Thesis Christ: Shantanu Chatterjee

When we talk about things that we must do, we are talking about actions that are prescribed. What is it that prescribes these actions? In philosophical literature, people refer to norms and normativity to explain why it is that people do what they do. It is a topic of debate in the field of legal normativity whether all laws are in fact normative – that is, whether all laws do or do not prescribe action. Some laws may appear to be commanding a certain behavior under any conditions, while others merely pre-emptively require an action in order to do what you want.

Bike Theft Saga

On Sept. 14, sophomore Ben Steele walked out of his off-campus house to find a small piece of a U-lock with a jagged edge; his bike had been stolen. “I had already lost one bike on campus as a freshman,” says Steele. “My friends had been teasing me about locking this one to a tree, it’s possible that seeing it on a tree might have prompted the bike thief to steal it.”

“I didn’t really think much about it that day. I saw something on Reddit where a person tracked down a person on Craigslist and got their bike back.

Thesis Christ: Wendell Britt

Following the Chinese cultural revolution of the 1980s, an avant-garde literature movement emerged. Linked with postmodernism, it was “a literary Renaissance in which writers were experimenting because they could for the first time,” says Chinese Literature major Wendell Britt. His thesis, advised by Alexei Ditter, will focus on a number of short stories by Yu Hua, whose works play with different genres and are “crazy, violent, and removed from the normal understanding of things.”

One of the absurd works that made him famous is called “On the Road at 18.” In it, a young man is travelling through a desolate land in search of an inn. He runs into a truck driver and they smoke a cigarette together before the truck driver offers him a ride. Then the truck breaks down.

Amelia Jones Waxes on Male Artistic Expression

As part of last weekend’s grand opening of the new Performing Arts Building, Professor and Grierson Chair in Visual Culture at McGill University Amelia Jones gave a lecture on “Performance and Relationality.” Jones is seen as a revolutionary figure in the world of art history as well as an ardent feminist who has focused primarily on performance art. Jane Chin Davidson ’01 introduced Jones as someone who has continually redefined opinions of artists and how art history itself is studied. “I’ve been in Portland once,” Jones began, “I thought it was just a few years ago, but when I dated it, it was 1983.” Her lecture topic spanned an even larger time period, as she began by talking about artist Chris Burden. His newer work is focused on bridges, but the early stage of his career was defined by daring performance art. The man once known as the “Evel Knieval of the art world,” Jones explained, has taken to building bridges in the spirit of erector sets—building kits marketed towards boys.

Thoughts About Thoughts: Convocation 2013

The class of 2017 gathered together as a group for the first time last week for Reed College’s annual Convocation address. President John Kroger opened by welcoming the new class and saying a few words about the value of a liberal arts education. He understood that spending four years devoted to intellectual pursuits was an “immense investment of money, time, and effort;” but also said it was “the greatest decision someone could make.”  He urged the entering class towards “self-critical, rigorous thinking” and implored them to “think critically for themselves” before calling them “totally awesome” and stating his confidence in their “creativity and intellectual firepower.”

The closing words of his speech hinted at the transitional period Reed is currently in, as he advised the freshmen to “embrace positive changes and make the most of [their] time here.”

Student Body President Ari Galper ’14 was the next to take to the stand. He urged them to “shake it up a little bit” and “make your mark.” Offering an example of how one might do this, he then broke into a “convocation dance”, much to the amusement of President Kroger. He closed on a more serious, but no less fervent note, urging the new Reedies to “take advantage of opportunities and create them” because “the best experiences you will have at Reed are the ones you seek out.”

The Orientation Coordinators, Dean Schmeltz and Jenn Lindell, welcomed the incoming class next.

Two Math Professors Hired: A Look Inside the Professor Selection Process

The Mathematics Department received 770 applications for two tenure-track professors in pure mathematics. Angélica Osorno,  who received her Ph.D. from MIT and currently teaches at University of Chicago will teach at Reed in the fall semester, and in the spring of 2014 she will participate in a semester-long program in algebraic topology, her specialty, at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, California. Kyle Ormsby, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and currently teaches at MIT, will join the department in the fall of 2014 after completing work from previous research grants and at MSRI. As the student body enjoyed a six-week break this winter, members of the mathematics department were busy looking over the hundreds of applications, paring the list down, and meeting the top 35 candidates for 20-minute interviews. The selection process continued over this semester, and six candidates were invited for a campus visit to give a talk and meet with faculty and students.

Improved Band Practice Room Fosters Resurgence of Reed Bands

Two years ago, the Band Practice Room was nearly defunct. Now, it and Reed bands are flourishing. There is a thriving band scene at Reed currently, bolstered in part by an improved Band Practice Room (BPR) and an upsurge in student club involvement. Two years ago the BPR was nearly defunct and twigs were occasionally used as drumsticks, according to current BPR Manager Daniel Ku ‘13. Daniel’s own band—Cellmate—is currently on hiatus as two of its members work on their senior theses, but Daniel has continued to be an active presence throughout the year in fostering community involvement in and use of the BPR.

The Pool Hall Cleans Up

Smoking in the Pool Hall has finally stopped, and the Pool Hall managers have led a thorough cleanup effort to erase its remains. “About 12 people came to the pool hall the Wednesday of Spring Break to assist in the clean up effort,” says Pool Hall Manager Molly Kimball ’16. They weren’t necessarily regulars, Kimball explains, “most people were regular visitors to the Pool Hall who showed up because they cared about the place and saw that something was wrong.” They removed most traces of cigarettes in the Pool Hall but still had an intervening week before the county health inspector was to return. “We were worried about people continuing to smoke in the pool hall after the clean up effort,” says Kimball. “I was in the Pool Hall for most of the week following the clean up making sure that everyone went outside if they wanted to smoke.

Eileen Myles: Laughter and Short Poems

“If you were waiting for the poem, that was it,” said Eileen Myles after reading the two lines of her poem, “Tree,” to open last Thursday night’s poetry reading. The comment was met by laughter from 60 or so people gathered in the Eliot Chapel, and set the precedent for an unpredictable hour of poetry, ranging from a lengthy poem discussing theology to a poem entitled “Paint Me A Penis.” Although the hallowed halls of the Eliot Chapel were slow to yield applause and snaps never once seemed appropriate, laughter was frequent, and the poet held her audience spellbound. Drawing upon a quote from Myles’s novel, Inferno: “Awards are the only currency American writing has to describe a writer’s work. It’s almost French,” Visiting Professor of Creative Writing Samiya Bashir went on to recount the many of the awards Myles has received, including a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital, Arts Writers Grant, three Lambda Book Awards, a Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and, most recently, a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on a memoir, Afterglow. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she moved to New York in 1974 to become a poet.

Minds For Revolution Reunites Psychology and Humanities

Minds for Revolution, a new organization started by Lina Shadrac ‘15 and Erica Meadow ’13, seeks to add a historical and social perspective to psychology at Reed. “Psychology has an incredibly problematic history as a discipline,” Meadow says. “Psychologists and psychiatrists have been involved in the performance of non-consensual lobotomies, the pathologization of gay people, and assisting the US military in torture. Many of the attitudes that led to historical atrocities continue unquestioned in psychology today,” Meadow says. “To gain a perspective on these aspects of psychology we decided to do reading on our own and invited others to do so as well.”

“Currently, the mainstream psychological establishment pathologizes trans people and condones the undue influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the creation of diagnostic categories,” Meadow says.