Category Archives: College of Liberal Arts

“Willed Women”: Studying Medieval Literature at OSU

An image of the second nun from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

When asked to trace her love of literature to its origins, Emily McLemore returns to her babyhood. “My dad started reading to me from the day I was born, so my love of reading started early,” she says. Last month, Emily defended her Master of Arts thesis, “Willed Women: Female Bodies & Subversive Being in the Knight’s and Second Nun’s Tales.”

Her path to studying medieval literature began as an undergraduate at Western State Colorado University. Before attending WSCU, she worked a series of jobs but always knew that she wanted to return to college and become a teacher. Emily studied English, with an added emphasis in Secondary Education, but when she began student teaching in an eighth grade classroom, she quickly realized it wasn’t for her. She had read Beowulf in one of her undergraduate courses, and that experience helped her recall what she loves about literature and textual analysis: learning to illuminate the complexities of a narrative to understand its meanings and cultural connections.

Emily McLemore

She applied to one graduate school program—the MA in Literature and Culture at Oregon State—and was admitted with a position as a Graduate Teaching Associate. Once at Oregon State, she met with Professor Tara Williams, who recommended that she read the Second Nun’s Tale, one of the lesser-known Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Emily began to consider how women, gender, and sexuality studies might be a lens through which to read this tale. Along with another Canterbury Tale, the Knight’s Tale, she formed an argument around how the women in these texts employ their bodies and their sexuality to confront and subvert patriarchal power structures. Her thesis tackles these two tales and their “willful women,” a subject that she presented on last month at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. Emily will continue to study these works and other medieval texts this fall as she begins a PhD in English at the University of Notre Dame.

The Ellesmere Chaucer, a 15th century manuscript of the Canterbury Tales.

To learn more about Emily’s research and her path to graduate school, tune in to hear our conversation on Sunday, June 11th at 7:00 pm on 88.7 FM KBVR Corvallis or listen live online.

Do you trust others, as much as they trust you?

My mother told me never to judge a book by its cover, but our brains do this tens if not hundreds of times a day. Research has shown that seeing a face for just 1/10 second allows enough time for someone to make judgments of a person’s attractiveness, competence, aggressiveness, and trustworthiness. While it is impressive our brains can come to a decision about a face so quickly, how accurate are those assessments? For better or worse, a person’s facial characteristics can predict court decisions, as well as outcomes of elections. Many studies focus on how the interpreter makes these decisions, but what happens to the people who are instantly considered untrustworthy when all you see is a face? Whether we care to acknowledge it, these first-impressions inevitably lead to different life-outcomes, especially if you are judged as having an untrustworthy face.

What kind of facial features can be considered trustworthy or untrustworthy? Here are some examples on a spectrum.

Our guest this evening is Zoe Alley, a 1st year PhD student in the newly formed Psychological Sciences program within the College of Liberal Arts, and she will be tackling these tough questions of how we perceive and understand trust. She is specifically exploring how the first impression of someone’s face can be a predictor, or possibly a driver, of their future life-outcomes. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you want to be treated; but what happens when everyone around you is unpleasant or treats you with suspicion? You’re more likely to reciprocate those feelings, developing fewer formative relationships early in life, eventually snowballing into awkward social behaviors intensifying later in life so that finding a job or keeping friends are hopeless endeavors. Was this sequence of events caused by the person’s actions toward others, or was it the constant distrust from others that caused these behaviors leading to a negative outcome?

This is a classic chicken or the egg dilemma that we will explore, but first we have to understand how we got here. The Oregon Youth Study began in 1982 with evaluations of participants starting at age 10, and continuing with annual assessments until all 183 males from predominantly lower income neighborhoods reached 35 years old. This study generated a prodigious amount of data that scientists continue to use. One finding was the participants’ real-life behavior explained relatively small but measurable amount of how trustworthy those outside the study perceived them to be once other factors  were controlled (i.e. smiling). This shows a disconnect from how we judge someone, compared to how that person actually behaves. This again begs the question: what happens to those unfortunate souls who are constantly judged negatively and is there anything we can do mitigate this unfortunate pattern?

Here is Zoe Alley who is a 1st year PhD student in the Psychological Sciences program at OSU

Zoe grew up as a native Oregonian and while her childhood passion started with art and expression, it has always focused on how she can help her community. Even though the Oregon Youth Study was focused in the Willamette Valley, understanding these social constructs can help children and adults everywhere. Through this research Zoe hopes to understand how this phenomenon of ‘facial trustworthiness’ works, especially in adolescents, so that we can identify mechanisms to break this vicious cycle and give everyone an equal chance at success. Be sure to tune in for what is sure to be a candid discussion on Sunday June 4th at 7PM on KBVR Corvallis 88.7FM or by listening live.

 

No strings attached. Why some students need help, and how others provide assistance

When was the last time you helped someone? Do you hold the door open for the person behind you when you enter a building? Have you picked a stranded friend up at the airport recently? Would you let distant relatives stay at your house? Our willingness to help others is a common thread that defines us as humans, but our guest this week has made this basic tenet her life’s mission. This passion for people is a product of the long and arduous road she has had to walk.

Vesna Stone grew up in Macedonia, at a time of relative safety and stability in this little country nestled between Greece and Serbia. She knew peace and economic security would not last much longer in her country, so she sought a stable country and better life for her child. It took persistence and tenacity, but Vesna and her family finally acquired green cards. They flew directly to Corvallis to start their new life in America.

Vesna at the Rotary Visit of the Presidential Palace of Peru – the presidents desk. July, 2011.

Finding work as a foreigner is tough. Vesna’s english and people skills landed her a job at the Ramada Inn. Her husband however, who spoke no english, was struggling to find work. To solve that problem, Vesna made a very interesting wager with the manager at the Georgia Pacific mill. It worked out, and her husband worked there for many more years. After traveling all this way, an entry-level job wasn’t going to suffice for Vesna.

An education can often be the difference between minimum wage and a well paying job with benefits. So Vesna found a graveyard shift at Hewlett Packard (HP) and went back to school, first at Linn-Benton Community College, then at OSU. After years of going to class in the morning, taking care of the kids in the evening, and working all night, Vesna eventually got her bachelor’s degree. She moved on to the first class job she had dreamed of at the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Vesna completing her first degree at Oregon State

The Macedonian flag being installed in OSU’s Memorial Union. The flag is also referenced in their National Anthem: “Today over Macedonia, is being born the new sun of liberty. The Macedonians fight, for their own rights!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vesna is now back in school to pursue a Masters degree in Anthropology. She has focused on a problem affecting students around the country. Many are faced with the impossible hurdle of not having enough food to eat. To put it in perspective, 20% of Oregonians are participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, as of 2015. Oregon has a resident participation rate that falls in the top five states in our country, however, even here, there are additional hurdles to receiving assistance if you are a student. Imagine studying for your midterms without lunch, or coffee, or the ability to snack on your pretzels to help you cram in that last chapter. Now imagine the frustration fellow classmates have when they realize it’s easier to participate in this crucial food assistance program if they were not enrolled in classes and instead sitting at home.

Vesna saw this problem not through scientific journals or reading the newspaper, but through her own eyes and ears. While working at the DHS, she kept hearing the frustration from students trying to get the assistance they desperately need. Those conversations with students, and her unending passion for wanting to help others, has lead Vesna to pursue a Masters degree while also being a full-time employee at a local office in the DHS.

There is so much more to this story that we’re leaving out, but to hear about Vesna’s experiences and future directions be sure to tune in Sunday February 12th at 7PM on 88.7FM, or listen live!

EDIT: For those looking for more information on the SNAPS program, you can see Vesna’s presentation provided by the Coalition of Graduate Employees, or OSU’s extension website. You can also find out more about Vesna on her website.

Why do we care? An examination of pop culture icons.

Celebrities are the center of modern pop culture in the U.S. and around the world. We look to these people for clues about what to wear, what music to listen to, where to spend our money, and even what to believe. These icons have become larger than life; their influence on the world around them stretches beyond their daily interactions or even the time frame in which they lived. What is it that captivates us about these characters and what is it like to live a life in the spotlight? img_3356Joe Donovan, a student in the creative writing program here at Oregon State University, is interested in the inflated influence of pop culture icons on society.

From an early age Joe has been an active writer. He recounts journaling frequently as a young student in middle and high school. During his college years, at Willamette University, Joe was influenced by a fantastic english professor who helped him to refine his craft. Joe came to Oregon State University to further perfect his writing style and he has found plenty of inspiration under the tutelage of his advisor, Elena Passarello.

Joe’s work today focuses on three icons in pop culture; Prince, an egyptian puppet named Abla Fahita, and Flo the Progressive insurance lady. His writing on Prince plans to examine the early life of Prince, specifically his birth in 1958 during the peak of Sputnik hysteria. Many people may not have heard of Abla Fahita before, but this puppet’s influence grew great enough that the Egyptian government is investigating its encouragement of terrorist attacks. Joe hopes to shed some light on how a satirical puppet can shape international policy. The third essay Joe is working on examines the rise of Flo the Progressive insurance lady. How did a failed actress become one of the most recognizable characters in current pop culture? After ten years on the air, how does actress Stephanie Courtney separate real life and Flo life? All of these characters represent simple characters who have had a surprising influence on the world, and Joe hopes to share some thoughts on how they rose to fame.

Keep an eye out for Joe’s stories in the future, I guarantee they’ll be worth the read. Also, tune in on Sunday at 7pm (PST) on 88.7 KBVR to hear Joe’s take on these Icons of pop culture.

Workshop-Around the World

Twenty years in the future, U. S. A.

 Civilization has changed dramatically in the aftermath of a plague. Communication is limited and travel is prohibited for most. Two sisters are separated by thousands of miles, one in San Francisco and one in Pittsburgh. They want desperately to reunite, but traveling across the country is nearly impossible nowadays.

 Brooke, or Book-book as her sister Lane calls her, just wants to go, anywhere, a step forward is a step closer to Lane. She can’t get a travel permit, what will she do? She boards a train west, an unauthorized passenger on a train going…somewhere. Conditions on the train are inhospitable to say the least, but what did she expect. She arrives at her destination, a labor camp. This train was not restricting passengers, and now Book-book is a prisoner. Forward yes, but now Brooke is trapped and no closer to reaching Lane.

 Conditions are worsening in San Francisco. People are desperate to the point of violence. Lane is not alone; not alone like Book-book. Now she has a choice. Does she follow her partner and flee the city for their own safety? How will Book-book find her?

The above was inspired by conversation with Mackenzie Smith about her novel-in-process.

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A group photo of some of the writers who participated in the creative writing workshops at the National University of Timor-Leste in Dili. Mackenzie Smith (center).

We are hanging in suspense this week on Inspiration Dissemination as our guest, Mackenzie Smith, first year M. F. A. in Creative Writing, briefly described novel she is writing, tentatively titled, The Clearest Way into the Universe. For Mackenzie, this novel, which she plans to use as her thesis project, started out as a short story she wrote before coming to OSU. Now she is wrapped in this novel, “chewing” over the fine details as she rides her bike, browses the grocery store, and chats with colleagues at workshop. Her message for students and young writers is, “writing is a process of thinking.”

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A “kudos wall” at the launch party and reading in Timor-Leste where audience members left compliments and words of encouragement for the writers.

Mackenzie really is writing all the time and she is no stranger to workshops. She is a former Luce Scholar in India and Fulbright Fellow in Montenegro where she ran writing workshops and hosted story clubs. She just returned from Timor-Leste where she co-organized a writing workshop that resulted in an online zine featuring original compositions from Timorese writers. Additionally, Mackenzie is the Non-fiction editor for a literary magazine Print-oriented Bastards.

 

 

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Belina Maia Do Rosario reads her work in Dili, Timor-Leste at the launch party and reading for the zine, Writing Around Memory and Place.

Mackenzie likes that creative writing allows you to expand upon your interests and experiences. In her novel, Mackenzie brings her experience traveling and conveys the human emotion of uncertainty when making big decisions that affect your future and your familial relationships. Mackenzie writes because, “when people consume a piece of art, they change the way they think, the way they act, and the way they feel. Art can change their lives and a little at a time – art can change the world.”

You won’t want to miss this interview. Hear an except from The Clearest Way into the Universe read by the author and learn more about Mackenzie’s unique and adventurous journey to graduate school by tuning into 88.7 FM KBVR Corvallis or stream the show live at 7 pm on Sunday April, 17.

Write About Now

And it was at that age… Poetry arrived in search of me.

I don’t know, I don’t know where it came from, from winter or a river.

I don’t know how or when,

No they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence,

But from a street I was summoned,

From the branches of night, abruptly from the others,

Among violent fires,

Or returning alone,

there I was without a face

and it touched me.

 

– Pablo Neruda

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As humans, writing—whether it is fiction, history, of even science and technology—is one of the primary ways in which we communicate and describe the world around us. Tomorrow evening, Sunday, October 10th, André Habet of the School of Writing, Literature, and Film joins us on Inspiration Dissemination to discuss his thesis on rhetoric and composition teaching style in classrooms in Belize.

After falling in love with poetry in High School in Belize, where he was raised, André decided to pursue a creative writing degree in the United States. Now André studies how the process of writing itself is taught in the classroom, something that has a rich literature in the United States, but has been very little attention in the country of Belize. In writing, composition is the form and style of putting a written work together. Different ways of teaching composition in school have different theoretical foundations and different ideological agendas, and these can sometimes have a powerful impact on the way we grow up to view the world around us.

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To lean more about André’s research and his personal journey, tune in on Sunday night to 88.7FM KBVR Corvallis at 7PM PST, or stream the show live online at http://kbvr.com/listen!

Yes, This is being recorded: Having a conversation about 21st century technology with 20th century tape recordings

In the 21st century, the advent of cell phone video recordings and social media has made it easier for the voices of protesters to be heard. From the Arab Spring to the Ferguson protests, new technology has been instrumental in showing the world an unfiltered glimpse into the events as they happened. This method of communication did not exist before, but it had influences.

Tonight at 7PM PST, we speak with Rich Collins, a Masters student in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film about the influence of Zora Neale Hurston, Hunter S. Thompson, and gonzo journalism on the documentation of 21st century protests. We’ll walk through Collins’ journey about how his passion and deep interest for gonzo journalism has lead him to trying to studying literature and culture here at Oregon State University.

Tune in on 88.7FM in Corvallis at 7PM PST or you can stream it live online at http://kbvr.com/listen