the horrendously toxic circumstances they are under, young girls themselves will continue to shame each other and believe that blaming one another is the path they should take. If that’s all they know, why wouldn’t they?

        Perhaps one of the first steps towards a better understanding is for adults assessing the topic to change their tone of voice- instead of criticizing an entire generation of girls and discrediting their abilities to make logical choices, ask, how can we help? Where are you coming from? How do you think your experience is different than mine, and how can I better understand? If, as a society, we can offer alternative interpretations of young female behavior instead of shaming or demeaning them, and if we further our research in this area to assure accurate causality, we will be uplifting an entire generation and defining appropriate next steps.

-Liv

quoted blog:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/23261080/posts/15561

 

Ça va . . . – Ethan

Just a simple post for this week. The title captures it pretty well — ‘it goes’ . . .

Today I finished up the history section of the first draft, and it stands at 21 pages, which is . . . a bit longer than I expected, and also a bit longer than I would like. I suppose it is better to have more material and need to whittle it down than it is to have too little material and to add fluff to make your desired length. Judging from how much of my outline is taken up by history, I’m estimating the first draft will end up being somewhere around 50 pages long — far longer than I want. The following drafts, then, will exercise my ability to condense and simplify while maintaining structure and not losing meaning.

I have an interesting relationship with this paper — it seems to want to be written in fits and spurts. I spent about four and a half hours today writing roughly six pages of text — my first writing session in nearly a week — which took most of the afternoon, and now I’m content to leave it for a few days before diving into the next section: the narrative set by the NYT’s coverage of the war. I’ll mull over how to attack it over the next few days, and probably later this week I’ll sit down and hammer out a course of action. I’m grateful that I left myself this luxury of time to be able to think about how I’ll formulate my writing. . .

Long research papers all have different characters, but I think I’m figuring this one out — how it behaves, how it wants to be written — and I’m learning to work with it, one section at a time.

So for now, ça va.

 

— EDM

Navigating the World of Drafts – Ethan

Spring break has seen me write like mad to complete my outline, which now stands at 32 pages of bulleted goodness. I’ve chosen to separate the paper into three sections on a broad level: the history, the media coverage, and the discussion/original theory. Beyond that, the majority of the writing that has gone into my first draft — fourteen pages currently — has been in the department of introduction, materials / methods, and review of literature.

The introduction has always been somewhat of a mysterious beast for me; it takes its time in deciding when it’s going to be written, and often comes not all at once, but in bursts. I’ve found that if I keep tabs on how inspired I’m feeling to write it, I can usually recognize when is the best time. For a study of this magnitude, the introduction must be a clean and concise rendering of the dozens of pages that follow; capturing that is no easy task. I expect that the rest will come most naturally in pieces, as I continue to flesh out my outline into a formal paper.

Since this independent study has involved specific parameters of research, my mentor T. Olga and I decided that it was best to include a materials and methods section, to clarify why I’d chosen the line of research that I did. I arranged the section similarly to how my paper is itself ordered: history first, media coverage, and the discussion of the two that involved my own original theory. For each section, I provided an overview of the literature I pulled from as my primary sources, and in the case of the primary documents from the New York Times‘ historical archive, I explicated the exact search parameters I used.

All of this detail is in the service of anchoring my research and sources in my primary research question. Like the ‘so what’, every paper needs one, otherwise it means nothing.

Here is my question:

How and why did the New York Times participate in the framing of the Six Days’ War that endorsed the foreign policy goals of American policymakers?

This question has much to unpack; the question encapsulates two broad themes: the goals of American policymakers — which are based on history relevant to the region and the event — and the New York Times’ framing of the Six Days’ War — based directly on the primary source articles I have obtained. Beyond this, ‘how’ and ‘why’ are naturally open-ended, and the ultimate goal of my study is to answer them using my own theoretical framework.

I’m satisfied with where I am right now — for the foreseeable future, I’ll be continuing to translate my outline into a first draft, while monitoring the cohesiveness of my argument and the flow of my paper.

 

— EDM

Blog Post #5: Religion in Ancient Egypt – Bella

This week, I have been specifically focusing on Ancient Egyptian Religious Myths and Gods and Goddesses. I am just beginning to funnel down to femininity within the legends, focusing on certain Goddesses such as Isis and Hathor. An aspect of this is not just looking at the Goddesses themselves but the priestesses and the temples associated with them on earth, and how they are manifested in the real world. Continue reading