MALS Program Gathers for Works in Progress Presentations
About forty students, faculty, alumni, and friends of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program gathered on Wednesday, March 27, to hear the Works in Progress presentations from four students working on their theses. The Works in Progress presentations occur once or twice each academic year. The program was proposed five years ago by MALS alumna Lyn Lord as an alternative to a thesis defense, and it has been gathering momentum with each event. The gathering took place in the Paganucci Lounge in the Class of 1953 Commons and included food and drinks for all in attendance.
First to present his work was Raul Rillo, representing the Liberal Studies track of MALS. His thesis, titled “The Genealogy of Indigenous Sovereignty,” examines the issue of domestic sovereignty in America by studying the history of the United States government’s policies towards “Indian nations.” By looking closely at the Marshall Trilogy cases and other landmark rulings, Rillo reveals the unclear stance and oppressive effects of the federal government on Native American tribes in terms of self-rule, land rights, and recognition. He hopes to continue his work after Dartmouth by comparing tribal sovereignty of native peoples in North and South America.
Niusha Shodja represented the Creative Writing track and spoke next. Shodja is writing “Persian Blue,” a collection of fictional short stories that portrays everyday life for young people in modern Tehran, Iran. She was born in America and moved to Iran’s capital when she was eleven years old, living there for several years. She stated that contrary to the perception of outsiders, most youths in Iran distance themselves from the government. Twenty-five-year-olds in Iran, Shodja told the audience, are like twenty-five-year-olds anywhere. The only difference is that they must deal with a theocratic government that forbids many “western” practices such as consuming alcohol or certain interactions between males and females. She read from her story “Detention” and showed how the authorities in Tehran are often harsh with their own citizens.
The third presenter was Cultural Studies student Chelsea Tremblay. Her as yet untitled thesis examines the relationship between nature and culture, known as the nature-culture dialectic, through Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory and Donna Haraway’s concepts of companion species and cyborgs. Using food systems as a lens, Tremblay explores the implications of their theories and how they may help us foster a new relationship to the environment.
Globalization student Keri Wolfe gave the evening’s final talk. Her thesis, “The Democratization of the Medical Profession,” reveals a national trend in recent decades, moving away from giving unquestioned authority to caregivers and toward a more constituency-based system. Wolfe studied a community health center in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and a feminist health center in Concord, New Hampshire. By comparing them, she found that their increased emphasis on experiential knowledge and consumer participation improved the quality of care and represented a broader movement across the United States.
The event also included a brief ceremony honoring four veterans in the MALS program. MALS Director Donald Pease presented Stoney Portis, Ron Bucca, Michael Rodriguez, and Robert Sedgley with gifts and thanked them for their service and their efforts to bring more recognition to veterans at the college.
by Chris Abell
photo by Zach Williams