Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

MALS story

Four MALS Students Represent Reed at June’s 2017 GLS Symposium

It's a little nerve-wracking standing before an audience of your intellectual peers, but the GLS symposium is a very collegiate environment. This was my third one in a row to attend. I get a kick out of the nerdiness of the whole event, the excitement around intellectual discourse, and the diversity of attendees, most of whom are incredibly friendly and welcoming.
—Derek Finn, MALS Student and Presenter

This June, Reedies Derek Finn, Elizabeth O’Neil, Neil Ramiller, and Lynette Yetter travelled to the University of Washington, Tacoma to share their work and support scholars from 8 West Coast schools at the Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium (GLS). UW Tacoma’s eclectic urban campus of reclaimed warehouses reimagined with Chiluly glass and modern art offered a fitting backdrop to this forum for exploring ideas. But as always it was the GLS participants themselves that made the weekend a rewarding one, offering deeply-researched scholarship as well as a supportive and inquisitive audience for presentations ranging from current societal challenges to studies of ancient texts.  

Three of the Reed presenters have also been invited to publish their work. Elizabeth, Neil and Lynette will see their papers published in the GLS online journal Western Tributaries this December. A first-time presenter, Elizabeth’s study “Who Can Change the World?: Gendered Citizenship and Non-Resistance in American Abolitionism,” examines the gender-centered ideological split in the early U.S. abolitionist movement. Lynette’s paper, Virgin Mary/Pachamama Syncretism: Exploring Filial Ayni Relationship with the Divine Feminine in Early-Colonial Copacabana, Bolivia,” also will be presented at the Festividad de la Virgen de la Candelaria, a cultural heritage festival held in Peru in January, 2018. Her exploration of the role of the Virgin Mary in Andean theology is an extension of work she began in David Garrett’s class, History of the Incas. “It was fun to rethink my topic as a conference presentation––getting rid of footnotes, distilling my argument down to its essence, plus adding PowerPoint images as visual aids... Each time I present a paper at a GLS Symposium I feel more relaxed and confident.”

Presenting at the GLS for the sixth time, recent MALS graduate Neil Ramiller drew on his work in Jay Dickson’s class on James Joyce for “Inventorying ‘Ithaca’: Things, Identity and Character in James Joyce’s Ulysses.” Ramiller examines how Joyce’s detailed inclusion of material things in Ulysses, a source of puzzlement for many critics, is in fact indispensable to our understanding of the novel’s central character. Earlier explorations of phenomenology in Paul Silverstein’s course on Sports and Social Life deeply informed the crafting of Ramiller’s central argument. Conversations during the Symposium with students from other institutions significantly aided in the further development of the paper for Western Tributaries.

Derek Finn was inspired by Walter Englert’s class Socrates and Plato for his work on “Plato, Protagoras, and the Problem with Democracy,” which examines correlations between the seemingly contrary depictions of democracy in Plato’s Protagoras and Republic. For Derek, “(The GLS) offers an opportunity to refine a paper without the pressure of a term deadline and to communicate it to a larger audience. That exercise alone makes you think again about the subject and gain new insights... There's also the possibility of creating a paper fit for publication and going through that process with the GLS (Western Tributaries published my 2016 paper) or other forums… Next year Stanford is hosting and I already have it on my calendar."

If a weekend of academic scholarship and camaraderie sounds appealing, consider representing Reed at the next GLS, being held at Stanford University June 22-24, 2018. A call for papers will come out in early Spring 2018; all students and alumni are welcome to attend!