Friday, January 31, 2014

Bishop Soto Installs Seminary Students as Lectors and Acolytes

News brief by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, OSB
photos by Carlos Orozco and Br. Lorenzo Conocido, OSB

Mount Angel Abbey, OR – Thirty Theology students were instituted in the ministries of lector and acolyte in a Ministries Mass on Wednesday, January 29th, in which the Most Reverend Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento, served as the presider.

The installations of lectors and acolytes are the initial steps in preparing these men in entering the priestly order and part of the seminary’s spiritual formation. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the acolyte is instituted for service at the altar and to assist the priest and deacon while a lector is instituted to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture, with the exception of the Gospel.

At the conclusion of his homily, Bishop Soto said, “Let all be done with joy!”

The seminarians to be installed as acolytes approach Bishop Soto
in front of the altar.

Bishop Soto, President-Rector Monsignor Joseph Betschart
and the newly-installed lectors and acolytes.

Guest priests from different dioceses and religious communities were also there to concelebrate at the Mass and to give support to their seminarians. The music was provided by the MAS Seminary Choir conducted by Ms. Myrna Keough. The first period of classes were cancelled to give time for a simple reception in the Aquinas dining hall following the Ministries Mass.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mary Jo Tully Speaks on Ecumenism at the Local Level at Mount Angel Seminary

As part of Mount Angel Seminary's observance of the Week of Christian Unity, Mary Jo Tully offered a discussion entitled "Ecumenism at the Local Level" the evening of January 22nd in the Abbey Bookstore.  Tully, the Chancellor for the Archdiocese of Portland as well as the Ecumenical Officer for the Archdiocese, addressed a group of about twenty seminarians and faculty.

Tully began her talk by emphasizing that ecumenism, the relationships Catholics have with other Christians, take work all year, not just during the Week of Christian Unity.  She advised the seminarians to find parishioners who know the most about their own faith and who are willing to nurture relationships rather than engage in apologetics for ecumenical work in their future parishes.

In ecumenical dialogue, Tully explained, the Catholics involved should not be trying to prove a point.  They should be striving to show other Christians that they believe in their faith.  At the same time, they should also be striving to believe that other Christians truly hold the beliefs that they do.

Ecumenical work begins at the physical level of shared work and ministries, Tully explained.  After that investment has been made, sharing on an intellectual and spiritual level may be possible.

The event was organized by seminarians Stephen Saroki and Greg Snyder, members of the seminary's ecumenism committee.

Friday, January 24, 2014

MAS Seminarians and the Filipino Community in Oregon Celebrate Annual Sto. Nino Feast Day

Story and photos by Brother Lorenzo Conocido, OSB

Editor's Note: More photos of the Santo Nino celebration may be found in our previous post.

The Filipino seminarian community together with the various Filipino groups in Oregon celebrated the annual Sto. Nino Feast at Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary on January 18th. About 400 people attended the event.

The event started with a special Mass in honor of the Sto. Nino de Cebu with Fr. Rodel de Mesa, a seminary alumus, as the main celebrant.  Priests from the seminary and some Filipino guest priests were also there to concelebrate.  The liturgical music was provided by the Filipino community choir from Portland, led by Mr. Ken Canedo of Oregon Catholic Press, who was also the organist.

A procession was held after the Mass.  During the procession, Filipinos were carrying images of the Sto. Nino and danced in forward-backward steps, a traditional festival movement, while exclaiming joyfully "Viva, Pit Senyor Santo Nino!" (Hail! We invoke thee, Santo Nino!)  The procession started in front of the Abbey Church and concluded at the Damian Center where a reception was held.

The reception program started with a prayer and the blessing of Sto. Nino statues and images which were displayed on the stage.  The seminarians and members of various Filipino groups provided traditional Filipino food, dance, and music. The program was a diverse cultural presentation with each group singing or dancing something from their cultural background.

The Samoan seminarians


The Vietnamese seminarians

At Mount Angel Seminary, this year's Filipino seminarian community president is Frankie Villanueva.

The devotion to the Sto. Nino de Cebu is the oldest and most popular in the Philippines, and the Holy See has granted the Philippines to celebrate this feast on the Sunday following the Baptism of the Lord.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mount Angel Seminary and the Filipino Community Celebrate Santo Nino

On Saturday, January 18, members of the Catholic Filipino community joined Mount Angel Seminary to celebrate the Feast of Santo Nino.  The celebration included Mass in the Abbey Church, a procession from the Abbey Church, and food and entertainment in the Damian Center.

Seminarians Felipe Villalobos and Garrett McGowan help carry the image of the Santo Nino in the procession.

The procession included banners, crosses, dancers, and many images of the Santo Nino.

The leader of the procession to the Damian Center


The dancers leading the people in the procession

The people approaching the Damian Center

The crowd was greeted by colorful decorations and music.


The people placed their images of the Santo Nino on the stage where they were blessed by President-Rector Monsignor Joseph Betschart.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Soccer Titles Added to Journalism Resources

During the Christmas break, Sister Hilda Kleiman, the instructor for the MAS Journalism program and editor of the MAS Journalism blog, added five soccer titles to the bibliography of journalism books offered on the blog.

The most powerful book in this recent reading was This Love is Not for Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juarez by Robert Andrew Powell.  The author lived for a year in Juarez on the Mexican-American border, following the local soccer club in a town with an astronomical murder rate because of the wars between the drug cartels.  Sister Hilda's comments on this book were featured on the Daily Dose for Powell's City of Books.

Sister Hilda wrote, "While this is the best sports book I have read all year, it is also among the best books of any kind I have read all year.  It is strength and sadness all at the same time.  Everyone I know who plays and loves soccer will know about this book."


Two of the new titles featured soccer in Africa.  More Than Just a Game: Soccer vs. Apartheid: The Most Important Soccer Story Ever Told offers stunning details about the lengths to which the prisoners on Robben Island went to play and organize soccer and other sports in the prison:
Another area in which the men wanted to prove that they could run things properly was in the written side of the association's administration.  If they were going to take the trouble of writing letters and using up their valuable supply of paper, there was no way they were going to be slipshod or even casual about it.  All the correspondence between the MFA, the clubs, and their members had to be done by the book, written in an extremely formal style, almost according to a template.  Anyone mentioned in a letter or in the minutes of committee meetings was referred to as 'Mr' and given their surname.  Known and addressed only as numbers by the staff - or, more commonly, by abrasive racial or otherwise demeaning epithets - the use of surnames was the men's way of reasserting their dignity and individuality.  The standard ending was 'Yours in sports', to signify that, whatever the differences of opinion expressed, the men remained united solidly behind the enterprise as a whole (79).
 The prisoners had a role for everyone in the games and sports, even journalists:
Another thing the Soweto generation inherited and which gave them particular pleasure was the annual Robben Island Olympics.  One prisoner active in the sporting community in the Eighties described it as the most emotional day of the year.  The younger generation really took the event to their hearts.  Training began in September.  Events were tailored to different abilities and so men of all ages worked hard to get fit and to participate, and each cell chose one or more of its inhabitants to act as journalists to write stories about the event and make sure everyone received the recognition they deserved.  They also used the Summer Games to pressure the authorities into allowing all cell blocks to come together to play sport rather than have separate activities in each section, as was now the practice (240).
The last book of the break, Bloody Confused: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer, provided a stay from the much more serious circumstances of the previous books.  Chuck Culpepper, now a writer for Sports on Earth, had become discouraged and jaded covering sports in the United States, and England offered him a new sports world about which he was completely uniformed.

Beyond the fall-on-the-floor-laughing humor, Culpepper's book is meditation on the meaning of fandom, its highs and lows, both emotional and physical, including the sheer noise so many fans can generate:
Suddenly, though, I heard this great crowd noise blaring from the set.  The noise so clearly unleashed by what happened shockingly in the draining seconds of Portsmouth versus Manchester City gave me goose bumps even through a screen in Camden, and even through I knew nada about either squad except that Portsmouth wore blue and played on brown sod at Chelsea.  Why bother with sport?  Here's the number-one answer: because you might hear that kind of noise.  It might swim your ear canals and rustle your soul and electrify your skin and maybe even prolong your life.
For myself, following sport is largely about the hunt for that noise (34).
With the addition of five soccer titles, the sports resources for MAS Journalism is now in need of titles for other sports, particularly basketball and volleyball, the two other major team sports at Mount Angel Seminary.  Recommendations from our readers are welcome!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Shakespeare Students Ponder Macbeth

Paul Grandi, a college seminarian studying for the Diocese of Tucson, shares our final paper from this fall's Shakespeare course.  The course is taught by Dr. Creighton Lindsay.

The Promise of Evil
by Paul Grandi

A.C. Bradley, in a series of lectures entitled Shakespearean Tragedy, reflects on the character of Banquo in Shakespeare's MacBeth, writing that "the Banquo [who is killed] is not the innocent soldier who met the Witches and daffed their prophecies aside, nor the man who prayed to be delivered from the temptation of his dreams" (386).  Banquo, Bradley argues, has been corrupted.  By the night of his death, "the Witches and his own ambition have conquered him.  He alone of the lords knew of the prophecies, but he has said nothing of them" (385).  Banquo, for all his struggles early in the play, gives in to his desire and imagines that if he allows things to take their proper course then his sons will be kings.  In a sense, Banquo has acquiesced to "evil" and has suffered for it, a theme that Bradley finds central to Macbeth.  He writes, "What Shakespeare perhaps felt . . . when he wrote this play, was the incalculability of evil, - that in meddling with it human beings do they know not what" (396).  When examining the play, one might see Bradley's point.

Each of the characters who comes into contact with or invokes evil seems to have an idea or a plan for how things will work out.  Things quickly escape them, however, and the characters find themselves victims to events and forces they no longer control.  Banquo, as soon as he gives into his temptations and desires the prophecy of the witches, is struck down - an ominous omen.  A more interesting example of Bradley's principle, however, would be Lady Macbeth.  Her initial unnerving invocation of the evil spirits is followed by her eventual madness and death, potentially signaling to Shakespeare's audience that one cannot simply interact with evil without being fundamentally changed.

The language used by Shakespeare in Lady MacBeth's "prayer" to the dark spirits comes across, in many ways, as quite terrifying.  In Lady MacBeth's introductory scene, she worries that her husband is "too full o' th' milk of human kindness" (Shakespeare 1.15.17), and so she decides that she will help steel his resolve in order to help him achieve his ambition.  In order to do this, she famously invokes dark spirits.  This opening behavior of Lady Macbeth shows the audience two things - one, that she supports her husband in his ambition, and two, that she needs someone to, in turn, support her and steel her resolve.  Her invocation - her "call for help" - is chilling.  Lady Macbeth asks those "spirits / that tend on moral thoughts" to "unsex [her] . . . / And fill [her] from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty" (1.5.47-50).  To imagine a character who so easily accepts the killing of the good king Duncan for the sake of ambition, influenced by dark spirits who replace hesitance with "direst cruelty" is not pleasant.

She goes on to request the spirits to remove all feelings of remorse, to replace the milk of her breasts (think - "th' milk of human kindness") with gall, and that the dark night might hide her misdeeds so that even heaven itself will not object to her actions (1.5.50-60).  Shakespeare uses this dark imagery to show his audience exactly what Lady Macbeth is doing - calling upon evil.  She knows her humanity is too weak to do what needs to be done, so she asks dark spirits to change her humanity into something less than human; in short, she asks to be made, in some sense, evil.

Lady Macbeth's eventual madness, which is revealed to have no physical cause, and her death suggest that Bradley's principle is on point - evil forces are not invoked without consequences.  Although Lady Macbeth tries to remain stalwart and guiltless in front of her husband, the first scene of the final act demonstrates that she is, in fact, going mad from guilt.  Her famous line, "Yet here's a spot . . . Out, damned spot, out I say!" (5.1.33,37) suggests that she cannot seem to scrub all the blood off.  She wakes up in the middle of the night and repeatedly washes her hands, often for up to a "quarter of an hour" (5.1.32).  Later, she remarks "Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?" (5.1.41-2) and then still later cries "Here's the smell of the blood still.  All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O!" (5.1.53-5).  Her soul, it must be assumed, has been strengthened enough by "those spirits who tend on moral thought" to play her part in the murder, but no more.

She is left to her own repulsion and guilt - her obsessive scrubbing indicates her desire to be clean, to be free of the deed.  Her soul is repulsed by her own wickedness, by the evil it has flirted with.  Eventually, it becomes too much to live with, and she dies - whether from suicide or some sudden curse, the audience is not told, but the significance remains.  One by one, those who interacted with evil in the play meet their doom.

Macbeth is a tragedy.  It is not necessarily obsessed with death.  However, it can be said that death is not this play's most tragic theme.  In a way, the degradation of morality is. All of the characters who are directly involved with the prophecy of the three witches - Macbeth, Banquo, and by extension of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth - do not start out in a state of evil. They are corrupted - but they are done so by their own choice. Of their own free will they decide to engage with forces they most likely sense are beyond their control.  In the case of Lady Macbeth, she specifically requests that the spirits strengthen her, that they bestow upon her the gift of cruelty and remove all remorse from her soul.  The ever-absent forces of evil do grant her request - in a way.

They give her the strength she needs to exact her plan of murdering Duncan - they give her the force of will to plant the daggers and to deny the murder, and she succeeds - she and Macbeth are not (at least initially) found guilty or even accused of Duncan's murder.  Lady Macbeth has "gotten away with it" - yet she does not feel at all comfortable.  Bradley writes, "The soul, [Shakespeare] seems to feel, is a thing of such inconceivable depth . . . that when you introduce to it . . . any change, and particularly the change called evil, you can only form the vaguest idea of the reaction you will provoke.  All you can be sure of is that it will not be what you expected and that you cannot possibly escape it" (386).  It is clear that Lady Macbeth, like Banquo, knew not the forces she was engaging. She thought that she would be able to handle it, and she was not.  In a sense, evil tricks her and claims her soul for death even as it claim's Duncan's through her scheme.  Although no bargain takes place, Lady Macbeth accepts the promise of evil, which she interprets as the promise of power, without consideration.

As it turns out, evil does grant her power but does not remove remorse - she cannot get rid of the blood on her hands, no matter how much she washes and scrubs and laments.  She avoids the suspicion of others, but she cannot escape the accusing stare of her own conscience.  In this sense, Macbeth can be seen as a cautionary tale.  Evil, no matter how much it appears to speak reason and to offer friendship (or in this case, power and status), will always be unmasked in the end, as a snake in the garden, telling humanity to eat the forbidden fruit that will supposedly lead to divinization but actually leads to eternal death and suffering.

Works Cited

Bradley, A.C.  Shakepearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.  2nd ed.  London: Macmillan, 1905.  Print.

Shakespeare, William.  Barbara A. Mowat, and Paul Werstine, eds.  The Tragedy of Macbeth.  New York: Washington Square Press, 2002.  Print.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Literature Majors Examine Marxist Criticism

Jesus Sanchez, a college seminarian studying for the Diocese of Tucson, has submitted our second paper from the course Theoretical Issues in Literary Studies.  The course is required of all seminarians completing a double major in literature and is taught by Dr. Creighton Lindsay.

Materialist Barbie: Scarcity and Marginalization Included
by Jesus Sanchez

Beth Fowkes Tobin argues that Jane Austen minimalizes the economic factors in Emma and thus denies “their importance in shaping individuals’ lives” (468). Austen, Tobin would claim, hides the economic problems present in her age and in her novel by wrapping them in the semblance of personal and moral issues, all of them resolved by the different marriages that occur at the end of Emma. And it is in light of Tobin’s accusations that this essay will examine, through a Marxist literary perspective, what economic and societal issues might be overlooked in the apparent simplicity of Sandra Cisneros’ short story, “Barbie-Q.” This essay will show how Cisneros’ “Barbie-Q” is ultimately an exposition and critique of an economic scarcity and marginalization in a materialistic and consumerist culture.

In order to first show how “Barbie-Q” exposes the strife of economic scarcity, and borrowing from Tobin’s language, it is necessary to “translate” the “personal and individual” from Cisneros’ narrative into the “economic” (468). This consists in examining the story itself for its depiction of scarcity; that is, for a depiction of those who do not have enough resources to fulfill their needs or desires. 

The narrator, presumably Cisneros, is addressing a childhood playmate, perhaps Licha to whom she dedicates the story. Their games are restricted by their having only two Barbie dolls, which is all they can afford: “We have to make do with your mean-eyed Barbie and my bubble hair Barbie and our one outfit apiece not including the sock dress” (423). The following Sunday is a joyful occasion of “loopity-loops and pirouetting” when at the street market they find new clothing to buy for their Barbie dolls: “How much? Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, until they [their parents] say yes.” Indeed, Miriam Forman-Brunell recounts how the Barbie doll was another of the “goods and gadgets” which many families “could probably ill afford,” but in which post-war “Americans were encouraged to find fulfillment.” Forman-Brunell adds, “Barbie’s extensive wardrobe exemplified the ethos of an expanding consuming culture,” i.e. a materialistic and consumerist culture “where spending replaced saving.” The Barbie doll was a product and prime example of this culture.

The fact that the girls come from a family that cannot afford Barbie dolls begins to reveal the economic scarcity and the resulting marginalization. It depicts scarcity because, after all, they have to purchase the new doll outfits in a street flea market among “aluminum foil, and hubcaps, and a pink shag rug, and windshield wiper blades, and dusty mason jars, and a coffee can full of rusty nails” (423). This exposes a resulting marginalization, which is nothing less than the manifest distinction between those-who-have and those-who-have-not. They are not daughters of affluence. They are daughters of scarcity; they are those-who-have-not. This is driven home more poignantly when, much to their amazement, the girls find exactly what they are lacking: 
Bendable Legs Barbie with her new page-boy hairdo. Midge, Barbie’s best friend. Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend.  Skipper, Barbie’s little sister. Tutti and Todd, Barbie and Skipper’s tiny twin sister and brother. Skipper’s friends, Scooter and Ricky. Alan, Ken’s buddy.  And Francie, Barbie’s MOD’ern cousin (423).
It is poignant only when the reader discovers that the newfound dolls are the spoiled but surviving products of a toy warehouse fire, “all of them damaged with water and smelling of smoke.” And these girls are glad to settle for the dolls that reek of smoke “even after you wash and wash and wash them.”

The conflict, if it can thus be called, of their economic scarcity seems to be resolved by the fortuitous fire that destroys the warehouse. One can almost imagine Tobin’s finger raised in condemnation, reprimanding Cisneros for so simply dismissing the issue of economic scarcity and marginalization and silencing it with a happy ending. And yet the fact that a toy warehouse, a center of consumerist culture, has to burn down in order for the girls to get their happy ending should be a clear indication to the reader that the story will not gloss over the consumerist and materialist culture as unimportant; it will not refrain from criticizing the marginalization that results from economic scarcity in this culture.

The girls are no less marginalized by the end of the short story because they are well aware that, even with their new dolls, they are not the daughters of affluence. They know that their dolls were not purchased at the store, “in nice clean boxes”; they know that they had to settle for buying on Maxwell Street flea market from the left overs of a fire; they know that one of their dolls has a melted foot; they know that their dolls will always smell of smoke. The society that obsesses over the consumption of material goods will never fail to marginalize those who suffer from economic scarcity. It further widens the chasm between the rich and the poor, the superior and the inferior.

It will be easy for the reader to glance over this criticism. After all, the girls themselves ask, “so?” So what if their dolls smell like smoke, and so what if Barbie’s MOD’ern cousin has a melted leg? “If you dress her in her new ‘Prom Pinks’ outfit, satin splendor with matching coat, gold belt, clutch, and hair bow included, so long as you don’t lift her dress, right?—who’s to know.” The reality of marginalization that results from scarcity in a consumerist/materialist culture is both an external and an internal reality. Who’s to know, you ask? The girls know. And now the reader knows, too. 

Work Cited 

Forman-Brunell, Miriam. "What Barbie Dolls Have to Say about Postwar American Culture." Advanced Placement: U.S. History. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Literature Students Examine Forms of Criticism

The students in the course Theoretical Issues in Literary Studies, a course taught by Dr. Creighton Lindsay and required of all literature majors at Mount Angel Seminary, includes the study of Marxist and Cultural criticism.  Joseph P. Norton III, a college-three seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Seattle, shares his essay on these two forms of criticism:

Is Barbie Our Friend or Our Enemy: An Application of Marxist and Cultural Criticism
by Joseph P. Norton III

With all of the different forms of literary criticism it is easy to get their different purposes mixed up or blended together. This is especially true for Marxist and Cultural criticism because they focus so much on economic and cultural situations and how these affect the literature they are examining. However, these two forms of literary criticism are very different in the conclusions that they make about literature and how they view society. This paper will examine a major difference between how a Marxist and Cultural critic would view Sandra Cisneros' Barbie-Q

The Marxist critic would view the consciousness of the little girls in Barbie-Q as a result of their economic and social status, revealing class struggle in a capitalist society and would make a claim on these economic and cultural challenges as good or bad. Contrary to this view, the Cultural critic would not make any claims about class struggle or a culture being good or bad, but would merely examine a part of the culture which is affecting the little girl’s consciousness, discovering reasons (but not an exhaustive list) why they act like they do. 

Ross C. Murfin, in his essay, "What is Marxist Criticism?" shows how a Marxist critic reads literature and interprets it. In his essay, Murfin points out a major tenant for Marxist critics when he tells the reader that consciousness is a society's "most important product" (Austen 459). For Marxist critics the whole human person and the literature that they write are results of economics. Further on in Murfin's essay he points out another theme that runs through Marxist criticism when he examines a Marxist criticism of Jane Austen's Emma. Murfin praises the critic for bringing out "political and economic issues based in class differences" (469). This last point is important as it shows that Marxist critics are not only concerned with the material conditions that caused a piece of literature but also how those influences reveal a deeper struggle in society. Once these struggles of class are brought out, the Marxist critic will judge them as something which is either good or bad for the advancement of society.

Though Cisneros' Barbie-Q is short, a Marxist critic would have a lot to say about it. For the Marxist critic the story reveals the materialism in American society during Cisneros' time. The little girls are obsessed with Barbies because in their society what the upper classes are wearing and how they are acting is exactly like what the Barbie girl represents. Everything down to their love for Ken is a product of their economics fed to them by society. Cisneros' story shows that the economic status the girls are in is maintained and enforced by their love for the Barbie dolls. Instead of being in a society where the girls are raised to believe they can be fancy and a part of the upper classes they are taught to idealize Barbie as a fantasy of the upper class girl they will never be, enforcing their current economic status. 

This point is evident when the girl narrating the story finally gets her new Barbie home and admits that they are not perfect but concludes "if you dress her in her new 'prom pinks'. . . who's to know?" (132). Here Cisneros shows that the girls have received the material stimulus they wanted and are happy to stay where they are in society, never thinking that life could be better. The Marxist critic views the class struggle between people like the little girls who only idealize Barbies and people in their same culture who actually live like Barbies as a hindrance to the advancement of man. These class struggles and economic statuses found in Barbie-Q (the Marxist critic tells us) are the result of American capitalist society which needs changing.

With this view of Marxist criticism in mind, comparing its differences to Cultural criticism is simple. Once again, Ross C. Murfin highlights some of the basic structures that make up Cultural criticism in his essay "What is Cultural Criticism?"  In the essay, Murfin makes it clear that Cultural critics do not take a stance toward literature as good or bad when he says that Cultural critics are more concerned with "relating than in rating cultural products and events" (490). The Cultural critic is more fascinated with how economics and cultural norms affect a given person’s consciousness, but different from Marxist critics, they are unwilling to make an ethical or moral claim about those effects (492). The Cultural critic focuses on a part of society in a given time and examines how that part of the culture influences the people living in it. 

Unlike the Marxist critic, the Cultural critic would view the influences of American materialism and the girl’s love for Barbies in Barbie-Q as just one influence among many other influences in their culture. For the Cultural critic the girl’s fascination with Barbies and their willingness to play with ones that even "smell like smoke" (132), no matter how much you wash them, could be explained by looking at the television commercials or magazine ads that were shown during that time. After looking at some of these materials, the Cultural critic could make a claim that the girls were influenced by all the ads that were circulating through their culture. The study of television and magazine ads would show a common cultural movement. The girls, like every other girl in their culture, were influenced to buy Barbies and did. The common influence and availability of Barbies in American culture during this time shows that there is no upper and lower class struggle; everyone likes Barbies. In this final analysis of Barbie-Q the Cultural critic stands out from the Marxist critic in that they have only examined influences on a culture but have not made any claims as to their worth in society. 

Both Marxist critics and Cultural critics examine literature in an empirical way. They look at a given work as a product of the economic and social conditions that surround it. However, it has been shown that the Marxist critic and the Cultural critic differ in the conclusions that they draw from these economic forces. The Marxist critic makes use of literature, examining class struggles and economic challenges, to make a final statement about the society that that literature comes from and its value for man as a whole. The Cultural critic also looks at economic forces and cultural norms to show their relationship to the given work of literature, but they never make any claims about its ultimate value for society. Both of these ways of digesting literature can open new doors of interpreting an author and their work, giving us a deeper understanding of the culture and economics that influenced its production.

Work Cited

Austen, Jane. Emma. Ed. Alistair M. Duckworth. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002. Print.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Students Study Verification through Film

Toward the end of the fall semester, the journalism class offered a showing of the film Shattered Glass. Br. Lorenzo Conocido offers this review of the film:

Set in 1998, Shattered Glass tells the true story of how Stephen Glass, a young journalist who fabricated stories for The New Republic, a political magazine, rose to fame and then had a scandalous downfall  by writing fictional stories and characters, faking quotations, making up companies and even creating a website to support his articles.  His last piece, "Hacker Haven" caught the attention of a reporter for Forbes online magazine, and the reporter started verifying the facts and found it unverifiable, for nothing in the article did actually exist in the first place.

The movie takes us into the world of publication and journalism, providing a glimpse of the workplace politics, office factions, backbiting, and yes, the moral issue of lying in the field where truth must come first.  Being young and charismatic, Glass was able to circumvent the process of verification by manipulating information, seeking protection from co-workers, and abusing the editor-writer relationship. This worked until Chuck Lane, the newly-promoted editor, finds no reason to protect his man but rather does his duty to chase after the truth.

This is what happens when creativity and ambition have gone to the extremes.  Glass was a good writer, but perhaps not in the field of journalism.  He broke every single element of journalism as proposed by Kovach and Rosenstiel beginning with the very foundation - the truth.  All the articles he wrote weren't for the benefit of the citizens but rather for personal ecstasy.  Nothing can be verified, for how can you verify something that does not exist?  All the rest of the elements just crumbled apart.

The majority of the movie revolves around Lane, Glass and the Forbes team and the journalistic verification process that finally revealed an embarrassing truth, if not scandalous, ending.  One person that caught my attention is Caitlyn, a pivotal character towards the conclusion of the investigative drama.  She brought the point concerning how a personal relationship can become more of an obstacle to the truth, but later she realized she had a greater responsibility to the public and most especially to her conscience more than anybody else.  In the end, she is one of the staff who went public to apologize to the citizens, their real bosses, and retracted all the articles written by Glass that had been published by The New Republic.

What's not clear to me in the move was Glass' motive for inventing his stories.  Was he setting up the stones for him to get to the top?  Was he trying to bring the magazine down? Or was he just mentally ill?  Taking the latter seems to be too convenient.  The DVD contained his interview with 60 Minutes, and he publicly admitted that he's a pathological liar and that he has a mental health issue that he will have to battle with. Well, coming from him, that last statement will surely need further verification.