Jeffery Hammond Delivers Annual Reeves Lecture: “I’m With Her: A Feminist Parable from Ancient Egypt”

On Monday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. in the Daugherty-Palmer Commons, Jeffrey Hammond, Ph.D. gave a talk on women in ancient Egypt, titled “I’m With Her: A Feminist Parable from Ancient Egypt.” The lecture series, established in 1997, is held in the memory of George Bradford Reeves, Sr., and is given annually by the current holder of the Reeves Chair, which recognizes “a distinguished, eminent scholar with broad expertise in classical civilization and a gifted teacher who provides academic leadership at St. Mary’s” (InsideSMCM). Hammond, a professor of English, has held this chair since 2001.

The program itself focused on a particular point of fascination for Hammond: ancient Egypt. While his fascination first started with Ramses II in the 1956 film, “The Ten Commandments,” he has since grown to see Ramses II as a pompous leader. Ramses, he reflects, focused more on building tall statues than he did being a decent leader.

Hatshepsut, Hammond decides, is the more worthy idol. While female pharaohs like Hatshepsut were not unheard of in ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut’s strategic skill and wisdom made her near legendary. As stepmother of future pharaoh, Thutmose III, Hatshepsut already held considerable power. In fact, many women of the time came to power by either marrying the pharaoh or mothering one.

Another female pharaoh, Nefertiti, was likely a co-regent alongside her husband, Akhenaten, and many other female pharaohs found themselves as ruler if their husband died before the next pharaoh in line was of age. Other than that, many Egyptian women could expect a place in society superior to women in other classical civilizations, and could do almost anything that their male counterparts could, except vote. Though, as Hammond jokes, “Basically no one could vote then anyway.”

Hammond reflects on why it is that, as a child, he found himself drawn to Ramses II over any of the worthy female pharaohs. He decides that it was probably due to a childish immaturity and ignorance, which blinded him to women like Hatshepsut. In our own patriarchal society, we often tend to overlook women in power, viewing them more as anomalies.

The title of the talk, “I’m with Her,” is a reference to the 2016 Clinton campaign slogan of the same name, making a clear connection between women like the former secretary of state and Hatshepsut. Women, he says, are surprisingly underrepresented in American politics, making up only a quarter of the representatives in the U.S. House, a record high as of 2018. This does not sit well with Hammond, especially given the proof that women can be fantastic leaders in Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III, is nothing more than a footnote in history, notable mostly for mistakes in battle and trying his best to erase anything alluding to Hatshepsut, from records to monuments. Ramses II and Thutmose III remind Hammond of other bigoted and disappointing male rulers of the modern age.

In 1997, a terrorist attack on the tomb of Hatshepsut took the lives of 62, many of whom were women. This attack, which has come to be known as the Luxor Massacre, specifically targeted women, torturing and butchering them in the sacred temple of one of the strongest female rulers in Egyptian history. The significance, Hammond notes, is not small. Women targeted in the tomb of one of history’s most powerful women is just another sign of the issues of modern society that we refuse to acknowledge.

Poet Sami Miranda Visits St. Mary’s College of Maryland as Featured Artist of VOICES Reading Series

On Feb. 21, Washington, D.C. poet, teacher and visual artist Sami Miranda visited St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) as a featured speaker in the VOICES Reading Series, directed by Associate Professor of English Karen Leona Anderson.

Associate Professor of Spanish Jose Ballesteros introduced Miranda at the beginning of the event. Ballesteros and Miranda know each other very well, as Ballesteros serves as Miranda’s editor and publisher. In his introduction, Ballesteros remarked, “Sometimes it is best to just shush and get out of the way when I am standing next to Sami at a podium,” which foreshadowed the great presence which the audience was about to witness once Miranda made his way to the front of the crowd.

Ballesteros explained that his publishing company, Zozobra Publishing, makes an effort to publish artists whose careers were only beginning, hinting at the way Miranda himself was discovered. Although he may have started small, Miranda made it extremely clear that he has created a name for himself in the poetry world.

Born into a family of Puerto Rican heritage, Miranda’s parents moved to New York before his birth. Miranda lived his entire life in New York, where he grew up in an extremely racially diverse area. His experiences with the various cultures and people with whom he grew up inspired the title of one of his most recent poems, “We Is,” which he explained was a homage to the Black vernacular of his hometown.

Miranda explained that he started writing poetry at the age of 26 while working as a ninth-grade teacher. He explained that his students refused to write poetry in class unless Miranda did so with them, and it is for this reason that Miranda picked up the pen and found his own love for writing poetry. Despite having written for a vast number of years, Miranda claimed he continues to lack confidence in his poetry. He stated that writing poetry is “a constant process of making yourself better.”

The first poem Miranda read was a part of his collection of “Self-Portraits.” These are not the typical self-portraits which one would expect to find in an art gallery, but rather self-portraits comprised of words. Miranda has written “Self-Portraits” to encapsulate various parts of his life. The first poem was a recollection of Miranda’s humble beginnings, as he remembered only being able to afford Skippies, “the cheap version of Converse,” and the ridicule he received from his classmates for his family’s lack of money.

Other “Self-Portrait” poems included “Self-Portrait with Mullet at 120 lbs Soaking Wet,” which captured Miranda’s arrival at college and his road to finding his place in his new environment. The first lines stated, “This is an unfamiliar place / Where I am the unfamiliar.” Throughout his life Miranda experienced many obstacles, but ultimately rose above all of the struggles to establish a name for himself in the poetry world.

The last “Self-Portrait” Miranda shared with the audience was from his current point in life, titled “Self-Portrait with a Goatee and a Fedora,” which he read in front of SMCM students while he sported both a goatee and a fedora. Just as a self-portrait painting is intended to do, Miranda reflected not only his image, but also his thoughts, feelings and personality in each of his “Self-Portrait” poems.

After sharing his “Self-Portraits”, Miranda read his series of poems inspired by items which were found in the desert between the Mexican and American borders. The first item was a child’s shoe. Miranda read, “Do the numbers of holes in the sole match the number of holes in you?” He also wrote poems inspired by items such as a Spanish-English Dictionary, a pack of cigarettes and a water bottle with a crucifix.

As a second-generation Puerto Rican-American, Miranda addresses topics of race and refugees, especially in regards to the destruction caused in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria in 2017. His chapbook published in 2017 titled “Departure” is comprised of poems which all revolve around the theme of having to leave home. He references the devastation inflicted upon Puerto Rico in these poems, as many Puerto Ricans continue to be forced from their homes in order to seek refuge somewhere else. When discussing the loss and pain in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, Miranda stated, “We carry our flag everywhere, probably because we do not belong anywhereー even though we are owned by the United States.” Miranda is extremely prideful of his heritage and reflects so in his poetry.

Miranda explained each poem is different when it comes to the amount of time it requires to be written. He mentioned that he never submits the first draft, stating that “a lot of people fall in love with their first drafts, and that is not good, because it is never the best. It is criminal to fall in love with your first draft.” He also described his different modes of visual art— such as photography, painting and his current mode, embroidery.

The next installment of Anderson’s VOICES Reading Series will be on Thursday, March 28 in Daugherty-Palmer Commons at 8:15 p.m., and will feature SMCM alumni Mary Adelle (‘11) and Clare Hogan (‘16).

 

Club Spotlight: Student Education Association

St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) has a wide variety of clubs on campus, ensuring that every student can find an outlet to meet new friends and engage in some of their favorite activities, or even learn new skills. The Student Education Association (SEA) has been an active club at SMCM for over six years, allowing students who are interested in pursuing a career in education to work with children firsthand.

SEA hosts various events throughout the school year, with the main events being the seasonal Parents’ Night Out, during which the club members sign up for time slots to watch the children of SMCM professors so they can enjoy a night out without having to worry about paying for childcare. The events are held in the Trinity Parish Hall, and the children are provided with activities, crafts, dinner, a story and if possible, outside playtime.

The club also helps put together Halloween at the MPOARC, and hosts a table at the event with coloring pages, candy and slime for the children to enjoy. There is an annual teacher appreciation breakfast for SMCM Educational Studies professors hosted by SEA members in the spring.

Aside from hosting events, SEA collects various items throughout the year to donate to St. Mary’s County Public Schools. At the beginning of the school year, the club organizes a drive to collect donations of school supplies. In the winter, SEA holds their annual hoodie drive, and collects donations of sweatshirts for Spring Ridge Middle School (SRMS). A teacher at SRMS then organizes a raffle, enabling students who do not have winter coats to win a free hoodie to wear in the cold months. SRMS staff members have shared with the club that the students who win hoodies are seen proudly wearing their sweatshirts for years after.

Jaclyn “Jackie” Machina (‘19) has been a member of SEA since her freshman year and serves as the club’s secretary. Machina stated, “[SEA] is a club which gave me great friends, better connections to the Ed Studies Department, and awesome opportunities to use my time and energy to help others.”

Machina explains that one of her most distinct memories was when SEA acted to provide comfort and help to Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County after a tragic shooting in March of 2018, when club members worked alongside the faculty of the Educational Studies department to design a T-shirt which was then sold to raise money for the high school. Machina stated that the club raised over $1,000 in  T-shirt sales, and the money was then donated to help create a relaxing space for the staff to use at Great Mills High School after the devastating incident.

Aside from designing and selling a T-shirt, SEA also created a banner for SMCM students to sign and then delivered it to the high school to demonstrate the support the school was receiving from the community. Machina remarked, “I’m proud of our club’s hard work which demonstrated the things we stand for in such an impactful way.”

Maura Mullaney (‘21) explained that she joined SEA because she is a student in the Educational Studies department and thought that it would be fun to meet others with aspirations to become educators. Mullaney stated that the club has taught her some great ideas regarding activities and lessons to do with children when she becomes a teacher.

When asked about her profound memories while in the club, Mullaney stated that “Halloween at the ARC was really fun! It was so cute to see all of the kids in their costumes!” Mullaney also stated that she loves the bond she has formed with everyone in the club and she loves working with children, and would recommend that any Educational Studies students should join SEA.

SEA is not a club exclusive to Educational Studies students and minors. All SMCM students are welcome to attend the bi-weekly meetings, which are held on Monday nights at 8 p.m. in Goodpaster 239.

Student Spotlight: Fulbright Scholars at SMCM

This past school year, SMCM has been lucky to receive three students as Teacher Assistants (TA’s) for German, French and Spanish classes brought to us with the Fulbright Scholarship. The scholarship was created to “(a) enhance the foreign language programs at Universities in America by having native speakers (who are English teachers in their home countries) teach their own language and culture, and (b) help the TA’s improve their English skills by having them involved in the community, taking classes related to American culture and live in an American college environment,” Ana Cifuentes Orozco explained. As a Spanish TA from Bogotá, Columbia she explains, “there are plenty of colleges and universities where we can be placed. However, the Fulbright program doesn’t actually let us “choose” a college, but rather, they give us a list of 5 possible colleges that are interested in us, we have to rank them according to our preferences.” At the end of the process, the TA’s are assigned to a college which is best suitable for both the college and TA’s.

Wendy Lejeune is from France, and says her “life at St Mary’s is extremely different from my life back home.” She notes “ The most significant difference is probably the fact that I live on campus here when, at home, I live in an apartment outside of the university during the academic year. Besides, my role here is to be a teaching assistant whereas, in France, I’m a ‘full-time’ student.”

Sascha Kozma grew up in Germany. Kozma remarks on his transition to SMCM, feeling “decelerated here.  It’s not just the tranquil environment but also fewer daily obligations. I find more time here to do sports, for example, and I will probably have a hard time getting used again to cooking my own meals when I am back in Germany again.”  

Feeling stuck on campus often has the trio feeling isolated in theremote area. Cifuentes recalls how her “whole life is now completely different.” Having had access to public transportation, malls, restaurants, shops, parks and many other places close by, here she feels less stressed and more relaxed.

However, the trio will return to their home countries following the end of the school year.

Lejeune states, “I have mixed feelings about my return to France. On the one hand, I can’t wait to see my family and my friends (and the ocean) again, going back to ‘my life’, what’s known and certain. But on the other hand, my life here has been— and still is— full of new experiences, encounters, adventures etc. It is very much more characterized by the unexpected. I wouldn’t be able to say which one I prefer. I will miss aspects of my life in the US when I’ll go back home as much as I currently miss aspects of my life in France.”

Kozma is looking forward to seeing his friends and family again, but “will be sad to say ‘goodbye’ to friends that he has made here. Cifuentes feels a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, Ana states,” I’m excited about going back and seeing my family, friends, and favorite places again.” But on the other hand, she feel a sad because she has developed strong friendships with many people here, as well as adapting to the St. Mary’s Lifestyle. So, it’ll be hard to leave. “I cannot say that I prefer one place over the other. Both home and SMCM are unique and make me feel happy in different ways,” concluded Ana.

Cifuentes, Kozma and Lejeune all agree their favorite parts of St. Mary’s include the river, sports facilities, the food, the beautiful landscapes and surreal sunsets, as well as the open-minded people they have met.

Kozma concluded, “In Bremen we say ‘Moin!’ when we greet each other, regardless of the time of the day. If you recognise me on campus, feel free to surprise me and say ‘Moin!’ and/or ask me questions about German, Germany or Europe.”

Make sure to check out any and all study abroad programs offered through St. Mary’s. Studying abroad is one way to experience first hand living far away from home.

SMCM Hosts Third Annual Lucille Clifton Lecture

On Friday, March 1, poets, daughters, students, admirers, and newcomers alike gathered for “Nurturing the Compassionate Community: An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton”. As guests filed in, softly conversing and enjoying refreshments, a grand piano played in the background, coming to an end when President  Tuajuanda C. Jordan took the podium. Describing herself as a void-filler, taking up space while the poets readied themselves, she briefly spoke on the impact that Lucille Clifton, Poet Laureate of Maryland and Professor Emeritus at St. Mary’s, had on the community, a theme that would continue through the evening. She introduced the poets, speakers and musician for the night, as well as Clifton’s daughters.

    Padma Soundararajan, a student who was at St. Mary’s while Clifton was a professor, spoke to Clifton’s dedication and love she had for all who came into contact with her. While vacationing in India, Soundararajan’s family was in a car accident, and most of her family tragically died. Upon hearing of this Clifton took action, making many attempts to get into contact with her, and attending the funerals.     

    Dr. Jordan returned to the podium and paused for a while, moved, before attesting that Lucille Clifton’s spirit was everywhere on the campus, and in the room while she was being honored. She then introduced the three other honorees, Mary Johnston, Sonia Sanchez, and Ashley M. Jones. Johnston, the operations/customer service coordinator for the Physical Plant was nominated by students, faculty and staff to receive the President’s Lucille Clifton Award. The award also came with access passes to the dining hall to, as Clifton often did, “spend quality time with students, faculty and staff in a community eating space.” Sanchez, famous poet and active member in the Congress of Racial Equality, as well as friend of Lucille Clifton, was also given an award along with the collected poems of Lucille Clifton, and the opportunity to choose a young poet to honor, for which she chose Jones. Jones has two books of poetry published, and received an MFA in poetry from Florida International University.

    Clifton’s daughters then came to the podium, and told how Lucille was a mother to everyone she met– not just them, but her students and strangers too. While she was born in a small town and never set out to be a poet, she became a world presence but was constantly shocked by how well known she was.

    Pianist and Artist-in-Residence Brian Ganz talked about his friendship with Clifton, and her favorite composer, Bach. He played some of her favorite compositions by him, and responses Chopin had to Bach.

    Jones introduced Sanchez, who talked about her and Lucille’s chats on the phone, and the way that time had of stopping every time they spoke. She read a piece she wrote for black poets who had died within the last four years, as well as other published works, all interspersed with scatting and singing. She poignantly remarked that the people in obvious positions of power are not always the ones who are making real change, before introducing Jones, her nomination for the Lucille Clifton Award.

    Jones talked about the influence Clifton had on her as an undergrad, studying her work and emulating her in her own poetry. She read several of her own pieces, including one on her grandmother after she passed away, one on the influence of Harriet Tubman, and one in which Clifton’s poem was interwoven with her own.

    After a few closing remarks and thanks, the ceremony ended as Clifton ended her classes: with everyone holding hands. A recording of her reading her poem “Blessing of the Boats” played to conclude the evening. From personal tidbits, like her love of solitaire, to deeper traits, like the compassion she showed towards all people, it became clear how well loved she was. Student Alyssa Hawkins (‘21) said of her experience “I enjoyed the feeling of security it brought. I love Lucille Clifton and I’ve never met her, but I felt like I got a chance to encounter her tonight. It was truly unforgettable!”

    This was the third event of its kind, but Dr. Jordan announced that for the fifth, the celebration will be on a much larger scale, with all previous poets honored hopefully in attendance.

Visiting Artist Lori Rubeling Talks to Students about Impact Design

On Feb. 27 at 4:45 p.m., artist Lori Rubeling gave a talk in Glendening Annex on impact design education, a topic which plays a large role in her work.

The event, co-sponsored by the Art and Environmental Studies departments, covered humanistic research practices
and their applications in the real world. Impact design, according to Rubeling, takes into account every aspect of design, and seeks to find a better design based on that research. As an example, Rubeling brought up a project with past student of hers at Stevenson University, who were tasked with redesigning the logo for their department. They had to take into account not only the practicalities of a design (getting across what it is advertising, budget), but also the real feelings behind simple design choices (a hexagonal outline versus leaves). How can they make a logo that captures the essence of
their department without being too busy?

The most common use of impact design is architecture, says Rubeling. In that instance, it emphasizes the cross-disciplinary aspects of architecture, taking into account the personal, communal and global of a space or structure. She mentions how she is taken by the beauty of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) campus, but is surprised by our use of wide open spaces, and wonders how the campus could be better designed using impact design practices. This requires her to look at human-based activity with open questions in mind in order to find the best design.

Impact design can also be used to solve social issues, such as the Flint water crisis. By using a thought map, Rubeling can work through the issue by identifying how people behave towards the issue, determining barriers to behavior change, promoting an action that breaks that barrier, implementing or sustaining the action that shifts behavior and normalizing that change. In short, for every issue, from building a structure in a park to solving a human rights crisis, impact design helps us consider tasks in a way that is complex, taking every possible part into consideration.

The Lori Rubeling artist talk is part of the artist residency program at SMCM, co-sponsored by the Lecture and Fine Arts Committee, and the Environmental Studies Program and the Department of Art and Art History.

Oscars Thrive, Despite Bad Odds

This year marks the 91st Oscars Awards Ceremony, and the first time since the 61st Oscars in 1989 that there was no host. However, it seemed to work in their favor, because no categories or performances were cut, the acceptance speech time limit was relaxed, and the ceremony was shorter than in recent years. Cutting out the opening monologue the host normally gives allowed for celebrities introducing categories to have their own mini-monologues. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph lovingly made fun of nominated films, actors and actresses, John Mulaney and Awkwafina joked about this being their first Oscars, and Keegan Michael Key and Melissa McCarthy presented the award for costume design in outlandish attire.

     Of course, the part everyone is watching for, except the awards, are the outfits. Some of the best dressed were Constance Wu, in a stunning yellow custom Versace dress, Amandla Stenberg in a champagne and silver gown reminiscent of the roaring 20’s, Billy Porter in a velvety tuxedo-gown combination, and Angela Bassett in a bright pink fit and flare with a shoulder accent. Kayla Sherfey (‘22) said of her take on Red Carpet looks, “Lady Gaga looked very toned down, but pretty, compared to her usual outfits, Billy Porter definitely made a statement in his tuxedo dress, and my favorite looks were Emilia Clarke, Laura Harrier, and J-Lo.” Pink seemed to be the color of the night, with many noteworthy celebrities making it their color of choice for their outfits.

     Some names came up more than others for awards, with “Bohemian Rhapsody” winning four and “Green Book,” “Roma” and “Black Panther” all winning three, and  “Black Panther” being the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture.

    Few winners giving acceptance speeches were played off, and many memorable speeches were given. Spike Lee, who won his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on “BlacKkKlansman,” gave a moving speech thanking his grandmother for believing in him and putting him through school. Rami Malek, who won Best Actor for “Bohemian Rhapsody” told of his experience being a first-generation American and how much getting to portray Freddie Mercury meant to him. Arguably, the most adorable moment was when Olivia Colman, who won Best Actress for “The Favourite,” gave a funny and touching speech beginning with “It’s genuinely quite stressful. This is hilarious– I’ve got an Oscar!” She continued on to say she hoped her kids were watching because “This isn’t going to happen again!” She apologized to Glenn Close for winning instead of her, and ended with a simple “Lady Gaga!” Some excellent performances were conducted, including Queen and Adam Lambert opening the ceremony with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions,” Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper belting out “Shallow” from the piano, and Jennifer Hudson singing “I’ll Fight” from the documentary “RBG.”

    The Academy made some strides towards diversity, with a record number of black winners overall, “Roma,” a Mexican film, being heavily recognized, and women directors sweeping the shorts categories and notably present in the documentary categories. However, with “Green Book” winning Best Picture, there was still controversy. It was felt that the only purpose of Mahershala Ali’s character was to progress Viggo Mortensen’s character. The large amount of wins for Bohemian Rhapsody also came under fire, with critics saying that the movie largely sidestepped Mercury’s sexuality in an attempt to make it more widely appealing.

     Altogether, the Academy Awards were more successful than prior shows,  more entertaining than predicted and a great watch for movie buffs and celebrity-junkies alike.

“Dating Around” Brings Reality Romance To the Streaming Screen

Have you ever been on a blind date? How about 5 blind dates in one night? This is the concept of Netflix’s new reality television show “Dating Around.” The series premiered on Feb. 14, providing Netflix’s subscribers with six episodes of romance-filled content.

The series begins with an eligible bachelor named Luke. He is an attractive guy in his mid-20’s working in real estate and looking to settle down with a girlfriend. The dates lasts for two to three parts, depending on how well the date goes throughout the night. The pair grabs drinks by the bar, then moves on to ordering dinner at a table. If they really like each other, they may leave the restaurant and go to a lounge to grab another drink. Between these parts, the couples get to know each other deeply from discussing their past relationships to their eating habits. If they’re lucky, they might spend time cuddling and even share their first kisses. After all of the dates, the star of the specific episode gets to choose one person that they felt the most compatible with to go on a second romantic outing. There is a new set of dates for a new person each episode.

The feasibility of these dates seems sketchy. The audience is lead to believe that the star of each episode goes on full length dates with each of the participants in the same night. Each of the dates takes place in the same restaurant and lounge. So either Luke wore the same outfit a few days in a row, or he had a busy day. One of Luke’s dates ran late, skipping the first part of the date in which they engage in small talk and share a drink. Who would actually run late to a videotaped blind date? Would someone actually miss out at being on a Netflix original series in real life? Then she left early and pretty much rejected him.

The editing proved to be misleading as the audience was lead to believe that one date was out-winning the others by a long shot, when it turned out not to be so. One woman was framed to be an oversharing, quirky person as she proposed a toast by saying, “Here’s to the first blind date of my life…Hope you’re not a serial killer.” It was more frustrating than endearing as a viewer to discover at the end that Luke picked the somewhat goofy girl to go on a second date instead of the Colombian woman that seemed to have a true connection with him.

So, if you have nothing better to do, “Dating Around” is an okay way to kill time. It is the perfect show to watch while also playing games or browsing the net on your phone. But, it isn’t interesting enough to fully captivate the audience for a night of binge watching. Netflix hasn’t announced a release date for a second season, but there has been a desire for more episodes shown on social media.