Best Student Essays Fall 2013
The University of New Mexicoâ€™s Premiere Nonfiction Magazine
The University of New Mexicoâ€™s
Best Student Essays Vol. 25 - No. 2 Fall 2013
Correspondence may be addressed to: Best Student Essays UNM Student Publications Marron Hall 107, University of New Mexico Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-0001 (505) 277-5656 firstname.lastname@example.org www.beststudentessays.org Copyright 2013 by the University of New Mexico Student Publications Board. Best Student Essays is published biannually by the University of New Mexico Student Publications Board. All opinions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the UNM Student Publications Board or the Best Student Essays staff. This issue of Best Student Essays was printed by: LithExcel 2408 Alamo Ave SE, Albuquerque NM 87106
Editor-In-Chief Anna Adams * Design Editor Melissa Rinkenberger * Photography/Art Editor Claire Mena * Science Editor Veena Patel * Copy/Research Editors Krysten Julian Aaron Moore David Rodriguez Jessica Tipton * Business Manager Jim Fisher * Special Thanks Leslie Donovan Daven Quelle Carolyn Souther ASUNM GPSA The Daily Lobo Staff The English Department Faculty and Staff
A Word from the Editor Anna Adams At the beginning of the year, someone told me that Best Student Essays would only be as good as the submissions we got. Thankfully, we received many essays this semester, and we are pleased to present the best eight pieces from those submissions. I would like to add something further. Not only are we as good as the submissions we get, but we are also as good as the staff we have each semester. I could not have asked for a better staff this fall. I would like to thank Krysten and Veena, for returning to Best Student Essays this semester, David and Jessica, for their enthusiasm and thoughtful comments, and Aaron, for his careful criticism of each essay. Thank you all so much! You are all excellent editors. And, of course, this magazine would not look nearly as good as it does without the hard work of Melissa and Claire. I am very grateful that I had you both on staff this semester. I would like to thank ASUNM and GPSA for their generous support. I would also like to thank Jim Fisher, Carolyn Souther, and Daven Quelle for their assistance throughout this semester. Dr. Donovan, thank you so much for answering my many questions. And, of course, I must thank the entire Student Publications Board for giving me this opportunity. I have learned so much. Lastly, I would like to thank all the students who submitted to us and their faculty nominators. Without your submissions and nominations, this magazine would not be possible. Also, congratulations to Kathleen Snyder for winning our “Best Essay” prize. We were very impressed with your work. I hope you enjoy this fall’s issue of Best Student Essays!
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Contents A Word from the editor
(winner of best essay!) Honey from the Rock by Kathleen Snyder
Learning to Take Human Life in Times of War by Diego Guevara Beltran
My Dread of Mathmatics by Carla G. Forner
(photo essay) Temporary Container by Abbey Hepner
Farmers have Mixed Reactions to Recent Rains by Stephanie Hoover
Research Developments in AML by Shelby Cluff
Trespassing in the Andes by Paula Hughson
Unveiling the Censored Female by A. H. R. Faucheux
Statements from the Cover Artists
BSE Submission Guidelines
Best Student Essays
Honey from the Rock: A Prostitute’s Hope for Fulfillment in Goblin Market Kathleen Snyder With first glance at Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, especially considering many other “virtuous” people it would seem as if the poem, written in spring of 1859, of the time viewed these women just this way. In her should be found in a children’s book of old nursery article “Female Saint, Female Prodigal: Christina Rosrhymes: “Morning and evening / Maids heard the gob- setti’s Goblin Market,” Kristen E. Escobar states, “Viclins cry: / ‘Come buy our orchard fruits, / Come buy, torian morality and propriety insisted that a woman’s come buy…’” (1-4). respectability, unlike a man’s character, hinged upon The lighthearted and musical quality of the poem is her unblemished virtue. That virtue compromised, indeed reminiscent of Mother Goose rhymes even from the Victorians judged with decisiveness” (130). Yet, the first stanza, which contains a list of luscious and ex- unlike others in Victorian England, Rossetti saw it as otic fruits sold to innocent young women by make-be- her Christian duty to help these women who had falllieve “goblins.” However, as Goblin Market continues, en from virtue. According to Lynda Palazzo, author of the childlike feeling of the poem melts away with the Christina Rossetti’s Feminist Theology, this belief led introduction of two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, and their her to volunteer at St. Mary Magdalene, a penitentiary tragic and even horrific dealings with these goblins. dedicated to the redemption of former prostitutes (24). These mature themes hint at illicit sexual activity and At this penitentiary, Rossetti spent over a decade of her have caused many, including Joseph Bristow, editor life serving the women who lived there. Escobar also of Victorian Women Poets, to conjecture that the ini- states of Rossetti, “She faithfully labored alongside her tial childlikeness of the poem was intended by Ros- sister Maria, the Anglican sisters, and resident staff of setti to mask a hidden message (49). While there is St. Mary Magdalene’s in efforts to equip fallen women much speculation about this hidden message, a closer with spiritual enlightenment, moral fortitude, and dolook, not only at the poem itself, but also at Rossetti’s mestic skills necessary for them to escape their former personal faith and ministry, reveals that the poem’s depravity” (134). story of a young girl’s temptation and fall from virtue This same religious zealousness that led Rossetti was most likely modeled after the stories of women to serve at St. Mary Magdalene unavoidably made its lured into prostitution in Victorian England. By writ- way into every aspect of Rossetti’s life, including her ing Goblin Market, a poem that these “fallen” women writing. As Dinah Roe observed in her book, Christina could relate to, Rossetti offered them Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination, “Rosacceptance as well as the hope of a setti’s poetic imagination was shaped satisfied Christian life through the by her faith, and her faith by her poetic sacrificial dedication of a faith-filled imagination, in a symbiotic relation“…Rossetti saw it sisterhood—something that was very ship that intensified over her half-cenas her Christian close to Rossetti’s heart. tury of writing” (1). Because of this duty to help these Indeed, Christina Rossetti was connection between Rossetti’s work women who had known for her faith. Even almost two and her faith, Goblin Market’s story fallen from virtue.” centuries later, Rossetti still holds of a woman’s fall into temptation and a reputation for her religious devothen subsequent redemption would tion and extreme self-denial. Stephen almost certainly have been intended Greenblatt, a literary scholar and gento represent the stories of the women eral editor of The Norton Anthology of English Liter- Rossetti would have served at St. Mary Magdalene. ature, speaks of Rossetti’s determination to “govern Perhaps it is even possible to picture the women sitting herself by strict religious principles, giving up theater, together in a quiet, fire-lit reading room, listening to opera and chess” (2138). Some might assume that Rossetti read Goblin Market aloud to the inhabitants Rossetti’s pious life would have led her to view the since “it has been suggested that Rossetti may have fallen women of Victorian England with contempt, read her poem aloud to the women confined to the 4
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home” (Bristow 26). If this suggestion is accurate, this the sexual aspect of the goblin encounters requires poem surely was intended by Rossetti to bring hope for comment”; this is exactly what the goblins represent a renewed life to the women who would have heard in in Goblin Market: men who preyed on young women, it a story strikingly similar to their own. using kind and loving words to seduce them into the The first glimpse these women would have seen world of prostitution (101). According to a newspaof their own stories in Goblin Market is found in the per article from July 1857, young women in Victorian description of the fruit sold by the goblin men. The England were often “widely and cruelly exposed” to opening stanza of the poem lists twenthe world of prostitution through the ty-nine of these luscious fruits, intrickery of men (“We are glad…for out“…this is exactly what cluding “Plump unpecked cherries, cast women”). Like these men in Enthe goblins represent / Melons and raspberries, / Bloomgland, the goblin men in Goblin Marin Goblin Market: men ket also initially use kind, loving words down-cheeked peaches” (7-9). Roswho preyed on young setti’s audience instantly would have to tempt Laura into buying the fruit: known the ominous nature of the fruit women, using kind and “She heard a voice like doves / Cooing due to its similarity to the forbidden loving words to seduce all together: / They sounded kind and fruit in the biblical account of the Garfull of loves / In the pleasant weather” them into the world den of Eden. For instance, the gob(77-80). But after receiving what they of prostitution.” lins call out to the girls that the fruit desired, these goblin men then turn is “Sweet to tongue and sound to eye” cruel.1 Unfortunately, this might have (30). This wording is remarkably similar to the ac- been similar to what some of the women at St. Mary count of Eve’s temptation: “So when the woman saw Magdalene experienced. that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to Interestingly, after she purchases the fruit from the the eyes…she took of the fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6, goblins, Laura initially enjoys the taste of it; in fact, emphasis added). Since the Victorian culture was fa- she finds it “Sweeter than honey from the rock” (129). miliar with such biblical references (Roe 1), her audi- This line is yet another biblical allusion from Rossetti. ence would have recognized the danger of the fruit and In Psalms 81:16, God speaks to the Israelites, saying, may even have caught their breath at the signs of Lau- “And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied ra’s temptation when she “bowed her head to hear” the you.” With this reference, Rossetti demonstrates how goblin cries and “pricked up her golden head” to see buying the fruit, or accepting the lie that illicit sexual the delicious fruit (34; 41). activity will lead to fulfillment, while at first possibly Yet, even though they may have feared Laura’s bringing enjoyment and attention, actually causes a temptation, the women also may have wondered what woman to turn away from the source of true satisfacthe fruit was intended to represent. With a careful tion and affection: God. study of the fruit, we see that it symbolized something Unfortunately for Laura, after her initial enjoythat would have been very appealing to young “maids,” ment of the fruit, she soon discovers she is no longer and something that was considered “male property” desired as a customer by the goblins: “Laura turned since it belonged solely to the goblin men (Maxwell cold as stone / To find her sister heard that cry alone, 83). The sensuousness of the fruit also clearly demon- / That goblin cry, / ‘Come buy our fruits, come buy’” strated to Palazzo that the fruit is “closely associated (253-56). The goblin men are no longer interested in with illicit sexual experience” (26). While it is possible her; having surrendered to them once by giving them the fruit might have represented the illicit sexual expe- her “golden curl” (125), her value to them is gone. Acriences themselves, it is more likely the fruit was meant cording to Kristen Escobar, the goblins no longer call to to symbolize the initial attention offered to the young her because they had already taken the most precious women who surrendered to the seduction. Young thing they could from her: “[Laura] eats illicit fruit a women, longing for affection and security, could easily single time because she purchases fruit not with a coin be tempted to “buy into” the lies that these forbidden but with her body, the physical manifestation of female experiences would lead to the attention and acceptance wealth—social graces, beauty, chastity—that Victothey longed for—as many of the inhabitants of St. Mary Magdalene’s would probably have known firsthand. 1 It is important to note, however, that Rossetti makes a distincIndeed, this would make those who deceived and tion between “men” and “goblin men,” suggesting that Rossetti seduced the young women with this fruit “goblin men.” did not believe all men were corrupting young women during the Victorian age. In line 101 and again in 556, Rossetti states the fruit Since, as Katherine J. Mayberry asserts in her book, was such that “(Men sell not such in any town)” unlike the goblins Christina Rossetti and the Poetry of Discovery, “Ros- who obviously do “sell such.” Respectable men are present as mersetti’s insistence on the gender of the goblins and on chants and then later as the sisters’ husbands in Goblin Market. Best Student Essays
rian society valued” (141). Once she has surrendered And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed her “female wealth,” she no longer carries anything of and broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said, value to the goblins. Like the women at St. Mary Mag“Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, dalene who gave away their purity to become ultimateand gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ly rejected by society, Laura treats her own body as a from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new form of currency, “buys” into the goblin men’s lies, and covenant, which is shed for many for the remission becomes rejected herself. of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-27) After Laura eats of the goblins’ fruit, she also finds the life that she previously enjoyed is unfulfilling: “She While Lizzie undoubtedly pointed the audience of no more swept the house, / Tended the fowls or cows, / Goblin Market to Christ, she also pointed them to a sisFetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat” (293-95). She terhood of fellow Christian women who could, through begins to languish and waste away, longing for another their own spiritual strength, lead them to the redemptaste of the fruit. Like Eve after eating the forbidden tion and satisfaction offered through the Savior. In fruit, her “tree of life drooped from the root” (260). this respect, the juice that flows down Lizzie’s face is How this scene must have pained Rossetti’s audience a symbol of a woman’s strength and belief that satiswho most likely had similar experiences of becoming faction alone comes from God. Rossetti implies that dejected after entering into prostitution—and who also when fallen women glean this spiritual strength from probably longed for just another taste their “sisters,” complete restoration of the affection and attention initially becomes possible. From a spiritually “For Laura, this offered to them. strong woman, the fruit juice becomes Fortunately, Rossetti does not a message of the true fulfillment that is savior takes the form leave Laura, or her audience, hopeless found in God alone. As Catherine Maxof her sister, Lizzie, or dejected. She soon introduces a savwell points out, “in a poem that is all whom Rossetti ior for them both. For Laura, this savabout sources, context becomes all imcreated as a symbol ior takes the form of her sister, Lizzie, portant. Given by the goblin men, the of her own Savior, whom Rossetti created as a symbol of fruit juice is like poison, but mediated her own Savior, Jesus Christ. The simby a loving sister, sucked from a womJesus Christ.” ilarities in Goblin Market between an’s body, it becomes a restorative anLizzie and Christ are striking and tidote” (85). would have been virtually impossible for the women of In Goblin Market, Rossetti sends the message St. Mary Magdalene to overlook. For example, Rossetti that through the sacrifice of their Savior, redemption surely would have spoken to the women about Christ’s is possible, but she also never hides the difficulty of torture by crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, the road leading to restoration. As Kathryn Ledbetwhich won for humanity not only redemption, but also ter states, “Rossetti was vividly aware of the problems fulfillment in this life. In a similar way, Lizzie was also these women encountered when trying to seek help” tortured by enduring a kind of rape for her sister when (85). These problems included self-loathing as well as the goblin men tried to force her to eat the fruit: the belief that they would never be able to rise above their situation or have an alternative for a better life. Lashing their tails Rossetti demonstrates her sympathy with these issues They trod and hustled her, when she depicts Laura’s healing as a painful process: Elbowed and jostled her, “Her lips began to scorch, / That juice wormwood on Clawed with their nails, her tongue, / She loathed the feast: / Writhing as one Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking, possessed she leaped and sung” (493-95). Yet, by the Tore her gown and soiled her stocking, end of Goblin Market, Laura has been completely reTwitched her hair out by the roots, stored and reincorporated into social life as a mother. Stamped upon her tender feet, As Escobar points out, “The permission that ‘Goblin Held her hands and squeezed their fruits Market’ grants fallen women to return from depravity Against her mouth to make her eat. (398-407) to chastity, if not outright purity, was indeed radical” (133). After resisting the goblin men, Lizzie then takes the In a final message of hope, Rossetti also promises, juices left on her face back to Laura and tells her, “Eat through the character of Lizzie, that she and the workme, drink me, love me” (471). These words surely would ers at St. Mary Magdalene would never give up on the have reminded the women of the biblical account of Je- women until they finally returned to this purity. Desus’ words at the last supper: spite her hardships, Lizzie stays by Laura’s side: “That 6
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night long Lizzie watched by her, / Counted her pulse’s flagging stir, / Felt for her breath, / Held water to her lips, and cooled her face” (525-528). The message is clear: the sisterhood at St. Mary Magdalene’s would continue to serve and help until every woman there found complete freedom, restoration, and satisfaction from their Savior. Despite its initial playful, childlike sound, Goblin Market is a poem filled with dark and mature themes. This work tells the story of a woman, lured into eating deadly fruit from the hands of goblin men before being saved through the torturous sacrifice of her sister. Using biblical allusions, Christina Rossetti models this story after those like the women at St. Mary Magdalene, a penitentiary for the reformation of prostitutes at which Rossetti volunteered for over ten years. It can be conjectured that by reading this poem aloud to the inhabitants, Rossetti offered these women hope that they, like Laura from Lizzie, could receive spiritual strength from the sisterhood at St. Mary Magdalene’s to empower them to receive salvation through Jesus Christ, the acceptance and satisfaction that can only come from God, and even a renewed life of purity. Christina Rossetti’s final lines in Goblin Market were the ultimate message to the women at St. Mary Magdalene, “For there is no friend like a sister / […] / To fetch one if one goes astray, / To lift one if one totters down, / To strengthen whilst one stands” (563, 65-67). For Rossetti, this was her ultimate goal: to fetch those who had gone astray and to bring them to the honey from the rock, the only sweetness that would truly satisfy them.
Works Cited Bristow, Joseph (Ed.) Victorian Women Poets. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995. Print. Escobar, Kristen E. “Female Saint, Female Prodigal: Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market.’” Religion and the Arts 5.1-2 (2001): 129-154. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. Greenblatt, Stephen and M.H. Abrams, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. B. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2006. Print. Ledbetter, Kathryn. British Victorian Women’s Periodicals: Beauty, Civilization, and Poetry. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print. Maxwell, Catherine. “Tasting the ‘Fruit Forbidden’: Gender, Intertextuality, and Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market.” The Culture of Christina Rossetti. Ed.Mary Arseneau, Antony H. Harrison, and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1999. Print. Mayberry, Katherine J. Christina Rossetti and the Poetry of Discovery. Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Print. Palazzo, Lynda. Christina Rossetti’s Feminist Theology. New York: Palgrave Publishers Ltd, 2002. Print. Roe, Dinah. Christina Rossetti’s Faithful Imagination. Basingstoke:Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, 2006. Print. “We are glad to find our recent remarks suggested by the prospectus of the new asylum for outcast women.” The Morning Post. (27 July 1857): 4. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
Best Student Essays
Learning to Take Human Life in Times of War: A Perspective from Evolutionary Psychology
Diego Guevara Beltran
Abstract In the present analysis, I explore the fact that soldiers learn to overcome their aversion to killing other humans. I suggest that, through modern military training, soldiers learn to develop kin-like relationships and shared bonds of empathy within their military units. In the strained circumstances of combat, trained soldiers attain a self-transcendent state and will kill others and/or sacrifice themselves in the interests of their fellows. Modern military training produces soldiers who kill out of a sense of caring for others. Keywords Killing, empathy, kinship, behavioral conditioning, self-transcendence, ingroup, fitness War is a multifaceted phenomenon, so complex as to the context of war is presented, incorporating findings defy comprehension. Any attempt to explain war must from evolutionary anthropology, human behavioral attempt to explain human nature. Humans involved in ecology, and psychology. war express the full spectrum of possible emotions and behaviors from sadness, happiness, anger, empathy, Reproductive Fitness and Inclusive Fitness Schadenfreude, and compassion to violent aggression, In order for a behavioral or mental trait of an organism and all that is between and beyond human experience to translate into human nature, it must provide a fitand expressiveness. Fundamental questions as to why ness or reproductive benefit for a long duration of time societies and individuals go to war remain unresolved. at some point in our life history. At the very least, in Killing, intimidating, and/or eliminating the enemy is order for a trait to be selected, it cannot impose a negafundamental to war. In current polititive net cost on the individual. Reprocal propaganda jargon, the acts of war ductive fitness is an individual’s ability are acts of terror: war is the perpetuto replicate its own genes through dial state of terrorizing others. Humans rect reproduction with a sexual mate. “…war is the are the only animals who engage in Inclusive fitness, on the other hand, the large-scale killing of members of is the individual’s ability to perform perpetual state of our own species. Perhaps more mysself-defeating behaviors for the benefit terrorizing others.” terious is the motivation that impels a of another genetically related individsoldier to kill a conspecific eye to eye ual. Altruistic behavior, which is costly in the midst of battle. to the individual performing the beMainstream thinkers have suggesthavior, may be predicted by applying ed that war is a component of “human Hamilton’s law of kin selection, that nature” (Roscoe, 2007); that is, the act of large-scale is, an individual’s tendency to behave altruistically tokilling among two or more groups is intrinsic to our wards another, is a function of its genetic relatedness, genome. If this assumption were true, one would ex- and of the ratio between the cost-to-self and benefit pect the behavior of war to be about 100,000-200,000 provided to the other (Hamilton, 1972). The greater years old, serve an evolutionary purpose, and to have the genetic relatedness (e.g. same-parent siblings), the been sufficiently frequent throughout the human life greater the benefit to the other is, and, thus, the indihistory. Attributing the existence of war to human na- vidual’s likeliness to perform a more costly altruistic ture is a simplistic solution to an enigmatic question behavior increases (Van den Berghe & Barash, 1977). that appears to be invalidated by some empirical eviIn modern humans, fitness adaptations also involve dence. An alternative hypothesis to why humans kill in physical and psychological adaptations. Therefore, 8
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genetic relatedness is not the only factor regulating to alleviate the distress (Preston & de Waal, 2002). altruism. Network size (i.e. number of interpersonal Moreover, it is thought that the basic empathic contarelationships kin and non-kin [Fiori et al., 2011]), per- gion network, originating from the mother-infant received similarity (de Waal, 2008), probability of future lationship, extended to facilitate inclusive fitness, thus cooperation (Dovidio et al., 2003), proximity and re- facilitating altruistic and cooperative behavior directed ciprocal relationship (Gurven et al., 2000), empathy towards kin members. Subsequently, empathy extend(Preston & de Waal 2002), similar life experiences ed to non-kin members in social species to further fa(Suttor et al., 1995), feelings of oneness (Cialdini et cilitate individual fitness through cooperative behavior al., 1997), attachment style (Makulincer et al., 2005), (Preston & de Waal, 2002). personality (Johnson 1990), and real or perceived beThe phenomenon of cooperation is thought to have longing to a same group (Batson et al., 1997) have a originated hundreds of millions of years ago among positive effect on an individual’s likeliness to behave various species. Simple organisms, such as ants, have altruistically. been observed to behave in seemingly altruistic manMany of these altruism-enhancing traits, in addi- ners towards kin members, providing evidence that tion to, or, separate from natural selection, may have empathy is not a key component of altruism (Vasconevolved from sexual selection, that is, celos et al., 2012), but rather a much from mechanisms of male-male commore recent co-evolved mechanism petition and female choosiness. For (Preston & de Waal, 2002). Altruis“The phenomenon example, males who are better able to tic behavior directed towards nonof cooperation is accrue resources are more successful kin, however, is of rare occurrence in thought to have in acquiring access to female partners. nature. Altruism in humans towards originated hundreds Females, on the other hand, discriminon-kin, in its infant form, is thought of millions of nate between males and choose to mate to have originated from food sharyears ago among with those exhibiting the most preferaing. The risk-reduction theory preble traits, such as resource acquisition. dicts that food sharing, at least in its various species.” As is the case in most species, most feevolutionary infancy, should not be males will exhibit a low but stable fertilviewed as a purely altruistic behavity rate (i.e. number of offspring), whereas most males ior, but rather as a self-serving behavior in which two will exhibit a low to zero fertility rate, while a few males or more individuals are involved, and in which there is will exhibit a high fertility rate. Because of this large an expected return. Of significance in the emergence disparity in male reproductive abilities, intra-male of food sharing is the asynchrony of resources, that is, competition and social learning, mediated by female when there is high variability in the acquisition of rechoosiness, lead certain traits to be favored. As a result, sources (typically meat), it should be expected that rethe sexually favorable traits replace the unfavorable ciprocal behavior would increase to ensure one’s ability traits in a population (Hamilton, 1984). Preston and de to acquire the desired resources. Further, the benefits Waal (2002) have reported that higher-order primates gained by keeping a surplus is outweighed by the fuexpress empathy, fairness, and peacemaking. Building ture benefits of sharing, therefore, individuals should upon this premise, Miller (2007) argues that “sexual be expected to share surplus with the purpose of obselection amplified our standard social-primate virtues taining future returns. This entails that individuals into uniquely elaborated human forms.” Romantically can, whether consciously or unconsciously, measure attractive mental traits such as kindness, bravery, hon- the probability of failing to acquire a resource and be esty, integrity, and fidelity are sexually attractive traits, able to identify non-cooperators (Bird and Bird, 1997). thus, individuals possessing these traits have a higher The tolerated-theft hypothesis, on the other hand, fertility rate. contends that individuals can perceive and assess, whether consciously or unconsciously, the costs of deThe Evolution of Empathy and Altruism nying a resource item to another individual. It should Preston and de Waal (2002) have reported that the be expected, therefore, that in situations in which the earliest phylogenetic system of empathy is the “emo- costs of referral are higher than the costs of allowing tional contagion” network from which the necessary another individual to take the resource, an individual “selection pressures to evolve rapid emotional con- should allow the other to take the resource (Bird and nectedness likely started in the context of parental Bird, 1997). Theoretically, the behaviors implicated in care long before our species evolved” (de Waal, 2008). both of these models predict the origins of food sharWhen humans in infancy display distress, the caregiver ing. However, risk-reduction theory relies on a much is receptive to this stimulus and attends to the infant more complex cognitive mechanism of food sharing, Best Student Essays
that is, reciprocal altruism. Hence, it is thought that the origins of sharing behavior most likely served to deter costs of conflict rather than to initiate a reciprocal relationship between two or more conspecifics. If behavior derived originally from tolerated theft, it is possible that as individuals adapted to avoid conflict, it followed that they developed social mechanisms to perceive potential altercations and began preventing conflict by sharing with other individuals. It is likely that from this behavior evolved reciprocal altruism, which involves memory to detect cooperators from non-cooperators, as well as devising forms of punishment for “freeloaders.” Reciprocal altruism consequentially entails the formation of cooperative coalitions between two or more individuals that are theoretically mediated by empathy (Preston & de Waal, 2002; de Waal, 2008).
chimpanzees, are able to engage in violent group conflict because of an evolved cognitive capacity to perceive future outcomes. Yet, this capacity does not tend to override the stronger aversion to killing a conspecific. What is more common in frequency of behavior than mortality as a result of intra-group conflict is the preservation and regulation of peacekeeping by members of a same group.
Empathy and Kin-Like Relationships Empathy is a complex evolved mechanism of directed altruism that functions to mediate, regulate, and enhance social interactions, group activity, and helping behavior to obtain shared goals, while allowing individuals in groups to attend collectively to perceived threats or opportunities (de Waal, 2008). Empathic contagion appears to be present in other social animals Origins of War in Small-Scale Societies to the extent that “sympathy is the cement that binds While unresolved because of a lack of archeological ev- all animal societies together, renders the actions of idence, it is presently thought that war is not charac- all members of a group harmonious, and allows them teristic of early human societies, but rather a phenom- to reap some of the prime advantages of social life” enon that emerged as a result of sociocultural changes (Preston & de Waal, 2002). In humans, an individual’s from the advent of agriculture between 15,000 and ability to experience affective empathy improves con10,000 years ago. Presently, many “un-segmented,” flict management, decreases conflict engagement, and non-stratified, small-scale societies have regulations also increases giving or helping (Cassels et al., 2010). and a socially agreed limitation on violence, which pre- Other research has reported that empathy facilitates vents conflicts from achieving war-like the understanding of others’ feelings scales. In other words, war before the and intentions, and allows individ“…war is not accumulation of exosomatic resources uals to signal solidarity. In the same characteristic of early (e.g. land, animals, produce, and curvein, empathy facilitates trust, confihuman societies, but rency) may have simply had a greater dence, and openness among individrather a phenomenon cost-to-benefit ratio. uals (Johnson, 1990). Modern forms As previously mentioned, notions that emerged as a result of empathy serve to build family and of a human nature of war have been of sociocultural changes friendship relationships in which inproposed namely by military psycholdividuals do not keep track of who did from the advent ogists and scholars; however, this idea what for whom and obtain a psychoof agriculture…” appears to be unsupported by etiologlogical well-being from both helping ical evidence. While chimpanzees, our and being helped (Preston & de Waal, closest genetic relatives, have been observed to engage 2002). Presumably, this psychological well-being is in violent group conflicts resembling ancient forms of part of the proximate mechanism of directed altruism. war, these incidences are rare. What is common among chimpanzees and other species is an aversion to killing Turning the Empathy Switch Off members of the same species. While intra-male con- While variation between individuals in their respective flicts for resources are readily evident, males will more empathic abilities exists, complex empathy (i.e. peroften engage in a form of intimidating, “ritualized” ag- spective taking in conjunction to emotional contagion), gression by which each of the individuals involved may is a key feature of the human evolutionary trajectory calculate its likeliness of succeeding in the conflict. (de Waal, 2008). Etiological and human behavioral The most intimidating male will win the altercation by ecological evidence nonetheless suggests that empathy claiming ownership of the resource of interest. Because evolved to mediate cooperative, goal-oriented, and reof these altercations, some conflicts do result in physi- ciprocal relationships, primarily among members of a cal aggression, but these rarely result in death (Roscoe, same group. Social animals in our phylogenetic histo2007). ry developed group behaviors to facilitate fitness and In consideration of the etiological evidence, Roscoe inclusive fitness, but these are almost always confined (2007) proposes that higher-order primates, primarily to the group. When individuals interact with other 10
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groups, they perceive the other as a potential threat, perceive greater social support, they also report a increasing feelings of anxiety that, in turn, interfere or greater sense of belonging. suppress feelings of empathy. Because of this inherent In the context of battle, three components involved ingroup-outgroup bias, military training largely ex- in soldiers’ ability to kill are emphasized: the feelings of ploits the human ability for building belonging to the group, which increases comradeship. The greater the intenoutgroup bias and threat perception; sity to which an individual identifies rigorous military training, developed with a specific group, the greater his by methods of operant conditioning, “Humans have a outgroup bias will tend to be. This is which serves to override intrinsic large need for central to the development and staaversive feelings to killing conspecifbility of armies. Grossman (2009) ics; and feelings of self-transcendence social interaction.” reported that soldiers, historically, that allow soldiers to believe they are showed great aversion to killing while behaving towards something that is in combat. Most soldiers engaged in better or greater than their usual con“ritual” aggression, as is observed in cerns (e.g. the protection of their plaother species, by posing, pretending toon, families, or nation) when they to fire, or by providing assistance to shooting soldiers fail to reflexively kill another, and the action involves a with ammunition. According to Grossman (2009), more deliberate decision-making process. only about 15-20% of soldiers engaged in actual combat. It was not until the US-Vietnam War that soldiers’ Hypothesis killing accuracy increased to about 90-95%. This was In accordance to the evidence presented, empathy and a historically unprecedented success rate. How did so altruism, and its mediating relationship in the formany soldiers overcome their aversion to killing other mation of coalitions and social relationships among humans? Grossman (2009) argues that the introduc- individuals of a same group, evolved as a mechanism tion of operant conditioning principles under military of directed altruism. Evidence for the act of war as an contexts by behavioral psychologists, namely B.F. Skin- evolutionary adaptation that involves large inter-group ner, enhanced soldiers’ ability to kill. This novel form conflict and large-scale killing dates only as far back as of training allowed soldiers to shoot at targets without 35,000 years ago, and this is only in segmented and conscious deliberation, that is, soldiers shot at targets stratified societies with social hierarchy, meaning it is automatically, as a reflex to perceived stimuli. After all, not a homogenous trait among modern, small-scale that is how operant conditioning works. societies, and, therefore, not likely to have been prevalent in our ancestral past. The lack of intergenerationSelf-Transcendence al time and the heterogeneity of war among modern, Haidt and Morris (2009) reported that when individ- small-scale societies indicates that the time necessary uals observe remarkable deeds performed by others, for hereditary traits of war to have been favored is likefrom extraordinary skills to acts of kindness and com- ly to be insufficient, and the lack of war in small-scale passion, individuals experience a sense of elevation societies indicates that war is rather a sociological pheand admiration, which in turn motivates them to better nomenon that occurs only when societies reach a given themselves. “Admiration, like elevation, draws people level of complexity. out of their ordinary state of consciousness; the relatHumans have a large need for social interaction. ed motivational state of ‘inspiration’ involves feelings It is thought that the development of such interacof transcendence, which has been defined as orienting tions could not be possible without the mediating efone toward something that is better or more important fect of empathy, especially when involved in complex, than one’s usual concerns.” goal-oriented tasks such as large-game hunting, or Overdale and Gardner (2012) report that in mil- military executions. Individuals living in small-scale itary training, social support from other soldiers and societies, such as the Ache (Kaplan et al., 1985), the military instructors improved soldiers’ training perfor- Hiwi (Gurven et al., 2000), and the Meriam (Bird & mance and coping while in training. The investigators Bird 1997), are thought to best model much of our reported that “social support, defined as information life-history economy. It has been reported that these leading a person to believe that they are cared for and individuals engage in a large network of reciprocal loved, esteemed and valued, and integrated within food sharing. In the case of the Ache, family units that a network of communication and mutual obligation share all food items with other members of the comhas been shown to protect military personnel against munity (e.g. honey, plants, fruits, and meat) increase a range of harmful outcomes.” Further, when soldiers their nutritional value by 80%. Contrary to theoretical Best Student Essays
predictions, which expected food items to be shared more generously and frequently with kin members to facilitate inclusive fitness, individuals involved in this large network of reciprocal food sharing in fact share indiscriminately with kin and non-kin members of the group (Gurven et al., 2000). Another failed theoretical expectation is the notion that more successful hunters will invariably share less. The most successful hunters are in fact the ones to share the most. Meat is the most valuable resource item due to its nutritional value and unpredictable variability (Gurven et al., 2000). That being so, even the most successful hunters may fail to acquire meat on any given day (Kaplan et al., 1985). Because great variability in meat acquisition exists, and because an animal hunt will provide more meat than any given individual or family unit may consume before rotting, individuals at the group level managed to decrease their risk to fail to acquire meat by sharing their excess supply (Gurven et al., 2000). It is likely that individuals unwilling to cooperate in this network had a poorer diet, leading to poorer health for themselves and their offspring. Because of the fitness gains obtained in nutritional value by individuals in small-scale societies, it is thought that traits like empathy, altruism, and cooperation evolved to facilitate food sharing. These traits were subsequently enhanced by sexual selection pressures and, in turn, transformed the need for social interaction, connectedness with other individuals, and the formation of long-lasting reciprocal friendships into a central feature of human nature. Soldiers have a wide understanding that the need for future cooperation is essential to their survival in combat. In service, they are close to one another and are forced to build reciprocal relationships. Because of their training, soldiers experience very similar experiences, develop feelings of oneness with one another, and are strongly reinforced to think of themselves as a unit rather than as an individual. Because of the intensity and intimacy of such experiences, soldiers develop close relationships, often reported to be greater than the bond between their own kin members. Grossman (2009) reported that, prior to Vietnam, men in battle showed an 80% aversion to killing fellow men, even if that meant risking their own lives. When Grossman (2009) interviewed war veterans and asked them why they killed, the most frequent response was not that they sought aggression towards the enemy (with the exception of a small percentage who are thought to suffer from psychopathy, sociopathy, or a type of antisocial personality disorder), but rather, that they sought to protect their brothers in arms, or that they did not want to let their group down. This intense feeling of group commitment to one another motivated soldiers 12
to kill the enemy for the sake of the benefit of the group (e.g. partner, platoon, nation) when they failed to respond reflexively to an enemy. Hypothetically, such are feelings of self-transcendence in which the soldier no longer views his or her life as significant, but rather he or she is honoring his or her life as a tribute to his or her commitment to his or her group. Like ants or bees who mechanically sacrifice their lives for the group to whom they are very closely genetically related, human psychology can be developed, or â€œhijacked,â€? in a way that the feelings of inter-dependency model the feelings that naturally emerge in kinship relationships.
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Works Cited Batson, C., Polycarpou, M. P., Harmon-Jones, E., Imhoff, H. J., Mitchener, E. C., Bednar, L. L., & ... Highberger, L. (1997). Empathy and Attitudes: Can Feeling for a Member of a Stigmatized Group Improve Feelings Toward the Group?. Journal Of Personality & Social Psychology, 72(1), 105-118. Bird, R., & Bird, D. W. (1997). Delayed Reciprocity and Tolerated Theft. Current Anthropology, 38(1), 49-78. Bledsoe, A. (2012). The Homecircle: Kinship and Community in the Third Arkansas Infantry, Texas Brigade, 1861-1865. Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 71(1), 22-43. Cialdini, R. B., Brown, S. L., Lewis, B. P., Luce, C., &Neuberg, S. L. (1997). Reinterpreting the Empathy–Altruism Relationship: When One Into One Equals Oneness. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 73(3), 481-494. doi:10.1037/00223522.214.171.1241 de Waal, F. (2008). Putting the Altruism Back Into Altruism: The Evolution of Empathy. Annual Review Of Psychology, 59279300. Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., & Kawakami, K. (2003). Intergroup Contact: The Past, Present, and the Future. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 6(1), 5-21. Ferguson, R. (2003). Warless Societies and the Origin of War (Book). Anthropos, 98(1), 247. Fiori, K. L., Consedine, N. S., &Merz, E. (2011).Attachment, Social Network Size, and Patterns of Social Exchange in Later Life. Research on Aging, 33(4), 465-493. doi:10.1177/0164027511401038 Grossman, D. (1996). On killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. New York; Boston; London: Little, Brown, and Company. Gurven, M., Hill, K., Kaplan, H., Hurtado, A., & Lyles, R. (2000). Food Transfers AmongHiwi Foragers of Venezuela: Tests of Reciprocity. Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 28(2), 171-218. doi:10.1023/A:1007067919982. Haidt, J., & Morris, J. P. (2009).Finding the Self in Self-Transcendent Emotions. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 106(19), 7687-7688. Hamilton, M. E. (1984). Revising Evolutionary Narratives: A Consideration of Alternative Assumptions about Sexual Selection and Competition for Mates. American Anthropologist, 86(3), 651-662. doi:10.1525/aa.1984.86.3.02a00070 Hamilton, W. D. (1972).Alturism and Related Phenomena, Mainly in Social Insects. Annual Review Of Ecology & Systematics, 3193-232. Hedges, C. (2002). War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. New York: Public Affairs. Hillman, J. (2004). A Terrible Love of War. New York, NY US: Penguin Press. John, O. P., Naumann, L. P., & Soto, C. J. (2008). Paradigm Shift to the Integrative Big Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Conceptual Issues. In O. P. John, R. W. Robins, & L. A. Pervin (Eds.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (pp. 114-158). New York, NY: Guilford Press. Jovanović, M., Sporiš, G., Šopar, J., Harasin, D., &Matika, D. (2012). The Effects of Basic Military Training on Shooting Tasks in Conditions of Sleep Deprivation. Kinesiology, 44(1), 31-37. Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P. R., Gillath, O., &Nitzberg, R. A. (2005). Attachment, Caregiving, and Altruism: Boosting Attachment Security Increases Compassion and Helping. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 89(5), 817-839. doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1997
Miller, G. F. (2007). Sexual Selection for Moral Virtues. Quarterly Review Of Biology, 82(2), 97-125. Overdale, S., & Gardner, D. (2012).Social Support and Coping Adaptability in Initial Military Training. Military Psychology, 24(3),312-330. doi:10.1080/08995605.2012.678243 Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. M. (2002). Empathy: Its Ultimate and Proximate Bases. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 25(1), 1. Roscoe, P. (2007). Intelligence, Coalitional Killing, and the Antecedents of War. American Anthropologist, 109(3), 485-495. doi:10.1525/aa.2007.109.3.485 Shamay-Tsoory, S. G. (2011). The Neural Bases for Empathy. The Neuroscientist, 17(1), 18-24. doi:10.1177/1073858410379268 Suttor, J., Pillemer, K., & Keeton, S. (1995). When Experience Counts: The Effects of Experiential and Structural Similarity on Patters of Support and Interpersonal Stress. Social Forces (University Of North Carolina Press), 73(4), 1573. Van den Berghe, P. L., &Barash, D. P. (1977). Inclusive Fitness and Human Family Structure. American Anthropologist, 79(4), 809-823.doi:10.1525/aa.1977.79.4.02a00030
Best Student Essays
My Dread of Mathmatics Carla G. Forner Motivated by my fear of failure, my life has been conMy third year of high school required two semessumed by mathematics for the last four semesters! In ters of geometry. I find it fascinating that I had never fact, I had not had any formal mathematics in nearly forgotten the Pythagorean Theorem or my curiosity forty-seven years; it had simply been an ominous sci- surrounding the mysticism of Pythagoras and his seence to embrace. However, after having nearly com- cret brotherhood. What did they talk about that was so pleted the last of four semesters of study within this secret? I have to admit that I have really enjoyed my field, I have come to realize that mathematics is not as brief encounters with geometry these last two years. inhibiting as it had seemed. Mathematics is like any Kevin, my son—a 1995 graduate with a bachelor of sciother discipline. If given the time and effort, it can be ence in mathematics and a subsequent master of sciconquered. It has since become far more than a puz- ence in computer engineering—has always been and zling combination of numbers, a perplexing set of signs, continues to be my go-to guy for all of the technical a variety of odd shapes and angles, and a series of in- complexities that, invariably, have popped into my life. tricate formulas and theorems. It has survived at least At times, I have called upon him to brainstorm through 4,000 years, and gratefully, I have survived it. The fol- a geometric exercise, and it has turned into so much lowing discourse endeavors to retrace my journey over fun! Unfortunately, those days of bonding over finding the last two years and how I forever relinquished my a polynomial for the interior volume of an open cube dread of mathematics. were short-lived. I will have to wait Addition, subtraction, multipliuntil another conundrum arises becation, and division have never inyond shapes, planes, angles, and meatimidated me. I was well-prepared surements to engage his expertise, and “I no longer feel brain throughout my youth, and those opI am saddened by that. dead when someone erations have positively facilitated Trigonometry, or trig, as so many my life more times than I can count. folks seem to fondly refer to this asks me to find the Early in my development, flash cards branch of mathematics, has remained equation of the line.” were my nemesis, but today they are intangible for my entire adult life. My my salvation. During my first week husband, Ron, was a hydraulic engiof Math 099 at the University of New neer and used trig functions his entire Mexico, Taos, I encountered several career. Several years ago, I found a classmates unable to multiply or divide. Therefore, I book of his and flipped through it. It literally depictam eternally grateful for the misery I experienced in ed thousands of numbers and no verbiage. When I the innumerable amount of hours spent before those questioned him about the content, he responded, “Oh, cream-colored cards. I bid farewell to the formal use those are just trig tables.” Whoa! Obviously, I would of these operations with a lasting fond memory of the never need to open that Pandora’s box. Thus, when our mnemonic device Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. instructor, Dennis Hedges, announced in class this seI encountered two semesters of algebra as a soph- mester that we would be doing not only trig, but proomore in high school. Prior to 2010, my only recollec- ficiencies in trig 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 in Khan Academy, I tion of that experience was of a question. Why did one wanted to head for the hills! How many trigs are there use the variables x, y, and z sometimes and other times anyway? Amazed at having outlasted the experience— a, b, and c? Who had the authority to make that deci- it really was interesting and enlightening—I delightedsion? I bid farewell to algebra. Once again, forty-nine ly went right home and proclaimed that I, too, was in years later with skill and competency, after having had the world of trig! delightful encounters with binomials and polynomials, I have always thought that the study of statisI no longer feel brain dead when someone asks me to tics has been given a bum rap. “Do not even go there!” find the equation of the line. was the typical reaction, as a response to the query of 14
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the definition and understanding of that course. How bad could it be? I understand statistics, and, as a matter of fact, I have been known to quote statistics. The fleeting bits that I have garnered so far this semester have been relatively understandable, but at the same time questionable. How could I, an intelligent, mature adult, have been so stymied by stems, leaves, boxes, and whiskers? Calculus continues to be an enigma in my world. Having spent fifteen years of my career in the dental field, calculus conjures up images of excess calcium anchored between teeth. My brilliant engineer husband failed college calculus twice before he scored an “A.” What in the world would I do in the midst of methods of fluxions and inverse methods of fluxions? What is a fluxion? Deciding that was the time to abandon my trepidation regarding this branch of mathematics, I called on my good friend, Dr. Tommy Ragland, physicist and mathematician extraordinaire, for a simple definition that might allay my fear. Dr. Ragland responded, “Today in teaching calculus, we almost never use the terms fluent or fluxion.” That was a good start! He went on to acknowledge, “We use the terms variable (fluent) and derivative (fluxion).” Okay, I got that. What really got my attention was his final statement: “The bottom line is that calculus is only about two things: the slope of a curve at a point on the curve and the area under the curve between two points on the curve.” At this stage of my life, I can handle “two things.” It is just too darn bad that my final two semesters at the University of New Mexico have no room to build calculus into my schedule! But thank you, my friend, for the lesson. As I look back on my last two years, focused and obsessed, having given mathematics my undivided attention, I am exhilarated and gratified that I have done it and have done it well! The hard lesson that I learned is that I wasted energy dreading mathematics instead of just staring it down.
Best Student Essays
Temporary Container Abbey Hepner In the last fifty years, the rates of cremation in North America have risen dramatically. Because of the cost of burial and a more nomadic American population, cremation has become a popular alternative to traditional burial. In the series Temporary Container, I traveled to the locations in North America where ashes are most frequently spread. These locations are often scenic, postcard-worthy, and highly photographed areas. They are corners of the earth, not far from tourist spots, that people travel to in order to quickly snap a photograph and say, “I was here.” I photographed the landscape, occasionally including a temporary container in the frame. The temporary container is a cardboard box that I obtained from crematoriums, meant to store ashes until they are scattered or placed in a permanent container. While the majority of reports are of ashes being spread by professional organizations by plane or boat in designated areas, many individuals have chosen to scatter ashes themselves. More Americans than ever before are scattering loved ones’ ashes widely, with great purpose, and often without permission—an act known in the funeral industry as a “wildcat scattering.” It is a reflection of both the marked rise in cremation and the growing desire by people to find their own ways to ritualize grief. In a world where many would argue that no aspect of nature is unaffected by human impact, we still desire that which is “natural,” but we also embrace the completely artificial. One such example of artificiality included in this project is Disneyland, where there have been many reports of ashes being scattered in the “Happiest Place on Earth.” I played on the idea of temporality and critiqued the sometimes messy mix of sublime and artificial by also creating this work using a medium that is mass-produced and disposable: the lenticular postcard.
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Best Student Essays
Volume 25 - Fall 2013 - N0. 2
Best Student Essays
Volume 25 - Fall 2013 - N0. 2
Best Student Essays
Volume 25 - Fall 2013 - N0. 2
Best Student Essays
Farmers have Mixed Reactions to Recent Rains Stephanie Hoover Though drought struggles have plagued New Mexico Skarsgard Farms serves around 12,000 to 15,000 for several years, the influx of rain from September 11 members weekly with harvest boxes, while Sol Harvest through the 15, 2013 was not entirely welcome, as parts serves twelve to fifteen members a week. of New Mexico were inundated. Rainstorms can often bring about mixed feelings The rain was most difficult for seedlings and trans- in Albuquerque, as Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo plants, which are very fragile and must be set up in Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) Real Estate Manseed trays. North Valley based Sol Harvest Farm own- ager Jeff Willis points out. er Ric Murphy said that hard rains can be tough on the Pearson says the weather they receive in the South new plants, and he was forced to bring several of his Valley can often be very different from Albuquerque’s, trays inside. and weather predictions are often inaccurate. During Farm Manager Shauna Pearson of Skarsgard recent storms, she said, they actually received more Farms, located in the South Valley, agreed, stating the rain. Willis agrees that the South Valley, along with rain can actually be toughest on recent transplants. other older areas of Albuquerque, are often more sus“Too much water can be just as bad for them as ceptible to flooding. no water at all,” Pearson said. “It’s definitely a logistic “It’s a double-edged sword,” Willis said. “The rain nightmare when stuff like that happens, and that’s not helps alleviate the drought situation that we’re in, but ever a good thing, but I would never want to say that we have property to protect.” getting a lot of rain is a bad thing.” July brought a heavy monsoon season in AlbuquerMany farmers in Albuquerque welcomed the rain que, with more rain than usual. But, according to Wilover the past weekend, which managed to stay flood lis, August was actually drier than normal, with very free, despite warnings. However, the rains were not little rain. without their share of hindrances for local farms. Albuquerque received 3.16 inches of rainfall beAccording to Pearson, Skarsgard Farms definitely tween Wednesday September 11 and Sunday Septemsuffered setbacks as a result of the recent weather. ber 15. This broke a previous five-day record of 3.10 “It’s hard because obviously no one ever wants to inches in September of 1929. complain about rain…but right now we According to the National Weathare at a stalemate because we can’t get er Service, so far Albuquerque has rethe tractors in the field, and we have ceived 7.24 inches of rain in 2013, only to wait until some of the water evapa little over an inch short of the annual orates or is absorbed from the soil be8.67 inches it normally receives. “Too much water can fore we can even walk around.” PearThough New Mexico is still in a be just as bad…as no son said. “It’ll happen soon. It’s just drought, the recent rains have been water at all.” going to mean [we] have a later fall a huge help, and storm facilities have and probably not as many harvests.” thus far been able to handle all of the Murphy, however, had a different water, according to Willis. opinion. “I think [the recent rains have] been “Everything is loving the water. very beneficial as far as the drought reThings were pretty rough up until we got this rain.” lief,” Willis said. “The AMAFCA facilities, which we’re The differences in their opinions may be account- in charge of, they’ve done exactly what they should ed for in both the sizes of their farms as well as their have done from an engineering standpoint. They conlocations in Albuquerque. Both rely on Community veyed the water to where it was supposed to go.” Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a means of income, Even so, the drought significantly affected Skarsin which local citizens become members of the farm’s gard Farms in the past year. They lost five weeks of CSA program to buy produce directly from the farmer. chile crop because their acequia didn’t receive any 24
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water, which forced them to put in a well. Sol Harvest, which was already dependent on a well, saw a foot and a half drop in the water table and a huge drop in pressure this summer. The lack of rain earlier in the year and in August meant Murphy used a lot more water. “Up until we got this rain, the well has been on twenty-four seven for about two weeks,” Murphy said. “Last year it was five days, just kind of a typical work week. This year it was mostly six days, and then maybe I’ll turn it off on Sunday.” Though Albuquerque’s relationship to the rain may certainly be a tumultuous one, Murphy said it is an ideal place for a farm. “It’s a wonderful place to grow year-round because you have so many sunny days and the winter is mild enough, where with a little bit of protection like a green house or some row cloth, you can protect your plants and grow a lot of food year-round,” Murphy said. The monsoon weather often provides cloudy afternoons. This is a respite both Murphy and Pearson are grateful for, even if no rains come. “It was kind of nice before it really started storming, like there was a couple days where it was really overcast…and it rained enough to where it penetrated the ground and wasn’t just like you could kick the dust over it,” Pearson said. “I think it helped with ... getting growth for the stuff we’d put outside.” Murphy said rain could never be a bad thing for New Mexico. “I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much rain. In a place like New Mexico, you’ve got to take the rain when you can get it, whether it’s eight inches or three. Obviously, I don’t control anything, but I will welcome it.”
Best Student Essays
Research Developments in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Shelby Cluff Abstract Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that attacks a personâ€™s early developing blood cells and causes them to become dysfunctional. AML mainly affects adults, and, as people age, their risk of getting AML increases. Diagnosing AML can be complicated, as the disease includes many different symptoms such as anemia, skin rashes, problems with the liver or spleen, fatigue, or infection. Chemotherapy is one of the main ways AML is treated, with new studies about more effective ways of treatment constantly being developed. Some of the main new topics of study include trying to reprogram cancer cells, fixing cell DNA, utilizing stem cells, and developing less invasive drugs for treating AML. Keywords: myeloid, chemotherapy, leukemia, mylogenous, hematology, DNA, enzyme, oncology Introduction: What is AML? In the last fifty years, researchers and scientists have become increasingly aware of the complexities and mysteries surrounding the deadly disease cancer. Scientists have made miraculous innovations in our way of treating many different cancers, and some kinds of cancer even have treatment regimens rigorous enough to offer a cure. Unfortunately, many kinds of cancer are still untreatable. Leukemia is one complex kind of cancer that has no known cure but many effective treatments. Leukemia is a progressive, malignant disease of blood-forming organs that damage immature blood cells. These dysfunctional blood cells cause a wide range of problems and can eventually keep the body from functioning. The four major types of leukemia are acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and chronic lymphoblastic leukemia. Acute myeloid leukemia, or acute mylogenous leukemiais, is a disease of the blood cells within bone marrow and is the most common acute leukemia affecting adults. Bone marrow includes white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. AML causes early developing cells in the bone marrow to be dysfunctional before they can mature to functioning cells, resulting in bone marrow failure. This failure can happen as a result of the activation of abnormal genes through chromosomal translocations, or the splicing of chromosomes. After the production of normal blood cells decreases signifi26
cantly, the rapid replication of AML cells, with reduced ability to properly die at the right time, results in their accumulation in the bone marrow, the blood, and often the spleen and liver. These leukemic cells can infiltrate from the bone marrow to other bodily organs and cause them to fail. One of the main problems of AML is that it spreads and affects the entire body much faster than most cancers. From start to finish, AML could cause death in as little as two weeks. Risk Factors AML is not contagious and most patients who develop AML present no specific risk factor. AML is more common in the Caucasian race, and tends to occur more in men than women. Although AML can occur at any age, people are at an increased risk as they age. However, other factors that may increase a personâ€™s risk of AML include preexisting blood disorders, environmental exposures such as radiation, congenital disorders such as Down syndrome, and drug exposure (Mayo Clinic). According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease, petroleum and cigarette smoke contributes to putting the chemical benzene into our atmosphere. Benzene can damage the DNA in marrow cells, and those exposed to the chemical have an increased risk of developing AML. Individuals who smoke also have a small, but statistically significant, increased risk of developing AML.
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Symptoms and Diagnosis There are no specific symptoms of AML, but many symptoms manifest as the result of AML causing destruction or dysfunction in different parts of the body. Some of these symptoms include: anemia or iron deficiency in the blood, fatigue, heart problems, infections such as pneumonia, swelling, bruising, skin rashes, enlarged spleen or liver, or pain in the bones as a result of increased pressure. AML can be very difficult to diagnose. Assessments for AML include blood tests, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, analysis of genetic abnormalities, and diagnostic imaging. These tests are designed to help doctors identify leukemic cells (Giles).
killing the cell. Most treatments for cancer include killing the cancerous cell, which can cause a whole new set of problems in the human body. Researchers have found a way to essentially explain how the mutations in a certain cell enzyme, a protein called DNMT3A, could lead to that disruption of proper cell behavior. The UCSB group developed a test to demonstrate that the mutant enzymes in AML can only work on DNA for short distances. As a result, genes are being turned on at the wrong place and time, which in turn can initiate the growth of cancerous cells. There is interest in the pharmaceutical industry in developing other therapeutics to target the enzymes responsible for tagging the DNA incorrectly. These medications would work to reprogram rather than kill the cell. The notion is that if you could just reprogram the cancer cell, it would go back to being normal. This method is currently undergoing research.
Treatment of AML Treatment of AML has to be carefully considered, taking into account important information like which subtype of the disease a patient has, how far the cancer has progressed, a patient’s age, and a patient’s general Stem Cells health and known symptoms. Treatment for AML can Other new research on AML identifies a previously include, but is not limited to, chemotherapy, antibi- unrecognized AML target that responds well to mediotics, bone marrow transfusions, or cation and may be a candidate for use specific medication (Dohner). Curin future clinical trials. Dana-Farber/ rent standard chemotherapy regimens Children’s Transplant Program is also Researchers hope to cure only a small percentage of painvestigating stem cell transplantatients with AML. Sometimes patients find a way to manipulate tion, specifically the use of umbilical do not respond to chemotherapy, or AML cells and possibly cord cells (“Acute Myelogenous Leuan infection is too serious to respond kemia”). Stem cells are cells that are find a way to “change to antibiotics. Almost all AML patients their minds” instead of early in development and have yet to need a plasma transplant, and many receive an identity (Smith). They hope just killing the cell. will require bone marrow transplants. to incorporate these cells in a way to If a patient does achieve remishelp healthy and deteriorating cells sion, more treatment is needed to help function better, and to replace dysprevent a relapse. functional cancer cells to help the body’s processes opPost-remission treatment may consist of chemo- erate effectively. therapy or stem cell transplant. If a relapse occurs, patients can try a different kind of chemotherapy or other The Refinement of Donor Matching investigational therapies. Unfortunately, patients who Also under study is a novel method for helping transrelapse have a low survival rate. planted cells recognize the tissues and organs of the recipient’s body and not react against the recipient’s New Treatment and Innovation: tissue. Scientists are working to develop a way to maReprogramming Cancer Cells nipulate a cell’s reaction to foreign donor tissue or cells Research and investigation for new ways to treat acute so that a person’s antibodies will not attack it (Schaik). myeloid leukemia are ongoing. Recently in 2012, a As of now, most AML patients need cells to help group of researchers at the University of California, them recover from the disease. It is very difficult to be Santa Barbara (UCSB) discovered a molecular path- picky about the blood type of the donor, as patient conway that may explain how the deadly cancer develops ditions tend to be under too much of a time constraint (Harrison). They found a mutation in the amino acid to be able to obtain an exact match. To ensure that a resequence of DNA that disrupts cellular functions. DNA cipient will not reject a donor’s tissue, there are many controls which genes in a cell get turned on and off and drugs that have to be taken and incorporated into a how the cell will act and identify itself. Researchers recipient’s already drug-heavy treatment regimen to hope to find a way to manipulate AML cells and pos- allow for proper incorporation of the donor cells. Even sibly find a way to “change their minds” instead of just with drug therapy to help the match, some patients still Best Student Essays
Ethics in Cancer Treatment The use of stem cells and the certain risks that come from chemotherapy and other forms of leukemia treatment can be subject to many different ethical issues. New technology that is being studied, and treatment options that have recently become available, all come with certain risks and a hefty price. For example, chemotherapy and drugs used to treat cancer can cause permanent damage to different body organs, hair loss, infertility, and, in extreme cases, can cause death. Protecting Healthy Cells Sometimes these serious effects can also be as a result Sometimes innovation comes from unexpected plac- of a doctor’s misuse of medicine, and legal issues can es. One of the most recent and highly promising arise. ideas about a way to cure cancer came from a sevenThere are many ethical issues regarding the use teen-year-old California high school of stem cells. Technology has allowed student named Angela Zhang (Hartscientists to utilize stem cells without man). In her junior year, she develtaking life, but the most useful cells yet oped a research paper on a possible might be found in early human embryway to treat cancer after reading and os. What price are we willing to pay “What price are we researching about biochemistry and to find a cure for cancer? What barriwilling to pay to find bioengineering. Angela’s idea is to mix ers need to be crossed to find the best a cure for cancer?” cancer medicine with a polymer that treatments? would attach to engineered nanopartiEven when new ideas for treatment cles. This new “medicine” would then are found, it takes many years for them be administered to a patient, and the to be tested and deemed acceptable for nanoparticles would attach to cancer clinical trials. Some treatments can be cells, showing up on an MRI, so doctors could see exact- very costly and hard to afford. New treatments in the ly where cancerous tumors are. Angela’s follow-up idea future may be so costly that only the richest hospitals, is that one could aim an infrared light at the tumors to or the richest patients, may have access to them. Ecomelt the polymer and release the medicine. This would nomic barriers can sometimes suggest that there is a result in the death of the cancer cells that the particles price on life, and some people may not be able to afford and medicine were attached to, while leaving healthy it. Medical science may find a cure for leukemia or cancells completely unharmed. cer in the future, but will it be so costly that no one can A huge hardship doctors have when treating can- afford it? cer is to find ways to minimize damage to healthy cells while they treat and try to eradicate cancerous ones. AML in the Future What makes Angela’s research so thrilling is that her With increased research efforts in the cancer field, more idea would highly refine the treatment methods for clinical trials are opening up every year to better test cancer and would hopefully keep healthy, noncancer- the effectiveness of innovative treatments. Increased ous cells safe from being harmed during the treatment publicity and awareness provide a way for research to of the affected cells. A higher count of undamaged, gain funding in hopes of finding more methods to efhealthy cells is correlated with a patient being able fectively treat cancer. Science is constantly evolving, to stay healthier during treatment and increase their and new discoveries are made every day involving canoverall strength to live and cope with symptoms. cer and even the human body and how it reacts with Angela’s methodology is under close study in labs. medication and treatment. Her idea has been tested on mice, and the tumors alThe research scientists from UCSB have very most completely disappeared using her treatment. It promising data and ideas regarding a future way to reis expected that in a handful of years the study will be program AML cells instead of killing them. This techrefined enough to begin clinical trials for humans, and nology would open many new doors in science and the medicine can take another step forward in its journey health field, and likely increase the survival rate of canto finding a cure for cancer. cer patients because their cells would not be destroyed in the process of being treated. Scientists in all kinds of fields, such as hematology and oncology, work on clinical trials and in labs, constantly in hopes of finding new are not able to accept outside tissue if it is too different from their own. The result of this new treatment approach, if it continues being successful, will be that the degree of match between the donor and the recipient will not need to be particularly close. This could eliminate the need of using long-term drug therapy to treat this disorder and greatly increase the number of potential donors for each patient in need of transplant cells.
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information about leukemia. Other methods, such as simple charity organizations, exist to raise awareness and receive donations for research as well. Skills and Qualifications in the Field of Oncology Currently, there is still a vast amount of unknown information about AML. However, the doctors that use what knowledge we have to treat AML and all other kinds of cancers must exercise extreme caution and precision during treatment. First, each doctor working in oncology must have many years of specific schooling and instruction in medicine, a license, and/or certification, along with a vast knowledge of the human body. Doctors spend on average six to eight years as a medical resident to better observe the ins and outs of cancer treatment in a healthcare setting. They must have an exact knowledge of the possible consequences of their actions at all times. In addition to a professional’s knowledge of the human body and cancer, they must also have specific knowledge and training pertaining to AML, particularly because it has its own set of rules and details unlike any other disease. Each different kind of leukemia is classified as such because of key differences that set it apart from everything else. Doctors and those who care for AML patients must also have previous experience working with cancer and leukemia patients to reduce the likelihood of a mistake being made. The medicines and drugs used to treat AML are extremely specific and intense, and the misuse of any of them could cause permanent damage or even death to a patient. Professionals also need to keep themselves very updated on what new information or treatment options come into existence. The last important qualities a doctor or professional must have to adequately care for an AML patient, besides vast knowledge and education, are compassion and a personable demeanor. Having AML, or any type of cancer, can be an incredibly scary and traumatic experience, for not only a patient, but also those close to them. Doctors have to regularly interact with their patients and others to communicate and explain treatment options, update them on what is happening to their bodies, or possibly to let them know how much time they have left. A good doctor would need an extra dose of compassion for others, and specifically for their patients, in these types of critical times. The scientists who study cancer in a lab setting also need to be very knowledgeable in all things molecular and biological. Scientists need passion and patience to work toward a solution or new information about AML. New discoveries take countless hours of work and a lot of trial and error. Years of studying the same subject
might never yield any results, but we still count on oncologists and scientists to work diligently towards the end goal: a cure.
Works Cited Journal Sources 1. Dohner, H., E. H. Estey, S. Amadori, F. R. Appelbaum, T. Buchner, A. K. Burnett, H. Dombret, P. Fenaux, D. Grimwade, R. A. Larson, F. Lo-Coco, T. Naoe, D. Niederwieser, G. J. Ossenkoppele, M. A. Sanz, J. Sierra, M. S. Tallman, B. Lowenberg, and C. D. Bloomfield. “Diagnosis and Management of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Adults: Recommendations from an International Expert Panel, on Behalf of the European LeukemiaNet.” Blood 115.3 (2010): 453-74. Print. 2. Holz-Schietinger, C., D. M. Matje, M. F. Harrison, N. O. Reich. “Oligomerization of DNMT3A Controls the Mechanism of de Novo DNA Methylation.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011; 286 (48): 41479 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.284687 Digital File 3. Giles, Francis J., Armand Keating, Anthony H. Goldstone, Irit Avivi, and Cheryl L. Willman. Acute Myeloid Leukemia. N.p.: American Society of Hematology, Dec.-Jan. 2002. PDF. Web 4. Norsworthy. “New Treaments: Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. 5. Seiter, Karen, MD. “Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.” Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Medscape Reference, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2013. 6. Smith, Matthew, Et. Al. “Myeloid Leukemia.” Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Science Direct, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2013. 7. Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Acute Myeloid Leukemia.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Sept. 2012. Web. 17 Mar. 2013. 8. Jones, Kathy. “’Achilles’ Heel’ Molecule of Lymphoid Leukemia Discovered.” Health News RSS. Medinida, 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. 9. “Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.” Acute Myelogenous Leukemia: What’s Going on Now? Boston Children’s Hospital, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. 10. Schaik, Markus, MD. “AIDA2000 - Risk-Adapted Therapy for Patients with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia.” Acute Myeloid Leukemia. National Cancer Institute, 20 Nov. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. 11. Harrison, and University of California, Santa Barbara. “Processes Leading to Acute Myeloid Leukemia Discovered.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. 12. Johnson, Jacob. “Health Writings.” Prognosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Health Writings, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. 13. Hartman, Steve. “Calif. HS Student Devises Possible Cancer Cure.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 13 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.
Best Student Essays
Trespassing in the Andes Paula Hughson Introduction I am revising this essay on Columbus Day. I have added “trespassing” to the title as a friend has reminded me that Columbus’s arrival began 500 years of genocide in the Americas. My grandson, Roberto, a quiteño, turned sixteen three days ago, which means it is nearly sixteen years since Mike, my ex-husband, and I visited Ecuador for his baptism. I hope the story of my own lived experience there has more human measure than not. Location Laguna Mojanda, Ecuador, elevation: 13,986 feet Date November 1997 Andean condor Species of South American bird in the New World vulture family, found in the Andes. The Andean condor can reach a wingspan of up to 3.2 meters / 10.5 feet. Shamanism A practice that involves reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing. We drive past the outskirts of the town with its masses of geraniums, multicolored bougainvillea, clumps of blue agapanthus, lilies, and all manner of luscious greenery issuing from the moist, dark clumps of earth. Now, as we climb, skirting along the side of the mountain, the wild vegetation on the side of the road turns sparse and somber, the leaves of plants that creep on the ground get bigger, many with coarse, furry surfaces, as if designed to trap and devour. I begin to feel as if I am inside the pages of a story book, inside a convoluted drawing, illustrating evil magic in a fairy tale. The Isuzu struggles with the climb, and the altitude is pressing hard on the sides of my head. I feel a little sick, like something wants desperately to be released. We are approaching Laguna Mojanda, a lake in an ancient volcano caldera at 13,986 feet elevation. It 30
seems hours since we left Otavalo, a town in the mountains north of Quito, selected because of my harebrained idea of wanting to meet a shaman who was said to live there. Mike and I are the only passengers. John, our eldest son who is driving, lives in Quito with his Ecuadorian wife and their baby. John has a degree in philosophy and mathematics and, to my relief, is done with a stint as a bush pilot in Alaska. John tends to do things that cause me anxiety, so I am delighted with his new enterprise; he is a partner for a business that sends roses by plane from Quito to Miami every day. He is fluent in Spanish and is eager to show me and his dad his knowledge of the country and his prowess with the four-wheel drive Isuzu Trooper he has just bought. I had imagined a small village where we could easily get directions to the shaman’s house, but the town, Otavalo, is a fierce, commerce-driven place with signs
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of foreign money influx everywhere—a far cry from the serenity I remember in such towns in South America when I was a child. There is hardly any street or narrow road that is not pockmarked by ugly, two-storied dwellings, hastily made of unpainted concrete blocks, paid for with dollars from whoever in the family has gotten away to jobs in the United States or Europe. The town bustles with vendors peddling the colorful handmade wares so attractive to the mostly young, American and European tourists who walk the streets with delighted expressions: leather crafts, woven hemp articles with ancient geometrical designs, clever objects carved out of all manner of regional materials, and a multitude of hats, sweaters, and ponchos in lamb and alpaca wool. None of the people we ask—shop owners, the man at the cantina, even the pharmacist—know of or have any interest in any native healer, and I begin to feel stupid dragging these two men around asking questions of the locals point blank. John doesn’t care. What he really wants to do is to show us some lakes not far from here, he says, famous for being surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes up at the very crown of the Andes.
mid-size vegetation at this altitude and no other people as far as the eye can see. I am filled with foreboding as we stand in view of the desolate Andean peaks. We survey the vista but soon get back in the jeep, away from the drizzle and chill, my body feeling lighter already at the prospect of leaving this place. The condor appears out of nowhere. I notice the huge dark form, wings outstretched, for a moment taking up the entire view of our windshield, as it glides right above and in front of us. I am struck with an uncanny sense of ill omen—I have lost my coordinates; I am in some other dimension. The condor could just as easily be an alien spaceship. I feel ashamed of myself even as I wonder whether this creature is guiding us somewhere. I think of the shaman I was looking for. Could this be somehow related? Then, in a flash, equally out of place in this desert immensity, in this vastness where just moments ago there was nothing, there is another figure, human, robed in white. “Look!” I say, excited at my discovery, “A man meditating!” I know I sound giddy. I know that I am not really thinking straight as the words leave my mouth. My thoughts are still with the first apparition, ~~~ the condor. Now there is a man in white robes standing on the side of the mountain. An odd sight. Why arMike rides in the back seat in his usual silence while en’t Mike and John responding? Instead, John slows John chats nonstop, eager in his role as tour guide. I the car and comes to a full stop because there is a tree want to show some excitement about the sightseeing, trunk blocking the road. but I am struggling with a mounting We are surrounded by hooded headache and a sinking feeling, both men with guns. The white figure I took of which I attribute to the altitude. for a tourist is clearly in charge of the I have only seen Mike a handful assault. “I am struck with an of times since our divorce ten years There is a blank in my memory. uncanny sense of ill ago: for our twins’ high school graduWhat I see is the ring, a flawless single omen—I have lost my ation, John’s graduation from UNM, pearl in raised platinum setting. It is coordinates; I am in his wedding to Consuelo in Quito two one of the few pieces I had managed to some other dimension.” years ago, and now the baptism of save from the jewelry that my mother their first child. left me, those precious things she put I wish Mike would say something money aside for every month when to celebrate John who is courageously she worked at Sears in Bogotá to supadapting to life in this foreign land, something to fill port our family. I am trying to get it past my knuckle the fractured lines of our broken family. But Mike says in haste while the shortest of the hooded bandits, the nothing. I can’t tell what he is thinking, what he is feel- wiry one with wild eyes that seem inhuman, urges me ing. It was like that when we were married, and I was on with quick, sharp stabs of his pistol. the cheerleader, until I wasn’t anymore. And yet, it still I am terrified at the violence as John helps them to matters so much to me, as I know it matters to John, to rip out the stereo, and now they have him crouching on have his regard, to have his approval. the side of the road, on the driver’s side. The guy in the One last twist of the road, and we are there, faced white robes, who I stupidly thought was some sort of with the silent expanse of white-tipped mountains, monk, is training a large gun on my son’s head. sitting unmovable at the top of the world. I recall the Mike has relinquished the money. He is still in the vision as more strange and vaguely frightening than back seat, motionless. I know that set expression of awesome, just vast space and emptiness and a misty his features, his pressed lips. This is the Mike who can grey stillness over everything. There are no trees or go from silence to physical violence in seconds, who Best Student Essays
pushed a professor against the wall during his medical do with the shaman I was looking for. At this moment, residency and was suspended. It brings my stomach I hate this place with its strange indigenous names. I into my chest for fear that he will make a move for the hate these prehistoric volcanoes posing as lakes. I now guy next to me and we will all be killed. suspect even the hummingbirds and flowers. I feel I am I keep talking. I recite endlessly a litany imploring trespassing. I feel remorse for this habit I have of lookin the name of everything sacred that they take what ing for answers outside myself and dragging others we have—the money, the car, the ring—and let us live. into it. I wanted a native healer to heal the tragedies of “In the name of Jesus, don’t hurt my son,” I say. “In the men in my life. I think of my father whose beautiful the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you don’t want to body ended riddled with bullets in some godforsaken do this.” town also in this South America, so hungry and vioThey have pushed John back into the front seat, lent. I feel guilty for my part in what these two men I sandwiched between two of the assailants, while a care about just had to endure. I feel embarrassed for third commandeers a spot hanging on the spare tire in Mike’s humiliation at being rendered a passive specthe back of the jeep. tator. Mike whose rage barely survived Marine boot John is trying to explain to them, in his intelligent camp. I feel grief for John, who keeps trying so hard to but accented Spanish, how to engage the four-wheel get something right. drive. I hear him mention el embrague, the clutch, and marvel that he knows all these mechanical terms in ~~~ Spanish. From the front passenger seat, the creature with the murderous eyes is half-turned towards Mike I never found the native healer during that visit to and me, with gun poised to go in either direction. Ecuador, and I was too embarrassed to ever mention I cannot remember a single thing these men said. him again. We drove back past a number of colorful I remember their bodies, their hoods, and the guns. towns with their ubiquitous whole-from-head-to-tail Mostly, I remember John crouching roasted pigs displayed outside the helplessly on the side of the road next shops. Nothing much happened when to the mountain, and Mike, motion- “From the front passenger we got back to Quito. Consuelo, my less, in the back seat. daughter-in-law, and her parents were seat, the creature with I have loosed the ring from my perturbed that this had happened to the murderous eyes is finger. I cannot say how the transfer us, but not surprised. Holdups and takes place, that moment of letting go half-turned towards Mike kidnappings are not uncommon in Ecof something else that ties me to my and me, with gun poised uador. In their highly urbane manners, origins, my mother, her mother, shed- to go in either direction.” I couldn’t be sure whether I detected ding yet another piece of my life. How blame for John or myself for having I hate to abandon it here. I give it betaken Mike to such an isolated place. cause it is the only thing to do. I give it The event had deep repercussions in ransom for my son, I give it as I recite what I know, for John. His father insisted that “this was the end of a litany in the manner of the prayers that I learned in his living there” and pressured him to return to the the night-after-night rituals invoking protection in my States and enter law school. This resulted in a divorce childhood. since Consuelo and her parents did not want to see her There is a blank in my memory. I have lost the de- as the wife of a student. tails. Our captors exit the vehicle, push John back in John has told me since then that his dad was never the driver’s seat, and urge us on. This is a trick, I am the same after that day, that when they spoke next, he certain. They just want us to drive the car down to a could tell that something had broken inside him. road proper, so they will not have to bother with the Was he humiliated? For his part, John told me that four-wheel drive. They will surely execute us there and he felt not so much humiliated as violated. Everything take the car for parts. started falling apart for him after that. To this day, But we keep rolling down the mountain in dumb Mike and I have not been able to talk. silence, unimpeded, now past inhabited haunts where I don’t think John has recovered from our experichickens scamper as our wheels barely miss them, and ence in the paramo, but that is his story to tell. Mike, pigs slosh in the wet Andean soil. who retired from academia some time after our expeNo one speaks. John begins to say he is sorry. Mike rience, lives mostly in Iraq where he helps with the desays nothing at all. I cannot get over this feeling, which velopment of medical schools and pathology residency I would never admit to them, about the condor and the programs. I heard that he once appeared in a local soap man robed in white, as if the entire experience had to opera. I remember his telling me during our marriage 32
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how he wanted to go and see the world if he were free of family responsibilities. For my part, I have to be on guard against trespassing again so glibly in settings I do not understand, including the territory that belongs to other human beings. What vast, empty places we may hold behind attractive exteriors, what damaged, hungry, easily bruised inhabitants.
Best Student Essays
Unveiling the Censored Female: The Siege of Pevensey as Social Criticism A. H. R. Faucheux “I would a thousand Times rather forfeit my character as a Writer, than risk ridicule or censure as a Female.” - Frances Burney
Historical Context: Female Playwrights in the ties that a man did not. First, the very nature of theater Eighteenth Century was hazardous. The reputation of a woman was threatIt was much more difficult for a woman in eighteenth ened by the inherent liberality of the world of drama. In century Europe to be a playwright than a novelist. Ac- eighteenth century England, reputation was the most cording to Ellen Donkin, only 7 percent of plays pro- valuable asset of a young woman—a theme recurrent duced in London between 1600 and 1800 were written in contemporary novels. The theater as a public place by women (1). This number is surprising for two op- implied liberal contacts with the opposite gender, and posite reasons. First, as scholars such as Emily Hodg- generally allowed for a liberty of movement rarely givson Anderson suggest, women were more inclined to en to women. The constant contact with men necessarwrite in both genres—the novel and plays—than male ily implied a sexual liberalization. Even though women writers (3). Novels could be written at home, and they had been allowed to act on stage since 1629, actresses in demanded a lot of effort and time. Plays, on the other the eighteenth century were still called harlots. Emily hand, were quicker to write, and they could bring more Hodgson Anderson writes that, by 1719, like actresses, money than novels if they were successful enough to “women playwrights were also reviled as sexually probe produced several times. In addimiscuous—attacked for their assumed tion, Anderson argues that female private, personal conduct—because of writers had a veritable desire to expethe offensively public nature of their rience the type of audience reaction chosen career” (5). Moreover, female “The constant contact proper to the theater (Anderson 6). decorum was imposed on women to with men necessarily Yet, Donkin suggests that the number remain within the private sphere, in implied a sexual of women playwrights at that time is effect, to remain as remote as possible liberalization.” surprising given the colossal obstacles from the public space. Anderson notes before them. that “a woman was expected to be priSeeing one’s plays accepted and vate, self-effacing, and reserved” (6). produced in the eighteenth century In that respect, the theater representwas difficult for playwrights of both ed a world beyond the limits of the congenders. The Licensing Act of 1737 imposed such a ventions of the female sex, and, therefore, female playstrict censorship on plays with a political or sexual con- wrights were in danger of being seen as transgressing text that few plays reached the stage. On top of this, ex- their gender norms. Donkin analyzes conduct books ternal elements to the playwright’s will or talent could of the eighteenth century and concludes that their dedetermine the success of the play: willingness of the ac- scriptions of cultural expectations on women were the tors to rehearse and act well, and the relation between very antithesis to the work demanded of a playwright. playwright and manager, place, and audience. In short, She writes: even a well-written play could be booed off the stage. Yet, if so few women were successful as playwrights, or [A female playwright] had to dispense with difcould even get their plays considered by theater manfidence in order to communicate effectively with agers, it was because women had to overcome difficulmanagers and actors; she had to circulate freely 34
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backstage so that she could take in rehearsals and anticipate problems with actors; she had to read and see plays routinely in order to understand better the complexities and potentials of her craft. And last but not least, she had to be ambitious and want the applause and admiration that came with a successful production. (Donkin 15-16)
actually produced, a female playwright was ultimately dependent on factors external to her capacity or will: production, actors, audience, places, and so on. In her study of seven female playwrights, including Frances Burney, Donkin argues that the relative popularity of these women in theater had the ironic effect of “showing that in spite of the open doors, only a small fraction would succeed anyway, reinforcing a general notion that women were inherently unsuited or unequal to the task [of writing plays]” (3).
These necessities entailed “vices” unacceptable in women: overtness, position of command over men, reading and attending to plays, and vanity. The perceived character and behavior of a young woman had Frances Burney and Tragedy: A Feminist Readconsequences that went beyond her mere reputation. ing of The Siege of Pevensey In the eighteenth century, an unmarried woman would As Gayle Rubin has famously argued in “Traffic in have been considered a burden to a family. Moreover, Women,” women are used as commodities to serve the marriage was a way to link two fampurpose of establishing relationships, ilies and to ensure the prosperity of alliances, rivalry, and gift-giving be“Even when a play was the children although the idea of notween men. In this exchange system, bility as conceived by the society of actually produced, a female women do not have power over themthe previous century was progressive- playwright was ultimately selves, nor can they actively particily changing. Being seen as “unfemipate in the exchange; in fact, they can dependent on factors nine,” therefore, had consequences only acquiesce to or refuse it, but they external to her capacity not only for a woman’s reputation, do not have agency. In The Siege of Peor will: production, but it also had economic consequencvensey, Frances Burney illustrates the actors, audience, places, es for both herself and her family. powerlessness of female characters and so on.” A third obstacle to female playwho are constrained to the masculine wrights was education. A woman’s spheres that govern their existence. education (if any was received at all) would have been The main female protagonist is exchanged between disadvantageous compared to that of a man’s. Donkin her father and her future husband. In this exchange, argues that although men were trained in the oratory art Adela is a passive object who is unable to make decias well as in theater, nothing of the sort was offered to sions of her own or to resist male domination. Because women. In fact, women were encouraged to study such of this passivity, she is unable to resolve conflicts that arts as drawing and music as part of the development arise between two opposite systems of laws, that of her of their “natural grace,” and, therefore, as a function father and that of her lover. Her dependency on male of decoration rather than any intellectual contribution. protagonists also renders her unable to defend herself Female education was mostly private, involving almost against their psychological domination. Once again, it no contact with the public sphere, and thus no possi- is important to consider the fact that Frances Burney bility of networking—even for writers such as Burney wrote this tragedy privately, with no intention of pubwho benefited from a relatively important circle of lit- lishing it or producing it on stage, at a moment in her erary connections. Donkin writes that “education was life when her own powerlessness to face her father’s difficult, role-modeling was very difficult, but informal decision over her destiny was particularly evident. For opportunistic networking was almost impossible if this reason, I argue that her subtle criticism of gender respectability and reputation were to be maintained” relations and the objectification made of women via (12). This type of confined education would also im- Adela’s experience is more powerful and more acerply a lack of experience in terms of actual knowledge bic than in her published works. Moreover, I believe of plays and productions—an important part to play the choice of the setting of the plot in twelfth centufor playwrights, as the success of their plays depended ry England is no coincidence. Indeed, using the past heavily on how the play was performed. allows her to displace her criticism on gender models Becoming a playwright was particularly arduous and gender relations unto a world different than her for female writers, not only in terms of the challenge contemporaries’, and at the same time, it allows her to to their reputation as women—and all the economic inscribe her plays within national history. risks entailed in being seen as unwomanly—but also in In The Siege of Pevensey, Adela is used alternaterms of education and the access to experience linked tively as monetary means, coercive means, or means to the world of the theater. Even when a play was of reward. Throughout the play, she has very little to Best Student Essays
do her with her own destiny. Adela is physically seized by male figures a total of three times. Barbara Darby’s “Triangular representation of Adela’s position in Siege” (Figure 4) is useful to examine Adela as a passive object rather than a self-reliant character.
We can observe that, for at least three of the characters (De Warrenne, William, and Chester), Adela is used as an object to obtain something—power, reward, status—from another male figure. Even De Belesme seeks to obtain Adela in marriage as recompense for his gallantry. The vocabulary used by Chester in the last lines of the play actually revolves around the possessions of an object (“take her; guard her” 5.16.7). In fact, the lexical field of monetary possessions is used throughout the play to talk about Adela: the noun “prize” is used recurrently, she is Chester’s “treasure” (1.1.71), and she is to be “claimed” and “purchased” (3.14.5; 3.1.43); William claims “’Tis cheap pay / to give [De Warrenne] Chester’s Daughter for his services” (2.4.14-15), and so on. Adela sees herself as an object. When she reflects on her marriage with De Warrenne, whom she despises, she says, “My noble Father / was never formed to link with Lord De Warrenne” (3.11.26-27). What she sees in this prospected marriage is not her own life as De Warrenne’s wife, but what it means in terms of her father’s reputation, in other words, what relationship her marriage would create between two men. Rubin’s analysis of kinship societies (based on Lévi-Strauss) is particularly relevant in this example, for even Adela sees marriage as only a social alliance between her father and De Warrenne. Barbara Darby further argues that “women are ‘caught’ (literally and metaphorically) between men when the political, popular, and moral authority of one man over another becomes displaced onto or reenvisioned as parental, moral, or marital control of a woman” (49). Adela, as an object, is a means for one male character to gain control or authority over another man. The most obvious example is the captivity of Adela in the enemy’s camp in order 36
to obtain either money or a means for retribution of William. William uses Adela as a way of ensuring Chester’s loyalty after he lets go of De Belesme. The value of Adela as an object of exchange value is emphasized very early in the play, when Chester expresses concern about Adela’s life as a captive of the enemy: “If ’tis by Famine we besiege the Castle / She, useless, will be the first left unnourish’d / She, Captive, will the soonest be abused!” (1.3.12-15). After the initial concern about her health, the third verse is a veiled anguish about her sexual purity. When Adela comes back, Chester “dreads” to hear about her “treatment” (1.9.12-13), which she soon assures her father was “most noble” and that De Belesme protected her of “unheard of horrors” (1.9.14; 1.9.22). In eighteenth century literature, sexual violence was not explicitly referred to, but often implied by this type of peripheral statement. Sexual violence on Adela might have vitiated her value. Throughout the play, Burney carefully constructs her main female character as a passive object that is transacted between male characters as a way to gain social power. From a biographical standpoint, this calls to mind Frances Burney’s own father convincing her to take position at court in order to gain favors from the royal family for himself and Frances’ brother, James. Yet, from a larger social point of view, what Burney criticizes is the concept of marriage, the literal passing of the daughter from the father to the husband. In the play, the idea of marriage is focused on two concerns: De Warrenne’s avidity for Adela’s dowry, and De Belesme’s status as an enemy—in other words, a bad social connection. For Adela, the dilemma posed by De Belesme’s proposition of a secret marriage to save her from becoming the bride of De Warrenne is that paternal authority is unavailable to make the decision for her. It is De Belesme’s status as an enemy, and the fact that she does not have her father’s approval—despite knowing that De Belesme is honorable—which render her unable to accept or reject the proposal. What Burney subtly criticizes here is the female dependency upon patriarchal laws that render them powerless when faced with a conflict. Adela cannot marry De Belesme because her father is unavailable to approve of it. On the other hand, she cannot not marry De Belesme because her marriage with De Warrenne would be an “unnatural” link made between her father and her husband. Until the very end, Adela wishes that “[her] generous Father knew [her] conflict! / Would he not say Take De Belesme—and end it!” (4.4.4-5). In any case, her choice is ultimately void. For, in two crucial scenes, Adela’s voice and power of decision-making are annihilated first by De Belesme’s and then by her father’s verbal domination. De Belesme uses his authority as lover and as
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guardian over Adela to convince her to marry him in Act III, scene xii. The choices he presents to her are Manichean—either marry De Warrenne and be unhappy forever, or marry him and be happy. He counters her only argument—that she cannot decide without her father’s approval—by emphasizing the honor of his proposition (3.11.55-70). He bargains with her, paints an image of Chester approving of the proposition (3.14.11-14), and finally urges her to decide immediately. This scene, which results in the complete surrender of Adela, is a perfect mirror image of the coming scene in which Chester abuses his power over Adela. In both scenes, Adela is unable to defend herself or to make any opposition to the evident superiority of both lover and father. Despite Chester’s claims to be liberal, (“I cannot play the tyrant with my child / I do bequeath her to her own decision” 5.11.22-23), he uses psychological domination over Adela in Act IV scene v to discover her secret. I have deconstructed hereafter the passage to show what rhetorical instruments are used restlessly to bend Adela to Chester’s will: Rhetorical tropes
Emotions created in Adela
Authoritative command: “Nay, tell me the whole at once / Concealment is in youth the nurse of danger / ’Tis Art’s first step…” (33-39) Feigned incredibility: “I know thee, Adela / To evil all stranger, to deceit/Invulnerable; yet I see some deep purpose…” (42- 44) “Art thou guilty? Thou!” (69) Coaxing: “Why wilt not open to me all thy heart? / Fear not to speak; thou shalt not find me rigid…” (48- 52) Feigned indifference: “Do as thou wilt. I aim not at compulsion (…) I leave thee to thyself”(61- 64) Emotional shaming: “Thy Honour is the Honour of my House” (62) “I know thou dost not mean to lose thy Father” (90) Deconstruction of her speech: “Are [duty, affection, honour, gratitude] at War? / who, what has sumder’d them?” (72-73) Displacement of the blame: “Curse Thee? O Adela! Not if thou murder’st me! / Curse thee? Thou shakst my soul with wondering horror!”(75-78) Bargaining: “Suppose thy full success, suppose thee pardon’d / Say, is it nothing to require forgiveness?” (99-100) Threat: “Nothing, to lose the innocent elation / That, bounding in thy youthful Brest, till now / Wak’d thee each morn with this fair filial Hymn…” (102108) Indirect blaming in lines 112 to 124: (Chester emphasizes how Adela was born and raised pure, so that every act she does on her own is a consequence of her own depravity.)
Fear (“But not in anger? / Say not in anger! Spare my struggling soul!”) (65- 68)
Inextractibility of her situation
Emotional pressure (“ah! Spare me!”)
Fear and surrender (“o cease! O cease!”)
From this table we can see that Chester grows more and more violent, changing his tactics every time. In comparison, Adela can merely utter small sentences, generally exclamations, and is utterly defenseless against this violent diatribe. By using his authority as her father, Chester completely covers Adela’s voice and annihilates her
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power of self-reflection and freedom of choice. escape the exchange between father and husband beAdela’s voice cannot be heard because she is over- cause she does not possess the power of giving herself powered by male authority, which dictates the laws away to someone else. that govern her existence. In fact, her only two climatIn The Siege of Pevensey, Adela’s education and ic scenes are the only times she makes a decision for the patriarchal laws that taught her to depend on, subherself. The first one is when she decides to save De mit, and revere the authority of the father/husband ulBelesme, a decision she made while her father was ab- timately make her unable to reconcile two conflicting sent. However, this action, as Darby remarks, is ulti- laws. Dominated by the all-powerful masculine voice, mately done to obey paternal lessons on honor and to she is reduced to silence and her most active decisions obtain her father’s approbation. The second one is the are futile in front of masculine authority. The play thus most important, when she is confronted by a veritable allows Burney to expand on a strong criticism of the Sophie’s choice of marrying De Warrenne, or seeing constraints of women in patriarchal spheres. Moreher father die. Adela cannot marry De Warrenne be- over, it is Adela’s unquestioned obedience to her father cause it is a terrible connection to her father and also that renders her unable to make decisions for herself, because she does not love him. This is crucial because, or to defend herself from the verbal assaults of male to Burney, love is the primary condition to a success- lovers. Yet, in the end, after she has proven to be devotful marriage. Adela exclaims to De ed to her father to the point of making Warrenne, “thou has scap’d an evil / the sacrifice of her own happiness and Hardest and heaviest ‘gainst domestic well-being, marriage comes as a recpeace / A thankless Wife!…while her ompense for both her and the virtuous “Adela’s voice cannot lonely Hours…Blithed her Youth, and De Belesme. However, the last scenes be heard because she blasted thy last Days…” (5.11.113-128). of the play do not emphasize her gratiThe sentiments of the bride detertude or her happiness to her future life, is overpowered by mine the happiness of the couple, and but the futility of her own, null power male authority…” even her physical health. This echoes of decision-making and the silence to the rising idea in eighteenth century which she is reduced. If The Siege of culture of marriage for love, versus Pevensey is worthy of modern attenan older perception of marriage as tion, it is because it reveals a much alliances between aristocratic families. Adela first ac- more socially conscious and scathingly critical aspect cepts to marry De Warrenne, because, to her, “filial of Frances Burney. Although there has been work done obedience” is “the first great Law of life” (4.1.2). The upon her plays, the fact that her tragedies are largepathetic scene in which Chester tries to talk her out of ly overlooked is inconsistent with the work of re-init (significantly, with not the same rhetorical force as in scription of women playwrights in literary history. The a previous scene) turns her decision into an impossi- Siege of Pevensy in particular is a clean-cut example of ble dilemma. Then, for the first time, Adela formulates Burney’s often misunderstood criticism of the role of a solution that is outside of paternal laws and marital women in patriarchal societies. The critique on marlaws: giving up her dowry to the crown and living re- riage subtly embedded in the play resonates strongly clusively in a convent. The choice of a convent is sig- amongst other works of her contemporaries. From a nificant, for the clergy stands for another patriarchal biographical point of view, The Siege of Pevensy adds sphere in which men become the interpreters of God’s another dimension to our understanding of Frances word and, therefore, hold a divine power over women. Burney, especially when she, like her heroine, was subYet, the convent is also a female homosocial world in jected to a father’s authority and the consequences it which “No Eye uncloister’d must behold [her] more” had on her voice as a writer. (William 5.11.86). In other words, where Adela would not be judged, evaluated, “prized,” and priced by the male gaze. However, the non-realization of Adela’s wish—to “wave these nuptial rites” (5.7.65)—in the end suggests the futility of her attempt: living in a convent would have signified a concrete, active decision—or an act of power—in other words, something inaccessible to women. Yet, as Rubin argues, “to enter into a gift exchange as a partner, one must have something to give. If women are for men to dispose of, they are in no position to give themselves away” (37). Adela cannot 38
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Works Cited Anderson, Emily Hodgson. Eighteenth-Century Authorship And The Play Of Fiction : Novels And The Theater, Haywood To Austen / Emily Hodgson Anderson. n.p.: New York : Routledge, 2009., 2009. Burney, Frances. The Siege of Pevensey. The Complete Plays of Frances Burney Volume 2 Tragedies. London : Pickering, 1995. Donkin, Ellen. Getting Into The Act : Women Playwrights In London, 1776-1829 / Ellen Donkin. n.p.: New York : Routledge, 1995., 1995. Doody, Margaret Anne. Frances Burney : The Life In The Works / Margaret Anne Doody. n.p.: New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c1988., 1988. Epstein, Julia. The Iron Pen : Frances Burney And The Politics Of Women’s Writing / Julia Epstein. n.p.: Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press, c1989., 1989. Kilpatrick, Sarah. “Fanny Burney.” Fanny Burney. 1. n.p.: 1981. Historical Abstracts Rubin, Gayle. “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex”. “The” Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory. New York : Routledge, 1997. Sabor, Peter. The Cambridge Companion To Frances Burney / Edited By Peter Sabor. n.p.: Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007., 2007. n.p.: New York : Routledge, 1995., 1995.
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