MALS Program Presents “Works-in-Progress”

On March 5, 2014 by Grad Forum

Works in Progress presenters (from left to right): Geoffrey Sahs, Laurie Laker, Jacqueline Williams, Paola Ortega and Jackson Shultz.

On Wednesday, February 26, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) Program organized the winter 2014 “Works-in-Progress” session. “Works-in-Progress” is a public, biannual forum that provides students with the opportunity to discuss their master’s thesis research, and receive valuable feedback from faculty, alumni, and fellow students. The event, held in the Hayward Lounge at the Hanover Inn from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, commenced with an opening address by Michael Beahan (president of the MALS Alumni Council).

In a special segment, Erin Tiernan, MALS student and editor-in-chief of The MALS Journal, announced both the publication of the winter 2014 volume and launch of The Journal online. In addition, Liza Draper (MALS) extended an invitation to “Mom Prom” (organized for the benefit of the Claremont Soup Kitchen on March 29).

Professor Donald Pease (chair, MALS) provided introductory remarks for each of the five speakers. Paola Ortega (Creative Writing Concentration) presented first, reading a nuanced account of her conflicted relationship with her grandmother from her non-fiction thesis titled, “Coming Home.” Ortega’s effort offers a unique take on the coming-of-age autobiographical narrative that focuses on the loss of childhood and its effect on identity formation.

Next, Geoffrey Sahs (Globalization Studies Concentration) discussed his thesis, “David and Goliath: How Microbreweries Are Defeating The Giants,” investigating the success of US microbreweries. He provided an overview of the socio-economic history of the small business movement, emphasizing the benefits of its flexible and increasingly sustainable structure. Sahs’ research attempts to establish whether the growth of microbreweries represents a long-term consumer shift toward ethical business practices.

Jacqueline Williams (Globalization Studies Concentration) detailed the viability of nonprofit investigative journalism in her native country Australia, as examined in her thesis, “What is the Future Viability of Nonprofit Investigative Journalism in Australia?” Williams’ study provides an important methodology that could support the establishment of independent, nonprofit media centers in universities, and further benefit similar investigations in other countries.

In the following presentation, Laurie Laker (General Liberal Studies Concentration) described his study of British wartime poetry. His thesis, “Our Fathers Felt These Things Before – The Wartime Poetry of Wilfred Owen and Keith Douglas,” entails a comparative study of the lives and artistic contributions of the two Great War poets. Laker presented an insightful account of the technical, thematic, and socio-political contexts of their works.

In the evening’s final talk, Jackson Shultz (General Liberal Studies Concentration) read a poignant excerpt from his thesis titled, “Let Us Tell Our Truths: Oral Histories of Everyday Activism and Transgender Lives.” The project, a memoir of oral histories highlighting the lived experiences and everyday activism of transfolk, intends to redress the prevailing imbalanced focus on the medical-psychosocial aspects of gender transitioning in academia and the mainstream media.

“Works-in-Progress” showcased the innovative and thought-provoking scholarship of the graduate students. It underscored intellectual initiative and cross-disciplinary approaches in liberal studies, which form the cornerstones of the MALS program at Dartmouth College.

by Meg Menon

photo courtesy of Amy Gallagher


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