One of the most powerful ways that marginalized groups can affect their status on the fringe is through education. Yet education is often one of the difficult hoops that marginalized groups most jump through in order to see actual upwards progress. Many schools were not well enough equipped to handle gifted students as well as the rest of student body in a way that would allow the gifted students to flourish. This dilemma is found primarily in schools that the marginalized groups are forced to use.  The government instated Magnet programs as a way to counter this and allow all gifted students to receive the proper teaching they require to excel. The program would allow a country to concentrate all the area’s gifted students into one of the more successful school in which they had their own educational program with different teachers and classes.  Yet the program is very flawed and actually does not represent a tool that marginalized students can use to further their cause.  In fact it does not actually really help them at all and may even serve as another example of a program that was designed to help the marginalized groups but instead just further cements the dominant group’s place in society.

            Self-help literature is generally perceived as an American cultural literacy and a socioeconomic phenomenon, however, this could change. As an American cultural literacy, self-help is prolific in American bookstores, libraries, and online retail websites. As a socioeconomic phenomenon, it has become a multi-billion dollar business. Unique attributes of American society such as capitalism, individualism, and wealth creation have contributed to the success of the self-help generation in America.  The idea of self-help has also been engrained in America’s historical context – starting with Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography in the 18th century, following with the post WWII Era where success is equated with wealth, and continuing today in a twenty-first century capitalist society where individual success is encouraged and sought.

            As the self-help phenomenon continues to grow in America and globalization results in the expansion of American values, many socialist societies, especially in Asia, have been influenced by these ways of thinking. One country in particular that has been affected by the Americanization of cultural values is Japan. This can be seen in a historical context and throughout today. The Americanization of values imposed upon socialist countries has changed the social and economic environment of these countries. As more emphasis is placed on individual success, these countries are ripe for investment in self-help books. It can be argued that the economic success of the self-help genre can be duplicated in other societies that take upon more American values and that another multi-billion dollar frontier is waiting to be developed.


Hace unos años, no fuese capaz de construir en español esta frase tan simple. 

Not many years ago I would have been incapable of constructing in Spanish the relatively simple  sentence above.  Even know, after nine years of study, it does not always come as easily to me as English, my first and only language until I began learning Spanish in eighth grade.  My father was born in México and Spanish was his first language.  However, he made the decision not to teach me (nor any of my siblings) to speak Spanish.  As the Latino population in the United States continues to blossom, more and more of us find ourselves lacking fluency of any extent in Spanish, and are thereby submitted to a glaring absence of an integral part of Latino cultures, sometimes to the point of outright ostracism.  In my determination to understand why many Latinos are not taught to speak Spanish I set out to research the issue only to find very little scholarly or reputable material that addresses it directly.  Where then should my non-Spanish-speaking people turn for understanding?  Obviously we cannot charlar with our parents to get a holistic and accurate response.  We turn to each other to experience a sense of community and belonging, but can only speculate about why we have been denied such a crucial element of our identities.  Without studies on why relatively small, but growing group of non-Spanish-speaking Latinos exists, we continue to suffer.  Indeed this lack of interest in our plight , frustration and confused identity is exacerbated by a lack of scholarly interest.

My grandmother makes fun of me because I can never find a paid internship during the summer. Last summer was no exception, as I accepted another unpaid internship with a new blogging website for women called Spike the Watercooler. I was very motivated by the thought of creating a communal writing outlet for women, but as the summer progressed, my views and the views of the website’s founder seemed to diverge. She refused to be associated with the dirty f-word, feminism, which seemed ironic to me as she was promoting the empowerment of women. This highlights a tension that is prevalent among feminist media, how to empower without polarizing. Through study of feminist media, past and present, it can be determined that successful feminist literature relies heavily on its ability to build community among readers and activists, but must do so while addressing the polarized condition of the social constructions of what it means to be feminine.


**I know this personal anecdote is not fully fleshed out yet, but hoping that you all see some positive directions it could be taken in!


The Danger of MOOCs

April 17, 2013 | | 4 Comments

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are the fastest growing trend in education. In 2003 college students taking at least one MOOC made up only 11.7% of the total enrolled student population, in 2011 they made up 32%. Supporters of MOOCs praise this growth saying it shows the growing democratization and spread of college education. However, as many critics have pointed out, these proponents overlook some of the key aspects of a college education. In the classic model of college education students have the opportunity through various social experiences and interactions with both professors and other students to discover who they really are, find their true interests, and to develop themselves into better citizens. All of these opportunities are missing in an online education. Therefore, while an online education may develop students who are just as successfully academically, in purely quantitative terms, this doesn’t mean that they are not missing out on one of the most important lifetime experiences, to their serious detriment.

             Often considered the queen of comedy, Joan Rivers has been working in the business for almost 40 years and at the age of 79, she still will not let anyone bring her down. As one of the first female legends of comedy, she has influenced many other women in comedy and has set the stage for what it means to be a funny woman. However, do not let Joan’s role as an inspiring woman in a male dominated industry fool you.

Every woman in this room tonight: Think like a second wife. You grab and you take. You grab and you take. And when you die, whatever you got out of him you have buried on you. If the next bitch wants it, make her dig for it. –Joan Rivers*

She is responsible some of the most hilariously offensive and sexist comments. While her hilarious, sexist, and offensive comments do not bode well with all who hear them, Joan often makes a point about what is wrong with gender politics in today’s society. In doing so, she has actually served as a great and empowering female influence in the comedic industry. As Joan got older and continued to make fun of women, more women emerged in comedy and more women began to laugh. Using Joan’s history as a successful, female comedian and the views of other male and female comedians I plan to examine the gender politics of modern day comedy.


Please note this is a working thesis.


Imagine a college in the present day where every student who went there was digitally illiterate. Not only are they unable to read information from a computer, but they are also incapable to navigate or communicate through any type of digital device. If none of them developed the skills to effectively use digital technology, would they be receiving the same education as a student from another college? Possibly: but would it still be necessary to acquire these skills? Now assume these students went to Dickinson College. At a school where the students are highly dependent on their abilities to do research and communicate using digital literacy, it is impossible to envision an education like that. Digital literacy has evolved from the traditional form of literacy to shape the way we learn and advance education for students at Dickinson College.

“Eyes glued to a book” or “pencil to a paper” are phrases that were not uncommon many years ago. That is when technology was a luxury; it was not only expensive but people simply did not know how to work it. In modern society it is a necessity, being that people are more likely to hear “eyes on the screen” or “fingers on the keyboard.” A few years ago, if a student in a class was asked to research an unknown topic for a paper, they would probably begin the process by finding a book. The rest could take a very long time depending on topic and the information they are able to find. Today, a typical Dickinson student would just search the internet. This method usually is a more convenient way to get valuable information faster.


digital pic

The digital native has many imaginations. From the simple understanding of anybody born after the 1980’s to the more nuanced idea of the born digital generation, the definition of the digital native has been shaped by various assumptions. More specifically, this person is assumed to be young and to have grown up with digital technologies by default. Thus it is assumed that they possess the innate ability to attain and better communicate with digital literacy skills. But such assumptions of digital literacy being an innate trait that defines the culture of the “digital generation” are wrong; younger people are no more digitally literate than their elders.The mistake, then, lies in the way these assumptions misinterpret the identification of an entire generation.

The face of a digital native is no different than the face of a Baby Boomer or a person born into Generation X. Though there are differences among each of the aforementioned, no particular one is more able to attain digital literacy skills. But before identifying whether a person is at all digitally literate, a working definition of digital literacy must be determined. Digital literacy requires the ability to navigate, evaluate, and  create information using a wide range of technologies. It is a modern set of skills meant to accompany and build upon traditional literacy skills. It is not intended only for the attainment and use of technology specialists or the children of our future. Therefore, digital natives are not better accustomed to digital literacy just because they were born when modern advancements in technology were made. Digital literacy is meant to be accessible to all, and it is only growing.



(paragraphs three and four will discuss the history of digital literacy and how it has come about/ why it is still in use today, then I will assess the main assumptions that misinterpret the culture of digital natives on a more critical and political level (my methodology) while incorporating the research I have done and the information provided by my sources along the way)

“Nancy, what are you thinking about? You’ve been so quiet,” said George Fayne, a thin short-haired girl who was proud of her boy’s name.

“Yes, Nancy, what’s going on?” chimed in George’s cousin, Bess Marvin, a blond girl who was always talking about going on a diet. “Tell us!”

Nancy, a pretty eighteen-year-old with strawberry colored hair and blue eyes, looked away from the window out of which she had been staring. I’m thinking that I’m tired of playing this game, thought Nancy Drew. It’s the same thing, book after book, chapter after chapter, word after word. Even the introductions of each character is the same! Bess is pretty but plump, George is thin but a tomboy, my father is handsome but a widower. And what am I? Who am I? I am Nancy Drew, famous girl detective, but what does that mean? I figure out unsolvable mysteries, get myself into all sorts of dangerous situations, but how difficult can that really be if I always seem to have unexpected help from the most unlikely places, if I am never actually put in any seriously violent scenarios, and if the answer can always be found in the first chapter? Who is Nancy Drew and why do people always expect so much of me?
But Nancy was too polite to say all of this. She was a strong, determined girl but knew better than to force her opinions on others. Instead, she turned to her friends and said with that familiar mischievous twinkle in her eye, “I’m just thinking about a new mystery!”

This excerpt is a warped version of how a typical Nancy Drew mystery could begin. While the character’s existential crisis is an obvious spoof, the rest of the above passage could have plausibly been in one of these mystery books. George is always described as proud of her boy’s name. Bess is always in need of a diet. And Nancy is always pretty, smart, and looking out for everyone’s best interests. The formula in a Nancy Drew book never wavers, because that is what it is: a formula.

The Nancy Drew book series was part of a book packager which produced children’s stories, known as the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Responsible for such successes as the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins, the Stratemeyer Syndicate produced Nancy Drew under the same guidelines that dictated the other books. The Syndicate stipulated that each book would be part of a series, which would all be written under the same pseudonym, each chapter would stop in the middle of an intense situation, and the characters could never age or marry. With such guidelines, each of the books produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, especially Nancy Drew, ended up being quite formulaic. Nancy Drew stumbles upon a mystery, and with the help of her friends, she eventually triumphs over evil, never encountering serious danger herself. The outcome in all of these books are always the same. Yet Nancy herself is described by many as a feminist icon. Here is a girl who is strong, smart and determined, and always manages to save herself. However, one thing she cannot save herself from is this Stratemeyer formula and this ultimately diminishes her capability as a true feminist figure.

So I was originally dead set on not doing a gender-centric paper for this final assignment. I always do something related to women’s roles or sexuality. Time for a change right? Wrong! But my original idea, which was to talk about how blogging has helped to change our rhetoric, is not mutually exclusive to my interests in feminism and women’s movements.

After some discussion with Professor Bowen, and some archival inspiration, I would really like to shift my focus to the way in which blogging and digital communities have shaped contemporary women’s movements. How have they helped new voices emerge? But how are they also at risk by not being monitored and edited as much as traditional media?

I would also like to use this project to approach the concept of archiving and curating information in the digital age. On one hand it should be easier since everything is only a URL and a click away, but then what happens to tangible records.

There is clearly a lot of material to work with on this topic, so I think it will just be a matter of focusing in on the most relevant pieces of evidence to my eventual argument.