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athena’s web the journal of the college of arts and sciences

Fall 2015


NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY: Athens State University, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. Athens State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, genetic information, or veteran status in employment or admissions to, or participation in educational programs or activities.


athena’s web

journal of the college of arts and sciences EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Dr. Bebe Gish Shaw

EDITOR

Jensie Britt ASSISTANT EDITOR

Jennifer Bravo


Athena’s Web is an academic journal dedicated to publishing outstanding student work in the arts and sciences. The journal is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences of Athens State University. Arts and Sciences students (including secondary education majors) are encouraged to submit academic and creative work to the editors for consideration. Views and creative content are reflective only of our contributors. Athens State University and the College of Arts and Sciences bear no responsibility for the content of authors’ works. Athena's Web does not hold any rights of works published in the journal. All rights revert to the author or artist upon publication. However, Athena's Web should be listed as a previous publisher if any works are republished. For information about the journal's cooperation with the QEP, contact the Building Success through Writing Support Office at 256-216-5378. ····················································································· Cover page art by Sarah Abney. Masthead art by Tracy Szappan. Typeface is Garamond. Archives of all issues can be found on the appropriate page of the Journal's website. The website also contains the submission guidelines, submission procedures, and information on all contests or events sponsored by the Journal. Athena's Web is published in Spring and Fall semesters. Submission deadlines for each semester can be found on the homepage of the journal's website. While primarily an online publication, print copies of the journal can be ordered through the Editor's office. Athena's Web is a free and open publication. As such, we do not charge for copies of the journal, but a small printing fee will be charged by the Office of Printing at Athens State University which must be paid upon order.

The Editors Founders Hall Room 350 300 N. Beaty Street Athens, AL 35611 Athenas.Web@athens.edu

Dr. Darlene Turner-White, Director Building Success through Writing McCain Hall Room 205


athena’s web

volume 3.2

Fall 2015

poetry Speak to Me Shakespeare The Journey Ode to My Bed Honesty is Superlative Mother Nature Every Night Wine

Kristi Coughlin Pamela Gifford Jennifer Bravo Kimberly Nelson Jennifer Bravo Casey Pursifull Jennifer Bravo

9 10 12 15 16 19 20

Ben Montgomery

23

fiction December 31, 11:51 p.m.


athena’s web

volume 3.2

Fall 2015

art Longing for Belonging and a Place for Everyone Artist Made in the Artist’s Image The Intersections of Life, Language, and Friendship Two Different Flavors - Equally Delicious Autumn Ginkgo Royalty Gazebo Beyond Vail (human) Nature Windy Hues

Sarah Abney

28

Sarah Abney Sarah Abney

29 30

Sarah Abney

31

Jensie Britt Jensie Britt Jensie Britt Jennifer Bravo Jennifer Bravo Jennifer Bravo

32 33 34 35 36 37

Kelly Michaels

39

Jensie Britt

43

Kelly Michaels

47

Jennifer Bravo

51

academic essays A Marxist Approach in Understanding Teenage Alienation within Looking for Alaska Reconstructing Society Through English Shakespeare’s Rose — Hawthorne’s Devil & the Manifestation of Evil in “Young Goodman Brown” A Not Fully Feminist “Chick Show:” Post-Second-Wave Feminism and Gilmore Girls


News and Announcements Now Accepting Submissions Submissions are currently open for the Spring 2016 issue and will be accepted through the Friday before finals. Submissions received after the Friday before finals will be considered for the following semester’s issue. Athena’s Web welcomes a wide range of submissions including research and analysis papers, case studies, short stories, essays, poems, photographs and photo essays, artwork, novel excerpts, short plays, and more. Cover Contest Athena’s Web hosts a cover design contest each semester. Winners are chosen from the pool of artwork submissions received that semester. The winning artist will be credited on the Information page and will be listed as a contributor. Facebook Athena’s Web is now on Facebook. Be sure to follow our page for updates and information! www.facebook.com/athenaswebjournal Special Thanks Athena’s Web would like to thank Dr. Bebe Shaw for recommending the most published academic work for the Fall 2015 issue. Her efforts and continued support are greatly appreciated!


Speak to Me Shakespeare

Kristi Coughlin


Kristi Coughlin

Speak to Me Shakespeare

Shake loose the dusty pages And unleash your fantastic fury; let me bury Myself in your words Satiate my hunger; turn my tongue about As I try to figure it all out before the curtain falls. Speak to me Shakespeare I need the right words. Not just any turn phrase will do. It is no simple matter that brings me to you Lend me your wisdom from the beyond If not your wisdom, lend me your wit. If not your wit I’ll take your passion then. If not your passion, at least your schemes Give me some stories, give me some dreams, It seems I’m speechless in matters of the heart. Speak to me Shakespeare Bring me to life with your plot devices; your ploys Play coy with me, toy with me Leave me hanging by a thread Or on the head of a pin, Open the door and let me in Speak to me Shakespeare

athena’s web

9

Fall 2015


Pamela Gifford

The Journey The Journey Pamela Gifford She stumbled through the thick dark, feeling wet earth and breathing magic. She took two steps and hung a toe on roots erupting from the ground, halting her journey. Out of the mist, menacing eyes followed her, trying to prevent the light. Even as she faltered, the light pulled, fighting, heaving harder than the dark. She rose on unsteady legs as the eyes mocked. “You can’t,” they said, rejecting her magic. Her head ached, her chest hurt; this journey was taking its toll. Her feet transformed into roots. “Why stop me? What good are roots if they hold you back and don’t teach the light?” she pleaded. Power leaked from her journey. “You’re growing weak!” laughed the dark. And she was. She believed those who said her magic had left her. Tears dripped from her weary eyes. Stagnant fog enveloped her, though the eyes remained fixed to her, steady, like roots. Her feet tangled into the earth and remained; no magic. She could see the slight sliver of light ahead, still reaching tendrils through the dark, beckoning her to continue her journey.

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Fall 2015


Pamela Gifford

The Journey

Limbs curled like fingers ahead on the journey. She inhaled heat. Moss rose from the ground, the eyes trembled, waiting to lash out from the dark, as if reading her intentions. From the roots came a sick crackling and throbbing pricks of light dotted around her. She broke free, embracing her magic. For all at once she knew that the magic had never left. She’d always been capable of the journey but had let others put out her light. She moved forward in warmth, and willed the eyes shut, only mere echoes of the roots she had once accepted. She clawed again through the dark. The journey was still painful and full of ominous eyes, but she smiled at the dark, stretched out her magic, ripped the remaining roots free, and stepped into the light.

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Fall 2015


Jennifer Bravo

Ode to My Bed

To you my bed I pray forgive neglect Allow that I pay homage on this page Taking you for granted, I regret You’ve been for me so many a great stage Your soft caress upheld me at my birth And coddled me in illness ere occurring More tender and forgiving than bare earth On restless nights you quieted my stirring To all romantic love you were essential And later kind to products of that love Now fails my health both bodily and mental Tis time I joined that chorus up above Before I leave, one last thing I must doSay ‘Thank you’ for your comfort, kind and true.

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Fall 2015


Ode to my Bed

Jennifer Bravo


Honesty is Superlative

Kimberly Nelson


Kimberly Nelson

Honesty is Superlative

Honesty is the best policy Do not lie---no good can come of it But if one is unable to tell the truth---tell it sympathetically Convey the truth more effectually--Even if the truth stings like a bee---honesty is superlative Let the justification be thoughtful Verity will slowly prevail If truth is told all at once---one is unable to accept it and becomes in denial of actuality

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Fall 2015


Jennifer Bravo

Mother Nature

Nature, how I love your offerings Mistletoe and poinsettias in Winter Willows and the dogwood trees of Spring The floral flourish in romantic Summer. But, still yet comes the best time of them all When leaves all turn their yellows, reds, and browns The mountains ring out loud that it is Fall And with each rustling wind, float to the ground Although this time of year may bring a chill My spirit soars as lifted even higher And ‘One with nature’ I can’t help but feel While enveloped in your beauty by campfire. Knowing each snow-buried loss that crowds the ground Spring’s rain will feed to Summer’s great abound.

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Fall 2015


Mother Nature

Jennifer Bravo


Every Night

Casey Pursifull


Casey Pursifull

Every Night

Sometimes I’m caught in it I’m lost Lying in bed The next moment In every place I’ve ever been All is wrong A thousand devils come in a thousand stars So beautiful Yet, there’s deceit The fault in me Believing everything that shines has a hidden evil All these troubles render my sleep At this moment I think of you Every piece of memory pitched together All take me somewhere new It always begins with the sun Your hand in mine For this brief instant I am content With this content I’m allowed to sleep again

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Fall 2015


Jennifer Bravo

Wine

Your silky smooth liquidity to me At taste of heaven’s nectar, does make senseTo be a tiny tannin in a sea Of fermented bliss – life’s recompense Oft times I’ve pondered on this thought so vain When trials of my life have burdened so Oh to be but a grape, enduring rain And never know the wrath of winter’s snow But then I realize my favorite season Just happens to be when the world turns white And with this understanding, start to reason The product of my envy – narrow sight. For though my heart may wander to and fro It can weather any season, this I know.

athena’s web

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Fall 2015


Wine

Jennifer Bravo


December 31, 11:51 p.m.

Ben Montgomery


Ben Montgomery

December 31, 11:51 p.m.

I know I wasn’t supposed to wander. If you wander, you end up looking like an idiot on the news, and then all the pundits try to say you’re a jihadist trying to meet up with other jihadists, when the truth is you’re either stupid or bored. I was both. I was also sitting, which is another thing you’re not supposed to do when on patrol. But, I was also alone, which is the third and probably most important thing that’s not supposed to happen when you’re on patrol. That one wasn’t my fault. And I really didn’t care about the sitting. I shouldn’t have wandered, though. That was dumb. So, so, fucking dumb. I was sitting on a rock. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was better than standing on a rock. When most people -- at least the ones who can see a green lawn from the windows on the front of their houses-- when most people think of the desert, they think of sand. And I guess that’s not wrong, but it’s also a much more romantic picture of the Middle East than its reality. I am sure there is some part of that desert that is entirely sand that National Geographic took pretty photos of, but this part-- the part that “civilization” was founded on-- was rock. Red, hard rock. One night I looked up what the rocks are made of to try to get my mind off dying. It’s made of gypsum selenite. I cut myself on so many goddamn gypsum selenite rocks and had so much gypsum selenite sand ground into my wounds that I’m probably half gypsum selenite. It’s not all bad, though. It’s fun to say. And one day I found a gypsum selenite deposit that all somehow clustered together in a bloom. They’re called desert flowers. They’re beautiful. I wish I had someone to give it to. Hell, I just wish I could just look someone in the eye. I feel like most people (except for the craziest of crazies) say they are “anti-war.” Even “pro-war” people don’t like it. They just think it works. But, you don’t really hate war unless you’ve been in the middle of one. You hate, hate, hate it. Even though it’s paying your bills. Even though it looks great on a resume. Hate. While I sat on that rock, I thought about my hate. I thought about the goddamned coward senator that decided I should be the one who gets foot sores and dehydration and goddamn shot at. I imagine his name is Broski Buckelew. He wears a backwards baseball cap and sunglasses with his stupid power suit and says “Eeeeeeeaaay” while he eats pizza and votes for more military spending and fewer benefits for veterans. I used to fantasize about learning to paint so that I could make my own Broski Buckelew and then fill his face with BBs. But, now, I don’t want anyone to die. Not even Broski. Sometimes all that gypsum selenite forms...well, I wouldn’t call them mountains, but they’re big hills that are hard as balls and would be difficult for even American bombs to penetrate them. And there were caves all through those hills, and some of them were deep and complicated. And goddammit, it was so hot, it’s no wonder the people we were hunting hid in them. And, I guess, it’s no wonder I hid in one, too. I just had to get out from under that evil sun. Just for a minute. I don’t know why in hell I wandered into that cave as far as I did.

Well… I guess I have a suspicion.

I walked for so long. I walked by the same red rock walls for… hours? Not days. I mean, obviously not days, but it didn’t feel like I could measure it in days, is what I’m saying. Just… a thousand hours. I walked until my flashlight flickered and died. My military-issued flashlight. I felt sure I was going to die. They would never find my body. I’d just be listed as MIA, and my family would spend the rest of their lives wondering what happened to me. My mom would probably never accept that I’d died. When the flashlight finally flickered out, I felt my way through the cave with my hands. Months in the desert sun had made my night vision useless. I was thirsty. My whole body hurt. Sometimes it felt like I was close to the exit, only to realize that I was likely hallucinating and was actually heading down. Deeper underground. The opposite of what I needed to do. I don’t think I immediately realized I’d entered the big opening. I slowly saw my surroundings were different

athena’s web

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Fall 2015


Ben Montgomery

December 31, 11:51 p.m.

as I began to feel better. I didn’t feel thirsty anymore. My feet and the rest of my body stopped hurting. The chamber air felt nice, like an air-conditioned room. I could even see a few feet in front of my face. The chamber wasn’t lit, but I could at least see dimly, which was way better than the ink I had been stumbling through. The chamber had a hard wood floor, probably made of ancient Afghani timber from before the timber smugglers came and took it all from them. Covering the floor was an ornate rug, which seemed a waste since it was still too dark to make out the details in the pattern or the colors. Who knows what it was worth. If I cared about money anymore, I’d regret not taking it with me. The only other things in the chamber were an urn with a pattern that (probably?) matched the carpet and a stone pedestal holding it. The pedestal and urn together were about as tall as my belly button. The urn had a lid, which I foolishly (compulsively…?) tried to remove. It held fast. I wrenched harder, but nothing changed. Most nights in the barracks (when I wasn’t on a night watch) I could hear explosions in the city warzones. I would say “in the distance,” but it sure didn’t seem distant. Still, it wasn’t loud, even though it definitely kept me from sleeping. Each mortar blast was a muffled thud, accompanied by a wobble in my chest. Like my body was being invaded by the explosion. Like I was absorbing the deaths in every blast. Two people. Three people. Burrowed into my heart. Sometimes the thudding felt like a big leggy beast stomping closer and closer to me. It wanted to steal from me. It wanted to steal my happy thoughts from me. It wanted to steal my breath from me. It wanted to steal sanity from me. It wanted to steal my blood from me. I say “beast” because at first it felt like a hulking thing without subtlety, but after a few months it started to feel like an intelligence. It went from being a non-discriminating force of destruction to being a thing that hates. It hates you. It wants you to be dead so bad it would tear you apart and see your insides if it could, then turn your insides inside-out and see the atoms, and then split those and make all-new conquering, exploding suns from your remains. Sometimes, in my anxiety, I imagined… it wasn’t a whisper, it’s much too fierce and hateful to be a whisper, although I think I will call it that because it’s the only word that describes it. And it’s not a cool, calm voice, but the voice of rage. But, it would say things to me, things for only me to hear, about how it hated me and me specifically, and all the things it wanted to do to me. That is the voice I heard in my left ear ask me if I was “feeling better.” I yelped with my newly-moistened throat and fell backwards. The rug wasn’t thick and the ground wasn’t flat, and I can still feel the cave floor punch me in the assbone. I swiped the air on the left side of my head with my fists, trying to connect with the person who snuck up on me and put their disgusting mouth next to my ear. The room was quiet again. It was just me and the vase and the rug and the sound of blood thudding through the veins in my ears. I scrambled to my feet, drew my side arm, and put my head on a swivel. My eyes were adjusting to the dimness and I could almost see the whole room. I took slow steps toward the urn on the pedestal. “Take your time, come closer. I can’t possibly harm you,” buzzed in my ear like a mosquito. I swiveled my head and fired a wild round from my sidearm. The cave lit up like daylight for an instant. I remember it didn’t cast the harsh, sharp shadows it should have, like when I swept my flashlight down the cave corridors. Every surface of the room welcomed the light, like it had never touched the walls. I guess that’s probably true. It was eerie in its own way-- the way sunlight hits the surface of the moon and turns cold, like in photographs of Neil Armstrong . I heard the round strike the wall once before finding its place in the dirt. The sound rang through the room for a long time. My ears stopped ringing, my heart stopped pounding, and it was quiet again. It was quiet for a long time. I inched closer to the urn, my sidearm at the ready. The voice wasn’t so jarring this time. I could still hear it right in my ear, but it also sounded like it was coming from the urn. It sounded like a stereo with the speakers set up weird.

athena’s web

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Fall 2015


Ben Montgomery

December 31, 11:51 p.m.

“I am sorry to have startled you, friend,” it whispered. “I have not spoken with anything in a long time.” I didn’t say anything back, but I didn’t haul off and try to put a bullet through the urn, either. I just stood, waiting to hear more. “You do not have to talk if you don’t want to. I hope you will listen. I have healed your thirst, mended your hunger, and satisfied your pain. Is it too dark?” My eyes suddenly seem to adjust to the darkness. It wasn’t exactly bright, but I could see as well as I could during a full moon in a clear sky. “I was once afraid of the dark, too. We have become old friends, now. When two are trapped in hell, they can either be friends or be corners,” the thing said, its voice becoming less irritating. “You believe in hell, yes?” I assumed I was hallucinating. I don’t remember the next few sentences the urn said because I was considering taking it and finding my way back to base with it. I figured it had some sort of historical or cultural value, and the accolades-- and possibly cash-- I would be showered with would make the extreme amount of trouble I would be in worthwhile. My thoughts were interrupted by laughter from the voice. “Ho ho, no, you can’t remove me from this house. I have tried. I have brought in many like you to do the very same, and none have succeeded in lifting me from my throne. Some have even tried to destroy these halls with their stormy gifts, but my home stands eternal. I cried huge greasy tears, for that is how my eyes worked,” it said, lying. It was such a bad liar. I don’t understand how something so old hadn’t figured out how to lie. And it had to be old, right? I mean, I guess I don’t actually know that, but… like, it had to be old, right? Probably older than people. Older than oceans. Not that it mattered that it was lying. Even then I knew it was lying, and I still absorbed every word. The little fuck-- well, great big cosmic fuck-- was charming. It must’ve used to be powerful. It could crack open the earth and wreck cities and all sorts of shit. But, somebody came along-- maybe somebody as powerful as the thing, but good-- they came along and sealed it away. Took away its destructive powers, and gave it new ones that could heal and build. And it found loopholes, ways to hurt with those powers. And the good thing or people or whatever, they let the thing in the bottle watch and listen to the world as the world went on without it. Its hate grew, and it slammed against the walls of its little bottle and raged and roared, but, it only came out as a whisper. A whisper loud enough for one stupid shit to hear. I cursed that mistake from thousands of years ago. I cursed it a lot. I cursed it in the months after my deployment ended, the months before the year was up. Why did they let it talk? If you can talk, you can deal. You can make deals no soldier can ever pass up. And we did deal. “I lift to you an offer,” it said, trying to sound innocuous, but only coming off as sinister. “A gift of commerce.” I don’t remember stumbling out of the cave. Nobody seemed to have missed me and, true to Urn Thing’s side of the deal, my deployment ended almost immediately. When I got back from my deployment, my mom hugged me harder than anyone ever hugged me. And I hugged her back. I wanted to feel the warmth of life in as many human beings as I could, because I knew it was going to be gone when the year was over, if it wasn’t gone already. Wanna know a secret? Veterans don’t like being treated like heroes, even the ones that didn’t make horrible, selfish deals with demons in caves. Of course, it’s dangerous work, but so is working on an oil rig. And we don’t do it for free-- it pays well, I got great benefits, and I could have had tuition paid for at a college if I hadn’t learned the worst thing in the world in the worst hole in the ground and never wanted to learn anything ever again. But, even that money runs out eventually, and veterans have to find a job. I became a police officer, a job that is filled with people who want to be treated like heroes. I didn’t really get along with the other officers, but I did okay in my job because I had a knack for talking people down and not being intimidating (which was something the police chief cared about, fortunately. It was an

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Fall 2015


Ben Montgomery

December 31, 11:51 p.m.

election year, though, so don’t give her too much credit). Eventually they partnered me with a big guy who doesn’t talk much. Not even sure what his first name is. Don’t care. My deployment ended in March. I watched and read as much news as I could from as many countries as I could. The thing really did stay true to its word. There’s still crime, and people still shoot and stab and beat each other over their individual squabbles, but all war between nations or big organizations ended within a month, and nothing new has started since. Not even rumblings. At first, I thought it was going to be a Monkey’s Paw situation and there was going to be some horrible twist, but the thing really went above and beyond. I watched Israel’s and Syria’s leaders shake hands on a sunny day, a sight I thought no human would ever see. I watched Vladimir Putin approve the order to dismantle all of the Russia’s war vehicles and re-purpose them for their space program. I saw civil wars end, and guerrillas exited the jungles of the world to reunite with their families. Hell, even the war on drugs could be considered finished. I wish I could have enjoyed it, but it just reminded me that the deal was real, and I would have to honor my end. I guess I see now why it would stay true to its word-- lying wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying as forcing me to keep my part of the deal. Taking death out of the world doesn’t bother it-- it doesn’t delight in people’s suffering if it’s not the one causing it. And it must think this misery is exquisite. Wanna know another secret? Did you know most soldiers won’t shoot a person? At least, soldiers from first world countries won’t. It’s, like, a fact. In the Vietnam War, only three U.S. soldiers out of a squad of ten would actually fire their weapons. And even then, a lot of times soldiers just lay down suppressive fire over the heads of their enemies, making sure not to put a bullet in anyone. I’m the same. I shot over a few heads, but I never hurt anything bigger than a scorpion in the desert. It has to be an innocent person and since I can’t… objectively determine a person is “innocent,” the agreement was that the person couldn’t be guilty of any crimes. That’s the main reason why I became a police officer-unlimited access to criminal records. I exclusively researched elderly people-- 80 or older only-- because I guess it feels like I’m not taking too much if they had a whole happy life behind them. I suspect the thing can probably keep me from being caught. It would provide too much relief to have the responsibility forcefully taken from me. I don’t remember the thing in the urn actually speaking this part in its strange, poetic speech. The contract is just sort of… burned into my brain. It has more meaning than words ever could. The red numbers on the clock next to me say it is 11:51 p.m. on December 31. I have waited as long as I can. My hands are not quite touching Ms. Joann Marshall’s neck, and if I squeeze hard enough the world will keep on going the way it’s been going. And the same will have to be done a year from now. She’s breathing quietly. I guess I thought all old people snore or something, but she looks peaceful. This is my life now. It will be my whole life, year after year. And eventually I will have to go back to that dark room inside that dead cave with someone else, and they will take the task from me. And I’ll weep and beg their forgiveness and finally put a gun to my head. It’ll be the first and last time I ever shoot anyone. My hands are around her neck. They are not quite touching.

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Fall 2015


Longing for Belonging and a Place for Everyone

Sarah Abney


Artist Made in the Artist’s Image

Sarah Abney


The Intersections of Life, Language, and Friendship

Sarah Abney


Two Different Flavors - Equally Delicious

Sarah Abney


Autumn Ginkgo

Jensie Britt


Royalty

Jensie Britt


Gazebo

Jensie Britt


Beyond Vail

Jennifer Bravo


(human) Nature

Jennifer Bravo


Windy Hues

Jennifer Bravo


A Marxist Approach in Understanding Teenage Alienation within Looking for Alaska

Kelly Michaels


Kelly Michaels

Understanding Teenage Alienation

John Green’s Looking for Alaska is a young adult novel detailing much of the rampant escapades of Miles “Pudge” Halter upon entering Culvert Creek Preparatory School. Several elements come into play in this piece of young adult literature, particularly relating to the issue of alienation from a socioeconomic perspective. An examination of the text with a Marxist approach will yield an analysis that focuses on the impact of the socioeconomic elements for the young adult audience and more specifically the somewhat careless subverting of the lower class presented in John Green’s novel. Special consideration on the characters of Chip “the Colonel” Martin, Pudge Halter, and even a brief glimpse at Lara Buterskaya provides deeper insight to this issue. Sandra Hughes-Hassell speaks of the importance of “counter-storytelling” for the young adult audience, defining it as a “method of telling the stories of those people whose experiences are not often told” (26). Basically, counter-storytelling aims to challenge the normalized view on oppressed minorities and lifestyles often traditionally invalidated. The importance of incorporating counter-storytelling is to break a previously installed mold that historically undermines or marginalizes groups of people for their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or even socioeconomic status. Hughes-Hassell emphasizes the need to introduce these concepts of diversity and acceptance to the young adult audience who are already typically exposed to socioeconomic diversity in the school system. The literature helps those of the oppressed to identify with heroes or heroines of likewise status and background as well as provide those unfamiliar with such ideas to become more receptive of individuals unlike them. An article by Köpeczi juxtaposes the distinctions of content and form in Marxist art. He states that “art is when man can conjure up the feelings and ideas solicited in him by the effect of surrounding reality” (358). Keeping this in mind, the application of Marxist elements in Looking for Alaska is evident, more so in content than in form. Pudge’s entry into the private school is immediately introduced into the divisive nature of the students: those enrolled on scholarship and the “Weekday Warriors,” students instantly recog-

athena’s web

nized by their wealthy parents. Pudge’s roommate, the Colonel, introduces himself with some general questions before welcoming Pudge as among his acquaintances by bestowing the moniker “Pudge” and inviting him along to purchase a pack of cigarettes from Alaska Young. Pudge’s relationship with the Colonel is dynamic, and the initial encounter with him speaks volumes of his character. There is no question of his loathing for the Weekday Warriors and their vastly rich upbringing. However, it is interesting to note that the Colonel straightaway accepts Pudge among their circle of friends. The narrative makes it clear that while Pudge, although lacking in friends, is quite intelligent, he has not arrived at Culvert Creek on scholarship. His family is presumably quite affluent, especially in sending a third generation student to this prestigious institution. Chip Martin’s acceptance of Miles Halter notably initiates upon the first contribution of cigarette money, of which the Colonel often lacks. The significance of this constant exchange between them is critical in understanding the importance of teenage alienation in the form of socioeconomic status. Richard Wasson describes the importance of Marxist criticism in literature as “overcoming that dichotomy between work and life” (170). Wasson expands this notion by accentuating the purpose of Marxism as a tool to understand the relationship of parts to a whole and, conversely, the whole to its parts. Furthermore, this insight should not be degenerated by a formalist study with a tenacity for positivism and allegory. All of this is meant to say that these relations and contradictions are germane to the minds and actions of the people responsible for them. With this relevance of Marxism in mind, Maija Lehtonen argues the worth of incorporating such and all themes in a category named for young adults as they “address themes of crucial interest to teenagers” (97) who are in the process of socialization and are confronted with these topics both in study and during their socialization. Distinguishing between work and life during the socialization period of teenagers is substantive to understanding adolescent alienation. Although the Colonel harbors contempt for children of wealthy descent in Looking for Alaska, he often falls victim to enabling this class

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Fall 2015


Kelly Michaels

Understanding Teenage Alienation

system. During the Thanksgiving break, the reader is introduced to Chip’s home life, one of humble quality with an apparent lack of a father figure. The Colonel often vocalizes his desire to graduate college with a degree to afford him a career that will allow him to make a better life for himself and his beloved mother. A capitalist perspective might praise Chip for dreaming of such goals that entail such earnest and hard work to stake out a better life. However, Chip’s mistake in this notion is that he is already at a gross disadvantage due to the socioeconomic class assigned to him at birth. While embracing his proclivity for mathematics to better his future, Chip only enables the class system which he verbally despises. His interactions with the other characters suggest an unaware dependence. The cigarette money often falls as Pudge’s responsibility for both of them, and Chip relies on his Weekday Warrior girlfriend Sara for transportation or other monetary resources. It is important not to view this as the Colonel leeching upon his more monetarily resourceful peers, as that is a grossly capitalist perspective that speaks not of the issues at hand. Pudge’s comments on Chip’s dependency for cigarette money are not exactly altruistic, proving the innate thoughts of his character’s upbringing. However, even deeper than Pudge’s marked generosity is the driving need the Colonel feels to maintain some measure of adolescent acceptance among his peers. Pudge may be excused from this particular analysis, but it is the girlfriend, Sara, who plays a critical role in understanding the painful situation in which the Colonel finds himself. There is no doubt that he detests the affluent Weekday Warriors, and even more, he despises Sara to the point where the reader is not really sure that she maintains any degree of redeeming quality. The manner of their relationship is perplexing, as Chip often observes, and the initiation of it hinges on the exchange of cigarette money. Every conversation with Sara leads Chip to loathe her all the more, to the point where it comes as no surprise that the two end their relationship. But even the break up stands to question as it was not Chip’s doing. Chip’s stalwart loyalty is evinced in his refusal to end things with Sara, no matter how miserable

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she makes him, for it is Sara who decides to terminate the relationship. Once more, Chip’s dependence on a resource of income perpetuates his entire motivation for seeing Sara. Her capital generates the entire purpose of their bond, even to the expense of his own happiness. Therefore, a critical analysis might question what exactly Chip is loyal to, and a Marxist approach could answer that Chip remains loyal to the capitalist class system that has placed him at a disadvantage since birth. As with Hughes-Hassell’s arguments, a marginalized group of people are often left invalidated, and thus they might seek validation among those that oppress them, explaining Chip’s fervent devotion to Sara and his anger with Alaska when he discovers the truth behind the disloyal actions in reference to her former roommate. Without realizing it, Chip Martin has subverted his own character to the system he so passionately rejects. Johnson and Lewis compose an article arguing the validation of young adult literature in its relevance to adolescent readers and how the works should be “representative of all voices of all Americans” (6). Lisa Detora maintains this perception with particular focus on those “emotionally dissatisfied” and their search to be assuaged (30). To extend this further, one might consider a character voice from outside of American capitalism, that of Lara the Romanian. She is a quiet character that does not become a permanent installment to Pudge’s gang of friends until later in the novel. Though included, she is mostly overlooked, especially after her failed relationship with Pudge. In their initial encounters, however, we learn a little bit about Lara’s background, including how her family’s move to American involved Lara’s parents depending upon her for translating and communication. Most notable in the exchange is how Lara brings up the subject of her parent’s wealth, originally small in Romania but consisting of much more worth in America. It begs the question of Lara’s entire existence in the novel; without the affluence of her parents, she would not even be present in the narrative or of any significance to Pudge. This crucial detail necessitates the account of her parent’s prosperity in order to define Lara’s character in the entire text. Her presence is thus subverted to a margin-

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alized one, and the story diminishes the significance of her character, particularly when Pudge and the Colonel need money to fund their prank idea. Overall, Lara’s identity is reduced to her foreign affluence. The conflicts of the socioeconomic roles of the characters are made evident, particularly with Chip and the Weekday Warriors and Lara with Pudge, by exploring using a Marxist lens. The antagonism between the affluent and the economically disadvantaged plays a significant part in the narrative in correspondence to adolescent alienation. For the economically oppressed to feel some measure of validation in their marginalization, they must find some niche of interaction among their “superior” class peers. Whether or not this aspect is an intentional play made by John Green in Looking for Alaska is irrelevant, as teenagers in their time of socialization seek various modes of justification, including the acceptance of parties and ideas they do not like or have no means of obtaining in their current path. Analysis points to larger social and socialization factors. From a Marxist perspective, the role these characters embrace exposes disparities of class, contributing to the undermining of characters’ class position and ironically furthering their alienation in the long run.   Works Cited

Köpeczi, Béla. “A Marxist View of Form in Literature.” New Literary History 3.2 (1972): 35572. JSTOR. Web. 17 June 2015. Lehtonen, Maija. “The Novel for Young Adults in Finland.” Poetics Today 13.1 (1992): 97-107. JSTOR. Web. 17 June 2015. Wasson, Richard. “New Marxist Criticism: Introduction.” College English 34.2 (1972): 169-72. JSTOR. Web. 17 June 2015.

Detora, Lisa. “Coming of Age in Suburbia: Sexual Violence, Consumer Goods and Identity Formation in Recent Young Adult Novels.” Modern Language Studies 36.1 (2008): 24-35. JSTOR. Web. 17 June 2015. Hughes-Hassell, Sandra. “Multicultural Young Adult Literature as a Form of CounterStorytelling.” The Library Quarterly 83.3 (2013): 212-28. JSTOR. Web. 17 June 2015. Johnson, Diane, and Catherine E. Lewis. “Introduction: [Children’s and Youg-Adult Literature].” African American Review 32.1 (1998): 5-7. JSTOR. Web. 17 June 2015.

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Fall 2015


Reconstructing Society Through English

Jensie Britt


Jensie Britt

Reconstructing Society Through English

Not all teachers are the same; they have individual preferences and needs for their classrooms. Luckily, there are several different philosophies of education for each teacher to choose from. While not every teacher will find the philosophy which exactly matches her own, many will find one to which they can relate the most. In addition to considering one’s preference when choosing a philosophy, it is important to take into account how the philosophy works with the subject being taught. One pair which works well together is social reconstructionism with English. The purpose of social reconstructionism is, of course, to reconstruct society. Social reconstructionism, as defined by Sadker and Zittleman (2009), is an educational philosophy that encourages schools, teachers, and students to use their education, knowledge, and studies to help reconstruct society and undo many of the apparent social injustices (p. 284). Sadker and Zittleman (2009) go on to explain that many of our social problems, including racism, sexism, homophobia, violence, and poverty, stem from ignorance and a lack of information (p. 285). Therefore, if many of the ills of society spring from ignorance, it only makes sense to battle these injustices in a place of learning. This is especially important because, as Ann E. Lopez (2011) explains, students of color are not reaching an acceptable level of success, and it is up to the teachers to fix this problem by examining the way and the material in which they teach (p. 75). This makes the classroom the perfect starting point for a better society. Social reconstructionism is a natural choice for those who teach English. Sadker and Zittleman (2009) explained that “[s]ocial challenges and problems provide a natural (and moral) direction for curricular and instructional activities” (p. 285). Since much of the literature studied in English classes focusses on social problems throughout history, it would be beneficial to utilize the stories and perspectives of others in order to tackle the problems currently being faced in society. However, even though the two work well together, social change does not happen effortlessly. Lopez (2011) explains that “engaging in culturally relevant teaching practices does not happen by chance and requires

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teachers to be critically aware and agentive in their classrooms, drawing on relevant socio-cultural theories and creating their own purposeful praxis” (p. 76). It is not enough to be aware of the philosophy and other theories, a teacher must take certain actions to ensure the best for her students. One of the key aspects of social reconstructionism is student-centered learning. Sadker and Zittleman (2009) made the statement that in studentcentered learning, school “is not seen as an institution that controls and directs youth, or works to preserve and transmit the core culture, but as an institution that works with youth to improve society or help students realize their individuality” (p. 283). Many works of literature lend themselves perfectly to this philosophy in that they represent the struggle of the individual. Furthermore, the study of literature is often discussionbased and allows for many different student-centered activities such as literature circles. Regardless of the specific method of instruction, Lopez (2011) stresses that “teachers who embrace the belief that schools are important in creating a socially just society must teach in culturally relevant ways that take into consideration how all students experience the curriculum” (p. 75). Therefore, not only must the subject matter encourage focus on the student as an individual, but the way in which it is taught must also be student-centered and relevant to all students. The English classroom is an ideal setting in which to practice the philosophy of social reconstructionism. The curriculum must include culturally relevant and diverse works of literature that encourage the discussion of society and its problems. It is also extremely important that the instruction be studentcentered. Otherwise, the classroom would reflect and perpetuate the negatives of society while neglecting the needs of the individuals. However, if a teacher pays close attention to her curriculum and ensures a studentcentered learning environment, she can use the philosophy of social reconstructionism in order to make a difference in the lives of her students, her community, and society as a whole.  

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References Lopez, A.,E. (2011). Culturally relevant pedagogy and critical literacy in diverse english classrooms: A case study of a secondary english teacher’s activism and agency. English Teaching, 10(4), 75-n/a. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.athens.iii.com/docview/92 6184620?accountid=8411 Sadker, D. M., & Zittleman, K. R. (2009). Teachers, school, and society. (Ninth ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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Fall 2015


Shakespeare’s Rose — Hawthorne’s Devil & the Manifestation of Evil in “Young Goodman Brown”

Kelly Michaels


Kelly Michaels

Shakespeare’s Rose - Hawthorne’s Devil

There is no question of the allegorical nature of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and its relevance to Puritanic Calvinism; the very names of the characters are representations of their true moral nature and role within the story’s context. However, their significance is often disputed by many critics who, as noted by Connolly, rarely “agree on any aspect of the work except that it is an excellent short story” (370). Perhaps it is this rather open-ended nature of the piece that lends itself to the portrayal of one of its pivotal characters—a man, first described by his adornment of “grave and decent attire.” An analysis on the Old Man’s character revolves around a keen understanding of his denoted physical traits with particular attention to his shapeshifting nature, his relation to the natural world, as well as understanding a Calvinistic basis for the manifestation of evil and its relation to individual nature. Succinctly, Hawthorne’s Old Man maintains several identities, chiefly the culmination of pre-colonial ideas of sin and malevolence as the incarnation of Satan. The plot within “Young Goodman Brown” requires Goodman Brown’s compliant and scheduled meeting with the Old Man. For this to take place, McKeithan points out “at some earlier time [Goodman Brown] had met Satan and had promised to meet him in the forest at night” (94). McKeithan finds it unlikely that Goodman Brown recognized the Old Man as Satan at first but knew the journey was one of evil, given the nature of Goodman Brown’s apprehension to the meeting. Whatever persona the Old Man had adopted for Goodman Brown’s benefit, it is clear that Goodman Brown does immediately recognize the man sitting at the base of a tree upon entering the forest. Hawthorne devotes a lengthy section to describing the physical characteristics of Goodman Brown’s traveling companion for the evening, emphasizing the eerie resemblance the Old Man has to Goodman Brown himself, so much so that they could have been mistaken as relatives, particularly father and son. All the while, the Old Man is noted to possess a regal stature or an “indescribable air” that indicates his familiarity with the world and a certain charm that could have found himself at kingly courts and stately dinners of the governor or other of-

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ficials. However, the most significant item of the Old Man’s wardrobe is his possession of a black, serpentine staff that appeared to “twist and wriggle” like an actual snake. The staff serves as an important attribute to the character as Hawthorne consistently references it in dialogue and description. The Old Man offers the staff to Goodman Brown to assist in his weariness, perhaps a symbolic offer for Goodman Brown to partake in an evil communion of sorts. Even through the perspective of Goodman Brown, the nameless Old Man is frequently identified as “he of the serpent.” The frequent allusions to the serpentine staff indicate the presence of the devil with the use of metonymy and Christian symbolism as the serpent represents the temptation of mankind’s first sin. However, the most interesting note is the hinted possibility that the Old Man had visited a governor or even the king. Fogle describes this as “an acquaintanceship with the great world” (449). Furthermore, the Old Man mentions making the same journey through the forest with his father and grandfather. These concise details indicate a certain degree of timelessness or agelessness required of the Old Man to be capable of walking through the forest for several generations. His meeting with kings and governors certainly implies an ability to adapt to regal settings or an ability to shift his appearance depending on the nature of his environment. Goodman Brown recognizes the Old Man to resemble himself in a father and son nature, suggesting that the Old Man could be conveying Goodman Brown’s father, grandfather, or Goodman Brown himself in the later years of his life. Either possibility denotes an otherworldly power to change physical appearance, as it is unlikely the Old Man appeared in this same form to the king and governor. The journey through the forest is an integral aspect in analyzing the significance of the Old Man’s relation to the natural world and his mastery over supernatural powers and events. Miller writes that Goodman Brown and his journey could possibly serve to “typify all mankind” as a symbolic reference to the first sin (255). Just as Adam and Eve were tempted by a serpent, Goodman Brown is similarly lured by an individu-

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Shakespeare’s Rose - Hawthorne’s Devil

al wielding such a serpent. Goody Cloyse, upon seeing the snake-like staff, recognizes its wielder as “the devil.” It should be noted, that just as the serpent of Adam and Eve’s fame lived among the trees of the Garden of Eden, the devil here, even in the form of the Old Man, is seen only within the confines of the forest. When Goodman Brown witnesses the evil acts of the people of the town, eventually culminating in their satanic worship ceremony, they are all within the trees, which is perhaps a reference to Calvinist ideas of evil. During daylight, Goodman Brown remains within the safety of civilization and society, and wandering in the wilderness, as described by their thorny surroundings, is a walk with the devil itself; nature is directly linked to pagan values and practices, and venturing forth into it is to be affiliated with its evil and magic. Thus, the supernatural element is a power not only belonging to the devil but is present in the space of wilderness; further, nature and the tangled wood are inherent domains of the devil and the visage of the Old Man. The presence of witchcraft elucidates this point. Goody Cloyse and the Old Man share a conversation of a certain witch’s oil that is comprised of certain witchcraft-related ingredients such as cinquefoil, wolfsbane, and the fat of a newborn babe. The mixture is supposed to allow Goody Cloyse to fly, a common depiction of witches for both Hawthorne’s contemporary time and our modern one. The presence of witches and witchcraft leads Cherry to call the monumental ceremony as a Witch’s Sabbath, stating that Hawthorne recognizes “the idea that witchcraft is a manifestation of secret sin” and that God will grant “the Devil power to make witches of whomever he desires” (345). Thus, witches are a sect of evil fathered and owned by the devil, and Cherry’s specification on witchcraft as a “secret sin” lends to the idea that witchcraft is also a sin of deception, the sin of lying that aligns with the already established duplicitous nature of the Old Man. On the nature of Calvinism, Ross explicates that the harmonization of free will and the preordained is an integral structure to Calvinistic beliefs, but assuming the responsibility of ones’ actions since “God

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cannot be the author of sin” is a venerable tenet that holds individuals accountable for decisions and actions they make (440). As such, readers of “Young Goodman Brown” might assume that the origin of evil and sin is internal, a creation or device of man. This perspective might explain the illusions and the supernatural ability of the Old Man, evil manifested. One interpretation of what Goodman Brown witnesses in the forest around him is mere illusions and not actually the prominent members of the community partaking in the practice of devil-worship. In these illusions, it can be argued that Goodman Brown sees his worst fears in the event of accepting the Devil over God, further explaining his initial reluctance to meet the Old Man in the forest. Conversely, it was Goodman Brown’s total willingness to venture into the forest that even brought him to face with these terrifying visions, and the existence of that willingness might possibly be the embodiment of the evil within Goodman Brown, a desire to witness and be involved in the forbidden, likened to Adam and Eve’s initial desire to taste the forbidden fruit and know the forbidden knowledge. But even the presence of the Old Man can be questioned with this stance on the origin of evil. If evil originates from within the individual, then by extension, the presence of the proclaimed devil may as well reside within every person, and his presence as the Old Man is a vision of the Young Goodman Brown turned old. This is evinced by the end of “Young Goodman Brown” when Goodman Brown has become paranoid and suspicious of everyone around him, including his wife. His walk with the devil has turned him embittered toward everyone with whom he comes into contact, evolving (or devolving) into the individual he had been previously so stalwart against. In essence, he has become the devil, or at least, absorbed into its vision. The Old Man of Goodman Brown is arguably a creature of many visages with a timeless goal of trickery and deception. As indicated by the Shakespearean reference in the title, the Old Man may be identified by many monikers—the devil, Satan, Lucifer Incarnate, and even under the guise of Old Goodman Brown— and just as Shakespeare’s metaphorical rose discussed

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Shakespeare’s Rose - Hawthorne’s Devil

in Romeo and Juliet continues to be just as it is no matter its name, these manifestations remain the same at their core as the expression of evil. Whether this evil takes care in selecting its physical characteristics, resides in the natural world, or originates in the human psyche as specified in Calvinism is irrelevant. The sins remain the same despite their origin as an offensive blight to the Puritanical world Hawthorne fashions for his allegorical Goodman Brown, an everyman susceptible to evils, temptation, and bitterness just as any another, and just as Goodman Brown voluntarily embarks upon a journey of evils and temptations in the forest, so does the reader in selecting the story to read. Hawthorne’s audience shares a timelessness with his devil, his Old Man, insofar as their fascination with wickedness and the pursuit of the virtuous.   Works Cited

Ross, William A. “The Ethical Basis of Calvinism.” International Journal of Ethics 22.4 (1912): 437-49. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.

Cherry, Fannye N. “The Sources of Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’” American Literature 5.4 (1934): 342-48. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015. Connolly, Thomas E. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: An Attack on Puritanic Calvinism.” American Literature 28.3 (1956): 370-75. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015. Fogle, Richard H. “Ambiguity and Clarity in Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown.” The New England Quarterly 18.4 (1945): 448-65. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015. McKeithan, D. M. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: An Interpretation.” Modern Language Notes 67.2 (1952): 93-96. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015. Miller, Paul W. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: Cynicism or Meliorism?” NineteenthCentury Fiction 14.3 (1959): 255-64. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.

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Fall 2015


A Not Fully Feminist “Chick Show:” Post-Second-Wave Feminism and Gilmore Girls

Jennifer Bravo


Feminism and Gilmore Girls

Jennifer Bravo In a 2004 interview for the Los Angeles Times, Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls (2000-2007), who also functioned as a writer, director, and executive producer for the majority of the show’s run, defines it as “a chick show: Chicks who star in it, a chick who created it, chicks who write it” (Brown). Indeed, anyone who has watched even half an episode would fervently agree that the show most certainly revolves around the topic of women. However, despite its efforts to appeal to women as a whole, Gilmore Girls only represents a small section of the entirety of feminist identity and thought. In fact, much like patriarchy attempts to define and confine women, Gilmore Girls’ attempt to combat patriarchal thought results in an overcorrection which excludes many members of the feminist movement in the process. While Gilmore Girls certainly encourages female independence and reflects a certain measure of feminist thought, it cannot be viewed as a true illustration of the entire spectrum of feminist ideals, nor can it be cited as an accurate depiction of the entirety of women that feminism represents. Despite its reputation, Gilmore Girls is not a full representation of feminism because it mainly focuses its attention to white, middle-class, liberal female audiences while criticizing, instead of scrutinizing, the life choices of many women and simultaneously pushing an agenda on its young female audience. Gilmore Girls revolves around the lives of two women in their small, quirky town and has acquired an impressively large fan base since its inception. In Caroline E. Jones’ article, Jones describes the show as an “overtly feminist” and “progressive television series” which features “strong young women as lead characters, each of whom is significantly gifted in a way that differentiates her from her peers and recognizes the value of her individuality, even as she wistfully considers how easy it would be simply to fit in and to be ordinary” (“Unpleasant Consequences” 66, 69). These young, strong women in Gilmore Girls are the characters of Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory. Lorelai becomes pregnant at sixteen, refuses to marry the father (disappointing her parents) or abort her child (disappointing his parents), and leaves home shortly after the birth of her daughter, taking Rory with her. This mother-daugh-

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ter combo survives on its own for the entirety of Rory’s life prior to the beginning of the series when Rory is accepted to Chilton, an expensive private school. As Lorelai is unable to afford her daughter’s tuition, she must approach her parents for the funds, which means reconnecting with them during a weekly dinner on Friday nights for the foreseeable future; this begins the series. Throughout the seven year run of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai and Rory encounter many challenges and victories in their lives and their relationships with one another as well as other characters in Hartford, New Haven, and their fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Aside from its unmistakably feminine content and concern, Gilmore Girls is likewise of interest due to what David Diffrient, describes in his article, “The Gift of Gilmore Girls’ Gab: Fan Podcasts and the Task of ‘Talking Back’ to TV,” as the show’s elevated status to “a cult television show, albeit a rather unconventional one” (82). The sheer “depth and breadth of its fandom” along with the show’s unquestionably female-focused content and efforts to depict women’s perspectives and experiences, practically demands a feminist analysis (Diffrient, “The Gift of Gilmore” 82). Due to the complexity of feminism along with its evolutionary history, an account of its current agenda is necessary in order to evaluate feminism’s presence in Gilmore Girls. In her article, “Feminism and Its Differences,” Teresa de Lauretis defines feminism as “a developing theory,” and points to the many differences within the theory such as “race and sexuality” as well as “differences in class, ethnicity, language, educational background, [etc.]” (25, 29). Karen Offen’s article, “Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach,” adds that “feminism incorporates a broad spectrum of ideas [which] reflect profound differences in opinion that have long existed” between women and “must be accounted for if one is to understand feminism” (137, 150). One of the issues addressed by post-second-wave feminists is the ultimate goal of feminism to provide women the freedom to make any and all life choices out from under the weight of patriarchal expectations. In “The Number One Question about Feminism,” Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards state that the current “question being asked” is not whether

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Jennifer Bravo or not to be a feminist, but “how to be a feminist” (448, 449). They tell the story of a college student who approaches them questioning whether or not a clothing choice is acceptable attire for a feminist. Baumgardner and Richards identify this current generation as postsecond-wave feminists who “came of age in a much more disposable, capitalistic time than did their Second Wave predecessors” (450). This is not to say that the current generation is any less feminist, but that the culture, ideals, and the specific aims of feminism are evolving; yet, the fight for equality is far from over. Baumgardner and Richards acknowledge feminism’s success in its past efforts, stating that while Second Wave feminism achieved the admission of women into historically patriarchal spaces, “access isn’t equality,” and ultimately assert that for post-second-wave feminists, “feminism is about freeing us,” to choose however we wish (“The Number One” 449, 451-452). There has been some concern with this objective, however, which has led to the scrutiny by feminism of feminism, its participants, and their choices. Offen elaborates on the post-second-wave feminist fight for the freedom to choose, offering that “more recently, [freedom] has come to connote a project for autonomous behavior that, by ignoring socially constructed [or patriarchal] norms or goals, refuses to acknowledge limitation by them” (“Defining Feminism” 146). This sentiment is also echoed as one half of Eugenie Brinkema’s definition of postfeminism in her article, “More Gilmore Girls: Rory, Lorelai, Donna, Stella, and Lucy,” with the other half being the scrutiny with which feminism gazes upon itself in an effort to analyze its own choices and behaviors (52-53). Thus, says Brinkema, “the battle in post-second-wave feminism appears to be about the representation of feminism itself ” (“More Gilmore Girls” 52). The worry is whether a choice claimed to be made by a woman independently is in fact her own individual choice or whether it is a product of the overtly patriarchal ideals, beliefs, and values of her society masked in feminist freedom that continue to influence her choice. For instance, the choice whether to marry or remain single, to stay at home or join/remain in the workforce after having children, or even whether or not to have children ex-

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ists for women in much of Western society today. Yet, despite these freedoms, untraditional choices are met with more challenges than simply choosing to remain in a historically patriarchal woman’s role. The concern then becomes how many women who choose these patriarchal roles do so to avoid the challenges presented by choosing against that societal role, and how many do so because it is truly their desire? Post-second-wave feminism makes a point to investigate these choices as part of a continued effort to obtain unquestionable autonomous freedom for women in society. An example of the power of patriarchal thought over society is given in Gayatri Spivak’s article, “Can the Subaltern Speak? Speculations on Widow-Sacrifice,” which questions the decision of Hindu women’s practice of self-immolation following the death of their husbands, a historical and religious practice discovered by British colonizers in the early nineteenth century (675-690). Post-second-wave feminism would ask whether this was ever really a choice for the women who sacrificed themselves on burning pyres or, more likely, a male-created tradition masked by the definition of its practice as the ultimate example of “the good wife” or sati (675-690). Spivak’s explanation that sati was practiced mostly in Bengal because there, “unlike anywhere else in India, widows could inherit property,” demonstrates the power of patriarchal influence on the decision of women in this situation (“Can the Subaltern Speak” 682). Brinkema’s article likewise addresses the question of indubitable freedom in the decisions of women belonging to a patriarchal society in the early twenty-first century, giving testament to the glacial pace at which change is made and serving as testament to the concern of true female autonomy in post-secondwave feminism (“More Gilmore Girls” 51-53). While much speculation exists regarding the influence of patriarchal ideals on women in society, a substantial amount of scholarship also addresses the focus of entertainment media on audience members of a certain demographic, namely that of young impressionable females. In an article for the Los Angeles Times, Hugh Hart reports that Gilmore Girls was already being directed toward “its target audience … female teenagers” during its first season, stating, “the WB has

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Jennifer Bravo begun airing repeats of the show … after its top-rated series” directed at young female audiences. In an interview with Hart, WB co-president of entertainment, Jordan Levin, explains that “the ‘7th Heaven’ audience is a very compatible audience, which is our No. 1 show for female teens.” Angela McRobbie’s article, “Jackie Magazine: Romantic Individualism and the Teenage Girl,” speaks of the aim and effect of magazines directed at young female audiences, but her findings also span to include the many other entertainment platforms which attempt to shape the minds of women in society. Jackie magazine and Gilmore Girls are identical in a number of ways; they each create and control the events in a fictional world, invite audience participation while employing “a variety of techniques endowing with importance those topics chosen” to address, are similarly named to address their contents as well as their target audience, and fabricate a “closed sorority of shared feminine values which actively excludes other possible values” (“Jackie Magazine” 524-525). McRobbie acknowledges that “the sociology of the press, TV, film, [and] radio – are powerful ideological forces” which greatly impact their audience; she further addresses the efforts of magazines geared toward females of varying ages, stating that each “has its own conventions and its own style … [b]ut within these conventions, and through them, a concerted effort is nevertheless made to win and shape the consent of the readers to a particular set of values” (524). Much like Jackie magazine and the myriad of other female-focused magazines that don the shelves of practically any establishment where shelves exist, these values also exist in the world of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, which are communicated rather frankly to the show’s audience on a weekly basis in the form of character traits within the world of the show in addition to the countless pointed lines spoken. Rory’s best friend’s mother, Mrs. Kim, for instance, is portrayed as an extremely strict and conservative Christian woman who oppresses her daughter to the point that Lane has to hide her entire life from her mother. Consequently, when Lane marries, Mrs. Kim’s mother visits for the wedding, and Mrs. Kim has to hide her Christian beliefs from her extremely strict and

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conservative Buddhist mother; this negative portrayal is the only representation of religion in the show. The Korean, Mrs. Kim, and her Korean-American daughter, Lane, along with Frenchman, Michel Girard, who works at the front desk of the Inn that Lorelai manages, are the only characters which represent other cultures. Mrs. Kim and Michel portray stereotypes of their respective cultures while Lane rejects her culture in favor of Lorelai and Rory’s white, American culture. Lorelai raises Rory in a politically liberal household and these values are communicated to the audience throughout the series; Richard and Emily Gilmore are portrayed as the white, upper-class, Republican grandparents who represent traditional patriarchal values and Lorelai’s childhood oppression. In this way, Gilmore Girls rebukes conservative and/or religious members of the feminist movement, excluding them from its “closed sorority” identified by McRobbie in addition to stereotyping other cultures (“Jackie Magazine” 525). Additionally, in an article titled “Your Guide to the Girls: Gilmore-isms, Cultural Capital, and a Different Kind of Quality TV,” Justin Rawlins addresses Gilmoreisms, which he defines as “often dense references to popular culture [that] are central to the interactions” in the series while asserting that these references are “actively engaged … in an effort to dispense and mobilize knowledge” (37, 44). The creator of Gilmore Girls freely admits the show’s intent to educate its audience. Sharing the agenda of Gilmore Girls in an interview with Mark Olsen for the Los Angeles Times, Sherman-Palladino states, “it’d be nice if one kid puts down ‘Harry Potter’ for five seconds and picked up Mark Twain.” Sherman-Palladino further explains the intent of Gilmore Girls stating, “[w]hile we don’t preach to them, I’ve always felt like if I could get one kid to buy an XTC album over a Britney Spears album, we’ve done our job” (Olsen). In many ways, Gilmore Girls is the TV version of a weekly woman’s magazine, one where Lorelai and Rory consistently grace the cover and exemplify the independent, smart and witty, beautiful and fast-talking, conquer-the-world type of women that the show’s audience all hope to become. Gilmore Girls also attempts to appeal to a large female audience across education, class, and socioeco-

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Feminism and Gilmore Girls

Jennifer Bravo nomic barriers, and succeeds in many ways. In “Your Guide to the Girls,” Rawlins defines cultural capital as “the knowledge of and ability to ‘play’ with culture, [that] is strongly influenced by both education and … the ‘ease’ that accompanies a particular socioeconomic status” and argues that Gilmore Girls seeks to “expand fan knowledge and grant access to additional cultural capital … that defies to varying degrees the links to education and class” (43, 49). Thus, Gilmore Girls encourages the education of its audience with its incorporation of such dense intertextual elements, and the reward for those audience members who understand the references of Gilmore-isms is a richer text and access to the “closed sorority” of the show’s world (McRobbie, “Jackie Magazine” 525). Rawlins explains the differences between the real world and the “idyllic” world of Gilmore Girls along with the impact that fictional world has on the show’s audience as follows:

tus” and lack of education, Jess’s “possess[ion of] the most cultural capital in Stars Hollow,” represents “the greatest separation of cultural and educational capital” in the entire list of characters on Gilmore Girls (“Your Guide to the Girls” 50-51). However, Rory’s best friend, Lane, is arguably the most impressive depiction of cultural capital when her home life is taken into account. Despite her lack of freedom, a home computer, or free access to a television in addition to her simply average education, Lane possesses an incredible amount of cultural capital. She lives in an oppressive home with her incredibly strict mother, yet somehow understands and makes countless references to pop culture and music spanning generations, genres, and various mediums. Regardless of which character displays the “greatest separation,” Rawlins ultimately argues that this “conflation of education, class, and cultural capital that the show attempts to undermine” serves to encourage all audience members regardless of where they fall in any of these categories of classification (“Your Guide to the Girls” 52). While Rawlins makes a strong argument, he fails to acknowledge the large number of audience members that might be put off or disregarded by Gilmore Girls due to its lack of diversity and critical perspectives. While Gilmore Girls certainly manages to appeal to a large audience of women, and does communicate many feminist ideals and arguments, it falls short of reflecting the entirety of feminism. The series seems open-minded and accepting in many ways but still fails to accurately represent virtually any race, culture, or ethnicity other than white, small town America. While it does depict the upper and middleclasses, it does so with a clear disdain for upper-class society, typifying it as pretentious and conservative. Religious affiliations also only serve as a portrait of oppression and imprisonment that strangle relationships between characters. In opposition to the post-second-wave fight for freedom of choice, Gilmore Girls condemns traditionally patriarchal life choices, such as that of Lorelai’s mother, Emily Gilmore, and fails to represent or even accept many other facets of feminism. Instead of gazing back on women’s choices in scrutiny as post-second-wave feminism does, the series communicates to its audience

The outside world is characterized by a convergence of class, education, and cultural capital that stratifies society, yet Stars Hollow provides a utopian sphere where everyone engages in the ceaseless flow of knowledge and exchange of culture, regardless of their socioeconomic status or educational capital [which] creates in the process a diegetic locale that viewers may imaginatively inhabit and where they may exchange cultural knowledge free of the institutions that attempt to exert authority over them. (54-55) Indeed, many of the characters that inhabit Stars Hollow possess a disproportionate amount of pop culture knowledge compared to their class and level of education. Rawlins finds this especially obvious in the character of Jess, the troublemaker who moves in with his uncle Luke because his mother cannot handle him. Jess always has a book in his hand, but never attends school, sneaks off to a full-time job at Walmart, fails to graduate high school, and is subsequently kicked out for his behavior. Rawlins asserts that despite his “nomadic sta-

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Feminism and Gilmore Girls

Jennifer Bravo that the beliefs, views, and values still held by many women — conservatism, in home child rearing, religious affiliation, etc. — are outdated, oppressive, and utterly unacceptable. Regarding the drama surrounding the loss of Rory’s virginity to Dean (who is married to another woman at the time), Jones is disturbed “to find the convention of negative consequences active in [an] overtly feminist, girl-empowering series like … Gilmore Girls, in which viewers, critics, and scholars might reasonably expect more integrity in the messaging” (“Unpleasant Consequences” 80). To echo and expand this sentiment, the show’s exclusion of such a large number of races, ethnicities, and cultures along with its biased and narrow-minded display of alternative classes, religions, and life choices culminates in the utter disappointment of many feminists who also “might reasonably expect more” from Gilmore Girls (Jones, “Unpleasant Consequences” 80). Despite its cult following and “overtly feminist” reputation, Gilmore Girls does not accurately represent post-second-wave feminism because it excludes large groups of the feminist movement and fails to acknowledge, or outright condemns, a number of feminists and their ideals (Jones, “Unpleasant Consequences” 66). In doing so, Gilmore Girls’ potential to reach a larger audience is not fully realized. Much like young women’s fashion magazines, Gilmore Girls unarguably has an agenda and ideals to instill in its audience. Ultimately, despite its attempts to appeal to all women, it falls short in these efforts and ends up becoming an exclusive club that represents only a narrow sect of feminist identities and goals.

Works Cited Baumgardner, Jennifer and Amy Richards. “The Number One Question about Feminism.” Feminist Studies. 29.2 (2003) : 448-452. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. Brinkema, Eugenie. “More Gilmore Girls: Rory, Lorelai, Donna, Stella, and Lucy.” Studies in Popular Culture. 30.1 (2007) : 51-64. Web. 22 Nov. 2015. Brown, Janelle. “Mailer and the ‘Girls’.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2004. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. De Lauretis, Teresa. “Feminism and Its Differences.” Pacific Coast Philology 25.1/2 (1990) : 24-30. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. Diffrient, David Scott. “The Gift of Gilmore Girls’ Gab: Fan Podcasts and the Task of ‘Talking Back’ to TV.” Screwball Television: Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls. Ed. David Scott Diffrient and David Lavery. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010. 79-107. Print. Hart, Hugh. “The Gift of Gab.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 9 Apr. 2001. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. Jones, Caroline E. “Unpleasant Consequences: First Sex in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, and Gilmore Girls.” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. 5.1 (2013) : 65-83. Web. 3 Nov. 2015. McRobbie, Angela. “Jackie Magazine: Romantic Individualism and the Teenage Girl.” Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies. Ed. Robert Dale Parker. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. 523-543. Print. Offen, Karen. “Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach.” Signs. 14.1 (1988) : 119-157. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.

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Jennifer Bravo Olsen, Mark. “WB’s ‘Gilmore Girls,’ Now a DVD Set, Didn’t Waste Any Episodes Finding Itself.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2004. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. Rawlins, Justin Owen. “Your Guide to the Girls: Gilmore-isms, Cultural Capital, and a Different Kind of Quality TV.” Screwball Television: Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls. Ed. David Scott Diffrient and David Lavery. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2010. 36-56. Print. Spivak, Gayatri C. “Can the Subaltern Speak? Speculations on Widow-Sacrifice.” Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies. Ed. Robert Dale Parker. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. 675691. Print.

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The Alumni Association provided: Over $43,000 in scholarship funding to students in 2013-2014. Sponsorship of the Athenian Ambassadors and Young Alumni Advisory Council (YAAC). 30 Alumni sponsored events for 20132014. Over $80,000 donated to the University since 2009. Presence/table/promotional items for 23 non-alumni sponsored events. Discounts and incentives to local and national businesses.

athens.edu/alumni Alumni membership has its benefits!


Athens State College of Business Radio Tune to KASU 89.9 FM or listen online at http://www.kasuradio.net

or more information, contact Dr. J. Wayne McCain wayne.mccain@ athens.edu


Contributor Notes Sarah Abney is an Art Education and English (Licensure/Certification) major at Athens State.

Recently most of her pieces have been supporting her enduring idea “Between You and Me,” which explores the connections that people from two different cultures share. When not studying or in class, Sarah enjoys being with her friends and students at Primera Iglesia. She is also the proud parent of one Welsh Corgi (Celeste) and one Manx cat (Ms. Buttons).

Jennifer Bravo is a Tennessee native who recently moved to Huntsville from Los Angeles. She is currently in pursuit of an English degree with a minor in Religion, and upon completion, she plans to attend graduate school. Jennifer has a passion for literature and communication via the written word and enjoys writing poetry and literary analyses. She currently serves as Vice President of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, at Athens State University.

Jensie Britt is a senior at Athens State University where she majors in English with minors in

Education and Drama. She is the current president of Sigma Tau Delta. While she loves reading and editing, her true love is in the theatre. She often directs, acts, and works in technical areas in plays. After college, she hopes to teach for a time in Japan before coming back and teaching high school.

Kristi Coughlin is an Athens native who graduated from Athens State University Fall 2015.

She is a professional violinist and teacher, a performer of the theatrical arts and spoken word, and book enthusiast. Her poetic inspirations are Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Tyler Knott Gregson.

Pamela Gifford will graduate from Athens State University in May 2016 with a major in English Education. She works on-campus as an English and Writing Tutor at Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville, Alabama. She lives in Fyffe with her husband and two sons.

Kelly Michaels, a native of Fayetteville, Tennessee, graduated with her Associates degree in

Foreign Language in 2013 from Motlow State Community College. She currently pursues a Bachelors in English with a minor in Education at Athens State University. She works part time as a substitute teacher at various school systems and a retail sales associate at Walmart. She also writes science fiction on a professional level under the imprint of Little Owl Publishing.

Ben Montgomery is a computer science major and professional writer. He’s not as good as

Stephen King... but still pretty good. This is his fourth short story submission to Athena’s Web.

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Contributor Notes Kimberly Nelson is a Behavioral Science major from Moulton, Al. She is a Native American Indian and a member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama. She enjoys shopping, karoke, musicals, and spending time in Gatlinburg during the Christmas holidays.

Casey Pursifull is a student at Athens State University.

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Cover Contest Winner

Longing for Belonging and a Place for Everyone By Sarah Abney


Submission Guidelines We accept both academic and creative work produced by College of Arts and Sciences students. As such, we welcome a wide range of submissions including research and analysis papers, case studies, short stories, essays, poems, photographs and photo essays, artwork, novel excerpts, short plays, and others. Submissions close the Friday before finals of each semester. Submissions received after the Friday before finals will be considered for the following semester’s issue. For Academic Work In order to be considered for publication, academic work must be submitted to the editors along with a faculty recommendation. Recommendation can be informal. When submitting academic work, note in the body of the email that you have discussed submitting the work with a faculty member. Include contact information for the faculty member. Submitted work can be a maximum of 15 double-spaced pages and must be formatted using the citation style appropriate to the content. Submit the work and the faculty recommendation to the editors by email. For Artwork We encourage contributors to submit multiple pieces in this category. A faculty recommendation is not necessary. Please submit artwork in image files only. We will not accept artwork submitted in a pdf. To insure that the integrity of the art remains intact, please submit high-resolution images only. Artwork should be submitted by email. For Poetry We encourage contributors to submit multiple pieces in this category. A faculty recommendation is not necessary. Please submit poetry in a Word document only. Submit poetry by email. For Fiction & Creative Non-fiction We ask that contributors submit a maximum of two fiction or creative non-fiction pieces per semester. A faculty recommendation is not necessary. Please submit your work in a Word document with the text double-spaced with a maximum of 30 pages. Submit fiction and creative non-fiction by email. Contact Information Email: athenas.web@athens.edu www.athens.edu/athenas-web-journal

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Print Copies Print copies of this journal have been provided through an endowment of the Athens State University Alumni Association. Athena’s Web thanks the Alumni Association for their continued support of our goal of spotlighting outstanding work and research of Athens State students and alumni in the field of the liberal arts.

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Fall 2015 Sarah Abney

Jennifer Bravo

Jensie Britt

Kristi Coughlin

Pamela Gifford

Kelly Michaels

Kimberly Nelson

CaseyPursifull

Ben Montgomery

Athena's Web - Fall 2015  
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