Alumnae Bulletin May 2010


Treasures: Lustre and grace

For more than a century, Bryn Mawr students have been inspired and informed by the treasures donated to the College by Professor of Archaeology Joseph Clark Hoppin (1870–1925), one of the most respected scholars of Greek vase-painting of his generation.

One of Hoppin’s greatest legacies is the collection of 54 Attic black- and redfigured vases and sherds, which he donated to Bryn Mawr in 1901 and which have been used for teaching ever since.

The black- and red-figured vases made in Attica were among the most important and popular ceramic productions of Archaic and Classical times. Attic pottery came to dominate Greek markets and even gained popularity outside Greece; many of the finest vases known were in fact discovered in Etruscan tombs.

Since the 18th century, close study of the scenes on the vases has not only yielded important information about such subjects as Greek mythology and daily life, but also made possible the identification of individual potters and painters.

A graduate of Harvard University in 1893, Hoppin received his Ph.D. from the University of Munich in 1896, and taught at Wellesley and at Bryn Mawr, where he was appointed associate professor of Greek art and archaeology in 1901. He held this position until 1904, expanding the archaeology course offerings to emphasize the study of artifacts and the science of archaeology. He returned to Bryn Mawr from 1917 to 1919 as professor of classical archaeology during Professor Rhys Carpenter’s absence on military service during World War I.

One of the highlights of the collection donated by Hoppin is the redfigured plate by the Bryn Mawr Painter, ca. 490–480 BCE. The designation of the painter of this piece as the “Bryn Mawr Painter” was made by Oxford classical archaeologist John Davidson Beazley in 1942, and five other works are attributed to Bryn Mawr’s eponymous painter. Bryn Mawr’s plate is an excellent example of Greek red-figured pottery, with finely detailed drapery, gracefully defined proportions, and well-delineated face and hair. The male figure reclines on a couch, his left arm rests on a cushion, and his right arm holds a kylix. His pose indicates that he is playing kottabos, an ancient game of skill, in which remnants of wine in the bottom of the drinking vessel are cast at a target.

Another important work in the Hoppin collection by a named artist is the amphora fragment by the Berlin Painter, whose work is considered to represent the culmination of Late Archaic red-figure painting. This small piece, ca. 490 BCE, depicts Bryn Mawr’s patron goddess Athena and displays the characteristic precise and elegant drawing of the Berlin Painter, named for his most famous work, a large lidded amphora in the collections of the National Museums of Berlin.

The black-figured Attic amphora, ca. 530–520 BCE, donated by Hoppin, is notable for the excellent work by both the potter and the painter, evident in the graceful shape, lustrous black varnish, and elegantly incised and painted decoration, including a dramatic pair of Ionic eyes. A vase with the same shape and decoration, and undoubtedly from the same workshop, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hoppin acquired the pieces in the collection primarily from connoisseur Edward Perry Warren of Lewes, England, as well as from the dealer and scholar Paul Hartwig. The funds for the purchase of these works were provided by Hoppin’s aunts, Mrs. Charles Van Brunt and Miss Eleanor Clark.

While teaching at Bryn Mawr, Hoppin completed one of his most significant works, A Handbook of Attic Red-Figured Vases (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), which was published in two volumes in 1918. Hoppin followed this book in 1924 with A Handbook of Greek Black-Figured Vases (Paris: E. Champion).

As the American Journal of Archaeology noted upon Hoppin’s untimely death in 1925 after a long illness, his earliest publications “showed at once his command of the whole field of Greek ceramics and his independence and originality in discussing the many unsolved problems of this fascinating branch of archaeology.”

At Hoppin’s death, fellow Bryn Mawr Professor Mary Hamilton Swindler, Ph.D. 1912, noted in the Alumnae Bulletin that “his enthusiasm for his chosen subject was contagious. During his stay at Bryn Mawr he aroused great interest in the study of archaeology and inspired many a student with a desire to excavate. His services to the College were legion.”

Along with the many classical archaeologists who studied with Hoppin at Bryn Mawr, he was further connected to the College through his second wife Eleanor Wood, A.B.1902.

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New undergraduate and admissions deans named

Michele A. Rasmussen has been named the new dean of the undergraduate college. She will succeed Karen A. Tidmarsh ’71, who has served with distinction as dean since 1990. Tidmarsh plans to take a sabbatical during the fall semester before returning to the College in the newly-created role of coordinator of academic advancement programs.

Rasmussen is the director of Duke University’s Academic Advising Center and associate dean of Duke’s undergraduate liberal arts college. In addition to her administrative work, she is an adjunct faculty member in the department of evolutionary anthropology and a faculty in residence for one of the first-year residence halls.

She earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles’ College of Fine Arts in 1992, where she majored in history and art history. She received her Ph.D. in biological anthropology and anatomy from Duke in 1999.

The Undergraduate Dean’s Office promotes the academic and personal growth of undergraduates at the College, working with students from matriculation to graduation. The Dean serves as a member of the president’s cabinet and works closely with the provost’s office on academic matters. “It’s very exciting and an honor to join an institution like Bryn Mawr, whose values of education, community, and personal responsibility are so clearly defined and integral to the core mission,” says Rasmussen.

“I’m looking forward to helping Bryn Mawr students prepare for futures that require intellectual flexibility, engagement with and service to global communities, and the ability to face diverse challenges,” she adds.

Laurie M. Koehler

Laurie M. Koehler will also join the Bryn Mawr community this summer as new dean of admissions. Koehler has been director of admissions at Miami University of Ohio since 2007. Under her leadership Miami has enrolled the most racially/ethnically and socioeconomically diverse class in its 200-year history.

Prior to going to Miami, Koehler was the senior associate director for recruitment at Cornell University and an assistant dean of admissions at the University of Virginia. She received both a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communication studies and a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia.

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‘Heritage and Hope: global women’s education’

In celebration of Bryn Mawr’s 125th anniversary, the College will be opening its doors to the world community and hosting a series of signature events that pay tribute to alumnae, students, scholars, and women making a difference both locally and on a global scale.

The signature event will be an international conference celebrating the empowering heritage of women’s education and charting a course for its future titled “Heritage and Hope: Women’s Education in a Global Context.” The September 23–25, 2010, conference will feature keynote addresses by New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nicholas Kristof, author with his wife Sheryl WuDunn of Half the Sky: From Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and Melanne Verveer, United States ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues.

During the conference, distinguished international scholars and experts, presidents of women’s institutions around the globe, and NGO leaders will examine issues of educational access, equity, and opportunity in secondary schools and universities in the United States and around the world. Conference speakers and participants will also explore how women’s colleges, girls’ schools, and myriad social and educational initiatives in the U.S. and abroad can advance opportunity for girls and women.

Session topics will include:

  • Leveling the Academic Playing Field: Strategies for Change
  • Enhancing Global Networks—discussion of current and future collaborative connections among women’s colleges around the world
  • Partnering for Global Justice—exploration of possible partnerships between schools, colleges and international NGOs to promote women’s rights and educational opportunities

Alumnae, students, academics, and others interested in attending the conference can register online via the Bryn Mawr College Web site beginning May 1.

Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas KristofA columnist for The New York Times since 2001, Kristof won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1990, which he shared with his wife Sheryl WuDunn, then also a Times journalist, for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006, for commentary for what the judges called “his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world.” Kristof was an early opponent of the Iraq war, and among the first to warn that the United States was losing ground to the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Melanne Verveer

Melanne VerveerA columnist for The New As director of the Department of State’s new office on global women’s issues, Verveer coordinates foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic, and social advancement of women around the world. She mobilizes concrete support for women’s rights and political and economic empowerment through initiatives and programs designed to increase women’s and girls’ access to education and health care, to combat violence against women and girls in all its forms, and to ensure that women’s rights are fully integrated with human rights in the development of U.S. foreign policy.

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Myth of the ‘strong’ Black woman

 Melissa Harris-Lacewell (center) with Sakina
Shakur ’13 and her mother. Melissa Harris-Lacewell (center) with Sakina Shakur ’13 and her mother. A columnist for The New Mammy, “Jezebel” (hypersexual), “Sapphire” (angry): these “crooked images” of African American women not only distort how others see them but how they see themselves and how they engage in the political world, argued Black History Month keynote speaker Melissa Harris-Lacewell.

She took her metaphor from the “crooked room,” a research setting in which all images and angles in a room are crooked. Many people seated in a chair are able to tilt themselves so that everything appears straight. Others are field dependent and can only see the crookedness. “When I first read about that I thought, ‘This is just like being a Black woman in the United States of America!’ ” she said.

Associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton University and MSNBC commentator, Harris-Lacewell talked about her research on the connections between shame, sadness, and strength in African American women’s politics for her next book, Sister Citizen: A Text For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Politics When Being Strong Wasn’t Enough.

“Black politics is shame management,” she said. “Political scientists seldom think about how psychological and emotional realities affect political lives, particularly for the most marginalized people. Tons of literary scholars such as Zora Neal Hurston and Toni Morrison are way ahead of us on this; I’m trying to look at it in a more empirical way.”

After Hurricane Katrina, she conducted a survey, showing Black and White Americans a photo of either a White family or a Black woman in New Orleans, and describing each as either “American” or “refugee.” The Black woman described as a “refugee” dramatically reduced respondents’ willingness to say that the United States should spend whatever is needed on relief. “Mammy’s job is to rescue the family, not to be rescued,” Harris- Lacewell said.

“Strong” is so ubiquitous as a descriptor of Black women that it ceases to have meaning, she said. “They are expected to have the inner strength to take care of everyone else, but they are rarely strong for themselves. Black women will get out there to do the political work, but they do it in the background for others. And a qualified Black man is such a rare commodity that the community will push him forward instead of a woman.”

She asked attendees at The Black Women’s Expo in Chicago to list three adjectives describing African American and White women and men. The top adjectives for Black women were “strong, beautiful, smart and kind,” for White women, “passive, stupid, dishonest, arrogant, and privileged.”

Nothing will change for women in general and African American women specifically unless they can unite as an empowered group, Harris-Lacewell said, but “it is very difficult to imagine a national feminist coalition as long as people understand themselves in such dramatically different ways.”

The challenge is for the next generation of feminists, she said, who must recognize that Black women’s suffering has been quite different from that of White women.

“Black women will get out there to do the political work, but they do it in the background for others.” —Melissa Harris-Lacewell

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Long-term help for Haiti

Melanne Verveer Bryn Mawr undergraduates applaud performances at Bryn Mawr African and Caribbean Students Organization (BaCASo) culture show, where donations were taken. Photo by Jim RoesePriya Gupta ’13 recalls that when the earthquake hit Haiti, “my friends and I realized that one of our dear friends (a bi-co student) was spending his winter break in Haiti.” Fortunately, their friend came home safely, but personal connections like this moved Gupta and others in the Bryn Mawr community to organize a major relief effort for the devastated country.

At a meeting hosted by the Office of Civic Engagement and the Office of Intercultural Affairs, students, faculty, and staff came together to plan a multi-pronged approach to the tragedy. Their goals were: to educate the Bryn Mawr community on conditions in Haiti, reach out to alumnae/i and the surrounding community, and hold a week-long benefit beginning April 11.

“A lot of students’ first inclinations were to organize drives,” says Ellie Esmond of the Civic Engagement Office. But it was decided that long-term support is more crucial.

Rebecca Militello ’13 was also involved in the relief effort. “There have been so many people helping with what needs to be done immediately, “ she says. “Having an event later on [would] be a gentle reminder that so much help is still needed.”

The week opened with a spiritual day for students of any religious background to come together and make sense of this tragedy. Events included a candle vigil, presentations by both Christian and voodoo clergy, and a moment of silence for earthquake victims.

For the next three days of the benefit week, organizers hosted doctors involved in the relief effort as guest speakers and held a student/staff panel discussion open to all members of the Bryn Mawr community. Thursday the fundraising kicked off with a catered Creole dinner, followed by a talent show and carnival on Friday, organized by Amnesty International. Carnival activities included May Day crown making, lizard suncatcher painting, cupcake decorating, tarot card reading, and henna painting. On the final day of the benefit week, students held a dance on the Haverford campus, charging a small admission fee for fundraising.

Local businesses also got on board with the relief efforts. The cafes Uncommon Grounds and The Lusty Cup agreed to donate a portion of purchases made there during the benefit week.

Meanwhile, other fundraising was already underway. Gupta and Hannah Mueller ’10 partnered with a Haverford student to sell Hearts for Haiti shirts, supporting a foundation that builds schools in Haiti. Prior to spring break, more than 900 shirts had been sold.

In addition, the Bryn Mawr African and Caribbean Students Organization (BaCASo) called for donations at their annual culture show. “A number of the pieces performed were written by a Haitian student at Bryn Mawr, Fabiola Decius ’10, to recognize and pay homage to the losses of the country,” said co-president Deborah Ahenkorah ’10.

Alumnae were involved in the relief efforts as well. Anne Bradley, MSS ’02, a native of Haiti, and her husband spoke to the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in March. Having traveled to Haiti after the earthquake, they stressed the importance of long-term rebuilding efforts. Bradley plans to return to Haiti in the future to train community women in combating post-traumatic distress.

Jenna Mulhall-Brereton ’96 also traveled to the country in her work with Geneva Global, an international philanthropic advisory where she is program director for Haiti. She delivered miniature solar kits to tented camps, giving people a vital source of power.

She spoke to the Bryn Mawr community shortly after the earthquake. “I think what people really wanted to know,” she says, “was what can I do and how do I know that what I do will make a difference.” She talked to the group about the timing of aid, suggesting they decide whether to target “first responders, short to medium term, or more sustainable intervention.”

Three foundations in Haiti will receive all money raised from the benefit week. These organizations will be selected from a group of seven possibilities by a survey of Bryn Mawr and Haverford students.

Esmond was pleased with the benefit planning. “I’m delighted at how thoughtfully they’ve put this on,” she says. “As usual our students have approached this as a thoughtful and sensitive community.”

The ultimate goal, says Gupta, is to send not just money but also a message. Throughout the benefit week, photos were taken of each day’s events, she says. “We will send these ‘scrap books’ to the foundations as a way of showing our love and dedication to rebuilding Haiti.” —Dorothy L. Hoerr

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Lifting American women writers out of the dust heap

Elaine Cottler Showalter ‘62
and Joyce Carol Oates at the
92nd Street Y. Photo by
Christopher Smith. Elaine Cottler Showalter ‘62 and Joyce Carol Oates at the 92nd Street Y. Photo by Christopher Smith.A Mawrter is making history once again, this time by publishing the first literary history of American women writers.

Elaine Cottler Showalter ’62’s A Jury Of Her Peers: Celebrating American Women Writers From Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx (2009) is sparking discussion and winning praise in such international publications as, The Economist, and The Guardian.

“What keeps literature alive, meaningful to read, and exciting to teach isn’t unstinting approval or unanimous admiration, but rousing argument and robust dispute,” writes Showalter, Princeton University Avalon Foundation Professor Emerita, in her introduction. “This book is intended to begin that spirited debate in the 21st century.”

In A Jury Of Her Peers, Showalter writes about the enormous influence of F.O. Matthiessen’s 1941 American Renaissance, which argued that American literature created its first authentic masterpieces in the 1850s with the work of five male writers.

But, as she told an audience in January at New York’s 92nd Street Y, where she appeared in conversation with her friend and former Princeton colleague, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, contemporary American literary history still leaves women at the margins of the cultural map. Women are not at the center of literary history because women scholars and critics have not written it.

Even the widely-taught Norton Anthology, which includes many individual women writers, credits Cotton Mather and Michael Wigglesworth as the founders of American literature.

“No way,” said Showalter. “Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson were the most thematically innovative and verbally memorable of the Puritan writers. But the idea that Mather and his brethren were the important early American writers is so established that it takes boldness to open up the conversation. Puritan sermons mainly influenced other clergymen, while Bradstreet and Rowlandson anticipated the mainstream forms of American poetry and fiction. Women writers were makers and shapers of American literature, not an auxiliary.”

In researching the book, Showalter began with 17th-century texts and read chronologically to the present. Using this approach, she noticed American women writers didn’t use male pseudonyms, unlike their European counterparts such as George Eliot.

Reviewers initially praised Eliot’s novels as masterful, then re-reviewed them negatively when Eliot’s gender was made known. “But as a whole,” Showalter said, “people could really never take that judgment back; the idea that a woman writer could be a great artist was accepted.”

For that reason, Showalter and many other feminist critics of her generation began their careers by studying Victorian women writers, who were firmly in the canon unlike their American contemporaries.

In fact, Showalter finds that the critical neglect of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, when Matthiessen was insisting that the first great American writers were male “has less to do with its alleged literary flaws, its racial politics, or even its enormous and suspect popularity, than with its awkward placement in the middle of a period where the American literary canon was perceived as exceptionally narrow, strong, and male.”

When Showalter reached the 1970s in her research, she discovered James Tiptree Jr., the popular Hugo and Nebula award-winning writer of speculative science fiction. One critic compared Tiptree’s “muscular” and “ineluctably masculine” prose to Hemingway’s. Tiptree conducted all business by correspondence, prompting people to conjecture that the writer was a military man, a spy, and a scientist.

Shockingly, Tiptree eventually was revealed as Alice Sheldon, a Ph.D. in biochemistry who had worked for the CIA and served in the Army during World War II.

“Everything people speculated about this writer’s life was true - except her gender,” Showalter said. “After Sheldon was outed, she never wrote anything wellreceived ever again. She’s fascinating because she took on a male persona that was able to speak without any hindrance or self-censorship.”

In A Jury Of Her Peers, she writes: “Sheldon/Tiptree’s challenge to women writers who followed was to seize their possibilities for moral and aesthetic power, without needing to create a male persona in order to do so.”

Another “great discovery” for Showalter was Julia Ward Howe, a serious aspiring poet who was totally suppressed by her husband. Howe is best known for composing “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Showalter laments that most Americans have never heard of her landmark 1854 book of poems, Passion-Flowers.

A few Bryn Mawr alumnae are discussed in A Jury Of Her Peers, including poets Hilda Doolittle ’10 and Marianne Moore ’09. Some writers, of course, did not make Showalter’s final cut. She wrote a long segment on Ayn Rand but ultimately deemed Rand too anomalous a figure for the book; she identified more as Russian than American, and is associated more with social rather than literary history. Yet other writers Showalter didn’t discover until after the book’s 2009 publication, including short story writer Grace Stone Coates and playwright Maurine Watkins, who penned the original Chicago.

“There’s much more to be said about American women writers, but I wanted to emphasize historical connections, influences, and literary significance,” Showalter explained.

Canons outmoded?

In an era when many critics consider canons outmoded or problematic, A Jury Of Her Peers argues for “a literary canon as a necessary step towards doing the fullest justice to women’s writing.”

The book hasn’t yet received pushback in that regard. “Academic reviewing is very slow so maybe it’s still coming up,” Showalter said. “In any case, I believe that it’s time to argue for a strong canon and that those who disagree can argue back and take issue with specific figures. As scholars and critics, we can keep adding women’s names to a list of writers but without drawing a literary and historical map, we can’t really get those names into American literary history and see how they have shaped our culture.”

According to Jane Hedley, K. Laurence Stapleton Professor of English, Bryn Mawr’s English department has tried to open its syllabi to include women writers, as well as writers of color, since the 1980s.

That was when Bryn Mawr embraced the opportunity to offer feminist and gender studies. “Interestingly, we never called that concentration women’s studies. I think from a feeling of wanting not only to study women’s lives and achievements in various domains, but also to call attention to questions of how that material should be studied, and the political implications of women’s having been denied certain kinds of opportunities for so long,” said Hedley.

She teaches both women and men in her Renaissance literature courses; Professor and Interim Chair Peter Briggs includes Lady Mary Wroth in his Introduction to Poetry course; and Mary E. Garrett Alumnae Professor of English Michael Tratner offers a 300-level course on Virginia Woolf more often than the James Joyce course he also teaches. Post- Doctoral Fellow Anne Bruder offers American Women’s Life Writing, and Associate Professor Linda-Susan Beard offers courses on Toni Morrison and Bessie Head.

Many of the English courses taught by Senior Lecturer Anne Dalke focus on women writers or highlight their absence. Her current course on the James Family lingers over The Diary of Alice James before turning attention to the much more voluminous writing of her brothers Henry and William. “Why did she produce so much less writing than they? Showalter’s work contributes answers to such questions,” Dalke says. “The best literary historians, like Showalter, have always known that writing and writers are bound by conventions that are historically situated.”

“It is difficult to think of a feminist literary critic of greater lasting importance than Elaine Showalter,” said Associate Professor Bethany Schneider, who offers the class American Girl: Childhood in U.S. Literatures. “This latest book of hers is wonderful for many reasons, but most immediately because it is a joyful ‘celebration’ of American women writers. To understand why it is so thrilling to see that word, ‘celebration,’ in the book’s title, you have to understand that two generations ago the work of most of these women languished in complete obscurity. It was the work of scholars like Showalter, who demanded that we not only rediscover and value women’s writing but bring new critical and theoretical paradigms to bear upon reading them, that brought those lost writers out of the dust heap.” —Alicia Bessette

Women are not at the center of literary history because women scholars and critics have not written it.

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Documentary criticizes Barnes Foundation move

Sheena Joyce ’98
art of the stealCo-producer Sheena Joyce ’98 at the NYC Museum of Modern Art premiere. Getty Images
The Art of the Steal, a documentary created by Sheena Joyce ’98 with Don Argott, her partner in filmmaking and in life, doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. “No one knows this story,” says NAACP chairman Julian Bond in the film’s first few minutes. “This is the scandal of the art world.”

The scandal is the controversial plan to move The Barnes Foundation to downtown Philadelphia from its longstanding home in Merion, just five miles from Bryn Mawr’s campus. Dr. Albert Barnes created the Foundation in 1922 to teach art appreciation and analysis to working-class people. Housed in a limestone mansion on a quiet residential street, his vast and carefullycrafted art collection served as the ultimate teaching tool.

“They’ve got more Cezannes than the entire city of Paris,” says former Barnes student Nick Tinari in The Art of the Steal. “One hundred eighty-one Renoirs, 59 by Matisse. Picasso? Forty-six.”

The opposition calls the move a shortsighted power grab that violates the will of Dr. Barnes and dissolves the institu - tion’s raison d’être, while proponents insist that it’s the only way to save the Barnes from financial ruin and preserve the spirit of its egalitarian mission.

Joyce first heard about the Barnes when she was a student at Bryn Mawr— legal battles between the Main Line institution and its well-heeled neighbors were big news throughout the 1990s.

Joyce interned at local NBC and ABC affiliates as part of an independent study in film. After graduation, she worked at the Greater Philadelphia Film Office for four years, and in 2002 founded 9.14 Pictures with Argott.

When former Barnes student Lenny Feinberg first approached Joyce and Argott with an idea for a documentary about the move’s backstory, they didn’t feel too strongly about it either way. “My initial thought was—what’s the big deal? Why shouldn’t it move to Philadelphia?” recalls Joyce. “My opinion changed during the process.”

The filmmakers interviewed a wide variety of key players, including Governor Ed Rendell, former state attorney general Michael Fisher, and 1990s Barnes director Richard Glanton. “I did a ton of research, helped schedule all the interviews, wrote most of the questions, conducted all the interviews, managed bookkeeping,” Joyce said. “It seems overwhelming, but I went to Bryn Mawr. You figure it out right quick.”

A major turning point came when an interview subject mentioned some old film reels in a shoebox under his bed. He asked if Joyce might be interested in taking a look. The reels turned out to contain 16-millimeter color footage of Barnes himself—the only such footage known to exist.

“Suddenly he was a real man, not just a collection of paintings,” Joyce said. The filmmakers also used the meticulous legal documents he left behind as a window into his mind. “We’re on the side of Dr. Barnes,” says Joyce. “It’s not a bad place to be.”

When Joyce and Argott began work on the film, the first call they made was to the Barnes, but the current administration ultimately refused to participate. “I think they thought we were these nothing local filmmakers,” says Joyce. “It was quite a shock when our film premiered at Toronto and was then sold to IFC Films, a distribution company.”

The Art of the Steal played on-demand and in theaters nationwide, including this spring at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI), which set up a series of discussion panels and offered special discounts to Bryn Mawr students who attended. “It’s a major story, and it’s a local story,” says Juliet Goodfriend ’63, the BMFI’s director. “Everyone around here cares a lot about the Barnes. Some people care about it in its present location, and some hope it will move.”

Emily Croll, the arts and artifacts curator at Bryn Mawr, previously worked at the Barnes and led a team that catalogued the entire collection for the first time in its history. Along with Leslie Clark Professor of the Humanities and History of Art Professor Steven Z. Levine, Croll will lead a group of alumnae/i to the Barnes during Reunion weekend. “People still ask me if [the move] is really going to happen, and I assure them that it will,” says Croll, who worked on some logistics for the new building as acting director of the Barnes between 2005 and 2006. —Lauren F. Friedman ’07

“My initial thought was— what’s the big deal? Why shouldn’t it move to Philadelphia? My opinion changed.” —Sheena Joyce ’98

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Bryn Mawr part of group revamping information theory

theory Bryn Mawr is one of nine institutions chosen by the National Science Foundation to form a $25 million research center that will revamp the theory of information. Classical information theory, established by Claude Shannon in 1948, measured information in bits and bytes and made possible electronic communication, paving the way for the transmission and storage of data on the Internet, DVDs, iPods and iPads.

“Shannon’s theory needs to be extended to meet the challenges posed by rapid advances in networking, biology, economics, quantum information processing, and several other fields of study,” says Professor of Computer Science Deepak Kumar, who represents the College in the project. If computers could evaluate information as human beings do, taking context and structural relationships into consideration, they could extract important information from the enormous amounts of data that have been accumulated, and find hidden, critical relationships between seemingly disparate information sources.

The Center for the Science of Information will be headquartered at lead institution Purdue University. The other schools are Howard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley; University of California-San Diego; and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is one of five new science and technology centers that will bring together researchers and educators from diverse fields to integrate learning and discovery in innovative ways.

The team will also establish an undergraduate course in the science of information, where students will have opportunities to interact with top faculty from the partner universities as well as leading private sector scientists.

“For Bryn Mawr, this grant is all about our students,” says Kumar. “Our curricular initiatives and innovations of the last 10 years are what got us to the table.”

Bryn Mawr’s computing curriculum has included courses on innovative approaches such as emergence, computational linguistics, and information visualization. In addition to Kumar and fellow computer science faculty members Doug Blank and Dianna Xu, these courses have been taught/co-taught by Bryn Mawr biology, mathematics and chemistry professors, many of whom will also be involved with the Center. Over five years of the project, Bryn Mawr will receive $1.5 million in funding, much of which will go to support student fellowships.

One of the factors that worked in Bryn Mawr’s favor in being chosen to participate was the fact that the College has already offered an interdisciplinary minor in compu - tational methods for many years, said Kumar. The project will help more Bryn Mawr students than ever pursue studies in computational modeling.

“Students in all disciplines ought to be learning computational modeling,” says Kumar. “If you want to be a linguist, there’s so much data available about language. An understanding of computational modeling will help you understand how to sift through that data so you can do meaningful linguistic analysis. You can say the same about economics, biology, and several other fields of study.”

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Slate of Alumnae Association Candidates for Office

The following slate will be presented by the Nominating Committee to the Annual Meeting of the Alumnae Association at Reunion on May 30, 2010, for election to three-year terms.

Treasurer: Leslie S. Knotts ’00, New York, NY

Representative for GSSWSR: Cynthia C. Chalker, M.S.S./ M.L.S.P. ’98, New York, NY

Representative for Admissions: Christine L. Pluta ’91, New York, NY

Representative for Classes: Sally Bachofer ’97, San Diego, CA

Trustee Nomination: The Alumnae Association’s nominee to the Board of Trustees for a five-year term commencing in October 2010: Edith Aviles de Kostes ’88, London, England

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President’s Column

Jane McAuliffePresident Jane McAuliffe Dear Alumnae/i,

I am delighted with the invitation to contribute a regular column to the Alumnae Bulletin and would like to thank the Bulletin editors for giving me free rein. “Write about anything you wish,” was the welcome directive and with that mandate in mind, I will devote this inaugural page to a new, and very satisfying, activity. In anticipation of our 125th anniversary celebration, with its attention to our history and heritage, I am teaching a mini-course this spring on “Women’s Education and Global Engagement.” I opened this non-credit course to both undergraduate and graduate students and asked prospective participants to send me a few paragraphs about why the topic interested them.

I received a fascinating set of essays and knew immediately that the first President’s Seminar was off to a good start. One student, a science major, wrote that her mind was always on science, and she liked the idea of thinking about something else. Another anticipated that the seminar would be “a perfect way for me to build on the research I have already done in education as a tool for social change.” Yet another, who expects to do graduate work in ethics, welcomed “the chance to reflect upon my education and the education that I would like to give to others.”

Having read these application essays, you can image how eager I was to begin working with this “class”! We started by reading together a riveting new book by the New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. I suspect that many of you have already discovered Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and found it to be as thought-provoking—and actionprovoking— as our seminar did.

To enrich our conversation, I asked Maureen Byrnes, immediate-past director of Human Rights First, to join our first session. Maureen, who is currently collaborating with the Gill Foundation, brought a practitioner’s wisdom to our discussion. In explaining to students the choices that she has made in her career, she made a statement that echoes the motivations of so many of the Bryn Mawr alumnae/i whom I’ve met: “I want to use my head on things that move my heart.” That remark energized our discussion as we analyzed and assessed the strategies deployed by the activists and social entrepreneurs whose stories are chronicled by Kristof and WuDunn.

With their vivid and heart-wrenching descriptions of women’s subjugation and oppression before us, we next turned to several chapters about the first decades of Bryn Mawr and about its Quaker heritage and long-standing international connections. A special reading resulted from my January trip to Tokyo. Ryoko Shibuya, M.A. ’57 gave me a copy of the manuscript that she is drafting, with Michiko Uchida ’52 and Yoshimi Yamamoto, M.A. ’76, on the “Japanese Scholarship” that brought 25 recipients from Japan to Philadelphia over a period of 83 years.

Several important questions animate our reading and discussion of all this material: How should a women’s college address the continuing reality of women’s oppression? Does our educational mission mandate attention to this? Are there resources and values within our College history and our Quaker heritage that can inform how we educate and engage around these issues? Such questions seem as vital today as they did to the women and men who set this College in motion in the final years of the 19th century. In the first decade of the 21st century, however, their scope is far broader. As the Kristof/WuDunn volume demonstrates so well, we now know about systemic and episodic instances of women’s suffering on a global scale. As we increasingly use a rhetoric about “educating global citizens” we must ask how the continuing oppression of women across the world should inform what we study and teach and how we exercise our own institutional agency.

As I write this letter, our seminar is still in progress and I eagerly await our next session. We’ve launched a conversation that I hope will continue among the seminar students themselves as well as among our broader Bryn Mawr community. It will surely flourish from 23–25 September 2010 during our 125th anniversary conference titled “Heritage and Hope: Women’s Education in a Global Context.”

With all good wishes,

Jane McAuliffe

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