2011 Abstracts

January 27, 2011 Student Scholarship Symposium

Debunking the Myths of Masculinity: George Eliot's Critique of Victorian Masculinities via Edward Casaubon of Middlemarch
By Jazmine Reyes, Sophomore

George Eliot’s portrait of provincial life in her novel “Middlemarch” conveys many themes relevant to her time, including the controversial subject of Victorian Masculinities. To the confusion of many 19th century men, Victorian ideologies of masculinity often varied in meaning and interpretation, featuring a wide array of social, religious, and even psychological perspectives on manliness. This montage of conflicting masculine ideals rendered “manliness” a very challenging concept that could not be easily defined or pinpointed directly to any particular social or religious view. It is this whirlwind of conflicting masculine ideals into which Edward Casaubon, the hapless scholar of Middlemarch, is placed, struggling to reconcile his longings for personal achievement and scholarly fame with his desire for masculine glory. The way in which Casaubon attempts to attain self-fulfillment and win social distinction in his community is by sporting a highly calculated combination of masculine identities--in some instances, for example, he presents himself as an egotistical, self-made scholar and in other instances as an upright “man of faith” who practices supreme erudition and austerity. This paper discusses these conflicting masculine ideals of Casaubon, relating his quest for masculine achievement and self-fulfillment to the larger battle men of Victorian cultures faced in crafting their masculine identities.

Kolleena Ensan: Samira Said's Music as an Interpretation of Moroccan Women's Cultural Identity
By Halina Hopkins, Sophomore

Samira Said is a modern “diva” in Middle Eastern and Western world music circles. In her travels between Morocco, Egypt, and the U.S., Samira Said transitions, physically and musically, across cultural boundaries. As she renegotiates her postcolonial identity she uses an interplay of gendered and cultural symbol systems, representing Arab femininity to Western audiences while exploring Moroccan and Egyptian themes for her Arab audiences. My research investigates Said’s music in order to understand the forces that have shaped present- day Moroccan women’s views of themselves and their cultural identity. I used post- colonial theory, ethnomusicology, and gender studies focused on the Middle East to place Said in this multicultural context. I also incorporated, as primary source material, a visual and auditory analysis of Said’s music videos. Among the themes I explore are pan- Arabism, the Westernization of North Africa, sexuality and gender roles, multilingualism, and transnationalism. Through her music and public persona, Said negotiates contradictory cultural forces while escaping them. By singing in Moroccan Arabic and using familiar elements of Moroccan music, as well as shaping her performances for Western audiences, Said is irreducible to one identity and evades definition, enacting the cultural hybridity required of contemporary Muslim women.

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