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By Tess Barrett, Levi McAllister, and Daniella Pozo, IV Form
Visual Representations of the Relationship Between Oral and Written History in Atlantic World
Instructor’s Note from Ms. Killeen: Atlantic World, a history elective, recently explored the story of Sundiata. This epic of a Western African king from the 1200s was relayed orally for hundreds of years because Ancient Mali was a non-literate society. In the modern Western world, we tend to trust the written word more than traditional storytelling, but Mali’s griots (historians and storytellers) would argue that oral history, which is kept closer to the heart and is therefore connected to people, is more truthful. After reading Sundiata and some Western secondary sources, students were asked to create a visual display describing the history of Ancient Mali. With a few guiding questions—Can we know what really happened? Which parts of the story are true in detail, and which are true in spirit? Does the African story have a different emphasis than the Western ones? What is important to each culture and why?—and the requirement that the project be “visual,” each student was given the freedom to demonstrate their learning in their own way.
Tess, Daniella and Levi said that they liked having the freedom to express their ideas while they were challenged by the task of representing both sides fairly and equally. Ultimately, they came to recognize the value of oral history in its own right, and to question our predisposition to automatically trust the written word.
By Domenic Mongillo, VI Form
The Use of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie” as Anthems in United States History
Contributor’s Note: For this assignment, the task was to examine a Civil War or Reconstruction monument as a type of miniature research project. The resulting project would be able to tell a compelling story about the monument while also explaining the creation of the monument and the context around its creation. The most important part of this project, however, was to explore the monument’s importance to historical memory and how it has reflected the context of its creation throughout history. The projects were able to take on any media that would have helped to explain these facets of the monument; some students chose to make databases, posters, presentations, or videos. While “monuments,” constituted the official topic of inquiry, students were free to choose anything that had contributed to the memory of the Civil War era.
In my video, I chose to address the two songs: “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie.” Originally, I was going to focus solely on “Dixie,” but further research prompted me to realize that juxtaposition with an opposing song from the northern side of the Civil War would lead to a compelling comparison that I was eager to explore. I was fascinated by how these songs not only clashed during the Civil War, but have also been anthems of opposing sides leading up to the present. I looked at a few individual monuments that I could have possibly explored, but choosing a topic that carried significant weight to people in both past and present seemed much more interesting to me.(more…)
By Matthew Walsh, VI Form
A Fourth Amendment Opinion
An Eastborough College student, petitioner Mike Smith, was driving his car near campus when Officer Frank Jones recognized Smith’s car as one that he had stopped a few weeks prior. After following Smith for three blocks, Officer Jones observed Smith swerve past the median line—a traffic violation. He promptly pulled Smith over. While the car’s passenger, John Brown, was discernibly intoxicated, Smith exhibited no signs of drunkenness. However, when asked to walk in a straight line, Smith failed, and he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. In response, Officer Jones returned to his squad car, procured a “sniffer” device, and, without Smith’s consent, tested Smith’s blood alcohol content (BAC) using the device. The device showed that Smith’s BAC exceeded 0.08%, the legal limit for driving.
Officer Jones then arrested Smith for drunk driving, handcuffed him, and searched him. He found a pack of rolling papers, which Officer Jones interpreted as drug paraphernalia for marijuana cigarettes. Thus, Jones secured Smith in a police cruiser and subsequently searched his car. Upon finding a small, locked container, Jones broke the lock and discovered heroin. The State of X has charged Smith with drunk driving and possession with intent to distribute heroin, but Smith has moved to suppress all evidence obtained during the traffic stop, arguing that the searches and seizures that occurred violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. (more…)
By Jason Zhang, VI Form
An Examination of the Ethics of Examining with Hitchcock and Foucault
Surveillance requires two groups: those who are watching and those who are being watched, which brings up the morality of surveillance. Is it appropriate for someone to observe another person intentionally? Does a person’s behavior change if they know that they are being watched? How is a person affected when their privacy is stripped away from them? Both the film Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock and the essay “To Discipline and Punish” by Michel Foucault attempt to answer these questions. In Rear Window, Jeff is a brave man who has a history of racing sports cars and being in the military. Unfortunately, his adventurous life comes to a halt when he injures his leg. Jeff is forced to remain in his small, New York City apartment for weeks. Besides the occasional visit from his caretaker and his girlfriend, Jeff’s life is unbearably uneventful until he begins to watch his neighbors from the rear window. Likewise, Foucault’s essay “To Discipline and Punish” tries to understand the consequences of surveillance, but from the perspective of a prison’s architectural design. The prison cells of a Panopticon are arranged so that they all surround one viewing tower placed at the center of the circular building. Therefore, a person inside the viewing tower can see every cell and every person in a cell can see the person inside the viewing tower. Although it is never explicitly said whether or not surveillance is good or bad, both Rear Window and “To Discipline and Punish” come to the conclusion that surveillance is a powerful action. (more…)