Smith wins Truman scholarship

via now.dartmouth.edu

Emma Smith ’13, the co-founder of Mercy’s Dream Ministries — an organization that provides aid to an orphanage in Ghana — and Dartmouth’s 23rd Harry S. Truman scholar, considers her most influential college experience to be one far removed from Hanover. During her sophomore Fall, Smith took a road rarely traveled by Dartmouth students and decided to participate in the Semester at Sea program, sponsored by the University of Virginia. The experience served to both feed Smith’s passion for travel and to shape her career path, she said.

“It was definitely the highlight of my college career,” Smith said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth. “I was able to see fourteen countries in four months, interact with people on four different continents, and make lifelong friends. I learned more in those four months than I think I learned in my life that far.” Continue reading

Spotlight on: Professor Michael Bronski

Spotlight on: Professor Michael Bronski

 

DANNY GOB­AUD / THE DART­MOUTH STAFF

 

Though many of us may not re­al­ize it, sev­eral of our fa­vorite books from child­hood, in­clud­ing “The Wiz­ard of Oz” and “Peter Pan,” may ac­tu­ally pro­mote de­viant be­hav­ior. Women and gen­der stud­ies pro­fes­sor [Michael Bron­ski])(http://​www.​dartmouth.​edu/​~wstud­ies/fac­ulty/bronski.​html) is cur­rently ex­plor­ing this the­ory in his book, “The World Turned Up­side Down: The Queer­ness of Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture.”

“What we’ve called chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture — the pieces that have lasted and been deemed most im­por­tant — are an­ti­thet­i­cal to how we want to bring up chil­dren,” Bron­ski said.

These pop­u­lar books often send sub­ver­sive mes­sages. “Alice in Won­der­land” is sat­u­rated with in­ap­pro­pri­ate im­ages, in­clud­ing drug use. Even Seuss’ much beloved “The Cat in the Hat” ad­vo­cates de­struc­tion and dis­or­der rather than re­spon­si­ble be­hav­ior in the ab­sence of par­ents, Bron­ski said.

Bron­ski’s main the­sis ex­am­ines the in­con­gru­ence of our cul­ture’s si­mul­ta­ne­ous pro­mo­tion of both the no­tion that chil­dren should be­have re­spon­si­bly and the re­bel­lious mes­sages of chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture.

Bron­ski asks, “What does this re­ally tell us about what we think about chil­dren?”

The book was in­spired by a talk Bron­ski gave at Dart­mouth in 2000 called “Queer­ing Harry Pot­ter,” which points to how magic and de­vi­a­tion from tra­di­tional be­hav­ior are painted fa­vor­ably in the pop­u­lar se­ries.

“The en­tire books are pred­i­cated on nor­malcy as an ab­hor­rent state,” Bron­ski said.

Bron­ski was re­cently awarded the [Stonewall Book Award][http://​now.​dartmouth.​edu/​2012/​02/​professor-michael-bronski-wins-prestigious-stonewall-book-award/​] for his 2011 book, “A Queer His­tory of the United States”, which he wrote for a Bea­con Press se­ries called “Re­vi­sion­ing Amer­i­can His­tory.” Re­ceiv­ing the award was es­pe­cially grat­i­fy­ing since it was awarded by li­brar­i­ans, who Bron­ski said are among the rare por­tion of our pop­u­la­tion who still se­ri­ously read books. Bron­ski was thrilled that his ef­forts were ac­knowl­edged.

Trailer for “A Queer His­tory of the United States:”

Bron­ski wanted to avoid writ­ing ei­ther sim­ply bi­ogra­phies of fa­mous gay peo­ple or a vic­tim book about the hor­ri­ble treat­ment of gay peo­ple in Amer­ica.

In­stead, he said he is writ­ing about “how LGBT and gen­der-vari­ant peo­ple shaped and changed Amer­ica and how Amer­ica shape and changed them, as well.”

Bron­ski re­searched the group’s past, be­gin­ning in 1492. He dis­cov­ered that the most in­flu­en­tial episodes of gen­der and sex­u­al­ity rev­o­lu­tion oc­curred dur­ing wars. For ex­am­ple, a cross-dress­ing woman named Deb­o­rah Samp­son fought as a man in the Rev­o­lu­tion, and 500 cross-dress­ing women fought in the Civil War.

“The book re­ally evolved and be­came about how LGBT peo­ple were at the cen­ter of chang­ing our cul­ture,” Bron­ski said.

After com­ing out at age 18, Bron­ski be­came in­volved in gay pol­i­tics and move­ments in 1969. He even­tu­ally be­came a jour­nal­ist for gay and les­bian news­pa­pers and pub­lished his first book in 1984. In 2000, at the sug­ges­tion of re­li­gion pro­fes­sor Susan Ack­er­man, Bron­ski came to Dart­mouth.

Un­like many pro­fes­sors, Bron­ski said that many of his classes con­cern pe­ri­ods and move­ments that he lived through and ex­pe­ri­enced. He stresses that though he pos­sesses a per­sonal con­nec­tion with many of these sub­jects, his classes are strictly aca­d­e­mic courses and he al­ways sep­a­rates per­sonal sen­ti­ments from the class­room.

Bron­ski urges stu­dents to ig­nore the pres­sure of con­form­ing to the norms of par­ents and peers and to do what they want to do, using his own life of an ex­am­ple of where this can take peo­ple.

“I al­ways did what I wanted to do, and I ended up at a great school,” he said.

On Queer Films and Their Crit­i­cism

“There’s Some­thing about Harry” (2003)

‘Dartmouth Idol:’ Meet the finalists, part 3

 

To Nick Knezek ’12, of Sanger, Texas, Dart­mouth Idol is just one more part of a life­long en­gage­ment with music of all kinds.

In ad­di­tion to play­ing the piano since kinder­garten, he played the clar­inet for seven years and learned the drums and marimba three years ago. In high school he joined the school and church choirs and even par­tic­i­pated in mu­si­cal the­atre be­fore com­ing to Dart­mouth.

On cam­pus, Knezek is a mem­ber of both the Glee Club and X.​ado. A physics and en­gi­neer­ing major, he is also in­ter­ested in phi­los­o­phy and out­door sports like hik­ing, ski­ing, snow­board­ing, ca­noe­ing and swim­ming.

For his final “Dart­mouth Idol” per­for­mance, Knezek will per­form four songs: “Take On Me,” “Let’s Stay To­gether,” a Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks med­ley and the part of the Grinch in a group per­for­mance of Seuss songs.

In par­tic­u­lar, “Let’s Stay To­gether” will pose a chal­lenge to him be­cause of its high key and un­fa­mil­iar style, he said. He ad­mit­ted, how­ever, that chal­lenge was ex­actly what drew him to “Dart­mouth Idol” in the first place, when he au­di­tioned last year.

“When I began singing, I al­ways sang choral bass parts, but re­cently I’ve been try­ing to tran­si­tion to singing higher, more mod­ern music, and I thought Dart­mouth Idol was a great way to push my­self,” he said.

Knezek likes to lis­ten to pop, indie, jazz and clas­si­cal music, cit­ing Sara Bar­rielles, The Shins, Adele, De­bussy and Sam Cooke among his fa­vorite artists.

His in­spi­ra­tion? Richard Feyn­man, whom Knezek de­scribes as a “bril­liant physi­cist who moon­lighted as a pro­fes­sional bongo player” and whom he ad­mires for en­joy­ing life and hav­ing a great sense of humor.

 

Phoebe Bo­durtha ’15 of Stam­ford, Conn. is also look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing in the “Dart­mouth Idol” fi­nals and said that she is al­ready grate­ful for all that she has learned from the prepa­ra­tion and per­form­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

A mem­ber of the Do­de­ca­phon­ics and Fu­sion Dance en­sem­ble, Bo­durtha is a prospec­tive Ara­bic major who also vol­un­teers with Prison Pro­ject through the Tucker Foun­da­tion.

All her life, she has been in­volved with singing, she said.

She first began per­form­ing in mid­dle school, play­ing the lead role of the Nar­ra­tor in Joseph and the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­color Dream­coat. As a high school fresh­man, she joined her school’s con­cert choir and the fol­low­ing year began singing in an all-fe­male a cap­pella group.

This isn’t Bo­durtha’s first major per­for­mance by a long shot: she’s per­formed the Na­tional An­them in Times Square for a Vet­eran’s Day cer­e­mony and for Mets games at Mets Citi­field on two sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions.

In the fi­nals, she will per­form Be­y­once’s “Love on Top,” which will chal­lenge her to use her head voice through four key changes — some­thing she says she nor­mally steers away from when singing. She will also sing “House of the Ris­ing Sun.”

Nonethe­less, she says the guid­ance she has re­ceived through her a capella men­tors and the feed­back process of “Idol” has helped her mas­ter songs that would have oth­er­wise been a stretch for her.

“I wouldn’t have felt as com­fort­able per­form­ing a song that pushes me be­yond my com­fort zone if I hadn’t got­ten the ad­vice and guid­ance that would make me best pre­pared to sing it,” she said.

Bo­durtha is re­ally look­ing for­ward to Dart­mouth Idol fi­nals, which she con­sid­ers a wel­come break from prepar­ing for fi­nals of other kinds.

“I think it’s a re­ally unique venue, and I don’t know when I’ll have an­other chance to per­form in this kind of set­ting after col­lege,” she said. “Singing is one of my fa­vorite things to do so I al­ways look for­ward to any­thing that in­volves singing and music.”

Spotlight on: The Dartmouth Vibes

Spotlight on: The Dartmouth Vibes

 

What do you get when you mix four tal­ented stu­dents, string in­stru­ments and great mod­ern songs? The newest mu­si­cal ven­ture on cam­pus: The Dart­mouth Vibes.

The Dart­mouth Vibes was cre­ated by Em­manuel Kim ’15 when he re­al­ized that there was no other such club on cam­pus. They are a pop string group that per­forms ver­sions of hits by major artists such as Adele and Michael Jack­son.

Though they are not yet an of­fi­cial Col­lege-spon­sored or­ga­ni­za­tion, The Vibes are still hard at work.

“Prac­tice is every week, and it’s se­ri­ous but ca­sual,” Kim said. “We work on the pieces as if they are con­cer­tos to be per­fected — but we have lots of fun in the process, as well!”

Cur­rently, Kim and Erica West­en­berg ’15 play the vi­o­lin, Joshua Prickel ’15 plays the viola and Pranam Chat­ter­jee ’15 is on the cello.

Some of the songs they have in the works in­clude Lady Gaga’s “Bad Ro­mance,” Train’s “Hey Soul Sis­ter” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

Look­ing to­ward the fu­ture, The Vibes hope to ex­pand their mem­ber­ship and be­come an of­fi­cial group. Their goal is to in­crease mem­ber­ship by about five mu­si­cians next year, es­pe­cially with new mem­bers of the Class of 2016.

The ul­ti­mate vi­sion is for The Dart­mouth Vibes to evolve into a full en­sem­ble of about 25 peo­ple.

For the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, The Vibes are look­ing to pair up with an a cap­pella group and find a venue for their debut per­for­mance.

“Every­one who has heard us play are very ex­cited for us to per­form at an of­fi­cial venue,” Kim said. “We can’t wait!”

Keep your eyes peeled for in­for­ma­tion on the first per­for­mance by Dart­mouth’s old­est (and only) pop string group. And for all you mu­si­cally minded, they are still in search of more cel­lists and vi­o­lists, so if you’re in­ter­ested, be sure to come jam with them!

Dartmouth prof. analyzes first ever “Photo-shopped” image

re­cent post by the “Daily Mail” dis­cusses one of the first-ever al­tered im­ages: the 150 year-old por­trait of Abra­ham Lin­coln.

 

COUR­TESY OF DAILYMAIL. CO. UK

 

In­deed, the epit­o­mal por­trait (as dis­cussed here in a 2009 piece by Dart­mouth pro­fes­sor Hany Farid) is a com­pos­ite of Lin­coln’s head and south­ern politi­cian John Cal­houn’s body.

 

COUR­TESY OF DAILYMAIL.​CO.​UK

 

Farid, a dig­i­tal foren­sics ex­pert, told the Mail: “Al­though we may have the im­pres­sion that pho­to­graphic tam­per­ing is some­thing rel­a­tively new – a prod­uct of the dig­i­tal age — the re­al­ity is that his­tory is rid­dled with pho­to­graphic fakes.”

Farid said the air-brush­ing of im­ages by bru­tal dic­ta­tors — like Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Fidel Cas­tro — to re­move en­e­mies from pic­tures was com­mon.

 

COUR­TESY OF DAILYMAIL.​CO.​UK

 

He added: “Al­though there are many his­tor­i­cal ex­am­ples of pho­to­graphic fakes, time-con­sum­ing and cum­ber­some dark­room tech­niques were re­quired to cre­ate them.”

Spotlight on: Professor Misagh Parsa

 

COUR­TESY OF MIS­AGH PARSA

 

After im­mi­grat­ing to the United States in 1970, Mis­agh Parsa dis­cov­ered the rel­e­vance of so­ci­ol­ogy to his Iran­ian back­ground, even­tu­ally be­com­ing a mem­ber of Dart­mouth’s own so­ci­ol­ogy de­part­ment. Mem­bers of the field strive to un­der­stand the mech­a­nisms that cause poverty and per­se­cu­tion, both of which Parsa faced in his child­hood.

Parsa was born into a poor fam­ily that be­longed to an eth­nic mi­nor­ity group rep­re­sent­ing only 40,000 of Iran’s total pop­u­la­tion of nearly 30 mil­lion at the time.

“From early on, I no­ticed that we were eco­nom­i­cally poor, po­lit­i­cally pow­er­less, re­li­giously per­se­cuted and so­cially out­cast and ex­cluded in Iran­ian so­ci­ety at large,” Parsa said.

After serv­ing in the Iran­ian army, Parsa ar­rived in New York with $320.68 and a de­sire for an ed­u­ca­tion. While work­ing and study­ing Eng­lish, Parsa at­tended Queens Col­lege, grad­u­at­ing in 1975.

Through­out his un­der­grad­u­ate ex­pe­ri­ence, Parsa be­came in­trigued by how the study of so­ci­ol­ogy per­tained to his life.

“I be­came very sen­si­tive to un­der­stand­ing the roots of poverty, po­lit­i­cal op­pres­sion, re­li­gious an­tag­o­nism and the so­cial ex­clu­sion of mi­nor­ity groups in human civ­i­liza­tions,” he said.

Even today, after liv­ing in Amer­ica for 40 years, Parsa still finds that his re­search re­lates back to his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

Due to the pub­li­ca­tion of his book “So­cial Ori­gins of the Iran­ian Rev­o­lu­tion” and the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to not ex­tend his pass­port, Parsa has been un­able to re­turn to his home coun­try since 1978. Prior to the rev­o­lu­tion, Parsa’s re­turn was plau­si­ble, but now it is im­pos­si­ble.

 

COUR­TESY OF KAROON.​COM

 

“I was crit­i­cal of the pre­vi­ous regime, but I could dare to go back,” he said, con­trast­ing his cur­rent sit­u­a­tion to years be­fore. Parsa pre­vi­ously re­ceived an offer to teach in Iran, but he is cer­tain that it was ac­tu­ally a dis­guised gov­ern­ment at­tempt to find and ex­e­cute him.

After ob­tain­ing his PhD from the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan in 1982, Parsa came to Dart­mouth.

“The things I fell in love with when I came to Dart­mouth were the stu­dents and the li­brary,” he said.

Parsa said his stu­dents chal­lenge him to be con­stantly well-in­formed about the ma­te­r­ial he is teach­ing and re­search­ing.

“The stu­dents make it worth­while to go to class and to be en­gaged,” Parsa said. “I’m so im­pressed by the in­tel­li­gence of our stu­dents. The only thing I oc­ca­sion­ally hear and see is a mi­nor­ity of stu­dents who are not very se­ri­ous about tak­ing ad­van­tage of all Dart­mouth of­fers and ex­pand­ing their knowl­edge.”

Parsa is cur­rently ex­am­in­ing the process of de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, a sub­ject that has been de­bated for over 50 years. By re­for­mu­lat­ing these is­sues, Parsa has raised two ques­tions: Who are the major pro­mot­ers of this de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion, and can it occur through grad­ual re­forms or does it re­quire a rev­o­lu­tion?

Un­like pre­vi­ous the­o­rists who as­signed re­spon­si­bil­ity for de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion to cap­i­tal­ist en­tre­pre­neurs or var­i­ous classes, Parsa has con­cluded that in na­tions under au­thor­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ments, stu­dents play the largest role in de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion.

“Stu­dents pro­vide an av­enue, an op­tion for chal­leng­ing these au­thor­i­tar­ian regimes,” Parsa said.

Parsa ar­gues that this is pos­si­ble be­cause many stu­dents come from priv­i­leged back­grounds and, more im­por­tantly, stu­dents are con­cen­trated in a com­mu­nity with rel­a­tively greater free­dom than the rest of the coun­try.

Stu­dent priv­i­lege grants them some im­mu­nity from the gov­ern­ment’s tremen­dous re­pres­sion. They pos­sess “the­o­ret­i­cal im­mu­nity,” in that po­lice are often pro­hib­ited from mak­ing ar­rests on cam­puses.

By con­stantly in­ter­act­ing with each other, stu­dents “com­mu­ni­cate their griev­ances,” both their own and their fam­ily’s, Parsa said.

Since they are con­cerned about their fu­ture, stu­dents want to stem gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion and com­bat the nu­mer­ous in­equal­i­ties in­her­ent in au­thor­i­tar­ian so­ci­eties.

Parsa fo­cuses es­pe­cially on the sit­u­a­tions in South Korea, In­done­sia and Iran.

South Ko­rean stu­dents called for con­sti­tu­tional re­form and forced the mil­i­tary to ac­cept democ­racy. In In­done­sia, stu­dent ac­tivism sparked riots in 1998 that desta­bi­lized the gov­ern­ment and forced the res­ig­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Suharto. Ira­ni­ans have been fight­ing for democ­racy since 1905, with Stu­dents re­peat­edly chal­leng­ing the ar­bi­trary and un­ac­count­able na­ture of their theo­cratic gov­ern­ment. In 2009, Ira­ni­ans protested the per­ceived fraud­u­lent elec­tions. Three mil­lion fought the gov­ern­ment, with over 100 killed in protests. Parsa points to the ma­jor­ity of Iran­ian peo­ple who op­pose the theoc­racy to demon­strate Iran’s ca­pac­ity for en­forc­ing change.

“The issue is not if they will over­throw the gov­ern­ment; the issue is when,” Parsa said.

Re­views of his book, “States, Ide­olo­gies, and So­cial Rev­o­lu­tions”

“Iran’s Elec­tion and Po­ten­tial for Change”