Culture Clash: Where the West Begins

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A Profile of Senior Theses: Part 6 of 6

Significant works of historical and literary scholarship, original scientific investigation, extended creative projects—senior theses at Bard College at Simon's Rock make for absorbing, if not light reading. All BA students at the College complete a senior thesis, a major independent project that is the focus of students' senior year. Conceived, organized, and carried out by each student with appropriate support from a faculty advisor, the thesis is the capstone of the student's liberal arts and sciences education.

Continuing a celebrated tradition, provost and vice president Mary B. Marcy offered remarks and impressions of each of the nearly 50 theses completed during the 2009–2010 academic year to an audience of graduates, staff, and faculty in May. As she does most years, Marcy crafted categories by which to distinctly organize collections of theses. This year, the theses were presented under the tent of six categories: "Building a Different World: Allegories, Folk Tales, and Design;" "Can You Hear Me Now: Identity, Communication, and Creation;" "Play or State of the Play;" "Little Things and Big Things;" "An Alternative Guide to Simon's Rock;" and "Culture Clash, Where the West Begins." Over the next six months, the Newsroom will feature theses as presented by provost Marcy within their assigned categories. This month, theses featured are collected under "Culture Clash: Where the West Begins."

Category 6: "Culture Clash: Where the West Begins"

Kori HigginsIn the Name of Honor: An Examination of Honor-Based Violence in Western Europe
This thesis approached a very challenging and very painful contemporary problem with real care, but great intellect and thoughtfulness, and made some significant and important suggestions for policy change. Listen
Rozan AbdulrahmanMan and Nature: Environmental Management and the Spread of Malaria and Cholera in Iraq
Rozan's treatment of Iraq is very subtle in thinking about not only what's happening politically, but what happens geographically and environmentally from one region to another. Listen
Nene JallohMigration and Identity: The Lives of West African Women in the United States
Nene's thesis looked at the experiences of three different groups of women in New York City.  …Along the way, she offers significant insights on American society, particularly our tendency to see color rather than other cultural markers. Listen
Christina HortonFantasies of African Suffering
A complex analysis of the relationship of the West to the African continent, and the ways in which our best intentions don't always have the outcomes that we might hope for. Listen
Erling ThompsonMarket Economics: Finance, Technology and Regulation
A look at the world economy, at the influence of Capitalism, and specifically at the lessons of history.  …He encourages us to embrace a more progressive view of Capitalism, one that supports thoughtful regulation, and that supports material accumulation with some degree of redistribution of wealth. Listen
Su Hlaing Win NuTraveling Patterns and Motivations: A Study of Chinese and American Tourists
Su's thesis asked whether travel can indeed broaden perspective; her thesis argues that we should move beyond simple isolationist views and, particularly in nations which are not trustful of each other, we should encourage greater tourism and greater exchange of ideas. Listen
Dara Levy-BernsteinLands on the Edge of Land: Imagining Jewish Peoplehood and Attachment to Israel
A model of how to read text, history and social organization to understand the self, and to make sense of our place within a very complex world.  She makes the universal personal, and the personal universal. Listen
Jaime BarakDon't Judge a Man by the Words of His Mother, Listen to the Comments of his Neighbors: Interactions Between Jews and Ukrainians in Nineteenth-Century Galicia
By using classic historical research, Jaime looked at original texts, reviewing some written prior to the Second World War, some during the Cold War, and some after the fall of the Berlin Wall to understand the evolution of our understanding of the relationships between Jews and Ukrainians in this part of the world. Listen
Jennifer GoodwillieShould've Been a Cowboy: The Construction of Gender and Race in the Great American Wilderness
A beautiful thesis that makes contemporary a notion that's been around this country for a long time: the idea that the American character was shaped or defined somehow by the wilderness.  She says instead of the West creating an American character, the land was actually used to reinforce existing notions of the American character. Listen
Brendan FlynnLabyrinths of the Object: The Strange Case of Nietzche's Wagner
Brendan uses the complex relationship between Nietzche and Wagner to understand the nature of self and of the object, the ways in we explore and forbid exploration, the nature of art, the nature of being, and the nature of intellect. Listen

*All senior theses are bound and are included in the library's permanent collection. They are available for review on premises or by contacting the library at