Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

MALS story

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

There aren’t many forums where you can find not only such a wide spectrum of ideas to explore, but also people who are as excited about your work as you are.
—Julie Felix ‘13

Every year MALS students have the chance to join a weekend of scholarship and discussion at the West Coast Graduate Liberal Studies Symposium (GLS). These interdisciplinary Symposia provide an opportunity for students and alumni from west coast graduate liberal studies programs to come together to share their work and experiences, and to foster the intellectual community that is at the core of GLS programs.

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. UW Tacoma’s eclectic campus of reclaimed warehouses reimagined with Chihuly 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 analytical presentations as well as a supportive and inquisitive audience for subjects ranging from current societal challenges to studying ancient texts.

It was the first GLS experience for Libby O’Neil, who joined a panel on Politics of Race & Gender in the U.S. O’Neil presented “Who Can Change the World?: Gendered Citizenship and Non-Resistance in American Abolitionism,” a paper that examines the gender-centered ideological split in the early U.S. abolitionist movement. She wrote the paper for a course on American Social Reform that she took with Professor Margot Minardi in fall 2016, her first term in the MALS program. To develop her thesis, O’Neil studied articles and letters published in abolitionist newspapers between 1839 and 1841, focusing on the political role of women, who themselves could not vote. O’Neil was one of two Reedies whose paper has been accepted for publication in the GLS journal Western Tributaries this December.

Lynette Yetter’s paper also will be published in Western Tributaries. Yetter found her subject after she “asked a question that couldn’t be immediately answered” in Professor David Garrett’s class, History of the Inkas. Her exploration of the role of the Virgin Mary in Andean theology, “Virgin Mary/Pachamama Syncretism: Exploring Filial Ayni Relationship with the Divine Feminine in Early-Colonial Copacabana, Bolivia,” has been accepted for presentation at the Festividad de la Virgen de la Candelaria, a cultural heritage festival held in Puno, Peru in January, 2018: “Each time I present a paper at a GLS Symposium I feel more relaxed and confident.…(and) I am deeply honored and humbled to be invited to present an aspect of Andean history to Andean people.”

Derek Finn joined a panel focusing on Democracy, Political Leadership, and Moral Authority, where he presented his paper “Plato, Protagoras, and the Problem with Democracy.” The paper was developed from a course on Socrates and Plato he took with Professor Walter Englert in spring of 2015. Finn’s paper examines the correlations between the seemingly contrary depictions of democracy in Plato’s Protagoras and Republic. Presenting at the GLS for the fourth 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 uses objects in the text as “encoders of personal history, everyday partners in action, and tangible expressions of (Bloom’s) aspirations.”

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. A call for papers will come out in early Spring 2018; all students and alumni are welcome to attend!