Battling My Eating Disorder
Pride and Prejudice in Ballet
The Trustees' Slaves Inside the year-long project that challenged Penn to reexamine its ties to slavery
p.19 Oscar Mad Libs
february FEBRUARY28, 2018 Nick Joyner, Editor–in–Chief Remi Lederman, Managing Editor Angela Huang, Audience Engagement Director Annabelle Williams, Assignments Editor Autumn Powell, Media Director Haley Weiss, Word on the Street Editor Jamie Gobreski, Word on the Street Editor Emily Schwartz, Ego Editor Zoe Albano–Oritt, Music Editor Julia Bell, Senior Features Editor Sabrina Qiao, Special Features Editor Colin Lodewick, Long–Term Features Editor Dalton DeStefano, Developing Features Editor Lily Snider, Style Editor Catalina Dragoi, Film & TV Editor Sherry Tseng, Arts Editor Daniel Bulpitt, Lastpage Editor Ha Tran, Photo Editor Danny Rubin, Video Editor Lea Eisenstein, Copy Director Chris Muracca, Print Director Ego Beats: Valentina Escudero, Sami Canaan, Caroline Riise, Caroline Curran, Maryanne Koussa Music Beats: Paul Litwin, Amy Marcus, Arjun Swaminathan, Isabella Fertel, Michelle Pereira, Holden Caplan, Chris Troop, Natalia Joseph Features Staff: Emily Rush, Angie Lin, Sharon Christner, Annika Iyer, Emily Cieslak, Naomi Elegant Style Beats: Liz Kim, Frankie Reitmeyer, Lily Zirlin, Molly Hessel Film & TV Beats: Ana West, Avneet Randhawa, Bella Essex, Zovinar Khrimian
3 WORD ON THE STREET On Eating Disorders
EOTW: Anuj Amin, Eva Lewis, Jay Kirk
MERT, 69th Street
Penn History of Slavery
Arts Beats: Sophie Burkholder, Lizzy Lemieux, Margaret Zhang, Xinyi Wan Design Editors: Lucy Ferry, Gillian Diebold, Ben Zhao, Christine Lam, Alana Shukovsky, Zack Greenstein, Morgan McKeever, Teagan Aguirre, Judy Zhang, Katie Waltman Lastpage Beat: Eliana Doft Staff Writers: Sophie Xi, Cass Phanord, Tamara Gelband, Jennifer Cullen, Isabella Simonetti, Vanessa Wanyandeh, Shinyoung Noh, Caroline Harris, Emma Moore, Anna Callahan, Sammy Gordon, Sydney Gelman, Charlotte Bausch, Jacob Winick, Alix Steerman, Sara Merican
Under the Covers
Illustrators: Jessi Olarsch, Brad Hong, Anne Marie Grudem, Reese Berman, Judy Choi, Gloria Yuen, Carly Ryan, Saranya Sampath, Catherine Liang, Anne Chen Staff Photographers: Dayz Terry, Virginia Rodowsky, Christina Piasecki, Bill He, Avalon Morrell, Emma Boey, David Zhou Video Staff: Megan Kyne, Jean Chapiro, Anab Aidid, Sophie Pelosi, Abdul Sohu Copy Editors: Kira Horowitz, Kate Poole, Anna Waldzinska, Serena Miniter, Sarah Poss, Amber Auslander, Kimberly Batista, Riley Wagner, Morgan Potts Sofia Price, Analytics Editor Cole Bauer, Senior Marketing Associate Marketing Associates: Lauren Donato, Chae Hahn, Brittany Levy, McKay Norton, Hanniel Dizon, Carly Shoulberg, Merry Gu, Paige Fishman Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by Dayz Terry, Virginia Rodowsky, Ha Tran, and Christina Piasecki. Contacting 34th Street Magazine: If you have questions, comments, complaints or letters to the editor, email Nick Joyner, Editor–in–Chief, at email@example.com. You can also call us at (215) 422–4640. www.34st.com
"You know who is not okay? Jesus." ©2018 34th Street Magazine, The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. No part may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express, written consent of the editors (but I bet we will give you the a–okay.) All rights reserved. 34th Street Magazine is published by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc., 4015 Walnut St., Philadelphia, Pa., 19104, every Wednesday.
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Pride and Prejudice in Ballet, Penn Band, Experimental Writing Class
LOL 17 FILM & TV
Rotten Tomatoes, The Great British Bake-Off
LOL 19 LASTPAGE Oscar MadLibs
LETTERFROM THEEDITOR Yesterday, I glimpsed the cracks in it all. The summer has a strange way of making me introspective. Or thinking of the summer, that is. Spring break is a cheap summer stand–in but it still gets me thinking all the same. It's got me down with a case of the Collegiate Dread. This is what I get for rereading The Harvard Crimson's "Why I Left the Spee" article in my last class. Yesterday at midnight, I left my friend's room by way of her alleyway fire escape. I walked across the parking lot to the rear of my apartment. I remembered when I first moved in there, in that August of 2016, days before my 19th birthday. I still laugh about those days when all I had in my room was a bed and a desk fan, because I had underprepared and promised my mom I could do it all by myself. I walked along the side of my house and watched my roommate in the kitchen as he was preparing a stir fry. I laughed again, from the same place I did when I was living out of boxes there. When I was 18 in October of my freshman year, I was terrified at the prospect of signing an off–campus lease. When I moved into my apartment with three of my friends sophomore year, I found it funny. I still find Penn's housing situation funny. Nearly half of student body lives off–campus, scattered near and far across University City and West Philadelphia. We play adult in our off–campus houses, cooking and cleaning for ourselves, keeping to ourselves. We prize being out of the University's eye (somewhat), and being one step closer to heading out the door. We experience a unique degree of freedom compared to our Ivy peers, who live in residential colleges and in suites where there's the comfort of an in–house dining hall and increased institutional support. That's why the summer scares me. It's the taste of adulthood I'm not sure I'm ready for. My friends and I scatter across the country, settling in cities where it's becoming more and more likely we'll live in for real someday. We work nine–to–fives and it's all good and natural and part of growing up. This summer before my senior year will be different. I'll see more cracks when I return to campus this fall. My imagination will only grow wilder; I'll continue to picture myself moving out of my apartment one somber, humid mid–May afternoon. These aren't my golden years. I refuse to let them be. Or at least, I refuse to recognize that. For now I'll play adult with the rest of them, secretly despising the responsibility that comes with it. And I'll probably be a tinge less melodramatic when the time for adulthood finally comes.
WORD ON THE STREET
word on the
WANTING TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY ON LIVING WITH AN EATING DISORDER Caring more about the number on the scale than the grades in my classes Kelly Porter
Are you eating? Did you throw up? These were the texts my father sent me last spring when my parents came to help me pack for the summer. We had had dinner at Marathon, a staple spot in my family’s visits to Philadelphia, where I ordered a salad. Afterwards, back at the hotel, I spent an extended period of time in the bathroom, vainly taking mirror selfies. But my father had other ideas of what I was doing: he thought I was purging. What was his daughter doing that made her look so wasted away? What had happened in the two months since Spring Break that led to such a weight loss? I replied to his messages with a “Yes” and then a “No” (not complete lies) though I wasn’t about to admit that sometimes I would eat Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food only to throw it up. Sometimes I would run until all the consumed calories had been expended. Sometimes I cared more about the number on the scale than my grades in my classes. I couldn’t admit that sometimes disappearing completely was the most appealing goal for me—I wasn’t going to stop until I was thin. In the safety of my own apartment, I lift the hem of my shirt away from my stomach and analyze the effects of stuffing my face with Cheez–Its (a recent guilty pleasure) as if the calories have already altered the shape of my stomach. It’s a vain fear, weight gain. But still, it's an intruding one. The summer before my sophomore year of college, my gynecologist had informed me that on the birth control shot, most
women gain 10–15 pounds and that that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for me. The possibility of a weight gain terrified me; I chose another option. In a recent appointment, the SHS nutritionist said that my BMI was within the healthy range. My first reaction was that she was lying. How could I, someone with a stomach that hung over the top of her jeans, be healthy? How could I not need to lose weight? For the past six years, I have struggled with the calorie counter in my head and the scale in my bathroom. I compare the shape of my hips to my friends’, squirm when someone touches my torso, and avoid wearing tight dresses. There are times where, before going out, the only sustenance I have had is a couple of strawberries and maybe a few grapes. I probably spend more time thinking about calories than I do about my schoolwork. One of the clearest memories from my freshman year of high school was crying in a McDonald’s on a family vacation because I would have to consume chicken nuggets. I can laugh about the foolishness of it all now, but in that moment, I dreaded the possibility of adding poundage. I wish this was the moment that I realized there was something wrong, but it seemed to be only the beginning. My parents didn’t really question my efforts; they knew my goal was weight loss and, in some ways, I think they were appreciative that my meals consisted of more substance than just cheese pizza and that I began exercising. They didn’t know about the crying in the pantry over Christmas cookies or about the
religious use of calorie–counter apps and fat percentage calculators or about the countless checks of my naked figure in my bathroom mirror—all signs that I was heading down a rabbit hole. I was of normal weight, so there was nothing to worry about. Fast–forward to last spring, my mind racing at my father’s unexpected texts. An outsider would think that this would be it: I had been caught and I would decide to recover, return to healthier measures of weight loss or give it up altogether. But it wasn’t. Looking back, that summer is when it all got worse. I continued running, pushing myself further on the treadmill than I had before; I don’t remember eating enough calories to make up for those miles. A majority of the blogs I followed on Tumblr were “pro–ana” (blogs that endorse skinny, almost skeletal models) and I spent afternoons scrolling through them. I read books about anorexia and compulsive exercising, the stories of other women conquering their own struggles pushing me further into my own. I was so proud of my smaller frame that I ignored the signs that I hadn’t just stumbled into the rabbit hole, but had completely plummeted headfirst. I think that many of these issues stem from my perfectionism and my absolute need for control. As I strove for perfection in my academic life, the one thing that I could easily control was the food that went into my mouth and the image that looked back at me in the mirror. If I could control the food I was eating, I could control the outcome of my college
Annie Chen | Illustrator
applications. Additionally, during my second semester of freshman year, the same semester in which my father questioned my thinness, I was diagnosed with depression, a condition that I think contributed to my negative body image. When my mood dips low, I’ve found that I eat less, trading in time in the kitchen for time in my bed. I would hurt myself to control my emotions, and while high school health classes don’t teach you this, restricting one’s food intake is an act of self–harm. There are times when a slice of Allegro pizza doesn’t make me cringe; these moments are surprising, but they happen. It is in these moments that I recognize the importance of balance, a concept that is often forgotten here at Penn (though I accept the irony in the idea of balance and my preoccupation with the scale). When I go out to eat with friends, I try to remember that a single “bad” food won’t negate my progress, nor will a “good” food magically make me fit. It’s difficult
sometimes. I wrote this piece because I’ve been thinking a lot about my history with my body and, for the first time, I can admit that there is a problem with my relationship with it, that disappearing completely is a dangerous goal. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, nor have I received psychiatric treatment. I have, though, begun taking the first steps towards recovery by acknowledging when my thoughts are unsafe, scheduling appointments with a nutritionist, and adopting healthier habits. One of the most important lessons in my journey is learning that balancing my obsessions and my happiness will take time. I don’t know if I will ever completely overcome my eating issues or if my weight will matter less than my GPA or if I’ll ever stop thinking that the mirror determines my worth. That’s the thing, though—I’m not sure what the future holds for my body and me. All I know is that a box of Cheez–Its sounds pretty good right about now.
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Meet Eva Lewis:
This freshman activist wants us to 'press play on the revolution.' Cass Phanord
TED Talk Speaker, Non–Profit Starter, and Penn Freshman
Dayz Terry | Photographer Eva Lewis (C '21) is all about her activism. And she's busy. At just 19, this Questbridge scholar has already been more active in politics than most full–grown adults. She started The I Project in 2015, which she calls her “baby.” It’s “an initiative to humanize youth affected by intersectionality through an activism by arts approach through community outreach.” She also started Youth for Black Lives after she and three other girls held a protest in Chicago with 3,000 people present. Their aim was “to amplify the voices of black youth.” The group is also entirely run by black femmes—something Eva is
very proud of. Eva was also invited to do a talk for TEDxTeen. She recounts the experience to me—“I was called...ten days before the TEDx Talk was gonna happen.” She explains that at that time, she was already missing school for the Obama Foundation summit. She got the call the morning of the summit. “I was really shook ... I [had] no time,” she says with a grin. Most of her correspondence was with Jess Teutonico from the We Are Family Foundation (the group who put on TEDxTeen). When Eva asked if her 18–minute speech had to be edited, she was met with a “yes,
preferably.” “[It was] so stressful ... First of all, I came back from Chicago and caught a virus ... I couldn’t look at screens.” Though she was ill at the time, she said it was still “the best thing that ever happened.” She went on to explain that she felt like she "could really focus on [her] narrative.” So she wound up writing a poem grounded in her cousin's experience with a bullet being shot in her window on the South Side of Chicago. “I remember for so much of last year [my cousin] was so humbled.” She says that having a bullet that close to her head made her cousin
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think more deeply. And Eva thought more deeply, too. To open her TED talk, she decided to “personify the bullet” in the poem and explore what it means to be the person behind the bullet within the context of her personal narrative. The rest of the Ted Talk was just her story. After hearing about all that she’d done, I asked how she balanced school life and activism. She said that she had been “by the grace of god, truly.” She also said that going to “the number one public school in the United States ... taught [her] time management.” She was, and continues to be, very intentional about her schedule. She also credits two friends she has in Chicago who are doing wonderful things for her “baby,” The I Project. What got this powerful young woman into activism? “The first protest I went to was one for Trayvon Martin ... I realized what it was to be on the forefront of something,” she explains. Being at the forefront of a movement, though, comes with a lot of media attention. “It’s exciting,” says Eva, “with eyeballs come opportunity.” She lets out a chuckle. The media also gave her a “powerful platform” in terms of access to both mentors and peers. She says that “mobilizing people our age is always powerful.” We quickly move into a conversation about black identity. “Being black is such a paradox because there is such a beauty in being black … [people think] how can I copy them ... everyone kind of wants to be you.” She asserts that we as black people in America are “defining pop culture,” and she finds it difficult to navigate the “fine line between owning [her] culture and being commoditized.” Her head is hung low and she's shaking slowly from side to side. “It’s really hard being the most oppressed subset ... to be a queer black
femme?” She took a sharp inhale. I asked Eva what BLM means to her. She paused before responding, “Black Lives Matter is just a fact, it’s not up for debate.” She reminisces about how BLM began. “It really started with Ferguson ... all you saw was media blackout [when it happened] … the public had gotten to a certain threshold, we were just getting poor quality videos of what was happening on the ground.” Around the time of the tragedy, she was only about to be a sophomore in high school. It was then that she thought “I have to do something. I have to start speaking.” It hit her close to home. “Some people were stuck in their homes” due to the chaos outside. Why? “Because white people are white people–ing again and systems are system–ing again.” She aims to change the way those systems work. “I speak about this scaffold I want to create in terms of my hood in Chicago. I want us to be able to eat, learn, live, love, and anything under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I want that for everywhere ... especially where there are black and brown bodies.” She’s taking a hands–on approach to building that scaffold, starting with education equity. She’s pursuing change with vigor and says she’ll do it “by any means necessary.” Her purpose at Penn is to learn—“cultivate [herself ] here so [she] can cultivate others.” “We have the means to educate more people ... and [we are] actually striving for our needs to be met.” Her voice in that moment was full of passion as she went on to say that “we cannot operate within the system, we need radical change.” She encourages allies to “step up.” Eva Lewis is demanding that we “press play on the revolution.”
EGO EGO OF OF THE THE WEEK WEEK
This year, Penn hosted its first ever symposium on student research, bringing together Ivy League students from all disciplines to present and discuss their work. None of it would've been possible without Anuj Amin, the symposium's founder. Did we mention he's also good with a bow and arrow? 34th Street Magazine: Tell me a little bit about the Research Symposium and how you got involved in it. Anuj Amin: In my junior year, I actually emailed CURF about an Ivy League research symposium of some sort—something of that nature—and then I found out that it hadn't existed. And one thing led to another, I started sculpting the idea, I created the proposal, I came up with an itinerary, put together a team, and everything started going underway at the end of my junior year, through the summer. And then in November of 2017, the inaugural symposium was held here at Penn. Street: What's your role in the Research Symposium? AA: I serve as the founder and I served as the executive director this past year, so I directed the whole symposium and ensured that every step was made, every deadline was made, that it was a successful first symposium. Street: How can people get involved? AA: Right now, we actually just started our next cycle. I was super sad to have to let it go, just because it was, kind of, like my child. But the new executive director has been appointed for this year. His name is Pranay Vissa, he is a rising senior in the College, and he is slowly filling out his board of directors. As they go forward, they'll be looking for committee members and the application will be circulating for them. Street: What's your favorite memory from the Research Symposium this year? AA: One of the most exciting things about the whole symposium was on the weekend of, I was able to walk Bodek Hall and see all of the research of the different individuals presenting, and there were students from just about every discipline at the symposium. It was just really cool to talk to other undergraduates and get to ask them about what they study, about their thesis or the work they've done as an undergraduate, and actually see them have the opportunity to work with their peers and discuss ideas from across disciplines was honestly one of most gratifying aspects of the symposium Street: What are your goals for the future of the Research Symposium? AA: So because this was the first year in operation, I
had like a thousand and seven notes that I had at the end of the symposium and, in my opinion, there's always a way to improve an organization. You never just want to settle, so going forward, I definitely have given my thoughts and improvements for the symposium to the next executive director, but overall, our team is so happy with the way we ran it this year, and we just really want to carry a lot of the elements that we had brought to the symposium into this coming cycle.
Religious Studies Ivy League Undergraduate Research Symposium, Ivy League Undergraduate Journal of Research, Penn Journal of Religious Studies, Penn Archery
Port Neches, Texas
Autumn Powell | Media Director
Street: So you started this, you've done your own research. What is it? AA: So I research some pretty strange stuff, I'm not gonna lie, so most of my stuff focuses on the underworld, demonism, or death, in part. Right now, I'm currently studying necromancy in Ancient Egyptian religion and practice. They had a really robust afterlife depiction and really robust rituals for them when you die, so I really wanted to explore that theme of necromancy and imagine it through them.
Ivy League, which is really cool.
Street: How did you find out that you were into archery? AA: So the thing is, as a high schooler, I'd always kind of been interested in the sport. I always thought it was really cool, but I never really had the opportunity to explore it, and I didn't really know where to go to learn about it. I got here at Penn and I was really upset that there wasn't a team and I had started emailing people. I emailed a level–three coach Street: Well damn, now we're curious. What's to get certified, I traveled back to Houston to get the certification, came back here, registered Penn with Team U.S.A., and just one thing the coolest fact you've found so far? AA: Research is ongoing. I will let you know when led to another and I kept going with it. I have my final product, but it is still a work in Street: Any plans after you graduate? progress, not going to lie. AA: Ask me in, like, a month. Street: You mentioned a lot of other activities you're involved in. How do you make time for everything? AA: For me, I think what I do when I work is try to prioritize and try to be as efficient as I can. I think whenever I sit down to do my homework, I try not to think like, "Uh, I really dont wanna be doing this right now, I'd rather be watching TV." If I'm sitting there, I just want to do it, get it over with, move on to the next thing. I try to keep that mindset going forward Street: Of the activities and clubs you've mentioned, what's your favorite? AA: I'd say, in my sophomore year, I shot at the Ivy League Archery Tournament, and it was that tournament's second year in operation and it was Penn Archery's first year in operation. So it was really crazy to go out and shoot with other people, meet other people from the other Ivies, and see that there's this mutual interest in archery and that a developing community was occurring across the
Street: What's your favorite thing about Penn? AA: I'd have to say, my favorite thing here about Penn is the Penn Museum. I think it's one of the least known facilities on campus. It's truly one of the most amazing places. As a sophomore, I had the opportunity to go underground back when all the collections were still there, and it's literally like Night At The Museum. I mean, they have artifacts from across the world, across chronologies.
Street: What's your favorite show right now? AA: Schitt's Creek Street: Guilty pleasure? AA: Sour Patch Kids Street: First AIM name? AA: anuja1995. I was lame as a kid. Street: Favorite spot to eat on campus? AA: Anything from Grubhub. F E B R U A R Y 2 8 , 2 01 8 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E
Experimenting with Jay Kirk Getting to know the creative nonfiction professor who recently received a Whiting Grant Sara Merican Jay Kirk has taught courses in experimental and creative nonfiction at Penn for 13 years, and recently, he was awarded a $40,000 grant from the Whiting Foundation to conduct research and write his next book. “Experimental” is the philosophy that informs Jay Kirk's approach to writing and life, and what he encourages his students to live by as well. Jay Kirk never intended to teach. But, 13 years ago, Penn was looking for an instructor to teach nonfiction and he ended up coming to campus once a week to run classes on experimental and creative nonfiction. Reflecting on teaching, Jay says, “it has had a huge influence on me” and adds, “by having to come in once a week and articulate my thoughts about writing, it has made me interrogate exactly what it is I am doing.”
This semester, he comes to Penn every Tuesday to run his class on experimental nonfiction (listed as ENGL 145). His class runs, like most other creative writing classes, in a workshop style, where students share their work and participate in group critiques. “The most important thing is that we are working on the students’ writing.” He says that critiques work since “everyone is always at a different place” and are developing their “own voice.” An integral part of Professor Kirk’s class is the idea that writers of experimental nonfiction should “go out into the world and have some kind of experience.” This could involve profiling somebody, or conducting a sociological experiment. Students’ writing projects have ranged from visiting inmates in prisons to busking in Philadelphia, from bear hunting to tagging along with taxi drivers.
“Experimental nonfiction” can defy definition. “Nonfiction” refers to facts—it is a genre unwaveringly dedicated to truth and accuracy. How do you “experiment” with that? Doesn’t any attempt to experiment and tinker around with the real and factual affect the truth? Evidently Professor Kirk has thought about this. “Nonfiction is still nonfiction, so it still has to be about facts. Some people who have done experimental nonfiction before say that they try to blur fiction and nonfiction, but to me that’s just fiction. I believe more in blurring the subjective and the objective.” You can’t invent things, but in experimental nonfiction, you can “set things in motion” and “make things happen.” As Professor Kirk says, “you write yourself into the world.” Professor Kirk recognizes the contentions surrounding the prac-
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tice of experimental nonfiction, including the debate about experimental nonfiction’s “artifice.” He shrugs, acknowledging that any piece of art could be guilty of “artifice.” In a way, experimental nonfiction embraces artifice, as it is a “very self–conscious process” in which the writer continually “interrogates the form.” A writer of experimental nonfiction continually asks: how does a story work? How do you experience something? How do you report on that? The form constantly “questions sincerity for the sake of authenticity.” Talking about creative nonfiction, Jay says, “It’s more fun. It encourages me to take chances and risks and gambles, with combining events and lines of thought.” He lightheartedly shares how he once filmed a horror flick, guerilla–style, on a “high end, ecotourist cruise ship”, right under the nose of the crew and all the passengers, and barely anyone noticed. He loves watching how people react to the unexpected. His enthusiasm grows as he starts talking about XFic, a new journal of experimental nonfiction, that will launch at Penn next year. XFic’s mission is to provide students a new platform to publish their work and be recognized for their creativity. On the days he isn’t at Penn (aka, the days that aren't Tuesday), Professor Kirk writes. And rewrites. “All writing is revision,” he laughs, “it’s a cliche, but it’s true.” It’s easiest for him to write in the morning, before he needs to think about anything else. Right now, he's working on the book for which he received the Whiting Foundation grant. Called Avoid the Day, the book is part grief memoir, part detective
Ha Tran | Photographer
story, part philosophical meditation. The Whiting Grant jury, described his story as a “thrilling, eccentric journey through time and space, art and music” and a “courageous experiment in hyper–subjectivity.” The jury’s statement ends by saying this is "writing that pushes the boundaries of what nonfiction can do.” Avoid the Day is based on a journey Kirk took to Transylvania and the Arctic Circle, following in the footsteps of an avant–garde 20th–century Hungarian composer, Béla Bartók. Bartók had spent time in the countryside collecting folk songs, which he later fused with Western music. What Jay is working on usually informs what books and art he consumes. Right now, he’s immersing himself as much as possible on the subject of his new book. He’s been reading quite a bit of Greek mythology (including Penn professor Emily Wilson’s translation of the Odyssey), listening to a lot of “crazy 20th–century atonal music” and watching more horror movies than he “thought [he] could ever watch.” When asked about resources he recommends for those interested in writing and literature, he immediately recommends the Penn Book Center. He calls it an “amazing bookstore”; in case you didn’t already know, the Penn Book Center doesn’t just sell books, but also hosts many writers’ events and readings. On a final note, he also gives some advice for students who want to pursue writing seriously, “take advantage of all the stories that are surrounding you. The best stories are already right underneath your nose.” He pauses. “And read. Endlessly.”
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The Real Cost of Being MERTed Liz Kim
How the mythical price tag associated with MERT discourages people from calling We all know someone who’s been there. While MERT is often associated with alcohol poisoning, there are numerous reasons for which they can be called to the scene. The decision to call MERT is often a no–brainer, but sometimes, students can be wary, believing that the hefty price outweighs the direness of the situation. “No one wants to MERT someone,” says Sierra Mills (E ’20), speaking about a time she called MERT on a stranger who was clearly
in poor condition. She “felt so bad about it, since it’s so expensive and a sad thing to do someone.” But, she adds, “It was also very necessary.” Mills’ hesitation to call MERT stems from the knowledge of how she would feel if the roles were reversed, as she factors the looming financial costs in the decision to call. She says, “There’s no way I could drop $2000 to pay for an ambulance, or however much money it costs. I don’t want to MERT someone if it’s not necessary.”
Everyone knows that the bill that comes with MERTing can be eye–watering. What people don’t know, however, is that MERT itself is actually free. Chief of MERT, David Gordon (C ’19) breaks down the process: “What happens is, someone has some sort of medical emergency and calls the Penn Emergency number, 215–573–3333. MERT is dispatched to the scene, where they perform medical assessment on scene.
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Sophia Pelosi | Illustrator
Then the Philadelphia Fire Department, or PFD, is the ambulance ride that will take you to the hospital.” What this means, then, is that MERT is not actually the organization charging you. “When people say MERT costs money, they’re often thinking of the ambulance ride to the hospital and the cost of the hospital service,” he clarifies, emphasizing the fact that MERT is free and that students shouldn’t shy away from receiving immediate medical attention in moments of need. After being MERTed, the student will be sent a bill from the PFD, not MERT. According to the PFD, the ambulance fees range from $950.00 for Basic Life Support (BLS) service to $1170 for Advanced Life Support (ALS) service, plus $10 per loaded mile. Understandably, the price comes as a shock, particularly to the parents who often have to foot the bill. But the bill can be sent to the student’s insurance company who can cover all or part of it, depending on their insurance. Penn also has resources within VPUL for students with unexpected medical needs.
Would it be worth it to avoid the cost by taking another means of transportation to the hospital, such as Uber? Gordon disagrees, as Uber drivers “aren’t likely to be trained EMTs and don’t have the medical equipment that MERT or an ambulance has.” He recommends always calling MERT because their mission is to get you to the medical care that you need as quickly and as safely as possible. Besides, MERT is trained on analyzing when someone does or does not need to go to the hospital. If the patient does not need the ambulance, then it will not be called and the patient will not be charged. When Lenox Butcher (C ’20) was a freshman, her RA called MERT for her and she started “freaking out about the cost,” she says. “My RA was like ‘No, it’s free. You’re not going to go get in the ambulance?’” After MERT advised her to go to the hospital “just to check if everything was fine,” she ended up walking there from the Quad and ultimately wasn’t billed. So while there are costs involved, don’t forget the following: MERT is free, and your safety is priceless.
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is a senior from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is studying English.
we challenged penn to reexamine its history of slavery inside the search for ties to slavery among penn's early trustees
George King Solomon George Rachel Harry Cooper James Ben Sharper Abby Cato David Enos Jacob James Aaron
Bill Stephen Gosman George Bob Jacob Tom James Silvia Sarah Lucy Rachel Rachel S. Priscilla Nan Jenny Sarah
Lolita Judith Sal Peg Molly Phin Hannah Grace Ruth Phillis Betty Jane Sam Margaret Sampson James Thomas
Note: the list of slaves is not yet complete.
Many enslaved people were only listed as “negro boy” or “negro wench.” Some of these enslaved people escaped to freedom. Some were granted freedom after their masters died. Some died in servitude. These names were listed in wills, letters, and ledgers that were unearthed by the Penn History of Slavery Project—a joint research effort between Penn undergraduates and Penn History professor Kathleen Brown. As an English major, I stumbled into the project quite accidentally. In the spring of 2017, I took Professor Brown’s history class, HIST 011: Deciphering America, which was co–taught by Professor Walter Licht. I talked with both professors on the way out of class and asked their opinion on Yale’s decision to rename the residential college named for Yale alum and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun. Professor Brown put it simply: academic institutions have a responsibility to take an honest look at their past. Her answer struck a chord with me. She mentioned her plans to put together a research group to look at Penn’s own history with slavery. I told her that, even though I wasn’t a History major, I would love to be part of the team. The group met during reading days a few months later in Professor Brown’s office. We didn’t know each other when we took Professor Brown’s history class, and most of us found out about the project afterwards. I’m one of five undergraduates in the group, along with Caitlin Doolittle (C ’18), Dillon Kersh (C ‘20), Matthew Palczynski (C ‘17), and Brooke Krancer (C ‘20), who is also the social media director for The Daily Pennsylvanian. Though the project was still far on the
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horizon, Professor Brown made one thing clear early on: this was our project. We were not lowly undergrads doing grunt work for a professor’s research project. We were in charge of looking for our information and documenting what we found. The meetings were to take place every other Friday morning. We would bring our information and findings. She would bring advice, guidance, and doughnuts. She gave us the list of books and articles to read over the summer, then sent us on our way. Although we arrived at the project in different ways, each of us had the common desire to reveal an obscured truth. “Penn's version of history has long been whitewashed, after all, and it is high time we recognized that,” my teammate Matthew explained. Last semester we focused on the trustees who worked as merchants connected to the slave trade, as they were the most likely to have owned slaves themselves. These public records showed that men paid taxes on their property: horses, carriages, land, and slaves. Once we knew who owned slaves, we wanted to learn as much as possible about the slaves themselves. We took the list of trustees to the University Archives and the Historical Society of Philadelphia. There, we looked through wills, letters, and other documents to try and put names to the numbers we’d found on the tax records. Over the semester, I learned a lot about the trustees who owned slaves. The early trustees of the University of Pennsylvania helped design symbols of American freedom while keeping other men in bondage. According to notes from the Continental Congress, Francis Hopkinson, an early trustee and slave owner, designed America’s very first flag. Isaac
Norris Jr., another trustee and slave owner, chose the inscription for the bell, now known as the “Liberty Bell,” that hung in the Pennsylvania State House: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof.” —Leviticus 25:10 Seven of the early trustees of the University of Pennsylvania signed the Declaration of Independence, eight signed the United States Constitution, and four signed both: George Clymer, Robert Morris, James Wilson, and Benjamin Franklin. Though Clymer’s record has not been searched, we know that the last three men owned slaves. They signed a document declaring all men equal, and owned men they deemed unworthy of those same rights.
their wealth funded and founded a university I am very proud to attend. After I began the project, I spoke to a roommate to try and untangle the feelings of satisfaction and pain from my work in the archives. Each discovery was heartbreaking and infuriating and uplifting and empowering, all at once. While I was speaking, one of my roommate’s friends interrupted and asked me if I was doing this research “just to make Penn look bad.” The question hung in the air until my friend changed the subject. And I’m glad she did, because I needed some time to think about how to phrase my response. Since that conversation, I’ve had ample opportunities to talk about the research. We delivered three presentations: two on
" I was happy our team was ﬁnding names of enslaved people, but I was angry that there were so many, And I was even angrier that there are some names we might NEVER ﬁnd. The University’s ties to the slave trade run further than the trustees. William Smith was the first provost of the University of Pennsylvania. He taught ethics at Penn and exchanged letters with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Tax records suggest that he owned a slave while he served as our provost. I was happy our team was finding names of enslaved people, but I was angry that there were so many. And I was even angrier that there are some names we might never find. I understood that these men gained their wealth by taking it from others, but
I traced my finger over his name a few times. Sampson. I was sitting in the low light of the Historical Society of Philadelphia archives, struggling to read the curly colonial handwriting. It was here I found the name “Sampson” on Thomas Cadwalader’s will. Cadwalader was an early University of Pennsylvania trustee, whose wealth and leadership helped establish the university. The will revealed that the Cadwalader family was passing Sampson down along with plots of land, sums of money, and the family jewels. Sampson wouldn’t have been able to read the document that passed him to a Cadwalader heir. He was listed on it as though he were a piece of property. And although I haven’t been able to find out much more about Sampson, I do have his name. I have a lot of names. I have a list of 51 names of slaves owned by early Penn trustees:
campus in mid–December last fall, and a third at the Museum of the Revolution in January. During one presentation, while my teammates were naming slave owners and listing numbers of enslaved people, I remember seeing expressions of surprise and shock in the audience. I was mildly confused why everyone was so surprised about this research. I made eye contact with another person of color across the room, and his expression matched my feelings exactly: this was something I thought everyone already knew. I’ve found that discussions of Penn’s in-
volvement in the institution of slavery focus on its reputation. During presentations of our research, a comment or question from the audience would twist the conversation away from Penn and turn it towards another university: Georgetown. Georgetown’s involvement in the slave trade is well known because of the staggering number of slaves sold. I remember hearing the phrase “This is not a Georgetown situation.” Yes, it’s true—the University of Pennsylvania has a different history than Georgetown University and Philadelphia has a different history than other cities. But that isn’t related to the people enslaved in either place. I have yet to find an account where a slave considered themselves lucky because they weren’t working at Georgetown. This research is not supposed to start a competition to see which institution has the fewest ties to the American slave trade. This is not an attack on Penn’s reputation. This is a search for the truth. The desire for reassurance that one institution’s history is less problematic than another speaks to a reluctance to engage in a genuine discussion about slavery. This attitude was evident in that the statement the University issued commending our team’s research, signed by President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett. In part, it said: “While it has long been known that Penn’s founder, Benjamin Franklin had owned slaves early in his life before becoming a leading abolitionist, the students’ work cast a new light on our historical understanding of the reach of slavery’s connections to Penn.” Although we appreciated the recognition, the rest of the statement included
details about the slave owners that were either missing or incorrect. We were not able to conduct thorough research on all of the trustees, so we cannot yet be certain that “approximately half of Penn’s early Trustees owned slaves,” as the statement claimed. Of the 126 early trustees, we have only investigated 28, and found that 20 of them owned slaves. It also neglected to mention a previous statement made by the University in 2016, published in the Philadelphia Tribune: “Penn has explored this issue several times over the past few decades and found no direct university involvement with slavery or the slave trade.” Or the fact that, in 2006, the University claimed no ties to slavery while universities like Brown and Harvard were devoting resources to the question of historical legacy. “Our university was indeed complicit in slavery. If we want to be the institution we claim to be, we must acknowledge all aspects of Penn’s complicated legacy and proceed accordingly,” Carson Eckhard (C ‘21), a new member of the project, noted. While the most recent statement and the one in 2016 do mention that Penn’s most famous founder, Benjamin Franklin owned slaves, both immediately defend his reputation by emphasizing his involvement in the abolition movement. Mentioning both in the same breath says a lot about the way America chooses to understand slavery. It shifts the conversation from the enslaved people and back to the men who enslaved them. This country was built by slaves. The economy and manufacturing relied on that free labor. Slavery is a huge piece of America’s foundation. It is impossible to disentangle slavery from the country’s his-
Ha Tran | Photographer
tory, and impossible to miss how it affects the country to this day. When the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, they spent hours discussing how to protect and preserve the institution without actually writing the word “slave.” It requires a great deal of wealth to found and fund a university. And it is not all that surprising that the colonial wealth that paid for our University was a direct result of the slave trade. For me, “Was Penn involved in slavery?” is an easy question to answer. Everything founded during America’s colonial period has ties to slavery. In a February 26 email to Street, Provost Wendell Pritchett stated that he is “chairing a small working group that will incorporate the students’ research and solicit their input, along with advice from other members of our community, and then make recommendations to President Gutmann before the end of the semester.” The research conducted by the Penn Slavery Project has given the University an opportunity to further its exploration of its own history. Penn has the opportunity to learn names that were forcibly erased. Penn has the opportunity to connect bloodlines that were deliberately broken. And the opportunity to include stories that, to this day, remain ignored. We would be remiss not to take advantage of it. The author would like to thank her fellow teammates, Professor Brown, and Mr. Mark Lloyd, without whom, these names would remain forgotten; the University administration, who has stated their support of these academic efforts; and the student–run publications who have been actively involved in continuing this conversation.
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Under the Covers:
'Valerie,' 'Hey Jude,' and 'California Dreaming'
Getting cozy with these classic cover songs
On Valentine's Day, Frank Ocean released a gorgeous cover of "Moon River," as made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s and, boy, did it floor me. Not only was it a highly creative and interesting spin on a classic, but it definitely has taken on a form totally outside of the context of the original—a crucial piece of criteria for a good cover. Frank’s version was so good that it inspired this series, “Under the Covers," where each week I will review three covers and give a verdict on whether I prefer the original or the cover. So without further ado ... "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas and the Papas The Mamas and the Papas' catchy, timeless hit, “California Dreamin,’” has been one of the most popular songs out there to cover since its release in 1965. There has been a tropical house version, an Icelandic cover, a punk interpretation, John Mayer covered it on the Conan O’Brien show, and the legendary Beach Boys even re-
leased it as a single in the '80s, to popular acclaim. The most striking and exciting cover that I have come across, however, is Eddie Hazel’s version off his only solo album Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs. Hazel, along with George Clinton, is the genius behind the emotional Maggot Brain, the dance hit Free Your Mind...And Your Ass Will Follow, and the psychedelic Cosmic Slop—Funkadelic’s three most guitar focused and creatively ambitious albums. Unfortunately, due to an altercation with an airline hostess and drug possession, Hazel was shortly imprisoned and was replaced, thus missing out on the commercial success of the now iconic One Nation Under a Groove. While George Clinton and co. were propelled into the mainstream and found their place on white radio, Hazel recorded Games, an album predominantly made up of covers and showcasing his talent on the guitar. The standout single is “California Dreamin'”, where the acoustic, floaty arrangement of the original is replaced by a crisp piano line, hard–hitting slap bass and, of
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course, Hazel’s signature guitar work. After listening to this it should come as no surprise that many guitar aficionados sneak Eddie Hazel into their top ten lists as a sleeper pick and that I, as an enormous Funkadelic fan, much prefer this version to the original. "Hey Jude" by The Beatles It's hard to hate a song like “Hey Jude." The wonderfully simple piano line, McCartney’s catchy lyrics, the lush backing vocals from Lennon and Harrison, and the truly infectious “Na na na na” at the coda all make for an excellent road trip singalong or self indulgent rendition in the shower. The enduring charm of the song is that you hear it once and you think, “I could sing that." If only that were the case with the Wilson Pickett version. Only a year after its release, the soul legend took one of the songs of the decade, threw a funk groove on it, added an enormous horns arrangement and enlisted the legendary Duane ‘Skydog’ Allman to play the guitar. Where McCartney’s vocal line was warm,
comforting and easy to join in, Wilson Pickett goes absolutely ham, really pushing the limits of his vocal range to deliver a truly exhilarating and striking version of a song known for its absolutely universal appeal. In lieu of the famously long coda at the end of the Beatles version, Pickett’s borderline–screaming vocals make way for Duane Allman to deliver a scorcher of a guitar solo—so good that Eric Clapton, upon hearing it, immediately recruited Allman to Derek and the Dominoes. I love both versions, but Wilson’s incredible energy and vision to transform this song take the cake on this one. "Valerie" by The Zutons In 2007, Mark Ronson, pre– “Uptown Funk” megafame, released an album of covers called Version. The theme of the album was a retro–inspired sound which Mark Ronson describes as “Motown/Stax,” the two huge soul hit–factories of the sixties. The biggest hit was a cover of The Zutons’ "Valerie," with a star turn from Amy Winehouse at the top of her
powers. Ronson’s arrangement is perfect for Winehouse’s jazzy style, allowing her to improvise and leave no doubt in the listener’s mind as to her talent. This particular song’s popularity truly has eclipsed that of the original and its an absolute classic, but The Zutons’ original version is heavily slept on. Where most of the tracks off Version were all brought back in time some 40 years, the original version of "Valerie" also a distinctly retro sound, albeit from the '70s. The Zutons are a great, fun throwback to classic rock acts like T. Rex and Norman Greenbaum with a huge focus on higher pitched harmonies above overdriven guitars, playing songs you can really dance to. While the Ronson version is a fantastic arrangement, I actually prefer the groove of the original song and the single saxophone that cuts through as opposed to a whole horn section. That’s all for this week—look out for Musiq Soulchild, Mac DeMarco, and the age old debate over the original "R E S P E C T" on the next Under the Covers.
'PRIDE AND PREJUDICE' IN BALLET: THIS WEEK AT ZELLERBACH Pick up your ballet shoes, Mr. Darcy.
BY SHERRY TSENG
Photo courtesy of Leighton Chen
This upcoming weekend, at 8 p.m. on March 2 and 3, the American Repertory Ballet is bringing the 1813 Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice to the stage at The Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theatre. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, well– known from book pages to movie screens, are now being transported to the stage by choreographer Douglas Martin who is retelling the love story through dance. The ballet is the culmination of over five years of work, debuting just last year in April of 2017. In making the shift to the stage, Douglas had tried to emulate the novel as much as possible. In two hours and seven minutes, the show relives the storyline in order to, as he puts it, “relate the splendor and the total package.” That would seem a difficult task. After all, “what Jane Austen did so wonderfully was the expression of emotion and thoughts,” Douglas said. To translate that expression of emotion and thoughts without dialogue? Even more difficult. But, for Douglas, not impossible. Starting with little other than a profound love of Jane Austen, the process began with an in—depth analysis of the book. That meant going through the novel, chapter by chapter, looking for the parts that advanced the narrative. The goal was to capture not just the vivid, sensory details, but also the feelings, emotions, mood. That’s why the ballet can’t be considered another rendition of the novel. The audience does not just see, but also feels. And to do so required every sensory part of the show to be parallel with the intended emotions, including the choreography and the music. From the beginning, Douglas knew he wanted to use music from the nineteenth century to reflect Austen’s era. He wanted the music to help "tell the story of each section.” But Austen herself had her preference of composers, so much of the score consisted of her personal favorites, such as Schubert, Field, and Mendelssohn. When the music was finished, Douglas went back through his libretto (the text of the ballet, much like the screenplay) to
overlay the music, trimming and engineering it as it went along. After a year of this, he had everything. Except the dance. But having dissected the novel through and through, Douglas “knew exactly what [he] had to do” once he arrived at the studio. The reason it comes so easily to him is that dance is, as he describes it, “his dialect.” In fact, maybe it’s that there is no dialogue that makes writing the show all that much easier for him. The bending of the torso—that’s a question. The lifting of the body—that’s the response. Douglas said, “what people forget all the time is that the body is a language we all use almost equal to our vocabulary. Your expression and the way you hold your body and your temperament—all of it is just language.” So the soft and caring Jane Bennett uses soft movements to show her nurturing side, while the playful Lizzy uses sharper and more definitive ones to demonstrate her more extraverted side. In a way, without dialogue, Pride and Prejudice becomes an adaptation of the book that’s more open to interpretation and more far–reaching to the audience on an interpersonal level. The choice of Pride and Prejudice was designed to show exactly this. It’s not another performance of Swan Lake or a fairy–tale, but rather a story entangled in the numerous familial and romantic relationships, as is reality. It’s a story with a complexity that reflects the work behind it. At the same time, the show is what Douglas would describe as a “perfect example of art and why we go to see art” because “art tells us about who we are.” Using his “dialect,” it tells of conversations, emotions, and the human experience. Whether or not you are a fan of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice is an experience intended to connect you to not just the characters on stage, but also yourself. The show will be performing this upcoming weekend at Zellerbach Theatre. Tickets are $20 in advance with the promotion code: student.
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Club Spotlight: The Family Behind
Penn Band They're basically student athletes AND musicians.
Emma Boey | Photographer
They’re the students on campus in the red and blue rugbies. The ones who scream out “RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, SIT DOWN!” when a Princeton player fouls out. The ones playing “The Red and the Blue” at Penn football games. They’re the Penn Band, or as they refer to themselves, the “bandos.” Made up of about 100 undergrad musicians of all skill levels, it’s one of the oldest organizations at Penn. Between the large number of members and the rich tradition of the group, it’s almost common knowledge on campus that the Penn Band is a pretty close–knit bunch. Behind–the–scenes at Platt Student Performing Arts House I meet up with some members of the band. When I ask why they decided to join Penn Band in the first place, nearly everyone cited
the welcoming environment. For Rendy Fernandez (C ’19), the treasurer of the Band, he officially joined the band after informally hanging out with them throughout the previous semester. As he describes it, “everyone sort of has a fear, when they go into joining a group, of not feeling like they necessarily fit in. That kind of all disappears in the Penn Band.” The band takes musicians of all different skill levels; there’s no auditions for it, which many members say only adds to the strong community of the group. Of course, the strong community comes with a demanding practice and performance schedule. Not only do members have to practice the music in multiple rehearsals each week, but they also travel with the football and basketball teams on some weekend away games.
“It’s all about balancing your priorities. Penn Band is an experience that you’re not going to forget,” Rendy says. The trips often lead to lasting memories. “When we went to Columbia [University] last year, we all went rowing on the lake in Central Park, and combined our boats into one big super boat. It’s never boring with the Penn Band,” he says. Perfect attendance, just like initial musical experience, is by no means mandatory for all members. Emily Elenio (C ’19), the current president of Penn Band, encourages members to “come to what they want; there’s no minimum attendance requirement.” Despite this flexibility, however, Penn Band maintains its presence
through the sheer commitment of its members. “Nobody’s required to do any of it, but usually about half the band is coming to 75% of these events,” says member John San Soucie (C ’18). There’s no doubt they spend a significant amount of time together. The community, however, doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the club. To help with the balance of life, Emily helped coordinate what she calls “Band Study,” where members book huge chunks of time in GSRs to study together. “You can just go to this room, and everyone creates kind of a comforting space, whereas the rest of VP is a big ball of stress,” says Rendy. Jackson told stories of “coffee boat races.” Throughout the group in-
terview, I consistently got first– hand exposure to their bond. After mentioning that I used to play the saxophone, every one of them encouraged me to join the band myself. To me, nothing more thoroughly expresses the sense of camaraderie and friendship I got from them than that. Whether it was Emily telling me how much she loves playing “Stacy’s Mom” or Jackson talking about movie nights and Super Bowl parties with the band, it quickly became obvious that the community of the Penn Band is something special. At a school where tensions and stress levels are always high, it’s comforting to know that supportive groups like the Penn Band are options for us.
DOCTORAL STUDENT FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITY Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center 2018 Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowships for Research on Human Decision Processes and Risk Management The Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship program of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center provides grants to University of Pennsylvania doctoral students who are pursuing research in decision making under risk and uncertainty. The fellowship awards range from $1,000 - $4,000 and funds may be used for data collection, travel, and other direct research expenses.
PROPOSAL DEADLINE: MARCH 4, 2018 See website for application and proposal instructions: https://riskcenter.wharton.upenn.edu/ russell-ackoff-doctoral-student-fellowships/
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Crossing Literary and Visual Arts in "Experimental Writing" Class Exploring new perspectives through the intersections of forms The relationship between the literary and the visual is not like a couple holding hands, where the palm is the singular point of intersection; it’s more like an embrace, where complicated bodies meet infinitely, and the hand that appears to be of one person belongs, instead, to another. In Professor Charles Bernstein’s course, “Experimental Writing,” students explored this relationship through hands– on, experiment–based work. One of his students, Jacob Faber–Rico (E ’20), said the main goal of the class "wasn’t to produce great poems, it was to produce different poems.” To inspire this, students responded to a list of experiential prompts, generated by Bernstein, to create new material. Though the objective may not have been to
produce the next The Sun and Her Flowers (though the quality of this is open to interpretation), there is no denying that there is a correlation between fresh aesthetic takes on poetry and success, as can be seen in the students' final products. The presentation of visual art inspired students' creativity, encouraging them to adopt new perspectives. For one exercise, students went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) and wrote poetry based on one of the works. Jacob chose Marcel Duchamp’s "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even." The piece involves two panes of glass and appears in the museum in front of a window, so that the observer can see through the art to the museum and the outside world. “So I tried to write my
poem at two different levels,” says Jacob, “Like on one, about the artwork but more so about the environment of the artwork and the people around it and the room around it.” The resulting poem was a product of crossing the boundaries between the visual and the literary. As Jacob puts it, “boundaries between a lot of fields are really much, much blurrier than they are made out to be.” This sentiment is shared among his classmates, who come from backgrounds in engineering, science, nursing, and English, among other majors. Justin Swirbul (E ‘20), for example, connects poetry and computer science. “I wrote a couple poems in code,” says Justin. “It’s more than just writing,
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I think. It’s kind of the whole creative process, just playing with things that exist already.” For Justin, the “whole creative process” entailed hours of work, although he recognizes that the course is very flexible. Students decide which exercises to respond to and how much time they will put into their projects. Every semester, Justin chooses a new arts–related course at Penn at random to be his creative outlet. During the chaos of finals season, he could be found at the laser cutter, reworking his tangible poem which was created out of class collaborations rewritten using erasure. “So then each person got like a different chunk of the whole poem. And I cut it in a way that each poem can be read individually—it don’t make much sense but not a lot that we did made sense,” he says. Even so, this style of poetry does not lose what so often defines poetry—sentimentality. For Kelly Liu (C ‘21), her final project reflected the degree of vulnerability she had allowed herself through the course by way of writing from her stream
Courtesy of Justin Swirbul
of consciousness. To accompany the words, Kelly made nearly a dozen origami cauliflowers, one for each student. The positive environment Professor Bernstein created fostered that transparency and openness. “It’s such a collaborative environment,” says Kelly, “but Charles is super funny, and he’s super relaxed, and he just makes us care about the material. And I think as the semester went on, we became pretty good friends with one another, not in the sense like we hang out outside of class, but just cause we see each other's writing, we understand each other a little more.” Though the class is being retired from the department, the very idea of it is not yet lost. Jacob recalls Professor Bernstein often saying, “The only thing that matters is what’s interesting.” One of Bernstein’s oldest tips was: “Read things backwards.” "Experimental Writing" may have been a course about combining the visual and the literary in order to see things from a different perspective, but we could learn from experimenting with creativity.
FILM & TV
What's Rotten about Rotten Tomatoes What "Certified Fresh" actually means—and why it matters
These days, seeing a movie can be expensive. Even for the film lovers who avoid costs using less legal means, there’s still the time commitment of sitting down to watch. Because of this, it’s no surprise that many people want to know if a movie is worth watching before they see it. Websites like Rotten Tomatoes have made this easier than ever. Now, all you need to do is Google a movie’s name to get the definitive answer on whether or not it’s “good.” But it’s not always that simple. Rotten Tomatoes ratings have a number of blind spots, and a movie’s score on the website might not mean as much as you think. Rotten Tomatoes gives two separate metrics to movies: the critic’s rating (called the “Tomatometer”) and the Audience Score, with the Tomatometer designated as a movie’s official score. To calculate the Tomatometer, Rotten Tomatoes pulls from the reviews of around 3,000 film critics from print, broadcast, and digital media. All reviews used are either designated as “Fresh” (positive) or “Rotten” (neutral or negative). The Tomatometer is a representation of how many critics gave “Fresh” reviews. A movie is designated Fresh and receives a red tomato icon if the score is 60% or higher; 59% or lower gives a movie the Rotten green splat. Movies with a Certified Fresh designation must hold a 75% fresh score with a certain number of reviews. The audience score functions similarly, with how many non–critics enjoyed the movie. What many moviegoers might not realize is that this does not function like a conventional rating system; contrary to popular belief,
the Tomatometer score does not actually correspond to a rating. For instance, Get Out’s 99% fresh rating does not mean that the average critic rated it a 9.9/10, and Suicide Squad’s 26% does not roughly translate to one out of four stars. The Tomatometer is simply indicative of the number of critics who gave better–than–neutral reviews. Theoretically, as Vox’s film critic Alissa Wilkinson points out, a movie could receive entirely lukewarm reviews and still come out with a 100% Tomatometer rating. Tomatometer score is also flawed in its simplicity. It’s rare that a film is just “good” or just “bad,” and the way the Fresh and Rotten designations work means that every review must be classified as one or the other. While critics’ opinions of the Christmas romance Love Actually are polarizing, all of the back–and–forth is smoothed out by a dull score of 63% that does not capture the debate. Yet another important aspect that Rotten Tomatoes diminishes is the subjectivity of individual critics. In attempting to aggregate the voices of all, Rotten Tomatoes misses out on individual takes. Famous critics like the late Roger Ebert won acclaim, not for the “correctness” of their opinions on cinema, but for their unique voices and the personality they brought to their reviews. On the Rotten Tomatoes website, audiences only see a short quote and a red or green icon to signify every opinion. The next time you have a free afternoon to head to the movies, feel free to pull up the Rotten Tomatoes score—but be sure to take it with a grain of salt.
Traveling for Spring Break?
Airport Shuttles Thursday, Mar 1 10am-7pm Friday, Mar 2 7am-7pm
Shuttles departing from the Upper Quad Gate (3700
Spruce Street) every hour!
Visit https://shuttles.pennua.org to reserve your spot.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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FILM & TV
Just How Great is 'The Great British Bake Off'? 'Cupcake Wars' can't compete with this Avneet Randhawa The Great British Bake Off, a Well, in my viewing of GBBO, form a perfect duo to carry the BAFTA Award–winning televi- I think there’s a cogent, col- show forward. Recently, GBBO sion series, exemplifies the best lective desire for wholesome moved from BBC to Channel 4 of what reality television has to content. In a chaotic world in and received a new host to reoffer: sweets, critiques, and lay- which the events of Brexit, the place Mary Berry: Prue Leith, ers of British humor. The U.K. 2016 United States Presidential an esteemed restauranteur with show has propelled 24 different Election, and the precarity of a different but still enjoyable Flexible Leasing • Single and Double Rooms • international spin–offs, along the French Presidential Election charm. Leases and Utilities with Individual similarly structured series• All haveAmenities profoundly deteriorated a Included At the onset of every new seasuch as The Great Pottery Throw collective sense of security and son, 10–12 amateur bakers are Down and The Great British consistency, we need uplifting chosen to compete in a weekly Sewing Bee. reality shows like Bake Off.Call elimination process in which The two hosts, Paul Holly- they must engage in three difHow can a show centered dad type with ferent types of baking challenges around competitive baking wood, a bantering215.662.0802 garner over 10.7 million live witty, offhand comments, and that showcase their ability and Email potential for baking. The first viewers, coming second only Mary Berry, an 82–year–old to a series produced in 1985? ball of warmth and positivity, challenge of an episode, the sig-
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nature challenge, demonstrates the bakers’ tested recipes. The second challenge, the technical, exemplifies the abilities of the contestants to bake only from a bare–bone recipe. The final challenge, the showstopper, asks the contestants to create a work that incorporates the week’s recipes with a more formal presentation. This simple structure has allowed for countless moments of folly and fortune, as some bakers race against the allotted time to complete the expected task. Despite its reputation for
lighthearted entertainment, The Great British Bake Off has had its fair share of dramatic moments in its history. Well, at least as dramatic as a show about baking biscuits can get. In season five, one contestant took out another contestant’s ice cream from the fridge and all hell broke loose. In the future, when you’re looking for a respite from the hectic nature of midterms, The Great British Bake Off will give you just the right amount of excitement and general wholesomeness to get through the day.
L A ST PAG E
Zack Greenstein | Design Associate F E B R U A R Y 2 8 , 2 01 8 3 4 T H S T R E E T M A G A Z I N E 1 9
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Published on Feb 28, 2018