From the Classifieds: Bryn Mawr through the War Years (1939 to 1945)

My project is directed at those who are interested in understand who BMC is understood by people who have never gone here, historically. By looking at those who placed ads in the college news, we can see how perceptions of BMC students changed as WW2 progressed:

  • If I could design any way to create this project I would make it a mixed art and history show piece, because I believe there is an inescapable connect between ads and art.
  • This would be a showcase the people who are entered in WWII, Bryn Mawr, Newspapers, Art, or just generally curious could come and enjoy this.

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Can you force all of Baltimore to see this?

When reading about “Mining the Museum” I was really struck by the comments made by some of the people. I found the comment that “Mining the Museum has the ability to promote racism and hate in young Blacks and was offensive to me” intriguing because this person really seemed to be missing the point that ‘young Blacks’ would have perfectly legitimate reason to hate him, and that their anger is way more legitimate then his feeling offended. While the curator stated “Objects… [become] generic and lifeless out- side the context of personal experience,” a commenter said, “I liked the pedestals without statues least because they were visually boring and emptiness is decidedly uninteresting, period.” This person obviously did not have the personal experience to engage with this exhibit, as I would say the same about the first commenter as well.

I felt like this “Mining the Museum” exhibit could be very misconstrued if the wrong person are and looked at the personal experiences of the individual viewer would not have allowed them to actually engage with the exhibit. When I read the comment, can you force all of Baltimore to see this? My first reaction was yes, the whole world would should see this exhibit. But as I read the negative comments, I start to switch my position. So no, I don’t think everyone should see this exhibit; everyone doesn’t deserve to see this exhibit. “Mining the Museum” can have some very powerful conversations directed around it, but it can also be taken and destroyed by people who go to this with the wrong intentions which can be hurtful for those who need to see this exhibit, who deserve to see this exhibit.

Bryn Mawr not only is racist; it is ingrown!

The two part blog post (Unwavering Dissent) was probably the least surprising thing I read on the blog, at least regarding the slowness at which Bryn Mawr’s administration moves when dealing with things that it would rather just go away. The line “the administration’s noncommittal response” almost made me laugh because it was so sad, because it is so true even today.

The parallels between the administrations slow response to dealing with the admission of black student to Bryn Mawr, with giving them their own cultural space on campus, with treatment of black staff, and today’s racial issues (specifically the confederate flag incident among others) just demonstrates how this is not a new issue at Bryn Mawr. Racism is not the limitation of what is ingrown in Bryn Mawr’s administration; it is everything that goes along with it the administration’s noncommittal stance towards social progression. It is also still the current process that if Bryn Mawr students (especially any students of color) who want to change anything at Bryn Mawr “they would have to fight for, loudly.”

Context in the Comments

I made the mistake that I normally do and I read the comment section of the article The Crumbling Monuments of the Age of Marble. I thought the article was really interesting, and I had time to burn so I just kept scrolling. Shifting through the comments which were targeted towards everyone and everything, I picked up on a trend of people talking about context; in that people thought the author was not giving enough room to the historical characters being represented in the arguments to be seen in the times and circumstances that they lived. While their were many, many comments made about this topic I choose a couple of my ‘favorites’ to use as examples. *Note: These are not necessarily comments I agree with but rather they made either a statement that was agree with by other commenters or I think it added something to the argument that was already going on*

Kilpatrick Kirksimmons said : People must be judged in context. Are there moral absolutes? Of course. Should we ignore the bad (or at least what we today feel to be bad)? Absolutely. But to judge someone out of context is as naïve as it is unfair. Imagine your own great grandchildren doing the same thing to you. After all, you do not fancy yourself to be the last generation, do you?

Zen Galacticore said: Judging our fellow contemporaries is bad enough, but to judge our forebears, our antecedents, by our own 21st century moral and ethical standards is the height of self-righteousness

PurpleJello said: Where do young people and minorities draw the line in judging history. Because if you naively believe any man or woman is without sin, look at yourself?

Liars N. Fools said: Our history — and for that matter that of the west in general — has been shaped for better or worse by white men. Only recently — last century — have non-white-men come into their own in fundamentally shaping the country. It is anti-intellectual and ahistorical to deny this. The best thing to do is to study the “better or worse” aspects of the shapers of our nation rather than living in a world of atemporal and ahistorical virtual reality of political correctness.

William Bergmann said: We’re exiting the ‘Age of Marble’ because we’ve finally realized that even the saints aren’t actually saints.

I would first like to point out the obvious that this argument is in a comments section, and is mostly devoted to arguing that you can(’t) separate the sins/morals of individual in the past from the sins/morals of the present. The majority of comments seemed to side with the idea that it was unfair to judge people of the past based on the modern idea of what was ‘right’. Their were a lot of comment that blamed this whole idea of questioning the past on the college age generation, saying it was because we are to PC, and that we are just trying to create a false history. What I feel these people are missing is what was said by Liars N. Fools, that the older generation feels by creating -what I think most of our class would call more correct- a history which includes women and minorities that we are literally creating stories, that this history wasn’t real because it wasn’t what they learned in school. I think that, they really think this generation is attempting to erase white males from the narrative of history. Because to them the breaking down of this privileged single white washed narrative feels like oppression, in the same way that their loss of privilege in other areas feel like oppression to them. To them if they aren’t on the top their are on the bottom, because that is where they viewed everyone else who wasn’t on the top. So it is easier for Liars N. Fools and other to think that everything in history was made about white men, they just like to forget it was the white men who made it all about them.